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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08USUNNEWYORK878 2008-09-29 22:13:00 UNCLASSIFIED USUN New York
Cable title:  

COMMITTEE ON CONFERENCES COMPLETES ANNUAL SESSION

Tags:   AORC KUNR UNGA 
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DE RUCNDT #0878/01 2732213
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FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5020
					  UNCLAS USUN NEW YORK 000878 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AORC KUNR UNGA
SUBJECT: COMMITTEE ON CONFERENCES COMPLETES ANNUAL SESSION



1. Summary. On September 12, 2008, the Committee on
Conferences (CoC), the intergovernmental body mandated to
make recommendations to the General Assembly (GA) on all
matters related to UN conference servicing, reached consensus
on a resolution containing recommendations for the
consideration of the Fifth Committee under its agenda item on
Pattern of Conferences. The annual CoC session, which lasted
five days from September 8 to 12, was generally cordial and
productive but with some contentious discussions.



2. The CoC recommended adoption of the draft calendar of
conferences and meetings for 2009, which is available at
www.un.org/events, and reached agreement on a number of
topics including the integrated global management initiative
(see para. 3 below), equal use of the six official UN
languages (para. 4), use of temporary assistance staff in
language services (para. 5), funding of vacancies and
recruitment of language staff especially for the UN Offices
at Nairobi (UNON) and Geneva (UNOG) (paras. 6 and 7
respectively), impact of the Capital Master Plan (CMP) on
conference servicing (para. 8), implementation of the
Secretary-General's "Cool UN" initiative (paras. 9 and 10),
late-issuance of documents (para. 11), raising the ceiling on
earnings of retired UN language staff (para. 12) and raising
the retirement age of language staff (para. 13). During
negotiations, USDel, working closely with the Austrian
Vice-Chair of the CoC, was able to minimize or eliminate
objectionable proposals. End Summary.



3. Integrated global management: The CoC maintained
previous resolution language which approves of the Department
for General Assembly and Conference Management's (DGACM) work
towards streamlining conference servicing procedures. A new
paragraph of the draft resolution was added requesting SYG
Ban to include information on financial savings resulting
from the integrated global management system in his next
report.



4. Equality among the six official UN languages: The French
delegation at every opportunity emphasized the equal use of
all six official UN languages. The CoC did not adopt
language that could imply an increase in funds for
translation and interpretation services.



5. Use of temporary assistance staff in language services:
The Russian delegation was insistent that the draft
resolution include a paragraph explicitly endorsing the
Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report (A/63/96)
on the "existing special arrangements governing the
recruitment of temporary assistance staff in the language
services across the four main duty stations." The members of
the CoC agreed to follow past practice and to "take note" of
the recommendations in the report and to ask the SYG to
report on their implementation.



6. Vacancies of language staff in the UN Office at Nairobi
(UNON): The CoC did not adopt proposals introduced by the
Kenyan delegation that would have raised the grade levels of
language posts and decided that all translator and reviser
posts should be funded under the regular budget.



7. Vacancies of language staff in the UN Office in Geneva
(UNOG): The French delegation proposed language to address
the increase in conference servicing requirements arising out
of meetings of the Human Rights Council (HRC). The committee
agreed to call on the SYG to take action to address this
problem while avoiding any immediate financial implications.



8. Impact of the CMP on conference servicing: The CoC
agreed that the Secretariat should limit any negative impact
on the quality of conference services provided to Member
States during the construction period. Although most members
of the CoC were in favor of retaining the language from last
year's CoC resolution, the Russian delegation proposed
amendments that would have emphasized the importance of all
conference servicing requirements being met throughout the
CMP process rather than previously adopted language calling
on Member States to show flexibility during the construction
process. The committee succeeded in adopting balanced
language.



9. Impact of the "Cool UN" initiative on Member States: The
Russian delegation, in the view of USDel and other
delegations in the CoC, attempted to include provisions on
SYG Ban's "Cool UN" initiative in the CoC's report to
diminish Ban's authority as the Chief Administrative Officer
of the Organization under article 99 of the UN Charter.



10. Ban's "Cool UN" initiative on climate change raised
temperatures by a few degrees at Headquarters during the
summer to decrease the UN's CO2 emissions. The Russian
delegation proposed the following new language: "Requests at
the same time that the initiatives of the Secretary-General
which imply changes in the working conditions of delegates of

the Member States are to be properly discussed and decided
upon in the appropriate intergovernmental bodies, namely in
the Committee on Conferences and in the Fifth Committee of
the General Assembly." After several other formulations were
rejected, the CoC Chairman presented and the CoC adopted the
following general language: "Requests the Secretary-General
to consult Member States on initiatives that affect the
utilization of conference services and conference facilities."



11. Late issuance of documents: Several delegations,
including Russia, Belarus, and Syria, presented language that
would have required the SYG to impose "sanctions" against
senior officials in author departments that submit documents
late. USDel objected to this impractical proposal. The CoC
agreed to recognize the efforts underway to address the
problem, including reconvening the already established
Secretariat task force, and asked the SYG to submit an
interim report to the second resumed session of the 63rd GA
in May 2009 on the status of peacekeeping financing
documentation - the session is usually devoted to
consideration of the budgets of peacekeeping operations - and
to issue a comprehensive report to the 64th GA through the
CoC.



12. Ceiling of earnings for retired language staff: Due to
the difficulty of filling language staff vacancies at the
four duty stations, the Syrian delegation proposed raising
the ceiling on UN earnings of UN language staff retirees to
increase their availability for "emergency" short-term
contracts. During negotiations, it became clear that DGACM
and the Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) did not
agree on the level of earnings authorized under GA resolution
57/305. Syria subsequently withdraw its language and the
committee called on the SYG to clarify the meaning of
"workdays" in resolution 57/305 and, in turn, the level of
earnings authorized for retired UN language staff.



13. Raising the retirement age of language staff: The
Syrian delegation also proposed language that would have
raised the retirement age of language staff. After USDel,
Austria, and others asserted that this issue should be
addressed in its proper context under the human resources
item in the Fifth Committee, Syria withdrew its language.
Khalilzad