EOV during 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, item 123 Strengthening of the United Nations system
Explanation of vote
by H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations
NEW YORK, 14 January 2020
Thank you Mr President,
It is highly unusual for individual member states of the European Union to take the floor on matters related to budgetary and management issues in the purview of the Fifth Committee. But given the importance of the issue before us, today I have to make an exception and speak out in my national capacity, in addition to the EU statement with which we align ourselves.
We have three objections against the resolution:
First the undesired politicizing of the work of the ACABQ.
Second the circumvention of the long established precedent and principle that budgetary and management issues are decided upon by consensus.
Third: the undermining of the functioning of the ACABQ and the Fifth Committee.
My first point, we regret the politicization of the work of the ACABQ. The Kingdom of the Netherlands attaches great importance to the independence of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.
This should safeguard the impartiality and technical nature of the advice given to Member States in their deliberations.
By tabling a resolution to address perceived geographical misrepresentation directly to the General Assembly and thus circumventing the Fifth Committee the matter of the composition of the committee is being politicized.
This process breaks established practise of ACABQ enlargements.
The future functioning of the ACABQ is being jeopardized by this process.
My second point, breaking with consensus decision making.
The tabling of the resolution before us sets a dangerous precedent.
It undermines the Fifth Committee‘s working methods
It breaks with established practice of working on the basis of consensual outcomes.
And this on a matter where this consensus is most crucial.
Consensus could have been achieved if normal procedures would have been adhered to.
For this reason we have joined others in pleading to have the discussion on this issue during the upcoming First Resumed Session of the Fifth Committee in March.
This would have allowed for a debate on the necessary improvements of the working methods of the ACABQ.
Improvements which are long overdue.
Improvements which are even more crucial if the ACABQ were to meet in an expanded composition of twenty or more members.
This brings me to my third point, our concerns about the functioning of an enlarged ACABQ. Even in its current composition it is already very complicated and arduous to produce timely advice to the Fifth Committee.
The number of questions asked by ACABQ members to the Secretariat has increased.
The time it takes to reach consensus within ACABQ has proven to be increasingly difficult.
We cannot afford risking an ACABQ quagmire given the bruising and recent experience of Fifth Committee deliberations.
We cannot afford a practice where committee deadlines are increasingly slipping. It does not make sense to increase the cost incurred with an ACABQ extension and in return get more muddled and delayed advice.
In the view of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, we should all subscribe to the principle of efficiency, effectiveness and value for money.
In conclusion, mr President.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands strongly regrets that not enough time was allowed to weigh the pros and cons of enlargement.
We regret that amendments, put forward to improve the working methods of the ACABQ, were not given serious consideration.
The issue is rushed through for political reasons.
Once approved by this Assembly there is no way back.
This leaves us with a system in need of an even more urgent fix.
We would prefer for member states to place the functioning of the system above national interest.
We would prefer a review of the ACABQ, its effective functioning and composition holistically during the first resumed session of the Fifth Committee.
Given the fact that no room for such considerations has been allowed, we request others to vote against this resolution.
We do not consider the process on this issue at hand, a precedent for future decision making on Fifth Committee issues.
We will continue our efforts to make the UN system more efficient and effective.
The financial contributions of member states should benefit the poorest of the poor in the world, and not additional bureaucracy and red tape here in New York.
We will vote against the resolution and call other states to do the same.
I thank you.