UN GA calls for urgent implementation of proposals to assist survivors of 1994 Rwandan genocide, including medical care, skills training, victim support

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Sixty-fourth General Assembly
67th Meeting (PM)

Also Adopts 8 Resolutions, 1 Decision Recommended by Budget Committee, Elects Two Members to Organizational Committee of Peacebuilding Commission

Recognizing the numerous difficulties faced by survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide --particularly orphans, widows and victims of sexual violence, many of whom had contracted HIV or since died of AIDS -- the General Assembly today adopted a resolution requesting the Secretary-General to encourage relevant United Nations agencies, funds and programmes to provide assistance in the areas of education, medical care, skills training and microcredit programmes aimed at promoting self-sufficiency.

Introducing the text on behalf of the African Group, Benin's representative said it was imperative that, six years after the adoption of the first resolution on the matter, survivors of the Rwandan genocide were given the support they deserved.

The text -- titled "assistance to survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, particularly orphans, widow and victims of sexual violence" -- had the Assembly calling on Member States and the United Nations to urgently implement the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's report of the same name. The Secretary-General was requested to continue outreach activities aimed at victim remembrance and education, with a view to preventing future acts of genocide.

By other terms, the Assembly noted the importance of residual issues, including witness protection and victim support, the archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and capacity-building for the Rwandan judiciary. Given the critical situation of survivors and need for the International Criminal Tribunal to implement its completion strategy, the Secretary-General was requested to take all necessary and practicable measures to implement the resolution and report to the Assembly's sixty-sixth session with recommendations on further support to survivors.

Also, acting on the recommendation of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), the Assembly made a series of decisions on an array of subjects ranging from staff concerns to programme planning, internal oversight, the Capital Master Plan, proper auditing of United Nations agencies, and peacekeeping. In all, the Assembly acted on eight resolutions and one draft decision submitted by the Committee.

In one decision, the Assembly decided that the new staff rules proposed by the Secretary-General thisyear should remain provisional, pending consideration at its sixty-fifth session. At its sixty-third session, the Assembly had approved new contractual arrangements comprising three types of appointments -- temporary, fixed-term and continuing. Those arrangements entered into force on 1 July, but the Assembly had requested the Secretary-General not to appoint any staff to continuing contracts before 1 January 2010, pending a thorough explanation of its financial and management implications.

The Fifth Committee had hoped to recommend some form of action on new contracts this year. But, dissatisfied with information provided by the Secretariat on continuing contracts, it had felt unable to do so.

In a separate text, the Assembly agreed to approve, as recommended by the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), the revised floor scale of salaries for staff in the Professional and higher categories contained in an annex to the Commission's report. The decision was to take effect from 1January 2010. It decided, as well, to take note of the Commission's recommendation to introduce end-of-service severance pay in the common system for fixed-term staff with 10 or more years of continuous service, who had been involuntarily separated from the Organization. It would decide to revert to the question of the proposed end-of-service severance pay at its sixty-fifth session.

On a different note, as part of the continued reform of the United Nations internal justice system, the Assembly decided to request the Secretary-General to report on the status of the judges of the new United Nations Appeals Tribunal and their entitlements, who were installed in March.

Through a text entitled "administration of justice at the United Nations", the Secretary-General was also asked to analyse the costs associated with an appeal under the new system, and to report on measures to hold officials accountable for causing financial loss to the Organization under the new system. He was further asked to compare the advantages and disadvantages of different types of remedies available to the different categories of non-staff personnel, such as individual contractors, consultants and daily paid workers, and to analyse their financial implications.

Another Fifth Committee resolution adopted today included a lengthy text on the Capital Master Plan, by which the Assembly decided not to approve the Secretary-General's recommended "associated costs" at this time. It noted with concern that a number of those costs did not relate directly to the Capital Master Plan. The amount put forward as associated costs stood at $42.07 million.

Related to the Capital Master Plan, the Assembly -- through a separate resolution on pattern of conferences -- would note that, while the Headquarters building was being refurbished, conference-servicing staff had been temporarily located to a swing space. The Secretary-General was asked to provide those staff with adequate support to ensure continued delivery of quality services.

With regard to planning, programming and coordination of work at the United Nations, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text reaffirming the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) as the main subsidiary organ of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council devoted to that purpose. At the same time, however, the Assembly stressed that priorities-setting at the United Nations was the prerogative of Member States.

A similar sentiment was expressed in its resolution on activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), through which the Assembly expressed concern with its recommendations concerning the merging the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa and the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. As reiterated by the Assembly in its text, the OIOS was not to propose changes to legislative decisions and mandates already approved by intergovernmental bodies.

The remaining resolutions adopted by the Assembly were on the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and on the finances of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). UNOMIG's mandate had ended on 15 June, and its appropriations for 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009 would be reduced by around half a million dollars. The appropriation for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2009, for administrative liquidation of the Mission, was to be reduced from $15 million to $10.94 million.

With regards the refugee agency, the Assembly noted concerns raised by auditors regarding finances administered by the UNHCR, which had not received third-party audit certificates from several implementing partners. The amount not certified totalled $252 million.

In other action, the Assembly took note of appointments, made by the General Assembly President on the recommendation of the African States Group, Eastern European States Group and Western European and Other States Group, respectively, of Czech Republic, Egypt and Sweden to the Consultative Committee of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), which considers policy matters related to the Fund. Those countries will serve for a three-year term of office beginning on 1 January 2010, to fill three remaining vacancies.

Further, the General Assembly elected by acclamation Czech Republic as a member of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission for two-year term beginning on 1 January 2010. It also elected by secret ballot Peru to a term of the same duration.

In final action, the Assembly decided to extend the work of its Fifth Committee until Wednesday, 23 December.

The General Assembly will reconvene at a time to be announced on Wednesday, 23 December, to take up the remaining reports of its Fifth Committee.