Budget Committee Discusses Migration Compact Process
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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On 10 March 2017, the UN General Assembly Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) considered the Programme Budget Implications of draft resolution A/71/L.58 on the modalities for the intergovernmental negotiations of the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

The resolution will be brought to the UN General Assembly for adoption once its budget implications have been agreed by the Committee.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Louise Arbour (Canada) as the UN Secretary-General Special Representative for International Migration.

10 March 2017: The UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) has begun its consideration of the budget implications of the preparatory process for the global compact on migration. Discussions were scheduled to continue on 13 March 2017.

Following the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (A/RES/71/1) at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, on 19 September 2016, Member States negotiated a modalities text on preparations for intergovernmental negotiations of the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. The process was led by co-facilitators Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland, and Juan José Gómez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico, and resulted in agreement on draft resolution A/71/L.58 in January 2017, outlining a process to negotiate the global compact for adoption at an intergovernmental conference on international migration in 2018.

The draft resolution outlines three phases for preparation of the intergovernmental conference on international migration in 2018: Phase I – Consultations (April-November 2017), consisting of a series of informal thematic sessions; Phase II – Stocktaking (November 2017-January 2018), including a three-day preparatory meeting in Mexico in late November 2017, to inform the zero draft of the global compact; and Phase III – Intergovernmental Negotiations (February-July 2018), with the zero draft being prepared by the co-facilitators.

In February 2017, the UN Secretary-General provided an assessment of programme budget implications (PBI) of the agreed modalities, estimating that additional resource requirements of US$1,244,700 would arise for the biennium 2016-2017, which would be charged against the UN contingency fund. For 2018-2019, the agreed modalities would lead to resource requirements of US$442,000. The estimated budget implications represent consultancy expenses, staff and experts travel, temporary assistance, and conference room facilities, among other expenses.

The UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) considered this assessment, and on 6 March 2017 issued a recommendation on reducing the estimated costs. It suggested that the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) make full use of its in-house capacity and rely less on external consultants to support the preparatory process. It recommended that travel for the Office of the UNGA President be covered from the resources provided to that Office under the regular budget. It also suggested consideration of using videoconferencing, instead of traveling, and combining trips when possible.

On 10 March 2017, in a resumed session of the Fifth Committee, countries considered the statement of the UN Secretary-General and the ACABQ report. Ecuador for the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China) supported the UN Secretary-General’s proposal to appropriate approximately US$1.2 million in 2016-2017 for the agreed modalities. Chad for the African Group said the cost implications could not be estimated before the adoption of the modalities resolution, and called for funding the migration conference and its preparatory process through the UN regular budget, with a UN voluntary trust fund covering travel and the participation of representatives from developing countries.

Once the Fifth Committee reaches agreement on the budget implications, the modalities resolution will be brought to the UNGA for adoption.

Others asked to reduce the costs of preparing the global compact. The EU said conference management and travelling staff and experts are expensive categories, and all efforts should be made to be economical and efficient in light of scarce resources. He also echoed the suggestion to rely on in-house capacities, instead of consultants. The US called the PBI proposal for resources for consultants, staff and expert travel “excessive,” adding that besides the ACABQ suggestions on trimming the proposals, additional streamlining is necessary. Once the Fifth Committee reaches agreement on the budget implications, the modalities resolution will be brought to the UNGA for adoption.

Also on migration, UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Louise Arbour (Canada) as his Special Representative for International Migration. Arbour succeeds Peter Sutherland (Ireland) who served as UN Special Representative for Migration since 2006. Arbour is tasked to: work with UN Member States, in partnership with other stakeholders, as they develop the global compact; lead UN advocacy efforts on international migration; and provide policy advice and coordinate the engagement of UN entities on migration issues, particularly in implementing the migration-related components of the New York Declaration.

Arbour previously served as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and President and CEO of the International Crisis Group (ICG). She is a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and of the Court of Appeal for Ontario. [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Modalities Agreement] [Fifth Committee Discussions] [Fifth Committee Webcast] [ACABQ Report (A/71/827)] [UN Secretary-General’s PBI Statement (A/71/L.58)] [Arbour Announcement]

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