Relations with and co-ordination of specialized agencies and work programmes of the United Nations and specialized agencies

210. Relations with and co-ordination of specialized agencies and work programmes of the United Nations and specialized agencies

The General Assembly, Taking note of chapter V of the report of the Economic and Social Council to the third session of the General Assembly (A/625), of the report of the Secretary-General on administrative and budgetary co-ordination (A/599 and A/599/Add.1) and of the fifth report of 1948 of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (A/675), Taking note of the steps taken by the Economic and Social Council and the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination towards the development of the processes of co-ordination envisaged in General Assembly resolutions 125 (II) and 165 (II) of 20 November 1947 and of the progress made in programme, administrative and budgetary co-ordination, Recommends that the Economic and Social Council continue its examination of the activities of the organs having responsibilities in the field of co-ordination, with a view to suggesting further improvements and the possibility of bringing to a minimum consistent with efficiency the number of such organs in the framework of the United Nations; Requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination, to continue the efforts further to improve administrative and budgetary co-ordination between the United Nations and the specialized agencies, including consideration of the possibility of developing a joint system for external audit and for common collection of contributions; Draws renewed attention of Member States to recommendations addressed to them in General Assembly resolution 125 (II), and in resolution 128 (VI) adopted by the Economic and Social Council on 10 March 1948; Draws the attention of Member States, the Economic and Social Council and the specialized agencies concerned to the observations and recommendations contained in the fifth report of 1948 of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the budgets of specialized agencies for 1949, which is annexed to the present resolution; Requests the Secretary-General to arrange with the specialized agencies for adequate reimbursement by the latter to the United Nations of expenditures connected with the offices and administrative services placed at their disposal. Hundred and sixty-first plenary meeting,
18 November 1948.



9 October 1948

1. The Charter of the United Nations provides in Article 17, paragraph 3, that: "the General Assembly shall consider and approve any financial and budgetary arrangements with specialized agencies referred to in Article 57 and shall examine the administrative budgets of such specialized agencies with a view to making recommendations to the agencies concerned ".

2. At the first part of its first session, the General Assembly resolved that the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions should, as one of its functions, "examine on behalf of the General Assembly the administrative budgets of specialized agencies"(resolution 14 (I), A of 13 February 1946).

3. At the second part of its first session, the General Assembly approved agreements with the International Labour Organisation (A/72), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (A/77 and A/77/Corr.1 and 2), the Food and Agriculture Organization (A/78) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (A/106 and A/106/Corr.1), by which these organizations each undertook, inter alia:

(i) To consult with the United Nations in. the preparation of their budgets;

(ii) To transmit their budgets to the United Nations for examination by the General Assembly, which might make recommendations "concerning any item or items contained therein";

(iii) To conform as far as might be practicable to standard practices and forms recommended by the United Nations.

The agreements provided further that representatives of these organizations should be entitled to take part, without vote, in the deliberations of the General Assembly or any committee thereof at all times when their budgets, or general administrative or financial questions affecting their organizations, were under consideration.

4. In addition, at its second regular session, the General Assembly approved[1] agreements with the World Health Organization (A/348), the Universal Postal Union (A/347), the International Telecommunications Union (A/370 and A 370/Add.1), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (A/349), and the International Monetary Fund (A/349). The first three of these agencies undertook substantially the same obligations with respect to their budgets as the four agencies noted in paragraph 3 above. The Bank and The Fund agreements, however, as approved by the General Assembly, contain the following provision (article X):

"The Bank (Fund) will furnish to the United Nations copies of the annual report and the quarterly financial statements prepared by the Bank (Fund) pursuant to section 13 (a) of article V of its Articles of Agreement. The United Nations agrees that, in the interpretation of paragraph 3 of Article 17 of the United Nations Charter it will take into consideration that the Bank (Fund) does not rely for its annual budget upon contributions from its members, and that the appropriate authorities of the Bank (Fund) enjoy full autonomy in deciding the form and content of such budget".

5. The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions recognized that draft agreements with the International Refugee Organization and the Inter-governmental Maritime Consultative Organization had also been approved by the Economic and Social Council at its seventh session[2]2, but in view of the fact that these agreements are not yet in effect, the budgets of these agencies[3] were not examined at the third session of the Committee in 1948.

6. The Advisory Committee therefore devoted its attention to the administrative budgets of ILO, UNESCO, FAO, ICAO and WHO for 1949. Representation of these agencies during the Committee's discussions at Lake Success and Geneva greatly facilitated the examination. The administrative budgets of UPU and ITU for 1949 were not available by 15 September 1948, and in consequence the Committee could do no more than examine the financial arrangements as set forth in the reports of these organizations to the seventh session of the Economic and Social Council (E/811 and E/812).

In making its examination, the Committee took account of the fact that these budgets and financial arrangements had already been subject to scrutiny by the appropriate financial committees of the agencies concerned and, in the cases of ILO, ICAO and WHO, had already been approved by their annual conferences. The Committee confined itself, therefore, to questions of general administrative and financial policy having a significant bearing on the total expenses of the United Nations and the specialized agencies, to questions of administrative and financial co-ordination, and to questions of form and procedure which might improve the implementation of Article 17, paragraph 3, of the Charter.

7. The details of the budgets or budgetary estimates of the United Nations and certain specialized agencies appear in information annex IV to the Secretary-General's budget estimates (A/556/Add.1), as required by the provisional financial regulations. The following is a brief summary of the gross totals proposed in the budgets for 1949, together with the corresponding totals of the budgets for the preceding financial year[4]4:

Five specialized agencies. 1949 1948
  Dollars (U. S.)
International Labour Organization 5,215,539 4,449,295
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization 8,473,530 7,682,637
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 5,000,000 5,000,000
International Civil Aviation Organization 2,680,685 2,352,368
World Health Organization 5,000,000 4,800,000
SUB-TOTAL (specialized agencies) 26,369,754 24,284,300
United Nations 33,469,587 34,825,195
GRAND TOTAL 59,839,341 59,109,495

To these totals must be added the contributions from Member States to be collected by ITU and UPU which may be expected to reach approximately 1,200,000 dollars in 1949[5]5; and the budget of IRO, which is now considering a plan of expenditure providing 3,515,348 dollars for administrative expenses and 159,065,233 dollars for operational expenses for the fiscal year ending 30 June 1949.

8. In spite of the notable effort made by the Secretary-General, in conjunction with the heads of the specialized agencies, to rationalize expenditure for international activities, much still remains to be done. It is perhaps too early to expect stabilization, in view of the fact that several of the agencies have not yet completed a full financial year and others have completed only one such year. Consequently, the financial impact of costs for a staff employed during the whole year will only begin to be felt in 1949. No significant increases in numbers of posts have been noted, except in the case of WHO, which began operations under its own budget only on 1 September 1948. As, however, the Committee pointed out in its second report of 1948 on the 1949 budget estimates of the United Nations (A/598), it believes that every endeavour should be made to stabilize expenditures at a level commensurate with Members' capacity to pay. The Committee fully recognizes that this cannot come about solely through Secretariat efforts to increase administrative efficiency, but must also come from a willingness on the part of Members to see priorities established in the programmes and to place less reliance on the holding of large international meetings throughout the world.

9. The question of priorities in the work programmes of the United Nations has been the subject of concern not only to the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and to the Advisory Committee but also to the governing bodies of the specialized agencies. It is evident that FACO and UNESCO, for example, have faced a difficult but essential task of determining which of the programmes authorized in the many resolutions coming out of their first conferences could be undertaken within the limits of the resources available in the immediate future. The Committee urges continuance of efforts to develop sound criteria for judging the practical merits of particular international activities so that, wherever possible, the legislative conferences receive the most informed advice before the programmes are authorized.

In addition to the problem of assessing priorities within the programme of a particular agency, there is the more complicated problem of establishing priorities among the programmes of the several agencies. As noted in this Committee's first report of 1948 (A/534), this is one of the responsibilities of the Economic and Social Council under Articles 63 and 64 of the Charter. One noteworthy step in this direction has been taken by the Council in the consideration given to the world food crisis, and to the part to be played in combating that crisis respectively by the United Nations, FAO and other specialized agencies. The Committee has reason to believe that Members would appreciate a greater degree of guidance from the Council concerning the programmes to be given top priority, such guidance to be based upon advice from the Secretary-General, acting in conjunction with the heads of the specialized agencies.

10. Since the decision at San Francisco to establish the United Nations system on a functional basis, Members have been concerned with the danger of overlapping or duplication of effort between or among the United Nations and the specialized agencies. The Committee notes that the Economic and Social Council, at its seventh session, gave close attention to this matter in reviewing the reports of specialized agencies. The Council approved the conclusion[6] of its Social Committee to the effect that, while there were overlapping fields of interest, actual overlapping in work programmes of the specialized agencies was not taking place at the present time. Periodic review of respective work programmes and their inter-relationships was required in order to obviate possible overlapping because of broad terms of reference. It was the opinion of the Council that co-ordination in the social field could best be achieved by focusing on individual projects and problems, and by developing joint plans of action with regard to such projects.

In the course of its examination of the budgets, the Advisory Committee also had occasion to inquire into the measures taken by the agencies themselves to avoid overlapping in matters of mutual concern, such as migration, housing, rural welfare, nutrition, timber and agricultural reconstruction. Available evidence points to close Secretariat co-operation and a pattern of ad hoc working parties and joint committees in all those matters. While it is clear that the problem cannot be permanently solved, the Committee is satisfied that, at this juncture, considerable efforts are being made to ensure that funds are not wasted through a duplication of activities.

An illustration of how this co-operation can be achieved between specialized agencies is found in the example set by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the Food and Agriculture Organization in connexion with the Committee on Agricultural Problems, recently established within the framework of the Economic Commission for Europe. The relevant agreement between the two bodies provides, inter alia:
"Arrangements would be made between the Director-General of FAO and the Executive Secretary of ECE, whereby the staffs of the two organizations would co-operate in servicing the proposed Committee. The Executive Secretary of the ECE would keep the Director-General of FAO informed, and would consult with him on all matters relating to the work of the suggested Committee.
"In making this suggestion, the Director-General and the Executive Secretary have in mind the fact that the FAO was established as the body responsible for international policy formation and worldwide inter-governmental collaboration in the field of food and agriculture, including forestry and fisheries, and that ECE was established as the body responsible for collaboration between European Governments in their problems of reconstruction and development. They are aware of the area of common concern between these two fields of responsibility. Their deliberations have led them to believe that the proposed committee offers a form of carrying out those responsibilities in the field of common concern, without duplication of staff or effort and, at the same time, without in any way abridging the opportunity for either organization fully to acquit itself of its responsibilities."

11. In connexion with the number and location of meetings, the Committee has noted with interest the budgetary provisions for, and administrative consequences of, the plans of specialized agencies to bold their annual conferences away from their permanent or interim headquarters. The following are pertinent examples: UNESCO, with headquarters in Paris, held its 1947 conference in Mexico City, and plans to hold its third annual conference in Beirut; ILO (with most of its secretariat now in Geneva) held its 1948 conference in San Francisco; FAO (with interim headquarters in Washington) held its 1947 conference in Geneva; ICAO (with headquarters in Montreal) held its 1947 conference in Geneva. Apart from considerations of the extra costs incurred by delegations, the extra cost of holding annual conferences away from headquarters ranges from 65,000 dollars to 290,000 dollars for the specialized agencies. Recognizing that political reasons or reasons connected with public relations prompt the holding of conferences away from headquarters, the Advisory Committee would urge consideration of policies in each of the agencies which would make it possible to hold the major conferences at the seat of the Secretariat, while meetings of the governing body or other smaller meetings would be held away from headquarters when deemed necessary. It seems to the Committee that the existing diffusion of the headquarters and regional and branch offices of the United Nations and the specialized agencies provides a means of accomplishing a certain degree of dissemination of knowledge of international activities. The Committee further believes that the disruption of the work of the Secretariats and the administrative difficulties inherent in this practice result in considerable indirect costs.

12. As for the number of meetings, the Committee urges that the General Assembly request every specialized agency to examine its programme of meetings with a view to reducing the number of formal meetings of Governmental representatives, which are imposing an appreciable burden on the personnel resources of Governments and are reflected in larger staffs in the agencies and high costs of travel, documentation and records.


International Labour Organisation

13. The Committee noted that the considerable increase in the ILO budget for 1949 (766,244 dollars higher than the 1948 budget), as approved by the International Labour Conference in June, was due mainly to an increase of 49 established posts (making a total of 535) in the International Labour Office, to an increase in salaries and wages of locally employed staff in Geneva and, to a lesser extent, to rising costs of supplies, printing, etc. It appears to the Committee to be reasonable that an organization dealing with the increasingly complex problems of labour in the post-war world should need to expand its activities to a level above that of the previous years. Nevertheless, the Committee hopes that the necessity for these increases will be kept under constant review.

14. It is noted that the ILO has responded to a number of recommendations made by the General Assembly on the budgets of specialized agencies for 1948. The Committee observed that the justifications in terms of work programmes put before the Finance Committee, the Governing Body, and the Conference were much fuller than before; there has been considerable discussion of the desirability of independent financial criticism of the estimates; a summary of the budget estimates in terms of the standard pattern of budget headings and objects of expenditure has been submitted to the Advisory Committee. Further, the ILO has participated in the joint studies of administrative and financial systems, salary differentials, form of the budget, and personnel questions, including pensions.

15. A number of important administrative and financial questions appear to be facing the agency at this juncture, such as revision of its contributions scale, arrears of contributions, revision of over-all financial arrangements, settlement of its headquarters and liaison office questions, its salaries and pension system. In all these matters, the fullest consultation with the United Nations is desirable.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

16. The 1949 budget estimates for UNESCO, which have been examined by the Finance Committee of the Executive Board and by the Executive Board itself, show an increase of 790,893 dollars over 1948. This increase is not due, however, to any significant increase in the number of posts, which remains at 700, or to an expansion of the programme, but rather to increasing staff costs, and costs of supplies, printing, freight and insurance.

17. The Committee took note of the efforts made by the Director-General and the Executive Board to achieve a consolidation of the organization and to focus the attention of its members and of the staff on a limited number of projects within the programme judged to be capable of fulfilment. The Committee is confident that these efforts will be continued in the interest of effective action by this organization.

18. The Committee notes the decision taken at Mexico City to replace a form of budget based primarily on objects of expenditure (salaries, travel, equipment and supplies, etc.) by one based on projects. While recognizing the virtue of the latter form for a well-established organization, in that it enables the programme to be sifted and the scope of each project to be discerned, the Committee suggests that consideration should be given to the question whether this object could be equally well achieved by supplying an information annex showing the distribution of the estimates by projects, the standard pattern of organizational units and objects of expenditure being retained for the appropriations and accounting records. The suggestion, if adopted, would, in the opinion of the Committee, offer an important advantage in ensuring a greater comparability of budgets of the United Nations and the specialized agencies.

The difficulties in administering and accounting for the budget appear to the Committee to be in part responsible for the size of the administrative staff, which gave rise to criticism by the Finance Committee of UNESCO. The Director-General appears eager to meet these criticisms, and the Advisory Committee urges that the United Nations Secretariat and the specialized agencies complete the comparative survey of administrative and financial systems as early as possible, in order to be of the maximum assistance to UNESCO in reducing these expenditures.

19. The Committee notes the efforts made by UNESCO towards achieving uniformity in administrative and personnel practices with the Untied Nations and other specialized agencies. In this connexion, the Committee trusts that a favourable decision will be taken in respect of UNESCO's participation in the Untied Nations Joint Staff Pension Scheme.

20. The problem of arrears in contributions to the UNESCO budget for 1947 and to the revolving fund seems to the Committee to deserve special attention. To meet this situation, it is suggested that consideration should be given to the adoption of a procedure similar to that contemplated in Article 19 of the United Nations Charter.

Food and Agriculture Organization

21. The necessity which has been imposed upon FAO to keep its budget within a 5,000,000-dollar ceiling (and even less under existing financial arrangements) appears to have contributed to the progress of work-planning and establishment of priorities. Faced with some four hundred resolutions calling for work by the Secretariat, the Director-General has taken the lead, with the support of the Council, in selecting the programmes which meet the criteria for effective international action by an agency with limited resources. The Advisory Committee noted that the programme of work for 1949 has gone forward to members with an indication of the financial implication of each project.

22. At the same time, the Committee would reiterate the opinion stated in paragraph 18 with respect to appropriations by project, as contemplated for the first time by the FAO budget estimates for 1949. Recognizing the virtue of presenting the programme to the Second Commission of the FAO Conference in project cost terms, the Committee suggests that FAO also be requested to reconsider this form from the point of view of comparability with the United Nations and other specialized agencies. Further attention should be given also to the inclusion of the proposed staffing pattern, and supporting materials (workload, explanations of increases and decreases, etc.) for those sections of the budget which are not supported directly by the technical programme explanation.

23. The Committee has noted with interest the joint arrangements for work with WHO on nutrition and diet, with ILO on rural welfare, with the International Children's Emergency Fund on child feeding, and with ECE on timber and agricultural reconstruction in Europe[7] and with the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East.

The Committee also noted from the budget document that plans for FAO regional activity are not fully developed. In view of the importance of collaboration between FAO and the regional economic commissions, FAO should explore with care the question of establishing independent regional offices. For representatives of the Director-General to collect information on particular problems appears to the Committee to be a more effective and economical pattern for this type of agency. Consideration might also be given to the possibility of sharing the facilities of existing regional offices of the United Nations.

24. The Committee was informed that the Secretariat of FAO had participated fully in the work of the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination. In the course of the examination of the budget, however, the Committee has noted certain differences, not only in the form of the budget but also in the conditions of work for the staff, which, it hopes, may be co-ordinated with those of the United Nations and other specialized agencies. The Committee stresses again the desirability of FAO's adherence to the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Scheme. The Committee would also urge that a change in the regulations be explored to permit the use by the FAO of the United Nations Board of Auditors.

International Civil Aviation Organization

25. The increase of approximately 300,000 dollars in the approved budget for ICAO for 1949 is due in the main to maturing of staff costs, and only in small part to an increase in staff (393 to 411). Substantial savings were effected by the decision to hold the 1949 session of the Assembly in Montreal. The Committee also noted with interest the decision to hold an Assembly in 1949 limited to administrative and budgetary matters, and a full-scale Assembly in 1950. The estimates also reflect the fact that the total number of meetings has been reduced. Regional conferences, for example, have been over a two-year period.

26. The ICAO Assembly in June took the commendable action of bringing the fiscal year into conformity, with that of the United Nations and other specialized agencies. The organization has also shown a praiseworthy zeal in its efforts to achieve co-ordination on a personnel code for the United Nations and all specialized agencies. Furthermore, it will await the decisions of the General Assembly of the United Nations with respect to the pension scheme and the staff assessment plan. The Committee urges that ICAO consider employing the United Nations Board of Auditors.

World Health Organization

27. The First World Health Assembly in June set at 5,000,000 dollars the budget for the first full year (1949) of the World Health Organization's work as a specialized agency; this sum represents a reduction of 1,324,700 dollars from the estimates submitted by the Interim Commission of WHO. The reduction was accomplished in part by the elimination of 46 posts from the proposed manning tables, but to a more important degree by introducing delays in the recruitment of personnel. The Advisory Committee was informed that it had been recognized by the World Health Assembly that the budget of the organization for 1950 would be considerably higher than 5,000,000 dollars unless an actual reduction in staff were made at the end of 1949.

28. Provision for the reimbursement of loans made by the United Nations to an amount of 2,125,000 dollars has been included in the first budget of WHO, which began operations as a full-scale agency on 1 September 1948.

29. The Committee would urge that the development of the structure and staffing of the organization proceed cautiously while the most effective ways of implementing the priority programmes set by the Health Assembly are explored. A greater use of grants-in-aid, in contrast to the appointment of permanent staff, might be considered. From the viewpoint of administration and budget, the Committee doubts the wisdom of establishing six regional offices in the first year (or as soon as the countries in the region request such establishment); the sending of task forces to areas where Governments request special technical assistance would seem better calculated to produce effective results while the headquarters office is being organized. In any case, the Committee would urge that the regional nuclei be small and, where indicated, co-ordinated administratively with regional offices of the United Nations and the specialized agencies.

30. The Committee noted the co-operative attitude of the Health Assembly with respect to a common retirement plan and other administrative questions. There seems, however, to be insufficient justification for the organization to establish salary rates in Geneva at a higher level than those of the United Nations staff in Geneva, without awaiting the completion of the joint United Nations, specialized agencies survey of cost-of-living which is now in progress.

31. The World Health Assembly has requested the transfer of the health collection of the United Nations Library in Geneva to WHO while, pursuant to resolution 129 (II) of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council at its seventh session asked the Secretary-General to study and report to the eighth session of the Council (February 1949) on the whole problem of the use of United Nations library facilities by specialized agencies. Apart from any question of the legal aspects of such a transfer under the terms of the Rockefeller grant, or of the financial aspects, the Committee is of the opinion that the wide dispersion of the Geneva library collections would not be in the best interests of the United Nations or the specialized agencies themselves, many of which work in fields of mutual concern.

32. The problem of library facilities is, of course, closely related to that of the location of headquarters and branch offices. It is noted that the World Health Organization has requested accommodation in the Palais des Nations and that the Secretary-General is studying the problem of space allocation in the building. The Committee expresses the hope that the headquarters accommodations of WHO may be within the Palais des Nations. In the event that this is not possible, the building should be situated in the closest proximity in the interests of the development of common administrative, services.

International Telecommunications Union

33. The International Telecommunications Union has not found it possible to comply with the general request of the General Assembly that specialized agencies should transmit their budgets or budgetary estimates for 1949 to the Secretary-General by 1 July 1948. The budgetary estimates for 1949 were placed before the Administrative Council of the Union, which began its third session in Geneva on 1 September 1948. When the estimates have been approved by the Council, they will be transmitted to members of the Union and to the United Nations in accordance with the agreement between the two organizations.

34. In view of these circumstances, the Secretary-General transmitted for the information of the Advisory Committee the report of ITU (E/812), submitted to the seventh session of the Economic and Social Council, and containing certain organizational and financial information. The attention of the General Assembly is drawn to the fact that, under the reorganization of the Union decided in Atlantic City in 1947, the General Secretariat (formerly the Bureau) has been expanded significantly, and that the headquarters has been removed from Berne to Geneva.

The budget for 1948 for ordinary expenses has been fixed at 1,000,000 Swiss francs for the Radio Division and 500,000 Swiss francs for the Telegraph and Telephone Division. For the period 1949-1952 inclusive, the Administrative Council (consisting of 18 Governments) is authorized to approve annual provisions for ordinary expenses up to 4,000,000 Swiss francs for each of the four years in question. The adoption at Atlantic City of five official languages and three working languages is the largest contributing factor in the expansion of the budget.

35. All expenses of plenipotentiary conferences (meeting normally every three years), administrative conferences, and meetings of the International Consultative Committees are considered extraordinary expenses and are borne on a separate budget, to which private operating agencies and international organizations contribute.

The Advisory Committee was informed that the Administrative Council of ITU is currently considering a proposal for consolidation of the ordinary and extraordinary budgets. The Committee is of the opinion that a considerable simplification of the budgetary and financial arrangements of the Union would be advantageous.

Universal Postal Union

36. It proved similarly impossible, under existing financial procedure, for the Universal Postal Union to forward its 1949 estimates in time for examination by the Advisory Committee. The Committee took note, from the report submitted by UPU to the Economic and Social Council (E/811), that the ordinary expenses for 1947 were 465,491 Swiss francs, or 33,838 below the amount (500,000 Swiss francs) authorized for ordinary expenditures in the Buenos Aires Convention of 1939. It was decided by the Universal Postal Congress, held in Paris in 1947, that the amount of 33,838 Swiss francs should be transferred to the Pension Fund. Extraordinary expenses representing the costs of the Congress, which is convened quinquennially, of the Executive and Liaison Committee, and of other special meetings, amounted to 202, 602 Swiss francs in 1947, and to 148, 694 Swiss francs for the first eight months of 1948.

37. The Committee recommends that, in view of the nature of this organization, methods for increasing. miscellaneous income should be explored further.


Transmittal of specialized agencies budgets

38. The schedule for transmittal of specialized agencies' budgets to the Secretary-General has given the Committee concern. The General Assembly requested, in its resolution 125 (II) of 20 November 1947, that the specialized agencies transmit their 1949 budgets or budgetary estimates to the Secretary-General by 1 July 1948. Nevertheless, by the end of the summer session of the Advisory Committee (31 July 1948), only ICAO, ILO and WHO had been able to transmit their budgets. UNESCO and FAO, both holding their annual conferences in November, sent their budgetary estimates, as reviewed by their governing bodies in late August. ITU and UPU had not been able to transmit 1949 estimates by 15 September. It is, of course, very difficult under such conditions to make an adequate review of the budgets in time for the opening of the General Assembly.

39. The agreements with the agencies mentioned above which were approved by the General Assembly provide that the estimates shall be transmitted simultaneously to the United Nations and to the Members of the Organization. The alternative solutions appear to be either to move forward the annual conferences of the specialized agencies to the first six months of the year (a proposal discussed by the Economic and Social Council) or, at least, to move forward the meetings of the finance committees and governing bodies which review the estimates.

Form of budgets

40. The Committee noted the progress made by the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination with respect to the standard summaries of the United Nations and specialized agencies budgets, which greatly facilitated the work of comparative analyses of the budgets.

41. Nevertheless, in addition to the comments made in paragraph 18 and 22 above with respect to project budgeting, the Committee reiterates its request of last year that many of the superficial differences in the main form and presentation of United Nations and specialized agencies budgets be eliminated. For example, the difference in terminology designating "parts", "sections", "chapters" and "items" in the budgets is confusing and serves no essential purpose. The Secretary-General and the specialized agencies have been asked to make recommendations on standard financial terminology. The form and content of the explanatory notes might also be studied profitably.

Consultation in preparation of budgets

42. Consultation between the Secretariat of the United Nations and the specialized agencies in the preparation of the budgets appears to have become a reality in most cases, although complicated by the timing problem. The Committee re-emphasizes the position taken last year that the implementation of the clauses in the agreements, calling for consultation at a working level is one of the most effective methods for achieving more nearly standard administrative and financial practices and economies through the development of comparative standards of efficiency.

Procedure for review of budgets within the agencies

43. The Committee is still not satisfied that the degree of independent financial criticism necessary to protect the overall interests of the members is applied in all agencies. While. some progress has been made, it appears advisable to call attention to the recommendation approved in 1947 by the General Assembly, to the effect that "specialized agencies should ensure, where this is not already the case, that their estimates are subjected, before submission to the plenary body for consideration, to a detailed examination by a committee which includes persons specially qualified in the fields of administration or finance".[8]


44. While observations have been made in the foregoing pages with respect to each of the budgets examined by the Advisory Committee and to certain procedural questions. it seems appropriate to summarize the general recommendations to which the General Assembly may wish to give special attention:

(a) Each specialized agency, as well as the United Nations, should make every effort to stabilize its budget at the minimum consistent with the implementation of its charter and the financial resources of its members for all international activities.

(b) In order to achieve such stability, each agency should be asked to give continuing attention to questions of priority and urgency within its programmes; at the same time, the Economic and Social Council, with the assistance of the Secretary-General and the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination, should be asked to indicate certain priorities within available funds among all the programmes presented by the specialized agencies and among the economic and social programmes of the United Nations, for the guidance of the General Assembly and the conferences of the agencies. It ‘ is assumed that the Council will continue to watch with particular care the areas of concern to several agencies, in order to avoid overlapping of activities.

(c) Each specialized agency should be asked to review its programme of meetings with a view to reducing the number of formal meetings of governmental representatives and, in particular, it should consider whether a full-scale annual conference is necessary. The question of the timing of the full conferences should also be examined with a view to making programme and budget review by the United Nations more effective. As regards the location of the annual conferences, it is the opinion of the Committee that, as a general rule, annual conferences should be held at the headquarters of each organization.

[1] See resolution 124 (II). [2] See Resolutions adopted by the Economic and Social Council during its seventh session; resolutions 164 (VII) and 165 (VII), pages 54 and 61. [3] The Inter-governmental Maritime Consultative Organization is in a preparatory stage, having established an Interim Commission at the end of the International Maritime Conference held at Geneva in February 1948.
NOTE. The International Conference on Trade and Employment at the end of its sessions in Havana in March 1948 also established an Interim Commission of the International Trade Organization, but negotiations on an agreement have not yet taken place. [4] These figures are not strictly comparable in as much as the appropriations in certain cases include provision for Reserve Fund and/or Working Capital Fund. In addition, the treatment of miscellaneous income is not uniformly similar. Particulars are contained in document A/556/Add.1; See Official Records of the third session of the General Assembly, supplement No 5 A. [5] See paragraphs 34 to 36 below. [6] See Official Records of the third session of the General Assembly, supplement No 3, pages 71 and 72. [7] See paragraph 10 above. [8] See General Assembly resolution 165 (II), annex A, para. graph 23 (b).

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