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UN budget for 2008-09 is technically inadequate: India

October 27, 2007 10:54 IST

In a sharp criticism of the US$ 4.2 billion United Nations budget presented by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for 2008-09, India has slammed its emphasis only on peace, security and human rights rather than on resolving the basic causes of conflicts including lack of development and socio-economic inequities.

Describing it as "technically inadequate and politically flawed," India's Ambassador to the UN Nirupam Sen bluntly told Ban that it needs to be fundamentally revised before it can be accepted.

A day after Ban presented his budget, Sen sought to shred to pieces the very concept behind the document, asserting that it has little to do with development, less with optimal use of resources and nothing at all with budgetary discipline.

"We need a capital master plan to put this budget on its feet," he told the budgetary committee which must approve it before it goes to the 192-member General Assembly for final okay.

The member States are troubled by the fact that 52 per cent of the total budget goes towards staff costs, he said, adding that it is the responsibility of the management to increase the percentage resources devoted to implementing mandated programme of work rather than encourage proliferation of posts on the 'pretext of programme support.'

The central reform proposed in the Secretary General's report in 1997-98 (by Ban's predecessor Kofi Annan) was to reduce the administrative spending from 39 to 25 per cent. But instead, this has increased to more than twice the target figure, Sen added.

Stressing that the resource allocation between development on one hand and peace and security on the other is 'completely lopsided,' Sen said the increase in resources for promotion of sustained economic growth and sustainable development has been limited to 18 new posts, translating to a 0.5 per cent real growth.

In contrast, human rights with 36 new posts and peace and security with 35 news posts, not including 34 additional posts for the department of political affairs, have been treated more generously, he told the delegates.

"The picture becomes clearer if we add to these figures the burgeoning extra budgetary resources, amounting to US$ 6.6 billion for biennium 2008-09, which will be utilised mainly for peace and security and human rights and humanitarian assistance. As an example, from a net increase of 428 posts under these resources, 260 are for the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights," Sen pointed out.

 The budget, he regretted, exhibits an "indifference" to development which is the top priority of an overwhelming majority of member states and a condition for durable peace and security.

"Our priority is development," he said and called for an "urgent redressal of this imbalance" through allocation of greater resources for development to entities like regional commissions and the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

"Given the reported flaw in the funding mechanism of the Development Account, we also call for new and practical proposals for financing it," Sen told the Committee on which all member States are represented.

In this context, he emphasised the need for strengthening, rather than undermining, the entities in the UN system connected with development through the provision of adequate resources to enable them to fulfill their mandates.

"While being one of the staunchest supporters and practitioners of South-South cooperation, we believe that South-South cooperation cannot be a substitute for the fulfillment of commitments of development assistance made by the developed countries," Sen said.

Resources, he agreed, are always finite. But better results can be achieved through efficient resource allocation and better management practices which, he said, is the responsibility of the Secretariat.

"While adequate and high quality human resources are a sine qua non for execution of the organisation's work programmes, the United Nations is not an employment generation scheme with creation of posts amongst its objective," he told the delegates.

Dharam Shourie in United Nations
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