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Common statement on OHCHR’s financial challenges

Mr. President, We make this cross-regional statement on behalf of 49countries. The complete list will be available at the HRC extranet.

The Vienna World Conference firmly placed human rights at the centre of activities of the United Nations and the 2005 World Summit reaffirmed human rights as one of the three pillars of the Organization. Despite this political commitment, the human rights pillar is under great financial pressure, undermining its capacity to respond to increasing demands, including, but not limited to new mandates approved by the Human Rights Council, requests from States for support and expertise of the OHCHR and a growing focus on human rights in UN operations.

There is more than ever the need to strengthen the third pillar upon which the United Nations was founded and adopt measures as soon as possible to ensure the financial stability and predictability of the OHCHR. Because the assessed regular budget of the United Nations covers only a little more than a third of the total requirements for the human rights programme under OHCHR, there remains an unhealthy reliance on voluntary contributions to conduct its work around the world. Despite the efforts deployed by the Office to streamline and focus their work, 2014 ended with an important shortfall amounting to more than 14 million US dollars, equalling to almost 6% of the total budget. In fact, this is the fifth year in a row that actual income is lower than expenditures. In the past, shortfalls have been offset with the surplus balance accumulated of voluntary contributions of previous years. The Office is now reaching a critical situation since these savings from previous years are close to the minimum required level and can no longer be relied upon to offset income shortfalls. This situation is no longer sustainable or acceptable. The critical funding deficit of the Office will be further exacerbated if the imbalance in the Office’s funding structure is not addressed. In the 2016- 2017 biennium further reductions in the Secretariat’s programme budget will result in an even greater reliance on extrabudgetary resources. Confronted with this situation, setting up a sustainable resourcing over the coming years should be a top priority both for the UN Member States and the Office. This measure should be followed in a manner that balances the different interests by States, without infringing on the independence of the High Commissioner and his office, which operates under the administrative direction and authority of the UN Secretary-General and the General Assembly. Pursuance of OHCHR management reform and a strategic prioritisation go hand in hand with this effort. We appreciate the measures identified by the High Commissioner and his office to face the financial challenges, and we do encourage the Office to:

  • Continue its prudent and sustainable approach to budget and      further enhance efficiencies and savings across OHCHR, both in the field      and at HQ;
  • In addition to efforts to increase the OHCHR’s regular budget, to      move forward on the discussion on how to broaden the donor base for OHCHR;
  • Continue its transparency efforts of the OHCHR budget and      accounts.

 

We reiterate our commitment to work towards a balanced funding structure that matches the increasing priority placed on human rights and the financing required for OHCHR to fulfil its mandate. A sustainable development of the human rights efforts of the United Nations requires that the regular budget covers at the very least mandated activities by the Human Rights Council and other relevant UN bodies. It should also allow the OHCHR to respond positively to Member States requests for technical assistance, including through its field presence. The undersigning States will commit to take the discussion of the 2016-2017 programme budget as an opportunity to work in that direction.

Thank you

 

Statement delivered by:

Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Bahrain, Bosnia and

Herzegovina, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African

Republic, Chad, Chile, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of

Congo, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Kenya,

Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco,

Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland,

Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Senegal, Slovenia,

Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay.