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Financial Implications of the Draft Resolution Concerning Refugees and Stateless Persons: Note by the Secretary-General

Financial Implications of the Draft Resolution Concerning Refugees and Stateless Persons: Note by the Secretary-General

21 November 1949

1. On 15 November, the Third Committee of the General Assembly approved two resolutions relating to refugees and stateless persons (A/1119).

2. The first of the resolutions (Part A) proposes the establishment of an Office of High Commissioner for Refugees within the framework of the United Nations as from 1 January 1951. The Annex to the resolution indicates the recommendation of the Third Committee that the administrative expenses of the Office of the High Commissioner should be financed under the budget of the United Nations (Annex 1 (b)).

3. In view of the date set for the establishment of the High Commissioner's Office, it is the opinion of the Secretary-General that no supplementary budget appropriations for 1950 will be required. The Secretary-General will endeavour to absorb work required to prepare the detailed draft provisions for implementation of the proposal for circulation to the Governments and to the Economic and Social Council at its eleventh session (Part A, paragraph 2) within existing budgetary provisions for the Secretariat. On the other hand, should the Economic and Social Council at its eleventh session decide on the necessity for a small planning group in the late months of 1950. As envisaged by the Secretary-General in his report (A/C.3/527) and by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (A/1059), the Secretary-General may find it necessary to request a transfer of funds between sections or have recourse to the Working Capital Fund with the concurrence of the Advisory Committee.

4. The precise budgetary consequences of this resolution will be considered in connection with the 1951 budget estimates. In the opinion of the Secretary-General, the administrative expenses of the Office of the High Commissioner in 1951, as envisaged in this resolution, would be in the order of $400,000 (net). Of this amount, approximately $220,000 would be required for the headquarters office at Geneva (para. 10 and 12) and $180,000 for field representatives (para.11). While the details cannot be presented until the staffing requirements are investigated more fully and until Governments are consulted concerning the necessity for field representatives, the definition of functions outlined by the Third Committee in paragraphs 4-8 eliminates the necessity for sizable branch offices suggested by the Secretary-General in his report (A/C.3/527, paragraph 66) as a consequence of the protection of individual refugees. This decision has made possible the substantial reduction of the Secretary-General's original estimate of $750,000 (net).

5. It should be emphasized that these estimates do not provide any sums for material assistance to refugees but only the expenses of legal and administrative officers, field representatives and secretarial and clerical staff. Paragraph 5 of the Annex to Part A provides that:

"The High Commissioner should distribute among private, and, as appropriate, official agencies which he deems best qualified to administer such assistance any funds, public or private, which he may receive for this purpose. The accounts relating to these funds should be periodically verified by the auditors of the United Nations. For the information of the General Assembly, the High Commissioner should include in his annual report a statement of his activities in this field."

If such funds should be made available in 1951, it is hoped that the staff of the High Commissioner as envisaged in paragraph 3 with the assistance of the Secretary-General's regular financial services, would be sufficient for the receipt, management and disbursement of such monies. It will be recognized by the Committee, however, that the administrative and budgetary consequences of this function cannot be finally determined until experience shows the approximate magnitude of the funds available and the best methods for allocation to public and private agencies on behalf of refugees. Paragraph 6, providing that the:

"High Commissioner should engage in such additional activities, including repatriation and resettlement activities as the General Assembly may determine."

also may require special funds in the future but only in consequence of a further decision by the General Assembly.

6. The second of the resolutions approved by the Third Committee (Part B) assistance an urgent appeal to all States to furnish the widest possible assistance to the International Refugee Organization, particularly in respect of the admission and care of refugees in the most destitute categories, and recommend that the General Assembly should decide:

"in the absence of definite date, to postpone until its fifth session the examination of the problem of assistance raised by the memorandum of 20 October 1949 of the IRO, should these problems still be in existence at that date."

This resolution bears on the question of the "hard-core" of refugees remaining after the termination of the International Refugee Organization. The resolution has no budgetary consequences to the United Nations in 1950.