Global Policy Forum

Proposal Would Break UN General Assembly

UN News Center
March 19, 2004


The economic and financial committee (second) and the social, humanitarian and cultural committee (third) would meet from September to December, spokeswoman Michele Montas told journalists. The committee dealing with disarmament matters (first), that covering decolonization and special political questions (fourth) as well as the legal (sixth) committee would meet in the northern spring. The UN budget committee (fifth) would convene during both sessions.

The informal proposals, submitted by the representatives of Algeria, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Singapore, Slovenia and South Africa, came in response to an Assembly resolution in December calling for widespread reform of that body's work. The Assembly will consider these proposals, along with recommendations by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and make decisions by July.

Meanwhile, the UN budget committee has been reviewing a decision by the Secretary-General, effective 1 February, that a marriage recognized as valid under the law of the country of a UN staff member's nationality will qualify that staff member to receive the entitlements provided for eligible family members. A domestic partnership contracted by a staff member which is legally recognized under his or her country's law will also qualify that staff member to receive the entitlements provided for eligible family members.

Explaining the move on 29 January, a UN spokesman said the decision is in keeping with the long-established practice that matters of personal status are determined by reference to the law of nationality of the staff member concerned. "This decision will continue to ensure respect for the social, religious and cultural diversity of the Member States and their nationals," Fred Eckhard said.

This week, Iran, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), questioned the Secretary-General's decision, asserting that the General Assembly had taken no decision to change the scope of the definition of a family for the purposes of entitlements. Several other delegations said the decision was a managerial one within the purview of the Secretary-General as chief administrative officer. The issue at hand was not the family model, but whether the UN should continue to apply national norms, they said.




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