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5 Apr, 2018

In cost-cutting mode, U.N. downgrades staff travel, eliminates First Class entirely

UNITED NATIONS, 04 April 2018, (UN media information service) — The General Assembly today adopted five texts on matters with financial implications, ranging from the downgrading of standards of accommodation for staff air travel to the modalities of a special meeting on the global fight against tuberculosis, in line with the recommendations of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

Introducing the Fifth Committee’s reports on those and other agenda items, Rapporteur Felipe García Landa (Mexico) told the 193-member body that they had been considered by the Committee at its 14-29 March resumed session.  The resolutions and decisions contained therein now required action by the Assembly, he said, recalling that the Committee had adopted them all without a vote.

The Assembly first adopted, without a vote, a resolution on “Special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019”, contained in paragraph 6 of a Fifth Committee report titled “Programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019” (document A/72/681/Add.1). 

The Assembly, recalling a related Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) report on standards of accommodation for air travel, decided to eliminate the use of first-class travel by United Nations Under‑Secretaries‑Generals and Assistant Secretaries‑Generals, including when they represent the Secretary-General, for their official travel. 

The Assembly encouraged non-staff entitled to travel first class — with the exception of representatives of least developed countries — to voluntarily downgrade to the class immediately below.  It also requested the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report on standards of accommodation for air travel at its seventy-third session.

Further to its terms, the Assembly decided to reinstate travel days and maintain the 70 per cent lump-sum payment for entitlement travel while looking forward to a comprehensive analysis of implementation of that option.  It requested the Secretary-General to deliver recommendations concerning a single threshold for the use of business class by staff — and eligible family members — below the Assistant Secretary-General level. 

Among other things, the Assembly also decided that changes set out in the resolution would not affect current standards of accommodation for air travel and daily subsistence allowances for members of United Nations organs, subsidiary organs, committees, councils and commissions.