Cablegate: Icty: Registry Seeks Assistance On Budget

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: UN DOC. A/58/449 (20 OCTOBER 2003)

1. Summary: The deputy registrar and chief budget officer of
the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
(ICTY) requested USG support for the ICTY's proposed budget
for the 2004-2005 biennium the face of an ambiguous
concluding sentence in the ACABQ's report to the Fifth
Committee that could be read as recommending a $20 million
cut in the ICTY's core budget. The registry officials made a
compelling case that the ACABQ intended to reduce the amount
available to the ICTY to account for the poor dollar-euro
exchange rate, but did not intend to recommend an
across-the-board cut of the ICTY's (pre-exchange rate
adjustment) baseline budget. A cut along the latter lines,
they said, would have a "devastating impact" on the
Tribunal's ability to implement key completion strategy
projects. End summary.

2. Deputy Registrar David Tolbert and Chief Budget Officer
Jorge Benito met with embassy legal officers on November 18
to alert the USG's attention to a possible misunderstanding
that could arise because of the ACABQ's recent report on the
ICTY's budget request for the 2004-2005 biennium (ref).
Tolbert and Benito noted that the ACABQ did not reject any of
the major items requested by the ICTY and that, in their
view, the report as a whole was a welcomed endorsement of
their implementation of the ICTY completion strategy.
Indeed, they noted that the ACABQ, in paragraph 38 of its
report, did not recommend any "specific reductions" because
it "does not wish to impede the completion strategy" (ref).

3. Despite the endorsement of the ACABQ, Tolbert and Benito
expressed concern that the Fifth Committee could interpret
the last sentence of the ACABQ report as recommending a
massive across-the-board cut of the ICTY's baseline budget
(that is, the budget before taking into account the
additional funds required to cover losses due to the poor
dollar-euro exchange rate). The last sentence of paragraph
38 (the recommendation paragraph) reads, in part, as follows:
". . . the Committee recommends that the estimated
requirements for the Tribunal for the biennium for 2004-2005
be reduced by USD 20 million gross." Tolbert and Benito made
a persuasive case that the recommendation, in the context of
paragraph 38 and the report as a whole, must pertain only to
the recosting based on the poor exchange rate. The
recosting, as provided by the UN Secretariat, would total
approximately USD 64 million over the baseline budget of
approximately USD 262 million. The ACABQ made the point in
paragraph 38 that, in light of the volatility of the currency
exchange rate, "it is not necessary . . . to appropriate and
assess at this stage the full recosting provision projected
for the next years. Instead, the General Assembly may wish
to request the Secretary-General to report on additional
requirements, if any, that would arise from currency
movements at a time when a more complete picture of exchange
rates has emerged, namely, in December 2004." It is "on this
basis" that the ACABQ recommended a USD 20 million reduction.
As such, it appears clear to Tribunal officials that the
reduction refers only to the recosting and not to the
baseline. They underscore this point by noting that the
ACABQ did not identify "any particular item" where resources
could be cut, though one would have expected such suggestions
if the USD 20 million referred to the baseline budget itself.

4. Registry officials are particularly concerned that a
misinterpretation of the ACABQ recommendation could lead to a
substantial cut in the ICTY's baseline budget at a time when
it is focused on implementing key completion strategy
programs. Benito and his budget team already came up with
substantial cuts in order to achieve a sub-zero growth budget
proposal. To cut further would, in Tolbert's words, have a
"devastating impact" on the Tribunal's ability to meet
completion strategy goals. For instance, it would likely be
unable to maintain the six ongoing trials plan of the
Tribunal that is essential to concluding trials by the close
of 2008, as envisioned under the completion strategy.

5. Comment: Tolbert and Benito made a persuasive case that
the correct reading of the ACABQ recommendation was that it
applied to recosting, not the baseline budget. As such, they
hope that the Fifth Committee will approve the full baseline
budget requested along with $47 million of the $67 million
calculated for recosting. The remaining $20 million of
recosting would be requested, as needed, in light of currency
fluctuations and savings over the next year. This is
something the Tribunal can live with as they recognize (as
did the ACABQ report) that future currency fluctuations and
savings will affect the Tribunal's needs. Moreover, an
adverse reading of the recommendation would seem to conflict
with the ACABQ's overall endorsement of the ICTY's budget
proposal and would certainly jeopardize the ICTY's ability to
keep pace with the completion strategy timeframe. End

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