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15/12 - Provision of language facilities for meetings of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (decision 15/12)

53. At the 12th meeting of its session, on 25 May, the Council had before it a draft decision on this subject submitted by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (UNEP/GC.15/L.8).

54. The Secretary said that the cost of providing full language services for meetings of the Committee of Permanent Representatives was estimated at $450,000 for the biennium, assuming that a total of eight meetings would be held in that period.

55. The draft decision was adopted without a vote.

56. The representative of United States of America said that the decision proposed an injudicious allocation of scarce resources. If the draft decision had been put to the vote, his delegation would have voted against, as it would do when the proposal was put to the General Assembly. A departure from the current practice for the meetings of the Committee of Permanent Representatives would set a precedent for other organs which the United Nations could ill afford.

57. The representative of Japan associated himself with views of the representative of the United States of America.

58 The representative of China said that his Government strongly believed that, in accordance with the rules of procedure of the Governing Council, all six official and working languages of the Council should be treated equally at all formal UNEP meetings, including meetings of the Committee of Permanent Representatives. Any arrangement involving unequal treatment of the different official languages was unacceptable to the Chinese Government, which had made its views known on several occasions to the secretariat. The Chinese Government had also taken note that owing to regular budgetary constraints, UNEP was considering a progressive reduction of staff: that process should not, however, be used as a reason for abolishing or reducing the staff of only certain language services. If, owing to budgetary constraints, the number of language staff had to be reduced, the staffing levels for all the official languages should be reduced in equal proportions.