At the sixty-first session of the General Assembly, the Fifth Committee ensured that the United Nations would continue to function in the 2007-2009 biennium and finance its activities, by determining the contribution of each Member State to the Organization's regular and peacekeeping budgets. After two months of difficult negotiations, delegates decided to retain the same scale of assessments used since 2000, with Japan's contribution as the most significant change, falling from 19.4 to 16.6 per cent of the total budget, which reflects a decline in its gross national income. However, Japan remains the second largest contributor to the United Nations budget after the United States (22 per cent), followed by Germany (8.57 per cent). China's economic growth was reflected by an increase from 2.05 to 2.66 per cent, while 50 countries, including Afghanistan, Malawi and Zambia, pay the lowest assessment rate of 0.001 per cent. For the biennium 2006-2007, the regular budget totalled $ 4.1 billion and the peacekeeping budget was $5.1 billion. The Committee also made important progress on issues related to UN reform by approving the financial implications for activities, such as a comprehensive review of governance and oversight within the United Nations, its specialized agencies, funds and programmes.
LET THE RENOVATION BEGIN UN
Capital Master Plan Set to Start
Far away from the gilded Security Council Chamber and the green marble of the vast General Assembly Hall, visitors on the so-called "dirty tour" of UN Headquarters in New York see the innards of the ageing UN Secretariat buildings. Machinery that blows steam through massive pipes is attached to control panels with original analogue pressure gauges from the early 1950s. Although these buildings represented the cutting edge of architecture when they were built, they do not comply with current fire and safety codes, as well as with modern standards for security and sustainability.
In December 2006, the Fifth Committee approved the budget for the UN Capital Master Plan (CMP), paving the way for a major renovation of the UN Headquarters complex. The iconic rectangular building, which has become a landmark for people around the globe and has received over 38 million visitors so far, will be renovated, at a total cost of $1.88 billion, for the next seven years to make it safer and more energy-efficient. Constructed between 1949 and 1952, the complex was "built very well, using the best materials"...