(b) Assessment - to determine whether the quantities ordered meet the
needs, and to provide information on the adequacy of the Distribution Plan(s) and the
effects of Programme inputs. The UN observation mechanism undertakes two main types of
- Programme/project assessments examine the link between specific inputs and
their intended outputs. These are important in determining whether quantities ordered are
reasonable, given local absorption capacity. This should be useful in informing the
Security Council Committee when evaluating quantities ordered for a range of commodities.
- Self-contained studies provide explanations for particular programme
inadequacies, identifying priority requirements, related contracts and their status at any
Although countrywide surveys do not fall within the scope of the observation
mandate, the Office of the Iraq Programme has given support to surveys undertaken by the
United Nations agencies and programmes.
Procedures for observation tasking are illustrated in the relevant annexes to the
paper presented to you, and therefore I would refrain from going into details in that
regard. A breakdown of the observation visits to date is also provided in the relevant
Changing focus of observation
As a result of the increased scale and complexity of the Programme, the focus
of observation is shifting away from primarily the distribution of food and basic
medicines so-called relief consumables to observing inputs relating to
infrastructure rehabilitation. Paragraph 41 of the MOU made provisions for the observation
of such items, as follows:
"With reference to materials and supplies [
] needed for the
rehabilitation of infrastructures essential to meet humanitarian needs, observation will
focus on confirmation that such materials and supplies are delivered to the predefined
destinations in accordance with the Distribution Plan and that they are used for their
intended purposes, and on the determination of whether these materials and supplies are
adequate or necessary to meet essential needs of the Iraqi population."
These guidelines are being followed at present, but as the quantity and
complexity of such infrastructure-related inputs increase the United Nations will need to
field observers with the required skills and expertise, to meet the Committees
Improving the effectiveness of UN observation activities
(a) The approach
There are currently 151 United Nations observer posts in Iraq. These include 63
geographical observers within the Geographical Observation Unit, 13 multi-disciplinary
observers within the Multi-disciplinary Observation Unit (MDOU) and 75 agency / sectoral
observers. This number of observers was established in the Interim Report of the
Secretary-General (S/1996/978 paragraph 30), in accordance with paragraph 42 of the
which stipulates that "the exact number of such personnel will be determined by
the United Nations, taking into account the practical requirements. The Government of Iraq
will be consulted in this regard."
The Office of the Iraq Programme recognizes the need to utilize the resources
allotted to the observation mechanism more effectively, and to supplement them if
necessary. To this end, OIP has been reviewing on a regular basis the workload, the
observation methodologies and criteria, the timeliness and content of reporting, and the
regularity of access to end-users, in each of the sectors established in the Distribution
Plans. Based on the findings in each sector, measures will be taken to adapt the
capacities of each component of the observation mechanism.
(b) Immediate measures
Based on the findings to date, OIP is undertaking to:
- Re-deploy observation personnel from sectors where coverage has established
that distribution is reasonably effective (e.g. food sector) to sectors where the range of
observation requirements is increasing.
- Employ specialist consultants to increase the effectiveness of the tracking
and programme assessment in those sectors where a greater array of expertise is needed.
- Centralize all observation activities under a single UNOHCI
increase the level of coordination and planning, and ensure better access to end-user
facilities and timely provision of escorts by the Government
- To develop special observation procedures to provide Committee members with
regularly updated information on the results of tracking for items of special interest.
This may involve providing members of the Committee with access to a tracking database.
v) Tighten rotation schedules for observers to ensure that all posts are
filled at any given period.
As OIP undertakes to make the above adjustments to the observation mechanism, it
would be helpful if the Security Council Committee could consider the following proposals:
(a) Upgrading data management systems at Iraqi Government facilities and
warehouses would significantly improve access by the United Nations to reliable baseline
data and would likely improve the efficiency of the Governments distribution
systems. OIP will continue to ensure that the Committee is informed of what applications
relate to this need
(b) It would be very useful for OIP to receive more precise information regarding
the Committees concerns about the end-use of particular items contained in
applications placed on hold. This will allow OIP to adapt its observation activities to
the information needs of the Committee.
(c) In preparing for this presentation, the OIP has consulted informally with
interested members of the Committee. These exchanges are useful as they allow for a
greater level of informed discussion with Committee members on the focus and findings of
UN observation activities. OIP looks forward to further consultations of this nature.
(d) It is hoped that improvements in the observation mechanism in Iraq,
coupled with other efforts to review the information requirements of the Committee, will
result in a reduction in the number of contracts on hold, especially in those cases where
the reasons for the holds relate to the provision of technical specifications and end-user
While I have the floor, I should like to give assurances to all concerned that the
Office of the Iraq Programme, together with all our colleagues in the field, is fully
committed to taking all necessary steps to improve the efficiency of the UN observation
mechanism with the objectives set out in resolution 986 (1995) and the Memorandum of
Understanding, and to make all necessary improvements in order to address the concerns
recently expressed by members of the Security Council Committee.
I should also like to assure you, that we will intensify further our interaction
with the Committee and provide members of the Committee with all necessary information as
well as well as required assurances that all supplies authorized for procurement,
including potential dual-usage items and/or spare parts and equipment are indeed utilized
for the purpose for which they have been authorized. Such assurances are essential in
order to reduce the excessive number of holds placed on applications.
We are fully committed to improve and strengthen our good working relationship
with the Government of Iraq in order to enhance the effective implementation of the
Programme. To this end, we will discuss with the Government of Iraq how the access of our
observers to end-users and end-use facilities can be improved. This includes the timely
provision of escorts by the Government.
However, the Office of the Iraq Programme alone, cannot achieve this objective
without the full cooperation of all parties concerned, be they members of the Security
Council Committee, the Government of Iraq or the permanent or observer missions to the
United Nations who forward applications to the Office of the Iraq Programme.