26/11/2001
Press Release
GA/AB/3481



Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

29th Meeting (AM)


BUDGET COMMITTEE TAKES UP FINANCING FOR STRENGTHENED UN STAFF SECURITY,

PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS IN LEBANON, SIERRA LEONE


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning began its consideration of the financial aspects of implementing General Assembly decisions on the safety and security of United Nations personnel, as well as the financing of two peacekeeping missions -- United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).


Introducing the report on the revised budget estimates for the safety and security of United Nations personnel for 2002-2003, United Nations Security Coordinator Benon Sevan said that the attention and resources given to the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator by the Assembly last year were already paying dividends.  [Last December, the General Assembly adopted resolution 55/238, by which it established several additional posts and requested the Secretary-General to develop an effective cost-sharing system for security management.] 


Mr. Sevan said that, while it had not been possible to develop a comprehensive accountability plan, there was agreement on how to proceed.  The appointment of a full-time Security Coordinator at the Assistant Secretary-General level was critical to the process and would provide the essential leadership to the United Nations security efforts.  Security was about protecting the protectors; it was not a one-time expenditure, but a long-term investment.


Introducing the related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), its Chairman, Conrad S.M. Mselle, said the number of posts proposed for safety and security was 338, of which 38 would be at Headquarters.  Agency-sponsored field security posts would be recruited and managed by the respective specialized agencies, funds and programmes.  With United Nations agencies and other participants sharing the security costs, the share of the United Nations was approximately $10.4 million.


The representative of the United States said that the omission of accountability standards in the Secretary-General’s report was a flaw in the plan of action in that regard.  A mechanism for tracking and enforcing accountability must be in place as soon as possible.  Recent extraordinary circumstances had necessitated rapid responses to crisis situations in the international arena, and accountability was the key to holding the whole system together.


As the Committee took up the financing of UNIFIL, several speakers supported the demand by the representative of Lebanon that Israel should pay for the damages resulting from the incident at Qana, Lebanon, on 18 April 1996, which he called “a premeditated attack on the United Nations base” there.  He insisted that Israel should be held financially accountable for its actions, paying compensation for its aggression, in accordance with relevant resolutions of the General Assembly.  The representative of Syria said that the incident should be highlighted by a separate heading in the draft resolution on the matter.


The representative of Israel said that he was disturbed by the politically motivated attempts to manipulate the Committee.  Israel would gladly join the consensus on the financing of UNIFIL, without newly introduced political elements.  There was no precedent of a Member State bearing sole financial responsibility for the damages incurred by a peacekeeping mission.  Those damages should be absorbed by the general budget in accordance with the principle of collective responsibility.


Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Libya and the Russian Federation.  The Chairman of the Advisory Committee and the Director, Peacekeeping Financing Division, also responded to questions and comments from the floor.


The Committee will continue its discussion of the safety and security of United Nations personnel at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 27 November.


Background


This morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected to begin its consideration of the safety and security of the United Nations personnel and take up the budget requirements of two peacekeeping operations.


Safety and Security


On the first of its agenda items, the Committee had before it a report on the revised budget estimates for the safety and security of United Nations personnel (documents A/56/469 and Corr.1), submitted by the Secretary-General in response to a request by the General Assembly to develop, in coordination with executive heads of various bodies, an effective cost-sharing mechanism for the United nations security system.  The report outlines the evolution of the current security management, presents proposals for strengthening the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator at Headquarters and the security arrangements in the field.


The Office of the Security Coordinator manages the security systems at

150 duty stations, of which 80 are considered to be high risk.  The document also contains related revised cost estimates under section 30, special expenses, of the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003, to be apportioned among participating organizations.


According to the report, the total proposed revised estimates for the

Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator for 2002-2003 amount to some $53.37 million before recosting.  That amount would be apportioned among the participating organizations.  The United Nations share of the costs would amount to some $10.42 million under the regular budget, representing an increase of some $7.99 million against the provision of $2.42 million included in the proposed programme budget for the next biennium under section 30, special expenses.   The revised estimated requirements related to posts amount to some $25.45 million before recosting.


The revised staffing table includes a total of 338 posts, which would be managed by the Office of the Security Coordinator.  Of the total, 331 posts are under the regular budget, to be funded on a reimbursable basis, and seven are extrabudgetary posts funded from the support account.  The total proposed increase against current approved staffing of the regular budget would amount to 19 new posts (one Assistant Secretary-General, three P-5, two P-4, three P-3 and

10 General Service), a reclassification to the D-2 level for the posts of the Deputy Security Coordinator at Headquarters and 276 new posts in the field.  The proposed increase under extrabudgetary posts would amount to four new posts

(two P-4 and two General Service).


In a related report, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (document A/56/619) recalls that, in its resolution 55/238, the Assembly decided, pending submission of the report under consideration, to establish, effective 1 January 2001, 16 additional Professional posts and

16 additional Local level posts at Headquarters and in the field.  The Advisory Committee was informed that eight of the Professional posts would be encumbered in November 2001, but those in the field had not yet been filled.  The ACABQ requests that the procedure to fill those approved posts be expedited.


Also according to the report, after careful consideration, the Advisory Committee recommends acceptance of the Secretary –General’s staffing proposals, including the establishment of the posts at the Assistant Secretary-General level, in view of the need for a high-level official to provide essential leadership in security coordination and management, as well as the reclassification to the D-2 level of the post of the Deputy Security Coordinator.  However, the ACABQ also urges a review of the post structure, in the future, to ensure complete coverage for all high-risk duty stations.


The report further stresses the need to clarify the relationship and interaction between the Office of the Security Coordinator and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  In view of the additional support account posts proposed by the Secretary-General, the ACABQ does not see the need to establish the Security Focal Point post in the Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit.  Moreover, as the Advisory Committee was informed that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had seconded an individual to the Security Coordinator’s Office, it believes that the Peacekeeping Department should give some thought to that approach instead.


In connection with the proposed 63 posts to be recruited and managed by the agencies, funds and programmes, whose link to the Security Coordinator would be through the designated resident coordinators in the field, the Advisory Committee expresses hope that such arrangements would not in any way compromise the role of the Security Coordinator in performing security functions on behalf of the United Nations and various United Nations bodies.  Central professional management would help to ensure consistency in the application of standards.


On the issue of accountability, the ACABQ notes that the matter has been discussed at the inter-agency level on a preliminary basis, and that agreement has been reached on the broad outlines of the system.  Furthermore, a joint working group is to meet to develop the accountability standards in greater detail.  In view of the importance of a well-defined hierarchical security structure in the field, the ACABQ stresses that a prolonged discussion on defining clear lines of responsibility and accountability in ensuring the safety and security of staff would be unacceptable.  As the issue needs to be addressed expeditiously, the Advisory Committee requests the Secretary-General to report on progress achieved in this regard at the fifty-seventh session of the Assembly.


On the cost-sharing arrangement, the Advisory Committee notes the apportionment among the participating organizations of the 2002-2003 revised estimates for the Office of the Security Coordinator, also noting that the United Nations share of some $11.99 million relates to the safety and security of the field staff of the Secretariat and staff of the International Tribunals (7,589 total).  Since the International Tribunals are financed under their own assessed budgets, the total $11.99 million is, therefore, split among the United Nations (some $10.99 million), the Tribunal for former Yugoslavia ($193,200) and the Rwanda Tribunal ($802,400).  If other entities participate in the security arrangements, they must fully share in all identifiable direct and indirect costs.  The ACABQ stresses the importance of adhering to the shared financial responsibility in the coordinated management of the safety and security of the United Nations personnel.  The Secretary-General is requested to ensure that the funds of the participating organizations are transferred for this purpose as at

1 January of each year, and that the share of the United Nations, as approved by the Assembly, is not exceeded without prior approval.


The Advisory Committee also requests the Secretary-General to report on the experience related to the implementation of the agreement, including cash flow, and information on the staff security costs from the participating agencies, funds and programmes.  That would allow for a better assessment of the security-related funds involved and the benefits of the proposed agreement.  That information should be included in the next report containing the proposals related to the percentage share of each participating organization. The ACABQ urges participating agencies to be fully transparent, particularly in the context of their budget estimates about their own residual expenditures related to the security of personnel in the field.


Budget for UNIFIL


The Committee had before it a report of the Secretary-General containing the budget for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002 (document A/56/431).  The proposed budget for the 12-month period amounts to some $136.98 million net, inclusive of budgeted voluntary contributions in kind amounting to about $201,200.  Of the total budget, some 63 per cent relates to military personnel costs, 18 per cent to civilian costs, and 16 per cent to operational requirements.


The Secretary-General recommends that the Assembly appropriate some

$136.61 million gross ($132.78 million net) for the maintenance of the Force for

1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002, including the commitment authority of some

$99.55 million gross ($97.56 million net) previously authorized and assessed under the terms of Assembly resolution 55/180 B of June 2001 for 1 July to 31 December 2001.  The Assembly should also assess an additional amount of $37.1 million gross ($35.2 million net) for 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002, should the Security Council decide to continue the Force's mandate.


In a related report (document A/56/510), the ACABQ recommends approval of the Secretary-General's proposal taking into account several observations.  It notes that the estimated requirement of $136.61 million (net of voluntary contributions of $201,200) represents a decrease of some $62.3 million or 31.3 per cent in total resources (gross), compared with resources amounting to some

$198.9 million approved for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001.  The proposed budget reflects a decrease of some 26.7 per cent in military personnel costs; 9.7 per cent in civilian costs, and 56.7 per cent in operational requirements.  Those reductions will be partially offset by increases in other programmes.  The budget proposal is based on an average troop strength of 4,057, to be achieved through the non-replacement or reduction of units through their normal rotations.  The Force's troop strength -- planned at the level of 4,543 troops as of 31 August 2001 -- will be reduced to 3,613 by May 2002.  The target level of 2,000 troops will be achieved at the beginning of the next financial period.


The report says that UNIFIL's proposed civilian component of 491 staff reflects a decrease of 17 international posts and 41 local level posts.  The budget document, however, provides no clear information on the rationale for the proposed composition of the civilian personnel.  The reduction of 17 international staff does not seem to be proportionate with the reduction in military personnel.   The Advisory Committee expects a further reduction in international staff for the financial period starting 1 July 2002.


On operational requirements, in view of the downsizing of the Force, the ACABQ cautions against what appears to be excessive replacement of various types of equipment.  A provision of $140,260, for example, is budgeted for replacement of 1,150 pieces of office furniture, and a provision of $117,481 is budgeted for replacement of 40 per cent of the items of the current inventory of accommodation equipment.  Regarding the storage of spare parts in technologically advanced warehouses, while the ACABQ supports the idea in principle, it cautions that such warehouses should be established in the mission area only when fully justified from the operational point of view and when economically feasible.  On the purchase of new prefabricated structures, the Advisory Committee requests that, before a decision is made, a study should be conducted to ensure that it is justified and efficient.


Budget for UNAMSIL


On this subject, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report, containing the proposed budget for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002 for the maintenance of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), which amounts to some $722.13 million gross ($716.50 million net), exclusive of budgeted voluntary contributions in kind amounting to about $1.35 million.  It is based on an authorized force strength of 17,500 military personnel, including 260 military observers.  The Mission’s military force and its civilian police component of

60 advisers will be supported by a civilian staffing establishment of 1,174 personnel, comprising 390 international and 616 local staff, as well as 168 United Nations Volunteers.


Of the total budget, some 8 per cent of resources relates to civilian personnel costs. Operational costs account for 22 per cent of the budget, military personnel costs reflect 69 per cent, while staff assessment comprises 1 per cent of the total.  Less than 1 per cent of the total resources is related to other programmes.


The report recommends that the Assembly appropriate the proposed amount and assess the additional amount of some $86.07 million gross ($84.87 million net) for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2001, taking into account the amount of

$275 million gross ($273,375,000 net) already assessed under the terms of General Assembly resolution 55/251 B.  Other recommended assessments include the amount of some $180.53 million gross ($179.12 million net) for the period from 1 January to 31 March 2002; and the same amount for the period from 1 April to 30 June 2002, should the Security Council decide to continue the mandate of the Mission.


In its related report (document A/56/621), the ACABQ recommends that the Assembly appropriate $692 million gross for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002, inclusive of the amount of $275 million gross already appropriated and assessed in resolution 55/251 B for the period ending 31 December 2001.  The ACABQ recommends an assessment of an additional amount of $244 million gross for a total amount of assessment of $519 million gross for 1 July 2001 to 31 March 2002.  Further recommended is an assessment of $132 million gross for the period from

1 April to 30 June 2002, should the Security Council decide to continue the mandate of the Mission.  In addition, the Assembly may wish to authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments (without assessment) in the amount of up to $41 million, for the period from 1 April to 30 June 2002, should the Council decide to extend the mandate of UNAMSIL beyond 31 March 2002.  Thus, the total authority available for 1 April to 30 June 2002 would be $173 million.


Noting that the proposed estimates of $161.5 million under operational requirements reflect an increase of $14.5 million, compared with the apportionment for 2000/2001, the Advisory Committee states that many of the evaluation ratios currently in use may need to be further reviewed in the light of past performance.   Having reviewed the Secretariat’s replies to the questions about the recently acquired eight-seat executive jet, the ACABQ questions the need for a change to this sort of aircraft, particularly given improved local medical facilities and the possibilities for commercial medical evacuation.  The contract should be urgently reviewed in order to find alternatives to the use of the executive jet, the Advisory Committee states.


Regarding contingent-owned equipment and self-sustainment, the ACABQ points out a slow pace of processing claims for contingent-owned equipment, which illustrates that there may be inadequate capacity in the verification process in the field and in the processing of claims at Headquarters.  As the memoranda of understanding are not always modified in a timely manner and some are not modified at all, the matter needs to be urgently reviewed.  The ACABQ commends the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UNAMSIL for their efforts to address the deficiencies of the Mission and trusts that the experience will be valuable for other missions.  Taking into account the magnitude of expenditures and the need to promote efficiency, the ACABQ recommends the development of benchmarks for determining capacity for verification and reiterates its view that nationals from a troop-contributing country should not normally be called upon to review or verify equipment or national contingents from their own countries.


As for civilian personnel costs, the ACABQ expresses its concern over the lack of clarity in the proposals for the reclassification and transfer of posts.  In instances where the Advisory Committee recommends approval of a reclassification, it has made its recommendations against the proposed redeployment of the posts at its former level.  While finding no justification for changing some staffing requirements, the Advisory Committee recommends the establishment of several new posts and reclassification of others.  The document contains a table clarifying new posts and reclassification proposals.


Safety and Security


Introduction of Reports


BENON SEVAN, United Nations Security Coordinator, said staff expected the Organization to take steps to protect them.  The proposal before the Committee was the culmination of many months of study.  Security was a fundamental requirement for the effective functioning of all United Nations operations.  The attention and resources given to the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator by the Assembly last year were already paying dividends.  The Office also had been able to reinforce its coordinating role in the security management system.  The Office continued to present its security and stress management training programme and, as of 1 November, mobile training teams had visited some 29 countries and presented training to 8,000 staff members.


He said it was time to introduce new structures and operating procedures throughout the United Nations system.  The appointment of a full-time Security Coordinator at the Assistant Secretary-General level was critical to the process.  The appointment of such a high-level post would provide the essential focus and leadership to the United Nations efforts.  He urged the Committee to consider the proposal favourably.


On the cost-sharing proposal, he said agreement had been reached after many long months.  In broad terms, field-related costs were to be apportioned to participating organizations based on the number of staff they had in the field.  Central costs of management and direction would be assumed by the United Nations.  On strengthening of the Office, the proposal consisted of three components: operations in the field; operations at Headquarters to support the field; and executive direction and management.


Regarding the issue of accountability, he said, while it had not yet been possible to develop a comprehensive plan, there was agreement on how to proceed.  During the next few months, he would be convening a working group meeting to develop the accountability standards in greater detail.  Security was about protecting the protectors.  Security management was not about imposing rules to prevent people from saving lives; it was about creating conditions whereby lives could be saved.  It was also not a one-time expenditure, but a long-term investment.


The Chairman of the ACABQ, CONRAD S.M. MSELLE, said the number of posts proposed for safety and security was 338, of which 38 would be at Headquarters, including those funded from extrabudgetary resources.  On the 63 agency-sponsored field security posts referred to in the report, they would be recruited and managed by the respective specialized agencies, funds and programmes.  The related costs would be shared between the United Nations agencies and other participants.  The cost to the United Nations was about $10.4 million.  If one took into account resources already included in initial estimates of the Secretary-General, the additional request amounted to some $8 million under section 30 of the proposed programme budget.  The ACABQ agreed with the Secretary-General’s proposals and had made several recommendations in its report, which the Secretariat was requested to take into account when implementing proposals under that item.


Statements


PATRICK KENNEDY (United States) placed particular importance on maintaining the security of United Nations personnel.  Everyone had the responsibility to limit further casualties.  The report before the Committee today was the result of broad effort made during the past year to create a more equitable cost-sharing arrangement for the United Nations’ security management system.  The new cost-sharing arrangement allocated financial responsibility to all of the nearly

30 United Nations organizations that maintained a field presence.  It was based on a sound fiscal methodology and was a good first step towards creating a strong security system.  But, it was only the first of many steps that must be taken to give the Office of the Security Coordinator the resources and organizational structure it would need to guarantee the safety and security of United Nations staff.  A key element to the success of the structure was the inclusion of a senior security official whose sole responsibility was the Office.


Out of 150 duty stations, approximately 80 were considered high-risk posts, he said.  The current proposal, however, would provide coverage for only 64 duty stations.  He questioned whether it would be sufficient to provide field security officers with the regional knowledge and expertise necessary to make good security assessments.  He would like to see a more balanced and broad-based security staffing pattern at all 80 duty stations that were rated high-risk.


He also wanted to see accountability standards and a clear chain of command established between the field and Headquarters, he added.  Many duty stations were staffed with security officers hired by United Nations agencies, in addition to staff of the Security Coordinator’s Office, creating a huge potential for confusion at all levels during a crisis and the likelihood that standard procedures would not be followed.  It was crucial that the Office be the lead agency, providing standard operating procedures and direction for all United Nations security officers and personnel in the field.  A single security service would also be more cost efficient and effective.


Training was a critical element of a successful security operation, he continued.  The United States supported the proposal recommending a Security Training Unit and encouraged the Security Coordinator’s Office to consider additional steps to strengthen that Unit in the future.  On accountability, reference to the matter was conspicuously absent in the report, except for the identification of a few broad-based standards.  That omission fundamentally flawed the plan of action to strengthen the safety and security of United Nations personnel.  A mechanism for tracking and enforcing accountability must be created, accepted and enforced as soon as possible.


Recent extraordinary circumstances had necessitated rapid responses to crisis situations in the international arena, he said.  In the process, the Security Coordinator’s Office and its established security procedures had been circumvented by some participants.  He found that situation dangerous and unacceptable.  The United Nations must establish rules and guidelines for security that should be followed in all circumstances.  They must be flexible and fluid, so that they were respected by all parties involved.  Accountability was the key to holding the whole system together.


UNIFIL Financing


Mr. MSELLE introduced the report of the ACABQ on the financing of UNIFIL (document A/56/510).


IBRAHIM ASSAF (Lebanon) thanked the United Nations for its efforts to restore peace in the Middle East and commended the personnel of UNIFIL for their work.  He assured the Committee of his country’s support for the mission.  Despite its difficult economic situation, Lebanon provided all the financial exemptions to the items imported into the country to be used by the UNIFIL and spared no effort to make annual contributions to the United Nations and the Force.


Continuing, he said that the Secretary-General had pointed out in his report that, contrary to the General Assembly resolutions, Israel had failed to pay for the damages caused by its premeditated attack on the United Nations base in Qana in 1996.  He insisted that Israel should be held financially accountable for its actions, paying the compensation for its aggression.  His country would undertake consultations with the Arab Group and the “Group of 77” developing countries and China on the resolution needed in that regard.


ABDOU AL-MOULA NAKKARI (Syria) said that he had hoped that the report of the Secretary-General would have been introduced by his representatives, for his delegation had many questions on the matter.  Turning to paragraph 10 (c) of the report, he said that it mentioned a possible reduction of the Force to 2,000 troops, making it clear that a decision on the matter would be taken later, in consultation with the countries involved, as well as troop-contributing countries, based on the developments on the ground.  He believed that the Secretary-General’s report was balanced on the issue, but noted that in other places of the same report the reduction was taken for granted, as if it were already decided.  There was a contradiction.


Regarding the Qana incident and reparations for the damage, he agreed with the delegate of Lebanon and said that he wanted a clear statement on the issue to be included in the text under discussion under the “Qana incident” heading.  As for the proposed abolition of four Professional posts in the Mine Action Coordination Cell mentioned in paragraph 12 of the ACABQ report, he said that the Advisory Committee made it clear that following the abolition of those posts, contractual personnel would be used.  The demining programmes of the Cell were supported by voluntary contributions, and he was concerned that the abolition of the four posts could hurt the landmine clearance efforts.  Also, he did not agree with the recommendations contained in paragraph 16 of the ACABQ report, because they ran counter to the recommendations in paragraph 11 of the same document.


RON ADAM (Israel) said that he was disturbed by the politically motivated attempts to manipulate the Committee and hoped that they would stop.  He hoped the Member States would not bend to the pressure to include a separate heading on Qana in the text under discussion.  As the Fifth Committee worked on the basis of consensus, Israel would gladly join the consensus on the financing of UNIFIL, without newly introduced political elements.  There was no precedent of a Member State bearing sole financial responsibility for the damages incurred by a peacekeeping mission.  Those damages should be absorbed by the general budget in accordance with the principle of collective responsibility.


Mr. ASSAF (Lebanon) said Israel should bear international responsibility and abide by United Nations resolutions.  He was not requesting compensation for Lebanon.  The issue of compensation for the 102 victims would be taken up by other legal bodies.  General Assembly resolutions, however, requested payment of financial compensation.  The legal and international responsibility would be decided somewhere else.  The General Assembly had included paragraphs on that issue regarding the financial aspect only.  The amount to be paid by Israel had been included in the debit accounts of the United Nations peacekeeping operations.  It was not a political issue.  Moreover, he could not see why a precedent should not be set when Israel had set precedents in bombing the buildings of the United Nations forces, deliberately killing innocent victims and scores of soldiers.


AHMED A. EL-ATRASH (Libya) did not understand how anyone could support the continuation of aggression by making the international community bear the cost of such aggression.  He did not accept any such financing that resulted from deliberate terrorist acts against civilians and United Nations forces.  He supported the position of Lebanon.


Responding to the questions from the floor, Mr. MSELLE said paragraph 11 of the ACABQ’s report had to be read in conjunction with the contents of paragraphs 8 and 9.  In paragraph 8, the ACABQ had reported that the Secretary-General proposed a reduction of UNIFIL’s budget of some 31.3 per cent gross in total resources.  In paragraph 9, the ACABQ had indicated the Secretary-General’s proposal to reduce troop strength of some 4,543 as of 31 August 2001 to 3,613 by 31 May 2002.  It was expected to reach the target level of 2,000 by the beginning of the next financial period, or 1 July 2002.


In paragraph 11, he added, the ACABQ had observed that the proposed reduction in international staff by 17 was not commensurate with the level of troop reductions.  While the ACABQ had not made an adjustment to the Secretary-General’s proposals, it had indicated that the ACABQ expected further reductions in the number of international staff in the financial period starting 1 July 2002.  Subject to that recommendation, the ACABQ had recommended accepting the proposal of the Secretary-General.


YEO BOCK CHENG, Director, Peacekeeping Financing Division, Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts, responded to several questions posed by the representative of Syria.  Regarding the abolition of four Professional posts in the Mine Action Coordinating Cell, to be replaced by contractual services, he assured the Committee that such a proposal did not represent any reduction in the assessed funds for demining.  It would be more efficient to outsource such services.  The principle of the use of assessed contributions versus voluntary ones would be adhered to, as in the past.  The assessment of the mine situation was to be financed from the assessed contributions, for it was important to take account of all the mines in the area of UNIFIL operations.  Other services were historically financed from voluntary contributions.


As for the heading for the Qana incident, he said that it was appropriately highlighted in the English version of the text.  He would check if the matter was treated similarly in other languages.  He added that the reports before the Committee made no presumptions as to what would be decided by the Council regarding the composition of the mission.  No corresponding assumptions were made in the annex of the report dealing with supplementary information.  The language might have been more assertive in the technical paragraphs, but no presumptions were made regarding the Council decisions.


Mr. NAKKARI (Syria) said that a troop reduction mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report would be dependent on the developments in the field.  However, paragraph 10 (c) was not coordinated with other paragraphs of the report on the same issue.  The general principle was that the matter would depend on the decision by the Council.  He hoped the text would be amended, as appropriate.  As for the Qana incident, he agreed with the content of the paragraph in the Arabic version of the report, but in recent years the incident at Qana had been mentioned, among other things.


Turning to what Mr. Mselle had said, he added that paragraph 11 of the ACABQ report did not request any reduction in international staff at this stage.  The

matter should be further discussed to determine the exact need for possible reduction in the future.


Mr. MSELLE said that, in paragraph 11 of the report, the Advisory Committee was talking not about a reduction in troops, but a reduction in staff.  [In

that paragraph, the Advisory Committee pointed out that the reduction of

17 international staff posts did not seem to be proportionate with the reduction in military personnel.  It also stated that it expected a further reduction in international staff to be proposed for the financial period starting 1 July 2002.]


He said that any reductions depended on the action by the Council.  If the phased reduction in troops proposed by the Secretary-General did not take place, paragraph 11 of the ACABQ report would not be implemented.  In the past, similar observations had been made in other reports, and it was up to the Committee to decide whether the Secretary-General should propose further reductions or not.


Mr. ASSAF (Lebanon) said that he understood that the issue was for the Council to decide.  His position regarding the reduction of the troops or administrative personnel was well known.  He called for the continuation of United Nations operations with all their elements.  He did not want to increase the expenses of the United Nations in Lebanon, but it was important to achieve peace and stability in the region.


Sierra Leone Mission


Mr. MSELLE introduced the related report of the ACABQ (documentA/56/621) saying the Committee had made several recommendations, one of which related to the management of the wet lease arrangement.  The ACABQ had commended the Mission for measures it had taken to deal with problems related to the wet lease/contingent-owned equipment arrangement.  It had recommended that benchmarks be developed to determine the capacity to strengthen the contingent-owned equipment verification process.  That recommendation applied equally to all other peacekeeping operations. 


On the issue of reclassifications and staff resources, the ACABQ questioned the proposals to reclassify posts and transfer the same posts to other units at lower levels.  Because of that, the ACABQ had not agreed with all proposals to reclassify several UNAMSIL posts.  The ACABQ had also commented on serious problems related to contract management.  It intended to follow up on the issue, including similar situations in other missions.


VLADIMIR A. IOSSIFOV (Russian Federation) said he was satisfied with the functioning of UNAMSIL overall, which today was the United Nations largest peacekeeping operation.  The main objective of UNAMSIL was to assist the Government of Sierra Leone in ensuring respect for laws, State institutions and the political process, as well as assisting in preparations for upcoming elections.  The Mission had both civilian and military components, which were working effectively.  He agreed with the ACABQ’s proposal, however, not to recommend approval of all the proposed reclassifications.  Analysis should be carried out on the non-implementation of various contracts so that the situation would not be repeated in the future.  He endorsed the ACABQ’s recommendations regarding the operational budget for UNAMSIL and was prepared to consider a reduction in the Mission’s administrative component, as well.