18 May 2009
General Assembly
GA/AB/3905

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly

Fifth Committee

45th Meeting (AM)


UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR PEACEKEEPING BRIEFS BUDGET COMMITTEE ON RESTRUCTURING;


DESCRIBES POSITIVE STEPS, SAYS 22 MONTHS IN, ‘WE ARE VERY MUCH A WORK IN PROGRESS’


Notes ‘Seamless’ Collaboration between His Department, Department of Field Support;

Also, Controller Introduces Budget Outline for 2009/10 Peacekeeping Support Account


As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today continued its consideration of peacekeeping finance, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, described the early results of the peacekeeping restructuring exercise, elaborating on several positive steps on the provision of Headquarters support to the field, and saying that, 22 months into the process, “we are very much a work in progress”.


Presenting the Secretary-General’s report on strengthened peacekeeping management, Mr. LeRoy recalled that new structures approved by the General Assembly in 2006 had been established by November 2008.  The strengthening of the leadership and management capacity of both the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support had also largely been achieved.  Joint decision-making forums for senior staff had contributed to a more integrated effort.


He said the Department of Peacekeeping was mindful of concerns that the split between Peacekeeping and Field Support would affect unity of command.  “I am pleased to confirm this is not the case.  Collaboration between the DPKO and DFS […] has been seamless,” he said, adding that the Department of Field Support was playing the role of “key strategic enabler”, with Under Secretary-General Susana Malcorra reporting to him on all matters relating to peacekeeping missions.  At the same time, unity of command between Headquarters and the field was being maintained through the delegation of authority to the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General/Heads of Mission, who reported to the Secretary-General through Mr. LeRoy.


The Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions, he said, had emerged as a centre of excellence as a focal point for police, corrections and mine-action coordination.  Organizational learning and “real time” lessons were beginning to influence policy development and training.  And, working closely with the Department of Political Affairs, the Departments of Peacekeeping and Field Support had been able to complete their draft Secretary-General’s bulletins, documents which would lay the groundwork the delineation of department responsibilities.


At the same time, he said, “the very real challenges of overstretch and capacity gaps require us to raise existential questions both about United Nations peacekeeping and how we mount, sustain and support our operations”.


“Here I include questions as to what peacekeeping can and cannot do, and indeed, what it should and should not do,” he continued, observing that the “New Horizons Study” currently under way and the Department of Field Support’s “support strategy” now being developed were designed to address those questions.


However, Inga-Britt Inga-Britt Ahlenius, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, who introduced he Office’s audit of the Secretariat’s structure for maintaining and sustaining peacekeeping operations, pointed out that the support strategy -- key in launching new missions -- was informal and not documented.  In addition, there were risks of a “responsibility gap” between the Department of Peacekeeping and Department of Political Affairs, since both those departments planned, launched and led field missions.  There were no clear criteria or transparent decision-making mechanisms to determine the lead department.


Also today, the Committee took up the outline of a budget for the 2009/10 peacekeeping support account, introduced by Jun Yamazaki, Controller, who said the account for that period was budgeted at $324.45 million, up by 14.9 per cent from 2008/09.  That amount would go towards 1,326 staff members connected in some way to peacekeeping support, including 182 new posts.  For the first time, the budget includes the needs for the newly established Office of Information and Communications Technology.


The representative of Sudan, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, remarked that the Secretariat had yet to develop a sound approach to determine appropriate support account staffing requirements, making it difficult to determine whether they were justified.


Susan McLurg, Chair of the Advisory Committee, who introduced that body’s report on the issue -- which also deals with the peacekeeping management report -- recalled that the restructuring exercise had led the Assembly to request that staffing requirements under the support account be “rejustified”.  ACABQ had met to exchange views on the Independent Audit Advisory Committee report, and had recommended the Assembly accept the Secretary-General’s proposals for additional personnel to conduct inspections and evaluations.  The Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) was recommended to monitor performance.


She said a total of 43 posts would be distributed in the three regional hubs (New York, Nairobi and Vienna), while 10 general temporary assistance positions and one post would be allocated in three missions -- the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS).  OIOS would service the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo from Nairobi.


Also speaking were the representatives of Japan, Norway, Russian Federation and Mexico.


In addition to the budget for the 2009/10 support account, the Controller introduced the Secretary-General’s performance report on the 2007/08 budget.  A sixth report, written by the Independent Audit Advisory Committee on the budget for OIOS under the 2009/10 support account, was drawn to the Committee’s attention by Chair Gabor Brodi ( Hungary).


The Committee will meet again on Wednesday, 20 May, at 10 a.m. to continue its consideration of peacekeeping finance.


Background


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to continue its discussion of the administrative and budgetary aspects of financing for United Nations peacekeeping operations.


For that discussion, the Committee had before it several documents, including the Secretary-General’s report on the budget of the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 (documents A/63/698 and Add.1), which notes the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ continued management of 16 peacekeeping operations and two special political missions (the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan).


The report observes that, against the $230.51 million approved by the General Assembly for the 2007/08 support account, actual expenditures totalled $222.45 million, resulting in unutilized resources of $8.06 million.  The average vacancy rate was 17.8 per cent for posts in the “Professional and above” category, and 12.5 per cent in the “General Service” category.  The unencumbered balance of $8.06 million was attributed to underexpenditure for post and non-post resources.  The General Assembly is asked to apply that amount to the support account requirements for the 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 period.


The Assembly is also requested to apply $6.99 million comprising interest income, other income and cancellation of prior-period obligations to the support account requirements for the 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 period.


The reports give a breakdown of resource performance for various departments and offices.  Of the $80.70 million approved for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, some $75.21 million was spent on, among other activities, 52 briefings to the Security Council, General Assembly and other legislative bodies (from a planned 42); 375 briefings to Member States, regional organizations and others (from a planned 260); 350 presentations on peacekeeping issues in public forums (of a planned 200); and 150 media interviews (from a planned 100).


Of the $60.49 million approved for the Department of Field Support, $59.56 million was spent on activities, including 16 visits to peacekeeping operations (from a planned 8); development of a candidate roster for senior military, police and civilian personnel; and a targeted outreach plan and forecasting of vacancies for those leadership posts.


The Department of Management spent $60.38 million -- against an approved $58.85 million -- on the provision of technical and substantive Secretariat support to formal and informal meetings of the Fifth Committee; legal advice and representation to 371 staff members (from a planned 250); and submission of 132 statements of appeals to the Joint Appeals Board by the Panel of Counsel (from a planned 84), among other activities.


Of the approved $22.58 million for the Office of Internal Oversight Services, $20.23 million was spent on the annual report to the General Assembly on audit results; audit reports specifically requested by the Assembly; 317 reviews of misconduct allegations (of a planned 800) and 89 investigation reports transmitted to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support (of a planned 160).


The Executive Office of the Secretary-General spent $1.24 million of an approved $1.23 million in such areas as the provision of advice in the preparation of reports on peacekeeping issues for the Security Council, among other bodies; and talking points and letters by the Secretary-General.


Of an approved $347,300 for the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman, $311,800 was spent on activities, including assistance for employment-related problems and visits to field missions.  As for the $2.57 million approved for the Office of Legal Affairs, some $2.29 million was spent on the provision of legal advice to peacekeeping missions in such areas as governance, applicability of United Nations rules, operational arrangements and investigations into charges of widespread violation of human rights and humanitarian law.


The Department of Public Information spent $600,300 of an approved $609,000 on producing an average 17.5 stories per month (from a planned 15) on peacekeeping issues distributed to more than 700 broadcasters; reformatting stories for the web; and producing and distributing peacekeeping feature stories for the “United Nation in Action” series, among other activities.  As for the approved $3.13 million for the Department of Safety and Security, $2.39 million was spent on the production of review reports of mission security visits; training for mission security management teams and organization of the annual peacekeeping and political missions’ security training workshop for chief security advisers, among other activities.


According to the Secretary-General’s budget for the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 (documents A/63/767 and Corr. 1), that budget amounts to $324.45 million and provides for a total of 1,362 posts.


Meanwhile, the Secretary-General’s report on strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to manage and sustain peacekeeping operations (documents A/63/702 and Corr.1) discusses the impact of the new structure of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support on field missions.  The most noticeable impact of the restructuring is the establishment of the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions, which provides support in that area to the 18 ongoing peacekeeping operations and special political missions under the responsibility of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.


In addition, the report says that the formation of the Department of Field Support has given more importance to the area of “field support” by positioning itself as a “strategic enabler” in the delivery of peacekeeping and political mandates to those operations.  Overall, it has preserved unity of command, achieved greater integration of effort, enhanced guidance to the field and realized improvements to administrative and management processes.


Nevertheless, the report says, new, more complex and urgent mandates continue to strain the United Nations, with the growth in the authorized strength of peacekeeping personnel by over 30 per cent, and the establishment of highly complex operations in Chad, the Central African Republic and Darfur, and another on the horizon.  The establishment of the integrated operational teams is also proving to be a challenge.


The Department of Field Support is developing a comprehensive support strategy in 2009 to pursue innovative ways of working while increasing accountability, the report adds.  Refinements are being made to the integrated operational team concept.  Other areas for further reform include an improved division of labour within the Department of Political Affairs and strengthened rule of law capacities.  Implementation of General Assembly resolution 63/250, entitled “Human resources management”, will strengthen the Departments’ capability to attract and retain highly qualified staff for United Nations field operations, and the Organization will continue to work towards improving its human resources management framework through the introduction of the talent management system.  In addition, the Department of Management and the Department of Field Support have undertaken joint work to streamline supply chain management.  The Departments will conduct a comprehensive analysis during 2009 of “medium challenges and opportunities for peacekeeping”, with a view to identifying ways to minimize risk, optimize partnerships and maximize effectiveness in mounting and sustaining United Nations operations.


The Committee also had before it ACABQ’s corresponding report (document A/63/841).  Responding to the Secretary-General’s discussion on the impact of the restructuring, ACABQ says that significant strategic and operational benefits accrued so far “are not evident” and need to be brought out more clearly in future reports.  It recommends that the Secretary-General develop clear benchmarks to realize field support objectives.


ACABQ observes that the Department of Political Affairs and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations are refining a common set of principles for interdepartmental cooperation to ensure unity of command, complementarity of effort and effective resort to the expertise in both Departments, which will be set forth in the Secretary-General’s bulletins that are being finalized for each Department.  Meanwhile, ACABQ learned that the draft Secretary-General’s bulletins on the organization and functions of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support would be finalized by the two Departments in May 2009 and submitted to the Department of Management to go through the normal formal review process prior to promulgation by the Secretary-General.  It is, therefore, envisaged that that they will be approved and issued by August 2009.


The Committee emphasizes the importance of timely issuance of all guidance materials that are crucial to the attainment of the goal of strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to manage and sustain peacekeeping operations.  In that context, ACABQ also notes that the Secretary-General has launched a “New Horizon Study” to provide the basis for a clear articulation of future strategic and policy goals for United Nations peacekeeping, identifying approaches to minimize risk and maximize effectiveness.


To date, there are seven integrated operational teams:  one team dedicated to one mission, two dedicated teams supporting more than one mission and four teams with shared specialists focusing on several missions.  A follow-up assessment on the functioning and impact of integrated operational teams will be undertaken by June 2009.   ACABQ was provided with the guiding principles for integrated operational teams, which state that such teams make recommendations to senior management in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support on strategic issues and receive specialist policy and technical advice from the two Departments.  In the view of the Advisory Committee, the organizational structure of integrated missions seem “incompatible with the guidelines”.  ACABQ expects that those issues will be clarified in the June evaluation exercise and that refinements will be introduced, as appropriate.


The Secretary-General summarizes improvements to administrative and management processes, which ACABQ expects to be monitored and evaluated, with information on efficiency gains to be presented in the next support account budget submission.  These include business processes improvement initiatives undertaken by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support, in partnership with the Department of Management, to simplify workflows and optimize quality.  ACABQ was informed that focus was on three areas -- planning, personnel and procurement -- and that phase I projects had been approved for completion by March, while phase II projects would begin in April.


Other initiatives include the creation of “Abacus” teams and the launching of a programme for an advanced compendium of trainees to change the approach to the budget preparation process, the report continues.  Meanwhile, improvements have been made to the process used for human resources management, such as the delegation of authority by the Department of Management to the Department of Field Support to make discretionary decisions regarding job classifications of field positions up to the D-1 level.  Authority has been granted to field missions for staffing “table management”, selection and roll-out of human resources action plans to the field, allowing the Field Personnel Division to concentrate on human resources capacity-building.


In the area of logistics, “tenant units” now operate at the Brindisi Logistics Base to provide efficient and cost-effective services to United Nations field missions, the report states.  Other initiatives include measures to enhance field procurement by the Department of Field Support and the Department of Management, through improvement of internal control and processes, training of procurement staff and tools for tracking and monitoring field procurement delegation.  In that connection, ACABQ recalls outstanding requests made by the General Assembly in its resolutions 61/246 and 61/279 on a comprehensive procurement governance report.


ACABQ recalls further areas of reform, namely strengthening of United Nations police capacity, as well as the Chief of Staff.  It notes that proposals regarding police capacity, following the review undertaken in 2008, are presented in the support account budget for 2009/10.  It was originally envisaged by the Secretary-General that the functions of the Chief of Staff would primarily include overseeing the internal management of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, on behalf of the Under-Secretary-General, and ensuring effective integration of both the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support.  The Secretary-General states that the Chief of Staff has effectively served and supported both Under-Secretaries-General as a shared resource and will continue to do so, while also directing other shared resources of both Departments (Executive Office, Situation Centre, Information Management, the Registry).


ACABQ recommends that the current working structures be kept under review in order to lessen duplication and overlap.  It recommends that the Assembly request the Secretary-General to submit a report at its sixty-fifth session on substantiating the strategic and operational benefits achieved through the restructuring, reform and business processes.


Turning to the support account, ACABQ’s recommendations would entail a reduction in the proposed 2009/10 budget by $19.82 million gross ($17.91 million net), leaving the Assembly to approve resources of $304.63 million gross ($276.42 million net) for that period.


It observes that proposed requirements of $90.96 million for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations are an increase of $14.01 million over the last period, mainly attributable to requirements for posts of various kinds.  The overall resources proposed for the Department of Field Support of $90.20 million reflect an increase of $11.22 million or 14.2 per cent, over the last period.


In terms of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, some of those posts are additional, while others were already requested in the past, but deployment had been delayed for various reasons.  Increases are also proposed under non-post resources, in particular for consultants ($1.19 million) and official travel ($1.64 million), which are offset primarily by a reduction under general temporary assistance ($958,200).  Those requirements would benefit the Office of Military Affairs; the Policy, Evaluation and Training Division; the Office of Operations; the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations; and the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions.


The report discusses each instance where ACABQ was “not convinced” of the need for the proposed posts, given existing capacity.  In one case, a P-5 level post is proposed to be upgraded to the D-1 level -- that of leader of the Middle East and Western Sahara integrated operational team.  ACABQ was informed that the reclassification was meant to bring parity of leadership to all integrated operational teams.  Again, ACABQ was “not convinced” by the argument, and further observed that the review of the system of integrated operational teams was yet to be conducted.  It recommends against the upgrade of the post to the D-1 level.  In other cases, ACABQ recommends the continuation of the status-quo, pending the outcomes of a relevant review.  For example, it recommends that general temporary assistance funding of positions with the African Union Peacekeeping Support Team component in New York continue for 12 months, until the Team’s performance has been properly reviewed.


Also, ACABQ recalls that Secretary-General’s requests for additional resources in the proposed support account budget to achieve several things in connection with new or expanded missions: the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the planned peacekeeping operation in Somalia.  However, in view of performance in recent years, ACABQ recommends that the budget be revised to reflect even higher vacancy rates than is assumed by the Secretary-General in his budget outline.  In addition, ACABQ recommends that the Secretary-General apply a higher “delayed deployment factor” (the rate at which it can be assumed that personnel can actually be deployed to the field), with a delayed deployment factor of 65 per cent for Professional posts and 50 per cent for General Service posts.


ACABQ notes that most of the increase in non-post resources for peacekeeping support is due to projected requirements for official travel ($3.66 million, or 26.5 per cent).  Many requirements are also being made for the newly established Office of Information and Communications Technology, which is expected to provide systems for managing rations, fuel, “enterprise identity” and “enterprise content”, and customer relationships.  Other requirements are expected to go towards projects by the Information and Communications Technology Division of the Department of Field Support in “field expertise location” and secure communications; field mission operational activity tracking; peace operations partner and contact management; field personnel development and training support; management of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support institutional information; strategic management of peacekeeping operations; and the international boundary evidence database.


There are also additional requirements for facilities and infrastructure ($1.17 million, or 4.7 per cent) related to the office space required for proposed posts (offset in part by a decrease in the standard rental costs).  The requirements are also offset by a decrease in the resources proposed for general temporary assistance ($1.43 million, or 7.9 per cent), owing mainly to their conversion to posts.


In terms of the Department of Field Support, ACABQ also recommends against the approval of some posts given existing capacity, but is generally inclined to recommend the approval of many posts requested for the Department.  Those include posts in human resources, budget and finance, “Field Central Review”, property management, engineering, rations and fuel supply, and aircraft management.


In sum, out of the 182 additional posts proposed by the Secretary-General, ACABQ recommends that 106 be approved, involving reductions totalling $19.82 million gross ($17.91 million net).  Accordingly, ACABQ recommends that the Assembly approve the staffing and non-staffing resources of $304.63 million gross ($276.42 million net) for the support account.


Further, ACABQ recommends that the Assembly apply $15.06 million from the 2007/08 support account to the 2009/10 support account (derived from an unencumbered balance of $8.06 million, $3.25 million in “interest income”, $245,900 in “other income” and $3.5 million from cancellation of prior-period obligations).  ACABQ recommends also that the excess of the authorized level of the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund in the financial period ended 30 June 2008 in the amount of $7.32 million be applied to the support account requirements for the 2009/10 period.  The amount of $62,800, representing the excess of the appropriation for the support account requirements for the 2006/07 period should also be applied to the support account requirements for 2009/10.


Also before the Fifth Committee was the Independent Audit Advisory Committee’s (IAAC) report on the budget for the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) under the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 (document A/63/703), which reviews the Office’s budget proposal and makes recommendations on that proposal and relevant non-budgetary issues.


The proposed budget of OIOS under the support account covers the Investigation Division, Internal Audit Division, Inspection and Evaluation Division and Executive Office of OIOS.  It is estimated at $24.36 million (gross), representing a $2.52 million (gross), or 9 per cent, decrease from the prior year’s approved budget of $26.88 million (gross).


Among its general comments, IAAC recommends that OIOS define the value of the service it delivers to the United Nations and develop various “pipeline metrics” that assess the effect of oversight, including its return on investment.


On the issue of oversight recommendations, IAAC suggests categorizing each recommendation according to risk and value.  It does not agree with the OIOS policy that recommendations be closed or not monitored after two years, and suggests monitoring recommendations for at least four years.


Regarding the Investigations Division, IAAC recommends that OIOS reports differentiate between the actual value of financial loss to the Organization, if any, due to fraud and corruption; other findings that might not have direct financial implication; and the total number and value of contracts investigated.


As for the Internal Audit Division, the report focuses on the Division’s risk-based workplan, which gives an overview of its process for conducting risk assessments.  IAAC expresses concern at the high proportion (50 per cent) of risk categorized as “high risk”, and recommends that the category be further calibrated to show differentiation.  It also notes that, if risk coverage is used to determine resources required, the Division’s approach to its budget should begin with a focus on identifying value-added audit activities.


Regarding the Inspection and Evaluation Division, IAAC asks the Assembly to approve the Division’s requests for four additional posts to supplement the single existing post.


An OIOS report on the audit of the Secretariat’s structure for managing and sustaining peacekeeping operations (document A/63/837) makes various recommendations, the first of which being that the Secretary-General should extend the application of the compact to the heads of missions, focusing on mandate implementation as a mechanism to ensure their performance.  The Secretary-General should revise the mandates of all Secretariat departments involved in peacekeeping operations, while the Under-Secretaries-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support should co-sign the Department of Peacekeeping Operations Concept of Operations and the Department of Field Support Plan for launching new missions.


The report also says the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support should develop and circulate vision statements to staff, clarify expected accomplishments for the new structure and establish benchmarks for measuring efficiencies resulting from the recent restructuring.  The Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in coordination with the African Union, should develop performance targets for the 10-year project to develop the Union’s ability to conduct peacekeeping operations.  The Department of Field Support should establish service-level agreements with each head of field missions and the Under-Secretaries-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Political Affairs, defining support services to be provided.  Also, in consultation with the Department of Management, the Department of Field Support should develop a programme to train human resources officers and establish a strategy to address the shortage of qualified human resources staff.  Finally, the Department of Management should formalize the delegation of human resources authorities to the Department of Field Support for personnel actions on behalf of the missions to enhance accountability; speed up development of the mandatory training and certification programme for the Department of Field Support officers assuming human resources functions; and regularly monitor use by the Department of Field Support of human resources authorities that have been delegated to it.


Introduction of Reports


JUN YAMAZAKI, Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the support account, summarizing their main points.  Tackling first the report on the 2007/08 support account, he explained that the unspent balance (nearly $8.1 million) was primarily attributable to recruitment delays, while additional requirements were attributable to conference services provided during a meeting of the Working Group on Contingent-Owned Equipment in February 2008 and to after-service health insurance payments to peacekeeping retirees.  He highlighted actions to be taken by the Assembly: to apply the unencumbered balance of $8.06 million to the support account for 2009/10, along with $6.99 million in interest income, other income and cancellation of obligations.


Turning to the Secretary-General’s report on the proposed 2009/10 support account budget, he explained that the amount requested ($324.45 million) represented an increase of 14.9 per cent from the 2008/09 period.  The 2009/10 budget includes requirements for the newly established Office of Information and Communications Technology.  Another new item included in the budget was the peacekeeping share of the costs of the new system of administration of justice.  The budget also included requirements related to the projected after-service health insurance costs of current peacekeeping retirees.


He pointed out that the report did not include provisions for the enterprise resource planning project, pending a report on that topic, to be presented at the main part of the sixty-fourth session.  However, it included provisions for the ongoing development of enterprise information technology projects that had begun in 2008/09.


Compared to requirements for 2008/09, he said, a large part of the increase in requirements for 2009/10 were allotted for the conversion of general temporary assistance positions to posts, which by themselves accounted for 83.9 per cent of the total increase.  The remaining 16.1 per cent were due to non-post requirements, such as office travel, facilities and infrastructure, information technology, medical supplies and other such items.  The increased requirements under the item of “medical” were due largely to increased cost of malaria prophylactics medicines for staff travelling to peacekeeping missions.


As with the previous report, he highlighted the actions to be taken by the Assembly: to approve the requirements of $324.45 million.  In addition, it should apply the excess in authorized level of the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund for the period ended 30 June 2008 ($7.32 million) to the 2009/10 support account, along with $62,800 in excess of appropriation for the support account from 2006/07.  It was also requested to prorate the balance of $302 million among the budgets of the active peacekeeping operations for the 2009/10 period.


ALAIN LE ROY, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on strengthening the capacity of the Untied Nations to manage and sustain peacekeeping operations (document A/63/702).  “I am confident that you will agree that the strategic and operational environment of United Nations peacekeeping, including the very real challenges of overstretch and capacity gaps, require us to raise existential questions both about United Nations peacekeeping and how we mount, sustain and support our operations,” he said.


“Here I include questions as to what peacekeeping can and cannot do, and indeed, what it should and should not do,” he said, observing that the New Horizons Study currently under way, the Department of Field Support “Support Strategy” under development and other endeavours under the aegis of the Security Council, were targeted to address those questions.


On restructuring, he recalled that new structures and capacities approved under resolution 61/279 had been established by November 2008.  The strengthening of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support leadership, managerial and staffing capacities had also largely been achieved.  However, the movement of some staff had meant that certain key positions were under recruitment for a second time.  The appointment of the new Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support and the selection of a number of Director positions in that Department were “well under way”.  The impact of the strengthening of the Office of Military Affairs would become more evident as the first group of officers came on board.  The recruitment process for the remaining positions would result in all positions being staffed over the next six months.


He said the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was mindful of concern that the split into two Departments could have impacted negatively on unity of command and integration of effort.  “I am pleased to confirm this is not the case.  Collaboration between the DPKO and DFS […] has been seamless,” he said, saying the Department of Field Support was playing the role of “key strategic enabler” with Under-Secretary-General Susana Malcorra of the Department of Field Support reporting to him on all matters relating to peacekeeping missions.  Unity of command between Headquarters and the field was being maintained through the delegation of authority to the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General/Heads of Mission, reporting to the Secretary-General through Mr. LeRoy.  Joint senior Department of Peacekeeping Operations-Department of Field Support decision-making forums and operation mechanisms had contributed to a more integrated effort.


The Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions had emerged as a centre of excellence, he said, including as the United Nations-system focal point for police, corrections and mine-action coordination.  Organizational learning and “real time” lessons were beginning to influence policy development and training.  The “Lean Six Sigma” method of improving business process had proceeded at a steady pace.  Working closely with the Department of Political Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support were able to complete their draft organizational bulletins to lay the groundwork “for revisiting the delineation of lead department responsibilities”.


He said it had been apparent when he joined the Department that his colleagues had been struggling to introduce new systems and structures, at a time when both Departments were facing unprecedented challenges, with the deployment of UNAMID, which had been followed by the transfer of authority from EUFOR to MINURCAT, and contingency planning for an operation in Somalia.  The tripling of the peacekeeping budget and the nearly tripling of personnel in the field over the past six years was illustrative of the rising challenges.  There were now 140,000 authorized personnel, of which 114,000 had been deployed.  There were 18 Department of Peacekeeping Operations-led missions, while the Department of Field Support supported an additional 16 Department of Political Affairs-led missions, as well as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).


“I hope you will see the ‘growing pains’ of the DPKO/DFS restructuring,” he said, “perhaps most noticeable in the introduction of our most vital integrating mechanism, the integrated operation teams.”  All seven teams had been established, and three “real time” evaluations carried out to enable “mid-course adjustments”.  One of the key findings was that one size did not fit all and that team resources needed to be flexibly managed by the Office of Operations.  It was found, too, that the teams were most beneficial at the start-up, expansion, crisis or transition stages.  However, he conceded to some inconsistencies in the functions and levels of empowerment among the team specialists.  A working group of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations/Department of Field Support, chaired by the Chief of Staff, had begun to address those issues, and a follow-up stocktaking would be undertaken in June.


He concluded by remarking on the remaining challenges.  One such challenge centred on the standing police capacity, which had demonstrated its usefulness during the start-up of MINURCAT last year.  He said the Fifth Committee would soon be reviewing proposals to strengthen the Police Division.


“I hope to leave the Committee today with the understanding that, 22 months into the DPKO/DFS restructuring, we are very much a work in progress.  We have not achieved perfection or even near-perfection,” he said, calling on the active support of Member States.


SUSAN MCLURG, Chair of ACABQ, introduced that body’s corresponding report, summarizing its main points.  She highlighted the effectiveness of the Chief of Staff in serving and supporting both Under-Secretaries-General, and said that ACABQ looked forward to hearing the assessments relating to the integrated operational teams, and to the talent management and enterprise resource planning systems.  At the same time, the Secretary-General should be requested to continue to ensure a clear chain of command, accountability and coordination.  He should submit a report on strategic and operational benefits achieved through the restructuring to the Assembly at its sixty-fifth session.


On the support account in general, she recalled that the Secretary-General had been asked to “rejustify the totality of support account staffing requirements”.  As such, ACABQ requested the Secretary-General to clearly demonstrate and include the interaction of support account resources with regular budget resources, resources in field missions, other departments of the Secretariat and, where applicable, specialized agencies, funds and programmes.


On the performance report for 2007/08, she re-emphasized the need for a specific account of actual achievements, as described in the results-based framework, and of actual expenditure, ensuring that budgetary allocations were being adhered to.  She noted that ACABQ had recommended that the Secretary-General be requested to strive for an unqualified audit in the next financial statement.


On the budget for the 2009/10 support account, she reiterated ACABQ’s view that procedures for seeking general temporary assistance funding should be used in exceptional and/or peak workload circumstances, or for replacement of staff on maternity or sick leave.  General temporary assistance funding should not be sought for functions of a continuous nature or for long periods, nor should requests be resubmitted repeatedly.  The recommendation for such type of funding during a specific budget period should not necessarily lead to the expectation of conversion to a post for the next budget period.


Turning to requirements requested under specific items, she began with the proposal to strengthen the Police Division.  ACABQ was recommending 18 out of the 26 posts proposed.  But, there was not enough information to make a recommendation on the proposal to expand and move the standing police capacity to the Brindisi Logistics Base.


She observed that the Department of Field Support had requested an increase in resources for the Logistics Support Division, to support 30 general temporary assistance posts.  ACABQ recommends that 14 of those be approved, and that additional capacity be provided through temporary redeployment.  As for general temporary assistance resources of $3 million, proposed by the Office of Human Resources Management -- reflecting an increase of 387 per cent over the resources approved for 2008/09 and mostly related to supporting the talent management system -- ACABQ recommended a reduction by $1 million and that the Office of Human Resources Management be authorized to use the resources at its own discretion so that it could prioritize among different projects.


She said ACABQ had questioned the appropriateness of most requests for general temporary assistance made for the Facilities and Commercial Services Division under the support account, since many of those functions related to the needs of the Organization as a whole and should be provided centrally under the regular budget.


She said ACABQ had met and exchanged views on the Independent Audit Advisory Committee’s report on the restructuring proposals of OIOSACABQ recommended acceptance of the Secretary-General’s proposals for an internal audit and posts to strengthen inspection and evaluation capacity.  ACABQ recommended that OIOS monitor the performance of the model and the efficiency in the use of resources.  A total of 43 posts would be distributed in the three regional hubs, while 10 general temporary assistance positions and one post would be allocated in three missions: the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS).  OIOS would service the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo from the Nairobi Office, given the high caseload of MONUC, against the backdrop of a reduced number of resident investigators.


She noted that the support account included a first-time provision of $18.7 million for the Office of Information and Communications Technology.  ACABQ was of the view that the Office should consolidate its structures before requesting additional resources, and so recommended against the establishment of additional posts.  There were seven general temporary assistance positions currently performing functions, which were required to continue providing essential functions in 2009/10, that were inadvertently excluded from the support account budget.  They were formerly under the Information Technology Service Division of the Department of Management, and transferred to the new Information and Communications Technology Office.  The $1 million required by them should be absorbed in the 2009/10 support account and be reflected in the performance report.  A 5 per cent reduction in the $14 million proposed for information technology should be used by the Office at its own discretion, so that it could prioritize amongst different projects.


INGA-BRITT AHLENIUS, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced the OIOS report before the Committee, saying that the establishment of the Department of Field Support had recognized the critical importance of support issues in the success of peacekeeping missions and acknowledged the risk that the former structure could no longer meet the needs of peacekeeping, owing to the growing volume and complexity of operations.  At the time of the audit, however, the Department of Field Support had been still evolving, and it was too early to determine whether the new structure was operating effectively.  While the Secretary-General had promulgated mechanisms to provide executive direction to the Secretariat departments involved in peacekeeping, the Secretariat still had to develop the necessary governance and accountability mechanisms.  Among other things, OIOS had pointed out that the Concept of Operations of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the resultant Support Plan of the Department of Field Support, a key activity in launching new missions, was informal and not documented.  Hence, there was no assurance that that critical function was performed and accountabilities for accomplishment of the plans were clear, with achievable expectations.


The accountabilities of the Department of Field Support and each mission’s support component in providing support to missions had yet to be clearly defined, she said.  The risks of duplication and the responsibility gap between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Department of Political Affairs and other entities continued to exist.  For example, both the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Political Affairs planned, launched and led field missions.  Depending on the relative significance of the mandates and life cycles of field missions, the Policy Committee of the Secretary-General assigned the lead responsibility to direct a special political mission to either the Department of Peacekeeping Operations or the Department of Political Affairs.  That was called the “lead department” policy.  However, there were no clear criteria or transparent decision-making mechanisms to determine the lead department.


OIOS had issued a total of 10 recommendations aimed at strengthening governance and accountability, she said in conclusion, noting that all the recommendations had been accepted.


Statements


MOHAMED YOUSIF IBRAHIM ABDELMANNAN (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that the interim review of the restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the establishment of the Department of Field Support, decided upon under resolution 61/279, should be holistic and comprehensive.  The discussions should be focused on the overall value added that the change had brought to the United Nations in its ability to manage and sustain peacekeeping operations.  The Group of 77 noted that, while there had been some improvement in the support provided to peacekeeping operations, arising from the establishment of the Department of Field Support, the full benefits resulting from the implementation of the restructuring remained uncertain.  In that regard, he stressed, once again, that structural changes were not a substitute for managerial improvement.  The Secretary-General must continue to address important issues, such as ensuring unity of command, establishing a clear division of labour between the two Departments and reducing the “silo” mentalities of individual departments.  He also noted the assessment of OIOS that the Secretariat had yet to develop the necessary governance and accountability mechanisms to ensure effectiveness and accountability in peacekeeping operations.


The Group of 77 recognized that only 18 months might not be sufficient to fully realize the implementation of the organizational reform, he continued.  However, the Group would like to look carefully at the areas of “significant strategic and operational benefits” that had already been realized, as highlighted by the Secretary-General’s report.  He concurred with ACABQ that the Secretary-General should develop clear benchmarks to realize the objectives set out in his report.  The Group would seek further clarifications during informal consultations.


Turning to the proposed 182 additional posts, he acknowledged a recent increase in size and complexity of the missions and the need to provide an adequate level of support.  He noted with concern, however, the observation made by the Board of Auditors that there was no defined formula to show the relationship between the level and complexity of peacekeeping operations and the level of the support account.  He was also concerned that the Secretariat had yet to develop a sound approach to determine the appropriate support account staffing requirements.  That made it very hard to assess the adequate level of resources for the support account, and to determine whether specific posts were justified.  The Group of 77 regretted that the comprehensive analysis of the evolution of the support account, as requested by resolution 60/268, had not been submitted to the Assembly.


Continuing, he recalled the Assembly’s decision that posts funded from the support account should be filled and managed in compliance with the Charter, the financial and staff regulations and rules of the United Nations, and relevant Assembly resolutions.  In that regard, he emphasized the importance of proper representation of troop contributors -- most of them developing countries -- in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support, taking into account their contribution to peacekeeping, as requested by the Assembly.  The Group of 77 was equally concerned at the continuing low proportion of women from developing countries at the Secretariat, especially at senior levels.  It was important to ensure representation of those countries at the senior and policymaking levels.  With regard to the vacancies at some key posts -- a matter of concern to the Group -- while agreeing with ACABQ on the importance of stability in the personnel structure to ensure continuity and efficient performance, the Group urged prompt recruitment and appointment of staff.


On the restructuring of OIOS, he said that the Group had previously articulated its concerns regarding the proposal to restructure the Investigative Division based on the “hub and spoke” configuration.  The restructuring proposal constituted a fundamental change in direction for OIOS and, therefore, required closer scrutiny and further clarification.  Fair and effective conduct of investigations would have a significant effect on the morale and well-being of United Nations staff at Headquarters and in the field.  The overall caseload in field missions had decreased over the past two years, mostly in sexual exploitation and abuse cases, which had fallen by 77 per cent in 2007 and a further 36 per cent in 2008.  Nevertheless, the Group of 77 was concerned over the increased caseload related to financial, economic and administrative cases, due to the incorporation of 175 Procurement Task Force cases into the Investigations Division.


Given those developments, the restructuring of the Investigations Division must not be viewed purely as an administrative exercise focusing on the potential cost savings, he said.  It was equally important for OIOS to maintain a transparent, accountable and objective investigative capacity and fully respect the due process rights of staff.  A comprehensive and thorough consideration of the restructuring proposal was critical, going beyond dollars and cents.  For example, it was necessary to adequately address such issues as the redeployment process of the investigator posts to the proposed hubs and effectiveness of the proposed specialist investigator teams, the status of an OIOS comprehensive investigations manual, the dissemination of standardized and consolidated investigation rules and procedures to managers and staff, as well as the linkage with the new internal justice system.  The proposed restructuring had implications for peacekeeping contingents in the field, where OIOS had resident investigators.  Under the June 2007 revision to the model Memorandum of Understanding with troop-contributing countries, OIOS was likely to have a reduced role in the investigation of misconduct by members of contingents.  The Group sought further clarification on the current implementation of that model and how it would be affected by the proposed restructuring.


YUN YAMADA (Japan) said his delegation shared the view of the Secretary-General, ACABQ and OIOS that the length of time that had elapsed since the inception of the new structure involving the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support was not sufficient to realize the objectives of the reform.  He also shared the opinion of the Advisory Committee that significant strategic and operational benefits accrued thus far were not yet evident.  At the same time, 18 months after the proposal had been made to separate the support structure from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, two main points seemed to have emerged.  As pointed out by ACABQ, considering that the Department of Field Support provided support to both peacekeeping and special political missions -- whose clear distinction was no longer discernible -- a logical next step would be to consolidate the duplicative functions between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Political Affairs and streamline outdated supporting structures in response to the developments on the ground.


As also pointed out by the Advisory Committee, the function and purpose of the integrated operational teams were not clear, he said.  In particular, it was not clear if the teams were to deal with challenges in a start-up phase of a mission, or whether they should be an advisory body to the Departments or a unit in the line of command under the original structure of the Office of Operations.  An integrated approach seemed to be better served through an open-minded collaboration among the operations, military affairs and police offices, as well as the Department of Field Support.  He looked forward with great interest to the results of the follow-up assessment on the functioning and impact of the teams, which would be undertaken in June.


The proposed budget for the support account represented a 15-per cent growth from the 2008/09 period, he continued.  That was approximately the same level of growth as that of peacekeeping operations.  In that respect, he noted the analysis of the Board of Auditors that there was no defined formula showing the relationship between the complexity of peacekeeping operations and the level of the support account.  The size of the backstop functions, including those outside Headquarters in New York, should be a product of serious in-house discussions, based on the experience of the departments in charge, rather than a result of studies by external consultants.  Therefore, at the current stage of transition, it was necessary to exercise the utmost prudence in discerning the optimal size of the support account to finance the backstopping activities of peacekeeping operations.  Efforts were needed to recruit and appoint staff in a prompt manner and to make full use of the approved posts, rather than requesting new ones.


He added that requests for additional resources for the support account should be accompanied with clear goals and objectives, after careful adjustment of existing resources in pursuit of efficiency under a clear line of command.  A careful examination of the lessons learned from the establishment of the integrated teams, or a serious review of the dual reporting lines in a number of peace operations, were cases in point.


JONAS CARSTEN JOLLE ( Norway) said the civilian sector in peacekeeping operations and the police contingent was important to his country.  Of the 16,000 mandated police officers for peacekeeping operations, 11,000 were currently deployed, and the increase in deployment had not been followed by a commensurate strengthening of the Police Division, leading to overstretch and insufficient support from Headquarters.  He was concerned that the overstretch would threaten the safety of personnel in the field.  Originally, 44 new Headquarters posts had been recommended, as a result of a comprehensive review.  After an evaluation, the Secretariat had decided that only 26 new posts would be sought.  ACABQ had reduced that number further to 18.  The Norwegian Government was concerned that 18 posts was not enough.  The Fifth Committee should work to maintain at least 26 new posts in that field.


VLADIMIR N. PROKHOROV ( Russian Federation) expressed concern over the proposed support account budget of $324.45 million, which exceeded the approved 2008/09 budget by 14.7 per cent.  That was particularly noteworthy, considering the $8 million in unencumbered resources and the average vacancy rates of 17.8 per cent for posts in the “Professional and above” category, and 12.5 per cent in the “General Service” category in 2007/08.  It was not quite clear why the Secretariat was requesting ever-new posts, not having filled the existing ones.  His delegation fully shared the opinion of ACABQ regarding reducing the number of requested posts in a number of the departments.  On the whole, he agreed with the conclusions and recommendations of the Advisory Committee, which pointed to insufficient justification of a number of requests and noted new examples of duplication and overlap, as well as the lack of rationality in budget planning.


He also expressed concern over the Secretary-General’s proposal to allocate $1 million for consultative services in connection with the initiative to develop United Nations rule of law indicators.  He suggested that the activities in that regard be covered through the use of existing internal capacity.  He also had doubts regarding the request by the Office of Human Resources Management for over $3 million -- an increase of 387 per cent compared with the allocation of $619,400 for 2008/09 -- for the support of the talent management system.  In his opinion, that proposal needed to be significantly improved.


CARLOS G. RUIZ MASSIEU ( Mexico) asked that the report on the evolution of the support account, produced by external consultants, be distributed to Member States.  He regretted that that report had not been submitted to the Assembly at the current session.


Also, he agreed with the Board of Auditors in that there was no defined formula for the relationship between the increase in complexity of missions and the increase in the level of the support account.


Responding, MOVSES ABELIAN, Secretary of Committee, said the report would be made available to the Committee tomorrow.


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For information media • not an official record