|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
12th Meeting (AM)
Committee for Programme and Coordination Reaffirmed as Main Subsidiary Organ
for Planning, Coordination in Text Approved by Budget Committee
Also Begins Consideration of Administration of Justice,
Proposed $224 Million for Support to African Union Mission in Somalia
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning approved a text that would have the General Assembly reaffirm the role of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) as the main subsidiary organ for planning, programming and coordination, while also re-emphasizing the role of the plenary and Main Committees in reviewing and taking action on CPC’s recommendations relevant to their work, and stressing that setting the priorities of the United Nations is the prerogative of Member States.
By terms of the draft resolution on programme planning, the Assembly would further emphasize the need for Member States to participate fully in the budget preparation process and endorse the conclusions and recommendations of the CPC on the annual overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination for 2008/09; United Nations system support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); and improving the working methods and procedures of the CPC within the framework of its mandate.
Also today, the Committee took up the administration of justice at the United Nations for the first time since the new internal justice system came into effect on 1 July, and considered financing for the logistical support package for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Placing greater emphasis on resolving work-related disputes through informal means, the new internal justice system provides for a single integrated Office of the Ombudsman for the United Nations Secretariat, funds and programmes, with offices in Bangkok, Geneva, Nairobi, Santiago and Vienna, as well as capacity in several peacekeeping missions. As of 1 July, disputes have also been handled by the Mediation Division of the Ombudsman’s Office.
The United Nations Ombudsman, Johnston Barkat, told the Committee that the resolution of conflicts through peaceful dialogue contributed to the development of a fair and equitable workplace and a culture of managerial accountability. The use of a common scheme in 2009 would also allow the Office to present a more detailed picture of cross-cutting issues in the future.
While noting progress in addressing some of the systemic issues that the Ombudsman’s Office had identified in the past, he also drew attention to several cross-cutting items presented in his Office’s latest report. Those included career progression and development, including performance management, recruitment and selection, and contract management; leadership and managerial effectiveness, including abuse of authority and concerns about investigatory processes; and coverage for trauma and post-crisis care.
Also before the Committee was the final report on the work of the Joint Appeals Board and Joint Disciplinary Committee, which were replaced with the United Nations Dispute Tribunal -- a court of first instance, when informal means for resolving disputes are unsuccessful.
Introducing that document, the Secretary of the Joint Appeals Board and Joint Disciplinary Committee, Weicheng Lin, said that during the 18 months between January 2008 and 30 June 2009, the emphasis of work had been “to clear as much of the backlog of cases as possible, so as to leave as little a burden as possible on the new system”. In view of a still large number of disciplinary cases pending, it had been decided to shift New York’s priority to reviewing Joint Disciplinary Committee cases in 2009, because much more was at stake for staff members accused of misconduct. Ad hoc panels had been organized for two peacekeeping missions that had generated a number of cases, with support of the missions concerned, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support, the Office of Human Resources Management and the Panel of Counsel.
“At the end of 2008, we optimistically thought that there would be few new cases in 2009, […], but we were wrong”, he continued. In the first six months of 2009, staff continued to file new appeals and the administration continued to refer new disciplinary cases to the Joint Disciplinary Committees. That largely explained why, at the end of June this year, the old system still had about 140 pending cases, which had to be forwarded to the new system.
Speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, Mexico’s representative emphasized the importance of the administration of justice for the professional development and labour rights of staff and agreed with the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) that information concerning the Joint Appeals Boards in Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna should provide information on monetary compensation provided to claimants, as the New York Board had done, along with an analysis of the compensation awarded and indirect associated costs. The next report should also include sufficient information to objectively compare data from the old system and the new one.
With accountability being a principal element of the administration of justice, she -- along with the representative of the Sudan on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China -- expressed concern about how the Boards were dealing with cases of officers who caused the Organization financial losses. Stricter methods than administrative evaluation should be used to implement accountability measures throughout the United Nations system, including more severe sanctions in cases of fraud, to include recovery of those losses and termination of contracts. She asked what efforts the Board had made on that matter.
The Rio Group also believed that managerial personnel should promote a culture of zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination or abuse by high officers or other staff members. It was a matter of concern that some officers accused of abuse claimed not to have had due process of law and that the Organization was not truly committed to solving such abuse claims.
And finally, several speakers today supported the provision of resources in the amount of approximately $224 million (including $138.8 million authorized by the General Assembly in its commitment authority for 1 July to 31 December 2009), which represented the first formal budget in support of AMISOM for 2009/10. The representatives of Angola (on behalf of the African Group), South Africa and Uganda were among the delegates who expressed concern over the Advisory Committee’s recommendation that the budget be reduced by $9.8 million and insisted that the proposed cut should not have a negative impact on the effective execution of AMISOM’s challenging mandate.
Also speaking today were representatives of Qatar, Ethiopia and the United States. Other documents before the Committee were introduced by the United Nations Controller, Jun Yamazaki, and the Vice-Chairman of the ACABQ, Collen Kelapile.
The Committee will take up appointments to fill vacancies in subsidiary and other bodies at 10 a.m. Friday, 6 November.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to consider the administration of justice within the United Nations and financing of the logistic support package for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)
Administration of Justice
It was the first time that the administration of justice agenda item has come before the Committee, since a new United Nations internal justice system came into effect on 1 July.
Placing greater emphasis on resolving work-related disputes through informal means, such as mediation, the new system provides for a single integrated Office of the Ombudsman for the United Nations Secretariat, funds and programmes, with offices in Bangkok, Geneva, Nairobi, Santiago and Vienna, as well as capacity in several peacekeeping missions.
It also replaced the Joint Appeals Board and Joint Disciplinary Committees in various duty stations with the United Nations Dispute Tribunal -- a court of first instance, when informal means for resolving disputes are unsuccessful. Binding decisions by the Dispute Tribunal may be appealed by either staff or administration to the United Nations Appeals Tribunal -- replacing the Administrative Tribunal, which is to be abolished as of 31 December 2009. The administration of justice reform also envisioned the establishment of the Office of Staff Legal Assistance, to succeed the Panel of Counsel.
The first report before the Committee (document A/64/292) contained information on the outcome of the work of the Joint Appeals Board during 2007 and 2008 and between January and June 2009, as well as statistics on the disposition of cases and work of the Panel of Counsel.
During the 1 January to 30 June 2009 transition period, resources of the secretariats of the Joint Appeals Boards and Disciplinary Committees in the four duty stations were primarily devoted to clearing the backlog of cases and planning for the change. Due to the abolition of the Appeals Boards as of 1 July, some staff were moved, and not all posts were fully occupied during the reporting period.
The report provides information on the number of cases disposed of by the Appeals Boards in New York, Vienna, Geneva and Nairobi in 2008, stating that the percentage of full and partial acceptances by the Secretary-General of unanimous recommendations of the Joint Appeals Board decreased in 2008 in comparison with the previous year, from 88 per cent to 81 per cent. At the end of June 2009, New York was left with 75 cases pending, Geneva with 31, Vienna with two (the only new cases it had during the period) and Nairobi with 14. The percentage of full and partial acceptances by the Secretary-General of Board’s unanimous recommendations was 92 per cent for the first six months of 2009.
In 2008, 384 new cases were brought to the Panel of Counsel in New York, compared with 339 new cases in 2007. Of those, 286 went through the formal appeals process and 98 were dealt with informally. For the full reporting period from 1 January 2008 through 30 June 2009, there was a total of 458 formal cases and 154 informal cases. Of disciplinary cases with representation by a member of the Panel of Counsel, 69.93 per cent involved clients who serve in offices away from Headquarters.
The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the activities of the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services (document A/64/314), which is the first joint report for the entities covered by the integrated Office of the Ombudsman. The report provides information on, among other things, case volume, demographics, types of issues and communication outreach for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2008, as well as future directions.
The number of cases brought to the integrated Office during 2008 rose by 2.1 per cent from the previous year. The majority of staff who utilized its services came from country offices, field offices and peacekeeping operations, reflecting the largely field-based distribution of the workforce. Despite significant outreach efforts, not all United Nations staff are aware of the work and activities of the Ombudsman. For example, locally recruited staff in peacekeeping operations and individual contractors serving in remote regions often have limited access to information about the Office and to its services. It is anticipated that the establishment of seven regional branch offices and the Mediation Division will provide easier access, thereby enhancing the service provided.
Over the reporting period, the Office identified a number of systemic issues as being inherent across all the entities it serves. Among them were issues relating to: career progression and development; leadership and managerial effectiveness; investigatory processes for alleged misconduct; academic qualifications; maternity leave; staff referral for medical evaluation; and coverage for trauma and post-crisis care.
In a related report (document A/64/508) the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) comments on the aforementioned reports of the Secretary-General on the administration of justice. On the work of the Joint Appeals Board, the Advisory Committee notes that, for the period between 1 January 2007 and 30 June 2009, monetary compensation of 177 months, equivalent to nearly 15 years net base salary, was authorized by the Secretary-General for 33 of 56 cases for which the New York Joint Appeals Board had recommended monetary compensation.
The Advisory Committee recommends that similar information concerning the joint appeals boards in Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna be provided to the Assembly. Further, an analysis of monetary compensation awarded and indirect costs associated with an appeal (such as staff time) should be provided in the next report on the administration of justice, which should also identify those aspects of staff administration that give rise to a large number of appeals, and compare data from the old system with data from the new system.
On the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services, the Advisory Committee notes there was limited ability to compare issues throughout the constituency, because case categorization schemes used by the Secretariat differed from those used by other entities covered by the Office. A common scheme is being used as of 2009, which will enhance identification of cross-cutting issues. Also, the Committee expects that, once the seven regional branch offices become operational, the need for travel from Headquarters should diminish.
The Advisory Committee further emphasizes the importance of interaction between the Office and other parts of the Secretariat to ensure that systemic issues are adequately addressed and reiterates its view that the Secretary-General should report regularly to the General Assembly on actions to address those issues. Noting that the Office was providing mediation services since 1 July 2009 and that the Mediation Division is in the process of developing its own guidelines and standard operating procedures, the ACABQ stresses the importance of their expeditious development so that the Office can become fully operational as soon as possible.
On other matters, the Advisory Committee, recalling that the General Assembly decided to compensate judges of the United Nations Appeals Tribunal on a per-case basis (see resolution 63/253) and that no provision was made for other entitlements related to travel and subsistence, recommends that, at an appropriate time, the General Assembly may wish to look into the matter.
Contained in a letter dated 20 October 2009 to the Chairman of the Fifth Committee (document A/C.5/64/3) from the President of the General Assembly are the recommendations of the Sixth Committee (Legal) on the scope of application of the new system of justice.
To facilitate consideration of the issue, the Legal Committee recommends that the Secretary-General provide specific information in his next report on the matter, including: the exact terms of reference of the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services concerning access by non-staff personnel; an update concerning the exact number of persons other than staff personnel working for the United Nations and the funds and programmes; and a compilation of the standard contracts and rules, including dispute settlement clauses, that govern the relations between the Organization and various categories of non-staff personnel.
The Sixth Committee also suggests that the report should contain a description of the new procedure for management evaluation, including the types of work-related administrative decisions for which it is required, and of the procedure normally followed in other cases where non-staff personnel submit a complaint concerning a violation of contract that does not qualify for management evaluation. In addition, the Sixth Committee provides several options for dispute settlement mechanisms for non-staff personnel of different categories, and requests the Secretary-General to analyse and compare their relative advantages and disadvantages, bearing in mind the status quo for settling such disputes, including the use of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) arbitration clause.
The Committee had before it the budget for the financing of support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for the 2009/10 financial period(document A/64/465) in the amount of $225.4 million, including budgeted voluntary contributions in kind in the amount of $1 million. The budget provides the deployment of 176 international staff and 104 national staff (including temporary positions) in support of an authorized strength of 8,000 military contingent personnel and 270 police officers of AMISOM.
The report is being presented following the adoption of Security Council resolution 1872 (2009), which requested the members of the African Union to maintain and enhance AMISOM until the end of January 2010 and asked the Secretary-General to provide logistical support to the African Union Mission, while continuing to plan for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation at the appropriate time.
By the terms of the resolution, United Nations logistical support does not include the transfer of funds to AMISOM. According to the report, the range of support will comprise all support services, including personnel administration, maintenance and construction of office and accommodation facilities, communications and information technology, air, sea and surface transport operations, supply and resupply operations, and the provision of security services.
In connection with the financing of logistical support for AMISOM and immediate activities related to a future United Nations peacekeeping operation, the Assembly is requested to appropriate an amount of $224.4 million for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010, inclusive of the $138.9 million previously authorized for the period 1 July to 31 December 2009; and appropriate $75.7 million previously authorized for the period 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009. The Assembly will also need to decide on the treatment of the unencumbered balance of $3.6 million with respect to the period from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009 and of other income for the period ended 30 June 2009 amounting to $122,000.
The recommendations of the ACABQ, in a related report (document A/64/509), would result in a reduction of $9.8 million in the proposed budget for the financing of support for AMISOM for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010.
In particular, the Advisory Committee recommends a reduction of $2.5 million under freight and deployment of contingent-owned equipment, as five battalions deployed before July 2009 had received 90 per cent of planned contingent-owned equipment, whereas the proposed budget assumed 67 per cent of planned requirements. Informed that the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) has finalized two procurement activities that would permit a reduction in expected operational costs, the Advisory Committee also recommends a $7.3 million reduction under relevant categories.
The Advisory Committee recommends approval of the staffing proposals of the Secretary-General and expects that the deployment of civilian staff will correspond to the actual deployment of military and civilian personnel. Considering the fluid situation on the ground, it also appears that actual percentages of vacancies may, in fact, exceed the budgeted vacancy factors. The ACABQ recommends that the budgetary implications of the applied vacancy factors be kept under review to reflect realistic expected staffing requirements.
With proposed staffing requirements amounting to $22.23 million and operational requirements totalling $159.14 million, the Advisory Committee states that the latter should have included additional explanation and background information. Any future budget proposal should provide sufficient information with regard to all categories of requirements and include a management plan for their implementation.
On security, the Advisory Committee was informed that all UNSOA staff visits to Somalia had ceased following an attack against AMISOM on 17 September 2009. Consequently, it is necessary to ensure construction work compliance with United Nations minimum operating security standards; accountability for equipment and support; effective monitoring of contractors’ access to AMISOM sites; and effective quality assurance and verification of services. The ACABQ is cognizant that the overall security situation on land and at sea will continue to have an impact on the progress of theoperation in support of AMISOM, but expects that future budget submissions will draw from further experience gained. Also recommended is close monitoring and supervision by United Nations personnel of the work of independent contractors for services of sensitive nature.
The Advisory Committee further notes ongoing coordination and information-sharing on the ground through the integrated task force chaired by the Department of Political Affairs, which meets monthly and includes all relevant departments and agencies, as well as the United Nations Political Office in Somalia, UNSOA and the United Nations country team, encouraging further efforts in that regard.
In other comments, the Advisory Committee expresses concern about the proliferation of structures for the support of AMISOM. While separate units at Headquarters, funded by the budget of the operation, could be justified during a start-up phase, clarification should be provided as to when these functions would be absorbed into the Department of Field Support. The Advisory Committee further notes the Secretary-General’s intention to bring the planning capacity based in Addis Ababa within the direct operation of the African Union-United Nations Joint Support and Coordination Mechanism. Should a broader role be envisaged for the Coordination Mechanism, which was approved as part of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the ACABQ recommends that the Secretary-General submit a proposal in that regard.
The Advisory Committee also comments on official travel, progress on the construction of a United Nations facility in Mombasa, construction of a hospital and other matters. It recommends a prudent approach to hiring national staff at present locations, since the operation could, in the future, relocate to Somalia. A staffing plan should be developed to ensure a smooth transition, should the Security Council decide to establish a peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
The ACABQ is also concerned that the involvement of so many United Nations departments and offices may make it difficult to see clearly how the overall accountability for the support for Somalia is organized. It encourages the Secretary-General to keep under review all activities in connection with the United Nations presence in Somalia, including the structure in support of AMISOM, and to explore opportunities for consolidation and streamlining with a view to achieving efficiencies and cost-effectiveness. In this connection, the Advisory Committee expects that lessons learned from the deployment of past field operations will be applied.
Introduction of Documents
The Secretary of the Joint Appeals Board and Joint Disciplinary Committee, WEICHENG LIN, introduced the report on the outcome of the work of those bodies, saying that during the 18 months between January 2008 and 30 June 2009, the emphasis of work had been to clear as much of the backlog of cases as possible, so as to leave as little a burden as possible on the new system. With four Joint Appeals Boards in New York, Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi, New York had been by far the largest in terms of volume of work, dealing with about two thirds of the appeals. Everyone in the Panel of Counsel, Joint Appeals Boards and the Deputy Secretary-General’s Office had worked hard during the last 18 months of the mandate. They had “held the roof and floor of the old justice system, largely on the strength of their conscience, sense of justice and desire to help those in need of assistance”.
The picture would not be complete without mentioning the Joint Disciplinary Committees, he added. The report was correct that Joint Disciplinary Committee cases were more labour-intensive and time-consuming than appeals. In the area of disciplinary cases, New York’s portion had been even larger, representing about 90 per cent of all cases. At the end of 2008, in view of a still large number of disciplinary cases pending, it had been decided to shift New York’s priority to reviewing Joint Disciplinary Committee cases in 2009, because much more was at stake for staff members accused of misconduct. Ad hoc panels had been organized for two peacekeeping missions that had generated a number of cases, with support of the missions concerned and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support, the Office of Human Resources Management and the Panel of Counsel. Many of the Joint Disciplinary Committee cases had been finished during the first six months of 2009. The focus on disciplinary cases had impacted the speed in which appeals were reviewed.
“At the end of 2008, we optimistically thought that there would be few new cases in 2009, […], but we were wrong”, he continued. In the first six months of 2009, staff continued to file new appeals and the administration continued to refer new disciplinary cases to the Joint Disciplinary Committees. That largely explained why, at the end of June this year, the old system still had about 140 pending cases, which had to be forwarded to the new system.
JOHNSTON BARKAT, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Ombudsman, introduced the report on the activities of his Office, saying that it was heartened by the importance that had been attached to the informal resolution of disputes. The informal system provided the Organization with an opportunity to resolve and manage conflicts through peaceful dialogue. It contributed to the development of a fair and equitable workplace and a culture of managerial accountability.
As encouraged by the Assembly, the Office attached great importance to identifying, analysing and reporting on systemic issues and in making practical suggestions to improve policies, he continued. Chapter IV of the report provided a breakdown of systemic issues that had been identified during the reporting period. Some of the cross-cutting issues included career progression and development, including performance management, recruitment and selection, and contract management; leadership and managerial effectiveness, including abuse of authority and concerns about investigatory processes; and coverage for trauma and post-crisis care. Much progress had been made in addressing some of the past systemic issues that had been identified by the Office in its previous reports. Those included the contractual reform, introduction of a whistle-blower policy, improving the National Competitive Recruitment Examination programme, and management training.
During the reporting period, the Office had conducted a number of in-person interventions in the field, where it had observed first-hand systemic issues affecting staff. The Office had also raised awareness among staff about its new expanded mandate and range of services. The new website of the integrated Office had been launched in 2009 in all six United Nations languages.
Since 1 July, the Mediation Division arm of the Office had been operational, he added. Cases were being received and addressed by professionally trained mediators. To further enhance the effectiveness of mediation services, managers must be willing to come to the table to mediate and should be encouraged to do so.
The Vice-Chairman of the ACABQ, COLLEN KELAPILE, introduced that body’s report on the administration of justice. In connection with the Ombudsman’s Office, he noted that the Office had been providing mediation services in support of the formal system for the administration of justice since 1 July 2009. The Advisory Committee believed that it was an important role for the Office.
MAGID YOUSIF (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that the administration of justice was integral to an effective human resources management system, and expressed support for the reforms approved by the General Assembly in resolutions 61/261, 62/228 and 63/253. Noting that the report before the Fifth Committee today would be the last on the work of the Joint Appeals Board and the Joint Disciplinary Committees, he said that, as per the recommendation of the ACABQ, he expected the General Assembly to be provided, in future, with information regarding those aspects of staff administration that gave rise to a large number of appeals.
He also sought further information on the accountability of officials who had caused financial losses to the Organization. Further, he agreed with the ACABQ that the Office of the Ombudsman should expeditiously develop the guidelines to become fully operational. He particularly looked forward to discussing the systemic issues raised by the Ombudsman in his report, the backlog of cases before the new system and the issue of judges’ entitlements raised in the ACABQ report.
INGRID BERLANGA VASILE ( Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said that administration of justice was very important to the professional development of the Organization’s personnel and to their labour rights. The Rio Group agreed with the ACABQ that information concerning the Joint Appeals Boards in Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna should provide information on monetary compensation provided to claimants, as the New York Board had done, along with an analysis of the monetary compensation awarded and the indirect associated costs. The next report should also include sufficient information to objectively compare data from the old system and the new one.
As accountability was a principal element of the system of administration of justice, she expressed concern about how the Boards were dealing with cases of officers who caused the Organization financial losses. Stricter methods than administrative evaluation should be used to implement accountability measures throughout the United Nations system, including more severe sanctions in cases of fraud, to include recovery of those losses and termination of contracts. She asked what efforts the Board had made on the matter.
She said that managerial personnel should promote a culture of zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination or abuse by high officers or other staff members. She expressed concern that some officers accused of abuse claimed not to have had due process of law and that the Organization was not truly committed to solving such abuse claims. Further, she noted that there was confusion due to the existence of multiple bodies in charge of dealing with claims of misconduct by peacekeeping personnel in the field.
She expressed the hope that, once the regional offices started operating, the need to travel from Headquarters would diminish. Further, the Office of the Ombudsman should communicate more frequently with the Secretariat, particularly with the Office of Human Resources Management, on systemic issues. She further expressed the hope that the Office of the Mediation Division would soon start regular operation within the system of the administration of justice.
RASHED MOHAMMED AL-MANAI (Qatar) aligned himself with the position of the Group of 77 and said that judging the extent of the success in evaluating the administration of justice in the United Nations rested on: clarification and definition of the scope covered by such research; completeness of the information provided; and clarity of procedures and guidelines related to the evaluation process. Without that, there could be no effective reform of the administration of justice. Undoubtedly, the arbitration of disputes should go through and exhaust all due process, before reaching a final result. It was possible to benefit from a conflict, if it was addressed in a constructive manner.
He underscored the role of the Office of the Ombudsman and Mediation Services in that regard. Stressing that the United Nations should be a role model in the administration of justice and rule of law, he said that it could be achieved through the efforts of the Office of the Ombudsman and Mediation Services. The process should be based on neutrality, independence, transparency, professionalism and adequacy of decentralized resources, so as to ensure equitable solutions for United Nations staff, consistent with the principles and legal processes. That was especially important, since they could not resort to national courts when it came to employment-related grievances in the Organization. At the same time, he stressed the constructive and useful role that could be “played by the informal system within the system of administration of justice in the United Nations system as a whole as synonymous with the formal system”.
He said that his delegation appreciated the Organization’s efforts to provide training programmes to staff in supervisory and leadership positions, the field visits paid by the Ombudsman, the numerous services he provided, such as the briefings to staff about the role of the Office, the provision of informative training courses, addressing the issues presented by local staff, and meetings with key stakeholders.
Continuing, he expressed concern over the shortcomings in determining the responsibility of the United Nations for the maintenance of the rights of those working under its umbrella, to perform services that were important for the preservation of international peace and security and international aid. For instance, in peacekeeping operations, despite the existence of a code of conduct, peacekeepers might be attacked, killed or taken hostage while working in conflict zones. However, there was no clear legislation setting out the responsibility of the United Nations to protect them. It was not enough to just refer those matters to the host country. He proposed, therefore, that competent bodies and committees consider appropriate legislation to address such shortfalls.
With regard to gender equality, the regulations of the United Nations should take into account the empowerment of women, he said. While recognizing that slight progress had been achieved in terms of increasing the number of women working under the umbrella of the United Nations and the access to some of them to leadership positions, the numerical gap was still relatively high. It was necessary to give additional benefits to women because of their familial and psychological responsibilities. That was what Qatar was pursuing in its national legislation.
Support for AMISOM
The United Nations Controller, JUN YAMAZAKI, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on financing of support for AMISOM, saying that a commitment authority, with assessment, had been authorized by the General Assembly in resolution 63/275B of 30 June 2009 for the amount of $138.8 million for the period of 1 July to 31 December 2009, with the request that the Secretary-General submit a full 2009/10 budget in a timely manner. The full budget totalled about $225.44 million, including the previously authorized commitment authority and about $1.06 million in budgeted voluntary contributions in-kind. Expenditures of about $72.04 million had been incurred for the period 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009 against the commitment authority of $75.64 million approved for that period.
Resource requirements were approximately $90 million more than initially projected for the 2009/10 period, primarily due to a change in circumstances and subsequent analysis of requirements. That included the change of AMISOM’s concept of operations and reduction in the number of staff in New York and Addis Ababa planning teams, as a result of the substantial completion of initial contingency planning for a future peacekeeping mission. All core administrative and budgetary functions of the United Nations Support Office and the United Nations Political Office in Somalia had been integrated, with the Support Office assuming the functions of both entities as of 1 January 2010.
Introducing the ACABQ report, Mr. KELAPILE said that the resources in the amount of approximately $224 million represented the operation’s first formal budget and included an amount of $138.8 million, which had been authorized by the General Assembly in its most recent commitment authority for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2009.
He said that the Advisory Committee wished to express its condolences with regard to the attack against AMISOM on 17 September, which had killed at least 21 people, including 17 AMISOM soldiers and the Deputy Force Commander.
The United Nations support structure for Somalia was complex, with operational activities currently spread across six geographic locations and across nine United Nations departments and entities. Although efforts were being made to achieve efficiencies, the overall structure was overly complex. The ACABQ was concerned that involvement of so many United Nations departments and offices might make it difficult to see clearly how the overall accountability for the support of Somalia was organized. It, therefore, encouraged the Secretary-General to keep under review all activities in connection with United Nations presence in Somalia.
Informed that the proposed budget could be reduced by a total of $9.8 million, the Advisory Committee recommended that the Assembly appropriate an amount of $214.58 million for the financing of support of AMISOM for 2009/10.
Speaking on behalf of the African Group, ELSA DE JESUS PATACA ( Angola) noted the amounts that the trust fund in support of AMISOM had received, to date, and, expressing appreciation to those Member States and donors who had provided those resources, urged other Member States and donors to honour the pledges made at the Somali donors Conference earlier this year. Effective support to AMISOM was expected to contribute to a more secure environment in Mogadishu that would enable the peace process to move forward and the Transitional Federal Government to consolidate its authority and strengthen its own security sector, enabling the delivery of humanitarian assistance. She also noted that planning for an eventual United Nations peacekeeping operation in Somalia should continue.
She acknowledged the contributions of the Entebbe logistics base in providing support to the Organization’s missions, including the conduct of regional meetings and training activities, as well as urgent security-related operations. The Group trusted that the base would be expanded and continue to support peacekeeping missions in Africa, and acknowledged the progress made by the UN Support Office in support of AMISOM through the transit base in Mombassa. Further, commending the work of AMISOM, which had been carried out in the most difficult circumstances, she condemned all attacks on peacekeepers and expressed the Group’s deepest condolences to the people and Government of Uganda, as well as to the Mission contingents for their loss during the attacks of 17 September 2009.
FESSEHA A. TESSEMA ( Ethiopia) associated himself with the statement of the African Group. He said that Ethiopian National Defence Forces had moved into Somalia two and half years ago to foil the clear and present danger created by extremist forces, at the request of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, with the clear intent of restoring peace and stability in the country. Since day one, Ethiopia had been calling for the support of the international community for AMISOM and for that Mission’s transformation into a United Nations peacekeeping mission.
In that regard, the Security Council issued resolution 1863 (2009), expressing its intention to establish such a mission to replace AMISOM and, in its resolution 1872 (2009), requested the Secretary-General to continue providing logistical support for AMISOM, compromising equipment and services to enable it to carry out its mandate. That required a firm and speedy commitment. Strengthening AMISOM and building the capacity of the Somali federal institutions should remain a single priority of the international community. AMISOM’s presence in Mogadishu was critical to maintaining security and would not be possible without logistical support from the United Nations and donor assistance for the Mission’s other requirements.
To that end, he expressed support for the Secretary-General’s proposed budget for financing AMISOM and said that it must be delivered in an effective and timely manner. He further valued the emphasis given to the establishment of, and coordination between, support offices, logistical hubs and liaisons. Exploring further opportunities and facilities in the already identified countries of the subregion would help to strengthen AMISOM and expedite the process of establishing a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Any delay in financing AMISOM and establishing a United Nations mission would have serious consequences for Somalia and the whole region. He requested that the Fifth Committee approve the proposed budget.
DAVID A. TRAYSTMAN ( United States) expressed support for AMISOM’s role and the decision to strengthen support for the Mission in Security Council resolution 1863 (2009). He condemned the continuing military offensives against the Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM, including the 17 September suicide attacks by al-Shaabab against AMISOM headquarters that killed 21 people. He paid the deepest respects to those who lost their lives and expressed the hope for a full and swift recovery for the wounded.
Since AMISOM was deployed in 2007, the United States had provided $135 million for logistical and equipment support and pre-deployment training for Burundian and Ugandan forces, including 72 armoured vehicles, and continued to provide humanitarian assistance to Somalia, having donated more than $150 million in food and non-food emergency assistance in the past year, he said. The United States planned to continue that level of support.
The 17 September attacks were a reminder of the tenuous security situation in Somalia, he said. Progress made must not be reversed and the path to peace and stability in Somalia must be strengthened. He looked forward to Fifth Committee authorization of the funding required to continue to provide the support to AMISOM requested by the Secretary-General.
JOSIEL MOTUMISI TAWANA (South Africa) supported the position of the African Group and said that the Secretary-General’s first proposed budget on the financing of activities arising from Security Council resolution 1863 marked a significant milestone, giving practical expression to African Union-United Nations cooperation. As a passionate proponent of cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, his delegation strongly supported the proposed budget for AMISOM.
By its resolution 1872 (2009), the Security Council had requested the Secretary-General to continue to provide a support package, while also continuing to provide technical and expert advice to the African Union on its deployment and operations, he said. With regard to the deployment of a peacekeeping operation, the Council had requested the Secretary-General to implement a three-phased incremental approach, set out in his report S/2009/210. The Security Council had the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and regional organizations, such as the African Union, played an important and complementary role in conflict resolution and peacekeeping. By means of the proposed budget, AMISOM troops would, henceforth, receive predictable, flexible and sustainable funding. The deepening of a strategic partnership between the United Nations and AMISOM was important.
While welcoming the proposed budget, his delegation noted with concern that the recommendations of the ACABQ would entail a reduction of $9.8 million in the proposed amount, he continued. He trusted that the proposed cut would not have a negative impact on the effective execution of AMISOM’s challenging mandate. The Secretary-General’s proposed budget for AMISOM provided a good basis for longer-term peacebuilding in Mogadishu, Somalia, and would set the scene for AMISOM to reach its authorized strength of 8,000 troops and 270 police. He was also convinced that the Security Council needed to establish a peacekeeping force in Somalia in the not-too-distant future.
PATRICK MUGOYA (Uganda) associated himself with the position of the African Group and said that the reports introduced today, while financial in nature, reminded one of the precarious security situation in Somalia, which had not only impeded the deployment of the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM in Mogadishu, but also affected the logistical aspects of the support package, such as provisions and construction of facilities and infrastructure for AMISOM. More specifically, the Advisory Committee’s report reminded the Committee of the general vulnerability on the ground, as exemplified by the 17 September attack on AMISOM troops. That pointed to the work that needed to be done to improve the situation, since such issues as AMISOM’s commencement of the deployment of civilian police to Mogadishu to work with senior leadership of the Somali police in training and mentoring were subject to security conditions.
Continuing, he welcomed the budget proposal by the Secretary-General for AMISOM support. While taking note of the recommendation of the ACABQ for a reduction of some $9.8 million, he trusted that the Committee would make its best efforts to ensure that support to AMISOM was not hindered in any way. Provision of adequate funds for the support package would be a major factor in how Somalia moved forward, including possible deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
He added that, on the Secretary-General’s proposal and in view of terrorist activities of 17 September, his delegation had expected a substantial budget proposal under the facilities and infrastructure to ensure the safety and security of AMISOM troops. However, only about $81 million had been proposed in the budget. His delegation would seek confirmation during informal consultations that those funds would be sufficient to address the security threats AMISOM faced as a result of current inadequate facilities and infrastructure. That, notwithstanding, he welcomed the Support Office’s commencement of engineering activities to enhance AMISOM facilities in the areas of sanitation, power and water production.
Action on Draft
The Committee then approved, without a vote, a draft resolution on programme planning (document A/C.5/64/L.4), by the terms of which the General Assembly would reaffirm the role of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) as the main subsidiary organ of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council for planning, programming and coordination. At the same time, the Assembly would re-emphasize the role of its plenary and Main Committees in reviewing and taking action on the recommendations of the CPC relevant to their work and stress that setting the priorities of the United Nations is the prerogative of Member States.
Stressing the need for Member States to participate fully in the budget preparation process, the Assembly would further endorse the conclusions and recommendations of the CPC on: the annual overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination for 2008/09; the United Nations system support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); and improving the working methods and procedures of the CPC within the framework of its mandate.
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