|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
30th Meeting (AM)
Budget Committee Recommends Additional $120.64 Million for UN Haiti Mission to
Finance Increase in Troop, Police Levels Aimed to Support Recovery
Hears Briefing by Head of Management, Angela Kane, on UN Financial Situation;
Reports Address Peacekeeping Finance, Field Support Strategy, among Other Issues
In the midst of a broad agenda — covering the financial situation of the United Nations, cross-cutting issues in peacekeeping finance and the new global field support strategy — the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) approved a draft resolution that would authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments of $120.64 million for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), to support a rise in troop and police levels, as endorsed by the Security Council following the disastrous January earthquake.
The Council last year extended the Mission’s mandate for one year, to October 2010, specifying a troop level of 6,940 and a police component of up to 2,211. A week after the earthquake struck, the Council endorsed an increase in the Mission’s troop and police levels — to 8,940 and 3,711, respectively — to support immediate recovery, reconstruction and stability efforts.
The amount in today’s draft would add to the already approved $611.75 million for the Mission, for the period 1 July to 30 June 2010. The text would also have the Assembly note with concern that only 38 Member States had paid their assessed contributions in full, citing $105.2 million in outstanding contributions as of 31 March 2010.
Angela Kane, Under-Secretary-General for Management, in her presentation on the current financial situation of the United Nations, said $1.9 billion was outstanding at the end of 2009 for the overall peacekeeping account — approximately two thirds of which was owed by Japan and the United States, according to charts she provided.
She said $775 million was owed by the Organization at the end of last year for troop and formed-police units and contingent-owned equipment, millions more than had been owed at the start of the year. As at 30 April 2010, the amount owed was $750 million, of which approximately 60 per cent was due to 10 States — Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Egypt, United States, Nigeria, Rwanda, Nepal, South Africa and France.
New obligations were projected to increase in 2010 compared to 2009, she said, primarily reflecting the planned increased deployment of military and police personnel in MINUSTAH and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).
Some operations continued to suffer from cash shortages, she added, noting that cross-borrowing had been required in four cases in 2009 — for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and the United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).
Separate from the peacekeeping account, Ms. Kane said $1 billion in assessments was still owed from several countries to the United Nations regular budget. A large bulk of the outstanding amount came from nine States — United States, United Kingdom, China, Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Chile and Venezuela. However, she explained that, because there had also been a decrease of $333 million in the regular budget assessment for 2010, unpaid assessed contributions were $395 million lower on 30 April 2010 than a year earlier.
Also today, Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Field Support, presented the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations global field support strategy, designed as a response to demands for faster delivery and better quality of peacekeeping-related services.
Ms. Malcorra outlined the main points of the strategy, which would improve the deployment of personnel through “deployment modules”. It would also provide for the establishment of a series of regional service centres and one global centre, modified financial arrangements and an “integrated” human resources framework. The new support strategy would prepare budgets faster, through the use of budget templates, for which a standard costing methodology would eventually have to be developed, with oversight from Member States.
“Many details still to be designed will benefit from direct Member State input,” she said, such as the development of the pre-defined modules and service packages for military and police deployment, which she envisioned would be developed through close collaboration with the representatives of troop- and police-contributing States. The deployment modules would then be delivered through regional service centres.
Staff who performed repetitive activities, such as processing of staff entitlements or recording transactions that did not have immediate impact on the missions’ operations, would also be housed at the regional centres, Ms. Malcorra explained. Those centres would be located in places that could be family duty stations, where it was expected that the Organization could attract and retain more qualified staff.
Collin Kelapilai, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), presented the Advisory Committee’s response to the plan, saying it saw merit in having predefined modules and service packages. But, the ACABQ highlighted the need to analyse, among other things, the strategy’s cost-effectiveness.
Also addressing the Committee was Jun Yamazaki, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller, who introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the financing of United Nations peacekeeping operations. He said that efficiency gains expected to be derived from improvements of the logistical, administrative and security support to the missions were estimated at some $23.7 million, and had been identified in the budget for 2010/11 in all missions.
Additional reports were delivered today by Catherine Pollard, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, who introduced the Secretary-General’s report on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse; Inga-Britt Ahlenius, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced the annual report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services related to peace operations for January to December 2009.
A few speakers today, such as Pakistan and Canada, speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, voiced concern that, over the last two years, the Assembly had not issued resolutions on cross-cutting issues. Some examples of cross-cutting issues highlighted by speakers were air transportation, fuel management, information and communications technology and conduct and discipline.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Yemen (on behalf of the “Group of 77” and China), Spain (on behalf of the European Union), Chile (on behalf of the Rio Group), Côte d’Ivoire (on behalf of the African Group), Switzerland (also on behalf of Liechtenstein), Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, United States and Chile.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Monday, 10 May, to hear the remaining speakers on cross-cutting issues in peacekeeping.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to hear a statement by the Under-Secretary-General for Management on improving the financial situation of the United Nations.
It also took up cross-cutting issues regarding the administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations, and had before it reports of the Secretary-General providing an overview of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations: budget performance for the period from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009 and budget for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 (document A/64/643); the global field support strategy (document A/64/633); and special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (document A/64/669). Also before it was a note by the Secretary-General on proposed budgetary levels for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 (document A/C.5/64/17).
The Committee also considered a report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions Observations (ACABQ) providing observations and recommendations on cross-cutting issues and related to peacekeeping operations, global field support strategy (document A/64/660). It also had report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on peacekeeping operations (document A/64/326 Part II).
Further, it had before it a draft resolution on financing arrangements for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 (document A/C.5/64/L.36).
Introduction of Reports
ANGELA KANE, Under-Secretary-General for Management, delivered a briefing on the current financial situation of the United Nations.
She said assessments and payments were both higher in 2009 than in 2008, by $619 million and $690 million, respectively. Unpaid assessed contributions were lower by $82 million, at $335 million on 31 December 2009, compared to $417 million on 31 December 2008. Only 136 States had paid their regular budget assessments in full by the end of 2009, which was 10 less than in 2008. Of the outstanding amount of $335 million, one State owed 88 per cent (United States), 6 per cent was owed by Mexico and Chile, and another 6 per cent by the remaining 53 States.
She said that, by 30 April 2010, 74 Member States had paid their assessments to the regular budget, 2 less than at the same time last year. Since that date, 2 more States had joined the list. Payments received by that date were lower, however, than on 30 April 2009, by $20 million. Of the $1 billion still owed, 9 countries accounted for over 94 per cent of the total (United States, United Kingdom, China, Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Chile and Venezuela). But, because there had also been a decrease of $333 million in the regular budget assessment for 2010, unpaid assessed contributions were $395 million lower on 30 April 2010 than a year earlier.
She added that the Organization’s cash position, based on cash available in the General Fund, Working Capital Fund and Special Account, stood at $1.54 billion as at 30 April.
Turning to peacekeeping financing, for which $1.9 billion was outstanding at the end of 2009 — approximately two thirds of which was due to Japan and the United States, according to charts provided by Ms. Kane — she acknowledged that it could be more difficult for States to keep fully current with assessments. Such assessments were issued for different periods throughout the year, based on individual mandate periods as defined by the Security Council, making it difficult to make comparisons between the financial situation of peacekeeping operations and those of the regular budget and the tribunals.
Over $2.3 billion in cash had been available for peacekeeping at the end of 2009, she said. But that cash was divided between separate accounts for each peacekeeping operation, with restrictions on its use, as defined by the Assembly. Resolutions on the financing of peacekeeping operations specified that no mission should be financed by borrowing from other active peacekeeping missions, while the terms of reference of the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund restricted its use to new operations. In the case of existing operations, monies from the Fund could only be used for their expansion.
She explained that the Organization’s peacekeeping cash position of $2.3 billion was based on cash available at active missions ($1.73 billion), closed missions ($457 million) and the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund ($142 million). The position had improved by 30 April 2010, with contributions of over $3.9 billion received, reducing the outstanding amount from over $1.8 billion at 31 December 2009 to under $1.3 billion. Six States were responsible for approximately 72 per cent out of the total owed for peacekeeping operations by the end of April. She added that the current situation reflected an improvement from one year ago, and from the end of 2009.
She said that estimates based on projected receipts and disbursements put the total cash available in peacekeeping accounts at about $2.9 billion at the end of 2010. Some $412 million was expected to be available in the accounts of closed peacekeeping operations, of which $218 million would be used to pay for outstanding liabilities, such as troop and equipment payments. The balance of $194 million would then be freely available for possible cross-borrowing, including for the regular budget, the international tribunals and active peacekeeping operations. In 2009, four active operations had benefited from cross-borrowing — the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).
Describing the Organization’s debt to Member States, Ms. Kane said $775 million had been owed at the end of 2009 for troops, formed police units and contingent-owned equipment, $249 million more than had been owed at the start of 2009. New obligations were projected to increase in 2010 compared to 2009, primarily reflecting the planned increased deployment of military and police personnel in the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), and the deployment of additional military contingents and formed police units in MINUSTAH. Those increases would be partially offset by reductions in the deployed military strength of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
By the end of 2010, she said the debt was projected to decline to $525 million, even with new obligations of $2.1 billion and projected payments of $2.4 billion. As at 30 April 2010, the amount owed was $750 million, of which approximately 60 per cent was owed to 10 States (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Egypt, United States, Nigeria, Rwanda, Nepal, South Africa and France). Payments for troops and formed police were current up to February for all active missions except MINURSO and the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), where cash levels were insufficient.
She said projected payments for 2010 depended on finalization of Memorandums of Understanding, and at present, 85 out of 380 were yet to be finalized.
The remainder of Ms. Kane’s presentation focused on the financing of international tribunals and the capital master plan. The financial position of the two tribunals — the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda — had worsened in 2009, with outstanding assessments at $37 million at the end of 2009, although $15.5 million had been received a few days after year’s end. The outstanding amounts were highly concentrated with two Member States accounting for more than 81 per cent of that amount (United States and Indonesia). Some 105 States had paid their assessments in full for that period.
She said 12 more Member States had paid their assessments by 30 April 2010 compared to 2009, however. Unpaid assessments were lower than in 2009, totalling $86 million. Based on current projections, the Tribunals would end 2010 with positive cash balances.
As for the Capital Master Plan, for which the Assembly had approved a budget of $1.9 billion in December 2006, she said 186 States had made payments totalling $1.4 billion. Eighty-eight States had paid in full and 98 made partial payments.
She explained that the Assembly had approved the establishment of a working capital reserve of $45 million for the Capital Master Plan, to be funded from advances from States and apportioned using the rates of assessment for 2007. As of 30 April, 174 States had already made payments for the working capital reserve, now totalling $44.9 million.
Wrapping up her presentation, Ms. Kane said the financial health of the Organization depended on Member States meeting their financial obligations in full and on time. She announced the launch of an online portal for Member States to access information on the status of contributions. In December 1975, the Assembly had decided that the Secretary-General provide States with information on amounts assessed, paid and owed by each State. Semi-annual reports had been issued from 1976 to 1986, quarterly reports from 1987 to 1988 and monthly reports from 1989 to present. With the growth in the number of funds covered by assessed contributions and with increases in United Nations membership, the standard report had grown to more than 200 pages from an initial 20. With the online portal, status of contributions would be available more quickly and updated daily.
She said viewers had the choice of sorting the data by Member States or by fund. A full overview report would generate a detailed view of the situation by Member State for each of the main categories — the regular budget, peacekeeping operations, the tribunals and the capital master plan. The data covered 48 different funds.
Speaking next, JUN YAMAZAKI, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the financing of United Nations peacekeeping operations (document A/64/643). He said the report provided consolidated information on budget performance for the 2008/09 period and on proposed levels of resources for the 2010/11 period, including examples of efficiency gains and management initiatives in field missions. It also included updated information on budget formulation and presentation, logistical support, training, conduct and discipline (section III), as well as updated information on the status of the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund (section V), liabilities to troop- and police-contributing countries (section VI), and death and disability compensation (section VII).
On the budget performance for the 2008/09 period, he said the total approved budget amounted to $7.3 billion, inclusive of the United Nations Logistics Base and the support account. The related expenditure amounted to $7.1 billion, resulting in an overall unencumbered balance of $200 million. The overall budget implementation rate was 97.2 per cent, compared to 92.7 per cent for the prior financial period. Budget implementation rates had improved for 10 operations (MINURCAT, MINUSTAH, MONUC, UNAMID, UNIFIL, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNMIT, UNOCI and UNOMIG). They had decreased for three missions — in Cyprus, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Kosovo — as well as for the Logistics Base and support account.
As for the 2010/11 period, he said the total peacekeeping level, inclusive of the Logistics Base and support account, was $8.4 billion, compared with the total approved budget of $7.9 billion for the 2009/10 period. That represented an increase of $500 million, or about 6.4 per cent, which was primarily attributable to the increased deployments for peacekeeping operations in Darfur (UNAMID) and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).
He noted that the overview report reflected preliminary 2010/11 estimates for MINURCAT, MINUSTAH, the Logistics Base and the support account. Following the devastating 12 January earthquake in Haiti, the proposed budget for MINUSTAH had been put on hold, and, pending the determination of requirements for that mission, a figure reflecting the anticipated order of magnitude had been reflected in the report for information purposes only. Regarding the Logistics Base and the support account for peacekeeping, resource estimates reflected the initial level of proposals.
Continuing, he said that, as requested by the legislative bodies, a number of refinements had been reflected in the 2010/11 budget presentation formats, with the aim of further facilitating review of the proposals by those bodies. Among other changes, he noted that, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 63/250 of 2008 on human resources, new contractual arrangements had come into effect for international civilian staff in all peacekeeping missions as of 1 July 2009. Estimation of international staff costs for 2010/11 had been made based on base salary scales effective January 2010, taking into account mission-specific post adjustment multipliers as at January 2010. Common staff costs for 2010/11 had been calculated based on the application of the ratio of common staff costs to salaries reflected in the proposed 2009/10 budget, to salaries (including post adjustment) calculated similarly for each mission.
He said that efficiency gains expected to be derived from improvements of the logistical, administrative and security support to the missions were estimated at some $23.7 million, and had been identified in the budget for 2010/11 in all missions. Examples were provided in table 5 of the report. Other tables provided proposed requirements for the 2010/11 period peacekeeping component, and information on the main factors affecting the changes in resource requirements for each mission. The actions to be taken by the Assembly were set out in Section VII, he added.
SUSANA MALCORRA, Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Field Support, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the Organization’s global field support strategy (document A/64/633). She said the strategy was a response to demands received from both States and missions to deliver services faster, and with higher quality and efficiency.
“The underlying premise is that what we do today and how we do it is not good enough to achieve the objectives as envisaged in missions’ mandates,” she said.
One important consideration in the strategy’s design was the need to improve the safety and security of personnel, she added. Another consideration was the need to strengthen the Secretariat’s accountability and stewardship functions. The Department’s collaboration with regional organizations helped underpin the analysis. The environmental impact of missions and their impact on local societies had also been factored in.
She explained that deployment modules would be established to help improve the speed, quality and predictability of the deployment of military, police and civilian components of field missions. Missions would benefit from both a global and several regional service centres, while their financing arrangements would be modified to speed the timely deployment of material and human resources. A human resources framework had been developed to plan for, attract and retain qualified staff.
“The proposal for a global service centre is also fundamental in our efforts to accelerate mission deployment and redeployment through a modularized support approach,” she added. “Modules” would be designed and delivered through regional centres.
Also, by locating regional service centres in places that could be family duty stations, she said it was expected that the Organization could attract and retain more qualified staff. They would consolidate staff that performed repetitive activities, such as processing of staff entitlements or recording transactions that did not have immediate impact on the missions’ operations. More than 1,500 international posts were currently dedicated to such tasks across all missions.
“In no case is any organization structure being changed, in no case is any line of authority being modified, and in no case is any chain of command affected,” she stressed. In addition, no activity performed today at Headquarters requiring interaction with Member States would be altered. To align the work of the global field support strategy with the implementation of “Umoja” [the new United Nations enterprise resource planning system], the processes undertaken in the services centres would be those defined by the Umoja team.
She noted that successful implementation of those elements very much depended on the appropriate level of funding, received at the right time. The financial framework aimed to achieve faster budget preparation through the use of budget templates. A standard costing methodology would eventually have to be developed, and then reviewed and approved by Member States. Ways would be found to enhance the use of the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund and a modified replenishment mechanism for strategic deployment stocks, which would only be done with full concurrence and oversight of Member States.
“Many details still to be designed will benefit from direct Member State input,” she said, such as the development of predefined modules and service packages for military and police deployment, through close collaboration with the representatives of troop- and police-contributing countries.
CATHERINE POLLARD, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (document A/64/669), which presented data collected by the Office of Human Resources Management on allegations of such incidents within the United Nations system from January to December 2009. The total number of allegations reported in the time period was 154, compared with 111 allegations in 2008. The number of allegations relating to peacekeeping personnel for the same period had increased, with 112 allegations having been reported to the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), compared with 83 in 2008. Those increases might be attributable in part to improved reporting mechanisms, improved investigation procedures and strengthened community outreach.
However, despite the increase of allegations last year, she said, the strong preventive measures put in place in various peacekeeping operations and special political missions, such as increased training, awareness-raising and other mission-specific measures, had contained the occurrence of such incidents. “It is clear that sustained attention must continue to be paid to the issue in a comprehensive manner in terms of prevention, prompt investigation, enforcement of disciplinary actions and assistance to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse,” she said.
Continuing, she said the report described the efforts undertaken by the Task Force on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, as well as the initiatives of the Department of Field Support’s Conduct and Discipline Unit and Teams in strengthening measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. Finally, she said that the Secretary-General emphasized his continued commitment to preventing the perpetration of such acts by United Nations staff and related personnel. In that regard, he welcomed the Assembly’s adoption earlier this year of a resolution on criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission as an additional and powerful tool to prevent the perpetration of acts of sexual exploitation and abuse by the Organization’s staff.
COLLIN KELAPILAI, Vice-Chair of ACABQ, introduced that Committee’s report on cross-cutting issues related to United Nations peacekeeping, which also responded to the proposed global field support strategy. He pointed out that this year’s report should be read in conjunction with its last two reports, since some of the recommendations made in them had not been addressed by the Assembly. For a variety of reasons, for the last two years, Member States had not adopted a cross-cutting resolution.
On the way in which peacekeeping budgets were presented, he said the section on planning assumptions should be further developed to provide “a more accessible narrative” that gave a clearer presentation of overall resource requirements and programmatic elements. They should not only describe planned initiatives but also the link to current operational requirements. At present, the budget was heavily oriented towards information on objects of expenditure rather than providing a clear description of envisioned activities.
He said a number of functions, which could be considered backstopping functions, had been transferred or proposed for transfer from Headquarters to the United Nations Logistics Base. Consequently, they had been, or were to be, removed from the budget of the support account and placed in the budget of the Logistics Base. ACABQ was concerned that the way those requirements were currently presented could render it difficult for the Assembly to get a picture of the totality of resources dedicated to a particular function or business process. The Secretary-General was requested to consider presenting a consolidated request for those functions.
As to military and police personnel issues, he said a number of avenues were being explored to reduce the cost of troop rotation by using a jetliner on long-term charter, in Central and East Africa. The Secretary-General had also proposed to use commercial flights, rather than charter flights. The Secretary-General was encouraged to continue to seek ways to facilitate troop rotation and reduce costs, while maintaining a high level of service.
Concerned at persistent vacancy and turnover rates, he said ACABQ believed that measures should be taken to support a minimum period of assignment. The practice of allowing staff who had recently arrived at a mission to be recruited by other missions, should be curtailed. ACABQ would recommend the Secretary-General conduct an assessment of the impact of reforms intended to lower vacancy rates, introduced after the adoption of resolution 63/250, such as the establishment of occupational rosters, and others. The designation of duty stations as family or non-family, which should be based on security implications, should also be discussed by the Secretary-General with the General Assembly.
Aircraft rental costs, and food and fuel contractual arrangements, should also be included in the same Secretary-General’s assessment, he said.
Turning next to the global field support strategy, he said ACABQ was of the view that “their general thrust and direction responded to the General Assembly’s calls for intensifying inter-mission cooperation and developing a regional approach to the provision of services”. ACABQ had some comments in three general areas: on the resources management framework, the predefined modules and services packages; and the integrated human resources framework.
On the first, he noted that the Secretary-General was requesting authorization to develop a standardized funding model to be used as a base for formulating requests for the initial commitment authority, as well as the budget for the first year of the new or expanded mission. The initial budget would be submitted within 30 to 90 days of the mandate, and be based on standardized costing parameters. ACABQ viewed that to be a “positive development”. However, it did not recommend a change to the current procedure that governed the Secretary-General’s ability to enter into such commitments, which were limited to $50 million for a new or expanding mission. The Secretary-General had wanted that limit to be raised up to the full balance of $150 million of the peacekeeping reserve fund.
He said it had also recommended that the Secretary-General be authorized to draw upon $50 million in strategic deployment stocks in addition to the commitment authority. The stock would be replenished when the initial appropriation was received, rather than from the commitment authority. The Secretary-General would, therefore, have at his disposal $100 million to fund and equip the start-up of each new or expanding mission.
On the global service delivery model, he said ACABQ saw merit in the proposed predefined modules and service packages, but had highlighted in its report the need for them to be designed in close collaboration with troop and police contributors, to analyse the cost-effectiveness of the services provided, including overheads for stand-by arrangements, and to preserve the integrity of the procurement process.
Concerning the reprofiling of the Logistics Base as the global service centre, he said ACABQ had requested that the Secretary-General be asked to further develop the concept. A range of functions and services was being envisaged under the umbrella of the proposed first regional service centre at Entebbe in the areas of training, information technology, air operations and back-office processes. In its report, the Committee had commented on the criteria used for the selection of Entebbe as the first regional service centre, the scalability factor, the designation of Entebbe as a family duty station, the cost-benefit analysis, the funding mechanism for the centre, and the governance, management and reporting arrangements. Entebbe would serve the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA), United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) and the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB).
On the proposal to deliver civilian predeployment training from Entebbe, he said ACABQ thought convening training courses closer to field missions would improve efficiency and said the Secretary-General should be encouraged to pursue that approach.
He added that ACABQ saw merit in the consolidation and optimization of information and technology systems, and would suggest requesting more information on it. Similarly, the idea of a transportation and movements integrated control centre should be further developed. ACABQ had recommended, as well, that the Secretary-General be authorized to proceed progressively with back-office service delivery at Entebbe.
On the integrated human resources framework, he said ACABQ would comment further in the context of the Secretary-General’s report on human resources management at the Assembly’s sixty-fifth session.
Presenting the final document before the Committee today, INGA-BRITT AHLENIUS, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced the second part of the annual report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (document A/64/326, Part II), which covered oversight assessments related to the work of that Office in peace operations for January to December 2009. During that period, OIOS had issued 214 oversight reports related to peace operations, accounting for 46 per cent of all recommendations put forward during that period.
She said that, because of the length limitations of General Assembly reports, only select findings were included in the report. However, pursuant to Assembly resolution 59/272, such OIOS reports not submitted would be made available to Member States upon request. OIOS appreciated that such transparency empowered the Assembly by providing it with better insight into the operations and work of the Secretariat. Transparency was the conduit to improve the Organization and to establish the culture of responsibility and accountability envisaged by the General Assembly and the Secretary-General, she added.
In addition, she said that her Office continued to present oversight results in the report by seven risk categories: strategic, governance, compliance, financial, operational, human resources and information. OIOS believed those categories more accurately represented the various types of risk present in the Organization’s work environment. The report highlighted deficiencies in internal controls in a range of areas, from contract management to air operations, which exposed the Organization to unnecessary risk. Lack of compliance with standard operating procedures, poor planning and inadequate management were just a few of the types of deficiencies identified in the report, she added.
“I continue to underscore the need for the adoption of and adherence to a formal internal control framework,” she continued, adding, however, that it must be made clear that such a framework would not be a panacea for all the United Nations operational weaknesses. As the report revealed, some of OIOS’ adverse findings were in areas where controls, such as policies and procedures, did exist but had been breached due to, among others, lack of staff familiarity with such rules and procedures; improper training; or simply poor management oversight. High vacancy and turnover rates in the field also exacerbated operational challenges in mission environments. Nevertheless, she stressed that management must assume ownership of its responsibility to put effective controls in place.
With all that in mind, she said that, in the report, she suggested that Senior Managers’ Compacts with the Secretary-General include a section where management pronounced themselves on the effectiveness and adequacy of internal controls for resources under their supervision. “In my opinion, such a declaration from management would be an impetus to bring about the necessary process for strengthening international controls and accountability in the Organization,” she said.
WALEED AL-SHAHARI (Yemen) speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said his delegation attached great importance to the consideration of policy matters that were cross-cutting in nature and related to the administrative and budgetary aspects of United Nations peacekeeping operations. While recognizing that each operation had its own mandate, faced its own challenges and functioned in its own unique environment, the Group believed that cross-cutting resolutions could serve as an important policy tool, providing comprehensive guidance to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support on issues that were common to the Organizations peacekeeping operations.
He said that the Group emphasized that all peacekeeping missions should be provided with adequate resources for the effective and efficient discharge of their respective mandates and, in that context, was concerned by the delays in providing adequate resources for some missions, particularly those in Africa. He also said that the Group supported the objectives of expediting and bolstering support for peacekeeping missions by improving the quality and timeliness of the delivery of goods and services; strengthening resource stewardship and accountability; improving staff safety and living conditions; and fully utilizing local and regional investments and capabilities, including enhancing local procurement.
The Group recognized the valuable contributions and sacrifices made by troop-contributing countries, and would therefore stress the importance of speeding up reimbursements to such countries that bore the additional burdens owing to overdue payments by Member States of their assessments. He also stressed the importance of sustained dialogue and intensified consultations between Headquarters and peacekeeping operations, and principle stakeholders on ways to enhance the effectiveness of peacekeeping missions.
The Group also strongly supported the zero-tolerance policy regarding acts of sexual exploitation and abuse, and in that light, stressed the importance of training, awareness-raising and the development of quick impact projects that could help prevent such abuse. He said that the Group also emphasized the need to prevent unsubstantiated allegations of misconduct from damaging the credibility of any United Nations peacekeeping mission, troop-contributing country or peacekeeping personnel.
JUAN ANTONIO YÁÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, noted the large size of the current peacekeeping budget and the associated cost of providing support. At the same time, several missions were in the drawdown stage, or being transitioned into peacebuilding missions. Those circumstances placed considerable pressure on the Secretariat and Member States alike.
He said the new ideas put forward by Ms. Malcorra were to be commended, and the European Union emphasized the need for continued close consultations between Member States and the Secretariat before settling on the envisaged strategy. It shared the aims of the strategy, but would also welcome more clarity in some instances, such as the idea of a proposed regional service centre, as well as sounder cost-benefit analyses. It needed to be assured that implementation of such a strategy would yield real savings and improve effectiveness in the field. Mechanisms must be in place to ensure Member States could hold the Secretary-General accountable.
He also noted other cross-cutting subjects the Committee would have to consider: air transportation, fuel management, information and communications technology and conduct and discipline, among others.
MANAHI PAKARATI (Chile) speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said her delegation was convinced that the activities of peacekeeping operations should adhere strictly to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. She also noted that several members of the Group were contributors of military and police to various operations and, as such, the wider Rio Group was making huge efforts to keep up to date with its contributions to peacekeeping budgets. Among the other related issues that the delegation found important were matters regarding reimbursements to troop-contributing countries, troops’ living conditions, and death and disability benefits. Specifically on that matter, she said the Secretariat had an obligation to settle all such claims as soon as possible, as a measure of relief to the beneficiaries.
She went on to urge all member States to meet their financial obligations in full, on time and without conditions. The Group welcomed the submission of updated information on reimbursements made and amounts owed, as well as the updates on compensation for death and disability. The Group attached great importance to the global field support strategy and would follow consultations on the issue closely. To that end, the Group saw, among other things, the need to increase hiring efficiency; provide new opportunities for interactions with developing countries; ensure the best possible living conditions for all field staff; and reduce mission vacancy rates. Finally, she said the Rio Group strongly condemned all acts of sexual exploitation and abuse, and reaffirmed its support for the zero-tolerance policy. At the same time, the delegation was concerned about unfounded accusations against United Nations staff and, therefore, would stress the importance of providing due moral redress in cases where such allegations proved to be lacking credibility.
BROUZ RALPH COFFI (C ôte d’Ivoire) speaking on behalf of the African Group, said his delegation attached great importance to the Organization’s peacekeeping issues and, therefore, considered it important to discuss all cross-cutting issues regarding the financing and effective operation of such missions. Recognizing that each mission was unique, he said that the Committee must decide which related issues fell under its purview, and which should be left to the management of the respective operations. Overall, matters regarding the financing of United Nations peace operations required close attention, as it must be ensured that all actions proposed or carried out were done in an effective, efficient manner. He added that the Committee should acknowledge the fact that the logistics hub in Entebbe had led to increased savings and efficiency in carrying out support activities for peacekeeping missions.
PHILIPPE LAFORTUNE (Canada), speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said the cross-cutting resolution was a valuable vehicle for promoting the efficiency and effectiveness of peacekeeping, and to pursue targeted management reforms and “address key thematic issues”. He urged States “to seek to ensure in forthcoming negotiations that another three years does not pass before we agree on another cross-cutting resolution”. Forthcoming discussions should address all issues related to operational costs common to a large majority of missions. In that regard, he looked forward to constructive discussions on fuel management, rations and air operations.
He commented, as well, on the sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, agreeing with ACABQ that there should be an analysis of overall trends. There had been a downwards trend in reported cases, but egregious cases involving minors had risen. In 2009, 46 per cent of such cases had involved minors, compared to 41 per cent in 2008. Opportunities to address such issues were limited if discussions were focused on specific mission budgets. A cross-cutting resolution, however, would address the budget process, recruitment, conduct and discipline, inter-mission cooperation, improvement to business processes and the global field support strategy.
On the global field support strategy, he said he supported its core objectives relating to safety and living conditions of personnel, strengthening accountability for resource management and achieving greater efficiency and economies of scale. The strategy, as currently proposed, contained many elements that required further in-depth discussion. The service centre concept had potential in addressing safety and security challenges in higher-threat areas. But he would seek clarification and expect the Secretariat to provide guarantees on forecasted economies of scale, scalability of the Entebbe centre, the effectiveness of proposed governance and management arrangements. He would scrutinize any area where it saw potential for duplication.
The concept of modularization should enable more rapid development of the infrastructure to support deploying contingents, he noted. But, no decision on modularization was required by the Assembly and, therefore, he would like to urge the Secretary-General to take concrete measures to ensure the effective and efficient linking of goods and services. He strongly supported ideas to improve the effectiveness of the Office of Military Affairs, and noted the Secretary-General’s most recent report on its restructuring. He was pleased to see the establishment of an assessment team to provide “strategic situational awareness” in current and potential peacekeeping operations, but more advice was needed on increased administrative support and conversion of existing military officer positions to civilian positions.
THOMAS GÜRBER (Switzerland), speaking also on behalf of Liechtenstein, said that peacekeeping had undergone major changes in the past few years; the budget for such activities had doubled, the operations themselves had become more complex and their mandates had become more diverse. Despite the creation of the Department of Field Support three years ago, the actual processes and organizational structure for field support in the Secretariat had changed only minimally. Therefore, he agreed with the Secretary-General that strategic adjustments to the United Nations field support activities were needed.
With that in mind, he said, the Secretary-General’s global field support strategy, a proposal on how to reform such activities over the next five years, outlined both overarching activities and specific measures to that end. The objectives, as he understood them, were to enhance the quality and speed of support to peacekeeping and peacemaking, while at the same time, reducing costs and improving the safety and living conditions of staff. He fully supported those objectives and welcomed the general purpose of the global field support strategy.
However, he still had some questions regarding some of the proposed measures to achieve those goals, and would like to know more about the organizational details of the proposed regional service centres, the criteria for their establishment and their adaptability to future development. They would also need to see more tangible examples to understand why the Secretary-General needed increased flexibility with regard to the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund. There was also a need to discuss such issues as the connections among the strategy’s various components and the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in its further development and implementation.
“We need to be sure that the creation of new layers between Headquarters and the missions will not lead to duplication and disputes over competence,” he said, adding that Switzerland and Lichtenstein planned to raise that matter during consultations. Summing up, he agreed with the Secretary-General’s assessment that a strategic change in the Organization’s field support was warranted, and while he still had questions on the proposals, he nevertheless supported the overall purpose and direction of the process and looked forward to engaging constructively in the upcoming negotiations.
ALEXANDER PANKIN (Russian Federation) drew attention to the even lower level of unencumbered balance when compared to the previous period, which was a good indication that budget planning was working. He welcomed the activities of the interdepartmental working group to improve budget submissions, and would like to see more detailed information on the results and conclusions of the working group. At the same time, he drew attention to the overall rise in budget proposals for peacekeeping, which had gone up by 7 per cent. That had happened despite UNOMIG being liquidated and UNMIL being downscaled. He planned to “thoroughly consider” justifications for budget growth.
He said he looked forward to constructive discussions on the global field support strategy, and appreciated the dialogue taking place with the Secretariat, within the framework of the Special Committee and other forums. His Government had a number of concerns which it intended to discuss further. He added that he hoped the Fifth Committee could engage in discussions to help elaborate balanced recommendations on the process of reimbursement for death and disability. Staff wounded or killed in the course of action did not deserve to face bureaucratic hurdles. As for administrative issues, he planned to look into the problems of management identified by OIOS.
PARK IN-KOOK (Republic of Korea) noted that the peacekeeping budget for the 2010/11 period was some $8.4 billion, a twofold increase over the 2004/05 budget allocations for such activities. However, the overall budget implementation rate — 97.2 per cent for the 2008/2009 financial period — was still low, resulting in an unspent expenditure of some $200 million. He emphasized therefore that the recurring tendency towards underexpenditure, as well as the extraordinary growth of the peacekeeping budget, would require the Secretary-General to implement stricter financial discipline, allocating available resources in a more strategic manner and minimizing possible overbudgeting.
He went on to stress that formulating the budget for United Nations peacekeeping operations should be based on an appropriate methodology and budget assumptions. In that connection, he noted with concern that the Secretariat used the World Bank exchange rate forecasts for 2011 in converting budgets expressed in local currencies to United States dollars. The Republic of Korea believed that using such forecasts “is unprecedented and inappropriate” since, unlike other economic indicators such as inflation rates and growth rates, exchange rates were usually volatile and sometimes were affected by external factors other than the supply of and demand for the respective currency.
Among other concerns, he noted ACABQ’s assessment that the high vacancy rate of 29 per cent and the turnover rate of 24 per cent for international staff in 2009 might put the implementation of mission mandates at risk. He, therefore, encouraged the Secretariat to take effective measures to immediately address this recurring issue, including by setting a minimum period for assignment. In addition, the Republic of Korea believed that the tangible efficiency of the Secretary-General’s turnkey approach to fuel management should be presented clearly to justify the continued application of that approach.
AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL (Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said he supported, in principle, the idea of an overview report that provided comprehensive information on all operational and related aspects of peacekeeping operations. He believed that cross-cutting resolutions should provide broad overall guidance for further improvements through the business process and other administrative measures. Pakistan did not favour micro-management of peacekeeping operations.
He noted the difficulty of reaching agreement, in the intergovernmental format, on the entire set of matters under cross-cutting issues. Moreover, it was a matter of great concern that, over the last two years, no action had been taken even though ACABQ had issued its reports. In view of the “compressed” agenda of the Fifth Committee, it would be reasonable to consider the overview reports on a biennial basis, which would allow the Secretary-General to consolidate his report. However, major issues, such as death and disability, needed to be considered specifically under the relevant agenda items. Those issues had critical importance for the families of those that had lost their lives. Lack of action could not be justified.
With regard to death and disability claims, he agreed with the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the most current edition of the American Medical Association Guide to Evaluation of Permanent Impairment should be used as a reference. It was “enigmatic” that the level of compensation for death remained the same since 1990 without taking account of inflation. It took up to three years to settle claims, against the Assembly’s request that they be settled in three months. He reiterated Pakistan’s request for a comprehensive review of the compensation of death and disability claims, elimination of backlog, simplified procedures and speedy disposal of death and disability cases. It should be awarded to all in the service of the United Nations, with exceptions made for cases of wilful neglect or self-inflicted injury, as the rules stated. There should be greater attention on that issue.
He recalled Assembly resolution 63/287, which requested the Secretary-General to make further concrete efforts to ensure proper representation of troop-contributing countries in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support, taking into account their contribution to United Nations peacekeeping.
With regard to the global field support strategy, he expressed regret that it had not been approved by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping. Nevertheless, that Committee had taken note of it and had requested the Fifth Committee to pronounce itself on its budgetary and administrative implications. But, the Fifth Committee was constrained by the absence of specifics. The Committee was used to dealing with numbers, organizational structures, reporting lines, divisions of labour and responsibilities, working methods and lines of accountability, processes and procedures.
For example, he said, more information was needed on whether existing procedures governing the Secretary-General’s commitment authority should be modified, to enable him to draw upon the full balance of up to $150 million from the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund. And, while he appreciated the standardized funding model, it should be fully justified to the Assembly, with all the internal controls in place. The Pakistan delegation was supportive of the new model of service delivery, but the Secretary-General should provide clarification on problems identified in the existing model.
He said Pakistan was not in a position to support any change in the Headquarters role in providing oversight and strategic guidance to field missions, and a future report should clarify the imperative for moving the operational functions away from Headquarters. The resource implications should also be clarified. Further, it was his view that the Logistic Base continue to focus on delivering its current mandate effectively, which, regrettably, it had failed to do. Amalgamation of tenant units in the operational functions of the Base had not been sufficiently explained and the current reporting line to Headquarters needed to be preserved for their functional and operational efficiency.
Based on a study conducted by a team of experts engaged by the Department of Field Support, the idea of establishing a first regional centre at Entebbe was welcome, he said. He expected the human resources component of the proposal to be fleshed out in the context of human resources management reforms at the sixty-fifth session. He stressed the importance of linking the raison d’être for the Department of Field Support, the global field support strategy and resolution 61/279 [on strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to manage and sustain peacekeeping operations].
He added that, while informal briefings would be welcomed, it would not substitute for a formal process of interaction such as the Special Committee or some other modality.
JOSEPH MELROSE (United States) said the cross-cutting issues the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) would be discussing in the coming weeks were integral to successful mission management and operation, and therefore merited full consideration. Such important thematic issues should be fully assessed and reflected in a “cross-cutting resolution”, because, his delegation believed, such texts resulted in improved management and support of peacekeeping operations and their uniformed and civilian personnel.
That was particularly true during the Committee’s current session, when it was considering the Secretary-General’s proposal for a global field support strategy. While the United States delegation lamented the fact that the Committee had not been able to adopt a cross-cutting resolution during the past two sessions, it looked forward to working with other delegations in adopting such texts this year. His delegations also looked forward to discussing all cross-cutting issues with members of the Committee, including on rations contracts; information technology; conduct and disciple, including matters regarding sexual exploitation and abuse and financial, economic and administrative misconduct; and the need to rationalize air operations and ensure aviation safety.
On the proposed field support strategy, he said the United States recognized that critical support challenges necessitated a change in the way the Secretariat provided such support, including difficult and dangerous environments, a shortage of readily deployable equipment and civilian personnel for mission start-up and complex mandates. “We support, in principle, the proposed strategy’s core objectives […] and my delegation is committed to working closely with members of this Committee towards an agreements that will launch this initiative in a manner that effectively accomplishes [those objectives],” he said.
On other topics, he noted that, while significant efforts had been made in the past to lower costs in air operations, it was now time to take more comprehensive measures, not on to achieve savings through a regional approach to the management of those operations, but, above all, to ensure safe and efficient movement of uniformed and civilian personnel. On sexual abuse and exploitation, he regretted that such egregious acts were still taking place, notwithstanding the measures in place to implements Organization-wide reforms to prevent them, enforce standards of conduct and address victims’ needs. In that regard the United States recognized the important work being carried out by Conduct and Discipline Teams, OIOS and other United Nations personnel both at Headquarters and in the field. The activities undertaken by the Teams were core responsibilities that should be carried out on a permanent basis.
Action on Draft Resolution
The Committee then turned to the draft resolution before it on financing arrangements for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 (document A/C.5/64/L.36). That resolution was approved without a vote.
By that draft, the Secretary-General would be authorized to enter into commitments, and to apportion among Member States, of up to $120.64 million for the Mission for that period.
Further by the draft, the Assembly would take note of the status of contributions to MINUSTAH as at 31 March 2010, including the contributions outstanding in the amount of $105.2 million, representing 4 per cent of total assessed contributions. It would note with concern that only 38 Member States had paid their assessed contributions in full, and would urge all other Member States, in particular those in arrears, to ensure payment of their outstanding assessed contributions. It would also emphasize that no peacekeeping mission shall be financed by borrowing funds from other active peacekeeping missions.
The representative of Chile, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, expressed appreciation for spirit of cooperation that had allowed the swift adoption of the draft resolution. The additional resources arrived at a crucial time in the recovery and reconstruction efforts towards Haiti. It was the understanding of the Rio Group that, with the adoption of the draft, there would be no change in the timeline of the consideration of the performance report of MINUSTAH.
* *** *For information media • not an official record