19 November 2010
General Assembly
GA/AB/3971

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

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

17th Meeting (AM)


Budget Committee Takes Up Financing Request of $85.7 million for UN Sudan Mission,


to Fund Assistance Provided for January Referendums in Southern Sudan

 


Also Takes Up Additional Financing Needs of Subcommittee on Torture Prevention


Barely seven weeks away from crucial referendums in Southern Sudan that will determine whether the country will split into two nations, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today considered the Secretary-General’s request for $85.7 million for the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), as it provides assistance in creating a safe, free and secure voting process.


The United Nations has already begun to deploy more than 500 temporary workers to the African nation in preparation for the 9 January 2011 referendums in 10states of southern Sudan and the oil-rich Abyei region.  The amount would be added onto the $938 million already appropriated for the Mission during its 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 financing period.  The Mission’s 2010-2011 budget did not include a provision for the referendums, as Secretariat officials could not accurately determine the costs when the budget was crafted.  The requested $85. million appropriation includes $4.3 million for the Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda in the Sudan.  Independent from the Mission, the Panel will serve as a monitoring body to build trust in the polling process and acceptance of its outcomes.  It was established for a six-month period, starting in September 2010, and involved 41 temporary positions.


Introducing the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), Vice Chairman Collen Kelapile noted that a major component of the request was $27.7 million for air operations and he urged the Assembly to back the Secretary-General’s plan.  Assistant-Secretary General and Controller Jun Yamazaki outlined the financing arrangements for the Mission and the referendums, as he introduced the Secretary-General’s report.  He said the $85.7 million was about 9.1 per cent of the Mission’s approved 2010/11 budget, an amount the Mission did not have the capacity to absorb.


The Mission’s mandate was established by the Security Council in its resolution 1590 (2005), partly to support the Comprehensive Peace Agreement sealed between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in January 2005.  In April of this year, the Council extended the Mission’s mandate until 30 April 2011 to support the agreement’s implementation.


The representative of Sudan said that while the referendums might appear as a technical process to many people, it was much more than that for Sudan.  It would determine the fate and future of a people and a country, and whether it would remain united.  The outcome could produce a major change on the world map, including seating arrangements at the United Nations.  He urged the international community and the United Nations to continue its role and meet its declared commitments.


Ethiopia’s representative said this final implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was crucial for Sudan’s future stability and security.  He supported the three-member panel to monitor the self-determination referendums for Southern Sudan and the Abyei Area and said success in the Sudan would be very significant for all of Africa.  “By the same token, failure may entail serous catastrophe for the continent.  No doubt, the Sudanese decision, and the manner in which they are carried out, will also reverberate across Africa,” he added.


In other business, the Committee considered the Secretary-General’s request for additional funds to support the activities of an expanded Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  With the ratification by the fiftieth State Party to the Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which established the Subcommittee, the membership expanded from 10 to 25 and was slated to hold its first session with expanded membership in February 2011.


Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the issue, Sharon Van Buerle, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, said the estimated additional financing needs to support the expanded Subcommittee’s work were $2.2 million for 2011 and $5.6 million for the 2012-2013 budget period.  Mr. Kelapile introduced the Advisory Committee’s report on the issue and noted its reservations.


The representative of Côte d’Ivoire, speaking on behalf of the African Group, also spoke on the financing of UNMIS.


The Fifth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 1 December, to resume discussion of the first performance report of the Programme budget:  biennium 2010-2011.


Background


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) had two reports before it regarding the financing for peacekeeping missions, including a note by the Secretary-General, Financing arrangements for the United Nations Mission in the Sudan for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 (document A/65/509).  The note, issued on 14 October 2009, asks the Assembly to appropriate $85.7 million to support the referendums scheduled to be held in the Sudan in January 2011.  This amount would be in addition to the $938 million already appropriated for the 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 period under the provisions of Assembly resolution 64/283.


With resolution 1919 (2010), the Security Council extended the mandate of United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) until April 2011 and emphasized its lead role in international efforts to provide assistance, as requested, to support the self-determination referendums in Southern Sudan and the oil-rich Abyei area.  The referendums and safe, fair and free voting is critical to the country’s future stability and security, the report states.  The Council established the Mission’s mandate in March 2005, in part to support the Comprehensive Peace Agreement sealed between the Government of Sudan and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in January 2005.


The Secretary-General’s report states that the provision of technical, logistical and security advisory support for the referendums is much more complex than for the elections held earlier this year.  In addition to providing support in the Sudan’s state capitals, UNMIS has established a needed presence in 79 “county” locations in Southern Sudan.  Most of these areas are very remote and far from any other United Nations presence.  The Mission will also provide assistance to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission in Khartoum, the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau in Juba, and the referendum high committee in the 10 states of Southern Sudan, as well as to the Abyei referendum process.


The additional staffing requirements of UNMIS to support the referendums are 596 temporary positions:  comprising 120 international posts, 124 national posts, four national United Nations Volunteers and 348 international United Nations Volunteers.  With the flexible use of its approved staffing complement, including assessment of its current and projected vacancy situation, the Mission has the capacity to absorb 90 staff:  comprising 11 international staff, 75 national staff and 4 national United Nations Volunteers.  This results in a net additional staffing requirement of 506:  comprising 109 international staff, 49 national staff and 348 international United Nations Volunteers.  With the urgent need for these additional staff, 506 temporary positions have been approved for a period of six months, on an exceptional basis, to provide technical, logistical and security advisory support for the referendums.


The additional financial requirements for this support are estimated at $81.4 million, based on the 506 additional temporary positions.  Deployment started in August 2010 and is expected to be completed in November 2010.  Other major requirements include eight additional rotary-wing aircraft, vehicles and equipment to establish and staff the United Nations presence in all locations where referendums are to be held.  This additional support is comprised of four primary elements:  expertise and direct assistance ($23.6 million); logistical support ($48.0 million); security ($2.4 million); and mine action ($7.5 million).


In a response to requests from parties to the peace process, the Secretary-General’s Panel on Referenda in the Sudan was established to serve as a monitoring body.  Independent from UNMIS, it will be an instrument to build trust in the referendum process and acceptance of the outcomes.  It was established for a period of six months, effective September 2010.  The Panel involves 41 temporary positions, including one Under-Secretary-General and two Assistant Secretary-General positions comprising the Panel itself, supported by 38 international staff (1 D-1, 6 P-5, 21 P-4 and 10 P-3).  With the urgent need for these additional staff, 41 temporary positions have been approved for a period of six months, on an exceptional basis, to let the Panel start operating.  The cost is estimated at $4.3 million, including $4.1 million in staff-related costs and $0.2 million in travel costs.  The Mission will provide logistical, administrative and security support to the Panel, within its authorized level of resources.


In addition to the additional appropriation of $85.7 million to support the referendums in the Sudan, the Secretary-General’s note also asks the Assembly to:  assess $71.42 million for the 1 July 2010 to 30 April 2011 period; and assess $14.28 million at a monthly rate of $7.14 million, should the Security Council decide to continue the mandate of the Mission beyond 30 April 2011


Assembly resolution 64/283 appropriated $994.88 million gross for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011, including $938 million gross for the Mission’s maintenance, $48.17 million for the support account for peacekeeping operations, and $8.7 million for the United Nations Logistics base at Brindisi, Italy (UNLB).  These resources back the authorized strength of 525 military observers, 9,450 military contingent personnel, 715 United Nations police officers, 1,098 international and 3,078 national staff, 89 temporary positions, 420 United Nations Volunteers and 40 Government-provided personnel.


In its related report, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (document A/65/571)recommends that the Assembly appropriate the requested amount of $85.7 million for the support of the referendums.


The Advisory Committee also recommends an assessment of $71.42 million for the 1 July 2010 to 30 April 2011 period and an amount of $14.29 million at a monthly rate of $7.14 million, if the Security Council decides to continue the mandate of the Mission beyond 30 April 2011.  In its report, the Advisory Committee said it expected that the actual deployment of the temporary positions requested to support the referendums, as well as the Secretary-General’s Panel, would fully assess the evolving situation on the ground and the functions envisaged for these positions.


The Advisory Committee notes that the major components of the requested $85.7 million include staff costs at $27.7 million; air operations at $29.4 million; and mine clearance activities at $7.5 million.  In regard to air operations, eight additional rotary-wing aircraft are requested to provide logistical support to the referendums by delivering and collecting registration and voting materials.  The Advisory Committee was informed that all eight helicopters were presently in the mission area and operational.  The Advisory Committee was, however, also informed of the decision not to renew the Mission’s contract of an aviation unit of six military utility helicopters beyond 31 October 2010.  To make up for the loss, the Mission planned to redeploy two helicopters from other peacekeeping operations, as it identified commercial capacity to replace the balance.  The Advisory Committee expects every effort will be made to ensure that the necessary air assets are in place expeditiously to ensure that the Mission has the capability to deliver on its mandate.


The Advisory Committee recalls that the Secretary-General, in his report on the budget for UNMIS for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011, (document A/64/632) said his proposal did not include a provision to support the referendums since it was not then possible to accurately determine the resources that would be required.


In a financing issue that is allotted to the Programme Budget for the biennium 2010-2011, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report, Revised estimates resulting from the increase in the number of members of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment pursuant to article 5 of the Optional Protocol (document A/65/500).


This report details the budgetary requirements stemming from the increase in this Subcommittee’s membership from 10 to 25 members.  In accordance with article 5 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the number of members of the Subcommittee increases to 25 after the fiftieth State Party ratifies or gains access to the Protocol.  This occurred in September 2009 and the Subcommittee should have its first session with an expanded membership of 25 in February 2011.


The Secretariat currently estimates additional requirements to support the Subcommittee’s activities at about $2.23 million for 2011 and $5.45 million for the biennium 2012-2013.  It is proposed that the $2.23 million necessary for 2011 be backed by provisions of the contingency fund of the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 for (i) section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management ($1.7 million); (ii) section 23, Human rights ($996,800); and (iii) section 28E, Administration, Geneva ($72,100).


For the biennium 2012-2013, the estimated requirements of $5.45 million would be considered in the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013 under (i) section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management ($3.1 million); (ii) section 23, Human rights ($2.34 million); and (iii) section 28E, Administration, Geneva ($58,800).


The Assembly is requested to approve the Secretary-General’s proposals for additional requirements of $2.23 million for 2011 as a charge against the contingency fund as follows:  Section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management ($1.7 million); Section 23, Human rights ($996,800); and Section 28E, Administration, Geneva ($72,100); Section 35, Staff assessment ($98,000), offset by an equivalent amount under income section 1, Income from staff assessment.  The Secretary-General also asks the Assembly to establish seven posts as follows:  (i) 2 P-5 and 2 P-4 posts under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management; and (ii) 1 P-3, 1 P-2 and 1 GS (OL) under section 23, Human rights.


Under procedures set by the Assembly in its resolutions 41/213 and 42/211, a contingency fund is created for each biennium to accommodate additional expenditures derived from legislative mandates not provided for in the programme budget.  Under that procedure, if additional expenditures were proposed that exceed the resources available from the contingency fund, the activities would be implemented only through the redeployment of resources from low-priority areas or the modification of existing activities.  Otherwise, the additional activities would have to be deferred to a later biennium.


The Committee also had before it the related Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) report on the issue, (document A/65/500), in which it recommends approval of the proposals include in paragraphs 37-40 of the Secretary-General’s report (document A/65/500), subject to its observations and recommendations.


These recommendations include the establishment of two P-5 and two P-4 temporary posts within existing resources to meet the immediate needs of the Division.  It recommends that long-term conference servicing requirements, including the continued need for the four temporary posts, be addressed in the context of the proposed programme budget for 2012-2013.


With regard to the proposal to establish one P-3, one P-2 and one GS (OL) under section 23, Human rights, the Advisory Committee recommends that one P-3 and one GS (OL) be established as temporary posts to be accommodated within the section’s available resources and reported in the second performance report.  The Advisory Committee recommends that the ongoing requirement to establish these new posts be considered in the context of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.  It also believes that the proposed amount of $700,000 for contractual translation under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, should be accommodated within the resources appropriated under the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 and reported in the context of the second performance report.


Introduction of Reports


JUN YAMAZAKI, Assistant-Secretary General, Controller, reviewed the financing arrangements for the United Nations in the Sudan for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011, noting, among others, the additional financial requirements had been estimated at $81.45 million for technical, logistical and security, comprising additional temporary positions and for requirements for eight additional rotary-wing aircraft, vehicles and equipment.  Also included in this were the additional staffing requirements of 506 positions.  Given the urgent need for these additional staff, he had approved these positions under general temporary assistance from 1 August 2010 through 31 March 2011 and said that full deployment would be completed in November 2010.


Continuing, he said that in response to requests by parties to the peace process, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda in the Sudan had been established to build trust in the referendums’ process and outcomes.  The Panel had been established for six months, effective 2010, and involved 41 temporary positions.  Those positions were also approved under general temporary assistance because of the urgent circumstances and, on an exceptional basis, would enable the Panel to commence its operations.  The cost of this Panel was estimated at $4.26 million of which $4.07 million were staff-related costs.


Concluding, he stated that the total additional requirements for UNMIS’s support for the referendums in the Sudan were estimated at $85.71 million.  He also noted that this amount represented 9.1 per cent of the approved 2010/11 budget for UNMIS, which the Mission did not have the capacity to absorb.


COLLEN KELAPILE, Vice Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced the Advisory Committee’s report on financing for UNMIS and said the Secretary-General was seeking an additional $85.7 million to support the referendums in Sudan, as there had been not a provision in the 2010-2011 budget for the project. This amount included $4.3 million for the Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda.


One of the request’s major components related to $27.7 million for air operations.  The Committee had been informed that the eight additional helicopters needed were already in the mission and operational.  The Committee noted, however, the decision not to renew the contract for one of the mission’s military aviation units consisting of six helicopters, and emphasized the need for the replacement air assets to be deployed expeditiously.


The Advisory Committee recommended that the Assembly accept the course of action proposed by the Secretary-General, which underlined that the actual deployment of the requested positions should take into account the situation on the ground.


Statements


BROUZ RALPH COFFI (C ôte d’Ivoire), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the Mission’s mandate was established by the Security Council in its resolution 1590 (2005) and extended by the Council in subsequent resolutions, most recently resolution 1919 (2010).  That extended its mandate until 30 April 2011 to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.


The Council articulated the Mission’s lead role in international efforts to provide assistance, as requested, to support preparations and the holding of the self-determination referendums in South Sudan and Abyei, scheduled for January 2011.  In addition, the Council urged the international community to provide technical and material assistance, including referendums observation capacity, as requested by Sudanese authorities to support the referendums and popular consultations.


Noting that resources for the Mission’s support for the referendums were not included in the overall resources approved for the Mission’s financing from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2010, the African Group would consider the Secretary-General’s proposal during the informal consultations.  The Group noted that the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement had reached its most critical stage and international support was crucial for its full implementation.


GRUM ABAY (Ethiopia) said that the final implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was a culmination of a lengthy peace process and was critical to the country’s future stability and security.  He offered appreciation for the Secretary-General’s appointment of a three-member panel headed by the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania to monitor the upcoming self-determination referendums for Southern Sudan and the Abyei Area.  The success in the Sudan would be of “tremendous significance for Africa as a whole”, he stated.  However, failure would be a “serious catastrophe” as well.  He reaffirmed his country’s solidarity with the people of Sudan, stressing its commitment to assist in the peace process.


Continuing, he pointed out that all of Africa supported the efforts of Sudan, as well, and he noted the tens of thousands of African peacekeepers who had served in the two international Missions — UNMIS and UNAMID.  He commended the significant progress made by the Sudanese parties, but stressed that there was “much to be done” in the upcoming period.  Although the primary responsibility for success or failure lay within the efforts of the people of Sudan, the international community also played a critical role.  To that end, he expressed full support for the proposal for the appropriation of $85.7 million for the support of the referendums, in addition to the $938 million already appropriated for the maintenance of the Mission.


MAGID YOUSIF YAHYA ELHAG (Sudan) said he wanted to assure the Committee of his country’s readiness to cooperate and thanked the Secretariat officials for their reports.  He associated his remarks with the African Group’s statement and thanked the representative of Ethiopia for his comments.


He said the Sudan issue had acquired great attention and had been a priority since the beginning of the Assembly session.  He pointed to a high-level meeting on the Sudan held on 24 September, which drew many world leaders.  That and other meetings stemmed from the fact that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement had reached a critical point, including the last step in its implementation, the referendums in Southern Sudan and the Abyei area, through which Sudan would decide if it would remain with the country.


The referendums might appear as a technical process to many people, but it was much more than that for the Sudan, he said.  The referendums were referendums on the determination of the fate and future of a people and a country, and whether to choose to remain united or separate.  The outcome would produce a major change on the world map, including the seating arrangements in the General Assembly.


The international community had been a part of the process and Sudan expected that the international community would continue its role to the end, including the United Nations’ contribution and its declared commitments.  He said that any flaws in the preparation of the referendums would lead to undesirable consequences.   Sudan would participate in the Committee’s deliberations on the reports and was completely ready to cooperate, he said.


Report on Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture


SHARON VAN BUERLE, Director, Programme Planning and Budget Division, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the revised estimates resulting from the increase in the number of members of the Subcommittee on the prevention of torture.  Under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture that created the Subcommittee, once 50 states ratified the Protocol membership on the Subcommittee would increase from 10 to 25 members.  That had occurred in September 2009, and it was expected to meet for the first time in February 2011 with this expanded membership.  Estimated additional net requirements to support the Subcommittee activities were $2.23 million for 2011 and $5.47 million for 2012-2013.


In regards to the biennium 2010-2011, she said that the total net additional requirements of $2.23 million and $98,000 for staff assessment would be provided by the contingency fund of the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011.  The allocation of $1.7 million for section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, was primarily due to the increase in the working languages in pre- and in-session documentation.  The allocation of $996,800 for section 23, Human rights, would include, among others, travel, daily subsistence allowance and terminal expenses for attendance at three sessions of the Subcommittee in Geneva for the 15 additional members. 


Finally, the allocation of $72,100 for section 28E, Administration, Geneva, would provide central support costs associated with the seven new posts proposed in the areas of telecommunications, utilities, mail, supplies, office furniture and equipment.  Concluding, she said that the total estimated requirements of $5.47 million for the biennium 2012-2013 would be considered in the context of the proposed programme budget’s preparations.


COLLEN KELAPILE, Vice-Chairman, Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introduced the Advisory Committee’s report on the revised estimates resulting from the increase of members on the Subcommittee.  In regards to the requests for four new posts and additional resources for contractual translation in the Division of Conference Management at the Geneva Office, the Advisory Committee had recommended that these positions be on a temporary basis, within existing resources, in order to meet the immediate functional requirements of the Division.  However, he said, the continuation of these temporary posts would need to be re-justified for the biennium 2012-2013. 


Continuing, he noted that the Committee had also recommended that the proposed amount of $700,000 for contractual translation be accommodated under the program budget for the biennium 2010-2011, and reported on in the second performance report.  He also said that, in regards to the additional requirements under section 23 of the program budget, it was recommended that two posts, a P-3 and a GS, be established as temporary posts under the section’s available resources and that ongoing requirements for these posts be considered in the proposed program budget for the biennium 2012-2013.  Concluding, he said that non-post resources should be adjusted accordingly, based on the Advisory Committee’s recommendations.


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