Contingent Owned Equipment
It is a major logistical operation to ensure troops and police units arrive in peacekeeping missions with their own equipment, ready to operate in challenging conditions.
UN Photo/Marco Dormino
UN peacekeepers from Bangladesh carry out a river patrol in eastern Mali.
The Contingent Owned Equipment (COE) system was adopted by the United Nations to simplify the means by which countries are reimbursed for providing equipment, personnel and self-sustainment support services to formed military or police contingents in peacekeeping missions. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the binding agreement between the UN and the Troop/Police Contributing Country (TCC/PCC) is the cornerstone of the COE system. The rates of reimbursement and the standards are reviewed every three years by a COE Working Group, an extension of the General Assembly. The last Working Group met in January 2014. Read their report.
General Assembly Resolution
In 1996, the General Assembly authorized procedures for determining reimbursements to Member States for their contributions to peacekeeping missions [A/RES/20/222]. As a result, an MOU between the UN and the troop or police contributing country is established for every formed military or police unit deployed to a Peacekeeping Mission. The MOU details the major equipment, self sustainment services, and personnel which the contributing country is asked to deploy, and for which it is entitled to be financially reimbursed. There are over 300 MOUs covering deployed formed units. These MOUs represent approximately $3 billion in equipment, services, and troop costs annually. This is out of a total budget for UN Peacekeeping Operations of apporximately $7 billion.
What is in the agreement?
The MOU is a negotiated, formal agreement between the UN and the troop/police contributing country that establishes the responsibility and standards for the provision of personnel, major equipment and self-sustainment support services for both the UN and the contributing country. It is signed by representatives from the UN’s Department of Field Support (DFS) and the contributing countries Permanent Mission to the UN and remains in force until the end of the mandate of the Peacekeeping Operation, when the formed military/police unit repatriates from the mission, or until both parties mutually agree that the MOU requires adjustment and renegotiation.
The MOU contains details of the personnel, major equipment and self sustainment services that the contributing country will provide including the standard reimbursement rates that will apply. As these standard rates have been predetermined by Member States, contributing countries are reimbursed equally for providing the same generic types of personnel, equipment or self sustainment services. Self-sustainment services are reimbursed by the UN on a per person/per month basis, payable from UN Headquarters directly to the contributing countries.
Self sustainment support services include:
To compensate for the differences between operating conditions in different mission areas, adjustments are made to the standard reimbursement rates for major equipment and self sustainment, based on the following factors:
- Environmental – the terrain, climate, road conditions in the mission area.
- Operational Intensity – length of logistics chains, size of area of operations and infrastructure.
- Hostile Action/Forced Abandonment Factor – criminal activity, hostile environment, mines etc.
- Potential for hostile engagement by unidentified factions or by individual or groups other than peace process participants.
In addition, a Transportation Factor is applied to major equipment. Lease rates are increased by 0.25% for each complete 500 mile or 800 kilometer segment (after the first 500 miles or 800 kilometers) between the port of embarkation and the arrival point in the mission area. The same peacekeeping mission can be attributed more than one mission factor assessment.
What is each party responsible for?
Responsibilities of the Mission:
- Arrive with serviceable equipment that reflects the requirements of the MOU.
- Report and rectify deficiencies through national channels (at national expense).
- Assist mission staff in conducting inspections and raising Verification and other reports.
- Provide personnel, equipment and self sustainment services in accordance with their responsibilities under the terms of the MOU.
- Receive, track and review verification reports.
- Report / clarify contingent deficiencies back to mission.
- Report mission shortfalls to responsible UN operational and logistics parties.
- Determine levels of reimbursement - mission strength / shortfalls and recommendations.
- Disburse reimbursements to contributing countries.
How does reimbursement work?
After the contingents have deployed, staff in the field commence Verification Inspections to ensure each party is meeting its obligations under the terms of the MOU. After each inspection, a Verification Report is raised. The report is reviewed and signed by the Peacekeeping mission’s Force Commander/Police Commissioner, the Chief Administrative Officer and the Contingent Commander and is sent to UNHQ.
At UNHQ, the report is reviewed against the MOU and the reimbursement is calculated and dispersed to the contributing country. If the MOU has not been formally signed before deployment, as sometimes occurs, the UN reimburses the contributing country for the provision of personnel. Reimbursements for the provision of equipment and self sustainment services are then back dated when the MOU is signed. Claims are calculated on quarterly basis and paid in March, June, September and December each year.
How does equipment reach the mission?
The United Nations is financially responsible for the costs of contingent deployment to the mission and arranges a commercial contract or Letter of Assist (LOA) with the contributing country to transport the equipment, either by Sea, Rail, Road, or in special circumstances by Air. LOA are like commercial contracts but are only arranged between the UN and contributing countries Governments. Troops are normally transported by air to the peacekeeping mission area, with a cargo limit of 45kg per person. Equipment is deployed for the duration of the service in the mission area by the contingent. Personnel rotations, whereby contingent members are replaced with new personnel occur on a periodic basis, usually every 6 to 12 months.
Arriving at a mission
When a contingent arrives in the field for the first time, it may need to be responsible for its initial provisions e.g. provide its own rations, water, fuel, and lubricants for the first 30 to 90 days. Following this initial period, the UN will normally provide rations, water, fuel and lubricants using commercial contracts, for the remainder of the contingent’s service in a mission.
Departing a mission
The same arrangements used in the deployment phase-- UN arrangements for moving troops and equipment to port, etc -- are in effect for redeployment/repatriation. The COE staff conducts departure inspections, and the mission is responsible for base camp closure, rear party support, and provision of a departure security force if required.
COE/MOU Management Review Boards (CMMRB)
Most peacekeeping missions have established COE/MOU Management Review Boards (CMMRB) to oversee the implementation of the mission’s COE program, ensuring that the MOU remain aligned with the requirements of the mission.
The CMMRB is composed of senior representatives of the mission’s Military, Police and Mission Support Components. Some of its main responsibilities are:
- Reviewing compliance of the contingents and the mission with the terms of respective MOU.
- Reviewing adherence to the established COE verification and reporting procedures and Mission SOPs for COE.
- Identifying optimal utilization of military/police and civilian resources in support of the Mission and reviewing and recommending cost-effective support solutions.
- Reviewing the results of Operational Readiness Inspections, and analyzing shortfalls, surpluses and deficiencies and recommending remedial actions.
- Recommending amendments to MOUs resulting from changes in operational and logistic support requirements and contingent performance including reinforcements, repatriation of surplus equipment and transfer of responsibilities for self sustainment support.
- Reviewing mission specific requirements, standards and scales of issue for facilities, equipment and supplies associated with self-sustainment categories such as Accommodation, Communications, Observation, Identification, and so on.
- Reviewing requirements and solutions for disposal of COE in the mission as an alternative to repatriation upon departure.
DPKO/DFS receives CMMRB reports and takes action based on the findings and recommendations, including contact and coordination with the permanent missions to resolve surpluses/deficiencies in major equipment or the provision of self sustainment services and other logistic support or operational capabilities.
Who carries out COE work?
- Global Field Support Strategy [A/64/633]
- First Progress Report on GFSS implementation (2010) - A/65/643
- Second Progress Report on GFSS implementation (2011) - A/66/591
- Third Progress Report on GFSS implementation (2012) - A/67/633
- Fourth Progress Report on GFSS implementation (2013) - A/68/637
- GFSS Fact Sheet
- 2014 COE Manual
- 2014 COE WG Reports
- Contingent owned equipment manual
- 2017 COE WG national cost data collection package