COST OF 11 UN PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS ESTIMATED AT $2.3 BILLION FOR 2003-2004, FIFTH COMMITTEE TOLD, AS RESUMED SESSION OPENS

5 May 2003
GA/AB/3560

COST OF 11 UN PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS ESTIMATED AT $2.3 BILLION FOR 2003-2004, FIFTH COMMITTEE TOLD, AS RESUMED SESSION OPENS

05/05/2003
Press ReleaseGA/AB/3560

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Fifth Committee (Resumed)

46th Meeting (AM)

COST OF 11 UN PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS ESTIMATED AT $2.3 BILLION FOR 2003-2004,

FIFTH COMMITTEE TOLD, AS RESUMED SESSION OPENS

Scheduled to End 30 May, Budget Committee

Deliberations to Focus Primarily on Peacekeeping Financing

Compared with the appropriations of some $2.6 billion for the current period, the cost of financing 11 active peacekeeping missions for 2003-2004 would come to some $2.3 billion, according to the estimates presented to the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) at the opening of its second resumed session this morning.  That amount would include the requirements for the functioning of the peacekeeping Support Account and the United Nations Logistics Base (UNLB) at Brindisi.

During the session, which is expected to last through 30 May, the Budgetary Committee will focus mostly on in-depth consideration of various aspects of peacekeeping financing, ranging from financing of individual missions to gender mainstreaming and the write-off of contingent-owned equipment.

Summarizing 57 reports of the Secretary-General on the budgeting needs and functioning of peacekeeping, which were also presented to the Committee in a single overview report, United Nations Controller Jean-Pierre Halbwachs said that a total of 9,995 posts had been proposed for peacekeeping missions for the period 2003/2004, compared with 12,681 in the current period, exclusive of the UNLB and the Support Account.  The decrease of 2,686 posts largely represented the closure of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) and downsizing of the operations in Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone and Lebanon.

Among the overall trends, he mentioned a reduction in the level of resources and the number of missions; a reduction in troops, police monitors and mission staff; an increase in the number of Member States providing military and police; and an increase in staff at Headquarters. 

The financial year of peacekeeping operations runs from 1 July to 30 June, and their costs are assessed among Member States on the basis of a special peacekeeping scale.  Unlike the regular budget, the budgets of peacekeeping missions are less amenable to forward planning, because they are subject to decisions of the Security Council that may be taken at any time during the year, depending on the world situation.  For the same reason, the total cost of United Nations peacekeeping is subject to considerable fluctuations from year to year.

To make the peacekeeping budgeting cycle more predictable, the programme of work of the Fifth Committee this May -– which was approved this morning -- reflects attempts to streamline the budget approval process and facilitate planning for Member States, in particular through the consideration of a proposal related to the consolidation of peacekeeping financing through preparation of a single resolution on the financing of all missions.

Also presented to the Committee this morning were the audit opinion on peacekeeping financing and 44 recommendations by the Board of Auditors, which welcomed, in particular, the reduction of Member States’ debt from $2.3 billion in June 2001 to $1.2 billion a year later.  Introducing the Board’s report, the Chairman of the Audit Operations Committee and Director of External Audit of France, Alain Gilette, said that it was a significant improvement, as a result of which available cash was now almost equal to liabilities, compared to a shortfall of over $1.3 billion the previous year-end.  However, accounts payable amounting to some $33 million had shown no movement during the financial year and remained unpaid at the year’s end.

The Board’s main recommendations are that the Administration closely monitor the performance of service providers and impose penalties as appropriate; implement recommendations concerning air safety management; regularize the excess level of the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund; close inactive trust funds; improve controls and processes to ensure complete and accurate custody and recording of non-expendable equipment; resolve outstanding receivables and payables; and implement the training plan that has been developed.

Statements on peacekeeping financing were made by representatives of Peru (on behalf of the Rio Group), Venezuela and Republic of Korea.

   Also this morning, representatives of Croatia (on behalf of the Eastern European Group), the United States, Morocco (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Botswana (on behalf of the African Group, Niger and Australia (on behalf of the Western European and Other States), Greece (on behalf of the European Union), Cuba and Syria spoke during the organizational part of the meeting.

Other reports before the Committee were introduced by Chief of the Office of the Under-Secretary-General, Department of Management, Harriet Schmidt; the Chairman of the ACABQ, Conrad S.M. Mselle; and Inspector Ion Gorita of the Joint Inspection Unit.

The Committee will continue its consideration of peacekeeping financing at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 7 May.

Background

During its second resumed session, opening today and expected to last through 30 May, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) will focus mostly on in-depth consideration of various aspects of peacekeeping financing, ranging from the funding of individual missions to gender mainstreaming and  write-off of contingent-owned equipment.  For that purpose, the Committee is  going to take up documents related to administrative and budgetary aspects of peacekeeping, performance reports and audited financial statements of individual missions for the current financial year and their budget requirements for the period from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2003.

The financial year of peacekeeping operations runs from 1 July to 30 June, and their costs are assessed among Member States on the basis of a special peacekeeping scale.  Unlike the regular budget, the budgets of peacekeeping missions are less amenable to forward planning, because they are subject to decisions of the Security Council that may be taken at any time during the year, depending on the world situation.  For the same reason, the total cost of United Nations peacekeeping is subject to considerable fluctuations from year to year.

The programme of work of the Fifth Committee this May reflects attempts to consolidate peacekeeping financing, in particular through presentation of overview reports and consideration of a proposal, which would entail preparation of a single resolution of the General Assembly on the financing of all missions.

To facilitate the Organization’s rapid deployment capacity, at the conclusion of its second resumed session last year, the Committee approved a brand new concept of strategic deployment stocks (SDS), which are expected to enhance the United Nations materiel readiness for deployment within 30 to 90 days.  Taking into account the reserve at the United Nations Logistics Base (UNLB) in Brindisi, Italy, as of 30 April 2002, the Assembly approved some $141.55 million for the implementation of the SDS, envisaging the expansion of the role of UNLB, which should take on new responsibilities as an operational arm of the new mechanism.  It will also serve as a training and conference centre and a support base for air operations.  Funding for the strategic deployment stocks will be from the United Nations Peace Forces (UNPF), United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) and the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund, in accordance with resolution 56/292 of 27 June 2002.

The United Nations Peacekeeping Reserve Fund was established by the General Assembly in 1992 to serve as a cash-flow mechanism to ensure the rapid deployment of peacekeeping operations.  The initial level of the reserve fund was set at  $150 million.  Total reserves and fund balances as at 30 June 2002 were

$197.4 million -- $47.4 million higher than the approved level of $150 million, representing accrued interest income.  The application of that amount was undecided.

For the current peacekeeping budget cycle, last June, the Assembly adopted a budget of some $2.6 billion for the functioning of 12 active United Nations missions, including some $100.9 million for the maintenance of the peacekeeping support account and $12.09 million for the UNLB.  Introduced in the last decade, the support account allows the Secretariat to plan and deploy peacekeeping operations in a coordinated manner.  It is financed through assessments on all active missions, according to their size, as is the UNLB.

On peacekeeping financing, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s consolidated report (document A/57/723) -– submitted for the first time this year -- which provides an overview of financial and administrative aspects of peacekeeping, including the performance of individual missions in 2001/2002 and the budget proposals for the period, which begins on 1 July 2003.  The report describes the improvements that are being introduced for the mission budgets for 2003/2004 under the recently adopted results-based methodology and the global approaches to the operational aspects of peacekeeping and the related costs.  It also provides an update on the provision of goods and services to peacekeeping operations by Member States.

According to the report, for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002, expenditures amounted to $2.5 billion against approved budgets of $2.7 billion, including some $2.67 billion for peacekeeping missions, $9 million for the UNLB at Brindisi, and $89.7 million for the peacekeeping support account.  The overall implementation rate for the period amounted to 92 per cent, leaving an unencumbered balance of $0.2 billion.  This implementation rate is a marginal improvement, compared with 90 per cent for the previous 2000-2001 period.

The proposal for the period from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2004 amounts to  $2.2 billion, compared with an approved level of $2.6 billion for the current period, including $2.49 billion for missions; $14.3 million for the Logistics Base; and $100.9 for the Support Account.  For 2003/2004, improvements have been introduced in the format of mission budgets, including objective-setting for all mission components.  For the missions’ mandate performance for 2001/2002, a transitional format has been used.

The Secretary-General proposes a total of 9,995 posts for peacekeeping missions for the period 2003/2004, compared with 12,681 in the current period, exclusive of UNLB and the Support Account.  This net decrease of 2,686 posts largely represents the downsizing of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the closure of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH).  A total of 136 posts are proposed for UNLB and 761 posts for the Support Account (including 27 posts for resident auditors for the Office of Internal Oversight Services in peacekeeping operations formerly budgeted under individual peacekeeping missions), totalling 10,892 posts, compared with 13,513 for 2002/2003.

The processing of contingent-owned equipment has improved, compared with earlier years, the Secretary-General states.  Claims for all missions up to

31 December 2001 have been processed, and claims from January to June 2002 will be processed by the end of June 2003.  Five workshops on contingent-owned equipment methodology and procedures were held for military advisers of permanent missions, and annual workshops will be held to facilitate the participation of officials rotating into the permanent missions.  Pre-deployment visits are now an integral part of the Secretariat’s role in the deployment of troops to missions, and

25 such visits have taken place in the past two years.

The Missions’ actual expenditures for the 2001-2002 financing cycle, the apportionment for 2002/2003 and the proposed budget for 2003/2004 are presented in the following table (in thousands of US dollars):

Peacekeeping component

Expenditures (2001/02)

Apportionment (2002/03)

Proposed budget (2003/04)

Change

 Amount

Percentage

UNMIK

360 248.0

330 000.0

315 518.2

(14 481.8)

(4.4)

UNOMIG

25 284.6

31 705.8

30 958.5

(747.3)

(2.4)

UNMIBH

130 718.6

78 543.9

(78 543.9)

(100.0)

UNMISET

454 058.0

292 000.0

188 169.2

(103 830.8)

(35.6)

UNIKOM

48 635.7

50 573.2

53 979.1

3 405.9

6.7

UNFICYP

40 288.4

43 652.7

44 368.4

715.7

1.6

UNUNUNUNUNUNUUNIFIL

130 911.0

112 042.5

91 752.4

(20 290.1)

(18.1)

UNDOF

34 422.9

38 991.8

40 212.9

1 221.1

3.1

UNAMSIL

617 646.4

669 476.4

520 053.6

(149 422.8)

(22.3)

MONUC

388 827.0

581 933.5

516 804.0

(65 129.5)

(11.2)

UNMEE

185 007.7

220 830.2

198 355.2

(22 475.0)

(10.2)

MINURSO

39 090.5

41 529.5

42 463.3

933.8

2.2

Subtotal, missions

2 455 138.8

2 491 279.5

2 042 634.8

(448 644.7)

(18.0)

UNLB

8 970.8

14 293.2

23 262.9

8 969.7

62.8

Support account

84 343.0

100 896.2

115 863.1

14 966.9

14.8

Total resources

2 548 452.6

2 606 468.9

2 181 760.8

(424 708.1)

(16.3)

Compared with 2002/2003 approved budget levels, the proposals for 2003/2004 represent reductions in resources for UNMIK, United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), UNMISET, UNIFIL, UNAMSIL, United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), and increases for the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM), United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), UNLB and the Support Account.

The UNMIBH (also in document A/57/684) completed its mandate in December 2002 and is currently in liquidation.  In its report on its performance for 2001/2002, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (document A/57/773) makes recommendations regarding the liquidation of the Mission and proposes that the unencumbered balance of $9.28 million, as well as the amount of $5.74 million in other income and adjustments be credited to Member States in a manner to be decided by the General Assembly.

The liquidation of UNMIH, United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH)/United Nations Transmission Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH)/United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH), United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT), United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES), and the UNPF has been completed.  The liquidation of the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL) and United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) will be completed by the end of March 2003.  Final performance reports for UNSMIH/UNTMIH/MIPONUH, UNMIH, UNPREDEP, UNTAES and the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) were submitted to the General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session.

The 2003/2004 budget for the support account for peacekeeping operations largely maintains the 2002/2003 resource level, as the 14.8 per cent increase ($14.97 million) is due mainly to changes in standard salary costs ($4.5 million) and the inclusion of posts for resident auditors ($3.8 million), which had previously been funded under individual peacekeeping mission budgets.  Other factors contributing to the increase in the level of resources for the support account include proposals for the establishment of a regional investigator capacity in Nairobi and Vienna ($1.9 million), additional posts at Headquarters to augment the guidance and support provided to peacekeeping missions ($2.3 million), and the upgrading of information and communication technology support

($1.6 million).

UNMIK’s proposed budget ($315.52 million) (the performance for 2001/2002 and budget proposal for 2003/2004 also presented in documents A/57/678 and A/57/679) represents a decrease of $14.5 million (4.4 per cent) due to the progressive development of the Kosovo Police Service, commensurate with a reduction in the authorized level of international police officers, as well as a reduction in the Penal Management Division as a result of turning over of some duties to Kosovar personnel.  Another factor in the changed requirements is transfer of some executive responsibilities to provisional self-government institutions.

Among the comments contained in the ACABQ report on UNMIK (document A/57/772/Add.5), is an observation that no convincing argument has been   presented to support the rapid expansion of the Mission’s information technology infrastructure. It is not appropriate for a mission that is downsizing to continue to automatically replace electronic data-processing equipment, utilizing the same benchmarks as active or expanding missions.  In view of downsizing, the Advisory Committee also sees no justification for procuring a large number of replacement vehicles. 

For 2001/2002, the ACABQ recommends that the Mission’s unencumbered balance of $39.75 million gross be credited to Member States in a manner to be determined by the Assembly, as well as other income amounting to some 423.87 million.  For 2002/2003, the Advisory Committee recommends approval of the Secretary-General’s request for $315.51 million.

For the UNOMIG (also in documents A/57/676 and A/57/677), the proposed budget of some $30,958,500 gross ($28,964,700 net), exclusive of budgeted voluntary contributions in kind in the amount of $18,600, shows a decrease of  $0.7 million (2.4 per cent) due, in part, to the procurement of fewer vehicles and lower requirements for facilities and infrastructure.  Responding to this proposal, the Advisory Committee, in its report (document A/57/772/Add.1), recommendsthat the amount of $30.7 million gross be approved for the maintenance of UNOMIG for the 12-month period beginning on 1 July 2003.  A small reduction in the recommended appropriation against the Secretary-General’s proposal is due to the fact that the ACABQ does not support several proposed posts and recommends against the requested resource growth of $79,700 for travel.  For 2001/2002, the Advisory Committee recommends crediting the unencumbered balance of $1.7 million gross and the other income and adjustments of $977,000 to Member States.

The proposed budget of $188.17 million for the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET)/United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) (also covered in documents A/57/666 and A/57/689) represents a decrease of $103.8 million (35.6 per cent) as a result of downsizing the Mission and a projected withdrawal of the peacekeeping force by the end of June 2004, in accordance with the Secretary-General’s four-phase drawdown plan endorsed by the Security Council.  In a related report, the ACABQ (document A/57/772/Add.11) recommends crediting to Member States the unencumbered balance ($942,000) and interest and other income ($20.68 million) for 2001/2002.  It also recommends reducing the estimated budget requirements for 2003/2004 by $3.17 million, appropriating an amount of $185 million gross for that period.  However, this reduction does not take into account any future changes in the overall strategy currently being considered by the Security Council.

The amount of $91.75 million proposed for UNIFIL (also in documents A/57/662 and A/57/663) shows a decrease of $20.3 million (18.1 per cent) following the downsizing of the Force, including civilian personnel.  In a related report, theAdvisory Committee (document A/57/772.Add.6) recommends that the unencumbered balance of $5.7 million for 2001/2002, as well as interest and other income in the amount of $15.16 million be credited to Member States in a manner to be determined by the Assembly. 

As for the 2003/2004 budget proposal, the ACABQ believes that the estimated requirements of $91.75 million gross should be reduced by $1.75 million, recommending an appropriation of $90 million gross.  In particular, the Advisory Committee recommends against the request for a D-1 post for Deputy Force Commander and questions the need to provide redundant capacity, such as the spare satellite station equipment requested in the proposed budget.  It also proposes reducing the frequency of travel.

For UNAMSIL (also in documents A/57/680 and A/57/681), the proposed budget of $520.05 million represents a decrease of $149.4 million (22.3 per cent) due to the downsizing of the Mission in accordance with the Secretary-General’s drawdown plan endorsed by the Security Council and a higher number of mission staff recruited under appointments of limited duration.  [The ACABQ report on the Mission was not before the Committee at the opening of the resumed session.]

The proposal of $516.8 million for MONUC (also in documents A/57/682, A/57/683 and Add.1 and A/57/756) shows a decrease of $65.1 million (11.2 per cent) as a result of increased use of staff appointed under contracts of limited duration, higher vacancy rates for civilian personnel and lower requirement for equipment due to its acquisition in prior periods.  Also factored in the proposal is a reduction in air transportation requirements.  [The ACABQ report on the Mission was not before the Committee at the opening of the resumed session.]

The budget of $198.35 million for UNMEE (also in documents A/57/672 and A/57/673) also represents a decrease of $22.5 million (10.2 per cent) due to the anticipated completion of border demarcation and delimitation between the two countries by 2004; lower requirements for travel of military personnel; higher vacancy rates for civilian personnel; and higher numbers of mission appointees recruited under appointments of limited duration, as well as lower requirement for equipment due to its acquisition in prior periods.

In view of persistent under-expenditures experienced by the Mission, the ACABQ, in a related report (document A/57/772/Add.8), recommends reducing its estimated budget by $10 million (5 per cent) and appropriating an amount of  $188.4 million gross instead of the proposed $198.35 for the 2003/2004 period.  For 2001/2002, the Advisory Committee recommends crediting the unencumbered balance of $13.39 million and interest and other income in the amount of some $10.55 million for 2001/2002 to Member States.

Regarding UNIKOM (also in documents A.57.664 and A/57/665), the report states that its proposed budget of $53.98 million represents an increase of    $3.4 million (6.7 per cent) due to an increase in the rate of mission subsistence allowance; additional requirements for facilities and infrastructure, communications and information technology.  [The ACABQ report on the Mission was not before the Committee at the opening of the session.]

For UNFICYP (also in documents A/57/667 and A/57/677 and Corr.1), an amount of $45.67 million gross, inclusive of budgeted voluntary contributions in kind amounting to some $1.32 million, has been requested.  The proposal shows an increase of $0.7 million (1.6 per cent) due to the strengthening of the mission and upgrading of troop accommodations. In this connection, the ACABQ, in a related report (document A/57/772/Add.4) recommends that the General Assembly approve the appropriation of $43.8 million gross, including $20.53 million to befunded from voluntary contributions from the Governments of Cyprus and Greece.  In particular, the ACABQ does not support proposed establishment and reclassification of several posts and recommends better monitoring of personnel training. 

For the 2001/2002 financial year, the Advisory Committee recommends that the unencumbered balance of $730,600 gross, as well as the interest and other income in the amount of some $4.65 million be credited to Member States.  The ACABQ also comments on the problems that have arisen in connection with the application of results-budgeting methodology.  For example, it points out that expected accomplishments and indicators are at a high level of aggregation, even in the support component where there is room to be more specific.  The representatives of the Secretary-General acknowledged this weakness and agreed that in the next submission, the formulation would be more specific.

An increase of $1.2 million (3.1 per cent) is envisioned for the proposed budget of UNDOF (also in documents A/57/668 and A/57/688) ($40.21 million) due to the enhancement of the mission’s information technology infrastructure.  Analysing the mission’s financing, the ACABQ in a related report (document A/57/772/Add.7) recommends crediting to Member States their respective shares of the Mission’s unencumbered balance for 2001/2002 in the amount of $113,400 and income totalling some $2.36 million.  For 2003/2004, the ACABQ recommends reducing the proposed amount by $311,200, appropriating some $39.9 million for the maintenance of the Mission in the next budget cycle.   

The proposed budget of $42.46 million for MINURSO (documents A/57/674 and A/57/675) represents an increase of $0.9 million (2.2 per cent) due to the replacement of information technology equipment and partial replacement of the vehicle fleet.  In this connection, the ACABQ in its report (document A/57/772/Add.2) recommends crediting to Member States the unencumbered balance of $9.76 million and other income and adjustments of $2.53 million for 2001/2002.  In view of the Mission’s under-expenditure pattern and its questions regarding budgeting for staff costs, the Advisory Committee recommends that the amount of some $41.53 million be appropriated for the period of 2003/2004, instead of the requested amount.

As for the UNLB at Brindisi (also in documents A/57/671, A/57/670 and  Corr.1 and A/57/751), its proposed budget of $23.26 million shows an increase of $8.9 million (62.8 per cent) due to the maintenance and operation of uninterrupted year-round communication network; renovation of premises, supplies for maintenance, refurbishment and repair of equipment for the strategic deployment stocks; and office furniture and equipment for the training facility.

Commenting on the financial situation of the Logistics Base, the ACABQ (document A/57/772/Add.9) recommends that the Assembly approve the cost estimates for the Logistics Base in the amount of $22.21 million gross for the period from  1 July 2003 to 30 June 2004.  It notes that the estimated requirements of $16.17 million for operational costs reflect an increase of $8.22 million, or 103.1 per cent, compared with the apportionment for the current budget period. As shown in the budget report, the largest increases in operational costs fall under the budget lines “Communications” ($4.1 million), “Information technology”

($1.4 million), “Facilities and infrastructure” ($1.3 million) and “Miscellaneous supplies, services and equipment” ($1.1 million).  The Advisory Committee is not satisfied with the justification for the increases in resource requirements contained in the report and points out that, in some cases, the explanations are simply generic.  The ACABQ stresses the necessity of adequate explanation and justification for these resources and trusts that future budget submissions will reflect this requirement. 

In view of the support provided by the Logistics Base to the peacekeeping missions, as well as the funds and programmes and specialized agencies, the Advisory Committee does not object to the estimates for communications and information technology.  Nevertheless, in examining the budgets of individual peacekeeping operations, the Committee observed that technological innovations and improvements are largely implemented on an ad hoc basis.  It is essential for the field missions to prepare a plan for purchases of communications equipment, hardware and software on the basis of functional requirements.  A time frame for completion of communications or information technology projects should be clearly indicated.  The Communications and Information Technology Section could provide backstopping support on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of projected requirements; this should help to reduce the possibility of over-expenditure for the acquisition or replacement of communications equipment and information technology items.

Further, the Advisory Committee notes that the Logistics Base has emerged  as a global hub for communications and information technology support for peacekeeping.  Therefore, it requests a comprehensive examination of the merit of transferring to the Base of post and non-post resources of the support account earmarked for helping to meet the communications and information technology needs of peacekeeping operations, retaining at Headquarters only a few posts for policy and liaison functions.

Another important document before the Committee was a Board of Auditors report on United Nations peacekeeping operations (document A/57/5/Vol.II), which contains the financial statements of individual missions for the financial period ended 30 June 2002 and the audit opinion of the Board of Auditors. 

According to the document, the financial situation of the United Nations peacekeeping operations during the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002 has improved significantly, compared with that of the previous financial period, due in part to a large amount received from the United States in settlement of outstanding peacekeeping assessments.  Total unpaid assessed contributions are down by $1.1 billion, from $2.3 billion at the end of June 2001 to $1.2 billion as at 30 June 2002.  Available cash is now almost equal to liabilities, compared with a shortfall of over $1.3 billion at the end of June 2001.

Nevertheless, the failure of a number of Member States to pay their assessed contributions in full and on time continues to affect the Organization’s ability to fully meet its financial obligations. This has also necessitated borrowing from and among peacekeeping funds, while substantial amounts of obligations to Member States for reimbursement for troops and contingent-owned equipment continued to remain unpaid, due to a lack of available cash.  During the period under review, there was an overall increase in total expenditures of $199.2 million, or 8.4 per cent, mainly as a result of the increased deployment of military personnel at UNAMSIL and MONUC, the Board of Auditors states.

According to the report, the Board of Auditors has audited the United Nations peacekeeping operations at Headquarters, as well as two field missions funded from the regular budget, 13 missions funded from special assessed contributions, 11 missions in liquidation and the UNLB at Brindisi, Italy.  The Board also validated the financial statements for peacekeeping operations with special accounts for the financial period ended 30 June 2002 and conducted a special review at the request of the ACABQ.

Among the Board’s main findings are various instances of non-delivery and significant shortcomings in the performance of the contractor with respect to the provision of airfield services at MONUC, although no penalties were imposed on the contractor.

The Board found that approximately 44 per cent of the recommendations made by the Technical Cooperation Bureau of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on the system of aviation managementin the Department of Peacekeeping Operations were not implemented.  Regarding the two major trust funds -- the Trust Fund to Support the Multinational Force Deployed in East Timor and the Trust Fund in Support of United Nations Peacemaking and Peacekeeping Activities -- the Board points out that they had balances of $77.4 million and $40.7 million, respectively, as at 30 June 2002.  The trust funds were inactiveand no further expenditure was expected from them under their current mandates.

The Board noted improvements in the management of non-expendable equipment and efforts to maintain more accurate records, which resulted in a significant increase in the level of write-offs.  However, it also observed instances of delays in the approval of property pending write-off and disposal.  There were delays in the write-off process at various missions.

Some $11.9 million in voluntary contributions receivablewere disclosed in the missions’ annual financial statements as at 30 June 2002.  Approximately

$6.4 million (54 per cent) of that amount relates to UNFICYP and has been outstanding for more than eight years.  Accounts payableamounting to

$32.7 million had shown no movement during the financial year under review and remained unpaid at year’s end.

The Board also remarks that results-based budgeting objectiveswere not precise and specific with respect to the circumstances of each mission.  Guidance in the development of measurable performance indicators and outputs may have been insufficient.

The Board’s main recommendations are that the Administration closely monitor the performance of service providers and impose penalties as appropriate; implement recommendations in respect of air safety management; regularize the excess level of the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund; close inactive trust funds; improve controls and processes to ensure complete and accurate custody and recording of non-expendable equipment; resolve outstanding receivables and payables; and implement the training plan that has been developed.

The Administration’s responses to those recommendations are reflected both in the Board of Auditors report itself and in the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of those recommendations (document A/57/416/Add.2).  For the most part, the latter addresses only those recommendations that require further comments, particularly on issues related to deployment of accommodation units, procurement and contract management and fraud-prevention policy. 

Also during the current session, the Committee is expected to take up the proposal related to the consolidation of accounts of all peacekeeping operations, which would entail preparation of a single resolution of the General Assembly on the financing of all missions, with each operation representing a section, as in the case of the regular budget.  In this case, assessments would be delinked from the continuation of Security Council mandates, and there would be only one peacekeeping assessment on Member States at the beginning of the peacekeeping budget cycle.  In his report on the feasibility of such course of action (document A/57/746), the Secretary-General points out that such practice is not compatible with current financial practice.  The document contains an analysis of a range of issues that would need to be taken into account should any consolidation be implemented.

In a related report, the ACABQ (document A/57/772) points out that de-linking of assessments from Security Council action on individual mandates may create complications for some Member States, which require such Council mandates before they can pay assessments.  In view of political considerations involved, the ACABQ states that it would be up to the General Assembly to provide further guidance on this matter.

On the general peacekeeping situation, the Advisory Committee welcomes the improvements in the cash position of the active missions, pointing out that, hence, the ability of the United Nations peacekeeping operations to meet their obligations has improved significantly, as compared with previous financial periods. 

The ACABQ also comments on the financial performance of missions for 2001/2002, saying that expenditures amounted to $2,548.5 million against appropriations of $2,773.3 million gross, leaving an unencumbered balance of $224.8 million, or 8.1 per cent of the appropriations.  While reasons for unencumbered balanced are given in various reports before the Committee, their high level reflects significant implementation difficulties.  The Advisory Committee has taken these balances into account when making its recommendations on budget requirements for 2003/2004. 

The Advisory Committee has noted that in a number of missions, large amounts of resources are regularly retained to meet obligations to vendors, staff and others.  Such retentions do not appear to have been determined after a vigorous verification exercise.  The Committee considers that the large amounts of unliquidated obligations, as well as savings regularly realized on prior period obligations, indicate a laxity in obligating funds and illustrate weaknesses in budget implementation and monitoring.  The Committee requests that efforts be made to address these problems.

Welcoming the initial efforts to streamline the budget presentation under the new results-based format, the ACABQ comments that the results-based budgeting exercise still appears to be primarily Headquarters-driven, however.  While the system remains relatively new, systematic training and coaching should be continued and more focused to ensure a coherent and comprehensive understanding and commitment to results-based budgeting in all the missions.

The Advisory Committee also recommends, among other things, reducing the number of expected accomplishments, indicators or achievements and plannedoutputs in the proposed budgets in order to facilitate monitoring and reporting.  While each mission is different, the attempt to have a uniform framework for all complex missions has led to anomalies in some missions where activities for internally displaced persons, public information, mine clearance and so on have all been grouped together under the political component.  For this reason, the Advisory Committee insists that the mandate implementation plan should constitute the framework for budget preparation and performance reporting.

Analysing budget proposals for 2003/2004, the Advisory Committee gives recommendations on various aspects on peacekeeping, ranging from management of military and police personnel, contingent-owned equipment arrangements and resident auditors to the insurance of vehicles.  In general, it believes that missions should have greater authority in the hiring and management of staff.  Missions also need to plan and manage more carefully the departure of staff, particularly heads of services.  It is poor management to allow staff in critical services to leave missions before ascertaining whether they can be replaced promptly.  Also recommended in the report is increased collaboration among missions and between the missions and Headquarters on that important issue, as well as staff mobility between Headquarters and missions.

The Advisory Committee also expresses concern over weaknesses in    inventory management, stressing that they are exacerbated by apparent lack of accountability, vacancy situations and rotation of staff, as well as difficult operating conditions.  At the same time, the report praises the efforts of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the field missions in developing communication and information technology.  As projects in that field involve substantial capital expenditure, the ACABQ recommends undertaking those requirements after comprehensive analysis of field missions’ functional requirements.  Moreover, a clear time frame for completion of such projects should be indicated in the proposed budget submissions.

The report further addresses the potential for duplication of databases, requesting a review of various systems in order to make sure they are compatible and interactive.  In the context of peacekeeping budgets for 2004/2005, the Secretariat should evaluate the const-benefit and productivity results of the Peacekeeping Department information technology systems implemented by the end of 2003.

Noting that the estimates for official travel for 2003/2004 amount to some $13.6 million, the Advisory Committee notes that individual missions’ budgets often gave inadequate and misleading reasons for increased requirements.  It points out that the justification citing the need “to increase efficiency and effectiveness” is not sufficient and recommends increased use of such alternative methods of communication as videoconferencing.

On training, the Advisory Committee comments that staff members in some missions may be receiving multiple training courses that are not related to their areas of responsibility, and makes recommendations to address this problem.  The ACABQ reiterates that there is a need for better planning for training of personnel and subjects covered in the training programmes.  It has also called for the Secretariat to develop a methodology and monitoring system to evaluate the results of training in peacekeeping and related areas and make it more mission-specific.

By his note contained in document A/57/78, the Secretary-General transmits to the Assembly a report of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) on reforming the field service peacekeeping personnel.  The Inspectors explain the need for such a reform by the changes that have occurred over the last decades in the nature, mandates and management of peace operations.  The original composition of the Field Service in terms of occupational groups, qualifications and skills no longer matches the requirements of today’s peace operations.

The Inspectors present seven recommendations on the ways to improve the Field Service, stating that proposals in this respect should include a clear definition of the occupational groups and number of individuals needed in each mission, as well as criteria for hiring field staff.  As a first step, the Field Administration and Logistics Division should the Department of Peacekeeping Operations should urgently complete the inventory of skills and competencies available and develop a course plan, with detailed cost estimates and time frames.  Within the context of the reform, the Inspectors suggest that the concept of parent duty stations should be revised in order to align the entitlements of Field Service Officers with those with other categories of staff while continuing to reward mobility and hardship.  Also needed is a new policy for mobility and rotation of field officers.  The Secretary-General should propose a number of measures to alleviate the strain of field service on individual staff members and their families.  The report recommends that two Peacekeeping Department Professionals should be posted on a full-time basis for 18 months to implement the reform. 

An addendum to the JIU report (document A/57/78/Add.1) contains the Secretary-General’s comments on the matter.  According to this document, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has already commenced a review of the Field Service, which will take into account the current peacekeeping staff as a unique pool of experienced and highly mobile individuals.  The importance of linking the restructuring exercise to other aspects of the global staffing strategy adopted by the Department has to be recognized.  Also, the increased use of local General Service staff and national professionals in peacekeeping missions needs to be addressed.  A significant part of the implementation of the Inspectors’ recommendations has been the restructuring of the Personnel Management and Support Service of the Peacekeeping Department’s Office of Mission Support, which involves the establishment of two new sections there devoted to civilian training and human resources planning. 

Regarding the concept of parent duty station, the Secretary-General proposes that instead of designating New York as the administrative duty station for the new Field Service category, consideration be given to locating peacekeeping administration at an established duty station or in a neighbouring third country in the region.  The Department of Peacekeeping Operations is working with the Office of Human Resources Management and other parties concerned to simplify the system of administering entitlements and ensure that field staff are adequately compensated for their dangerous, stressful and difficult work.

On the rotation policy, the Peacekeeping Department intends to plan, manage, train and place Field Service Officers in a more transparent and orderly fashion.  The Administration is in favour of the proposal regarding the need to administer Field Service Officers along the same lines as other staff members under the

100 series of staff rules, but points out the need to issue the necessary directives and administrative instructions and guidelines.  While the Administration supports moving staff services closer to the clients, a distinction should be made between the delegation of authority and decentralization of processes.  Rather than delegating authority in respect of field staff as a specific group, the Peacekeeping Department is currently identifying specific entitlements and benefits, the processing of which will be delegated to the field.  The report goes on to explain the system of promotion and criteria for recruitment of Field Service Officers.  The Secretary-General further agrees with the need to use staff counsellors in field missions.  As for the two officers to be dedicated to the implementation of the reform, the Secretary-General points out that the entire Personnel Management and Support Service is dedicated to this work. 

Referring to the fact that the JIU report contains comments from participating organizations, the Advisory Committee, in a related part of its report (document A/57/434), notes that the general thrust of the report was well received and welcomed by most participating organizations.  The ACABQ recommends that the Assembly endorse the JIU recommendations and request inclusion of information about related policy changes in the introduction to the proposed programme budget for 2004-2005.  The Advisory Committee intends to revert to this subject during the review of the proposed budget for the next biennium.

Committee Chairman MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) opened the meeting by introducing the Committee’s new Secretary, Movses Abelian of Armenia.  The former Permanent Representative of Armenia, Mr. Abelian was not only a profound scholar, but also a warm, energetic person who brought a great wealth of experience to the Committee.  His appointment was a wonderful gain for the Secretariat.

He said challenging days were ahead for the Committee.  He was confident that, working together, the Committee would repeat its sterling performance.  The Bureau had frontloaded the programme of work, leaving most of the last week open so as to give more room for informal consultations on outstanding issues, as well as time for documentation to be translated into all official languages.  Given the work ahead, he hoped the Committee would be in a position to accept the work programme.  He also appealed to the Committee to continue its tradition of consensus.

The representatives of Croatia (on behalf of the Eastern European Group), United States, Morocco (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Botswana (on behalf of the African Group), Niger and Australia (on behalf of the Western European and Other States Group) congratulated the Committee’s Secretary on his new appointment and noted that his vast experience would prove advantageous in carrying out his new tasks.  Delegates also expressed their appreciation for Nora Benary, the Committee’s interim Secretary, for her tireless efforts in guiding the Committee.

Organization of Work

The representative of Greece (on behalf of the European Union and associated States) expressed dissatisfaction with the late issuance of reports, in particular the reports of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).  Concerning the support account, he said a significant increase had been requested corresponding to a larger number of posts, mostly for the Office of Internal Oversight Services.  That request would be examined carefully.  The Union was inclined towards adopting a “chapeau” and including in one legislative text –- where appropriate –- resolutions on active peacekeeping missions, saying it would streamline the drafting of resolutions and improve coherence.  The possible consolidation of the accounts of peacekeeping operations would not be compatible with current financial practices. 

The representative of Morocco (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) also expressed concern about the late issuance of documentation, specifically ACABQ reports.  While the consolidation of reports was meant to facilitate the work of relevant legislative bodies, in the case of the ACABQ’s consolidated report it had delayed the Committee’s proper consideration of the Secretary-General’s various reports.  The Committee’s work programme should be amended to reflect a more balanced allocation of time-bound, priority issues.

The representative of Cuba proposed postponing the informal consultations scheduled for tomorrow on item 126, the administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of United Nations peacekeeping operations, until the Committee had been able to hold a substantive debate on the matter.  Informal consultations could prejudge negotiations on that item, as well as other linked matters.

The representative of Syria supported Cuba’s proposal and proposed that the Committee consider items deferred from its first resumed session during the first part of the current session.

The Committee CHAIRMAN said the Bureau had decided to put the item up front on the Committee’s programme so as to provide a framework its deliberations and to expedite its work.  He proposed that the Committee proceed with the programme of work as it was, with the understanding that adjustments would be made as necessary during the course of the session.

The Committee then approved its programme of work for the second resumed session.

Introduction of Reports

ALAIN GILETTE, Chairman of the Audit Operations Committee and Director of External Audit of France, introduced the report of the Board of Auditors (document A/57/5/Vol.II), summarizing its findings and 44 recommendations.  He said the audits of peacekeeping operations during the last calendar year had represented about one sixth of the Board’s total audit manpower of some 1,000 auditor-weeks. 

The total unpaid assessed contributions were down from $2.3 billion in June 2001 to $1.2 billion a year later, he said.  That was a significant improvement.  Therefore, available cash was almost equal to liabilities, compared to a shortfall of over $1.3 billion the previous year-end.  However, accounts payable amounting to some $33 million had shown no movement during the financial year and had remained unpaid at the year’s end.  In that connection, the Administration had indicated that it would present proposals on those matters to the Fifth Committee, as collaboration of Member States was deemed necessary to make further progress.  Those discussions would include the Secretary-General’s report on the feasibility of consolidating accounts of various peacekeeping missions.

In the area of procurement, the Board had noted significant deficiencies in the delivery of airfield services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said.  No penalties had been imposed on the contractor.  The Board had recommended a code of ethics and the signing of declaration of independence by procurement officers.  While the Administration had replied that “any and all staff associated with the procurement cycle should sign declarations of independence -- and that liability and accountability should also be equally applied to all staff, as appropriate”, it had not announced any move in that direction.  The Board concurred with the ACABQ that action must now be taken, and it would follow up on the matter.

In general, as recommended in the Advisory Committee’s report, the Board would continue to place greater emphasis on whether the resources of audited organizations were being used efficiently and effectively.  The Board also noted that peacekeeping missions did not have a formal fraud awareness and prevention policy in place, beyond the standard fraud reporting procedures, he said.  The Board was glad that the Administration had discussed that matter at a recent seminar, and had indicated that “appropriate action will be taken”. 

The Board had addressed the ACABQ’s request to continue to pay special attention to the Office of Internal Oversight Services resident auditors, in particular to the implementation of the Board’s recommendations, he continued.  Looking at last year’s 39 recommendations of the Board of Auditors for the year ended 30 June 2001, only 38 per cent of them had been fully implemented.  It was, however, fair to note that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the active missions had taken action to implement many of the recommendations included in the Board’s management letters.

The Board’s audit opinion, he said, was that the peacekeeping financial statements presented fairly the financial position as at 30 June 2002; that the accounting policies were applied in a manner consistent with those of the preceding period and with the Financial Regulations.  Therefore, it was an unqualified opinion.

HARRIET SCHMIDT, Chief of the Office of the Under-Secretary-General, Department of Management, then introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the recommendations of the Board of Auditors concerning peacekeeping operations (document A/57/416/Add.2).  She said that due consideration had been given to ACABQ’s request for streamlining of the report.  In those cases where the Board’s recommendations had not been implemented, the Administration continued to take all necessary action to ensure implementation without further delay.  She assured that the Secretary-General continued to attach great importance to timely and full implementation of the Board’s recommendations.

United Nations Controller, JEAN-PIERRE HALBWACHS, introduced the documents on the administrative and budgetary aspects of the United Nations peacekeeping, saying that the Committee had before it a total of 57 reports of the Secretary-General on peacekeeping operations financing.  The proposed budgets for the period July 2003 to June 2004 had been presented in a new, streamlined format, and an overview report had also been produced (document A/57/723).

Among the overall trends, he mentioned a reduction in the level of resources and the number of missions; a reduction in troops, police monitors and mission staff; an increase in the number of Member States providing military and police; and an increase in staff at headquarters. 

He said that since the budgets of peacekeeping missions had been prepared, an addendum to the budget of MONUC had been elaborated (document A/57/683/add.1), following the expansion of the Mission by the Council after the initial budget had been completed.  As the mandate of MONUC had been expanded, an additional

$116.6 million had been proposed for the Mission.  Further changes in the mandate of MONUC were likely, which would require the submission of a new budget in the fall during the main part of the fifty-eighth session.

On UNAMSIL, he said that the Council had authorized a further reduction of troops from 13,500 on which the budget was based to 11,500.  That resulted in a reduction of some 34 million to the budget proposed.  A revised budget was not being submitted, as the amount was conveyed to the Advisory Committee for its consideration. 

The Council had also decided to postpone the downsizing of UNMISET from the original schedule, as reflected in the proposed budget, he continued.  Additional resources would be required, and a revised budget would be submitted in the fall in the main part of the fifty-eighth session.  As part of the delay in the downsizing, it would be necessary to retain the current levels of approved staffing, not the reduced one proposed in the budget for 2003-2004.

Regarding future changes, he said that a single resolution on the financing of peacekeeping operations was needed, including the Support Account for peacekeeping operations and the UNLB in Brindisi, with each operation constituting a section, as for the regular budget.  The extent to which the Secretary-General would have authority to transfer funds between peacekeeping operations would need to be defined by the Assembly.  Assessments would also be delinked from the continuation of mandates, and only one peacekeeping assessment on Member States would be made at the beginning of the fiscal period and would cover all peacekeeping operations.  That approach would streamline the budget approval process and facilitate planning for Member States.  A consolidated summary of the budgetary requirements would serve as the basis for the General Assembly to appropriate funds and decide on the financing of peacekeeping operations.  Separate annual budget and performance reports would, however, continue to be prepared for each peacekeeping operation.

A related report of the Advisory Committee was then introduced by the Chairman of that body, CONRAD S.M. MSELLE, who summarized the Committee’s findings.  Welcoming the fact that the audit report had improved, he said the ACABQ had suggested further refinements for the preparation of the Board’s next report.  Some 60 per cent of audit activities would be in field offices and in peacekeeping missions, and the ACABQ welcomed the steps taken by the Board to strengthen coordination and collaboration among its members and their staff to promote optimum use of audit resources.  It was also necessary to ensure that the work of internal audit and resident auditors was performed in accordance with carefully formulated plans that would avoid duplication and optimise the use of resources. 

The Advisory Committee also welcomed the integration of resources for resident auditors with the support account budget and trusted that the change would strengthen supervision and management of resident auditors by the Office of Internal Oversight Services, he continued.  However, that integration should not lead to automatic retention of audit posts when mandates and activities ceased in the missions to which the resident auditors would be attached.  The ACABQ had recommended that the request for a resident audit capacity in UNIKOM should be suspended for the time being.  While recommending some additional posts for investigation, it had requested that the Oversight Office refine the criteria used to determine the caseload for formal investigation by the Office. 

Large amounts of resources not encumbered or cancelled from prior obligations for some missions indicated the need for better budget planning, needs assessment and improved monitoring of budget implementation, he said.  Before retaining funds to settle future claims for missions that traditionally showed large unspent balances, the current process of validating claims in those missions should be improved.  To that end, the ACABQ welcomed the development of an electronic fund-monitoring tool for use by both Headquarters and field missions. 

The estimate for military and police personnel totalled $892.6 million, he continued, and the number of troops in the initial projection was 29,573.  Because of the changes in the presentation, it was not always easy to analyse amounts for each budget category, and the Advisory Committee had requested the Secretariat to be consistent in budget classifications and to refine its methods used in classifying some categories of the budget, such as miscellaneous expenses.

The Advisory Committee had pointed out many areas of further improvement, he said. Of particular concern were the continuing problems related to implementation of the contingent-owned equipment arrangements, as well as negotiation of memoranda of understanding and the status-of-force agreements.  That latter two were fundamental instruments that set out the rights and obligations of troop-contributing governments and the United Nations.  The delays in signing them before the deployment of troops and equipment often contributed to costly and unnecessary management and implementation problems.  The ACABQ had recommended that the Secretariat should prepare a comprehensive paper on lessons learned to facilitate and focus the task of the Working Group on Reimbursement of Contingent-Owned Equipment scheduled for early 2004.

Many missions continued to experience high vacancy rates, particularly in international positions, he said.  An analysis of the situation in each mission could explain reasons for the continuing problems of hiring and retention of civilian staff. It could also provide a comprehensive statement of lessons learned from the application of current procedures and practices.  Missions should have greater authority in hiring and managing their staff subject to the establishment of an effective central monitoring mechanism.  The use of national staff, wherever feasible, also should be encouraged.  The lack of expertise that was often cited as an impediment to delegation of authority should be addressed through effective training of personnel officers at the very beginning of mission mandates. 

The mobility between missions and Headquarters, as well as the use of expertise from missions that were closing or had closed, needed to be managed better, he continued.  The target of shortening recruitment from 180 to 95 days would work only if Headquarters and missions collaborated and were held accountable for the performance of their respective responsibilities.  To that end, a procedure was recommended whereby posts would be deemed to have lapsed if they were not filled within 12 months. 

One way of increasing efficiency and improving productivity was by investing in new technology, he said.  The Organization was, indeed, increasingly investing resources in new technology and related infrastructure for operational activities, but there was a need to have a comprehensive picture of total activities and related resources.  The Advisory Committee intended to pursue that issue in the context of its examination of the report on communication and information technology strategy later.

As the estimate of approximately $270 million for air operation constituted the largest element of operational expenditure, the Advisory Committee had called for a review of current practices for procuring air assets and services, including hours planned.  It had also invited the Board of Auditors to focus on air operations during its next audit using outside special expertise, as appropriate. 

MARIA ARCE DE GABAY (Peru), on behalf of the Rio Group, said Group had traditionally shown its commitment to peace and international security not only by establishing a nuclear free zone but also by participating in almost all current peacekeeping operations.  The majority of individuals participating in United Nations peace forces were from developing countries.  She was concerned that the firm commitment to peace could be affected by delays in refunds to contributing Member States.  All peace missions must be provided with the necessary financial resources so they could carry out their functions and follow Security Council mandates.  She called on the Secretary-General to continue with all necessary measures to guarantee the protection of all United Nations personnel participating in peacekeeping operations.

She said the Rio Group agreed with the Secretary-General on the need to establish a post, in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, for an adviser on gender matters, financed from the support account for the period 1 July 2003 to

30 June 2004.  Once approved, a report to the General Assembly must be submitted on the recruitment for the post.  Regarding the viability of consolidating the accounts of the various peacekeeping operations, the Rio Group would have preferred to have the ACABQ’s recommendations in advance.  Since the reimbursement system had improved, the decision to modify the present practice must be carefully analysed.  The proposal was not compatible with the current financial practice.  The Rio Group had several concerns about the consolidation of accounts, including the consequences of retroactive measures and the need for transitional measures during a change of system.

ASDRÚBAL PULIDO LEÓN (Venezuela) said the difficult financial situation facing his country and the devaluation of its currency had affected its ability to provide resources for 2002-2003.  Venezuela’s critical, internal situation had eroded its ability to pay its obligations.  Nevertheless, Venezuela had made a payment during the month of April.

She said that no peacekeeping mission should be financed from borrowing from other active missions.  The Secretary-General must take new steps to ensure the security and protection of peacekeeping staff.  She was concerned about slowness of mission liquidation and the persistence of unspent balances.  Regarding the possible consolidation of accounts, her delegation had several concerns, including how it would affect the application of Article 19 of the United Nations Charter; what transition measures would be taken to allow missions to cover their operating costs; and what criteria would be established for the payment of debts.  She reserved the right to continue discussing the item in informal consultations, as detailed discussion was needed before taking any decision.

BYONG-HYUN LEE (Republic of Korea) said that as one of the Organization’s key functions, peacekeeping operations should be adequately financed, effectively organized and efficiently managed.  While the proposed budgets’ new format and presentation would enable the Committee to focus on broader policy issues rather than details, there was much room for improvement.  Regarding objective-setting for peacekeeping operations, differences unique in the mandates of each mission should be taken into account.  Expected accomplishments, indicators of achievements and planned results should be more clearly outlined.  Requests for resources should be more clearly linked to outputs and accomplishments. 

On contingent-owned equipment, he said that despite the introduction of a new arrangement, there were still persistent shortfalls in conducting inspections and processing verification reports, he said.  He supported the Secretariat’s plan to make pre-deployment inspections mandatory for countries contributing troops to peacekeeping operations for the first time under the new methodology.  In most cases, memoranda of understanding were signed only after deployment.  As a basic legal framework governing the relationship between the United Nations and troop-contributing countries, such memoranda should be signed before the deployment of contingent-owned equipment and troops. 

He expressed disappointment with continued delays in recruitment for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and field missions.  In that regard, a procedure by which a new post that was approved but not filled within a year be deemed lapsed should be considered.  Also, clear justification for the retention or reduction of staff should be presented in budget proposals.  Concerning alleged violations within peacekeeping missions, the Oversight Office’s capacity must be further enhanced so as to ensure the proper conduct of investigations.  The placement of regional investigators in Europe and Africa would be more efficient than the mission-based arrangement.  While the Peacekeeping Department had made progress in developing information and communications technology, productivity and efficiency gains from the use of that technology had not been clearly reflected in the budget documents.

Regarding the feasibility of consolidating the accounts of various peacekeeping operations, he said his delegation, in principle, supported the idea as it would streamline legislation and administrative procedures and facilitate Member States’ budgetary planning.

Introduction of Reports

The Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) report on reforming the field service category of personnel in peacekeeping operations (A/57/78) was introduced by Inspector ION GORITA, who said that, in the months since the preparation of the report, not many changes had taken place.  It was disappointing that the issue remained on the back-burner, and sufficient resources had not been allocated for its resolution.  Some of the JIU recommendations should be implemented promptly, without waiting for the implementation of other reforms. 

Ms. SCHMIDT then introduced the Secretary-General’s comments on the matter (document A/57/78/Add.1).  The JIU report had been prepared on the heels of an extensive review of the field service category by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, she said.  The Secretary-General welcomed the comments by the JIU and

concurred with most of their recommendations.  It was important to establish linkage between the field service and overall human resources reform within the Organization. 

The Secretary-General also agreed with the comments regarding the need

for a clear definition of the occupational groups, the number of individuals and criteria for the identification of staff members who would be integrated into the field service and those who would need to be redeployed or phased out, she said.  In close consultations with the Department of Management, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had been collecting and analysing the necessary data.  The Secretary-General concurred with the JIU on the need to revisit the concept of parent duty station and the need to bring the entitlements of field staff in line with those of other categories.

The Committee was then informed that the ACABQ report on the matter was contained in document A/57/434.

In connection with efforts to consolidate peacekeeping financing, the Committee CHAIRMAN informed delegates that to rationalize the Committee’s work, the Bureau was proposing that a single draft resolution, comprising the traditional preambular and operative paragraphs included in draft resolutions on peacekeeping missions, be used as a chapeau for the financing of peacekeeping operations.  He proposed holding informal consultations on the matter tomorrow morning so that a clear understanding was reached before informal consultations were held on the individual active peacekeeping operations.

Following an intervention by Cuba on a procedural aspect of the discussion, the Chairman proposed that the Committee hold informal consultations on the matter tomorrow morning.

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For information media. Not an official record.