|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-third General Assembly
41st Meeting (AM)
BUDGET COMMITTEE TAKES UP REPORTS ON DEPARTMENT OF SAFETY AND SECURITY
CONCERNING REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL RESOURCES, INTERNAL OVERSIGHT AUDIT
Also Recommends Member of Committee on Contributions;
Considers Reports on Financial Balances of Two Closed Peacekeeping Missions
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning began its second resumed session -- a four-week session largely dedicated to the funding of peacekeeping-related activities – with speakers urging the Secretariat to avoid a piecemeal approach to strengthening safety and security arrangements in the field, just as the Secretary-General is preparing to present a comprehensive report on security policies at the United Nations this year.
That issue was one of several items on the Committee’s agenda today, which varied from financing questions relating to two former peacekeeping missions, the appointment of members to the Committee on Contributions, and a discussion on the Committee’s proposed programme of work.
On the question of safety and security, the representative of the United States said it was “vital” that a comprehensive framework be in place for protecting United Nations staff at duty stations and in the field. The United States looked forward to receiving the findings of a management review of the Department of Safety and Security, recommended by the Independent Panel on Safety and Security, which was expected at this session.
He noted that a comprehensive report on the safety and security policy was first requested for consideration by the General Assembly at its sixty-second session, but recalled that the report had been delayed following the events of December 2007 -- the attack on the United Nations offices in Algiers, involving 17 deaths, which had initiated a review of safety and security procedures.
In addition, the Fifth Committee was told today that a management audit of the Department of Safety and Security, performed by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), had raised concerns over unclear lines of reporting within the Department, and of weaknesses in the processes used by the advisory body in charge of inter-agency safety and security, known as the Inter-Agency Security Management Network (IASMN).
According to Inga-Britt Ahlenius, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, who presented the report, the audit had shown that certain “stakeholders” had voiced concerns over the timeliness of the inter-agency network in reviewing and promulgating policies. Citing the OIOS report, she said a special document issued by the Department on lines of reporting, responsibilities and administrative arrangements was “ambiguous”. In one instance, confusion between two officials had resulted in one of those officials being reassigned.
Ahead of that Secretary-General’s comprehensive review, the Committee today also took up a request by the Department for resources to bolster existing activities. The Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security, David Veness, said the request for resources for hundreds of additional staff, contained in a report that he introduced, was “urgent”.
Mr. Veness explained that the Department’s operational budget had been “stagnant” since its inception in 2005, and that he had “no choice” but to request various add-ons, even if the Fifth Committee and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) had been critical in the past on such additions. In some instances, the Department had funded activities through its own ad hoc arrangements, which, he argued, was untenable.
Those requests led the representatives of Japan and the Russian Federation to express concern over the “piecemeal” approach taken by the Secretariat to address the issue of safety and security. The representative of Japan, in particular, said his Government was “at a loss as to why, at this stage, the Secretary-General is choosing to take up only certain issues”, and seemingly leaving aside such important matters as accountability and the management review.
He pointed to a letter sent in March by the United Nations Controller, Jun Yamazaki, to the ACABQ, in which the Controller advised that, without the findings of the management review, any proposals made now would be of limited value.
The Controller’s letter was annexed to the report of the ACABQ, which was introduced to the Committee by Chairman Susan McLurg. As part of its recommendations, the ACABQ said the comprehensive report should be submitted early during the main part of the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session, to allow for its consideration with the proposed programme budget for the 2010-2011 biennium.
On other matters, the start of the session was marked by a disagreement between certain members of the Committee and the Bureau over the status of the programme of work for the resumed session. The controversy centred on the inclusion of “pattern of conferences”, among others, as a sub-item under the broader topic of “cross cutting issues” relating to the administrative and budgetary aspects of peacekeeping.
After a prolonged discussion, Gábor Bródi ( Hungary), Committee Chair, obtained agreement from Member States to approve the agenda for today, and said he would produce a draft programme of work for the Committee’s consideration tomorrow.
Also, the Committee decided to recommend that the Assembly appoint Gönke Roscher to replace Thomas Thomma, both from Germany, to the Committee of Contributions for a term that expires on 31 December 2011.
In addition, the Committee discussed what to do with the cash balance from two peacekeeping missions that had ended in Burundi and Sierra Leone.
Kenneth Herman, Senior Adviser on Information Management Policy Coordination of the Secretariat of the United Nations Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) introduced the Secretary-General’s report on cost-sharing on safety and security arrangements across the United Nations system.
Also speaking today were the representatives of the Sudan (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Czech Republic (on behalf of the European Union), Mexico (on behalf of the Rio Group), Namibia (on behalf of the African Group), Guatemala, Cuba, Australia (also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand) and Switzerland (also on behalf of Lichtenstein).
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., Tuesday, 12 May.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) opened its second resumed session this morning to take up its organization of work; appointments to the Committee on Contributions; the programme budget 2008-2009: safety and security; and financing of United Nations peacekeeping operations.
Organization of Work: Status of Preparedness of Reports
Before the Committee was a note by the Secretariat on the status of preparedness of documentation for the Fifth Committee during the second part of the resumed sixty-third session of the General Assembly (document A/C.5/63/L.42), providing estimated submission and issuing dates of documents pertinent to the Committee.
Appointments to Committee on Contributions
The Committee also had before it a note by the Secretary-General on the appointment of members of the Committee on Contributions (document A/63/102) indicating that the Assembly must fill six vacancies in that body for four-year terms beginning in 2009. At previous sessions, the Fifth Committee had submitted draft decisions recommending persons for appointment. A similar procedure is suggested this year.
Programme Budget 2008-2009: Safety and Security
Before the Committee was a report of the Secretary-General on a strengthened and unified security management system for the United Nations (document A/63/605). The report recalls that the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security was recommended to conduct a management review of the Department of Safety and Security in 2007. The review was requested as a reaction to the attack on United Nations offices in Algiers on 11 December 2007, involving 17 deaths. At the same time, an independent panel was established to recommend ways to improve the United Nations security system. Based on findings from those two activities, the Secretary-General was expected to present recommendations to the Assembly some time in 2009, as part of a comprehensive examination of security policies at the United Nations.
Ahead of that presentation, the Secretary-General presents, in this report, certain security requirements that would require “early consideration” by the Assembly and which would amount to: $51.9 million gross (around $51 million net) under the 2008-2009 regular budget; another $18.5 million under the budget for jointly financed field activities (of which only $4.4 million would be borne by the United Nations regular budget); around $3.9 million under the jointly financed security budget for Vienna; and around $1.3 million under the budget for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Of those amounts, a portion would be used for “executive protection” for the Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), and the Special Coordinator and Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO). Other funding would go towards improving the protection of the Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General and General Assembly President. The report suggests that former senior officials be given protection, if warranted, in cases where host country authorities are unable to provide such services. The report contains a table listing 133 posts requiring approval by the Assembly, to be funded by the regular budget. Requests have been made, as well, for associated weapons, ammunition and vehicles.
Also pertaining to the regular budget, the Secretary-General has put forward requests for funding on the United Nations “standardized access control project”, which is being implemented in phases referred as PACT I and PACT II, to improve security in and around United Nations buildings worldwide. The project would involve new video surveillance systems, card readers, undercarriage vehicle inspection systems and other security enhancements of that nature. Around $1.9 million is requested for PACT I and around $43.86 million for PACT II.
Other requests pertain to security activities in the field, including for aviation risk management, establishing 24-hour information centres in high-risk countries, creating permanent posts for security officers serving in a surge capacity, and providing training. The cost of those activities would be shared among various entities in the field, with the United Nations regular budget responsible only for 23.79 per cent of the total, or $4.4 million. In that connection, 139 posts would be established effective 1 January, which would also require approval, and whose costs would be shared through a special cost-sharing formula.
A further two posts is proposed under the jointly financed security budget for Vienna effective 1 January 2009. Two other posts are proposed under the budget for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for the biennium 2008-2009.
In its related report (document A/63/769), the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) notes the “unrealistic” and “very short” timeframe to decide on the proposals put forward by the Secretary-General, while observing that there was no indication of the urgency of those needs relative to other security needs. The ACABQ remarks that the estimated costs in the report should be viewed as indicative.
In view of 89 unfilled security-related vacancies within the Department of Security and Safety and in the jointly financed security functions, the ACABQ advises “a more prudent approach” towards the establishment of new posts. The ACABQ recommends against approval of additional posts for executive protection and says that no action should be taken on the proposal to extend security coverage to former senior United Nations officials until various legal, policy and financial questions have been clarified.
For ESCWA, the ACABQ recommends the creation of 45 temporary posts, although the decision must be further evaluated in the context of the 2010-2011 biennium budget. For UNTSO, since approval to use United Nations-issued weapons had not been obtained from the host country, the ACABQ asks that requests for posts, weapons and ammunition be put on hold. But it recommends approval of the proposed acquisition of two armoured vehicles for UNTSO. For UNSCO, the ACABQ recommends three temporary field services posts and five temporary local level posts, but says those arrangements should be evaluated again in the context of the 2010-2011 biennium.
The ACABQ has no objection to the proposed $1.9 million for PACT I, but says the $43.86 million requirement for PACT II should be revised, because the Secretariat was thought to be in no position to begin any projects before April 2009. However, since some PACT II projects must begin some time in 2009 to ensure a smooth transition from PACT I, it recommends that those requests be submitted directly to the Assembly with staff costs based on general temporary assistance, rather than posts. The remaining requirements should be submitted within the context of the proposed programme budget for 2010-2011.
Regarding jointly financed field security, the ACABQ recommends against the establishment of an aviation safety unit within the Department of Safety and Security pending further justification, believing that that capacity exists within other United Nations entities. It recommends against approval of posts for surge capacity within that Department, believing that the United Nations security system should be primarily focused in the field. It further recommends that plans for security information centres in high-risk countries and the proposal to create posts for security trainers be put on hold pending the Secretary-General’s comprehensive report on safety and security.
Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General’s report on measures taken to ensure the effective implementation of the arrangements in place for the sharing of costs for safety and security across the United Nations system (document A/62/641). It describes revised cost-sharing arrangements and governance mechanisms agreed by funds, agencies and programmes participating in the United Nations security management system, under the coordination of the High-Level Committee on Management of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB)
The report says the High-Level Committee's Technical Working Group had agreed in 2007 that shared security costs be funded without need for recurring discussions. It agreed that fairness should take precedence over "the preference of a number of organizations that are content to pay less". Cost-sharing would be based on the total recosted budget, when known.
The Working Group had agreed that the share of each organization’s costs should reflect the number of personnel based in countries not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), for whom the United Nations system had a responsibility in terms of security and safety. The CEB secretariat would conduct the headcount of such personnel. There would be a minimum level of participation per organization derived from a base figure of $75,000, decided by the High-Level Committee in 2005, which the Working Group suggests should be revised as per the recosted budget.
The organizations themselves would provide figures each year, based on the most accurate information available at the end of the calendar year preceding submission of the budget for the following biennium. Implementation of the agreed changes would be applied uniformly to all participants.
The report by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on the comprehensive management audit of the Department of Safety and Security (document A/63/379) focuses on the Department’s structure, recruitment procedures and interaction with other Secretariat entities, including the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
The OIOS concluded that the Department of Safety and Security needed to address issues of governance and coordination, and issued 16 recommendations in this regard. In the view of the OIOS, there was an urgent need to review the functions and structure of the Inter-Agency Security Management Network (IASMN), which is an advisory body on safety and security in the field. Various stakeholders in the security management system had voiced serious concern that the Network’s ineffectiveness might lead to the disintegration of security management. In particular, there were concerns that the Network did not review and promulgate policies in a timely manner and did not adequately reflect the needs of all members.
The report draws attention to the ambiguity of the document entitled “Lines of Reporting, Responsibilities and Administrative Arrangements for Security and Safety Services at Offices Away from Headquarters and Regional Commissions”, which was issued by the Department of Safety and Security in June 2006. The document does not clearly delineate the roles, responsibilities and reporting lines of the Department and related officials at offices away from Headquarters. It is also not consistent with the framework for accountability established for the United Nations security management system. In the opinion of the OIOS, these weaknesses could lead to diminished accountability and could compromise the safety and security of United Nations staff.
The OIOS further points out the absence of clearly delineated roles and responsibilities of divisions and units of the Department of Safety and Security in the areas of crisis management, policy development and implementation, which has caused an apparent redundancy of these functions within Department headquarters. It also points out the need to address the impediments connected to the existing Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations, which prevent the Department from professionalizing and creating a career path for security personnel. These impediments relate to the harmonization of contractual arrangements, establishment of security personnel profiles, and standardization of recruitment practices throughout the United Nations security management system.
The audit found that the mechanisms to facilitate interaction and coordination between the Department of Safety and Security and other Secretariat departments were generally adequate, but coordination mechanisms have not been fully complied with at some duty stations and field locations. Isolated operational failures could have been effectively addressed through proper monitoring by the Department.
Financing of Peacekeeping Operations
Before the Committee was a report on the financing of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) (document A/63/551), describing the final disposal of assets following ONUB’s termination on 31 December 2006 and the establishment of a follow-on special political mission, the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), on 1 January 2007. ONUB’s total inventory stood at around $59.15 million as at 3 November 2008. Over 86.8 per cent has been transferred to BINUB, other United Nations missions, or to the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi for temporary storage pending future use (assets valued at $51.34 million). Eight per cent has been sold locally or donated to the Government of Burundi (assets with an inventory value of around $4.74 million) earning $567,730, which was credited as miscellaneous income to the ONUB special account. The balance ($3.08 million or 5.2 per cent) has been written off due to damage, obsolescence or loss.
In its related report (document A/63/773), the ACABQ says it was informed that 88 per cent of the total value of the mission’s assets were given to BINUB (59.18 per cent), the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (17.77 per cent), and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) (11.13 per cent). Two fuel pumps were transferred to the Brindisi Logistics Base (0.06 per cent).
The ACABQ had also been informed that poor timing had rendered it difficult to reflect the transferred assets in the proposed budgets of receiving missions. However, transferred assets would be reflected in the receiving mission's inventory, while substantial changes in funding requirements would be reflected in the performance reports. In that connection, the ACABQ recommends that future reports provide "a fuller explanation" of the final disposition of assets, including their residual value, so as to present a more transparent and precise overview. On the whole, the ACABQ recommends that the Assembly take note of the Secretary-General’s report.
The final performance report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) (document A/63/681) discusses the assets, outstanding liabilities and fund balance as at 30 June 2008 in respect of UNAMSIL, whose mandate expired on 31 December 2005. The report also includes information on its predecessor, the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL), which had been terminated immediately upon the establishment of UNAMSIL in October 1999.
In a related report (document A/63/746/Add.1), the ACABQ notes an unencumbered balance of about $441.73 million for UNOMSIL and UNAMSIL, of which $419.33 million was returned to Member States. As at 30 June 2008, the fund balance stood at about $22.39 million, including $15.15 million in available cash and $7.25 million in uncollected assessments and other receivables. The ACABQ recommends approval of the Secretary-General's proposal to credit the cash balance of $15.15 million to Member States.
The ACABQ had also been informed that the UNAMSIL special account will remain open until uncollected assessments and other receivables are received, unless the Assembly decides otherwise. Information on the collection of assessments and other receivables would be provided in the Secretary-General’s report on closed peacekeeping missions. The ACABQ requests a status update at the time of the Assembly's consideration of this item.
Organization of Work
Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, MOHAMED YOUSIF ABDELMANNAN ( Sudan) said he had expected the Bureau to unanimously propose a programme of work for the Committee’s consideration and endorsement. Regrettably, that was not the case. He was frustrated by endeavours to “pluck out” some agenda items from their normal, legal context and implant them elsewhere in the programme of work, which had hindered the work of the Bureau and the Committee. Referring to items 117, 121 and 132, he said the Group failed to understand the rationale of such attempts, when it was clear that the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly and its main commissions were the main guidelines for structuring any work for the body.
The Group would be ready to endorse a programme of work for this week, he said, subject to it being formulated in the legal way, according to the following: Report of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee on the vacant posts in the OIOS (document A/63/737) was issued under item 117: “Review of efficiency of the administrative and financial functions of the United Nations” and introduced during the first resumed session under the same item. The Committee should conduct its consultation on that report in the context of the agenda item under which it was introduced.
Agenda item 121, on “Pattern of Conference”, should be maintained as an independent agenda item, and any report related to that item should be discussed under it, he said. The Secretary-General’s report A/63/735 was issued under the item entitled “Pattern of conferences” and should be introduced and discussed under that agenda item, rather than under cross-cutting issues. Finally, the Secretary-General’s report A/63/697, on the reimbursement rates to troop-contributing countries, was raised upon request of the General Assembly, in resolution 62/252 on “Reformed procedures for determining reimbursement to Member States for contingent-owned equipment”. It was not requested by a cross-cutting resolution, and should be introduced and discussed independently. For such reasons, the Group was not in a position to endorse the programme of work beyond the first week, since, as it was the practice, it would be subject to changes following the evolution of the general debates and informal consultations in the current session.
IVANA KRAHULCOVÁ (Czech Republic), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the second resumed session had begun amid a one-week delay, caused mainly by the recurring situation with the issuance of documentation. Document A/C.5/63/L.42 provided a comprehensive summary of the status of the preparedness of documentation, but despite efforts from the responsible bodies, some documents for the Committee’s deliberations were again issued late, and delegates lacked documents for items that had been scheduled in the tentative programme of work. She reiterated the need to have all documents in the six official languages in due time before deliberations began.
The financing of peacekeeping operations was a priority for the European Union, as maintaining international peace and security was a core United Nations function, she said. With the large number of troops, civilian police and other personnel in peacekeeping missions, it was the Committee’s utmost duty to consider not only individual peacekeeping budgets, but also the peacekeeping support account, cross-cutting issues, the closed peacekeeping missions and the budget for the United Nations Logistics Base. The Union expected that a holistic approach to peacekeeping operations, based on informed debate among Member States, was acceptable to all partners. Equally, her delegation was prepared to engage in a serious discussion of safety and security issues, with a view to determining which of its aspects might demand urgent consideration.
CARLOS G. RUIZ MASSIEU ( Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said the Group considered the focus of the second resumed session to be on peacekeeping-related issues, although it agreed on the importance of the issues included in the programme of work. With resources requested for peacekeeping missions having increased to more than $8 billion, he said it was important that the Security Council take account of the potential financial implications of its decisions to expand existing missions or to create new ones, given the current economic crisis. One of the most effective ways to prevent huge expenses was to promote development, in particular in developing countries.
He said it was also necessary for the Secretary-General to strengthen his efforts to improve budgetary assumptions and forecasts. In the overview of the financing of peacekeeping operations for 2007-2008, the level of spending had reached $6.3 billion, of which more than $500 million was unencumbered. That figure revealed a possible overbudgeting for the peacekeeping missions. In that respect, the Group would underscore the importance of an effective, efficient, non-overlapping budget planning process, with stricter financial and oversight control. Justification for the budget should be followed by adequate oversight, to ensure the highest transparency possible.
He expressed the Group’s concern about the increasing use of commitment authority as a short-term solution to the problem of a shortage of resources in peacekeeping operations. The Group did not agree that the application of article 4.6 of the Rules of Procedure should be a regular practice by the Secretariat, whenever a new or extended mandate was approved by the Security Council without prior agreement of the General Assembly. Commitment authorities should be used in cases of extreme emergency; their continuous use hindered good practice and budgetary discipline.
He then touched on a series of issues expected to be considered during the second resumed session. Turning to the subject of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), he said it was important to continue to finance that Mission. Next, he said the Group believed it necessary to analyse the report of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee on the budget of the OIOS separately from the support account, believing it should be discussed in the context of accountability. On the need to examine cross-cutting issues, in the course of the rationalization of peacekeeping missions, he said the Group agreed with the ACABQ that not all cross-cutting issues needed political guidance from the General Assembly. The Fifth Committee should review the periodicity of those discussions.
On the upcoming report on the reimbursement of troop-contributing countries, he said it was hoped that the Secretary-General’s proposal in that regard would lead to a more efficient, timely and equitable reimbursement process. The Group was concerned that some issues had been included in the programme of work under “cross cutting issues”, namely, “pattern of conferences”. That issue should be discussed as an independent item. Turning to the Human Rights Council, he said he would like to know from the Secretariat whether financial arrangements had already been made to support its deliberations. He also would like to ask the Secretariat for “more accurate information” on the decision to suspend indefinitely the national competitive examinations, which was an issue of great concern to the Group, given the possible negative consequences to underrepresented countries.
EVANGELINE HELU (Namibia), speaking on behalf of the African Group and aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China, was strongly disappointed at the Bureau’s lack of achievement of consensus on the programme of work. It was regrettable that such consensus had not been achieved, particularly as it set an unacceptable tone. She spoke on three agenda items that remained unresolved, saying first that the Secretary-General’s report A/63/735 had been issued under agenda item 121, an independent General Assembly item. It was logical it should be discussed under that agenda item, not under item 132 on cross-cutting issues. Next, the report of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee (document A/63/737) had been issued under agenda item 117 during the first resumed session. The Committee should review it under that item.
She said the Secretary-General’s report A/63/696 had been issued on request of the General Assembly under resolution 62/252. That report should be introduced and discussed under agenda item 132, on the administrative and budgetary aspects of peacekeeping operations. There was merit in discussing those three issues separately. During the current session, the peacekeeping operations were the focus of the Committee’s work, as such issues were time-bound. Bearing in mind that the Committee had started late, peacekeeping operations needed all the Committee’s attention. Peacekeeping operations were in the world’s main regions, and all members of the global community should be interested in their smooth functioning. The Group strongly disagreed with any effort to reduce the budgets of peacekeeping operations, and consequently endangering global economic growth. They must be considered as an essential tool for building peace and development. She would endorse a programme of work based on the above proposals.
BRUCE RASHKOW ( United States) said the second resumed session was traditionally very important, because of the focus on the budgets of peacekeeping missions. The financial requirements currently under review were more than had ever been previously authorized. The amount to be approved, around $8.5 billion, would amount to more than twice the level of the 2008-2009 regular budget and represented a 20 per cent increase from the previous peacekeeping budget. He noted that Member States were finding themselves in the midst of a global financial crisis that threatened their economies and budgets. While the United States fully supported United Nations peacekeeping activities, he said Member States needed to carefully scrutinize the budgets of those missions to eliminate possible “waste” or “fat”.
He said that, to accomplish that task, the Fifth Committee must have adequate time to review the management and organization of each mission. With those considerations in mind, the United States was concerned that the proposed budgets of several expensive operations, including the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA), totalling over $2 billion, would not be introduced until late in the session.
He said ways must be found to ensure that the Fifth Committee had the time required to deliberately and closely examine those important budgets. The ultimate responsibility for ensuring timely performance by the Secretariat rested with the Secretary-General. The United States would urge the Secretary-General to work with the heads of relevant departments to ensure that the problem was addressed. The ACABQ was urged to consider what it could do, as well.
KEN MUKAI ( Japan) said the total proposed budget for peacekeeping operations for the 2009-2010 period was $8.2 billion, a sharp increase over the 2008-2009 period, which was $7.3 billion. It was important for the United Nations to engage in strengthened oversight, management and financial control commensurate with that dramatic rise. There was no consensus on the programme of work, with suggested amendments. He supported the original programme of work posted on the web. All documents should have been made available well in advance of the session. The Committee did not have everything it needed, and he reiterated the importance of submitting documents in a timely manner.
He recalled that the Committee had been told there was a chance that all reports of the ACABQ would not be finalized and ready for consideration, as required under the draft programme of work. That made the Committee’s job -– considering the complex peacekeeping operation budgets, such as for MONUC -– much more difficult. Report submission on such items should not be delayed beyond 29 May.
He acknowledged that, during the Advisory Committee’s winter session, it had been necessary to address various subjects unrelated to peacekeeping operations and separate requests for commitment authority. Such an “excessive” burden was creating a problem, in that it delayed submission of ACABQ reports to the Fifth Committee on peacekeeping operations budgets. The late submission of peacekeeping documents highlighted the issue of the schedule for the first and second resumed sessions. Due effort should be made to rationalize the Advisory Committee’s winter session and the Committee’s spring and summer sessions.
Taking the floor next, the Chairman, GÁBOR BRÓDI ( Hungary), said the Bureau had failed to reach agreement on a programme of work, but the Chair had proposed a programme of work that, last month, was supported by the Bureau. That was the programme of work in front of delegates today. He warned the Committee that, if it continued the same sort of debate as had taken place last week, no agreement would be reached. He urged proposing a programme of work acceptable to all. The Bureau would meet again today, and he hoped it would not fail again.
KARLA SAMAYOA-RECARI ( Guatemala) remarked that the disagreement was over one item only, and that she did not see any problems with delaying its consideration while the Committee considered other items. The disagreement was “a minor difference” among groups.
The CHAIRMAN clarified that there was, in fact, disagreement over three interrelated items.
Mr. ABDELMANNAN ( Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said, as chair of a major negotiating bloc and as a member of the Bureau, he too was concerned. He would have expected “reason to prevail” on the task of adopting the programme of work for the week. He asked how the Committee could continue discussing the items before it, if the programme of work was not adopted. He supported the statement of Guatemala, noting, however, that there were two sub-items under that topic, relating to troop-contributing country reimbursement and on pattern of conferences. He proposed that, since the item on “cross cutting issues” as presented now was subject to disagreement, he would like to ask the Bureau to prepare a programme of work for the week that did not include that item, with the provision that it would be discussed later.
The CHAIR replied that, while it was possible to postpone discussion of the item, he expressed doubt that the situation would be resolved at a later stage. He begged flexibility from Member States to agree on a programme of work, hopefully by this afternoon. The minimum target on what was to be agreed would be the programme of work for one week, although he hoped to be able to approve the programme for the entire session. In the meantime, he proposed that the Committee adopt the agenda for today.
JORGE CUMBERBATCH MIGUEN ( Cuba) said he shared the concern of many regarding the need to move forward with the Committee’s work, and to approve at least part of what was requested for peacekeeping operations. He added that, with merely a fraction of the resources to be approved, the Millennium Development Goals could be achieved “the January of the following year”.
On the programme of work, he said he hoped that the Bureau would enlighten the Committee on why certain items that had “a life of their own” were introduced under other items. Why was it not possible to discuss “pattern of conferences” under the rightful agenda item? What was it about “pattern of conferences” that made it not possible to examine it under item 121? If the Independent Audit Advisory Committee report A/63/737 was adopted under item 117, why then did not the programme of work record that item under that item number? The same applied to the item on reimbursement, which was categorized as a “cross cutting issue”. Perhaps if there was a better understanding of those issues, there would be more clarity on the agreement of the programme of work.
The CHAIR remarked that the issue would be better discussed outside the formal meeting. He then moved to propose that the Committee approve the agenda for the day and, hearing no objections, declared the proposal adopted.
Mr. ABDELMANNAN ( Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, took the floor again to clarify on what issue the Chair sought the Committee’s opinion.
The CHAIRMAN clarified that he had asked for an opinion on the programme of work, as contained in the tentative and provisional programme of work submitted to delegates, and to have a Bureau meeting this afternoon.
Mr. ABDELMANNAN ( Sudan) responded that the Bureau had deliberated for days over those issues and had been unable to reach an agreement. The Chair then decided to refer the issue to the Committee for its ruling. He feared that taking the issue back to the Bureau would lead to the same positions and the situation would remain the same. While he appreciated the Chair’s proposal, another proposal had been made for the Committee to remove the cross-cutting issues from the programme of work this week. The Committee could adopt the programme of work for the first day, and the Bureau could then work on another programme of work that would not include cross-cutting issues.
The CHAIR said he had tried to explain that it would not help the Committee to create the programme of work, even for the first week. He wished to have a meeting this afternoon, with a view to having each member show the necessary flexibility to adopt a programme of work.
Mr. ABDELMANNAN ( Sudan) appreciated the importance of the issues before the Committee today. His delegation could show flexibility to accept the Chair’s proposal, provided that a programme of work would be adopted for today only. He requested the Bureau to submit to the Committee tomorrow a programme of work.
The Committee then proceeded to agenda item 105 (document A/63/102/Add.1), whereby the Secretary-General informed the Committee he had received the resignation of Thomas Thomma, of Germany, from the Committee on Contributions and requested the General Assembly to appoint a person to fill the unexpired portion of his term of office, which expires on 31 December 2011. In that document, the Secretary-General informed the General Assembly that Germany had nominated Gönke Roscher to fill the unexpired portion of the term of office and that her candidature had been endorsed by the Western European and Other Group of States.
The Committee then recommended to the General Assembly, by acclamation, Ms. Roscher’s appointment.
Programme Budget 2008-2009: Safety and Security
DAVID VENESS, Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on a strengthened and unified security management system for the United Nations (document A/63/605). He said the operational budget of the Department of Safety and Security had been stagnant since its inception in 2005, and that to address certain key areas in need of strengthening required “the urgent allocation of additional resources in 2009”. The resource requirements presented in the report related to “immediate needs” that could not be absorbed within existing resources. Though Member States had been critical of the Secretariat in connection with add-ons to the 2008-2009 budget, and that the criticism was echoed in the related ACABQ report, he was “left with no other option if this Department is to effectively carry out its mandate”. He noted that the requirements were not likely to be affected by the outcome of the management review, which will only be considered by the Assembly in the context of the 2010-2011 budget.
He then summarized the main points in the report relating to the standardized access control project PACT I and PACT II, stressing that, if continuity between PACT I and PACT II was interrupted, the project management teams and other resources set up in various duty stations would have to be disbanded. PACT II could not begin until the United Nations was resourced to fund the project, and so it was imperative that capital resources for PACT II be provided as soon as possible. It was also imperative “to allow for the flexibility of rolling over the approved funds into early 2010 for obligation purposes”.
He said the requested staffing was essential to operate the new systems in all duty stations, except ESCWA, and in security control centres in various entities around the world implemented under PACT I. In the past few days, he had received numerous pleas for such resources from senior officials in offices away from Headquarters on exactly that issue.
On ESCWA, he said that a risk assessment conducted there had led the Department to meet the Commission’s safety needs through ad hoc arrangements, and it has been doing so since 2006. Since the risks were not likely to change, it was essential that dedicated resources be assigned, since the ad hoc arrangements were “simply not sustainable”. He noted that additional resources were also needed for safety and security in UNTSO and the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East (UNSCO), as the report states.
On executive protection, he said the present staffing was inadequate and that there was an urgent need to bolster the executive protection capacity to allow for responsible working hours and appropriate rest periods. He added that protection for former Secretaries-General and other senior officials was important in light of potential liabilities, as the report states.
He then repeated the report’s request for field-related activities, saying it was critical that those resources -- along with all the others -- be “implemented without delay”. Further details could jeopardize the security of United Nations staff.
KENNETH HERMAN, Senior Adviser on Information Management Policy Coordination of the Secretariat of the United Nations Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), introduced the Secretary-General’s report on measures taken to ensure the effective implementation of the arrangements for cost-sharing (document A/62/641). Summarizing the report’s main points, he adds that the Working Group of the CEB High-Level Committee on Management had noted that the prior experience of decentralized and local cost-sharing had proven too complex. It had been difficult to manage and lacked uniformity and sustainability. The current cost-sharing system had global coverage and scope, a harmonized approach, confirmed methodology, and had a simple and timely implementation.
SUSAN MCLURG, ACABQ Chairman, said the Secretary-General’s report did not fully respond to the General Assembly’s request for a comprehensive safety and security policy framework, as many security-related issues remained to be analysed. A recommendation of the Independent Panel on Safety and Security recognized the need for a management review to be undertaken to determine the appropriate level of human and financial resources for the Department of Safety and Security. The Advisory Committee recommended that a comprehensive report on a safety and security policy framework at the United Nations -- which should take into account the outcome of the management review -- be submitted to the General Assembly early in the main part of its sixty-fourth session.
Turning to specific proposals in Part I of the Secretary-General’s report, she recommended against the approval of the additional posts requested for executive protection and related non-post requirements, pending the outcome of the management review and submission, by the Secretary-General, of a comprehensive report on a safety and security policy framework. Regarding the protection of former Secretaries-General and other senior United Nations officials, she said there were important legal, policy and financial elements related to the proposal to extend security coverage. The Committee recommended that no action be taken on the Secretary-General’s proposal at this time. As regards the standardized access control project, the Advisory Committee had no objection to the proposed additional funding of $1.9 million for PACT I. At the same time, the Secretariat should draw lessons from the protracted negotiations with the selected vendor for the New York Annex, which delayed the project.
As for the proposed requirements for PACT II, the Secretariat would not be in a position to begin work on the PACT II projects before 1 April 2009, she said, and the proposed resource requirements for the 12-month period of 2009 would need to be revised. The Committee recommended that the Secretary-General submit, directly to the General Assembly, revised requirements for PACT II projects that must be started in 2009 for operational reasons. Staff costs included in the revised resource requirements for PACT II should be based on general temporary assistance, rather than posts. The remaining requirements for PACT II should take into account the Secretary-General’s comprehensive report on a safety and security framework.
On additional requirements in specific locations, she said the Advisory Committee recommended the establishment of 45 additional posts for security officers at ESCWA, acquisition of two armoured vehicles for UNTSO, and creation of nine additional posts at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Regarding additional security requirements for the United Nations information centres, she said that, while her Committee did not object to the proposal in respect of 2008-2009, it expected discussions to take place with host Governments to ensure required security was provided at no additional cost to the United Nations.
She said part II of the Secretary-General’s report contained proposals on jointly financed security requirements for United Nations system activities in the field, and dealt with aviation risk management, among other issues. Her Committee noted that a comprehensive plan on jointly financed security requirements would be the subject of a report to be adopted by the CEB. It appeared that a “piecemeal” approach had been used in presenting such requirements, as the CEB report related to the same issue. Resources requested in part II were closely linked with the outcome of the management review and development of the comprehensive plan. Thus, such resource requirements should be considered in the context of the proposed 2010-2011 programme budget.
As for the proposal on aviation risk management, she said capacity existed in other United Nations entities, and the proposal had to be further justified. On strengthening the regional desk capacity of the Division of Regional Operations of the Department of Safety and Security through redeployment of four P-3 posts from the Field Support Service, she did not object to those redeployments, as no additional resources had been requested. Regarding increased deployment of field security officers, she recommended against the establishment of one D-1 and four P-5 posts, proposed to replicate the Lebanon model. She also questioned the replication of that model for other United Nations duty stations, as the only station with a Security Phase II threat level was in Lebanon. Her Committee did not agree that Security Chiefs in all duty stations should be of the same rank, and recommended that the remaining requirements for field security officers be considered in the context of the proposed 2010-2011 biennium.
On the proposal to strengthen the managerial and operational capacity of the Division of Regional Operations, she said that such capacities could be enhanced if the Director concentrated more on those responsibilities at Headquarters and delegated tasks requiring travel to other staff of the Division. As such, she recommended against the approval of establishing a D-1 post of Deputy Director of the Division. As for the proposed strengthening of security analytical capacity and establishment of five security and information operations centres, her Committee recommended that they be considered in light of the outcome of the management review and comprehensive plan for security requirements. Finally, the Advisory Committee did not recommend approving the proposal to establish a standing surge capacity within the Department of Safety and Security for immediate deployment in case of emergency, or creation of 10 P-4 Security Officers posts. It also recommended against creating an additional four P-4 posts for security training officers.
INGA-BRITT AHLENIUS, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced the report of the OIOS on the comprehensive management audit of the Department of Safety and Security (document A/63/379), summarizing its main points.
She provided further details on the unclear lines of reporting within the Department of Safety and Security, which the report had discussed. The dual reporting line of the Chief Security Adviser “created confusion” -- in addition to providing advice to the “Designated Official” in charge of security functions at each duty station and to the Security Management Team, the Adviser also heads the Security and Safety Service at offices away from Headquarters and at regional commissions. This individual must report both to the Designated Official and the Department of Safety and Security. While the Department was supposed to “technically advise” the Chief Security Adviser, it is unclear what that meant. In one duty station, that lack of clarity had created confusion between the Chief Security Adviser and the Designated Official, which had resulted in the reassignment of the Chief Security Adviser.
Among the 16 recommendations to the Department, she said the OIOS had suggested that the IASMN mechanism be assessed for its effectiveness. It recommended that the Department initiate the appropriate operational procedures or guidelines for consideration by the IASMN, to be approved by the High-Level Committee on Management, clarifying the role and responsibilities of the Department and the Designated Officials at offices away from Headquarters and the regional commissions.
Continuing, she said the OIOS recommended that the objectives and scope of the Department’s technical supervision, policy direction and operational guidance be clarified, and that the reporting lines of the Chief Security Adviser be reassessed. The Office of Human Resources Management should be asked to review the feasibility of harmonizing the contractual arrangements of locally recruited security personnel to facilitate their mobility requirements.
She reported that the Department had accepted all of the OIOS’s recommendations and had already started to implement them. The CEB had decided to establish a steering committee to review and assess the functioning of the IASMN, and the results of that review were contained in its report on safety and security and its operational working group on the strengthening of the United Nations security management system, dated 19 February 2009. The steering committee had recommended the CEB to approve revisions to the framework for accountability by April 2009 as part of a review of the overall security architecture to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the Department of Safety and Security and the Designated Officials.
She said the High-Level Committee on Management had requested its human resources network to report on related human resource issues in the 2009 regular session. As a general observation, the Department of Management had advised that any recommendation that involved restructuring or additional resources must be reviewed and analysed according to established budgetary procedures and presented to the Assembly for consideration.
Mr. ABDELMANNAN (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, noted the Secretary-General’s decision to appoint the new Under-Secretary General for Safety and Security, Gregory Starr, to replace David Veness, whose efforts he acknowledged. The Group stood ready to work closely with Mr. Starr to continue those efforts and to interact with him on his vision for setting clear criteria for determining security needs.
Reiterating his support for the provision of safety and security for the United Nations staff and operations, he said the Group would continue supporting measures aimed at ensuring a coherent and timely response to all security-related threats. He recalled that the Independent Panel on Security and Safety of United Nations Personnel and Premises had recommended the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security should conduct a management review of the Department of Safety and Security. Further, the OIOS had recommended that the Department should, in consultation with the IASMN, reassess current staffing levels and reassess its structure.
He recalled that the General Assembly had requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the comprehensive safety and security policy framework at the United Nations, which provided the basis for the threat and risk assessment, cooperation with host countries and cost-sharing arrangements. He was concerned that that report had not yet been presented. Emphasizing the importance of transparency and accountability, he said the report of the Independent Panel on Accountability, established as a follow-up, should be made available to States on an “expedited basis”. He called the Secretary-General to make available all relevant information, as well as the outcomes of the requested reviews.
Ms. KRAHULCOVÁ (Czech Republic), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated states, noted that the United Nations had a greater presence worldwide than ever before, which brought a greater exposure to risks. The European Union welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to propose measures to strengthen the safety and security of United Nations personnel. The Union agreed with the ACABQ that the question should be dealt with in an integrated manner, and that a comprehensive report be submitted to the Assembly at its sixty-fourth session to permit its consideration, in conjunction with the proposed programme budget for 2010-2011.
SHANNON WHITE (Australia), speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said the tragic attacks on 11 December 2007 on United Nations premises in Algiers reminded all of the risk that staff faced while serving the Organization. While absolute security would never be possible, it was the duty of the Secretary-General and Member States alike to ensure security conditions were constantly improving. “This is a challenging goal”, she said, as the security environment for the United Nations had never been more threatening. The creation of the Department of Safety and Security was an important first step to ensure a systematic and professional approach to staff safety, but with over 140,000 civilian staff and associated personnel, the task was enormous.
Regarding a comprehensive safety and security policy framework for the United Nations, she noted there had been various reports from the OIOS and the Independent Panel on Safety and Security. Australia would like to be in a position to consider the forthcoming comprehensive report on the framework, but understood the need to review policy and procedures in light of events in Algiers. She urged the Secretary-General to complete that report as soon as possible.
She said her delegation preferred to follow the advice of the Independent Panel on Safety and Security, that additional human and financial resources should only be determined following a management review. However, she agreed with the Secretary-General that there were discrete areas where immediate action was urgently needed. Further, she agreed with the ACABQ that work started on the PACT I and II had to be continued, and looked forward to receiving the revised resource requirements from the Secretariat. She also agreed that the security situations related to ESCWA, UNTSO and UNSCO represented challenges that must be dealt with immediately. As for United Nations operations in remote locations, there was an even more urgent need to provide for their security. Some strengthening of security analytical capacity was warranted.
THOMAS GURBER (Switzerland), speaking also on behalf of the principality of Lichtenstein, said the 2007 attack on United Nations offices in Algiers was a reminder of the tragic cost of underrating United Nations security. Member States expected United Nations staff to execute all legislative mandates to deliver their much-needed services to those who relied on them. In return, States had a duty to do their utmost to minimize the risks to which they were exposed.
Recalling General Assembly resolution 61/263, which stressed the need for a comprehensive safety and security policy framework at the United Nations, he said discussion of such a framework could only take place once the Secretary-General completed his management review. Given the importance of the issue, he expected that a comprehensive report on a framework be submitted to the Assembly early in the main part of the sixty-fourth session, to allow for its consideration along with the proposed programme budget for the 2010-2011 biennium. Regretting that the Committee could not agree to consider that issue in its March session, his delegation was ready to engage in discussion of the Secretary-General’s resource requests, taking into consideration the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on requirements that did not warrant an immediate response.
JUN YAMADA ( Japan) said that, at the first resumed session, Japan had said that it understood the importance of the issue of safety and security and had expressed regret that the Secretary-General’s report was piecemeal. He then reiterated Japan’s view that the Secretary-General should present his proposals according to the established budget cycle.
He said Japan was “at a loss as to why, at this stage, the Secretary-General is choosing to take up only certain issues”, leaving aside the accountability and management review. He took note of the letter from the Controller to the Chairperson of the ACABQ on 11 March, annexed to the report of the ACABQ. In that respect, Japan was of the view that the budgetary aspects of safety and security should be considered only when all of the relevant reports, including the comprehensive report on the safety and security framework at the United Nations, had been received.
He asked the Secretariat to comment on the likeliness of a completed comprehensive report in May, as indicated in the report of the ACABQ. If the target was likely to be met, Japan would like an outline of the report at the current meeting.
DMITRY S. CHUMAKOV ( Russian Federation) attached great importance to safety and security matters, saying that he welcomed the appointment of the new Under-Secretary-General and supported measures to strengthen the United Nations unified security management system. His country also attached great importance to ensuring a rational use of resources for those purposes. In that connection, he supported the recommendations of the OIOS to the Department of Safety and Security, particularly those aimed at more clearly assigned responsibilities.
There was not yet one comprehensive report made available for the strengthening of the Department of Safety and Security. He was not convinced by the reasons given for the delay nor by the piecemeal approach to requesting resources. Some requests made did not appear urgent, particularly in light of the comprehensive report on strengthening security, being prepared by the Secretary-General. It was unacceptable to have such a piecemeal approach to such budgeting matters. The security of “UNers” was a priority, and the Russian Federation stood ready to look for balanced solutions to those matters. The most productive discussions should be based on the comprehensive report on security issues, being prepared by the Secretary-General. He hoped the Committee could reach agreed decisions on such important issues.
STEPHEN A. RONAGHAN ( United States) reiterated his country’s position that a comprehensive safety and security policy framework for protecting United Nations staff at duty stations and in the field was vital to the functioning of the United Nations system. He noted that the management review, first requested for submission at the Assembly’s second resumed session of the sixty-second session, had been delayed following the events of December 2007. He understood that the report would be released during this session, and the United States looked forward to receiving it.
He also noted that, when discussing the Secretary-General’s request for additional resources before the Fifth Committee at its first resumed session, the ACABQ had expressed the view that strengthening security arrangements for the United Nations should be dealt with in an integrated manner. He further noted that the ACABQ had recommended that a comprehensive report on the United Nations safety and security policy framework be submitted to the Assembly at the beginning of its sixty-fourth session, in conjunction with the proposed 2010-2011 budget. He then noted that the CEB’s recommendations, in regard to the High-Level Committee on Management at its spring session, would be incorporated into the comprehensive report to be presented at the sixty-fourth session.
He said the United States welcomed the appointment of Gregory Starr as Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security, and said he should be accorded the opportunity to review and comment on the comprehensive management report before its consideration and implementation by the Committee. The United States extended its appreciation to the outgoing Under-Secretary-General, Mr. Veness.
He said he shared the view of the ACABQ that strengthening security arrangements should be dealt with in an integrated manner, and that the United States was prepared to consider those security proposals that involved an immediate risk to life, or that otherwise required urgent consideration by Member States.
Financing of Peacekeeping Operations
CATHERINE VENDAT, Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on financing of ONUB (document A/63/551) and financing of UNAMSIL (document A/63/681). Summarizing the information in those reports, she added that there had been an increase in the cash available in the Special Account for UNAMSIL to $15.63 million, up from $15.15 million. Accordingly, $15.63 million could be returned to Member States.
Ms. McLURG introduced the ACABQ’s related reports, reiterating its recommendations, including, with regard to ONUB, that a “fuller explanation” of the final disposition of assets be provided in future to ensure transparency, and recommending, with regard to UNAMSIL, that the Committee accept the Secretary-General’s proposal to credit Members the cash balance from the UNAMSIL Special Account.
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