Budget Committee Takes up Financing for United Nations Missions in Kosovo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Sahara

3 June 2009
GA/AB/3911

Budget Committee Takes up Financing for United Nations Missions in Kosovo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Sahara

3 June 2009
General Assembly
GA/AB/3911
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly

Fifth Committee

51st Meeting (AM)

Budget committee takes up financing for United Nations missions

In Kosovo, Democratic Republic of Congo, western sahara

As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) took up financing of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), representatives of Serbia and Russian Federation questioned a proposed 76.2 per cent reduction in the budget of the Mission, which reflected a drawdown in personnel from an approved strength of 4,911 in 2008/09 to a proposed strength of 507 for 2009/10.

Stressing the importance of the United Nations’ active engagement in Kosovo and Metohija, the representative of Serbia insisted that the use of the so-called “Constitution of Kosovo” as a basis for an extensive reduction of UNMIK’s funds and personnel was unacceptable.  That contravened Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), because it was “an outgrowth” of the 17 February 2008 unilateral declaration of independence by the ethnic Albanian authorities of Serbia’s southern province and contradicted the status-neutral position of UNMIK.

The budget proposal provided funds only for residual rule-of-law functions, he added, but the Council had never endorsed the wholesale transfer of those functions from UNMIK to the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), nor had it ever agreed to totally disband the UNMIK rule-of-law component.  In view of the need for coordination and cooperation between UNMIK and EULEX, it was important to create a post of EULEX Coordinator in the Cabinet of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and professional assistants’ posts for the three core EULEX functions:  police; customs; and judiciary.  He also called for creating at least three additional legal officer posts in the Human Rights Advisory Panel.

The position of Serbia was supported by the Russian Federation, whose representative also expressed doubts regarding the planned reorganization of the Office of the Mission’s Chief of Staff.  It was proposed that the Chief of Staff would be lending support to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and deciding on issues of interest to both Pristina and Belgrade in such areas as police, customs, justice, borders, the Serbian heritage, transport and infrastructure.  In other words, it meant lending support to the Special Representative in the conduct of the so-called dialogue on six technical points.  However, the major responsibility for contacts on six points lay with the Special Representative and his Office, and the establishment of parallel and duplicatory structures would “lead to nothing”.

As the Committee took up the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), the representative of Angola, speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed the need to provide the Mission with sufficient resources to carry out its mandate to support the political process, provide security assistance and ensure stability in the country.  In that connection, she expressing concern that the cuts proposed by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) could negatively impact the Mission’s effective functioning and underscored that any reduction to the proposed budget could hamper MONUC’s ability to implement its mandate.

Presenting the Advisory Committee’s reports to the Committee, its Chair, Susan McLurg, recommended an overall reduction of $66.82 million (4.7 per cent) to the Mission’s proposed budget of $1.43 billion.  The ACABQ had recommended reductions through the application of a higher delayed deployment factor for military and police personnel and a higher vacancy rate for international staff, as well as an overall reduction under operational costs of $50 million.

Also this morning, United Nations Controller, Jun Yamazaki, introduced the Secretary-General’s $57.4 million budget proposal for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).  Presented by Ms. McLurg, the recommendations of the ACABQ would entail a reduction of $311,700 to that amount.

The Committee will take up the financing of the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy, at 10 a.m. Thursday, 4 June.

Background

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to consider financing of the United Nations peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo and Western Sahara.

The Secretary-General’s performance report on the budget of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 (document A/63/563) invites the General Assembly to decide on the treatment of the unencumbered balance of $41.25 million and to decide on the treatment of other income for the period ended 30 June 2008 amounting to $28.72 million.

Another report before the Committee (document A/63/806) contains the budget for the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010, which amounts to about $1.43 billion, inclusive of budgeted voluntary contributions in kind in the amount of $4.95 million.  The budget provides for the deployment of 760 military observers, 19,815 military contingent personnel, 391 United Nations police officers, 1,050 formed police personnel, 1,251 international staff, 2,915 national staff, 678 United Nations Volunteers, and 14 Government-provided personnel, including temporary positions.

According to the performance report on the budget of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 (document A/63/569), the budget for maintaining UNMIK for that period amounted to $213.16 million.  That amount provided for 38 military liaison officers, 2,078 police personnel (including 513 special police personnel), 608 international and 2,038 national staff (including 28 National Officers), and 162 United Nations Volunteers.  Based on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), the General Assembly, by its resolution 61/285, appropriated $210.68 million to maintain UNMIK during that period.

According to the report, the actions to be taken by the Assembly in connection with financing of UNMIK are to decide on the treatment of the unencumbered balance of $9,800 with respect to the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 and on the treatment of other income for the period that ended 30 June 2008 amounting to $5.4 million.

According to another report before the Committee (document A/63/803), the proposed budget for the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 amounts to $47.08 million.  That amount would provide for the deployment of eight military liaison officers, eight United Nations police officers, 173 international staff, 290 national staff and 28 United Nations Volunteers.

According to the report, those budgetary assumptions are fully reflective of the reconfiguration of UNMIK’s administrative and operational structure following Kosovo’s declaration of independence.  In his 24 November 2008 report, the Secretary-General set out the conditions under which the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) would assume operational responsibilities in policing, justice and customs under the overall authority of the United Nations and in accordance with resolution 1244 (1999).  The report states that EULEX operations in the rule of law will be complementary to UNMIK’s activities and will have a positive impact on the rationalization of Mission resources.  The report also reflects the disbandment of the Mission’s rule of law component in the 2009/10 results-based budgeting frameworks.

According to the performance report on the budget of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) (document A/63/608), the actions to be taken by the Assembly in connection with financing of MINURSO are to decide on the treatment of the unencumbered balance of $550,500 with respect to the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 and on the treatment of other income for the period that ended 30 June 2008 amounting to $1.17 million.

According to another report before the Committee (document A/63/757), the proposed budget for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 amounts to $57.4 million inclusive of budgetary voluntary contributions in kind in the amount of $3 million.  That amount would provide for the deployment of 203 military observers, 27 military contingent personnel, six United Nations police officers, 108 international staff, 166 national staff, one national temporary position, 20 United Nations Volunteers, and 10 Government-provided personnel.

Introduction of Reports

United Nations Controller, JUN YAMAZAKI, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the financing of the three missions.

Regarding MONUC’s performance report, he mentioned reduced requirements due to a lower number of hours flown by rotary and fixed-wing aircraft and the reduction in the number of flights for cargo movement.  Reduced requirements for military observers and police personnel had resulted from their lower actual average strength during the reporting period.  Lower expenditures under facilities and infrastructure were primarily attributable to reduced actual requirements for the reimbursement of troop-contributing countries for self-sustainment cost, compared with the provisions of signed memorandums of understanding and the unavailability of external contractors for the rehabilitation of two airfields.

Unencumbered balances were offset, in part, by additional requirements for national staff, resulting from a comprehensive grade-level review of 2,110 national posts, and United Nations Volunteers, resulting from changes in conditions of service, increase in hazard pay rate and a lower vacancy rate.  Unspent amounts had also been offset by additional requirements in connection with additional patrols and movement of cargo in the east of the country, an increase in the cost of fuel and higher acquisition costs for vehicles, owing to less favourable exchange rates between the United States dollar and the euro and Japanese yen.

As for the proposed 2009/10 budget, the main factors contributing to increased requirements included a temporary increase of MONUC’s authorized military strength and police personnel, additional international staff requirements pursuant to the General Assembly human resources management resolution, the outcome of the grade-level review of national posts and proposed establishment of 130 additional posts, deployment of additional aircraft, replacement of 259 vehicles, and the provision of rations for Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) troops during joint operations and training activities.

He also listed the main factors contributing to the variances in the expenditures of UNMIK for 2007/08, which included a 14.5 per cent appreciation of the euro vis-à-vis the United States dollar; reduced actual requirements for the reimbursement of police-contributing Governments; implementation of the preventative maintenance programme and efficient utilization of available stock of supplies and materials.  Also, the introduction of least-cost routing, improved control over the use of cellular and satellite phones and the overall reduction of communications equipment in use, due to the drawdown of the Mission and the establishment of a communications network by the Kosovo Police Service.

The proposed budget for 2009/10 reflected the reconfiguration of UNMIK and lower requirements for generator and vehicle fuel, as well as discontinuation of commercial helicopter services, he said.

Regarding MINURSO, he said that for 2007/08, there had been reduced expenditures under facilities and infrastructure, due to the non-acquisition of the closed-circuit television system, non-replacement of 16 air conditioners, and lower cost of generator fuel, compared to the projected costs.  Lower expenditures under air transportation were mainly because of a lower number of flights due to inclement weather conditions, with related reduced requirements for fuel.

An increase for 2009/10 was related to additional international staff requirements pursuant to the human resources management resolution, replacement of 12 generators, acquisition of fuel tanks and pumps, installation of water treatment plants, establishment of hard-wall structures for military observers accommodations, and construction of reservoirs to protect fuel from contamination.  The Mission had also replaced 67 vehicles and acquired additional satellite equipment to upgrade its communications networks.

Presenting related reports of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (documents A/63/746/Add.14, 15 and 16), its Chair, SUSAN MCLURG, said that the Advisory Committee’s recommendations for MONUC would entail an overall reduction of $66.82 million (4.7 per cent) of the Mission’s budget.  The ACABQ had recommended reductions through the application of a higher delayed deployment factor for military and police personnel and a higher vacancy rate for international staff, as well as an overall reduction under operational costs of $50 million.

One of the main factors affecting the Mission’s budget was its planned support of local elections, she continued.  The local elections would not be held as previously foreseen and were now expected to take place in the first trimester of 2010.  However, no provision had been made in the budget proposal for resources related to supporting preparatory electoral activities and the conduct of local direct elections.  In that regard, the Advisory Committee had been informed that the Mission intended to utilize proposed staffing resources and would submit a revised budget, once the election dates had been set and related requirements were known.  Under the circumstances, the ACABQ had not commented on the proposed requirements for the elections, as they had been overtaken by events.  It had requested that revised estimates in terms of staffing and operational costs related to the support of local elections be submitted to the Assembly, through the ACABQ, and that information on the use of resources currently included in the 2009/10 budget also be included.

Highlighting some of the difficulties that the ACABQ had experienced in its consideration of MONUC’s financing, she said that only following extensive questioning had it become clear that the elections had not taken place as planned.  The Advisory Committee had also learned that the resources allocated for electoral assistance in 2008/09 had not been fully utilized for election purposes and that a significant portion had been redirected towards the mandated refocus of the Mission to the eastern part of the country.  That information should have been provided at the outset, in a more transparent fashion.  Furthermore, an addendum to the proposed budget should have been issued.

Turning to UNMIK, she said that, following recent developments, the structure of the Mission had been reconfigured, resulting in a 76.2 per cent decrease in financial requirements, compared to the approved budget for 2008/09.  The decrease reflected the substantial drawdown in personnel from an approved strength of 4,911 in 2008/09 to a proposed strength of 507 for 2009/10.  The Advisory Committee was recommending acceptance of the Secretary-General’s proposals of $47 million, with the exception of a small reduction of $37,800 under operational costs, related to the average used for calculating fuel costs.  The ACABQ was also recommending that information on income received from cost-sharing arrangements be included in future budgets.

The Advisory Committee’s recommendations on MINURSO would entail a reduction of $311,700 in the proposed budget, she said.  Reductions were recommended under civilian personnel and other operational costs.  It was also recommended that the average fuel cost for the first three months of 2009 be used as a basis for estimating requirements for 2009/10.

Although MINURSO was a long-standing mission, with no recent change in mandate, estimated operational requirements for 2009/10 reflected an increase of over $6 million, she continued.  The ACABQ encouraged the Mission to use its resources prudently and to increase its operational efficiency, with a view to possible savings, including the phased acquisition of vehicles.

Statements

ELSA DE JESUS PATACA (Angola), speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted that the resource requirements for MONUC for 2009/10 had been linked to the Mission’s objective through a number of results-based frameworks, organized according to the components of stable security environment, territorial security of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, security sector reform, democratic institutions, and human rights and support.  The Secretary-General, in a letter dated 31 October 2008 to the President of the Security Council, had referred to the additional requirements requested for MONUC in light of persistent crisis in the eastern part of the country.  By its resolution 1843 of 20 November 2008, the Security Council had authorized, as recommended by the Secretary-General, a temporary increase of the Mission’s authorized strength by 2,785 military personnel, and the strength of its formed police units by up to 300 personnel.

Continuing, she noted that the Entebbe logistics hub continued to provide logistical support, including the use of facilities, to the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) as part of its designated function of serving other United Nations operations in the region.  He further noted that, during the reporting period, support provisions covered the conduct of regional meetings and training, as well as urgent security-related operations and ongoing logistical support to the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Lord’s Resistance Army-affected areas.  She welcomed the Mission’s intention to continue initiatives to promote the use of the Entebbe logistics hub as a shared strategic resource for other United Nations operations in the region, and encouraged the further enhancement of Entebbe as the most logical facility for supporting peacekeeping operations in Africa.

The 23 March 2009 agreement between the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Congrès National pour la Défense du People (CNDP) was an important development, she said.  That agreement set out a range of actions to convert the CNDP into a political party, as well as mechanisms for local and national reconciliation.  United Nations support for the security and stabilization of the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was central to expanding basic State authority through a combination of integrated military, political, development and humanitarian initiatives.

MONUC needed sufficient resources to carry out its mandate to support the political process, provide security assistance and ensure stability, she said.  He expressed concern that the cuts proposed by the ACABQ could negatively impact the Mission’s effective functioning and underscored that any reduction to the proposed budget could hamper MONUC’s ability to implement its mandate.

FEODOR STARČEVIĆ (Serbia) said the United Nations’ active engagement in Kosovo and Metohija was crucial for achieving success on the ground and helping to create stability throughout Serbia’s southern province.  He expressed deep concern over the extensive reduction of UNMIK’s funds and personnel, which contravened Council resolution 1244 (1999).  Using the so-called “Constitution of Kosovo” as a basis for the proposed drastic budget reduction was unacceptable.  That was not in accordance with resolution 1244, because it was an outgrowth of the 17 February 2008 unilateral declaration of independence by the ethnic Albanian authorities of Serbia’s southern province.  Using the unilateral declaration of independence, the “constitution” or institutions derived thereof as a basis for proposed budgetary allocations contradicted the status-neutral position of UNMIK.

He expressed great concern that the budget proposal allocated funds only for residual rule-of-law functions.  The Council had never endorsed the wholesale transfer of rule-of-law functions from UNMIK to the EULEX mission, nor had it ever agreed to totally disband the UNMIK rule-of-law component.  Further, it had not been stipulated in the Secretary-General’s 24 November 2008 report (document S/2008/692), welcomed by the Council President’s statement (document S/PRST/2008/44).  The Secretary-General’s report only referred to an increased rule-of-law role for EULEX, while underlining that the “Comprehensive Proposal for Kosovo Status Settlement” was not endorsed by the Council.  In that context, it was necessary to redefine the scope of the new Police and Justice Liaison Office, so that it dealt not only with UNMIK residual issues, but also became the focal point for an active, two-way process of cooperation with EULEX.

UNMIK must be present not only in the town of Kosovska Mitrovica, but also south of the Ibar river, where almost 60 per cent of the remaining Serb population lived, he said.  Creation of a dedicated Community Support and Facilitation Office, including a field office in the Pec region and a mobile unit covering the central and southern parts of Kosovo helped to alleviate Serbia’s concern for the safety of the Serb community and important cultural heritage sites.  In view of the need for coordination and cooperation between UNMIK and EULEX, as defined in document S/2008/692, it was important to create a post of EULEX Coordinator in the Cabinet of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General at the D-2 level and three professional assistants’ posts for the three core EULEX functions; police, customs and judiciary.  That would facilitate synergy and complementarity of UNMIK and EULEX functions, which was necessary for implementing the provisions in the 24 November 2008 report, as well as the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA).  It would not necessarily have budget implications and it could be achieved by redistributing allocated resources.

He called for creating at least three additional legal officer posts in the Human Rights Advisory Panel.  The currently proposed increase was insufficient, considering the Panel’s workload, including matters related to labour rights, missing persons, and inheritance and property law.  It was also necessary to include specific budgetary positions for fully implementing provisions in the 24 November 2008 report, as well as various targeted campaigns, including outreach for the Human Rights Advisory Panel.  Bearing in mind that the Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government (document UNMIK/REG/2001/9) provided that all acts passed by the Assembly of Kosovo be promulgated by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, it would be appropriate to create additional legal officer posts in the Office of Legal Affairs.  Those officers should be tasked with analysing legislation prior to its promulgation by the Special Representative.

VLADIMIR PROKHOROV ( Russian Federation) said that he had a number of questions in connection with UNMIK’s proposed budget.  He believed that substantial reductions in the Mission’s personnel and resources did not take into account the real situation in the province and required possible adjustments.  He also had doubts regarding the Secretary-General’s proposals on the redistribution of functions and duties within the framework of the Mission.  In particular, he was concerned regarding the planned reorganization of the Office of the Chief of Staff and the transfer of additional authorities to it.  It was provided that the Chief of Staff would be lending support to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and deciding on issues of interest to both Pristina and Belgrade in such areas as police, customs, justice, borders, the Serbian heritage, transport and infrastructure.  In other words, it meant lending support to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the conduct of the so-called dialogue on six “technical” points.  It was not quite clear to him what kind of support that entailed.  “Are we talking about the participation of the people from his Office in the dialogue on six technical points, or supervising the process?” he asked.

The major responsibility for contacts on the six points lay with the Special Representative and his Office, he said.  The establishment of a parallel and duplicatory structure would lead to nothing.  He also noted that the planned reorganization did not sufficiently take into account the need to sustain the relations of UNMIK with EULEX at a proper level, in particular in the areas of police, customs and the judiciary.  It was also necessary to strengthen the human rights advisory panel and the office of legal affairs.  In that connection, he believed it possible to strengthen the staffing of the Mission.  Therefore, he believed it appropriate to support the proposals by Serbia.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.