Fifth Committee Takes up Financing to Continue Logistical Support Package for African Union Mission in Somalia

5 June 2009
GA/AB/3913

Fifth Committee Takes up Financing to Continue Logistical Support Package for African Union Mission in Somalia

5 June 2009
General Assembly
GA/AB/3913
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly

Fifth Committee

53rd Meeting (AM)

FIFTH COMMITTEE TAKES UP FINANCING TO CONTINUE LOGISTICAL SUPPORT PACKAGE

FOR AFRICAN UNION MISSION IN SOMALIA

Full 2009/10 Budget for Package Will Be Considered Next Session;

Also Begins Discussion on Revised Budget for Somalia Political Office

Following up the adoption of Security Council resolution 1872 (2009) last week, which authorized the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to carry out its existing mandate until 31 January 2010, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today took up the Secretary-General’s request for commitment authority to continue the provision of a logistical support package for the Mission, along with the continuation of technical and expert advice to the Union.

Presenting the proposal, United Nations Controller Jun Yamazaki said that the full budget for the 2009/10 period for the support of AMISOM would be provided at the main part of the General Assembly’s sixty-fourth session.  Previous commitment authority, with assessment, for the period from 1 May 2007 to 30 June 2009 amounted to some $77.79 million.  Proposed commitment authority for 1 July to 31 December 2009 amounted to $185.67 million.

The representative of Angola, speaking on behalf of the African Group, agreed with the Secretary-General that, without logistical support from the United Nations and donor assistance for AMISOM’s requirements, the Mission would not reach its mandated strength of 8,000 troops and 270 civilian police.  It was critical that the resource package be approved and delivered in a timely manner.

The Group welcomed and supported the Secretary-General’s proposals, and welcomed the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions’ (ACABQ) recommendations on that matter.  It took note of the fact that planning was continuing in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations for an eventual peacekeeping operation in Somalia, and that the Secretary-General indicated that there was a need for reliable resources for AMISOM.  The Group also noted that Entebbe was providing support to various United Nations missions and activities, and trusted that it would continue to be used to support the Mission.

Under the agenda item on the financing of special political missions, the Committee also took up the revised budget for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2009 for the United Nations Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS).

Presenting the budget proposal, the Controller recalled that a revised budget for 2009 had been submitted for the Assembly’s consideration during the first part of its resumed sixty-third session.  However, since the impact of Security Council resolution 1863 (2009) could not have been reflected in that proposal, the Assembly, while approving four additional security personnel positions contained therein, had requested that a revised budget proposal be submitted.

The revisions presented to the Committee related mainly to an increase of the UNPOS staffing complement by 17 additional substantive positions in various areas and the establishment of a new Security Sector Development Office, consisting of a Military Advisory Unit and a Police Advisory Unit.  The resulting financial requirements, after taking into account the amounts already appropriated and actual expenditures incurred in 2008, would amount to a net additional appropriation of some $9.36 million.

Related reports of ACABQ were introduced by the Chair of that body, Susan McLurg, who also addressed the question of documentation, stressing the need to ensure that each entity had sufficient time to conduct proper review of peacekeeping financing.  All the players in the process -- the missions, the Secretariat, ACABQ and the General Assembly -- needed to rethink the way they planned and did their work, in order to come up with an arrangement that would restore the process initially contemplated when the change in the peacekeeping financing cycle had been approved, she said.

Also this morning, the Vice-Chairman of the Fifth Committee, Henric Råsbrant ( Sweden) informed the delegates that no consensus had been reached during informal consultations on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).  In light of that statement, the representative of the Sudan, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced a draft resolution on the matter (document A/C.5/63/L.45.

Under other matters, the representatives of Mexico (on behalf of the Rio Group), Sudan (on behalf of the Group of 77) and Egypt addressed the issues of support for the work of the Human Rights Council and preparation of documentation on the United Nations regular budget for 2010-2011.  A short statement was also made by the representative of Guatemala.

The date and time of the Committee’s next meeting will be announced.

Background

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to consider the financing of special political missions and support for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

The Secretary-General’s report on financing of support of AMISOM for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2009 (document A/63/867) contains a request for commitment authority, with assessment, in the amount of approximately $185.67 million.

The document recalls that, in its resolution 1872 (2009), the Security Council authorized the member States of the African Union to maintain their Mission in Somalia and requested the Secretary-General to continue to provide a logistical support package for AMISOM -- comprising equipment and services, but not including the transfer of funds -- until 31 January 2010.  The Secretary-General was also requested to continue to provide technical and expert advice in the planning and deployment of AMISOM through the existing United Nations planning team in Addis Ababa.

The report states that, pending a decision by the Security Council on the establishment of a future United Nations peacekeeping operation, the continued presence of AMISOM in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, remains critical.  Without both logistics support from the United Nations and donor assistance for its other requirements, AMISOM will not achieve its mandated strength of 8,000 troops and 270 civilian police or establish effective peacekeeping operations.

Indications are that the number of AMISOM troops in Mogadishu will increase shortly to 5,150 with the deployment of another battalion from Burundi.  With work under way to identify additional units to meet its present mandate, AMISOM anticipates that an additional two battalions will be in place from September 2009, with the remaining troops deployed, including a further battalion and additional units, by the end of 2009.  AMISOM also anticipates having 157 police in place by the end of the 2009/10 period, averaging 81 during the year.

The United Nations own supply arrangements for “life-support” requirements of AMISOM, including rations, fuel and water, are expected to commence in August 2009, and resource requirements have been calculated based on estimated prices similar to comparable United Nations peacekeeping missions.  The United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) must establish a logistics and transit base in Mombasa, Kenya, to manage the preparation and transfer of supplies, equipment and personnel to Mogadishu.  As airlift to Mogadishu airport is both expensive and vulnerable to attack, UNSOA emphasis will shift towards bulk sea movements for consignments of equipment and supplies, as well as troop contingents.

The proposed staffing establishment for UNSOA reflects a 10 per cent increase from that approved for the 2008/09 period.  According to the proposal, the Office would have 225 general temporary assistance positions, including 115 international and 110 national staff, with a decrease of 34 international positions and an increase of 55 national positions.

The report further states that, so far, the Organization’s technical and expert advice in planning and deployment of AMISOM support has been performed by a team of up to 19 professional officers and 4 national staff located in Addis Ababa.  In line with the deployment of the logistical support package, and following consultations with the African Union, the overall number of dedicated planners had been reduced from 19 to 14 international staff.

Planning and coordination efforts in New York will continue and the number of staff will remain the same as in the 2008/09 period (16 staff members).  It is proposed, however, that the existing Somalia Planning and Coordination Team in support of a future United Nations peacekeeping operation be restructured, and a smaller team from within the previous staffing levels be formed to provide a dedicated integrated operational support capacity at United Nations Headquarters for UNSOA.  The UNSOA Support Team will consist of 5 staff and the Somalia Planning and Coordination Team will consist of 11 staff, all to be located in New York.

Under the financing of special political missions, the Committee had before it the revised budget for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2009 for the United Nations Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS) (document A/63/346/Add.7), which amounts to $16 million net ($16.99 million gross).  There is an increase of $744,000 compared to what was appropriated in 2008, mainly due to a higher number of proposed staff.  An estimated balance of $6.64 million is available under the appropriation for the biennium 2008-2009, which places the net additional requirements for UNPOS for 2009 at $9.36 million.  The Assembly is requested to approve the revised budget, take note of the balance from 2008, and appropriate the additional amount of $9.36 million.

In its related report (document A/63/868), ACABQ recommends approval of the revised budget for UNPOS, subject to several recommendations: that the phased deployment factor for the new staff be increased to 50 per cent, instead of the 20 per cent proposed, and that some tasks be provided from existing capacity, rather than new posts be created for them.  For example, ACABQ recommends that the work of the focal point on piracy and armed robbery at sea be provided by someone in the Legal Affairs Unit or the Political Affairs Office.  In addition, ACABQ recommends against approval, for now, of a P-5 post to advise the Head of the Office on security sector reform.

ACABQ says it will calculate the new costs brought about by its recommendations, which the ACABQ Chairperson will communicate to the Fifth Committee in her introductory statement.  It also recommends that the Assembly take note of the balance of $6.64 million and to appropriate the additional requirements, as adjusted.

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)

JUN YAMAZAKI, United Nations Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on AMISOM.  He said that, following the adoption of Security Council resolution 1872 (2009) on 26 May, the Secretary-General had submitted on 29 May a request for commitment authority, with assessment, to continue the provision of a logistical support package for AMISOM, along with the continuation of technical and expert advice to the African Union.  The full budget for the 2009/10 period for the support of AMISOM would be provided at the main part of the General Assembly’s sixty-fourth session.  Previous commitment authority, with assessment, for the period from 1 May 2007 to 30 June 2009 amounted to some $77.79 million.  Proposed commitment authority for 1 July to 31 December 2009 amounted to $185.67 million.

The related report of ACABQ (document A/63/874) was introduced by the Chair of that body, SUSAN MCLURG.  She said that the Advisory Committee expected that the proposed budget for 2009/10 would be prepared as a matter of priority and submitted to the Assembly for action early in the main part of its next session and that it would include a detailed description of actual expenditures incurred in 2008/09.  Bearing in mind the comments and observations of the Advisory Committee in its report, as well as the previous commitments for the support of AMISOM, the Advisory Committee recommended that the Assembly authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments in the amount of $124 million for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2009.  ACABQ was working on the assumption that a full budget would be prepared for action early in the main part of the sixty-fourth session.  The Advisory Committee also recommended that the Assembly approve an assessment of the above amount for the period.

She added that ACABQ stressed, however, that its recommendation on commitment authority in no way prejudged its future position on the structure, number and level of posts or other resources intended for the provision of support for AMISOM, or a future United Nations peacekeeping operation in Somalia.

ELSA DE JESUS PATACA ( Angola), speaking on behalf of the African Group, addressed the issue of maintaining AMISOM until 31 January 2010.  She pointed out that the Security Council had requested the Secretary-General to continue to provide the African Union Mission with logistical support, technical and expert advice through the existing United Nations planning team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  In that regard, the Group welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal for a commitment authority of $185.67 million from 1 July to 31 December, pending submission to the Assembly of the proposed budget.

She said the African Group agreed with the Secretary-General that, without logistical support from the United Nations and donor assistance for AMISOM’s requirements, the Mission would not reach its mandated strength of 8,000 troops and 270 civilian police.  It was critical that the resource package be approved and that the package was delivered in a timely manner.

She said the Group welcomed and supported the Secretary-General’s proposals, and welcomed ACABQ’s recommendations on that matter.  It took note of the fact that Somalia planners in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations continued to plan for an eventual peacekeeping operation in the country, and that the Secretary-General indicated that there was a need for reliable resources for AMISOM.  The Group also noted that Entebbe was providing support to various United Nations missions and activities, and trusted that it would continue to be used to support AMISOM.

United Nations Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS)

Mr. YAMAZAKI introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the revised budget for UNPOS, recalling that a revised budget for 2009 had been submitted for the Assembly’s consideration during the first part of its resumed sixty-third session.  However, since the impact of Security Council resolution 1863 (2009) could not have been reflected in that proposal, the Assembly, while approving four additional security personnel positions contained therein, had requested that a revised budget proposal be submitted.  That proposal was contained in the report before the Committee, and mainly concerned an increase of the UNPOS staffing complement by 17 additional substantive positions in various areas and the establishment of a new Security Sector Development Office, consisting of a Military Advisory Unit and a Police Advisory Unit.  The resulting financial requirements, after taking into account the amounts already appropriated and actual expenditures incurred in 2008, would amount to a net additional appropriation of some $49.36 million under the political affairs budget section and $983,200 under staff assessment, to be offset by the same amount under income from staff assessment.

Ms. McLURG introduced the Advisory Committee’s report on UNPOS, saying that the Committee’s recommendations would entail an overall reduction of $808,800 to the proposed revised budget for 2009.  Out of the additional 17 positions proposed, the Committee was recommending approval of 8 posts.  The proposed changes in staffing would result in a reduction of $600,500 and associated operational costs would be reduced by $208,300.

In making its recommendations, ACABQ recognized the importance of deploying UNPOS and other offices to Mogadishu, taking into account the security conditions, as requested in Security Council resolution 1872 (2009).  It also took into account the timing of the submission of the Secretary-General’s report, the ability of the Office to perform its activities in situ on the basis of recent experience, the Secretary-General’s plans as indicated in his report to the Council on 16 April, and the fact that the Secretary-General would be submitting the requirements for special political missions, including UNPOS, at the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session.  Accordingly, the Advisory Committee also recommended that the phased deployment factor for the new positions be increased to 50 per cent, instead of the 20 per cent proposed in the revised budget.

The Advisory Committee also noted the lack of clarity in the respective roles and responsibilities of the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) and UNPOS.  As indicated by the Secretary-General, a coordination mechanism, consisting of UNPOS, UNSOA and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), would be established to consider measures to streamline, ensure information sharing and agree on cost-sharing arrangements.  The Secretary-General’s budget submissions to the sixty-fourth session should provide information in that regard.

She also addressed some of the concerns expressed by the European Union, saying that the Fifth Committee found itself in the final week of its session with some of the Advisory Committee’s reports still being processed for distribution.  In her statement a few weeks ago, she had alluded to the reasons for that and to the need for all the players in the process -- the missions, the Secretariat, ACABQ and the General Assembly -- to rethink the way they planned and did their work, in order to come up with an arrangement that would restore the process initially contemplated when the change in the peacekeeping financing cycle had been approved in resolution 49/233.  That was essential to ensuring that each entity had sufficient time to conduct a proper review.

The problems each year with completing consideration of peacekeeping financing within a prescribed time frame must be met head on before the next round of peacekeeping budgets.  A top priority for the Committee was the receipt of all documentation necessary to its consideration of peacekeeping financing reports by the time its peacekeeping session began in late January or early February.  The Advisory Committee believed that careful consideration must be given to scheduling the meeting of both the Fifth and Advisory Committees to ensure maximum synchronization.  ACABQ stood ready to work with the Fifth Committee, as well as the Secretariat, to overcome the systemic problems encountered when considering the financing of peacekeeping operations.  “Plainly said, it is easy to complain, regret and point fingers, but now it is time to work collectively and find a solution,” she said.

KARLA SAMAYOA-RECARI ( Guatemala) voiced agreement with the Chair of ACABQ, adding that she was ready to “start looking for solutions”.

United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)

Committee Chair GABOR BRODI (Hungary) invited Vice-Chairman Henric Råsbrant (Sweden) to report on progress regarding the draft text on financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (document A/C.5/63/L.45), submitted by Sudan on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China.

In response, Mr. RÅSBRANT said the Committee had not able to agree on a consensus resolution at its informal consultations on the issue.

MOHAMED YOUSIF IBRAHIM ABDELMANNAN ( Sudan) then introduced the resolution on behalf of the Group of 77, noting only that no consensus had been reached on the text, to which the Chair said action would be taken on it at a future meeting.

Other Matters

Under other matters, CARLOS G. RUIZ MASSIEU ( Mexico) recalled that, at the beginning of the session, on behalf of the Rio Group, he had requested clarification on the support for the Human Rights Council for its regular session, which was considered under the pattern of conferences agenda item.  He was concerned about the fact that the Secretariat in Geneva had indicated that it did not have resources to translate the documentation on the universal review of the situation in 13 countries into six official languages.  He was concerned that the Committee had been given no precise information regarding the situation that was emerging concerning the Human Rights Council and asked for clarification. It was important to find a solution, and if the Secretariat had no resources to meet those needs, it was necessary to consider measures to overcome the problem.

Mr. ABELMANNAN (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, inquired about the plans of the Advisory Committee as far as the reports on the budget proposal for 2010-2011 were concerned.  During the main part of the sixty-fourth session, the Fifth Committee was expected to consider the regular budget for the next biennium, and he wanted to be sure that the reports of ACABQ would be provided to Member States before the start of the session.

Responding to those concerns, Ms. McLURG said that ACABQ had begun consideration of the proposed budget today and would continue that work through 24 July.  That was an onerous task, and the Advisory Committee would do its best to fulfil its work within the set time frame.

The Fifth Committee Secretary, MOVSES ABELIAN, said it was up to the Committee to consider the support for Human Rights Council, whether under the pattern of conferences agenda item, or not.  Secretariat officials would be available to answer Member States’ questions during informal consultations.  As for the documentation on the proposed 2010-2011 budget, all its fascicles would be available in all official languages early next week.

Responding to Ms. McLurg, HESHAM MOHAMED EMAN AFIFI ( Egypt) said he had “done the math” and concluded that there was 0.9 of a day left to consider remaining reports, which amounted to a “mission impossible”.  In his view, the issue merited further discussion.

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