As United Nations Peacekeeping Portfolio Continues to Grow, Speakers in Fifth Committee Welcome Efforts to ‘Do More with Less’
As United Nations Peacekeeping Portfolio Continues to Grow, Speakers in Fifth Committee Welcome Efforts to ‘Do More with Less’
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
33rd Meeting (AM)
As United Nations Peacekeeping Portfolio Continues to Grow, Speakers
in Fifth Committee Welcome Efforts to ‘Do More with Less’
Support Voiced for Global Field Support Strategy, Reviews of Long-Vacant Posts,
Troop Cost Reimbursement Rates to Sustain Ability to Train, Maintain Peacekeepers
Speakers lauded last year’s launch of the global field support strategy and called for its further implementation as the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning considered cross-cutting administrative and budgetary aspects of financing United Nations peacekeeping operations.
The Republic of Korea’s representative, noting that many Member States had been tightening their belts recently, welcomed efforts to “do more with less” in peacekeeping and supported consecutive implementation of the strategy’s four pillars — financing, predefined modules and service packages, service centres and human resources — to ensure cost efficiency and transparency in management. He said the standardized funding model, proposed as part of the strategy, was fundamental for expediting the budget process for the first year of peacekeeping operations.
China’s representative expressed hope that the strategy’s implementation would, among other things, help achieve accountability, reinforce financial management, ensure effective use of peacekeeping resources and strengthen training for peacekeepers. He called for timely information about its impact, including an account of expenses, achievements and baselines.
The strategy was leading in the right direction, said Switzerland’s representative, who also spoke on behalf of Liechtenstein. Upcoming discussions would be an opportunity to learn more about the creation of the governance structure, the lessons learned in setting up the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, and the mapping exercise carried out in relation to both the Regional and Global Service Centres.
A number of troop-contributing countries expressed worries that troop cost reimbursement rates had not been reviewed since 1992 and had not increased since 2002, seriously thwarting their ability to train and maintain troops in peacekeeping operations. They urged expediting reimbursements to troop-contributing countries that had additional burdens, owing to overdue payments by Member States of their assessments. They also sought approval by the General Assembly of an ad hoc increase during the current session, as well as the setting up of an automatic periodic mechanism for the level of compensation for death and disability to adjust for inflation and cost-of-living changes.
Peacekeeping illustrated how the United Nations could help Member States save money while achieving the common objective of global peace and security through its comparatively efficient, cost-effective missions, suggested the representatives of Pakistan and Bangladesh. The latter pointed to studies showing an 87.5 per cent success rate for United Nations-led peacekeeping missions versus a 50 per cent rate for more deep-pocketed peace operations. He noted the proposed 3 per cent budget cut for United Nations missions amid the significant operational challenges facing some of them, and cautioned against slashing budget levels to the point where peacekeeping support services were jeopardized.
While noting the call for an ad hoc increase in reimbursement rates, Hungary’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she was not convinced that a sufficient evidence-based case had been made that suggested that the Committee should diverge from the process agreed in 2009 by the Assembly and begun under resolution 63/285 concerning recruitment and staffing.
Some speakers commented on the proposed budget level for peacekeeping for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012, which was estimated at $7.6 billion, nearly the same amount as the previous period. Japan’s representative said there was no room for complacency given the difficult global financial climate. Noting that the proposed 2011/12 budget had efficiency gains of only $24 million and that 239 international staff posts in peacekeeping had remained vacant for more than a year, he said greater efficiency and a review of long-vacant posts could render more savings without hindering implementation of peacekeeping mandates.
Other speakers expressed concern over continued sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers, as revealed in the Secretary-General’s report on that subject. Canada’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand (CANZ), said that despite the overall drop in reported cases, the increase in egregious cases, particularly those involving minors, was unacceptable. He pledged to continue pursuing “robust outcomes” in the context of the cross-cutting resolution to enforce the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation. Costa Rica’s representative called for disciplinary measures, including dismissal for proven transgressions, and criticized the insufficient information available to Member States on investigations and their results.
Also today, the Committee heard the introduction of the Secretary-General’s report on the overview of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations and his note on the proposed budgetary levels for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 by Jun Yamazaki, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller of the United Nations.
Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, introduced the reports on the global field support strategy, air operations and training in peacekeeping. Ruth de Miranda, Chief of the Human Resources Policy Service of the Office of Human Resources Management, introduced the report on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.
Collen Kelapile, Chair, Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced the ACABQ report on cross-cutting issues related to United Nations peacekeeping operations. Carman Lapointe, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), introduced the OIOS report on activities related to peacekeeping operations during the 12-month period ending 31 December 2010.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Argentina (on behalf of the “Group of 77” and developing countries), Senegal and the Russian Federation.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., on Thursday, 5 May, to continue its work.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to consider cross-cutting administrative and budgetary aspects of financing United Nations peacekeeping operations.
It had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the overview of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations: budget performance for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 and budget for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 (document A/65/715), which also gives updates on implementing requests in Assembly resolution 64/269 and outlines management initiatives proposed by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support for 2011/12. It includes sections on the status of the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund, management of contingent-owned equipment, liabilities to troop- and formed police-contributing countries, and death and disability compensation.
According to the report, total expenditures for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 totalled $7.58 billion, 5.1 per cent less than the total approved budget of $7.98 billion, exclusive of budgeted voluntary contributions in kind. Voluntary contributions totalled $8.6 million, 19 per cent less than the total budgeted amount of $10.6 million. Financial resources for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 are estimated at $7.6 billion, exclusive of voluntary contributions in kind of $6.4 million.
The Secretary-General’s note on the proposed budgetary levels for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 (document A/C.5/65/17) lists resource requirements for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), as well as for the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy. According to the note, total resources requirements are $7.6 billion, including $7.39 billion (net) plus $201.6 million in staff assessment income and $6.42 million in voluntary contributions in kind.
The Secretary-General’s report on progress in the implementation of the global field support strategy (document A/65/643) gives an overview of activities and results during the first five months of the strategy — which intends to ensure that field resources are used efficiently and effectively. It includes information on the strategy’s four main pillars: financing; predefined modules and service packages; service centres; and human resources. The report notes considerable progress in that regard since General Assembly resolution 64/269, adopted on 24 June 2010, provided clear guidance on its implementation.
It states that the first service package, a module for a 200-person camp, is being defined in consultation with Member States and field missions and that five specific functions have been identified for Member States’ consideration to be transferred to the Global Service Centre. In addition, a regional service centre has been set up in Entebbe, Uganda, the Global Field Support Strategy Steering Committee is fully functional and the human resources framework is advancing in close coordination with the Office of Human Resources Management.
It further states that, in accordance with section VI, paragraph 11, of resolution 64/269, proposals for a standardized funding model for the first year of operations will be presented in a separate report for the General Assembly’s consideration. It concludes that, moving forward, momentum will be maintained to implement the four pillars while strategic development will be concentrated on the support implications of mission drawdown and liquidation.
The Secretary-General’s report on the standardized funding model of the global field support strategy (document A/65/696 and Corr. 1) recommends endorsement of that model, which ensures the Assembly’s central role in the budget process and creates opportunities for improved financial management through greater budgetary discipline, increased capacity to focus on critical start-up activities and strengthened operational integration and accountability.
In the report, the Secretary-General asks the Assembly to endorse the proposed model for the first year of peacekeeping operations and to use it to consider and take action on the peacekeeping budget proposals during the early part of the session at which they are proposed.
The Assembly would also decide, if a Security Council decision of the start-up or expansion phase of peacekeeping operations results in the need for expenditure, that the Secretary-General is authorized to enter into commitments of up to $150 million from the available balance of the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund and that the cumulative total of outstanding commitment authority for that phase should not exceed the total level of the Fund at any time. The Secretary-General would also be authorized to enter into commitments for the balance of the stores available from the Organization’s strategic deployment stocks and draw upon them.
The Secretary-General’s report on United Nations air operations (document A/65/738), noting Member States’ call for effective air support while controlling costs, examines air operations in the context of the global field support strategy and related initiatives to achieve cost effectiveness. According to the report, the Organization’s aircraft fleet increased from 104 aircraft supporting 15 missions in 2000/01 to 257 aircraft supporting 20 field operations in 2010/11. The direct operating costs also increased exponentially, due in part to external factors. A robust risk-management regime exists to guide overall management of the Organization’s aviation programme. The Secretariat has reviewed the terms and conditions of the letters of assistance, under which Member States provide aircraft to the Organization, to ensure they are equitably compensated.
The Secretary-General’s report on the report on the progress of training in peacekeeping (document A/65/644 and Corr. 1) illustrates improvements made in all phases of the training cycle, including the identification and prioritization of training needs, setting of standards, ensuring efficient delivery and outlining new systems for monitoring and evaluating the impact of training, including methodologies for identifying efficiency gains resulting from training. It concludes that such training is a strategic investment for the United Nations and the international community. As more comprehensive and better quality data on training’s positive impact becomes available, it should be matched with more consistent and predictable resources.
The Secretary-General’s report on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (document A/65/742) presents data on allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in the United Nations system for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2010 and describes progress in enforcing United Nations standards of conduct. It notes that the number of allegations received dropped from 154 in 2009 to 116 iny2010; 73 per cent of the latter related to personnel deployed in peacekeeping and special political missions supported by the Department of Field Support. After a global review of protection from sexual exploitation and abuse was conducted in June 2010, a task force was established under the direction of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee with a two-year mandate focusing on supporting field activities in three areas. In addition, the Department conducted a comprehensive survey of activities of the Conduct and Discipline Teams and continued efforts to prevent sexual abuse through training and awareness-raising initiatives. The Secretary-General asks the Assembly to take note of his report.
The report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on observations and recommendations on cross-cutting issues related to peacekeeping operations (document A/65/743) addresses matters arising from the Secretary-General’s reports on peacekeeping operations, including reference to recommendations or observations of the Board of Auditors. It also gives ACABQ’s conclusions and recommendations regarding the Secretary-General’s reports on United Nations air operations, progress of training in peacekeeping, special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse, and progress in the implementation of the global field support strategy.
The report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on peacekeeping operations (document A/65/271, part II) covers oversight activities related to peacekeeping from 1 January to 31 December 2010. It notes that OIOS issued 195 oversight reports last year. The recommendations issued represent 46 per cent of all recommendations put forward during that period.
Introduction of Reports
JUN YAMAZAKI, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller of the United Nations, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the overview of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations (document A/65/715) and his note on the proposed budgetary levels for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 (document A/C.5/65/17). He said that over the past year, United Nations peacekeeping had experienced a shift, with MINURCAT closing and other missions consolidating, drawing down or being in transition.
In general, he noted that a decrease in the number of military observers, military contingents and United Nations police was anticipated across several missions during the 2011/12 period. The largest increase in resources for United Nations support in the 2011/12 period would be to African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), for which troop strength would rise from 8,000 to 12,000.
He stated that the note summarized financial information on budget performance for the 2009/10 period, including planned and actual vacancy rates, and proposed levels of resources for the 2011/12 period, including examples of efficiency gains and management initiatives in field missions. The overview report gives updates on budget formulation and presentation, human resource management issues, operational requirements and conduct and discipline.
The total approved budget for the 2009/10 period had been $7.98 billion, inclusive of the United Nations Logistics Base and the support account, he said. The related expenditure amounted to $7.58 billion, resulting in an overall unencumbered balance of $400 million. The overall budget implementation rate was 94.9 per cent, compared to 97.2 per cent for the 2008/09 period.
Continuing, he said that budget implementation rates improved for three operations — United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), UNIFIL and the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) — as well as for the United Nations Logistics Base and the support account for peacekeeping, while they decreased for 11 missions, MINURCAT, MINURSO, MINUSTAH, UNAMID, UNFICYP, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and support for AMISOM. Approximately 40 per cent of the unencumbered balance was due to the uncertainty regarding the future of MINURCAT.
He stated that the total peacekeeping budget level for the 2011/12 period, inclusive of the United Nations Logistics Base and the support account, was estimated at $7.6 billion, which was 3 per cent lower than the approved budget level for the 2010/11 period.
In December 2010, the General Assembly had approved measures on the conditions of staff serving in field missions, which were to take effect on 1 July 2011, he said. Such measures would expand the designation of family duty stations, introduce an additional hardship allowance for staff in non-family duty stations and provide for travel costs for staff in non-family duty stations to visit a designated location in relation to existing rest and recuperation entitlements. In order for peacekeeping operations to absorb the additional costs of the harmonization, estimated at $82.65 million, the initial proposal was to abolish 349 international professional posts and nationalize 330 field service posts across peacekeeping missions.
He said that efficiency gains expected from improvements of the logistical, administrative and security support to missions were estimated at $20.6 million.
SUSANA MALCORRA, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, introduced the reports on the global field support strategy (documents A/65/643 and A/65/696), air operations (document A/65/738), and training in peacekeeping (document A/65/644). She said the reports showed that peacekeeping was in a general trend towards consolidation; no new missions had been mandated during 2010, MINURCAT had just completed its liquidation on 30 April, and the missions in Liberia and Timor-Leste were drawing down and preparing for transition.
At the same time, she said, there were numerous challenges, characterized by austere, remote and volatile operating environments, spoilers and attacks on civilian populations, gaps between mandates and the capabilities required to implement them, and the sustained demands for strategic and operational support to both peacekeeping and special political missions. The challenges presented opportunities for optimizing the way business was done, and her Office was focused on improving and making more efficient field operations worldwide. The global emphasis also presented opportunities for implementing a new service delivery model that fostered standardization to achieve efficiency through specialization, optimization of resources and supply-chain management, and increased transparency and accountability.
She expected that 2011/12 would continue to see high demand across the peacekeeping portfolio, with UNAMID expected to reach full strength. The challenges for the Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had never been more intense, the Security Council had agreed to a 50 per cent increase in the strength of AMISOM and the recovery efforts of MINUSTAH would continue into next year. Resource requirements for the 12 peacekeeping operations along with logistical support for AMISOM, the United Nations Logistics Base and the support account amounted to $7.6 billion.
The costs associated with harmonizing conditions of service as approved by the General Assembly were some $83 million for peacekeeping operations and would be absorbed within current resources, partly by abolishing or nationalizing certain vacant posts. The overall vacancy rate for international posts had declined to 20.2 per cent as of the end of February 2011. She said that property management remained an area of concern, and her Department had introduced key performance indicators and other controls, but that would remain a focus. She described measures to improve environmental management and, turning to air operations, said that the direct operating costs associated with air support in recent years had increased, owing to the rise in the costs for the charter of aircraft, aviation fuel and ancillary support. Initiatives to increase efficiency, therefore, had been introduced.
On training, she said that the relevant report illustrated improvements made in all phases of the training cycle, stressing that peacekeeping training was a strategic investment that rendered personnel more capable of meeting the complex challenges involved in peacekeeping. Such gains were shown, for example, in the decrease in misconduct. In regard to the global field support strategy, she said the report presented an overview of the activities undertaken and results achieved during the first five months of implementation of the four integrated pillars. While the process was still at an early stage, considerable progress had been made, as the report indicated. Details of a core pillar of the strategy, the standard funding model, were also presented in the report. Pledging to maintain the momentum to deliver on objectives reliably and on time, and to enhance accountability, she said her Department continued to rely on Member States’ support.
RUTH DE MIRANDA, Chief of the Human Resources Policy Service of the Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM), introducing the report of the Secretary-General on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (document A/65/742), said that the general decline in the number of allegations of sexual abuse could be attributed to successful measures undertaken to combat the scourge among military personnel, including enhanced training, preventive measures such as welfare and recreational programmes, combined with accountability measures.
She noted that the report included data on alleged abuse, investigations, initiatives undertaken to enforce United Nations standards of conduct, as well as measures to strengthen protection, including prevention, enforcement, remedial action and the production of awareness-raising and public relations materials.
COLLEN KELAPILE, Chair of ACABQ, introduced the ACABQ report on cross-cutting issues related to United Nations peacekeeping operations (document A/65/743). He said that ACABQ shared the Secretary-General’s view that the peacekeeping environment remained dynamic and volatile. The present, more stable level of activity should allow for an intensified focus on how to achieve mandates more effectively and cost efficiently. Consolidation should potentially lead to a further reduction in the overall level of peacekeeping resources.
On human resource management, he said ACABQ expected that the focus would shift to ensuring the effective implementation of changes instituted by the Assembly in recent years and that a demonstrable impact would be seen in areas such as staff recruitment and retention. Regarding actions to absorb the costs related to the harmonization of the conditions of service, ACABQ had no objection to the course of action proposed by the Secretary-General, given the requirement that the absorption of costs not impact operational costs or undermine implementation of mandated programmes. He reiterated the need for regular reviews of long-vacant posts, particularly before Member States requested new posts.
Regarding the Secretary-General’s report on United Nations air operations, he said ACABQ welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to move towards integrated global air fleet management. There was an inherent tension in the current situation, however, where all air assets belonged to a particular mission, with mission leadership being responsible for their utilization and the benefits that could be derived by managing strategic air assets globally. Further consideration should be given on how best to align authority with accountability in the context of global management of United Nations air assets.
Concerning aviation safety, ACABQ recommended that the when considering actions proposed by the Secretary-General, the Assembly should take into account the additional information provided by ACABQ on the development of United Nations common aviation standards by the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU). Regarding the Secretary-General’s report on special measures for the protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, ACABQ welcomed the decline in the number of reported allegations involving peacekeeping personnel during 2010.
Concerning peacekeeping training, he said that despite progress in many areas, more efforts were needed in other aspects, particularly monitoring and evaluation of training activities. He asked for a report on training in the United Nations Secretariat as a whole. Regarding the ACABQ reports on progress in implementing the global field support strategy, he said arrangements put in place for governance and management were a good basis for consultations with Member States and managing the required changes. ACABQ asked the Secretary-General to keep those arrangements under review and to make adjustments as required to ensure their continued operational effectiveness.
ACABQ welcomed progress thus far in the area of predefined modules and service packages and looked forward to receiving an assessment of the first phase of the first module being developed for a standardized 200-person camp, in the context of the next progress report, he said. Regarding the re-profiling of the United Nations Logistics Base as the Global Service Centre, ACABQ recommended approval of the Secretary-General’s proposals for transferring five back-stopping functions from Headquarters to the Global Service Centre in Brindisi.
ACABQ considered, however, that the Secretary-General should further elaborate on his proposals for re-profiling the Base, he said. The Committee also took note of progress thus far in providing common functions from the Regional Service Centre, as well as the governance and management framework of the Centres. It recommended that the Secretary-General be requested to provide an initial assessment of the Centres’ effectiveness in the next performance report.
Regarding the proposed standardized funding model of the global field support strategy, he said that ACABQ encouraged the Secretary-General to further refine the methodology for developing standards to include, in addition to the numerical methods applied in the first phase, an analysis of cost structures as they related to activities and outputs, as well as a functional analysis of existing posts. ACABQ reiterated that the formulation of budget proposals based on a standard funding model should not lessen the requirement for a full justification of the resources proposed for the first year of operation of new missions. It welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to streamline and rationalize the budgetary process.
Finally, he said that ACABQ did not support the Secretary-General’s proposals for expanded commitment authority allowing him access, for a single decision of the Security Council, of up to $150 million each from the available balance of the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund and the strategic deployment stocks. As the Secretary-General indicated that he expected a significant reduction in time required to develop and approve a first-year budget for start-up missions, ACABQ believed that should limit the need for recourse to additional financing.
CARMAN LAPOINTE, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introducing the OIOS report on activities related to peacekeeping operations during the 12-month period ending 31 December 2010 (document A/65/271, part II), pointed to format improvements in the report and reassured the Committee that her Office was committed to improving conditions that impacted the safety and security in peacekeeping operations, noting that many missions were not in compliance with essential security standards and fell short in identifying critical risks. She had therefore urged that critical audit recommendations relating to safety and security of personnel be implemented without delay.
She said that during 2010, out of 195 total reports of the Office, the OIOS Investigation Division had issued a total of 101 reports that examined allegations involving United Nations military and police personnel, as well as staff members and volunteers, on issues from sexual exploitation to assault and corruption. The Inspection and Evaluation Division had conducted programme evaluations in UNMIL and MINUSTAH, as well as a thematic evaluation on cooperation and coordination between the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, and regional organizations, which would be presented to Member States next week.
Major challenges in efforts to improve oversight services ranged from communications and client relations to planning and priority-setting, she said, voicing her commitment to overcoming those challenges and enhancing services. In particular, she was committed to resolving the issue of high vacancy rates in OIOS as a matter of priority. While more than 50 recruitment actions had been completed since September 2010, several vacancies remained; the aim was to fill as many vacancies as possible by the end of the year. Successful candidates had been identified for both D-2-level posts and approved by the Secretary-General. She was optimistic that those two highly qualified individuals would contribute significantly to strengthening OIOS activities at Headquarters and in the field.
JORGE ARGÜELLO (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that cross-cutting resolutions were an important policy tool providing comprehensive guidance on issues common to all peacekeeping missions. In that regard, he emphasized that all peacekeeping missions should be provided with adequate resources for the effective and efficient discharge of their mandates. He was concerned at delays in the provision of adequate resources to some peacekeeping missions, particularly in Africa. He stressed the importance of expediting the reimbursements to troop-contributing countries that bore additional burdens owing to overdue payments by Member States of their assessments.
In a related issue, he said that the General Assembly must approve, during the current session, an increase in troop cost reimbursement rates. He expressed concern at the length of time that had elapsed since the last review of troop costs in 1992 and the subsequent ad hoc increase in 2002. That situation had placed a difficult financial burden on troop-contributing countries and posed a significant threat to the sustainability of their participation in peacekeeping operations. Technical guidance must be provided by the Working Group on contingent-owned equipment. He requested the Secretary-General, together with troop-contributing countries, to expedite data collection needed for related surveys.
He expressed deep concern over increased allegations of misconduct involving civilian personnel acting on behalf of the United Nations, and called on the Secretary-General to ensure that staff members exhibited respect for all cultures. He emphasized the need to prevent allegations of misconduct from damaging the credibility of any United Nations peacekeeping mission or troop-contributing country. Noting the increase in the level of compensation for all categories of uniformed personnel, he stressed the need to establish a periodic review mechanism for the level of compensation for death and disability, taking into account the cost of living. He also stressed the need to eliminate claim backlogs, through simplified procedures and speedy processing. It must be ensured that all those in service of the United Nations were eligible for such compensation.
Expressing deep concern over the matter of abolition of posts, as noted in the ACABQ report, he stressed the need for the Secretary-General to fully abide by Assembly resolution 65/248, which determined that the implementation of the harmonization of the conditions of service must not impact the operational costs or undermine the implementation of mandated programmes and activities.
EVA SCHAFER (Hungary), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she was aware of the arguments presented by some troop-contributing countries in favour of an ad hoc increase in troop cost reimbursement rates, but she was not convinced that a sufficient evidence-based case had been made that suggested that the Committee should diverge from the process agreed in 2009 by the Assembly and begun under resolution 63/285. She underscored the importance of consensus-based decision-making, which had been essential to the Committee’s working methods. She took note of some Member States’ concern that the current troop cost reimbursement rates posed a serious threat to their ability to sustain participation in peacekeeping operations. She shared the concern that the overall sustainability of peacekeeping operations and their financing was of utmost importance.
She noted that the current scale of assessments placed a disproportionate financial burden on some Member States. She trusted that those that could contribute more funds to the Organization, according to their share in the world economy and their capacity to pay, would do so for the next scale period. It was essential to start a process that addressed Member States’ concerns over the Organization’s financial architecture in order to ensure its financial sustainability. “In this regard, the status quo is indeed not an option.”
PHILIPPE LAFORTUNE (Canada), speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand (CANZ), noted that United Nations peacekeeping operations and their budgets were growing in size and complexity, and urged all Member States to pay their assessed contributions on time and in full. The cross-cutting resolution was a valuable vehicle to help promote efficiency and effectiveness in peacekeeping operations, to pursue targeted management reform and to address key thematic issues. Indeed, the resolution was a “rare opportunity” for Member States to provide guidance to the Secretariat on how to do more with less. He stressed the need to ensure that discussions addressed all issues related to operational costs common to the majority of missions. He looked forward to constructive discussions on fuel management, rations and air operations.
He said that despite the overall drop in the number of reported sexual exploitation and abuse cases, the increase in egregious cases, particularly those involving minors, was unacceptable. He was strongly committed to a zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and would continue to pursue robust outcomes on that matter in the context of the cross-cutting resolution. He looked forward to working with partners to adopt a focused text that addressed such key items as the budget process, recruitment, inter-mission cooperation, improvement of business processes and the global field support strategy. It was important to reach consensus on the next stages of developing and implementing that support strategy’s constituent elements. While it was understood that the first year of implementing it would be cost-neutral, it was crucial that the year’s round of decisions enhanced the ability of the Department of Field Support to reinforce peacekeepers and generate efficiencies and savings.
MARCEL KAEGI (Switzerland), speaking also on behalf of Liechtenstein, fully supported the goals of the global field support strategy and appreciated the consultative and transparent approach in its implementation. Forthcoming discussion would provide an opportunity to learn more about specific activities, such as the setting up of the governance structure, and about lessons learned in the setting up of the Entebbe Regional Service Centre. He was also interested in finding out more about the mapping exercise that had been carried out in relation to both the Regional and Global Service Centres. He pledged to work constructively on cooperation in planning the next steps in the strategy.
He looked forward for further work on the standardized funding model, given the recurrent problem of overbudgeting. More information was needed about the link between the standardized model and the utilization of the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund and the strategic deployment stocks. In sum, he said, the global strategy was necessary and leading in the right direction, and he hoped to achieve further progress in that regard during the coming weeks.
SHIN BOO-NAM (Republic of Korea), noting that many Member States had been tightening their belts recently, welcomed efforts to do more with less in peacekeeping and initiate the global field support strategy. He expected that such efforts would continue. He expressed concern, however, over the low budget implementation rate, resulting in unspent funds of more than $406 million. That required stricter financial discipline and more strategic allocation of resources. In face of the unpredictable of budget fluctuations, he suggested that the Secretariat present a provisional estimate for the next three to five years based on current missions’ needs, as the first step in discussing an improved budget process for peacekeeping operations.
He supported consecutive implementation of the pillars of the global field support strategy to ensure cost efficiencies and transparency in management. He also welcomed the proposals for a standardized funding model, which he called fundamental for expediting the budget process for the first year of peacekeeping operations. In closing, he affirmed the primary importance of peacekeeping, as well as the responsibility of Member States to adequately resource it. At the same time, the Secretary-General should make every effort to improve efficiency and effectiveness in budget implementation.
ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON (Pakistan) said that since 2006, his country had been the largest troop-contributing country. Its personnel comprised 10 per cent of all United Nations peacekeepers. He supported the idea of an overview report on peacekeeping, including its operational and related aspects, but he did not support micro-management of peacekeeping operations. In view of the Committee’s compressed agenda, it would be reasonable to consider the overview reports on a biennial basis, giving the Secretary-General time to consolidate and report on progress in implementation. He supported the Department of Field Support’s efforts to further develop the global field support strategy. For Pakistan and other major troop-contributing countries, troop cost reimbursement rates had remained unchanged for too long. Inflation and the cost of training, maintaining and equipping soldiers had put a difficult burden on troop-contributing countries and posed a serious threat to their sustained participation in peacekeeping.
He said that state of affairs, if allowed to continue, would undermine peacekeeping’s effectiveness and the Organization’s credibility. Lack of action in that regard was unjustified. Peacekeeping was a good example of how the United Nations could help Member States save money while achieving the common objective of global peace and security. Implementation of decisions regarding the global field support strategy in the spirit of resolution 64/269 on cross-cutting issues would improve the overall financial and administrative management of peacekeeping missions. Compensation for death and disability must be considered comprehensively and expeditiously, and he called for a periodic review mechanism for the level of that compensation.
There was room for improving representation of troop-contributing countries in top managerial positions, he said, regretting that information in that regard in the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support and peacekeeping missions was absent from the overview reports. He supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to develop a standardized funding model for the Assembly’s pre-approval. He expected it would incorporate essential details to ensure Member States that resources were used in the Organization’s best interest and with all the internal controls and full justification of the Assembly. He did not support the transfer of any functions from Headquarters that required interaction with the troop-contributing countries, and called for maintaining current operational arrangements in that regard.
AKIHIRO OKOCHI (Japan) noted that the proposed budget level for peacekeeping for the 2011/12 period was nearly the same as the previous period. But in view of the difficult financial climate, there was no room for complacency. He stressed that further savings should be possible without hampering implementation of peacekeeping mandates by seeking greater efficiency and reviewing the need for posts that had long remained vacant. He wanted to address in a discussion on cross-cutting issues and each budget proposal the fact that the proposed 2011/12 budget had efficiency gains of only $24 million and that 239 international staff posts in peacekeeping had remained vacant for more than a year. He asked that the financial implication of $82.6 million arising from harmonization of the conditions of service of field staff be absorbed through the abolition and nationalization of international staff posts.
He said that all cross-cutting issues, such as air operations, exchange rates and rotation costs, merited consideration. While lauding implementation of the global field support strategy, he said much remained to be done to ensure more efficient, effective delivery to field missions. He shared ACABQ’s view that in the case of additional functions and services being transferred to the Regional Service Centre, information should be submitted to Members States on efficiency gains and savings by economies of scale expected from the consolidation and centralized provision of back-office functions through a shared service centre. In addition, the reasons for the transfer of functions to the Global Service Centre other than close proximity to field missions must be explained.
BABOU SENE (Senegal), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77, paid tribute to peacekeepers who had lost their lives and pledged his country’s continued commitment to contributing to peacekeeping operations, to help usher in a world of peace and security. He said that the projected peacekeeping budget was justified. Missions must have adequate resources to fulfil their mandates. Budgets could not be negotiated in an overview fashion, and cuts could not be applied universally. However, funds should be managed in an efficient and transparent manner, and therefore the Secretary-General should implement recommendations of oversight services. He urged an intelligent application of the procurement manual with appropriate purchases from developing countries as well as timely reimbursement of troop-contributing countries. He also urged constructive negotiations to allow the return of unspent funds to Member States.
ALEXANDER PANKIN (Russian Federation), noting his country’s contributions to peacekeeping operations, expressed hope for increased accuracy in future budget proposals, taking into account adjustments needed on the ground. He seconded the ACABQ message concerning the critical difference between savings and underexpenditures, which might actually result in the growth of resource requirements. He expected, in addition, that constructive discussions of the financing of peacekeeping operations would cover not only reductions associated with changes in mandates, but also those due to improved use of resources. He pledged to thoroughly examine justifications for budget growth, particularly in regard to operations that had no changes in their mandates.
He also looked forward to constructive discussion of all the aspects of the global field support strategy, backing its objectives and welcoming the continuing dialogue between the Secretariat and the Russian Mission on components of the strategy. Noting discussions on such items in various forums, he underlined the primary role of the Fifth Committee in negotiations on those issues. In particular, the specific mandates of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and the Fifth Committee must be strictly observed. He expressed, in addition, disagreement in certain aspects of Secretariat proposals on resource components of the global field support strategy and procedural changes in aviation services. For that reason, it was necessary to thoroughly involve his delegation in discussion of those issues.
SAUL WEISLEDER (Costa Rica), also associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77, said that efforts to redress sexual exploitation and abuse had been extensive, yet such abuses still continued. As that was unacceptable, all relevant disciplinary measures must be adopted and applied, including dismissal for proven transgressions. There was insufficient information available to Member States on investigations and their results. Accountability must be assured. He pledged his country’s continued focus on the issue.
REN YISHENG (China), also associating himself with the statement of the Group of 77, expressed the hope that the international community would continue to set up peacekeeping operations on the basis of its actual capacity, and continue to stabilize the growth of peacekeeping expenses. In addition, he stressed that the overall budgetary implementation rate should be improved through rigorous management. He realized that certain contingencies made it hard not to overbudget, but budgetary surpluses as high as 5.1 per cent demonstrated that there was a problem. Accurate and timely revised budgets were needed.
In addition, he expressed hope that the Secretariat would take further measures to implement accountability, tighten internal control, reinforce financial management, ensure the effective use of peacekeeping resources and avoid waste, deception, fraud and abuse. At the same time, it was necessary to strengthen human resources management, lower vacancy rates and step up training for peacekeepers. He hoped that the implementation of the global field support strategy would help achieve some of those objectives and would be conducive to the adoption of the standardized model of financing. He looked for timely information about the impact of the strategy, including information on expenses, achievements and baselines. He pledged his country’s continued support to peacekeeping and cooperation in the effort towards effective management.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh) said that as a major troop-contributing country, Bangladesh attached great importance to policy matters related to the administrative and budgetary aspects of financing peacekeeping operations. He urged the Assembly to show the necessary flexibility so that appropriate decisions could be taken during the current session to facilitate the smooth functioning of peacekeeping operations through adequate resources and other support. Extreme caution must be exercised in budget submission to ensure that necessary peacekeeping support services were not jeopardized. He noted the proposed 3 per cent budget cut even amid the significant operational challenges facing some missions. The United Nations provided a comparatively efficient, cost-effective force. He pointed to studies showing that 87.5 per cent of United Nations-led peacekeeping missions had been successful while using less financial resources, as compared to a 50 per cent success rate of other peace operations with more resources.
He stressed the need to expedite reimbursements to troop-contributing countries that had additional burdens, owing to overdue payments by Member States of their assessments. He noted with concern that troop costs had last been reviewed in 1992. The situation had put a difficult financial burden on-troop contributing countries and seriously threatened their sustained participation in peacekeeping. “It comes to us as a sign of discrimination when we see that the salaries and benefits of others working for this Organization are reviewed regularly using some comparators, while troop costs and other reimbursements relating to peacekeepers remain unattended for decades,” he said. He urged the Assembly to approve, during the current session, an increase in troop costs pending conclusion of its revision process. He also stressed the need to create a mechanism that would automatically ensure a periodic review for the level of compensation for death and disability to adjust to cost of living and inflation.
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