Fifth Committee Takes Up Peacekeeping Budget Proposals for 10 Additional Missions for 2012/13, With a Number of Delegates Arguing Against Across-the-Board Cuts

10 May 2012
GA/AB/4029

Fifth Committee Takes Up Peacekeeping Budget Proposals for 10 Additional Missions for 2012/13, With a Number of Delegates Arguing Against Across-the-Board Cuts

10 May 2012
General Assembly
GA/AB/4029
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

33rd Meeting (AM)

Fifth Committee Takes Up Peacekeeping Budget Proposals for 10 Additional Missions

for 2012/13, With a Number of Delegates Arguing Against Across-the-Board Cuts

As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) scrutinized the budget proposals today for 10 peacekeeping operations for the fiscal year 2012/13, several delegates argued against across-the-board cuts and warned that reductions in Haiti, Côte d’Ivoire, South Sudan and Kosovo could jeopardize the ability of the “blue helmets” in those countries to implement their mandates.

Several Latin American countries took issue with the proposed cuts to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), particularly for its community violence reduction programme aimed at mitigating conflict in violence-ridden neighbourhoods and camps for internally displaced persons, as well as for fuel and rations.

Guatemala’s representative said that despite progress in rebuilding Haiti since its devastating 2010 earthquake, significant challenges remained, including the threat of resurgence in gang violence and organized crime in some parts of the country.  Brazil’s representative agreed and said MINUSTAH’s continued strong presence was vital to overcome that menace, as well as hurdles to training and equipping Haiti’s National Police and strengthening national institutions. 

Chile’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said sufficient funding was necessary to continue implementing quick impact projects, which went a long way towards improving MINUSTAH’s relationship with the local population.  He encouraged the Mission to make the best use of available resources, including engineers, to continue supporting the country’s reconstruction and socioeconomic development.

Côte d’Ivoire’s representative, speaking in his national capacity, expressed concern over the proposal to shave off $59.8 million, or 9.3 per cent, of the 2012/13 budget for the United Nations mission in his country, known as UNOCI, as well as the extra $7.34 million reduction recommended by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).  The new Government that had taken office in mid-March had much to do to restore security, achieve national reconciliation and spur economic development, he said.  It needed the mission to support that process, as well as the upcoming municipal and regional elections.  He added that ACABQ’s proposed budget cuts for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security sector reform were a negative sign.

Nigeria’s representative expressed worries that the proposed abolition of 14 posts in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) would impact its implementation.  UNMISS was a vital lifeline for South Sudan, which he likened to a “newborn baby in an intensive care unit” grappling with insecurity in certain areas, continued uncertain relations with Sudan, recurring humanitarian needs and a fragile political situation.  But he did praise the increased budget estimates for UNMISS for the 2012/13 period, which the Mission needed to fulfil its role of strengthening civilian protection and early warning systems, as well as to dispatching police and civilian personnel to high-risk areas.

Serbia’s representative called for an end to the process of eliminating posts in the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) through attrition, as it was not justifiable and would not bring positive results.  As the status-neutral UNMIK was the only acceptable framework in which players in the region could work together to improve the lives of ordinary people in Kosovo, the Mission must be sufficiently staffed and funded.

At the outset of the meeting, María Eugenia Casar, Assistant Secretary-General and United Nations Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports related to MINUSTAH, UNOCI, UNMISS and UNMIK, as well as to the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC)/United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the United Nations Support Office for the African Union Mission in Somalia (UNSOA).

Collen Kelapile, Chair of ACABQ, introduced that body’s corresponding reports, while Carman Lapointe, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced two reports of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) that weighed in on MINUSTAH and MONUC/MONUSCO, respectively.

Also speaking today were representatives of Côte d’Ivoire (on behalf of the African Group), Canada (also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), Senegal, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Mexico, Peru and Norway.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Monday, 14 May, to discuss improving the United Nations financial situation, the support account for peacekeeping operations and the United Nations Logistics Base.

Background

As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to discuss the financing of 10 United Nations peacekeeping operations, it had before it related reports of the Secretary-General, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) (documents A/66/722, A/66/718/Add.12); United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) (documents A/66/616, A/66/753, A/66/718/Add.18); United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) (documents A/66/568, A/66/686, A/66/718/Add.9); United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC)/United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) (documents A/66/652, A/66/723, A/66/718/Add.14 and Corr.1, A/66/741); United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) (documents A/66/658, A/66/745, A/66/718/Add.11, A/66/740); United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (documents A/66/577, A/66/673, A/66/718/Add.7); United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) (documents A/66/602, A/66/691, A/66/718/Add.13);  United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) (documents A/66/733, A/66/718/Add.17); African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (documents A/66/596, A/66/695, A/66/718/Add.16); and financing of the activities arising from Security Council resolution 1863 (2009), which relates to the United Nations Support Office for the African Union Mission in Somalia (UNSOA) (documents A/66/590, A/66/685, A/66/718/Add.19).

Introduction of Reports

MARÍA EUGENIA CASAR, Assistant Secretary-General and United Nations Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports related to budget performance and proposed budgets for the 10 peacekeeping operations as follows:

The proposed budget for UNISFA for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 (document A/66/722) was $256.8 million, up $81.3 million, or 46.3 per cent, from the 2011/12 figure of $175.5 million.  The increase was due to increased requirements for military contingents, operational costs, aircraft and mine detection and clearing services.

The total resources approved by the General Assembly in June 2010 for UNOCI for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 had been $570.3 million; expenditures for the same period had totalled $551.5 million.  That resulted in an unspent balance of $18.8 million, representing a resource utilization rate of 96.7 per cent.  The unutilized balance was primarily due to lower expenditures caused by the delayed deployment of extra military and formed police personnel (document A/66/616).  The proposed budget for UNOCI for the 2012/13 period was $586.2 million, down $59.8 million, or 9.3 per cent, from the 2011/12 figure of $646 million.  The drop was due to reduced requirements for military, police and civilian personnel and operational costs thanks to the completion of the election process and of the construction of new camps, the acquisition of essential equipment and the reconfiguration of the aviation fleet (document A/66/753).

The total resources approved by the Assembly in June 2010 for UNFICYP for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 had been $56.3 million; expenditures for the same period had totalled $55.7 million.  That resulted in an unspent balance of $600,000, representing a resource utilization rate of 99 per cent.  The unutilized balance was due to lower expenditures for military contingents caused by lower actual costs for the rotation of contingent personnel, lower than budgeted cost of rations and reduced requirements for mission subsistence allowance payable to staff officers (document A/66/568).  The proposed budget for UNFICYP for the 2012/13 period was $54.2 million, down $2.3 million, or 4.1 per cent, from the 2011/12 figure of $56.5 million.  The drop was due to reduced requirements for military, police and civilian personnel caused by the decrease in staff assessment scales, revised estimates for common staff costs for international staff and the drop in the budgeted euro to the United States dollar exchange rate applied to national staff costs (document A/66/686).

The total resources approved by the Assembly in June 2010 for MONUSCO for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 had been $1.37 billion; expenditures for the same period had totalled $1.36 billion.  That resulted in an unspent balance of $8.9 million, representing a resource utilization rate of 99.3 per cent.  The unutilized balance was primarily due to lower expenditures for military and police personnel and for the acquisition of vehicles due to the transfer of vehicles from closing missions (document A/66/652).  The proposed budget for MONUSCO for the 2012/13 period was $1.34 billion, down $147.6 million, or 9.9 per cent, from the 2011/12 figure of $1.49 billion.  The drop was due to reduced requirements for military and police personnel, air operations and other supplies, services and equipment classes, resulting from the exclusion of requirements for the elections and the reconfiguration of the Mission’s aircraft fleet, and to reduced requirements for facilities infrastructure and ground transportation (document A/66/723).

The total resources approved by the Assembly in December 2010 for MINUSTAH for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 had been $853.8 million; expenditures for the same period had totalled $810.6 million.  That resulted in an unspent balance of $43.3 million, representing a resource utilization rate of 94.9 per cent.  The unutilized balance was primarily due to lower actual average deployment of formed police personnel, higher actual vacancy rates for temporary staff and lower expenditures for facilities and infrastructure resulting from the cancelled construction of planned camps and unspent balances for rental of premises (document A/66/658).   The proposed budget for MINUSTAH for the 2012/13 period was $644.4 million, down $149.1 million, or 18.8 per cent, from the 2011/12 figure of $793.5 million.  The drop was due to reduced requirements for military and police personnel owing to the reduction in the authorized strength by 1,600 military contingent personnel and 1,150 formed police personnel pursuant to Security Council resolution 2012 (2011), and reduced requirements for civilian personnel and operational costs (document A/66/745).

The total resources approved by the Assembly in June 2010 for UNMIK for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 had been $47.9 million; expenditures for the same period had totalled $47.9 million.  That resulted in an unspent balance of $7,400, representing a resource utilization rate of 100 per cent (document A/66/577).  The proposed budget for UNMIK for the 2012/13 period was $47 million, up $2.1 million, or 4.6 per cent, from the 2011/12 figure of $44.9 million.  The increase was due to increased requirements for civilian personnel owing to revised salary scales for international and national staff, higher average grade level of national staff and the inclusion, pursuant to Assembly resolution 65/248, of travel costs of the rest and recuperation framework for international staff (document A/66/673).

The total resources approved by the Assembly in June 2010 for UNMIL for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 had been $524 million; expenditures for the same period had totalled $512.2 million.  That resulted in an unspent balance of $11.8 million, representing a resource utilization rate of 97.7 per cent.  The unutilized balance was primarily due to a lower-than-budgeted cost of rotation of military contingents, as well as lower-than-budgeted requirements for contingent-owned major equipment and self-sustainment, and lower expenditures for civilian personnel thanks to discontinued payment of hazardous duty station allowance (document A/66/602).  The proposed budget for UNMIL for the 2012/13 period was $502.2 million, down $23.3 million, or 4.4 per cent, from the 2011/12 figure of $525.5 million.  The drop was due to reduced requirements for military and police personnel, exclusion of electoral support and lower guaranteed aircraft and flight hour costs, combined with the limited acquisition of equipment due to the extension of its useful life (document A/66/691).

The proposed budget for UNMISS for the 2012/13 period was $839.8 million, up $117.6 million, or 16.3 per cent, from the 2011/12 figure of $722.1 million, which was based on the standardized funding model.  The increase was due to higher levels of planned deployment of civilian personnel and requirements for fuel, mine action services, construction services and support for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.  The increased requirements were partially offset by reduced requirements for acquisition of equipment due to 2011/12 acquisitions and equipment transferred from closed missions, as well as to reduced provisions for transport of contingent-owned equipment (document A/66/733).

The total resources approved by the Assembly in June 2010 for UNAMID for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 had been $1.81 billion; expenditures for the same period had totalled $1.58 billion.  That resulted in an unspent balance of $224.7 million, representing a resource utilization rate of 87.6 per cent.  Lower expenditures were due to reduced requirements for military and police personnel costs owing to the decrease in the ceiling-man-rate for fresh rations and lower-than-budgeted for contingent-owned major equipment, lower-than-planned expenditures for international staff and a lower-than-planned level of aviation activities (document A/66/596).  The proposed budget for UNAMID for the 2012/13 period was $1.52 billion, down $168.3 million, or 10 per cent, from the 2011/12 figure of $1.69 billion.  The drop was due to reduced requirements for military and police personnel, reduced air transportation requirements owing to the configuration of the operation’s aircraft fleet and lower contractual costs, and reduced construction and equipment acquisition costs, reflecting the completion of capital expenditures needed to bring UNAMID to its full operational capacity (document A/66/695).

The resources approved by the Assembly in June 2010 for UNSOA for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 had been $174.3 million.  In a 28 April 2011 letter, ACABQ concurred with the request for authorization to enter into additional commitments of no more than $35.9 million for that period to meet UNSOA’s extra requirements due to Council decisions, making the total resources approved for UNSOA 210.2 million.  Expenditures for the same period had totalled $210.1 million.  That resulted in an unspent balance of $100,000, representing a resource utilization rate of 99.9 per cent (document A/66/590).  The proposed budget for UNSOA for the 2012/13 period was $438.3 million, up $147.2 million, or 50.6 per cent, from the 2011/12 figure of $291.1 million.  The increase was due to primarily to reimbursements to AMISOM troop-contributing countries for contingent-owned equipment; expansion of the AMISOM authorized force strength by 45 per cent, with uniformed personnel operating in four sectors across south central Somalia; and 80 extra civilian personnel posts (document A/66/685).

COLLEN KELAPILE, Chair of ACABQ, introduced the Advisory Committee’s reports related to the peacekeeping missions on today’s agenda.

He highlighted the Advisory Committee’s recommendation that a review of vehicle and information technology equipment holdings should be conducted for all missions, with a view to aligning holdings with the standard ratios established by the Department of Field Support, taking into account the mandate, complexities, size and specificities of each operation.

On UNISFA, ACABQ recommended reducing the information technology resources budget by $1 million, noting that the proposed resources covered the requirement for a fully staffed mission and did not take into account delayed deployment or vacancy factors.  The approval of the 71 new posts was recommended to enable the Mission’s expanded mandate under Security Council resolution 2024 (2011), which included additional tasks to support the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism and broadened the Mission’s area of operations.

As for UNOCI, the Advisory Committee regarded the proposed vacancy factor of 10 per cent for international posts as not being realistic and recommended that it be adjusted to 15 per cent.  ACABQ had no objection to the Secretary-General’s proposal to abolish 213 temporary positions that had run their course after dealing with the elections and the post-electoral crisis, but recommended further reduction of 3 of the 10 temporary positions approved for 2011/12 and proposed for 2012/13.  Also recommended was the reduction in the provision for travel on training to the appropriated level in the 2011/12 period.  Regarding the UNOCI disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, its budget should be reduced to $20 million for 2012/13, given the past pattern in which programme delays had left a portion of the appropriated fund unspent.  Implementation of recommendations in the special report by the Secretary-General would result in an overall reduction of $10.6 million, he said.

Turning to UNFICYP, the Advisory Committee reiterated its concern about the persistent precariousness of the Force’s financial situation and its potential impact on the timely reimbursement of troop-contributing countries.

With regard to MONUSCO, the Advisory Committee noted that the proposed budget for 2012/13 did not include provisions for supporting the provincial elections in that fiscal period.  ACABQ expected the Mission, which would be asked to provide technical assistance, to limit any subsequent request for additional resources to the minimum.  Given the important functions performed by the Community Liaison Assistants, approval of 113 national General Service positions in the Civil Affairs Section to serve in those functions was recommended.  The Secretary-General had also proposed to reassign 49 national General Service language assistant posts from the support component to the Civil Affairs Section to serve as Community Liaison Assistants.  In the regard, ACABQ expects any additional requirements to be met from approved resources.

Further, the Advisory Committee recommended approval of the $644.4 million proposed budget for MINUSTAH for 2012/13 and took note of the partial drawdown in the post-earthquake surge requirements for military and civilian personnel.  The Secretary-General should examine the long-term necessity of maintaining the Santo Domingo Support Office established in the quake’s aftermath.

On UNMIK, the Advisory Committee recommended approval of the proposed $47 million budget for 2012/13, but expressed concern that the Mission’s cash position stood at $5.1 million as of 13 February 2012, about $6.1 million short of the three-month operating cash reserve of $11.2 million.

As for UNMIL, the Advisory Committee recommended approval of the proposed budget, but noted that a technical assessment mission had been deployed in Liberia in February to analyse various transition reconfiguration strategies following the 2011 elections.  The General Assembly would be hearing the financial and administrative implications for 2012/13 arising from any decision of the Security Council concerning the technical assessment mission.  If those implications were significant, the Secretary-General should consider revising the budget for the Mission.

The Advisory Committee’s recommendations on UNMISS would entail reducing the proposed budget by $126,200.  The Committee expressed a concern that the Mission’s cash position, amounting to $78.7 million, had fallen short of covering the three-month operating cash reserve by $44 million.  ACABQ noted that the Secretary-General had attributed the variance in the projected expenditure from the appropriation broadly to the standardized funding model used to formulate the approved 2011/12 budget for UNMISS.  The approval of the proposed 16 international and 32 national posts, as well as 54 United Nations Volunteer positions, was recommended, with the exception of 4 posts in the Mission Support Division.

On UNAMID, the Advisory Committee recommended cutting the proposed $1.5 billion budget for the Mission by $2.3 million under the consultants, training and ground transportation categories, while noting high vacancy rates for mission posts, as well as the slow progress in implementing construction and engineering projects.

Regarding the United Nations Support Office for the African Union Mission in Somalia (UNSOA), the Advisory Committee recommended reducing the proposed $438 million budget for 2012/13 by $321,700.  The proposed budget included a logistical support package for an expanded AMISOM presence of 17,731 troops and formed police units in four sectors in Somalia.  Under operational costs, ACABQ thought the proposed budget for travel on training to be high and recommended it be reduced by $100,000.  The approval of 40 of the 43 proposed training consultants was recommended.

CARMAN L. LAPOINTE, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced two reports on evaluating current United Nations peacekeeping operations.

The first examined the relevance and effectiveness of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) after the January 2010 earthquake (document A/66/740).  She said the Mission had risen to the suddenly heightened challenge and had responded effectively to the acute needs that significantly exceeded its initial role.  The Mission’s response had been enabled by the dedication of its personnel, staff of many other parts of the United Nations system, as well as by the solidarity and tremendous efforts of the international community.

In 2011, as Haiti had begun to recover and reconstruct, MINUSTAH had realigned its activities, focusing more on maintaining political stability, facilitating the continued delivery of humanitarian assistance while supporting the Haitian National Police, she said.  By mid-year, it was again refocusing on its core mandate of institution-building and capacity development, particularly in the area of the rule of law.  The overall capacity of key institutions had remained weak and the National Police had continued to rely on United Nations Police for extensive operational support.  It was important to note that the Mission, the Haiti Government and the international community all shared responsibility for the strengthening and reform of key institutions.

OIOS had made eight recommendations to the Mission with the intention of providing “constructive feedback”, she said.  The recommendations dealt primarily with human rights and the security sector, including more focus to expedite the early adoption of the proposed Haitian National Police development plan 2012; strengthening a common United Nations approach to supporting rule-of-law initiatives; and releasing more comprehensive human rights monitoring reports on a regular basis.

Turning to the second report (document A/66/741), she said the document examined the performance and achievement of results of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO).  The report outlined several accomplishments, including its support behind two national elections and delivery of humanitarian assistance, as well as introduction of innovative tools and approaches, such as community interaction mechanisms and human rights due diligence.  The report, however, acknowledged slow progress in security sector reform and the rule of law that were holding back achievement of the agreed benchmarks for the Mission’s exit.

OIOS had issued eight recommendations, including one aimed at strengthening oversight over sexual exploitation and abuse.  The objective of the recommendations on the issue was consistent and that was to take all possible steps to truly implement and reinforce the stated “zero-tolerance” policy.  Her Office recognized, as pointed out by the Mission — the largest such operation in the world — that it had indeed achieved a 40 per cent decrease in the number of allegations in 2010/11.  Nevertheless, a 100 per cent decrease in the number of such reports was the only acceptable result in a zero-tolerance system.

Statements

OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reaffirmed his solidarity with Haiti’s Government and people and full support for giving MINUSTAH the requisite resources to properly fulfil its mandate, and to remain as long as needed and welcomed by Haiti’s Government and people.  He opposed any arbitrary reductions in allocating resources to the Mission.  MINUSTAH’s budget should be based on the situation on the ground and its mandate, which was renewed in Council resolution 2012 (2011).  He expressed strong concern over the high vacancy rate and urged the Secretary-General to redouble efforts to lower it.  Latin American and Caribbean States countries were contributing most of MINUSTAH’s military and police personnel, and they were supporting Haiti through bilateral channels, regional organizations and the United Nations by providing technical support, humanitarian aid, medical teams and other forms of support.  To make a positive, lasting contribution to Haiti, the United Nations should focus not only on security aspects, but also on socioeconomic development and institution-building, so as to contribute to stable and lasting peace, as clearly established in MINUSTAH’s renewed mandate.

He acknowledged the Mission’s important role in responding to Haiti’s urgent needs.  He encouraged the Mission to make the best use of available resources, including engineers, to continue supporting the country’s reconstruction and development.  He welcomed implementation of the quick-impact projects and recognized their important contribution to implementing the mandate, particularly by improving MINUSTAH’s relationship with the local population.  Those projects should continue to be implemented in line with the Haitian Government’s priorities.  He supported the community violence reduction programme and opposed the proposed cuts to its budget.  Such projects continued to play a vital role in mitigating conflicts in violence-affected neighbourhoods and camps for internally displaced persons, and were a very important part of the Mission’s mandate.

BROUZ RALPH COFFI (C ôte d’Ivoire), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that, as peacekeeping missions would continue to pursue a clear set of objectives in very dynamic, challenging environments during the 2012/13 period, it was critical that the Committee’s decisions facilitated those missions’ important work.  He stressed the need to give adequate resources to each mission to ensure full and effective mandate implementation.  He noted with concern that, owing to “resource reduction targets”, the Secretary-General’s proposal for most peacekeeping missions reflected significant reductions in 2012/13.  Similarly, the ACABQ had recommended further reductions in resources for various missions.  While committing to carefully scrutinize each proposal and recommendation, he said the Group would reject any arbitrary reductions, measures or initiatives that could undermine mandate implementation and jeopardize peacekeepers’ safety, security and well-being.  The Group was fully determined to work with partners to ensure adequate resources for each mission.

CONRAD SHECK (Canada), who also spoke for Australia and New Zealand, said Haiti still faced a combination of interconnected post-disaster and stabilization challenges requiring both immediate and ongoing attention and remediation.  Progress had been made, but long-term development had remained fragile, due in part to the ongoing political instability and insufficient political will to undertake necessary reforms.  He fully supported the intensification of MINUSTAH’s efforts to foster political consensus around an agenda for national action.

With a substantial reduction in earthquake-response operations expected in the middle of 2012, MINUSTAH would have greater ability to refocus its efforts on stability and institutional capacity-building, particularly in the areas of security, democratic governance — including elections — and the rule of law, he said.  Issues of great concern included the threat to domestic stability posed by the mobilization of armed groups, increased crime and illicit trafficking.  Priority must continue to be given to the development of the Haitian National Police as the primary security institution in Haiti.

The post-earthquake response phase, which had required a temporary increase in the Mission’s staffing, was coming to an end, he said.  Based on the comprehensive security assessment in June 2011, the Secretary-General had recommended a partial reduction of authorized force strength, as well as a reconfiguration of the force, including withdrawal of infantry battalions from the lowest risk areas in Haiti.  The endorsement of the proposed reduction by the Security Council in resolution 2012 (2011) reflected the Council’s judgement that the recommendations had been prudent and well considered and had reflected an accurate evaluation of the overall situation on the ground.  One issue that would merit careful consideration was the future of the Santo Domingo Support Office.  He noted the caution sounded by ACABQ against the potential for duplication of support functions between Mission headquarters in Port-au-Prince and the Support Office, as well as its recommendation that the staffing structure and the budgetary resources for the Support Office should be kept under review. 

FATOU ISIDORA MARA NIANG (Senegal) reiterated her commitment to make available to the United Nations military and police contingents that were well trained and experienced.  She noted the $7.4 billion proposed peacekeeping budget, which was a 5.5 per cent reduction of resources approved for the current financial period.  She called on Member States to allocate sufficient final resources to all missions so they could duly carry out their mandates.  Given the deteriorating security conditions in most areas of operation, the Secretary-General must give his unwavering attention.  Mission officials should be instructed to have appropriate financing.  She opposed any attempt to negotiate peacekeeping budgets as a single global approach.  She expressed serious reservations about applying uniform budgetary cuts to all peacekeeping operations.  She recognized that the current global economic situation called for the Secretary-General’s effective management of peacekeeping operations.  That should be based on the highest principles of transparency.  The Secretary-General should ensure implementation of the relevant recommendations of internal and external oversight bodies concerning peacekeeping management.

She welcomed the recent workshops in developing countries, particularly in Africa, held by the Procurement Division, which had resulted in an increase in the number of companies from the South on the United Nations global vendors’ portal.  The Secretary-General should instruct the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support to take action to ensure a greater portion of bids were given to local or subregional vendors.  On death and disability benefits, she stated the urgent need to comply with paragraphs 4 and 5 of section 2 of Assembly resolution 64/269.  At present, an abnormally long time was taken to process claims.  That situation was due to the fact that the United Nations Medical Service was asking for information on applicants that was irrelevant to their claims.  She called for expediting reimbursement rates to troop-contributing countries.

ENRIQUILLO A DEL ROSARIO CEBALLOS (Dominican Republic), endorsing the statement of Chile made on behalf of CELAC, said his country had consistently provided support for Haiti in collaboration with the United Nations.  In January, Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez and Haiti President Michel Martelly had jointly inaugurated a university in Limonade in northern Haiti.  That university played an important role in supporting the academic and technical development of Haitian people.  In his Government’s view, that institution of higher learning was the best contribution his country could make for the future of Haiti.

Few people believed the challenges were met by solitary efforts, he said, calling for the coordinated efforts of the international community in meeting the urgent needs of the Haitian people.  Since December 2010, the Dominican Republic had shown flexibility by allowing MINUSTAH to operate in its territory, providing Haiti with logistical and administrative support from the Dominican Republic. 

Fortunately, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) had opened an office in the Dominican Republic before the catastrophe had hit Haiti.  But that office’s mandate had been strictly limited to administrative functions for natural disasters.  Expressing concern about that office being seen as a support centre, he said that if the Secretariat wished to expand the mandate of the office, prior consent of the host country was needed, as well as agreement of the General Assembly.

JELENA PLAKALOVIĆ (Serbia) expressed her country’s strong support for UNMIK and noted the necessity of continuous active engagement of the United Nations in the province of Kosovo and Metohija in ensuring security, stability and respect for human rights, as mandated by Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).  The continued presence of the United Nations Mission remained a crucial factor, requiring adequate staffing and financing.  Its status-neutral approach remained the only acceptable framework that could bring stakeholders together, in order to improve the lives of ordinary people in Kosovo.  If UNMIK’s role and capacity could not be strengthened, it must be made sure that it would not be reduced either.  It was also important that UNMIK functioned more efficiently and more proactively in fulfilling its duties of protecting minorities, particularly because the Kosovo situation in that regard was far from satisfactory.

Having in mind that the basic human rights of the non-Albanian population in Kosovo continued to be violated, it was necessary to maintain every post in the Mission that dealt with the status and needs of that population, she said.  The proposal of the Secretary-General to reassign the P-5 post of Senior Political Affairs Officer from the Office for Community Support and Facilitation to the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General as Senior Coordination Officer was unacceptable.  Likewise, the proposal to abolish the post of Senior Political Affairs Officer that dealt with returns was unjustified, as was the proposal to reassign one Field Service post of Information Technology Assistant from the Mitrovica Office to the Office of the Chief of Technical Support Services in Pristina.

In addition, the replacement of the P-2 international post of Report Officer in the Office of Community Support and Facilitation with a national General Service post of Programme Assistant would not bring positive results.  Even if the post was filled by a member of the Serbian community, it could not guarantee “greater trust and better communication”, she said.  That post should remain international.  The process of the attrition of UNMIK through abolishing posts must stop.  All vacant posts, especially those that had been long vacant, should urgently be filled.

YOUSSOUFOU JOSEPH BAMBA (C ôte d’Ivoire), speaking in his national capacity, said the results of the 11 December 2011 legislative elections were certified, and had been followed by the National Assembly’s inaugural session on 12 March 2012 and creation of the new Government on 13 March 2012.  On 17 February 2012, the President of Côte d’Ivoire had been elected to head the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  The new Government was working to strengthen security and establish the rule of law.  The security situation had improved in Abidjan.  But, there were still land conflicts and security difficulties in the northern part of the country near the Liberian border.  He noted major efforts to improve national infrastructure and reform of the coffee industry and mining sector.  Political dialogue with the opposition and national reconciliation efforts were under way.  The Government was fully aware of the need for far-reaching action to achieve national reconciliation and social cohesion, security sector reform, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, national capacity strengthening and humanitarian aid mobilization.

The UNOCI 2012/13 budget must be given the attention it deserved, considering the Mission’s important role in helping to restore security in Côte d’Ivoire, he continued.  He expressed concern over the $59.8 million reduction, or 9.3 per cent, of the budget.  He also lamented the extra $7.34 million reduction recommended by ACABQ.  That was particularly worrisome considering the challenges facing the country, including the need for the United Nations electoral assistance during upcoming municipal and regional elections, he said.  Those elections were an opportunity to strengthen national reconciliation and achieve social cohesion and stability.  The Operation’s budget should be able to cover the assistance needs for local elections, so the Government could implement its decentralization policies.  He also expressed concern over ACABQ’s proposed budget cuts for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and security sector reform.  The new President had taken on the functions of the Defence Minister, in order to speed up implementation of such reform.  He had also set up a working group on security sector reform that would provide its conclusions in three months.  Reducing the budget for such a strategic area would be seen as a negative sign.

FELIX AYIBANUAH DATUOWEI (Nigeria) fully agreed with the Secretary-General’s assessment that the overall situation in South Sudan during the 2012/13 period would remain challenging, influenced by continuing insecurity in parts of the country, uncertain relations with Sudan, recurring humanitarian needs and a fragile political situation.  He also recognized the enormity of the challenges of the country, which was like a “newborn baby in an intensive care unit”.  UNMISS was assuming the position of “crack medical team” committed to resuscitating a patient in critical condition.  The Mission was responsible for strengthening civilian protection, building on the existing early warning system to effectively identify and defuse local tensions, and deploying military, police and civilian personnel to high-risk areas.  Achieving those goals would require considerable budgetary resources, which should be provided as required, he said, praising the increased budget estimates for UNMISS for the 2012/13 fiscal period.

He also stressed the importance of reimbursing troop costs for troop-contributing countries, and warned that the move to borrow $50 million from the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund as of 15 March 2012 did not present a “healthy state of affairs with the available resources”.  The Secretariat and Member States should seriously address the payment of assessed contributions and funds management.  The Department of Field Support must implement the six recommendations of OIOS concerning the Global Field Support Strategy, if it was to achieve the Strategy’s stated goals.  He expressed concern over the proposed abolition of 14 posts in UNMISS, which had not been transparently clarified, and he was concerned about the impact of arbitrary post cuts on UNMISS implementation, considering the “wobbling” status of the Strategy.  The Mission’s vacancy rate was still too high and efforts were needed to fill vacancies.  As implementation of UNMISS was a huge challenge, the Department of Field Support should implement the recommendation of the audit bodies with renewed vigour and focus.

AMAN HASSEN (Ethiopia), aligning with the Côte d’Ivoire statement on behalf of the African Group, said UNISFA was called upon to focus on providing a safe and secure environment that would facilitate safe voluntary returns, delivering humanitarian aid in a peaceful manner and providing support force protection for the establishment of effective functioning of the safe demilitarized border zone.  Due to commendable effectiveness and efficiency, 50 per cent of about 113,000 displaced persons had so far voluntarily returned to their place of origin.  There had been no attacks against humanitarian actors and no reported incidents of intercommunal violence during the migration season.

Given the expanded mandate of UNISFA to support the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, which in turn expanded the mission’s area of operations, the new task would definitely entail an increase in mission support requirements.  His Government was strongly committed to the heavy responsibility the United Nations had for peace between Sudan and South Sudan, as well as to ensure that Abyei would not be a cause for further deterioration between the two parties.  Highlighting logistical and other challenges on the ground, he said ACABQ’s proposed reduction of the budget for UNISFA “is not realistic”.  What the mission needed was more enhanced support in a range of areas, including logistics, administration and technology.

YANERIT MORGAN (Mexico), aligning with Chile’s statement on behalf of CELAC, reiterated her country’s solidarity and commitment with the people and Government of Haiti, and recognized the advances achieved by MINUSTAH and through multiple, bilateral efforts.  “Haiti represents a clear example of the need to attend crisis in an integrated manner,” she said.  It was, therefore, essential to ensure that the Mission received adequate resources to discharge its mandate, based on the reality of the situation on the ground and as long as it was needed and welcomed by the Haitian people and its Government.

She said her delegation had taken note with special interest of the programmatic evaluation prepared by the Office of Internal Oversight Services.  That document contained a thorough evaluation of the achievements and strengths of MINUSTAH, while identifying the important challenges the Mission continued to face.  All efforts should be made to guarantee that the perception of the public corresponded to the important work performed by the Mission.

The Mission should make the most efficient use of its resources to continue promoting projects that contributed to stabilization, such as the ones related to community violence reduction and quick impact projects, as well as those related to reconstruction and development, she said.  Her Government recognized that the reduction of the financial requirement of the Mission related mainly to the reduction of its contingents.  However, it was necessary to ensure that, based on the assessment of the situation on the ground, the Mission was provided with the adequate resources to fulfil its important mandate, as established in Security Council resolution 2012 (2011).

OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala) expressed his country’s commitment to continue contributing to MINUSTAH as a troop-contributing country.  Despite good progress in the political process, Haitian society still faced significant challenges.  MINUSTAH’s role was essential and it must have the requisite support to coordinate efforts with Haitian Government institutions, including to implement quick impact projects aimed at improving capacity to provide services.  The community violence reduction programme in the Secretary-General’s proposal would cost $6 million, which was lower than the $9 million earmarked for the programme during the previous budget period.  While progress in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake had been the rationale for budget reductions for MINUSTAH, there were still some hot spots in the country, such as criminal organized groups that could endanger stability in some areas.  Guatemala was interested in the ongoing success of Haiti and it was committed to Haiti’s full political development.  MINUSTAH’s role in that process was essential.  Sufficient funding should be given to MINUSTAH so it could carry out its mandate of supporting national institutions, stability and development.

SÉRGIO RODRIGUES DOS SANTOS (Brazil) noted the important challenges facing MINUSTAH, including support to train and equip the Haitian National Police, reduce the threat of a resurgence of gang violence and foster local capacity to strengthen Haitian institutions.  By and large, the Secretary-General’s proposed budget corresponded to the Mission’s complex mandate.  He underscored the need to properly fund community violence reduction programmes, based on the situation on the ground.  Such programmes had proven to be critical, effective tools, as well as a prime example of peacekeeping’s ability to adapt to a host country’s specific needs, instead of imposing a one-size-fits-all solution.  MINUSTAH’s use of quick impact projects had also been central to progress made, particularly after the earthquake.  The Mission’s ability to foster security and build local capacities was directly linked to its ability to maintain a dialogue with the local population.  As the quick impact projects were an important part of that equation and contributed to the effective implementation of the mandate, they must be adequately funded and continued.

He expressed concern over some cuts in operational areas of the MINUSTAH 2012/13 budget, particularly reductions for rations and fuel.  Such cuts were not clearly justified, nor did they directly correlate to the situation on the ground.  While it was important to pursue efficiencies in peacekeeping missions, they should always be based on the reality on the ground in each mission.  The Secretary-General’s across-the-board cuts would directly impact troops and their ability to carry out mandated tasks.  He regretted that such a reduction had been proposed in most peacekeeping budgets.  He reiterated Brazil’s strong support for MINUSTAH and its long-standing position that peace would only be achieved by simultaneously addressing the issues of security, national reconciliation and development, and social justice.

ALFREDO CHUQUIHUARA (Peru), aligning with Chile’s statement on behalf of CELAC, expressed concern about a budget reduction for MINUSTAH, saying that any cut must be based on the real needs, not on arbitrary decisions.  Peru called for reducing vacancy rates to enable the Mission to deliver its duties and strengthen its functions.

His country had participated in MINUSTAH actively since its creation in 2004, contributing 366 troops and other staff, including senior officials in the Mission.  Peru was part of the Group of Friends of Haiti, an ad hoc advisory group in the Economic and Social Council, and in the Group of Friends in the Organization of American States.  He highlighted two aspects of peacekeeping activities in Haiti.  The first concerned the continuation of building solid public institutions in the fields of security and development to stabilize the fragile political situation.  The second related to the importance of the Mission in strengthening the rule of law and capacity-building, among others.  Peru wished for MINUSTAH to be seen positively by Haitians, and any problems that would undermine the image of the Mission should be avoided.

JULIE JACOBSEN (Norway) said that less than one year since its independence, South Sudan was facing numerous challenges and opportunities, which in turn had presented challenges to the United Nations peacekeeping operation there.  In scrutinizing the UNMISS budget, it was important to bear in mind that the Mission was still in its early phase.  The country’s situation was dynamic and many of its needs could not be planned for, except by planning for adequate managerial flexibility.  The country had unique infrastructure and mobility challenges.  Ensuring the mobility of the Mission’s personnel was essential to fully implement the mandate; the availability of necessary assets was essential to ensure mobility.  She expressed concern over the negative impact of the absence of critical assets, including military helicopters.  She underscored the importance of the Country Support Bases structure in ensuring civilian protection, which was a central aspect of the Mission’s mandate.  The structure was a new concept that may become a useful model for other missions.  She supported the Mission’s focus on capacity-building, including South-South cooperation to build up central State functions.  That would be essential to long-term peacebuilding in the country.

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