Budget Committee Takes Up Reports on New United Nations Online Initiative to Expand Pool of Civilian Experts Assisting Post-Conflict Countries
Budget Committee Takes Up Reports on New United Nations Online Initiative to Expand Pool of Civilian Experts Assisting Post-Conflict Countries
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
17th Meeting (AM)
Budget Committee Takes Up Reports on New United Nations Online Initiative
To Expand Pool of Civilian Experts Assisting Post-Conflict Countries
Also Considers Reports on Organization’s Emergency Management Framework
While generally lauding the aim of the United Nations initiative to expand the pool of civilian experts providing immediate aid to countries emerging from conflict, delegates in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning said the plan lacked specifics on its servicing and resource requirements, as well as performance and development benchmarks.
Committee members overall agreed that the focus should be on strengthening national processes to rebuild areas critical for sustainable peace in post-conflict nations — namely, safety and security, justice, inclusive political processes, core Government functionality and economic revitalization. They noted that capacity gaps existed in those areas, and United Nations internal arrangements for deploying staff to respond to emergency needs in volatile post-crisis circumstances were still as coherent and nimble as they could and should be.
Representatives of several countries called for a clearer timeline and cost implications for implementing the initiative, as well as clarification of the proposed emergency staff deployment facility so they could develop a broader understanding of the proposal’s impact on the wider human resources management framework.
The Russian Federation’s delegate was concerned about the proposal to increase the power of heads of field missions to reallocate 20 per cent of resources for civilian personnel, as such a move could significantly decrease transparency and accountability while increasing expenditures. He was dismayed that, as the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) had pointed out, all large-scale projects presented recently to the Committee lacked clear implementation plans and had budgetary shortcomings.
Similarly, India’s representative said the organizational, financial and human resource implications of such initiatives must be clearer. “Parallels and lessons from similar reform initiatives, such as Umoja, the Global Field Support Strategy, the Capital Master Plan and (the staff) mobility initiative, must become part of our toolkit to examine new projects. A judicious step at the outset will save us multiple demands for course correction later,” he said.
The representative of Pakistan said civilian capacities should supplement, not replace, key peacekeeping functions or take away the latter’s resources allocated for peacekeeping.
Switzerland’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Liechtenstein, said the recently launched CAPMATCH online platform for matching civilian capacity needs in conflict-affected countries could facilitate and enhance South-South cooperation and initiate necessary changes in the approach taken by the global North, as well as the donor community.
But, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Vice Chair of the ACABQ, weighing in with that body’s related report, expressed concern about the limited nature of the current vetting procedures for organizations participating in the CAPMATCH system and asked for more specific proposals on how exposure to risks could be appropriately mitigated through suitable controls. Sarah Cliffe, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Advisor for Civilian Capacities, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on civilian capacity.
Also today, the Committee examined four reports that considered whether to adopt the proposed organizational resilience management system as the United Nations emergency management framework as a way to better prepare it to respond to disruptive events and prevent them from escalating into crises or disasters.
The European Union’s representative supported approving the system and echoed the sentiments of others that Hurricane Sandy, which shut down the Organization’s New York Headquarters for three days in November and caused operational damage, had illustrated the importance of having a fully functional framework in place.
Warren Sachs, Assistant Secretary-General for Central Support Services, introduced the Secretary-General’s related report, which noted solid progress in implementing the system across the Secretariat since it was piloted in 2010. Mr. Massieu, who introduced the ACABQ’s related report, called for performance indicators to measure the system’s impact and a detailed accounting of its full cost to be included in the Secretary-General’s next report on the subject.
István Posta, Inspector of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), who introduced the Secretary-General’s note transmitting the JIU report on business continuity in the United Nations system, said the hurricane had underscored the need to allocate the requisite funds and staff to address weaknesses and fragmentation in the current business continuity system, which was well below internationally recommended standards. In addition, Yasin Samatar, a programme officer of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), introduced the Secretary-General’s note transmitting to the Assembly his comments and those of CEB on the JIU report.
At the outset of the meeting, the Committee adopted by consensus a draft decision which recommended that the General Assembly take note of the Secretary-General’s note that transmitted the statistical report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination on the budgetary and financial situation of the organizations of the United Nations system as contained in document A/67/215.
Committee Chair Miguel Berger ( Germany) paid tribute to Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, the head of the 12-member architect team that designed the United Nations Headquarters in New York, who died earlier this week. He also announced his intention to ask that the Committee’s session be extended until 21 December, Thursday.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Algeria (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Canada (on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), Malaysia, Japan, Norway, Indonesia, United States, Republic of Korea, Cuba and Jordan.
A representative of the European Union also spoke.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 December to discuss the proposed budget outline for the biennium 2014-2015, as well as the programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/67/L.49/Rev.1 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met today to take action on a draft decision on administrative and budgetary coordination of United Nations specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It also met to review efficiency of civilian capacity and to discuss the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013 for organizational resilience management, and the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) on business continuity.
Concerning the draft decision, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s note on the budgetary and financial situation of the organizations of the United Nations system (document (A/67/215), which transmits the eponymous statistical report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB). The twelfth of its kind, the report serves, in line with Assembly resolution 63/311, as a central repository of information on operational activities for development, including disaggregated statistics on all funding sources and expenditures.
Each new release of the survey includes more comprehensive data on revenue and expenses relating to extra-budgetary resources from Governments and non-State donors. The current report also contains a more transparent presentation of revenue, expensed and approved budgets, in line with the International Public Sector Accounting Standard, as well as a new table on total expenses for 2010-2011 by major programme category.
The report provides a breakdown per organization of the United Nations system of the following: approved annual budgets from 2006-2011 (Table 1); total revenue for 2010-2011 (Table 2), voluntary contributions and funding country/area for 2010-2011 (Table 2A), voluntary contributions received from certain non-member State donors for 2010-2011 (Table 2B), voluntary contributions for fiscal 2006-2011 (Table 2C), and donations in kind for 2006-2011; total expenses for 2010-2011 (Table 3), total expenses for 2006-2011 (Table 3A); total assessed contributions for (Table 4); percentage assessments per funding country/area (Table 5); assessments voted and received for current year and prior years’ assessment received per funding country/area (Table 6); collection of assessed contributions for 2010-2011 (Table 7); and working capital funds at year end for 2010-2011 (Table 8).
The Committee considered two reports on civil capacity’s efficiency. The Secretary-General’s report on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict (document A/67/312-S/2012/645) describes progress in implementing the Organization’s civilian capacity initiative since his previous report (document A/66/311-S/2011/527) and it sets out future challenges. It is the second report issued since the Secretary-General commissioned the Senior Advisory Group to independently review such capacity in a bid to expand the pool of expertise that supports immediate capacity development needs of countries emerging from conflict.
Among their support to national ownership priorities in post-conflict and post-crisis transitions, United Nations system organizations have been working in North Africa to aid national planning and the exchange of relevant experiences with other countries on broad political dialogue and electoral processes. In Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, missions and country teams have supported national security and justice institution-building programmes.
The report states that country-level work and partnerships in the past year have given useful insights that can inform future priorities. The Senior Advisory Group has identified continuing capacity gaps in safety and security, justice, inclusive political processes, core Government functionality and economic revitalization. United Nations internal arrangements must be coherent and nimble to respond in volatile post-crisis circumstances. To that end, in Libya, the Organization has used a phased approach to plan and budget for the mission in order to support evolving national needs. In Timor-Leste it has drawn on the capacities of funds and programmes to help ensure implementation of mandated capacity-building activities during the current transitional period.
Work in the past year has underscored the importance of responding adequately to evolving national and operational requirements and making the current regulatory framework more nimble. That includes supporting mission leadership in assessing evolving civilian capacity needs and redeploying resources to change the civilian capacity mix, when required, further developing the use of Government-provided personnel for specialized, time-limited expertise and planning carefully with agencies, funds and programmes to take full account of the capacity-building aspects of mandates. Work is under way to develop more effective arrangements for deploying Secretariat staff to respond to emergency requirements.
The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) weighs in on that matter in its eponymous report (document A/67/583). The ACABQ calls on the Secretary-General to include in future reports specifics concerning the initiative’s precise programmatic, administrative or budgetary implications, which the current report lacks. His report also fails to detail how the proposals of the initiative dovetail with the Organization’s existing capacities, systems and structures or with other reform initiatives.
The ACABQ calls for a clear vision of the desired end-state of the initiative, clearer timelines and what entities will be responsible for delivering, as well as for sufficient information to ensure proper monitoring and oversight. It also recommends careful attention to the initiative’s long-term implementation, and the possible need to enhance existing organizational structures and resource. The initiative’s full cost implications should be clearly presented for the Assembly’s consideration at the outset.
An annex to the report contains a memorandum dated 28 June 2002 from the Assistant Secretary-General, addressed to the Chief Administrative Officers of peacekeeping missions. It sets out the policy for administering allotments for the missions and details updated and expanded flexibility arrangements that enhance the authority and responsibility of Chief Administrative Officers for managing financial resources.
On the topics concerning the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013, the Committee considered four reports. The Secretary-General’s report on the organizational resilience management system: emergency management framework (document A/67/266) summarizes progress in implementing the framework at offices away from Headquarters and field missions, and indicates how it can be extended to agencies, funds and programmes. The Assembly is asked to approve the system, which was piloted in 2010, as the emergency management framework is a way to better prepare for and respond to disruptive events and preclude or inhibit them from intensifying into emergency, crisis or disaster situations. An annex to the report contains a guide to help Departments implement the system.
In its eponymous report (document A/67/608), the ACABQ states it has no objection to the course of action proposed by the Secretary-General and it recommends that the Assembly ask him to submit to its sixty-eighth session a progress report on implementing the system. That report should include detailed information on the steps taken to expand the system to cover the specialized agencies, funds and programmes; more information on the role of the Operations and Crisis Centre; an explanation of how the framework will be implemented at locations without integrated field missions; an assessment of the effectiveness of implementing the system measured against indicators set out in the current report’s annex; a detailed accounting of the system’s full cost; and the realization of economies of scale and the retirement of redundant systems in the performance indicators. The Secretary-General is also asked to identify the system’s project owner.
The Secretary-General’s note (document A/67/83) transmits the report of JIU on business continuity in the United Nations system (JIU/REP/2011/6). JIU conducted a review in 2011 of the Organization’s business continuity policies and plans, experiences and best practices related to their implementation, liaison and coordination mechanisms for emergency preparedness and business continuity, and the functioning and staffing of specialized preparedness and business continuity units for emergency management, including their financing frameworks and funding mechanisms.
The report notes that the Organization’s general level of business continuity preparedness is well below recommended international standards. The report contains nine recommendations to rectify that situation, including one addressed to legislative bodies of the United Nations system’s organizations, seven to their executive heads, and one to the Secretary-General in his capacity as Chairman of CEB. The legislative bodies are asked to provide the requisite financial and human resources to implement, monitor and update approved business continuity plans based on executive heads’ budget proposals.
The Secretary-General’s eponymous note (document A/67/83/Add.1) transmits to the Assembly his comments and those of CEB on JIU’s report. CEB member organizations generally support the JIU report’s conclusions and its nine recommendations, as well as laud the inclusion of lessons learned and best practices.
Some organizations note they have already implemented many of the recommendations or are actively pursing business continuity policies and strategies; some also note the Secretary-General’s report could have been strengthened by calling for legislative bodies to provide mandates for business continuing activities, including the required resources. The report, they say, does not clearly differentiate between recovery and continuity, and while JIU stressed the continuity component, steps required for recovery should have been highlighted also.
Action on Draft
The Committee adopted by consensus a draft decision (document A/C.5/67/L.3) by which it recommended that the Assembly take note of the Secretary-General’s note that transmitted the statistical report of CEB on the budgetary and financial situation of the organizations of the United Nations system as contained in document A/67/215.
Efficiency of administrative, financial functioning of United Nations
SARAH CLIFFE, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser for Civilian Capacities, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict (document A/67/312). It responded to the Assembly’s request in its resolution 66/225, which encouraged the Organization to broaden and deepen the pool of civilian peacebuilding experts, including from countries with relevant experience in post-conflict peacebuilding or democratic transitions. “The Secretary-General’s report outlines that there is no one-size-fits-all model of institutional design, and institutional models cannot be imposed from the outside — but that post-conflict situations frequently do need well-timed and sustained assistance to complete these difficult transition processes,” she said.
The initiative aimed to equip the Organization to better respond to national institution-building requirements in the aftermath of conflict or crisis, she said. The benchmarks it worked towards included transparent guidance on responsibilities and accountabilities for United Nations global focal points in five key gap areas; a working platform for partnerships with Member States to provide expertise and aid within those areas; and improved tools for the United Nations system to access that expertise.
She went on to say that the initiative did not include benchmarks that measured institutional outcomes in all post-conflict or post-crisis countries. But, it aimed to track four to five country situations this year that supported national ownership and innovative partnerships. The benchmarks were piloted before they were scaled up. The measures for financial and managerial agility first looked at ways to strengthen responsiveness to national institution-building requests within the existing regulatory framework before considering any more significant changes to policy or procedures.
For CAPMATCH, an online platform where participants could post requests or available capacities, the Organization first worked with Member States to test pilot participation and results before making proposals for its eventual application, location and resourcing, she said. National ownership was at the heart of the initiative. The first part of the work was to support strong national prioritization processes in Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Libya and Timor-Leste. That had raised important questions about the phasing of United Nations planning to support national decision-making, which was in turn being reflected in amendments to the Integrated Mission Planning Process.
An inter-agency working group led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was drawing on lessons from how the Organization could adapt more to local contexts, draw on South-South exchanges and coordinate capacity-building initiatives more strongly across the United Nations in order to create guidelines, she said. The Field Review Service would examine the feasibility of nationalizing field service posts. Outreach to Member States in the global South had been a particular priority of the pilot phase of the CAPTMATCH online platform launched in September. More than half of the Government organizations registered were from the global South. The platform served to better identify needed capacities and expertise and to diversity the thinking on lessons learned of successful institution-building for conflict prevention and recovery, by supporting Member States in documenting their relevant experiences.
There was room within the current regulatory framework to improve nimbleness, while ensuring the necessary transparency and accountability for decisions in the field, she said. The Organization had rejected the Senior Advisory Group’s recommendation that heads of mission be authorized to shift 20 per cent of civilian personnel to other areas. Instead, the Secretary-General’s report emphasized that missions could and should make changes in the type and composition of civilian capacity by applying existing procedures. The forthcoming peacekeeping overview report would address the Assembly’s request in resolution 66/264 for greater clarity in resource proposals and in the criteria for deploying Government-provided personnel with the legal status of “expert on mission”. The Organization would also report to the Assembly on progress by entities to develop rosters of personnel with civilian capacity needs and on opportunities for more systematic arrangements with such entities.
CARLOS RUIZ MASSEIU, Vice-Chair of the ACABQ, introducing that body’s relevant report (document A/67/583) noted the Secretary-General’s efforts to develop an online platform, CAPMATCH, with the purpose of better matching the demand and supply of specialized civilian capacity in five critical areas, including justice and security and peace. The Advisory Committee expressed some concerns about the limited nature of the current vetting procedures for organizations participating in the online needs matching system and looked forward to receiving more specific proposals on how exposure to risks could be appropriately mitigated through the application of suitable controls, he said. A full-fledged proposal on the system’s servicing and resource requirements, along with performance and development benchmarks, was needed.
Turning to the issue of financial flexibility for its field missions, he said the Committee emphasized the importance of striking an adequate balance between the authority given to heads of United Nations missions and requisite budgetary disciple and control. On the use of Government-provided personnel for time-limited, specialized functions not readily available within the Secretariat, the Advisory Committee was of the view that the guidance under development should specify how such personnel differ from type II gratis personnel and other sources of civilian capacity. A proposed emergency staff deployment facility was at a conceptual stage and needed elaboration before the Advisory Committee could comment on it, he added.
ABDELHAKIM MIHOUBI ( Algeria), speaking for the Group of 77 developing countries and China, supported the Secretary-General’s civilian capacity initiative aimed at improving the United Nations ability to provide assistance to conflict and post-conflict countries. The Group concurred that the process should seek to strengthen and support national ownership by the affected countries. Building national capacities in priority areas — safety and security, justice, inclusive political processes, core Government functionality and economic revitalization — were critical for sustainable peace and development in post-conflict contexts.
The Group also concurred with the view of the ACABQ that many elements of the initiative were still at a conceptual stage. The Advisory Committee had raised important questions and made several important observations and recommendations on how the initiative could be further developed in practical terms, he said. The Group looked forward to receiving further details and proposals related to budgetary and administrative aspects from the Secretary-General. It was essential to have concrete proposals on how to benefit from the potential of the global South to be a key partner in support of peacebuilding objectives through the contribution of civilian expertise to United Nations missions and through a broader framework for South-South and triangular cooperation for peacebuilding in countries emerging from conflict.
CARMEL POWER, a representative of the Delegation of the European Union, strongly supported the basic principles of the civilian capacity initiative and valued the Secretariat’s consultative approach to develop and promote it as demonstrated by the various regional conferences. She welcomed the initiative as a cross-cutting effort aimed to improve the United Nations support to capacity-building in countries emerging from conflict. She encouraged the Secretary-General to continue to broaden and deepen the pool of civilian experts to support the immediate capacity development needs of countries emerging from conflict.
She understood that the Secretary-General’s report A/67/312-S/2012/645 contained further initiatives for consideration by Member States in the Assembly and its subsidiary bodies, including the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and the Fifth Committee. The Secretary-General’s report was directed at multiple audiences and would be considered in different intergovernmental forums. The initiative encompassed different work streams that had administrative and budgetary implications. While the Fifth Committee was the first of those bodies to take up the report, it could not prejudice the outcome of deliberations in those forums. She looked forward to discussing any administrative and budgetary implications that might arise from their decision-making.
CONRAD SHECK (Canada), speaking also for Australia and New Zealand, noted that while national ownership was central to peacebuilding, the international community had been less successful in turning that principle into practice. The delegation supported the Secretary-General’s emphasis on national capacity building, as well as efforts under way in that regard. For example, the United Nations flexible planning had enabled the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to tailor its efforts to better reflect national priorities and respond more effectively to realities on the ground.
Timely access to the right expertise was critical, he said. The United Nations had a role to play in developing wider networks and partnerships to access quickly and efficiently the specialized civilian experts needed. In that regard, he said by way of example that work under way in Liberia to improve support for national institutional building in the justice and security sectors was proof of how a more responsive and nimble United Nations system could contribute to filling critical gaps in post-conflict support. The Secretary-General’s report stressed the need to leverage, nurture and support the development of latent national capacity in and across the global South. Relevant action held promise for strengthening the supply of expertise tailored to the demands of specific situations in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. In that context, his delegations welcomed the contribution of several African states to support Security System reform in Côte d’Ivoire.
MATTHIAS DETTLING ( Switzerland), speaking also for Liechtenstein, highlighted three areas particularly important to his delegation. First, a systematic and coordinated approach was crucial. “Working on civilian capacity forces us to think outside the box — that is outside the United Nations,” he said, underlining the increasingly important role of partnerships in today’s complex peace building environment. He went on to state: “The United Nations is not obliged to address all challenges alone. Instead, responsibility can be shared with other actors while prioritizing a nationally owned process”.
Second, the recently launched CAPMATCH online platform had the potential to facilitate and enhance South-South cooperation and initiate necessary changes in the approach taken by the global North, as well as the donor community, he said. A simple, flexible, and non-bureaucratic system was required to facilitate contacts between the supply and demand sides. Third, financial and managerial arrangements should be sufficiently responsive to evolving and sometimes fast-changing requirements in post-conflict contexts. They should allow for a timely and nimble provision of civilian capacities depending on the specific requirements on the ground at any given moment. While agreeing with the ACABQ that there needed to be a balance between the current delegated authority and requisite budgetary discipline, accountability and internal control, he also felt that a certain degree of flexibility to more effectively respond to evolving needs should be factored in.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said his country had actively participated in international security and related peacebuilding initiatives, including the Peacebuilding Commission’s Guinea Configuration. The Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme was part of the capacity-building initiative to assist developing countries through South-South cooperation. Similarly, Malaysia had been actively involved in facilitating resolution of an internal conflict in Mindanao region of the Philippines. Alongside other partner countries, Malaysia had been advocating the development of human capital and socio-economic activities in Mindanao, he added.
Noting that the administrative and financial aspects had not been fully elaborated in the Secretary-General’s report, he expressed expectations that the report could be further developed with specific proposals in compliance with the Organization’s regulatory framework. Malaysia hoped that further efforts would be taken in determining the full cost implications and timeline for the implementation of the initiative.
HIROSHI ONUMA ( Japan) said his Government supported the civilian capacity initiative, which allowed post-conflict countries to widen the pool of civilian expertise and to facilitate rapid and efficient deployment of expertise. It also welcomed the launch of a new online platform, CAPMATCH, in September, as it built partnerships to support post-conflict recovery, democratic transition and conflict prevention, either bilaterally or with United Nations presence on the ground.
The initiative was cross-cutting in nature and had various aspects that could be discussed, he said. While Japan recognized that much of the initiative was still under development, it felt that it would benefit from the Fifth Committee’s debate on the administrative and budgetary aspects, including those raised by the ACABQ, such as the financial implications that would derive from the global focal point system, the flexibility of changing the mix of civilian capacity and the proposed emergency staff deployment facility.
MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan) backing the statement by Algeria’s representative on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that civilian capacity must enable national ownership, work in global partnership, use expertise in prioritized areas and exercise organizational agility to be nimble in the face of change. The Secretary-General’s report rightly stressed the need to work more closely with host communities, regional organizations and civil society. It outlined pragmatic priorities, he said, noting that its proposals to Member States and external actors, such as civil society organizations and training communities, to help provide more effective civilian support, were lucid and well-articulated.
Judicious implementation of the Assembly’s mandate was vital to achieve the expected results of building effective, relevant post-conflict capacities. Broad acceptance of the process would depend on intergovernmental engagement with Member States. It would be helpful to identify civilian capacities from within a region as a way to “find local solutions to local problems”. Building civilian capacity should be a “resource-neutral” exercise. Civilian capacities should not replace key peacekeeping functions or take away resources allocated for peacekeeping. “We [are] already experiencing a resource-crunch in the peacekeeping field,” he said.
In addition, as peacekeepers were carrying out key peacebuilding functions in various integrated missions, such as in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, civilian capacities should be identified to supplement existing structures, not create parallel ones. He awaited the Secretary-General’s detailed, concrete proposals on the initiative’s desired results, benchmarks and organizational links, as well as its scope, monitoring, oversight, planning and budgeting, in line with the format suitable for well-balanced decision-making.
Several critical areas of the Secretary-General’s proposed emergency staff deployment facility were undefined and needed clarification in order to develop a broader understanding of the proposal’s impact on the broader human resources management framework. He agreed with the ACABQ that it was unclear how the proposed emergency staff deployment facility would affect human resources reform aspects currently under consideration, including the proposed mobility and career development framework, adaptation to the roster-based recruitment mechanism, and the role of central review bodies. He called for details on that matter.
MANJEEV SINGH PURI ( India) said support for national civilian capacities in post-conflict situations was an important imperative, and he strongly supported the proposals that sought to enhance field capacities to contain conflicts. Given the integral nature of field operations and the deep peacekeeping-peacebuilding links, a vibrant deliberation in the General Assembly’s Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) and the Fifth Committee would make the outcomes of the civilian capacity review process inclusive. As civilian initiatives in post-conflict situations sprouted from peacekeeping, the proposals could not be an alternative to peacekeeping.
Given current financial constraints, he said existing work and programmatic streams must be strengthened, as opposed to devising new ones. In that regard, the organizational, financial and human resource implications of the initiatives must be clearer. “Parallels and lessons from similar reform initiatives, such as Umoja, the Global Field Support Strategy, the Capital Master Plan and (the staff) mobility initiative, must become part of our toolkit to examine new projects. A judicious step at the outset will save us multiple demands for course correction later,” he said.
It was an opportune time to move the civilian capacity initiative from the conceptual to the programmatic stage, he said. Its road map and end-state vision, as well as associated timelines, deliverables and measurable indicators must be accessible to Member States. He called for due diligence by the Committee of the civilian capacity review’s programmatic aspects, scope and full cost implications. Verification mechanisms for non-governmental organizations in CAPMATCH must be stringent in order to minimize the risk of damaging the Organization’s reputation. He called for transparent, fair and judicious deployment of the Organization’s scarce resources.
JULIE M. JACOBSEN TAKAHASHI ( Norway) welcomed the fact that work was moving forward in the United Nations quest to seek partnerships and strengthen its cooperation with external institutions, particularly in the global South, to deliver on increasingly complex mandates, and where time was of the essence. She highlighted paragraph 18 of the Secretary-General’s report, which stressed that regional consultations had confirmed a particular interest among conflict- or crisis-affected countries in sharing and learning from others’ comparable experiences. She praised the launch of the CAPMATCH online platform for facilitating better contact between resources and capacity providers. She noted the examples from the field in the Secretary-General’s report that illustrated how the initiative could provide tangible results on the ground. She looked forward to more examples from the field. Norway’s own experience showed that triangular cooperation offered many relevant opportunities. Norway supported several civilian capacity rosters, with huge participation from the South, whose contribution was essential. She was pleased that the same philosophy and the concept of national ownership were at the core of the civilian capacity initiative.
She welcomed last year’s independent civilian capacity review. She was encouraged that the United Nations was already finding ways to better work with relevant expertise in complex missions. She looked forward to continuing cooperation with other Member States, the Secretariat and regional organizations to ensure the best possible use of existing capacities and the development of new capacities in the South. The process must continue to move forward. Much could be done without incurring costs and changing administrative implications. Norway looked forward to discussing with the Committee those steps that would have administrative and budgetary consequences.
YUDHO SASONGKO ( Indonesia) said his Government had taken an active role in the process leading up to the adoption in March this year of General Assembly resolution 66/255 on “Civilian Capacity in the Aftermath of Conflict”. Indonesia, together with Norway and with support from the United Nations civilian capacity team, had held in Bali earlier this year the first regional consultation on strengthening partnership for such capacity. His delegation was interested in discussing further on the details and progress of the CAPMATCH online platform, the mobilization of funding and expertise for national institution building, and access to capacities, particularly the use of Government-provided personnel or civilian staff, among other topics.
For the online needs matching system, Indonesia had provided information on the availability of the nation’s civilian personnel in the areas of core governmental functionality and economic revitalization, as well as in basic security, such as policing. He also underlined the importance of continuing close consultations and collaboration with Member States and other relevant stakeholders in the civilian capacity follow-up process.
STEPHEN LIEBERMAN ( United States) said his delegation was committed to the process agreed on by the General Assembly in resolution 66/255 and recognized that the civilian capacity review was a cross-cutting issue also within the purview of many different intergovernmental bodies beyond the Fifth Committee. He regretted that the debate on civilian capacity originally scheduled in the Assembly on 28 November had been postponed. The United States continued to feel that, given the cross-cutting nature of the issue, it was necessary to have a general discussion on the matter in plenary before the year’s end in order to frame the overall consideration of it in advance of more detailed talks that would occur in the various subsidiary bodies. Guidance on the civilian capacity review should come in the form of a single outcome document negotiated in plenary before the end of the sixty-seventh session which took into account the recommendations of the relevant subsidiary bodies.
He said that his delegation would limit its remarks in the Fifth Committee to administrative and budgetary issues. The Secretariat should make full use of the tools at its disposal to ensure the timely deployment of the requisite capacities, including existing capacities drawn from the global South. The United States expected that when the Secretary-General presented proposals, including an emergency staff deployment facility, to the General Assembly, he would outline related administrative and budgetary implications for consideration by the Fifth Committee.
DAE-JONG YOO ( Republic of Korea) said the end of conflict did not automatically mean peace and development. Rather, stable peace and sustainable development in post-conflict countries could only be achieved when the people themselves could play a leading role in rebuilding their society. Without adequate civilian capacities, sustainable peace and long-term development would remain an illusion. The civilian capacity initiative offered an effective opportunity to address changing needs in the post-conflict countries by mobilizing available civilian capacities and existing tools within the United Nations system in a responsive and timely manner. The Republic of Korea believed the project could make United Nations support to these countries more coherent and coordinated.
ALEXANDER KALUGIN ( Russian Federation) said the United Nations must play an active role in helping States with post-conflict reconstruction. But, that assistance should only take place within clearly defined parameters. The administrative and budgetary aspects of the Secretary-General’s proposed changes raised more questions than answers. The priority should be to ensure due oversight of the work of staff deployed to post-conflict States as part of the mandates conferred by United Nations bodies. Strict compliance with high United Nations standards was important as were administrative rules on their development and how they worked as a whole. He asked for more detailed information on the global focal points and the initiative’s capacity for increasing global accountability. He called for furthering efforts to establish the online platform CAPMATCH. It was unacceptable to launch that system without fully considering all its implications and without further approval from Member States.
He was concerned about the proposal to increase power of heads of field missions to use resources, as that ran counter to the concept of results-based budgeting. Such an initiative could significantly decrease transparency and accountability and increase expenditures. He recognized the importance of organizational planning in developing civilian capacity. He was prepared to discuss all reform initiatives, taking into account all operational and staff aspects. He noted that the ACABQ had pointed out that all large-scale projects presented recently had the same shortcomings, among them a lack of clear implementation plans and budgetary shortcomings.
NORMA GOICOCHEA ESTENOZ ( Cuba) said its position on the subject matter was described in a statement made by Algeria on behalf of the Group of 77 developing nations and China. But, she added that it was vital for Member States to give thorough opinions, and said her delegation commended that the Secretary-General’s efforts to involve the “intergovernmental machinery”. Member States should receive the Secretary-General’s proposals on budgetary and administrative aspects, she said, stressing the important role of the Fifth Committee in considering the issue of civilian capacity.
Turning to the question of South-South cooperation in civilian capacity building, she said relevant activities should be undertaken within the wider framework of South-South cooperation created by the General Assembly. Cuba had been very active in that field. The launch of CAPMATCH, an online needs-matching platform, required an inclusive and intergovernmental approval. The Secretary-General’s report stated that non-governmental organizations not associated with the Economic and Social Council should complete a questionnaire if they wished to participate in the online system. Her delegation was concerned about that vetting process, insisting that more robust accountability and oversight were needed. Cuba also took note that the Secretary-General’s description of the civilian capacity initiative as being “at a conceptual stage”. Cuba would actively participate in the consideration of the initiative as its concept was further refined.
MOH’D KAIS MUFLEH ALBATAYNEH ( Jordan) supported the statements made by the representatives of Indonesia, as well as of Algeria, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. Jordan would engage on this issue with the Committee.
Ms. CLIFFE, responding to Committee members’ statements, said all delegates had highlighted the centrality of national ownership and building national capacities for countries struggling to achieve sustainable peace. She stressed the importance of being very connected to the desire end results. Many delegates had reiterated the importance of best practices and mechanisms. That was very much a function of her Office’s outreach. Civilian capacity assistance, which complemented rather than substituted peacekeeping, was important to the success of many of the Organization’s peacekeeping efforts aimed at enabling national institutions and making them resilient. Many delegates had stressed the conceptual aspects of the initiative. There was important set of discussions on the need to develop proposals further to benefit from the experience in the global South with the CAPMATCH online platform.
Many comments were related to the cross-cutting nature of the initiative, she said. Many underlined the importance of discussions in Fifth Committee, C-34 and the Peacebuiding Commission, as well as the Assembly plenary. It was important to deepen exchanges with Member States and to work within existing structures rather than duplicate them with new ones. She assured delegates the Secretariat worked always through the integrated mission planning processes and with United Nations country teams in order to avoid duplication of structures. Close consultations with Member States were absolutely fundamental.
Programme Budget for Biennium 2012-2013: Organizational Resilience Management System
WARREN SACHS, Assistant Secretary-General for Central Support Services, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the organizational resilience management system: emergency management framework (document A/67/266). He noted solid progress in implementing the system across the Secretariat. For example, the system programme cycle had been completed at Headquarters in New York under the leadership of the Department of Safety and Security and the Department of Management. In addition, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Field Support and the Department of Political Affairs, with support from the Department of Management, initiated a roll-out of the system on a pilot basis in field presences. The system’s implementation had also begun at the United Nations Offices at Geneva and Nairobi. It was expected that all Secretariat locations and field missions would begin implementing it in 2013.
The Secretariat had achieved significant progress in developing and implementing the system, he said. But, the initiative needed to be institutionalized to continue efficiently. The aim was to embed a culture of integrated emergency management across the Secretariat and the United Nations system. If the Assembly approved the system’s arrangements, that vision would be achieved by building on the significant work performed by partner departments and agencies. Its approval would “set a clear organizational strategic path” providing formal recognition and enabling system-wide implementation.
CARLOS RUIZ MASSEIU, Vice-Chair of the ACABQ, said the Advisory Committee looked forward to receiving more information on the soon-to-be operational United Nations Operations and Crisis Centre. The Committee had made recommendations on the use of performance indicators to measure the impact of the organizational resilience management system, at both the macro and micro levels. The Committee had been informed that the system had been and would continue to be implemented using existing resources. But, it was important the actual cost of the initiative be documented. Accordingly, the ACABQ was recommending that the General Assembly request the Secretary-General to provide a detailed accounting of the full cost of the system in his next report.
Turning to Hurricane Sandy, which had affected Headquarters in New York, he stressed the importance of ensuring that Member States and staff receive updated information in the event of emergencies affecting the Organization. The Advisory Committee welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to convene a senior-level task force to examine lessons learned and the requirement for additional emergency response measures. In that regard, the Advisory Committee recommended that the Assembly request the Secretary-General to submit a report on the outcome of the task force’s work during the first part of the resumed current session. The ACABQ had no objection to the course of action proposed by the Secretary-General, namely approval by the General Assembly of the organizational resilience management system approach as the emergency management framework. The Advisory Committee also recommended that the Assembly request the Secretary-General to present a report on progress in the system implementation.
ISTVÁN POSTA, JIU Inspector, introduced the Secretary-General’s note (document A/67/83), transmitting the report of JIU on business continuity in the United Nations system. The proposal for the 2011 review of business continuity was supported by most organizations in the light of such real-life events that interrupted business, such as the earthquake in Santiago de Chile, the Arab Spring in Egypt and the floods in Copenhagen. The report included lessons learned from those events. Its major finding was that the general level of business preparedness in United Nations organizations was well below the level recommended by relevant international standards, with only a handful of them having started business continuity implementation in a comprehensive way. Most were just recognizing it as an issue that must be addressed. Senior management lacked understanding of the issue, which further caused inadequate political and financial support from Member States. Even when major interruptions occurred, assigning resources for them or drawing lessons learned were not a priority.
Several weaknesses were identified, he said. Different elements of business continuity were handled in isolation instead of holistically. Criteria for prioritizing critical functions and staff performing them were missing, resulting in a large number of activities deemed critical. Recovery time objectives tended to be unrealistically short and when resuming activities depended on information and communications technology, usually there was a gap between the requirements in the business continuity plan and what technology offices could deliver. The report concluded that to improve the low level of business continuity management in United Nations organizations, stronger senior leadership commitment and Member State support was needed, as were dedicated human and financial resources, and policies and strategies for implementation.
The review revealed that most organizations lacked such resources at Headquarters to give adequate technical guidance and aid to their field offices, he said. Nor was there any close cooperation among United Nations entities in the field, although they mostly faced the same risks. The report recommended that the scope of business continuity plans be organization-wide and have a mechanism for oversight and control to ensure coherence. The inspectors also found that insufficient assignment of responsibility and the lack of accountability were damaging successful implementation. General awareness of business continuity among United Nations staff was low and no sufficient training was offered.
Moreover, interagency cooperation was weak and ad hoc, he said. Without adequate resources, business continuity plans became outdated, obsolete and eventually a waste of the original invested resource. The JIU report called for the legislative bodies to provide, on the basis of executive heads’ budget proposals, proper resources to carry out required business continuity activities. “I think the message of this report is even more actual and mandatory after having the experiences of hurricane Sandy,” he said.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s note (document A/67/83/Add.1) transmitting to the Assembly his comments and those of CEB on the JIU report, YASIN SAMATAR, Programme Officer of the CEB Secretariat, said business continuity remained a critical component in the planning of operations for United Nations entities. The report had taken on enhanced relevance due to the recent weather events in New York. Organizations in the United Nations system generally supported the recommendations made in the JIU report and appreciated the inclusion of lessons learned and best practices. Most of them agreed with all nine recommendations and supported their implementation while some indicated that they had already implemented many of the recommendations or that they were actively pursuing business continuity policies and strategies. Despite minor reservations about some of the recommendations, the report was welcome and served as a useful guide to the further development of that crucial capability.
FRANCESCO PRESUTTI, a representative of the delegation of the European Union, welcomed the progress made in developing and implementing a comprehensive emergency management approach. The bloc supported the approval of the organizational resilience management system as the emergency management framework and welcomed the Secretariat’s intention to use existing resources for the continued development of the system. In that context, the delegation sought additional information on a range of issues related to the framework.
He went on to underscore the importance of having a fully functional framework in place, as recently demonstrated by the emergency created by Hurricane Sandy. Certain critical services had not functioned for a few hours and serious communication issues were experienced by the permanent missions to the United Nations in New York, as well as by the public and the press. That was an opportunity to draw lessons and take them into account in updating and improving the Emergency Management Framework.
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