Budget Committee Approves Text Concerning Recommendations on Reimbursement Rates for Peacekeepers, Concluding Resumed Session’s First Part
Budget Committee Approves Text Concerning Recommendations on Reimbursement Rates for Peacekeepers, Concluding Resumed Session’s First Part
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
27th (resumed) & 28th Meetings (AM)
Budget Committee Approves Text Concerning Recommendations on Reimbursement Rates
for Peacekeepers, Concluding Resumed Session’s First Part
Also, Beginning Second Part of Resumed Session, Takes Up
Proposed $7.2 Billion Budget for Peacekeeping Missions in 2013/14
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning took action on a contentious text concerning reimbursement rates to troop-contributing countries that had delayed conclusion of the earlier part of its resumed session, and began the second part of its session, which is aimed at approving a peacekeeping budget for the year 2013/14.
Several delegates hailed the adoption of the text on reimbursement rates as a milestone for strengthening the Organization’s peacekeeping operations, but others expressed concern over some of its implications.
By the terms of the draft, adopted by consensus as the Committee concluded the first part of its resumed session, the General Assembly would adjust troop reimbursement rates for the first time in a decade and approve a series of recommendations by the Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations that was appointed by the Secretary-General to create a credible, predictable and equitable reimbursement system.
“Today’s resolution has laid the foundation to revitalize the global peacekeeping partnership to meet the challenges of peacekeeping today and in the future,” the United States representative said, adding that it was a “first step” in a continuing process of creating a balanced set of tools for improving peacekeeping.
The representative hailed the text for, among other things, authorizing the Secretary-General to pay a premium to peacekeepers and to troop-contributing countries that provided critical enablers that were in short supply, and providing for peacekeeping enhancements and incentives for improving mission readiness to achieve difficult mandates. The text had also set a new standard rotation period to provide greater continuity on the ground and conserve scarce resources, as well as incentives to troop-contributing countries to ensure their troops were fully equipped to meet the challenges of their mandates.
Committee Chair Miguel Berger said the text’s adoption was particularly timely, as the United Nations was set to set up peacekeeping operations in strife-torn Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
But Fiji’s representative, speaking on behalf of Group of 77 and China, expressed strong reservation over the reported link in the Senior Advisory Group’s report between the status of contingent-owned equipment and troop reimbursements, saying such a link had no legal basis and that the related text should not be used as a way to establish such a link.
Togo’s representative found fault with the Senior Advisory Group’s recommendations and said proposals to better deal with the problems facing troop-contributing countries had been blocked by some delegations during the Committee’s negotiations on the text.
Prior to the draft’s adoption, Ameerah Haq, Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support, read out a memorandum of understanding concerning the methodology for updating and revising memoranda between the United Nations and the troop-contributing countries and the related contingent-owned equipment inspection and verification process.
Another consensus text adopted this morning asked the Assembly to endorse ACABQ’s (Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions) conclusions and recommendations concerning the administrative and financial implications of the decisions and recommendations contained in the 2012 report of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC). By another text, adopted without a vote as orally amended, the Assembly would defer until the second part of its resumed sixty-seventh session consideration of the Secretary-General’s and ACABQ’s reports on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict, as well as defer until its sixty-eighth session several reports on procurement, and the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Office for Partnerships.
During the second part of the resumed session, delegates will take up the Secretary-General’s proposed $7.2 billion peacekeeping budget for the period 1 July 2013 to 20 June 2014.
Today’s discussion focused on the administrative, budgetary and financial aspects of closed peacekeeping missions, with speakers stressing the need for adequate time to consider issues facing those missions, particularly the need to resolve the intractable problem of cash deficits.
Côte d’Ivoire’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, expressed concern over the across-the-board cuts proposed by the Secretariat that could affect individual missions and impede mandate implementation. As peacekeepers’ safety and well-being was vital, the concerns of troop-contributing countries over sustaining peacekeeping operations must be addressed effectively.
The European Union’s representative urged the Secretary-General to return to Member States all cash surpluses from closed missions. He also encouraged the Secretariat to ensure that the Global Field Support Strategy launched three years ago in fact was complying with its intended goal of producing economies of scale and savings, strengthening accountability, and improved service delivery regionally and globally.
Japan’s representative lauded the Secretary-General’s efforts to reduce civilian personnel and their costs in some missions, but lamented that the staffing review process had yet to produce the expected results. There was also a need to scrutinize the backstopping requirements under the support account, which had climbed despite a decrease in the total peacekeeping budget.
During the meeting, Secretariat officials introduced reports related to the closed peacekeeping missions. Chandramouli Ramanathan, Deputy Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the updated financial position of closed peacekeeping missions as of 30 June 2012, which contained the Secretary-General’s proposals for settling the outstanding dues to Member States from closed peacekeeping missions with cash deficits. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introduced that body’s related report, which weighed in on the Secretary-General’s proposals, and called on him to find other alternatives to his suggestion to authorize borrowing between active missions.
Also today, Hugh O’Farrell, Director of External Audit and Chair of the Audit Operations Committee, presented the Board of Auditors’ report on peacekeeping operations for the financial year ended 30 June 2012. Pedro Guazo, Director of the Accounts Division of the Department of Management’s Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on implementing the Board of Auditors recommendations, while Mr. Ruiz Massieu introduced ACABQ’s related report.
Mr. Ramanathan also introduced the Secretary-General’s final performance report of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), his report on budget performance of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012, and his report on budget performance of the United Nations Supervision Mission in the Syrian Arab Republic (UNSMIS) for the period from 14 April to 30 June 2012, while Mr. Ruiz Massieu introduced ACABQ’s related reports.
Also speaking today were the representatives of India, Japan, Cuba (on behalf of Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), United Republic of Tanzania, Pakistan, Mexico and Morocco.
The Committee will reconvene on Wednesday, 8 May, to discuss the financing of active peacekeeping mission and the United Nations Logistics Base.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning reconvened the first part of its resumed session of the sixty-seventh session to take action on pending draft resolutions, Special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013 (document A/C.5/67/L.31), Report of the Senior Advisory Group on rates of reimbursement to troops-contributing countries and other issues (document A/C.5/67/L.33) and Questions deferred for future consideration (document A/C.5/67/L.30).
Following action, the Committee will open its second resumed session, which mainly deals with the United Nations peacekeeping operations. The session is scheduled to end on 31 May. A dozen documents were under review for today’s meeting.
The first is the Secretariat’s note on the status of documentation (document A/C.5/67/L.32) during the four-week session, and the Secretary-General’s note on proposed budgetary levels for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014 (document A/C.5/67/17).
Next, the Financial report and audited financial statements and the report of the Board of Auditors (document A/67/5, Vol.II), covering the 12-month period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012, provides audit opinion, a financial overview and key findings. The document also includes recommendations and a follow-up on the implementation of previous recommendations.
In the document, the Board holds that the financial statements present “fairly”, in all material respects, the financial position of the United Nations peacekeeping operations and their financial performance and cash flows for the period ended 30 June 2012.
The report notes that total income increased to $8.02 billion from the previous year’s $7.84 billion, owing to an increase in assessed contributions. Overall expenditure was $7.54 billion, slightly down from the prior year’s $7.57 billion. As a result, there was an income excess of $479 million, up from $266 million a year earlier.
In the report, the Board recognizes the efforts made by the Administration to enhance financial control and management, but identifies weakness and deficiencies, such as inadequate functioning of project governance for the Global Field Support Strategy; insufficient accountability on the part of senior mission management for the implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards; continued deficiencies in asset management; weaknesses in procurement processes; and insufficient consideration of historical trends and other key factors in budget formulation at the mission level. Further, the Board makes recommendations to address those concerns.
Also under consideration today were the Secretary-General’s report on Implementation of the recommendations of the Board of Auditors concerning peacekeeping operations for the financial period ended 30 June 2012 (document A/67/741) and a related Report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (document A/67/782).
The Secretary-General’s report (document A/67/739), accompanied by a related Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) report (document A/67/837), provides updated financial positions of closed peacekeeping missions as of 30 June, 2012.
Delegates also had before them the Secretary-General’s report on final performance report of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (A/67/578) and a related ACABQ report (A/67/780/Add.3); the Secretary-General’s report on budget performance of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 (A/67/586) and a related ACABQ report (A/67/780/Add.13); and the Secretary-General’s report on budget performance of the United Nations Supervision Mission in the Syrian Arab Republic for the period from 14 April to 30 June 2012 (A/67/707) and a related ACABQ report (A/67/780/Add.2).
First Part of Resumed Session
At the outset, the Committee reconvened the first part of its resumed sixty-seventh session to take action on outstanding issues, including draft texts on special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013; administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations; and review of the efficiency of the administrative and budgetary functioning of the United Nations.
First, the Committee adopted by consensus a draft resolution on the administrative and financial implications of the decisions and recommendations contained in the report of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) for 2012 (document A/C.5/67/L.31). By its terms, the Assembly, taking note of the Secretary-General’s related statement, would endorse the conclusions and recommendations contained in the related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.
The Committee then took up a text on the report of the Senior Advisory Group established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 65/289 to consider rates of reimbursement to troop-contributing countries and other related issues (document A/C.5/67/L.33).
In regards to that text, Committee Chair MIGUEL BERGER (Germany) said it was the General Assembly’s understanding that existing rotation arrangements included financial arrangements and that in cases where the Secretary-General determined that operational circumstances and requirements demanded rotation other than every 12 months, the determined rotation would be at the expense of the United Nations. Further, it was the Assembly’s understanding that the provisions of paragraph 108 (b) of the Senior Advisory Group’s report, including supplementation of payment equal to 6.75 per cent of the base rate per month, would apply from 1 April 2013, subject to the draft’s implementation.
AMEERAH HAQ, Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support, then read out a statement on the memorandum concerning the methodology for updating and revising memorandums of understanding and implementing the safeguards inherent in the verification process as it related to “implementation by the Secretariat of paragraphs 9 through 12 of the draft resolution, circulated on 15 April 2013, of the Senior Advisory Group on troop reimbursements”.
That text was then adopted by consensus. By its terms, the Assembly would endorse the ACABQ’s related conclusions and recommendations, approve those of the Senior Advisory Group’s report and ask the Secretary-General to ensure their implementation in line with the provisions of the present resolution set forth in section I and II.
By the terms of section I on rotation, the Assembly would decide, upon the request of any troop-contributing or police-contributing country that currently contributed less than 3 per cent of contingent personnel as of 31 December 2012 to United Nations peacekeeping, to exempt from the application of the recommendations in paragraph 108 (b) of the Senior Advisory Group’s report on individual units currently deployed with rotation periods shorter than 12 months, and permit those units to maintain their existing rotation arrangements with the United Nations until 30 June 2015. Further, the Assembly would decide to exempt the rotation of naval forces from the recommendation in paragraph 108 (b), upon the request of individual troop-contributing countries.
By the terms of section II on absent or non-functional major equipment, the Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to implement recommendation 108 (b), with several considerations, namely that no deduction would be applied until after two consecutive unsatisfactory quarterly contingent-owned equipment verification reports, and in any case not before 31 October 2013, in order to provide contributing countries with sufficient opportunity to address shortfalls.
Further by its terms, no deduction would be made for major equipment that was absent or non-functional for reasons deemed by the Secretariat to be beyond the control of the troop-contributing or police-contributing country. No deduction would be related to absent or non-functional vehicles unless over 10 per cent of the vehicles specified in relevant memorandums of understanding were absent or non-functional. Deductions on account of absent or non-functional contingent-owned equipment would not exceed 35 per cent of reimbursements for any unit in any case.
Mr. BERGER said adoption of the text was a milestone for peacekeeping, and it was especially timely now as the United Nations was poised to send missions to Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He hoped its adoption would further strengthen the peacekeeping partnership.
SAI NAVOTI ( Fiji), speaking on behalf of Group of 77 and China, said the Committee’s negotiations on the subject had been passionate, arduous and long. He expressed his strongest reservation against the reported link in the Senior Advisory Group’s report between the status of contingent-owned equipment and troop reimbursements. “This linkage has no legal basis,” he said, adding that the provision of the resolution constituted “a compromise” that should not be a legal basis for such a link. He had supported the resolution in the spirit of compromise to allow the peacekeeping process to move forward on the basis of the statement just read out by Ms. Haq.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, hailed the resolution’s adoption as an important step towards renewing the peacekeeping partnership. European Union members were significant financial contributors as well as active participants in United Nations peacekeeping, providing uniformed personnel and other capabilities. The agreement reached today was balanced. The draft’s implementation was in the best interests of all Member States as well as that of the United Nations.
JOSEPH TORSELLA ( United States) welcomed adoption of the resolution. Troop-contributing countries had correctly noted that reimbursement rates had not been adjusted in a decade, while major financial troop contributors had justifiably argued that without an empirical basis for understanding costs an increase in reimbursement rates would be arbitrary and indefensible to taxpayers. The resolution had provided for a new streamlined survey process to resolve that conundrum. The resolution and its recommendations were a compromise that provided a balanced set of tools for improving peacekeeping.
He lauded the fact that the text authorized the Secretary-General to pay a premium to peacekeepers and to troop-contributing countries that provided critical enablers that were in short supply, as well as to provide for peacekeeping enhancements and incentives for improving mission readiness to achieve difficult mandates. The text had also set a new standard rotation period to provide greater continuity on the ground and conserve scarce resources, and incentives to troop-contributing countries to ensure their troops were fully equipped with the tools they needed to meet the challenges of their mandates. “Today’s resolution has laid the foundation to revitalize the global peacekeeping partnership to meet the challenges of peacekeeping today and in the future,” he said. It was, however, a “first step” in a continuing process of addressing related challenges.
MANJEEV SINGH PURI (India) fully backed the statement by Fiji’s representative on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
The representative of Togo said some of the Senior Advisory Group’s recommendations were problematic. There was a better way to deal with troop reimbursement. But, the proposals towards that end had been blocked by some delegations. It was inconceivable to think that troop-contributing countries could deal with all the pending problems regarding troop reimbursement on their own. He took note of the text’s adoption, but said the Committee had “missed an opportunity” to deal with troop and equipment sustainability.
TOSHIHIRO AIKI (Japan) welcomed the agreement by Member States on the Senior Advisory Group’s report. The Group’s recommendations and some elements of the resolution just adopted were time-bound. He hoped that the Secretariat would implement them in a timely manner, and that the new system of reimbursements recommended by the Senior Advisory Group’s report would be approved by the Assembly.
The Committee then adopted, as orally amended, and by consensus, a text on questions deferred for future consideration (document A/C.5/67/L.30). By its terms, the Assembly would decide to defer until the second part of its resumed sixty-seventh session consideration of the Report of the Secretary-General on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict (document A/67/312) and the related ACABQ report (document A/67/583). Further, it would decide to defer until its sixty-eighth session the following documents: the Secretary-General’s comprehensive reports on United Nations procurement activities (document A/64/284), procurement governance arrangements within the United Nations (document A/64/284/Add.1), and sustainable procurement (document A/64/284/Add.2); the related ACABQ report (document A/64/501); and the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on the audit of procurement management in the Secretariat (document A/64//369).
Also deferred would be the Secretary-General’s notes transmitting the report of the Joint Inspection Unit entitled “Offshoring in United Nations system organizations: offshore service centres” and his comments and those of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) thereon (document A/65/63 and Add.1); the Secretary-General’s notes transmitting the Joint Inspection Unit report entitled “Environmental profile of the United Nations system of organizations” and his comments and those of the CEB thereon (document A/65/346 and Add.1); the Secretary-General’s reports on United Nations procurement activities (document A/67/683) and the independent procurement challenge system (document A/67/683/Add.2); and his report on the United Nations Office for Partnerships (document A/67/165 and Corr.1).
Second Part of Resumed Session
At the outset, a tentative programme of work was presented to Committee members.
Taking the floor first on that agenda item, SAI NAVOTI (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, hoped that the draft programme of work would consequently be adjusted according to the availability of the relevant documents, as well as the progress and evolution of negotiations during the session.
He noted with regret that the important and thick report of the Board of Auditors was not yet available in its edited form. Recalling Article 10, 15 and 17 of the United Nations Charter, he requested the Secretariat to provide in writing the reasons for that situation and the status of any other outstanding printing jobs of edited documents related to the current Fifth Committee second resumed session.
“The Committee has a heavy agenda to dispense with during the session,” he said, citing the financing of 16 active peacekeeping missions, cross-cutting issues and the support account. The Committee would have to maintain its focus on the critical issues, if it expected to conclude its session in a timely manner.
In addition to examining the proposed budgets of the peacekeeping missions, he felt that the Committee should tackle four priority areas: address comprehensively the systematic and unresolved issues and difficulties faced by the troop-contributing countries, including their underrepresentation; explore options to achieve a fair solution for the unpaid assessments, accounts payable and other liabilities of closed peacekeeping missions, so as to settle claims outstanding in the missions with cash deficits; ensure that the formation, presentation, and approval of the peacekeeping budgets is done on the basis of their mandates and the real situation on ground, and not as arbitrary, across-the-board cost-cutting exercises; and assess the qualitative and quantitative impact and intended benefits of the Secretary-General’s reform initiatives, most importantly the Global Field Support Strategy. “Adequate time should be allocated for the consideration of all agenda items,” he said.
BROUZ RALPH COFFI (C ôte d’Ivoire), speaking on behalf of the African Group, backed the statement by Fiji’s representative, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. He regretted that the printed, edited version of the report of the Board of Auditors’ work was not yet available despite the current session’s heavy workload. Taking into account the pertinent Assembly resolutions and the crucial role of that report during the negotiation on peacekeeping budgets, the detailed reasons of that situation or any other similar situation concerning any other document related to the current session should be brought to Member States’ attention in a transparent way. At least 16 of the 88 documents to be addressed during the session were not yet available in the printed, edited version, despite the Assembly resolutions ruling on document availability for Member States.
The proposed peacekeeping budgets before the Committee should be duly considered in that context, taking into account each mission’s specific mandate and unique circumstances on the ground. He therefore expressed concern over the across-the-board cuts proposed by the Secretariat that may affect each individual mission and impede mandate implementation. Peacekeepers’ safety and well-being was of utmost importance to the Group. It was imperative that concerns raised by troop-contributing countries on the sustainability of peacekeeping operations be addressed effectively. He looked forward to the Secretary-General’s report on concrete proposals and alternatives to address the longstanding issue of outstanding dues to Member States from closed peacekeeping missions with cash deficits.
OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, attached the utmost importance to the discussions on the administrative and budgetary aspects of United Nations peacekeeping operations, and underscored the need to ensure that those missions had the necessary resources to implement their mandates. The Community was particularly interested in reports related to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), budget estimates for special political missions and the Global Field Support Strategy. The Secretariat should take the remedial actions and respond to the successive demands made by Member States regarding the timely submission of reports to Member States in all working languages. His delegation, therefore, called on the Secretariat to make every necessary effort to submit the reports within the set deadlines.
Mr. MAYR-HARTING, Head of Delegation of the European Union, said that its member states actively supported and participated in United Nations peacekeeping operations and other relevant activities worldwide, contributing troops, civilian police and other personnel. But, as the largest collective financial contributor, with its share at 36.76 per cent of the peacekeeping budget, the Union had a great interest in making peacekeeping missions even more efficient and effective, and he expressed his delegation’s intent to examine the budgets of all those missions, as well as the support functions.
The Secretary-General’s proposed budget for peacekeeping missions for the 2013/2014 financial year totalled $7.12 billion, he noted. But, with new mandates agreed, including those for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali, that figure was set to rise significantly. Given the continued difficult economic conditions facing many members of the General Assembly, strict budgetary discipline remained more necessary than ever to ensure that resources were both truly needed and used effectively, efficiently and in an accountable and transparent way.
Based on the updated cash position of the 24 closed peacekeeping missions as of 30 June 2012, he urged the Secretary-General to return to Member States all cash surpluses from the closed missions, and drew urgent attention to the problem of cash deficits of closed missions, for which a satisfactory and sustainable solution was long overdue. In that regard, all Member States should pay their assessed contributions. His delegation encouraged the Secretariat to ensure that the Global Field Support Strategy produced economies of scale and savings, strengthened accountability, and improved delivery of services on a global and regional basis, for a more rapid and effective deployment of missions.
He also wanted to make brief remarks on the items concluded during the first resumed session. He was pleased, for example, that the deliberations started in the main session on human resource reform had been successfully concluded. The measures would ensure implementation of previous reforms and seek improvements in important aspects, including performance appraisal, workforce planning, recruitment, training and human resource systems, as well as a rebalancing of staff-management relations in line with the staff regulations. The Union also welcomed the adoption of a resolution on the Secretary-General’s proposals on a managed mobility policy and looked forward to considering them in the main part of the General Assembly’s sixty-eighth session.
The Union remained committed to providing staff of the United Nations with the appropriate support to allow them to work effectively and safely, especially those working in the most dangerous circumstances. However, “it is unrealistic and unsustainable that United Nations staff members should be artificially insulated from current economic realities,” he said, welcoming a number of first steps taken by the Committee to modernize the management of official travel for staff, and make it more efficient and effective under the current budgetary constraints.
He also welcomed the International Civil Service Commission’s intention to undertake a comprehensive review of the compensation package of all staff members, and encouraged the Commission to take a truly fresh look at the rewards and benefits which new and existing staff currently enjoyed. The Secretary-General had been mandated to explore all options regarding the long-term accommodation needs of United Nations staff and looked forward to discussing the potential solutions in the first resumed session next year. It was regrettable that, due to the lateness of the relevant documentation, the Committee had not been able to begin discussing procurement in the first resumed session. He looked forward to taking it up as soon as possible in the next main session.
Mr. AIKI (Japan) recalled that resolutions on 13 out of 16 items had been agreed on in the first resumed session, a much greater number than those in previous years. Regarding the deliberation of peacekeeping budget proposals, Member States should be prepared to provide adequate capacity and resources to peacekeeping operations for the successful implementation of their mandates to maintain international peace and security. At the same time, the need for efficient, effective and accountable management of those operations could not be over-emphasized, not only due to the current difficult situations of many States, including his own, but, more essentially, because experience showed that redundant resources without adequate management did not often contribute to effective operations and the long-term sustainability of the Organization.
This year, the Secretary-General had indicated that the overall budget was expected to be around $7.2 billion dollars, a 1.4 per cent decrease from the previous year’s budget. That decrease was largely due to reduced requirements stemming from mandate changes of several missions, particularly the closure of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT). Moreover, there was a need to factor in the additional requirements for the peacekeeping operation in Mali, MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali). The total requirements would mostly likely be much bigger. Japan wished to ensure that a budget level would “neither exceed nor fall short of the requirements” for the implementation of each mission’s mandate.
The budget proposal contained a decrease in civilian personnel costs, but it was much smaller than the 7.3 per cent cut for military and police personnel costs. While appreciating the Secretary-General’s efforts to reduce civilian personnel in some missions, his delegation was of the view that the staffing review process had not produced the expected results yet and urged the Secretariat to work further on that. Similarly, there was a need to examine the backstopping requirements under the support account. The support account was on an upward trend, despite a decrease in the total peacekeeping budget. It would be useful to consider a mechanism to ensure the scalability of the support account.
He also alarmed that operational costs had increased 4.5 per cent, despite a decrease in personnel costs and various efficiency gains, encouraging the Secretariat to redouble its efforts in that regard. On the Global Field Support Strategy, it was now appropriate to examine the concrete outcomes and gains of the first three years of the strategy’s implementation.
Mr. TORSELLA ( United States) expressed concern over the limited time scheduled for considering each agenda item of the current session, including the peacekeeping missions’ budgets. He urged the efficient use of the available conference services before the session ended on 31 May. Noting that the United Nations was on track for what could potentially be the highest level of peacekeeping requirements in its history, he welcomed the continuation of initiatives to improve service delivery and reduce operational costs, such as the Global Field Support Strategy, efficiency targets, and prudent asset management decisions. But not enough attention had been given to the numbers, costs and organization of the associated civilian personnel in field missions. The Secretary-General’s review of field service and other staff categories was intended to be comprehensive. He fully expected to receive justifications for the creation, abolition, redeployment, or reclassification of individual posts, as well as a detailed explanation of how the current Council mandate, the situation on the ground, and the current status of mandate deployment necessitated the proposed level of staffing for each discrete mission component, and that such analysis would be able to generate benchmarks for the staffing requirements associated with individual tasks.
Such analysis should be presented periodically, say every two or three years, for every mission, especially after significant changes in mandate, he said. There were considerable differences in staffing levels for the different sections of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), despite their broad similarities in mission size and operating environment. But, he recognized that mission structures varied for several reasons and that the variations between UNMIL and UNOCI may be appropriate. “What we are seeking is not a one-size-fits-all staffing table, but rather a baseline from which we can objectively consider necessary staffing variations for each mission,” he said. Such a review was needed to ensure staff resources were appropriately deployed and that the distribution of staff in a mission reflected current rather than previous requirements. It was also needed considering that, despite the Secretary-General’s request for an overall 2 per cent reduction of civilian staff and United Nations Volunteers, the associated requirements were actually 3 per cent higher than the approved 2012-2013 level. Further, such a review would help minimize risk to civilian personnel in the field as the United Nations deployed in increasingly difficult, dangerous situations.
TUVAKO NATHANIEL MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) said that, in an environment where resources were increasingly becoming scarce, it was surely necessary to explore ways to enhance efficiencies and effectiveness. In undertaking that pursuit, it was also necessary to ensure that missions were responsive to the respective mandates by resourcing them sufficiently. His delegation placed particular emphasis on the report of the Board of Auditors, the expanded mandate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the financing of the United Nations support to the African Union Mission in Somalia, and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, as well as the upcoming new mission in Mali.
Also, his delegation was concerned about the continued late issuance of documentation. The report of the Board of Auditors had been received just early this morning, for example. That enduring problem impeded the timely consideration of important items and thus the Committee’s efficiency, he pointed out, urging the Secretariat to address those shortcomings as a priority.
As expressed by the African Group, his delegation stressed that all negotiations and deliberations should be conducted in an open, inclusive and transparent manner, and cautioned against decisions conceived in small configurations, a practice that had proven inefficient and had sometimes created confusion and mistrust among delegates. “We must shun any practices that seem to undermine the nature and essence of the intergovernmental processes we must champion and uphold,” he said. In addition to political support, resources and capabilities were critical to the success of peacekeeping and political missions, and it was the responsibility of the Fifth Committee to ensure that those resources were adequate and made available in a timely fashion.
MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan) said his country had suffered the loss of more peacekeepers than almost any other country that contributes troops. He backed the statement by Fiji’s representative on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. The Committee must utilize its programme of work effectively to ensure that gaps between required and available resources were bridged on the basis of peacekeeping mandates and the real situation on the ground. The notion of reform and efficiency should not be used as an excuse to cut back on resources. The Committee must address comprehensively systemic and unresolved issues, including reimbursement rates and the underrepresentation of troop-contributing countries. It must assess the real impact of major business transformation projects aimed at improving the quality of business services in the field to advance their operational efficiency. He lauded adoption of the Senior Advisory Group’s report, saying it would contribute significantly to peacekeeping management.
YANERIT MORGAN (Mexico) said that the discussion at the current session would be “extremely complex” as the budget for the missions would exceed $8 billion. Her delegation welcomed the proposal to streamline the peacekeeping budget, because it would provide greater clarity regarding the role of administrative and support functions on the ground. It would also help avoid duplication of resources, so that they were used to the best way possible and contributed to the optimal functioning of each mission. As for the mission in Haiti, the mandate given by the Security Council should be adjusted, but such a process should not endanger the mission’s delivery of critical services needed for the people of that country.
She also welcomed proposals that recommended the activities of the High Commissioner of Human Rights in that area should be financed through the support account. Regarding the budget of new special political missions, her delegation was of the view that the current arrangements to manage the budget requirement for special political missions “are far from optimal”. Given hard-to-predict needs on the ground, the two-year regular budget cycle “was completely inappropriate” for special political missions, she said, stressing the need for a separate account.
BRAHIM BENMOUSSA (Morocco) endorsed the statements by the representative of Fiji, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and Côte d’Ivoire, on behalf of the African Group. He asked that the work programme be adjusted to compensate for the fact that some documents were not available. The Committee should tackle the cost-cutting issues of peacekeeping operations and ensure the financing of the support account, which was needed for the smooth functioning of peacekeeping operations. Member States must provide peacekeeping operations with optimal conditions to work. He welcomed adoption of the resolution on the Senior Advisory Group’s recommendations. He hoped the peacekeeping budget would continue to receive the appropriate level of resources.
The Committee then decided to adjust its work programme accordingly.
Financial Reports, Audited Statements and Reports of the Board of Auditors
HUGH O’FARRELL, Director of External Audit and Chair of the Audit Operations Committee, presented the Board of Auditors’ report on peacekeeping operations for the financial year ended 30 June 2012.
For that financial period, he said, the Board issued an unqualified audit opinion. The Board had included an emphasis of matter this year, drawing attention to a new note disclosing for the first time some $889 million of incurred costs for the construction of buildings and structures. While satisfied that the balance was fairly stated, the Board noted in its long form report that the level of detailed accounting records for such assets needed to be improved if the United Nations was to meet the stricter requirements under the International Public Sector Accounting Standards from 1 July 2013 onwards.
The Board indentified that, as of 30 June 2012, $83.55 million of non-expendable property had been unused for more than one year. Of that total, $9.97 million had been in bad condition or pending write-off and disposal, $5.53 million had passed life expectancies, and $13.53 million had not been used for at least three years. Unused non-expendable property continued to represent a significant risk of loss or wastage, and was indicative of excessive procurement.
The Board also noted weakness in the management of asset disposal at liquidated missions. For example, 97 per cent of information technology property transferred from the United Nations Mission in the Sudan to the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) had been obsolete and recommended for write-off, indicating insufficient and unreliable verification of the condition of assets prior to packing. In addition, the Board noted a discrepancy of $19.27 million of expendable property between the records held at UNMIS and those at the receiving missions UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan) and UNISFA. Owing to a lack of detailed and complete packing lists, it was difficult to assign accountability and responsibility for the discrepancy.
After examining procurement management, including acquisition, planning, solicitation, contract and vendor management, the Board had found some deficiencies, including inadequate consideration of available stock before raising requisitions, leading to potential nugatoryexpenditure, increased risk of wastage, and unnecessary costs, such as for increased storage and security overheads. There had been a lack of coordination between and across missions procuring the same or similar products, leading to missed opportunities for economies of scale. Lack of clear criteria for vendor invitations, and for invitations to unregistered vendors to bid had impaired the fairness and transparency of procurement. There was also weakness in contract management, with contracts for poorly performing vendors extended.
There were some deficiencies in the budget formulation process for aviation, personnel, contingent owned equipment, vehicles, and freight costs, he noted. The current budget assumption for contingent-owned equipment was that all would pass inspection and be accepted by the United Nations. But in practice, a considerable proportion of contingent-owned equipment did not pass inspection, leading to considerable variances between budgeted and actual expenditure. Historical trends for key budget assumptions were not duly considered, particularly in formulating the budgets for formed polices units or national professional officers at UNAMID (African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur), UNMIT (United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste), UNMIL (United Nations Mission in Liberia) and UNSOA (United Nations Support Office for the African Union Mission in Somalia). There had been insufficient justifications for projections of future deployment. The Board also had found weakness in both the standardized funding model and its application at UNMISS, such as a lack of flexibility, insufficient justifications for some budget assumptions, and non-consideration of the existing resources at the Mission. The budget for UNMISS could have been overestimated by some $102 million. Overall, there could have been an overestimation of $246 million in the 2011/2012 peacekeeping budget.
The Global Field Support Strategy, an important business transformation, had deficiencies, such as a lack of a detailed project implementation plan and comprehensive timeline for each pillar of the strategy, as well as ineffective project governance, both at the Headquarters and pillar levels. For example, the meetings of the strategy’s Steering Committee had focused on updates on progress, rather than addressing the key risks to delivery and discussing effective mitigating actions. There was no benefit realization plan for the strategy. The Board had seen little evidence that the details of the envisaged benefits were managed or tracked in an effective or integrated manner. The tracking of both qualitative and quantitative benefits was insufficient. Out of the envisaged savings of $94.64 million, $49.4 million had not been tracked and a reported savings of $61.3 million from reduction of aircraft could not be substantiated.
PEDRO GUAZO, Director, Accounts Division, Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts, Department of Management, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the recommendations of the Board of Auditors concerning the United Nations peacekeeping operations for the year ended 30 June 2012. Of the 40 recommendations from prior periods, the Board of Auditors noted that 22 were being implemented. The Administration had implemented 10 of the 22 as of January 2013.
Turning to an unqualified audit opinion with an emphasis of matter relating to the $889 million incurred in constructing buildings and structures by the peacekeeping missions over the last 10 years, he said that the Fifth Committee should be aware of those costs. “Let me assure you that the Administration is acutely aware of all the issues raised by the Board and continues to work relentlessly towards the implementation of the Board’s recommendations,” he said.
The Board had expressed its satisfaction with the improved monitoring of the implementation and reinforced guidance to the missions by the Administration, he said. Particular improvements had been noted in the area of personnel, where most of the recommendations had been implemented. Regarding prioritization, the Secretary-General had taken note of the 24 main recommendations highlighted by the Board in its current report. While the implementation of all accepted recommendations remained a priority for the Administration, the 24 main recommendations had been designated as “high” priority and the other 23 recommendations as “medium” priority.
Further, he stressed that the Secretary-General noted the specific issues of concern expressed by the General Assembly in its resolution 66/232 B regarding: extent of cancellation of prior-period obligations and the continued high level of obligations raised during the last month of the financial period; weakness in the oversight of procurement; delays in the implementation of all outstanding recommendations of the Board; and root causes of the recurring issues and measures to be taken.
CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, then introduced the body’s related report (A/67/782).
He said that the Advisory Committee took note of the Board’s audit opinion and its comments with regard to the disclosure for the first time of the $889 million in self-constructed assets in peacekeeping missions. In that regard, the Committee expected that every effort would be made to determine the fair value of those assets in time for the introduction of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards.
While taking note of the reported improvements in the management of property and reliability of asset data in preparation for the implementation of the accounting norms, he noted, ACABQ remained concerned at the deficiencies observed by the Board in that area and urged the Secretary-General to intensify his efforts in devising measures to address them.
Further, he said, the Advisory Committee noted the positive trend in the overall level of unliquidated obligations, but remained concerned about the extent of cancellation of prior-period obligations and the continued high level of obligations raised during the last month of the financial period. This practice would cease with the introduction of the new accounting standards. As for the Board’s observations on the use of standard rates in budgeting, the Advisory Committee expected every effort to be made to review them regularly in order to maintain their relevance.
The Advisory Committee had reviewed all the recommendations of the Board in areas such as budget formulation and management, human resource management, construction services, asset management, air transportation, rations and fuel management, official travel and the Global Field Support Strategy, he said. It made specific comments and observations in the report he had just introduced.
NAMITA KHATRI (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, commended the continued high quality of the report of the Board of Auditors. He noted that out of 40 recommendations made for 2010/2011, 18, or 45 per cent, had been fully implemented, and 22, or 55 per cent, partially implemented. The rate had remained almost unchanged from 2009/2010, and the rate — this year again — was almost the same. His delegation stressed the need for the Secretary-General to increase his effort to ensure that recommendations of the Board are fully and timely implemented.
He recognized the efforts made by the Secretary-General to address the concerns of the Board in the previous report, but expressed serious concern about the level of weakness and deficiencies identified by the Board, in particular those related to project governance for the Global Field Support Strategy, insufficient accountability on the part of the senior mission management for successful implementation of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards, and continued deficiencies in the areas of asset management and procurement.
For the year ending 2014, peacekeeping operations aimed to deliver their first set of financial statements compliant with the new standards, he noted. The schedule was tight and there was significant risk. The Group urged the Secretary-General to ensure that deficiencies identified by the Board in that area were addressed.
His delegation was deeply concerned that the Secretary-General had moved six posts from the Global Service Centre to Valencia without General Assembly approval and subsequently had to move those posts back. Moreover, the Secretary-General had moved 163 posts to the Regional Service Centre prior to the General Assembly’s approval. He sought detailed clarification on those instances, including measures taken to hold responsible managers accountable.
Budgetary Aspects of Financing of Closed Peacekeeping Missions
CHANDRAMOULI RAMANATHAN, Deputy Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the updated financial position of closed peacekeeping missions as of 30 June 2012 (document A/67/739). Pursuant to Assembly resolution 65/293, the Secretary-General was presenting, as a new way to address the issue of outstanding dues to Member States from closed peacekeeping missions with cash deficits, that the total cash available in closed missions be used to settle the amounts due to Members States in closed missions with cash surpluses, the outstanding claims owed to troop-contributing countries in closed missions with cash deficits and the amount owed to the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund. The Secretary-General recognized that the liquidity of active peacekeeping operations was not directly linked to the issue of cash surpluses in closed missions, but those surpluses were currently the only source for alleviating cash shortages for active peacekeeping operations.
Therefore, the Secretary-General was proposing that the Assembly authorize temporary borrowing between active missions, which was currently not permitted, as the Secretary-General did not expect that to negatively impact the operations of any active mission, he said. In any case, a mechanism to address the cash requirements of active peacekeeping missions would be necessary if the Assembly approved the Secretary-General’s proposal in this report to settle the outstanding dues to Member States, including the claims owed to troop-contributing countries.
CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, introducing ACABQ’s related report (document A/67/837), noted with concern the continued borrowing from the accounts of closed peacekeeping missions with cash surpluses to meet the cash flow requirements of active ones with cash deficits, mainly due to the unpredictability of receiving assessed contributions. Cash flow requirements of active missions should be delinked from the cash surpluses of closed missions, which should be returned to Member States. He noted the Secretary-General’s proposal to use the $262.5 million in total cash assets available in closed missions to settle their outstanding liabilities. While that could help solve the issue of outstanding claims to troop-contributing countries, it would also entail utilizing resources due to Member States that had paid their assessed contributions in full to meet the financial obligations of those that had not paid theirs. The proposal to authorize borrowing between active missions without limits and safeguards, even if the amounts were small in relation to the total cash position of active mission, would not be prudent and could induce the late payment of assessment contributions. ACABQ recommended that the Secretary-General be asked to review other alternatives, in addition to authorizing borrowing between active missions, and to report on all proposals in his next report on closed peacekeeping missions.
NAMITA KHATRI (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, expressed concern over the cash deficit situation in several closed missions owing to the non-payment of arrears by some Member States, resulting in substantial outstanding dues to Member States that had fulfilled their financial obligations. She recalled Member States’ legal obligation to pay in full, without conditions and on time. The Group would carefully study the Secretary-General’s proposals, with a view to finding a lasting solution and addressing the cash requirements of peacekeeping operations.
Financing of UNOMIG, UNMIS and UNSMIS
Mr. RAMANATHAN introduced the Secretary-General’s final performance report of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) (A/67/578), report on budget performance of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 (A/67/586) and his report on budget performance of the United Nations Supervision Mission in the Syrian Arab Republic (UNSMIS) for the period from 14 April to 30 June 2012 (A/67/707). He noted that the actions to be taken by the Assembly regarding financing of UNMIS were set out in paragraph 64 of the budget performance report of that mission, and in respect of the financing of UNSMIS in paragraph 26 of that mission. With regard to UNOMIG, the actions to be taken by the Assembly were set out in paragraph 7 of the final performance report. But based on updated financial information, as of 30 April 2013, the amount available for return to Member States was $1.6 million.
Mr. MASSIEU introduced ACABQ’s related reports (documents A/67/780/Add.3, A/67/780/Add.13, and A/67/780/Add.2). Concerning the final performance report of UNOMIG, ACABQ was informed that due to changes in the cash position of the Mission, the amount of credit available for return to Member States increased to $1.5 million by the end of 2012, compared with $1.4 million as indicated in the final performance report. Taking into account the Mission’s updated cash position, ACABQ recommended that the Assembly approve crediting the cash balance of $1.55 million to Member States. ACABQ noted from the Secretary-General’s report that assessed contributions received from Member States totalled some $4.4 million as of 30 June 2012. In that regard, ACABQ recalled that in its resolution 66/272 on financing of UNOMIG, the Assembly noted with concern that only 157 Member States had paid their assessed contributions in full, and it urged all other Member States to ensure payment of their outstanding dues.
Concerning UNMIS, Annex I to ACABQ’s report showed an updated financial position of the Mission as of 31 December 2012; the net cash available had increased to some $52 million, before taking into account additional potential liabilities estimated at $7.5 million, he said. ACABQ was informed that it was currently possible to return the full credits of $38.46 million due to Member States for the 2010-2011 financial period. But given the uncertainty of the total additional potential liabilities, the amount of credits to be returned to Member States for the 2011-2012 period had yet to be finalized. ACABQ recommended that the most updated information in that regard be given to the Assembly. ACABQ was also informed that the assessed contributions received from Member States for the Mission totalled some $11.4 million. Concerning UNSMIS, the total commitments granted to the Secretary-General for the urgent establishment of that mission were $31.07 million; the details were provided in paragraphs 3 and 5 of ACABQ’s report. ACABQ recommended that the Assembly accept the Secretary-General’s proposals contained in paragraph 26 of his budget performance report.
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