Reviewing Reports on Peacekeeping Operations, Fifth Committee Hails Progress Towards Zero Tolerance of Sexual Abuse by United Nations Personnel
Reviewing Reports on Peacekeeping Operations, Fifth Committee Hails Progress Towards Zero Tolerance of Sexual Abuse by United Nations Personnel
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
31st Meeting (AM)
Reviewing Reports on Peacekeeping Operations, Fifth Committee Hails Progress
Towards Zero Tolerance of Sexual Abuse by United Nations Personnel
Delegates Support Global Field Support Strategy
Implementation but Proposed Mission Budgets Draw Divergent Views
As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today scrutinized the Secretariat’s various reports on cross-cutting aspects of United Nations peacekeeping operations and their support account, most delegates hailed progress made towards stamping out sexual abuse by peacekeepers and implementing the Global Field Support Strategy, but offered divergent views on the peacekeeping budget proposed for the July 2013 to June 2014 period.
During the 2013-2014 budget year, the gross budget for peacekeeping operations, excluding the mission planned for Mali, would be an estimated $7.2 billion, down 1.5 per cent from the previous two-year period, according to Maria Eugenia Casar, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller, who introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the subject.
Ms. Casar also informed delegations that the proposed 2013-2014 budget for the support account, excluding provisions for enterprise resource planning, was $309.3 million, up 10.2 per cent from the 2012-2013 period.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the special measures for protection from sexual exploitation, Ruth de Miranda, Chief, Human Resources Policy Staff, Office of Human Resources Management, Department of Management, reviewed the decrease of allegations in 2012, noting, among other statistics, that those involving peacekeeping personnel had dropped 19 per cent from 74 in 2011 to 60 in 2012.
She attributed those declines to a variety of successful preventive initiatives, including awareness-raising and training. Still, challenges remained. Continued instances of sexual exploitation and the prevalence of the most egregious forms of abuse highlighted the need for greater resolve and effort.
Sharing the view of several delegations, the European Union’s representative commended the efforts being made regarding sexual abuse by United Nations personnel, but stressed that one substantiated case was “one case too many”. Further, the time taken to start and complete investigations needed to be reduced.
She also called for strict budgetary discipline and for ensuring that resources were really needed and used as efficiently as possible, especially given the financial pressures facing all Member States. Still, it was contradictory that a downtrend was projected for military and police costs, while civilian staff costs were forecast to remain stable and operational costs were projected to rise. There needed to be closer scrutiny not only of the civilian component, including new posts, but of transport, facilities and infrastructure costs.
Fiji’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, while commending the drop in sexual abuse allegations in 2012, supported the call to reduce the length of time it took to investigate sexual misconduct. He also stressed that the Secretary-General must continue to consult with troop-contributing countries on all peacekeeping matters, including on their needs assessment and implementation of the Senior Advisory Group’s recently adopted recommendations to set up a more equitable, predictable troop reimbursement system.
Switzerland’s representative, also speaking for Liechtenstein, said the Secretary-General’s proposal to change the peacekeeping budget’s organizational structure was long overdue. It currently took seven months to prepare a budget proposal, after which the Committee spent just a few half-day slots to consider and negotiate it. The new structure should allow the Secretariat to produce high-quality budgets in less time, and clearly define the roles, responsibilities, procedures and lines of accountability of all stakeholders.
Scrutinizing the budget performance for 2011-2012 and the proposed 2013-2014 budget for the support account for peacekeeping, the United States delegate expressed concern that requests for the support account’s resources in the past few years had little direct correlation with peacekeeping operations’ overall requirements. It was high time to conduct a proper assessment of whether the functions performed by individual posts and positions funded from that account were in fact tied to individual peacekeeping missions or to potential new requirements. Echoing other speakers, he heralded the “promising development” of the reduced number of sexual abuse allegations, but underscored that all stakeholders must do more, suggesting, among others, extending vetting procedures to all categories of personnel and enhancing Member States’ accountability.
Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), presented that body’s report of observations and comments on cross-cutting peacekeeping issues and its report on peacekeeping budget performance and financing during 2011-2012, as well as the proposed budget for peacekeeping operations and their support account for the 2013-2014 period.
During the meeting, Ameerah Haq, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, introduced the Secretary-General’s third annual progress report on implementing the Global Field Support Strategy. Carman Lapointe, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced the reports of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) related to peacekeeping operations in 2012, the review of the reporting by peacekeeping missions on the protection of civilians, and the comprehensive report on the pilot project to restructure the delivery of investigation services in field missions.
As well, David Curry, Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on financing of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) and African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Mr. Ruiz Massieu weighed in with ACABQ’s corresponding reports.
Also speaking today were the representatives of the Russian Federation, Philippines, Costa Rica, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Norway and Cote d’Ivoire.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 16 May to fill appointments in the Committee on Contributions, and to take up its agenda items on the 2012-2013 programme budget for the Special Court for Sierra Leone and improving the financial situation of the United Nations.
The Fifth Committee met today to discuss cross-cutting issues on financing the United Nations peacekeeping operations, the support account for those missions, as well as the budgets for three specific missions.
Under review were the Secretary-General’s report on “overview of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations: budget performance for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 and budget for the period from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014” (document A/67/723); his 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); the Secretary-General’s report on “third annual progress report on the implementation of the Global Field Support Strategy” (document A/67/633); the Secretary-General’s report on “special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse” (document A/67/766); and a related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (document A/67/780).
Under consideration, as well, was the report of “the Office of Internal Oversight Services on its activities related to peacekeeping operations for the period 1 January to 31 December 2012” (document A/67/297, PartII), and the Office’s report on “review of the reporting by United Nations peacekeeping missions on the protection of civilians” (document A/67/795).
Delegates also had before them the Secretary-General’s report on “budget performance of the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012” (documents A/67/635 and Add.1), along with his report on “budget for the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014 and financing for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013” (documents A/67/756 and Add.1).
The Committee was set to review the report of “the Independent Audit Advisory Committee on proposed budget of the Office of Internal Oversight Services under the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014” (document A/67/772); the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on “comprehensive report on pilot project designated by the General Assembly in resolution 63/287” (document A/67/751); and a related Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) report (document A/67/848).
For its consideration of the peacekeeping operations’ budget performance for the year ended 30 June 2012 and their proposed budget levels for the year ending 30 June 2014, the Committee had before it reports on missions in Côte d’Ivoire (documents A/67/642, A/67/777 and A/67/780/Add.15); in the Democratic Republic of Congo (documents A/67/613, Corr.1, A/67/797, Add.1 and A/67/780/Add.6); and in Darfur (documents A/67/601, A/67/806; A/67/780/Add.7).
Administrative and Budgetary Aspects of Financing of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations
MARÍA EUGENIA CASAR, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s overview report on the financing of United Nations peacekeeping operations: budget performance for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 and budget for the period from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014 (document A/67/723); his note on proposed budgetary levels for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014 (A/C.5/67/17); his report on budget performance of the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 (A/67/635 and Add.1), as well as his report on budget for the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014 and on financing for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 (A/67/756 and Add.1).
The gross 2013-2014 budget level for peacekeeping operations, she said, was estimated at $7.2 billion, which was 1.5 per cent less than the previous two-year period. However, that figure did not include requirements for the newly established mission in Mali. The lower figure was due mainly to a reduction in the authorized military and police strength of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the closure of United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), and a lower deployment of contingent personnel in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
The overall lower requirements, she continued, were partly offset by the deployment of extra contingent personnel for the intervention brigade in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) and higher operational requirements for the missions in Sudan and South Sudan. There was also a reduction in the overall civilian staffing level of 744 posts; the number of uniformed personnel would be an estimated 117,000, based on current peacekeeping mandates approved by the Security Council.
Turning to the Secretary-General’s reports on the support account for peacekeeping operations, she said the Assembly had approved $344.8 million for the 2011-2012 period, including $47.2 million for financing the enterprise resource planning. The budget implementation rate was 100 per cent for the same period, with over-expenditures of $9.8 million in respect of post resources, offset by under-expenditure of $9.8 million in non-post resources. Given the continuing higher common staff costs and lower-than-budgeted vacancy rates, another $15 million would be needed for the 2012-2103 period. Following implementation of measures to contain expenditures, the latest projected over-expenditure would be reduced to $13 million, as provided in supplementary information under that agenda item, for which the Assembly’s approval was being sought.
She then turned to the proposed budget for the support account for the 2013-2014 period, contained in documents A/67/756 and Add.1 The addendum to the report reflected ACABQ’s request in its report A/66/779, which encouraged the Secretary-General to improve Headquarters’ budgetary and financial support to field operations in the context of the ongoing review of the peacekeeping budget development process. The annex to the report’s addendum set forth the full proposal for the support account. Excluding provisions for the enterprise resource planning, the proposed $309.3 million budget was a 10.2 per cent increase over the $280.7 million for the 2012-2013 period. That was due to extra salary requirements driven by realistic planning assumptions for incumbency and common staff costs, as well as unavoidable increases in the costs associated with the after-service health insurance, commercial rent for office space and communications charges.
Although the support account had been increased, she pointed out it was still just 5 per cent of the $7.2 billion proposed peacekeeping budget for 2013-2014, excluding requirements for the newly established mission in Mali, which would require backstopping from Headquarters. For 2013-2014, taking into account the Assembly’s repeated requests to regularly review the support account, a further net reduction of 26 posts and general temporary assistance was proposed, which would further reduce vacancy rates of posts funded under the support account. The actions to be taken by the Assembly in respect of financing of the support account for peacekeeping were set out in paragraph 80 of the budget performance report (document A/67/635) and paragraph 45 of the addendum to the budget report (document A/67/756/Add.1).
AMEERAH HAQ, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on third annual progress report on the implementation of the Global Field Support Strategy (document A/67/633). A two-step approach was being taken this year, with dedicated reporting on the high-level strategic end-state vision and progress in implementing the Strategy. In annexes I and II of the overview report, the Department of Field Support had responded to the Committee’s comments and requests for detailed administrative and budgetary information on implementing the Strategy.
Apart from new requirements for the mission in Mali and MONUSCO, she said that the proposed funding for 2013-2014 was $6.8 billion for all peacekeeping operations, down $200 million from 2012-2013. Much of the reduction was due to the closure of UNMIT, as well as the cost savings realized in recent years through greater efficiencies and other cuts in resourcing requirements. The 2012-2013 funding levels were 10 per cent less than the previous budget year for “continuing” peacekeeping operations.
Total requirements, she continued, had been reduced for the 2013-2014 period despite large increases in expenditures due to higher deployment levels in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), as well as the normal increase in prices and staffing entitlements. There was also a significant return on Member States’ investment in human resources management reforms. Vacancy rates had been cut in half from January 2008 to 12.3 per cent in January 2013. The Department was conducting a review of the field service category, as well as the civilian staffing of selected peacekeeping missions to ensure that personnel structures were in line with what was needed to implement mission mandates effectively.
The vision laid out this year explained how the division of labour between the four levels of service of the Strategy — human resources, finance, supply chain and service centres — would facilitate economies of scale, specialization and the endeavour to “do more with less”, she said. Annexes to the report included key performance indicators for some elements of the Strategy; indicators had been put in place for each of the Strategy’s pillars. The Strategy also had yielded practical benefits on the ground, such as the application of the service centre concept and the improvements in the operational and transaction support to client missions by the Global Service Centre in Brindisi and the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe.
She then cited important developments regarding implementation of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) and Umoja. The Board of Auditors had expressed its satisfaction with the improved monitoring of implementing its recommendations and the guidance to missions by the Administration. The Board also recognized improvements in 2011-2012 in some areas, such as the management of property and the accuracy of inventory, including the physical verification of assets and reconciliation of discrepancies.
In line with ACABQ’s recommendation in paragraph 11 of its report A/67/780l, the preparations for implementing IPSAS in field missions had progressed well, she stated. Mission standard operating procedures had been updated for ISPAS compliance; some 900 staff members had been trained; data on assets had been collected, enriched and cleansed; and valuation of the assets was under way. The Department was working closely with field mission and the Accounts Division to devise the first ISPAS compliant opening balances prepared as of 1 July 2013.
She noted that preparations for the roll out of Umoja in field missions had centred on design, testing and validation of “Umoja-to-be processes”, role mapping of mission finance functions, cleansing of data, as well as setting up the training programme. The Department recently had established a project management office to support implementation of Umoja and IPSAS at the same time, and to ensure tight monitoring and support to that process.
The Department, she underscored, was fully committed to implementing the provisions of the Assembly’s 10 May resolution on the Senior Advisory Group’s recommendations on troop reimbursement. She also stressed the importance of the survey process and the need for swift action so that the data required could be collected within a short timeframe. The Department would update the Assembly on progress towards that end and it looked forward to working closely with the relevant troop-contributing and police-contributing countries.
She also said that a major effort with colleagues in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations would be needed to ensure that the report the Assembly had asked for by the end of the Committee’s second resumed session be ready as soon as possible. The Department would work, at the request of troop-contributing and police-contributing countries, to update memoranda of understanding before 31 October, so they were fully in line with current requirements.
RUTH DE MIRANDA, Chief, Human Resources Policy Staff, Office of Human Resources Management, Department of Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (document A/67/766), which provided data on allegations of such exploitation and abuse by United Nations personnel from 1 January to 31 December 2012.
The report gave information on the number and type of allegations received in 2012, the status of investigations into the allegations, and the steps taken to enforce the United Nations standards of conduct related to such exploitation and abuse. In 2012, she noted, there were 88 allegations, down 14 per cent from 102 in 2011. The number of allegations involving peacekeeping personnel for the same period decreased 19 per cent from 74 in 2011 to 60 in 2012. She also pointed out that this current year, to date, was the first in which the number of allegations involving military personnel was lower than those involving civilian personnel in field missions.
She attributed those declines to successful preventive measures, awareness-raising and training carried out jointly by Member States and the Organization, as well as Member States’ increased response to formal referrals for action from the Secretariat, particularly concerning requests for investigations by troop-contributing countries. Still, challenges remained. Continued instances of sexual exploitation and the prevalence of the most egregious forms of abuse highlighted the need for greater resolve and effort.
The report, she continued, described an action programme to ensure the credibility of the Organization’s response through increased transparency and cooperation; strengthening governance, oversight and enforcement to achieve greater accountability; and enhancing awareness and advocacy towards more responsive protection and support to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. Even one case was too many. She stressed the Secretary-General’s continued commitment to prevent abuse by United Nations personnel.
Before introducing the reports of the OIOS, CARMAN LAPOINTE, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services expressed appreciation to Member States for agreeing to make OIOS audit reports public on an experimental basis no later than 1 July 2013 until the end of 2014. The audit reports issued after 15 April 2013 would be available on the OIOS website 30 days after they had been listed as issued so that Member States could request advance copies.
She then turned to the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on its activities related to peacekeeping operations for the period 1 January to 31 December 2012 (A/67/297, Part II), which provided an overview of the work of the three divisions: Internal Audit; Investigations; and Inspection and Evaluation. The Office had issued 160 oversight reports on peacekeeping matters in 2012.
The Internal Audit Division, she said, had made greater use of horizontal audits to identify systematic strengths and weaknesses across peacekeeping operations. Horizontal audits had highlighted the need for policy reviews and procedural changes and had facilitated knowledge sharing. The Inspection and Evaluation Division’s risk-based planning for peacekeeping operations had shifted its emphasis to risks related to thematic and cross-cutting issues. That approach was expected to identify issues or themes that were of particular interest to and subjects of intergovernmental discussions, as a basis for planning future evaluations.
While new investigations on sexual exploitation and abuse involving uniformed personnel had declined in 2012, she stated that the issue remained a significant area of concern, in light of enforcing the zero tolerance policy. The Office would continue to do its part to ensure that such allegations were properly followed up or investigated. She urged Member States to do their part to pursue appropriate follow-up actions in accordance with the related memorandum of understanding for troop-contributing countries. She also pointed out that the OIOS vacancy rate for peacekeeping at the end of 2012 had dropped to 18 per cent from 25 per cent a year earlier, a significant improvement.
She then turned to the Office’s report on review of the reporting by United Nations peacekeeping missions on the protection of civilians covered seven missions (document A/67/795) The seven missions had reported on their civilian protection mandates through their budget performance reports from 2001 to 2011. While the Office was pleased to report notable progress, there were remaining issues that needed to be addressed, and in that regard, three important recommendations had been made.
Those recommendations, she said, included the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in consultation with the Department of Field Support, issuing guidance on the inclusion of information on the protection of civilians in results-based budgeting frameworks for peacekeeping missions that had a civilian protection mandate; ensuring consistent and qualified use of “conflict-related civilian deaths” and “conflict-related sexual violence”, including rape, as indicators of achievement in the performance reports; and addressing the issue of inconsistencies in the reporting of the number of civilian conflict-related deaths in performance reports and mission-specific reports of the Secretary-General. While the Department of Peacekeeping Operations/Department of Field Support had fully accepted the first recommendation at the time of report issuance, the OIOS still considered the remaining two recommendations important for better reporting on the protection of civilians.
She then turned to the Office’s comprehensive report on pilot project designated by the General Assembly in resolution 63/287 (document A/67/751), which provided an accurate and comprehensive review of the Office’s experience during the pilot project calling for centres of investigation within the Investigations Division and maintaining relatively few resident investigators in some peacekeeping missions.
She said that the Office had made its assessments with a view to restructuring the Investigation Division. Those assessments contained, among other things, a cost-benefit analysis based on reasonable assumptions, including long-term trends of investigations in field missions. As well, justified rationale for all investigations staff and resources, including facilitating better responsiveness to changing caseload requirements were included in the assessments. Furthermore, the Office’s analysis showed that where investigators were embedded within missions, more violations were reported due to accessibility.
CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair of the ACABQ, introduced the body’s report on cross-cutting issues related to peacekeeping operations (document A/67/780).
The report, he said, covered the full range of administrative and managerial issues arising in the 15 active peacekeeping missions. Overall, the Advisory Committee commended the improvement in budgetary accuracy along with efforts to achieve sustainable efficiencies across missions. However, the Committee continued to stress that those efforts not compromise the safety and security of mission personnel and premises or put at risk the fulfilment of mandated activities.
In terms of the quality of the Secretary-General’s overview report, he continued, the Advisory Committee recognized an overall improvement, including in the extent of the analysis provided. Nevertheless, the presentation of efficiency targets established for past, present and future periods could be improved. Clear detail concerning both cross-cutting and mission-specific targets should be consolidated and quantified wherever possible, along with details on the expected timeframe for their achievement and an assessment of their impact. Furthermore, the Advisory Committee recommended that future reports distinguish between those variances in mission resource requirements that are attributable to mandate changes and those that are not. That would improve the transparency of the budget proposals and enable a better understanding of the causes and effects of changes over time.
Regarding the adoption of IPSAS, he said that the United Nations peacekeeping operations would be preparing financial information under the new rules, starting 1 July 2013, along with the introduction of the pilot project for the Umoja foundation phase in UNIFIL. The Advisory Committee also noted the Board of Auditors’ concerns on the readiness of missions to absorb the new accounting norms, recommending that the General Assembly be updated on the status of implementation of the two projects.
Concerning the budget methodology, he said that the ACABQ shared the view of the Secretary-General that the standard cost and ratio manual needs to be reviewed, recommending that the review would be completed before the next budget cycle.
Facility construction in missions, he continued, required enhanced monitoring and oversight. For 2013-2014, the number of projects costing more than $1 million would come to 16, with an estimated cost totalling $59.2 million. Further efforts should be made to improve project planning, budgeting and prioritization and to ensure that lessons learned in project management were properly factored into the implementation of future endeavours.
He said the Advisory Committee regretted the persistent delays in the development of key performance indicators in the management of United Nations air operations, given that the proposed requirements for 2013-2014 amounted to $911 million, and that those operations were vitally important for effectively discharging peacekeeping mandates.
As for sexual exploitation and abuse, he said that the ACABQ noted a continued downtrend in the number of such cases, but remained concerned about the number of cases involving the most serious forms of such acts. Future reports needed to demonstrate greater clarity about types of allegation and their relative gravity, as well as the categories and numbers of perpetrators.
On the Global Field Support Strategy, he said that the Advisory Committee, while reiterating its continued support for the broad goals of the Strategy, did not recommend approval of the Secretary-General’s proposal to replace a full staffing table with an initial civilian capacity of general temporary assistance positions. Rather, a combination of both posts and general temporary assistance should be proposed for the first year.
Turning to the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, he said the Secretary-General should be requested to examine the actual requirements for staffing in finance and human resources functions and identify further reductions for the next financial period.
Mr. RUIZ MASSIEU then introduced the Advisory Committee’s report on the support account (document A/67/848). For the current 2012/13 financial year, the Secretary-General was requesting the General Assembly to approve additional requirements in the amount of $15 million. The Advisory Committee was of the view that the Secretary-General should make every effort to absorb the over-expenditure.
For the proposed budget for the support account for the 2013-2014 year, he said that the Advisory Committee would recommend a reduction of $5.34 million to the adjusted budget proposal by the Secretary-General. It also recommended a reduction of 10 per cent, or $1.11 million, to the proposed requirements under official travel for the 2013-2014 support account.
PETER THOMSON (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said he was concerned about ensuring adequate resources and guidance to effectively managing peacekeeping operations; the proper monitoring of major business and transformation projects; and the addressing of difficult issues for troop-contributing countries, such as their under-representation and the timely settlement of death and disability claims, among other areas.
He went on to say that he deeply regretted the application of so-called “resource reduction targets” in formulating peacekeeping budgets, which undermined the principle of allocating resources based on need. The Secretary-General must continue to consult with troop-contributing countries on peacekeeping matters, including on their needs’ assessment and implementation of the Senior Advisory Group’s recently adopted report. The relevant resolution was just the beginning in developing a suitable way to fairly reimburse troops.
While the drop in sexual abuse allegations in 2012 was laudable, he said that the length of time to investigate such allegations, including the most egregious cases of abuse, needed to be reduced. There were also concerns regarding the proposal to cut 2,552 staff posts from peacekeeping missions. The Secretary-General must fully respect the terms of resolution 66/264, including paragraph 23, and ensure that each mission’s civilian staffing structure was appropriate for effective mandate implementation. Funds for implementing quick impact programmes must be readily available during all phases of the mission.
Turning to the support account, he stressed the need for sufficient backstopping to all missions. The level of the support account should correspond to a mission’s mandate, number, size and complexity. Further, the changing nature of peacekeeping operations and their recent new mandates and level of complexity required adequate resources, policies and support arrangements. Troop-contributing countries must have free, constant access to the Secretariat.
He also said that the outcome of consultations must reflect troop contributors’ views on peacekeeping from mandate setting to deployment decisions. The persisting underrepresentation of troop-contributing countries, particularly in senior management in the Secretariat, was concerning, and he called for improvements in that regard. As well, proposals to establish the post of Director of Evaluation of Field Uniformed Personnel, and the review of the budget functions would be carefully reviewed by the Group.
CARMEL POWER, a delegate of the European Union, noted that the modest decrease in the Secretary-General’s proposed peacekeeping budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which totalled $7.2 billion, down from the previous year’s $7.32 billion, was mainly due to the closing of UNMIT. However, taking into account new or evolving mandates, including Mali and Abyei, the budget for the incoming financial year was likely to reach a historic peak. That means strict budgetary discipline would continue to be necessary, ensuring that resources were really needed and used as effectively and efficiently as possible, especially given the financial pressures facing all Member States.
She said it seemed contradictory that a downtrend had been projected for military and police costs, but that civilian staff costs were forecast to remain stable at around $1.7 billion. While recognizing the important role of civilian staff in peacekeeping operations, she stressed the need for closer scrutiny of the peacekeeping civilian component, including new posts. Her delegation had been disappointed that the Secretary-General had not conducted a comprehensive review he had been tasked with a year ago.
She also observed that, despite the steady decrease of military head counts, operational costs were projected to rise in both requirements and share of the total budget. Transport costs, facilities and infrastructure costs and use of consultants were among the items that should be closely examined. The Global Field Support Strategy was an important enabler in making peacekeeping more effective, and she urged the Secretary-General to ensure that the Strategy produced economies of scale and proved itself as a “value for money” project. As well, the implementation of Umoja and IPSAS in parallel with the Strategy was important if the latter was to reach its full potential.
Turning to sexual misconducts, she shared the view that one substantiated case was “one case too many”, echoing the Advisory Committee’s call that the time taken to start and complete investigations needed to be reduced. As for the support account for peacekeeping operations in the 2013-2014 year, she said that the Union would scrutinize the Secretary-General’s initial and revised proposals, both of which indicated increased resource requirements. Since the establishment of the support account, its resource level had been on an uptrend, with no measurable relation to the number, size and complexity of the peacekeeping operations, which was cause for concern.
MATTHIAS DETTLING ( Switzerland), also speaking for Liechtenstein, welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts at efficiency gains and savings in all missions, but stressed that such gains must be sustainable. Trusting that the continued implementation of the Global Field Support Strategy, IPSAS and Umoja would help optimize savings, he said that more information was needed on the work of the resource efficiency group.
Regarding special political missions, he noted the example cited by the ACABQ on access to strategic stocks, and expressed support for their recommendation on financial modalities of special political missions. The Secretary-General should also strengthen his efforts to develop a policy on monitoring human rights for personnel in the field and at Headquarters, thus reinforcing the “zero tolerance” policy on sexual abuse. Major and intensified efforts to implement the Global Field Support Strategy were also welcomed. Member States must become more aware of the Strategy’s four pillars, as well as its risk management framework.
He said he agreed for the Secretary-General’s proposal to include capacities from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the support account for the first time. The human rights functions of peacekeeping operations had grown significantly, while gaps in the delivery of backstopping functions had hampered the missions’ work in that area. Resource levels of the support account should always be scalable to requirements in the field. Noting that the budget for the support account did not draw a measurable link between its resource level and the number, size, and complexity of peacekeeping operations, he backed ACABQ’s call for a review of the account to determine exactly how to define the relationship.
He continued, saying that changes in mandates should directly impact the required resources for the support account. A clearer definition of that relationship would make the support account more transparent. Defining the relationship and fully scaling the support account’s resources to field requirements would eliminate the need to scrutinize every post and function. It would suffice to approve resource levels by department.
Calling it long overdue, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal to change the organizational structure of the peacekeeping budget. It currently took seven months to prepare a budget proposal, while the Committee spent just a few half-day slots to consider and negotiate it. The new structure should allow the Secretariat to produce high-quality budgets in less time. Based on lessons learned from other organizational restructuring exercises, the Secretary-General should clearly define the roles, responsibilities, procedures and lines of accountability of all stakeholders in the peacekeeping budget process to ensure a smooth transition.
He also noted with interest the results of the pilot project on restructuring the delivery of investigation services in field missions. However, the current funding arrangements of the OIOS limited its ability to conduct investigations where the potential for fraud and other violations was greatest. It was very inefficient if support-account-funded investigators based in the regional hubs were not able to investigate cases in special political missions.
ALEXANDER PANKIN (Russian Federation), noting his delegation’s scrutiny of peacekeeping operations’ use of resources and effectiveness of management, pointed out that in the 2011/12 fiscal year, the peacekeeping budget’s implementation rate had increased from the previous cycle to 96.2 per cent. While welcoming the uptrend, he noted with concern that parameters for the incoming 2013-2014 budget period had not been clearly set. Regarding negotiations on troop-reimbursement rates agreed on by the Senior Advisory Group, the Secretariat should provide required figures promptly.
He agreed with the Advisory Committee that more information should be provided on causal links to the changes in resource requirement. Constructive discussion on the global field support strategy during the current session was expected, but there were concerns that logistics-related posts had been transferred to Valencia without the General Assembly’s consent. The Fifth Committee should make consensus-based decisions on the important matters under review during the current session for the effective functioning of the peacekeeping operations.
JOSEPH TORSELLA ( United States) noted that the comprehensive staffing review requested by the Assembly last year in resolution 66/265 had not yet been initiated, and he called upon the Secretary-General to address that lapse as a matter of priority. The reduced number of sexual abuse allegations was a “promising development”, but even one case was too many. All stakeholders must do more to end such abuse, for example in the area of victims’ assistance, improving the timeliness and quality of investigations, extending vetting procedures to all categories of personnel and enhancing Member States accountability.
He then shared some of the concerns raised by the Board of Auditors in its report on peacekeeping operations, particularly the absence of a benefits realization plan and cost-capturing mechanism. The Secretariat should be able to systematically present quantifiable benefits from the Strategy. The creation of a new mission in Mali gave the Secretariat an opportunity to demonstrate improvements in the quality and timeliness of support across the Strategy’s four pillars.
He welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal to establish a Director for Evaluation of Field Uniformed Personnel to help all contingents to operate together seamlessly and to learn from best peacekeeping practices from various contingents. The Committee’s consideration of the support account must be guided by the account’s original purpose to address “overload posts” at Headquarters, namely that monies specifically earmarked for individual missions could not fund other operations.
The account, he continued, was not intended to fund every post with a peacekeeping-related function. Yet, requests for support account resources in the past few years had little direct correlation with peacekeeping operations’ overall requirements. Originally set at 8.5 per cent of civilian requirements for peacekeeping missions, today the account had grow to about 18 per cent of those total costs. A proper assessment of whether the functions performed by individual posts and positions funded from the support account were, in fact, tied to individual peacekeeping missions or to potential new requirements was overdue.
He asked if the Department of Field Support had finalized how it would carry out the comprehensive staffing review, how it would sequence the reviews, and when it would generate staff benchmarks for all different elements of peacekeeping. In addition, the Secretariat needed to address what elements of sexual abuse should be prioritized in order to make the most progress in addressing it in peacekeeping missions. It was also important to know what steps the Secretariat intended to take to implement a benefits realization plan and cost-capturing mechanism and within what timeframe.
GRACE PULIDO-TAN ( Philippines) said that she fully supported the recommendations regarding the restructuring of the OIOS, in order to make its services more accessible to all stakeholders. Still, the Office had acknowledged the challenges in the recruitment and retention of investigators in the peacekeeping environment, even with the implementation of those recommendations. She called for the immediate implementation of the recruitment processes set out in the report (document A/67/751) and the conversion of general temporary assistance positions.
Turning to the application of horizontal auditing in peacekeeping operations, she encouraged the Office’s Internal Audit Division to closely coordinate that undertaking with the United Nations Board of Auditors to ensure a review of cross-cutting issues and to optimize the use of limited audit resources. She welcomed the review on the budgetary process undertaken by the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations, Field Operations, and Management, but closer attention was needed to make sure that responsibilities and accountabilities of all actors were respected. “After all, the budget preparation is only the first stage of a complete budgetary cycle and good governance in budget management requires clear and specific setting out of accountabilities for the use of the relevant resources in achieving budgetary objectives,” she said.
SAUL WEISLEDER ( Costa Rica), aligning with the statement by the Group of 77 and China, lauded the drop in the number of cases of sexual exploitation in 2012, especially those involving United Nations personnel. However, he regretted that almost half of reported cases continued to involve the most heinous forms of abuse, especially against minors. He was also concerned by the cases of sexual violence against women, men and children in areas of armed conflict, as well. In that regard, the Secretary-General’s efforts to continue improving the mechanisms to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation were welcomed. Further, the efforts to prevent exploitation, investigate allegations and refer cases to national authorities for prosecution and punishment of perpetrators were commendable.
He welcomed the Secretary-General’s action plan to strengthen accountability, reiterating his conviction that the United Nations was obligated to respect the human rights of individuals and had a duty to investigate allegations. All those involved in the command chain must be held to account, and measures towards that end must continue. In addition, all reports must be investigated and all those responsible were brought to justice. He called for a more timely response to investigations, disciplinary measures for perpetrators and protection for victims.
JI-AH PAIK ( Republic of Korea) welcomed the recent adoption of the resolution on the Report of the Senior Advisory Group on the troop reimbursement rate and urged the Secretariat to conduct an objective and expeditious survey and analysis. Noting the implementation rate had increased to 96.2 per cent from the previous year and the unspent balance had now decreased to $302 million, she pointed out that the majority of the unspent balance came from MONUSCO, UNAMID and MINUSTAH.
The factors affecting those missions’ lower implementation rates, she said, were mainly delayed deployment of military contingents and a reduction of aviation activities. That indicated possible over-budgeting, which could cause opportunity costs in the overall budget planning. There was also a need to look into whether the delayed deployment factor and vacancy rates were properly applied, taking historical data and other foreseeable factors into due consideration.
She then turned to the establishment of a new mission in Mali and the inevitable increase in the peacekeeping budget for 2013-2014, which was a cause for concern due to the ongoing economic difficulties of Member States. On other cross-cutting matters, her delegation was interested particularly in the Umoja project impact analysis, the concentration of the quick impact projects budget and efficiency gains, the comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the turnkey contracts, standard holding ratio adjustment for equipment, and the cost-efficient training.
MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said that his country’s 53 years of participation in the United Nations peacekeeping operations was a clear demonstration of its commitment and contribution to global peace and security. Pakistani peacekeepers, as well, had suffered one of the highest fatalities in the service of humanity. Noting that the Secretary-General’s overview report had improved, he said that enriched discussions would contribute to the better strategic oversight of operational efficiency and the provision of the highest quality of services to the field missions. Further, the Strategy needed to address future operational costs.
The success of peacekeeping was predicated on the timely deployment of human and material resources, he said. According to an estimate by World Bank, the annual economic cost of conflict stood at $100 billion while the United Nations peacekeeping operations were projected to spend $7.2 billion for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. By that comparison, leaving conflict to fester would be far costlier than spending on peacekeeping. Therefore, peacekeeping operations should not be on “the chopping block”. Rather, they deserved adequate funding.
He also observed that the Secretary-General intended to transfer or consolidate peacekeeping functions upon the implementation of Umoja. Such changes should not undermine the ability of peacekeeping missions. He called for greater representation of troop- and police-contributing countries at the top management level at both Headquarters and missions, noting that the number of staff from those nations at the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support had remained flat. The level of compensation, such as that for death and disability, should also be periodically reviewed, taking into account such factors as the cost of living. In addition, the application of new technology, such as unmanned aerial systems, needed scrutiny. Lastly, he said that the troop- and police-contributing countries were the primary users of support services and they should be consulted on all relevant matters, including on the global peacekeeping needs assessment.
JULIE M. JACOBSEN TAKAHASHI ( Norway) said that budget streamlining should not become an overly theoretical, input-based exercise. Rather, effort should be made to base decisions on thorough analysis of actual implications in the field. The human rights dimension was at the core of peacekeeping, and she welcomed the trend of increasingly robust human rights components in the peacekeeping mandates. As such, the imbalance between human rights mandates activities in the field and the backstopping capacity at the Headquarters level should be corrected.
She said that, in the current seven peacekeeping missions with significant human rights mandates, the OHCHR played a key strategic and policy-based role. The Office should be reasonably resourced in order to carry out that important role. In that regard, the Secretary-General’s request for three posts could be found to be modest and one that merited support.
Responding to the delegates, Ms. CASAR did not agree with the assessment that the level of the support account was always moving upward. Some of the growth was inflationary.
Ms. HAQ said several delegations had referred to the need to match staffing with peacekeeping mandates. In that regard, separate reviews had been carried out last year for UNAMID, UNMIL and MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara), which were reflected in their respective budgets. The UNAMID review was a preliminary review.
She also said that four civilian staffing reviews were scheduled for this year, including those for UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan), UNAMID, UNOCI (United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire) and UNIFIL. Their results would be reflected in the upcoming budget exercise. She agreed that staffing benchmarks were required. The study would enable the Department to refine staffing benchmarks. She concurred with delegations, as well, that one case of sexual exploitation was one too many.
Financing of UNOCI, MONUSCO and UNAMID
DAVID CURRY, Director, Peacekeeping Financing Division, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on 2011-2012 peacekeeping budget performance and 2013-2014 budget proposals for UNOCI, MONUSCO and UNAMID.
Regarding MONUSCO, he said that the 2013-2014 budget provided for the deployment of an “intervention brigade” and related capacities on an exceptional basis, without creating a precedent or any prejudice to the agreed principles of peacekeeping.
As for UNAMID, the reconfiguration of the uniformed personnel, to be conducted over a period of 12 to 18 months, would continue, marked by a substantial reduction in the authorized strength of military and police personnel from 25,987 to 20,890. In addition, the 2013-2014 budget reflected the proposed net reduction of 477 posts and positions.
Mr. RUIZ MASSIEU, the Chair of ACABQ, introduced the body’s reports on the three missions.
For the mission in Côte d’Ivoire, he said that the Advisory Committee approved the Secretary-General’s proposals for 2013-2014, with the exception of the recommended reduction of $344,000 in the resource estimate for training. Regarding the construction of the integrated logistics base in Yopougon, ACABQ had been informed that the project would reach the break-even point in about four years, given the current rental costs. In that regard, the Secretary-General should provide comprehensive information on the projected costs, efficiencies and benefits attributable to the project for deliberation of the 2014-2015 budget.
Regarding the mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said that the Advisory Committee recommended slashing the proposed budget by $109,000. The reduction could be achieved in the resource estimates for external training for international staff, which was recommended to be maintained at the current level.
As for the mission in Darfur, he said that a reduction to the proposed budget had been recommended due to anticipated savings from a new rations contract, the abolishment of posts that had been vacant for two years or longer, and a 5 per cent reduction in the cost estimates for construction services. The exact amount of the cut would be provided by the Office of the Controller.
JOSEPH BAMBA (C ôte d’Ivoire) said that proper implementation of UNOCI’s mandate had enabled Côte d’Ivoire to achieve 9.8 per cent economic growth in 2012 and install rule of law institutions, good governance, and an impartial justice system, as well as expedite disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants. Further, the peacekeeping mission had enabled Côte d’Ivoire to play a role in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mano River Union, African Union and the United Nations.
He pointed out that during the recent ECOWAS forty-second ordinary session this year, Heads of State and Government had renewed their confidence in Côte d’Ivoire’s President to head the Community for another year. It was crucial that the draft 2013-2014 budget for his country’s mission be the subject of warranted attention, given the peacekeeping mission’s key role in returning peace and stability to Côte’ d’Ivoire, securing its border with Liberia, achieving security sector reform and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. All of that was a priority for the Ivorian Government, and as such, UNOCI should not be subjected to budget reductions.
DMITRY CHUMAKOV (Russian Federation) sought detailed explanation from the Secretariat about the proposed deployment of unmanned aerial systems in Côte d’Ivoire. The Security Council had approved such aircraft for the mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but not for the mission in Côte d’Ivoire.
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