‘Peacekeeping on the Cheap’ Will Result in Greater Resources, Says Delegate, as Fifth Committee Considers Cross-Cutting Issues

13 May 2014
GA/AB/4110

‘Peacekeeping on the Cheap’ Will Result in Greater Resources, Says Delegate, as Fifth Committee Considers Cross-Cutting Issues

13 May 2014
General Assembly
GA/AB/4110
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

40th Meeting (PM)

 ‘Peacekeeping on the Cheap’ Will Result in Greater Resources, Says Delegate,

as Fifth Committee Considers Cross-Cutting Issues

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today heard a call to adopt a resolution on cross-cutting aspects of United Nations peacekeeping operations this year, as the body examined the Secretariat’s various reports on that matter.

Japan’s delegate was among those who voiced disappointment at the absence of a resolution on cross-cutting issues last year, and it was hoped that such a text would soon be adopted.  While it was important to have a focused and separate discussion on individual missions given their unique situations, a comprehensive and cross-cutting approach was vital to achieving more efficient operations across all peacekeeping missions, he argued.

His counterpart from the European Union Delegation said that the Secretary-General’s proposed budget of $7.4 billion for 2014/15 was $400 million lower than the preceding year, but the projected requirement for next year would likely approach $8.5 billion, a historic high.  Accordingly, strict budgetary disciple would continue to be necessary.  The Union intended to scrutinize the budgets of all peacekeeping missions, in particular those in a state of drawdown, as well as the support functions.

Bolivia’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed concern over the trend to impose budget reductions on a peacekeeping mission due to financial imperatives, the need for additional resources in other missions or an arbitrary overall target for peacekeeping expenditures, in disregard for each mission’s specific needs.

She was also concerned that “efficiency measures” were sometimes pursued at the expense of operational capacities and the safety and security of personnel.  “A ‘peacekeeping on the cheap’ approach will fail to achieve the purpose of helping countries to stabilize and establish the basis for a sustainable peace and will, in the end, generate the need for additional resources,” she said.

The cross-cutting issues that came under scrutiny today included inter-mission cooperation, sexual exploitation, information and communications technology expenditure, and the global field support strategy.

The United States’ delegate said that since inter-mission cooperation arrangements were short-term it was impractical to charge all costs to receiving missions, which guaranteed they would spend beyond their appropriations, while contributing missions incurred unencumbered balances.  The Committee must find a way to enable the United Nations to rapidly respond to crises while allowing the Committee to assess whether resources were used appropriately.

New Zealand’s delegate was among the many speakers who voiced concern over the number of allegations reported of sexual abuse and exploitation, and was interested to receive proposals from the Secretary-General resulting from the findings of the panel of experts on special measures on that issue.

Introducing reports on cross-cutting issues were Chandramouli Ramanathan, Officer-in-Charge of the Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts; David Donaghue (Ireland), Chair of the 2014 Working Group on Contingent-Owned Equipment; Anthony Banbury, Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support; Catherine Pollard, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management; Carman Lapointe, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services; and Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).

The reports on the financing of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) were introduced by Mr. Ramanathan and Mr. Ruiz Massieu.  The two officials also presented the 2014-2015 programme budget for special political missions and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).

Also speaking today were the representatives of Costa Rica, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Cuba, Côte d’Ivoire, China and Uganda (on behalf of the African Group).

In other business, the Chair of the Fifth Committee provided his response to issues raised by Cuba, Sudan and Rwanda in the previous meeting regarding a private meeting held outside the United Nations premises.

The Fifth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on 15 May to continue its second resumed session.

Background

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met today to take up cross-cutting issues of financing peacekeeping operations, as well as budget performances of specific missions.  For the former topic, delegates had before them reports (documents A/68/731, A/68/782, A/68/637, A/68/637/Corr.1, A/68/756, A/C.5/68/22, A/68/830, A/68/867, A/68/337, and A/68/787).  For the latter, they considered reports on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) (documents A/68/632, A/68/758 and A/68/782/Add.11), the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) (documents A/68/686, A/68/686/Corr.1, A/68/788 and A/68/782/Add.14), the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)(documents A/68/621, A/68/761 and A/68/782/Add.16), and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) (documents A/68/709 and A/68/866).

The Committee also discussed the 2014-2015 programme budget for special political missions and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) (documents A/68/327/Add.10 and A/68/7/Add.26).

Cross-Cutting Issues of Peacekeeping Operations

CHANDRAMOULI RAMANATHAN, Officer-in-Charge of the Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts, introduced the Secretary-General’s overview report on the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations (document A/68/731).  The resources proposed for those operations for 2014/15, amounted to $7.4 billion, a 5.1 per cent reduction versus the previous cycle.  But that included only the six-month commitment authority proposed for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and did not contain the requirements for the newly established United Nations mission in the Central African Republic.  Taking into account a six-month period from 1 July to 31 December 2014 for that mission, the proposed resources would be close to $7.7 billion.

The reduction was largely attributed to a decrease in the military and police components of UNOCI, UNMIL, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID); the absence of the provision for the supplemental payment to troop- and formed police-contributing countries; and the reconfiguration of the aircraft fleets of several missions.  The budget also reflected a net reduction of 895 civilian posts in nine peacekeeping missions.  The lower requirements were partly offset by additional resources proposed mainly for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA).

DAVID DONAGHUE ( Ireland), Chair of the 2014 Working Group on Contingent-Owned Equipment, introduced that body’s report (document A/C.5/68/22).  He said almost 350 experts from capitals and permanent missions had participated in the Working Group.  Earlier this year, the Group conducted a review of reimbursements of main equipment and analysed national cost data from 51 Member States.  Following the assessment, it had agreed to a $25.9 million increase for medical support and the rotation of equipment.  The report noted that for the first time the United Nations had accepted some responsibility to help troop-contributing countries pay for the cost of shipping replacements for ageing equipment.  That represented a significant policy breakthrough.  Another important step was the addition of a basic gynaecological module to level II hospitals, a move that would ensure women peacekeepers received the specific care they needed.  The Working Group also called on contingents to endeavour to reach United Nations environmental and waste management standards.  The report’s 17 recommendations aimed to improve the structure of the contingent-owned equipment system and provide more transparent, enhanced verification tools.

ANTHONY BANBURY, Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support, introduced the Secretary-General’s fourth annual progress report on implementing the Global Field Support Strategy (document A/68/637) and the triennial review of the rates and standards for reimbursement to Member States for contingent-owned equipment (document A/68/830).  The progress report provided the refined “end state vision” for the Strategy and an update on progress in implementing it during 2012-2013.  With the Assembly’s support, the Department of Field Support had developed structures, tools and systems that supported faster deployment, delivered safer and more secure conditions for peacekeepers, and ensured a more responsible field footprint.  Since the last such report, the Organization had worked closely with the Board of Auditors to make concrete progress in implementing the related Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) recommendations.  It had also set up a revised performance framework for each of the Strategy’s pillars.  The Strategy would end in mid-2015 and the Organization would not seek an extension.  During the remaining time, it would work with client departments and missions to articulate a post-Strategy approach to guide the work of the Department and a commitment to improvement.

Turning to the overview report, he said that it captured the speed and depth of the ongoing evolution of United Nations peacekeeping activities, which required careful deliberation on perennial priorities, including air operations, fuel and rations, conduct and discipline, and information and communications technology.  Several emerging developments called for discussion, as they had implications for peacekeeping financing.  For example, the crisis in South Sudan had highlighted the need for a focused discussion on inter-mission cooperation.

CATHERINE POLLARD, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, introducing the Secretary-General’s report on measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (document A/68/756), said that the number of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse reported by all United Nations entities increased from 88 in 2012 to 96 in 2013.  Of the total, 66 cases were made against personnel in peacekeeping operations, with the same four missions — MONUSCO, MINUSTAH, UNMIL and UNMISS — accounting for a majority of those allegations.  A small team of experts visited those missions between June and August 2013 to assess and identify risk factors.  However, it was noted that there had been a general downward trend over the years.

CARMAN LAPOINTE, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on peacekeeping operations from 1 January to 31 December 2013 (document A/68/337 Part II).  It provided an overview of the work on three Divisions:  Internal Audit; Investigations; and Inspection and Evaluation.  OIOS issued more than 200 oversight reports and approximately 500 recommendations on peacekeeping matters in 2013.  She then introduced the Office’s report on its evaluation of the implementation and results of civilian protection mandates in the United Nations peacekeeping missions (document A/68/787), which covered 8 of the 10 peacekeeping mandates that had a mandate to protect civilians.  It excluded the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), set up one month ago, and MINUSMA, which was still new when the evaluation began in mid-2013.

In the five years since the comprehensive review commissioned by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had reported that the chain of events to support civilian protection was broken, much had improved, she said.  Structures and guidance had been developed, partnerships had been clarified, and preventive and mitigating activities appeared to be achieving results, at least in locations near peacekeeping bases.  Despite improvements, peacekeeping operations frequently lacked the capacity and willingness to effectively intervene in active conflicts to protect civilians under attack.  To rectify that, the evaluation called for enhanced operational control of the United Nations over military contingents in peacekeeping missions; improving the clarity of peacekeepers’ tasks at the tactical level; and improving the working-level relationships affecting cooperation and coordination between peacekeeping operations and humanitarian entities.  The Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support had accepted all three recommendations.

CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, presenting that body’s report on cross-cutting issues, noted that the demand for United Nations peacekeeping operations continued to grow with two new missions approved in the last year.  A 12-month extrapolation for the UNMISS resource requirements, as well as the forecasted requirements for MINUSCA, would result in an overall increase in the projected level of expenditure for all peacekeeping operations, compared with the 2013/14 period.  The Advisory Committee recommended that updated information on the overall projected requirements for 2014/15 be provided to the Assembly during the current session.

Regarding the downsizing of missions, he said that the Advisory Committee recommended that when the Security Council decided on such adjustments entailing at least 5 per cent or $10 million of the mission’s resource requirements, the Secretary-General should make a proposal for an immediate downward revision to the related estimates.  In response to the unfolding crisis in South Sudan in late 2013, the Council authorized the appropriate transfer of troops, force enablers and multipliers to the Mission from other missions.  The Advisory Committee recalled that borrowing from active missions was not permitted under General Assembly resolutions.  The ACABQ was of the view that related costs should therefore be charged to the receiving mission from the date of transfer.

Among the issues discussed by the Advisory Committee were the need to re-justify or abolish posts that had long been vacant in missions, he said.  The Committee recommended that a comprehensive review be undertaken to clarify the functions of Government-provided personnel.  The Committee intended to request the Board of Auditors to conduct a comprehensive audit of official travel financed from peacekeeping budgets.

On implementation of the Umoja enterprise resource planning system, he stressed the need for a transparent presentation of the full costs of the preparatory activities borne thus far by peacekeeping missions.  Regarding expenditures, a comprehensive view of the total cost, budget and staffing of information and communications technology in peacekeeping was necessary for proper planning, budgeting and decision-making.  The Committee intended to request the Board of Auditors to conduct a comprehensive audit of peacekeeping information and communication technologies expenditures and present the outcome of that audit in its next report.

Noting that the proposed provision of global functions in the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe was a significant departure from the initial vision for the global field support strategy, he objected to the proposed consolidation of education grant processing functions in the Centre for now.

Statements

DAYANA RIOS (Bolivia), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed concern over the growing trend to impose budget reductions in a peacekeeping mission due to financial imperatives, the need for additional resources in other missions or an arbitrary overall target for peacekeeping expenditures, in disregard for each mission’s specific needs.  She was also concerned that “efficiency measures” were sometimes pursued at the expense of operational capacities and the safety and security of personnel.  “A ‘peacekeeping on the cheap’ approach will fail to achieve the purpose of helping countries to stabilize and establish the basis for a sustainable peace and will, in the end, generate the need for additional resources,” she said.  Further, there was concern that challenges in responding to crises due to the surging demand for missions were being used to justify violations of Assembly decisions and the basic budgetary principle that money be spent in line with budgetary approval.

She regretted that inter-cooperation was being implemented to the detriment of the independence of missions’ budgets and transparency in the budget process.  New processes must not undermine Assembly decisions that prohibited cross-borrowing between active missions.  The Group would seek clarification on that matter, and on the use of Government-provided personnel and the practice of lending staff from one mission to another.  Quick-impact projects must receive adequate funding during all mission phases.  She expressed concern over the failure to better represent troop-contributing countries in senior management posts in the Secretariat and sought information about steps to rectify that imbalance.  She noted the increase this year in the number of reported allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation in peacekeeping missions, and called for continued efforts to reduce such abuse and the length of time to investigate cases.

CARMEL POWER, of the Delegation of the European Union, said that the Secretary-General’s proposed budget of $7.4 billion for 2014/15 was $400 million lower than the preceding year, but the projected requirement for next year was likely to approach $8.5 billion, a historic high.  That meant that, more than ever, strict budgetary disciple would continue to be necessary.  The Union intended to scrutinize the budgets of all the peacekeeping missions, in particular those in a state of drawdown, as well as the support functions.

She was also interested to know the real picture of military, police and civilian personnel requirements across missions and their likely impact on the proposed budget.  The civilian staffing structure of each peacekeeping mission, particularly the ratio of support component to the rest of the mission, must be appropriate when it came to mandate implementation.  There was still room for improvement in areas, such as construction planning, rations delivery and air transportation.  Comments by the ACABQ on the dangers of double budgeting in inter-mission cooperation merited further consideration, given the undoubted benefits of such collaboration for the delivery of effective peacekeeping.

JIM MCLAY (New Zealand), speaking also on behalf of Canada and Australia, welcomed the advances made in aviation management and called for further development of key performance indicators to better benchmark and manage United Nations air operations.  The increasing trend to nationalize posts and positions wherever possible, particularly from a local capacity-building perspective, was well received.  Taking note of the relatively static number of high-level posts and positions despite the overall reduction in mission staffing levels, he called on the Secretary-General to ensure that overall staffing structures were more rigorously scrutinize.

He remained concerned by the number of allegations reported of sexual abuse and exploitation, and looked forward to proposals from the Secretary-General resulting from the findings of the panel of experts on special measures on that issue.  Further, conduct and discipline teams were strongly supported; however, the resources allocated to those personnel would be closely scrutinized.  The fourth annual progress report on the Strategy was welcomed, particularly the refined, end state vision for each pillar of the strategy.  The OIOS evaluation of the implementation and results of civilian protection mandates, while limited in scope, did raise some serious concerns that merited careful consideration.

PAULA COTO-RAMÍREZ ( Costa Rica) expressed concern that nearly half of the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse reported in 2013 involved the most egregious forms of such violence, involving minors.  It was also alarming that the same four peacekeeping missions accounted for a majority of reported allegations.  She deplored resultant pregnancies.  Welcoming the Secretary-General’s effort to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse, including the revision to staff rules and regulations to ban such practices, she stressed the importance of the zero-tolerance policy.

MONDO YAMAMOTO ( Japan) expressed his concern that the overall picture of the 2014/15 peacekeeping budget was still not clear and that it could greatly exceed its historic high of $8 billion.  While it was important to have a focused and separate discussion on individual missions due to their unique situations, a comprehensive and cross-cutting approach was important to achieve more effective and efficient operations across all peacekeeping missions.  His Government was also concerned about the possibility of double funding through the inter-mission cooperation arrangement.  The acquisition and contract management of long-term air charter service agreements could lead to greater comfort for peacekeepers, as well as further efficiency gains in air operations.  He also welcomed cost savings through the reduction of the global light passenger vehicle fleet and the global field support strategy.  Member States should adopt a resolution on cross-cutting issues this year.

STEPHEN LIEBERMAN ( United States) said despite the Strategy’s benefits thus far, questions remained, particularly with regard to some of its pillars that had changed from their initial conception.  He sought a better understanding of those changes and their impact on peacekeeping operations.  More could be done to update the current training structure for missions to ensure the United Nations had the flexible, mobile capabilities required in twenty-first century peacekeeping.  Ensuring effective cooperation between missions and United Nations country teams was the most effective use of limited resources.  He looked forward to information on the implementation of the new policy on integrated assessment and planning.  The Secretary-General should adopt a more prudent approach to mission staffing plans to better align with operational environments.

Since inter-mission cooperation arrangements were short-term it was impractical to charge all costs to receiving missions, which guaranteed they would spend beyond their appropriations, while contributing missions incurred significant unencumbered balances, he said.  The Committee must find a way to enable the United Nations to rapidly respond to crises while allowing the Committee to exercise its oversight function and assess whether resources were used appropriately.  He urged the Secretariat to strengthen measures to end sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers.  The OIOS report indicated a lack of understanding by peacekeepers of what civilian protection entailed at the tactical level, a lack of commitment by mission leaders to use force to protect civilians, and persistent parallel lines of command between troop-contributing countries and their capitals that precluded the warranted use of force.  The Organization must strengthen steps to prevent and address corruption, waste, fraud and abuse.

KIM JIHOON ( Republic of Korea) noted that air transportation accounted for $758 million or 10.4 per cent of the total expenditure of the peacekeeping operations for 2012/13.  There was a need for robust air transportation management to execute everyday operations in the field.  The Secretariat had taken innovative efforts to respond to surge, unforeseen and ad hoc requirements through temporary reassignment of commercially contracted aircraft between missions.  It had also taken steps to procure an air transport management system by developing a series of aviation modules.  Turing to the work of the Fifth Committee as a whole, the issuance of some ACABQ reports at the last minute had given Member States insufficient time to carefully consider them.

SERGEY V. KHALIZOV ( Russian Federation) noted with regret the significant delay in delivering the ACABQ and Secretary-General’s reports before the Committee and called on the Secretariat to adhere to the deadline for issuing documents.  Noting that the peacekeeping budget would top $8 billion this year, he said Member States and the Secretariat must define areas for potential significant savings.  He noted the Secretariat’s figures on savings achieved in implementing the Strategy, but echoed the Board of Auditors’ call that such figures be clarified.  The Russian Federation would actively engage in discussions on the various cross-cutting issues.

Mr. AZCUY (Cuba), associating himself with the Group of 77, expressed concern about the report of the OIOS on the evaluation of the implementation and results of protection of civilians mandates in United Nations peacekeeping operations as it contained controversial value judgements and was questionable regarding the concept of responsibility to protect.  He wondered if the Office would continue to issue reports on that matter, and noted that the Fifth Committee should not get involved in such political judgement.  The report, which outlined conditions for the course of action to be followed by peacekeeping operations, was rejected by Cuba.

Financing of Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. RAMANATHAN introduced the Secretary-General’s budget performance reports for the period 2012/13 and the budget reports for the period 2014/15 for UNOCI (documents A/68/632 and A/68/758); MONUSCO (documents A/68/686, A/68/686/Corr.1 and A/68/788); UNMIL(documents A/68/621 and A/68/761), as well as the Secretary-General’s report on the donation and final disposition of the assets for UNMIS (document A/68/709).

The 2014/15 budgets for UNOCI and UNMIL reflected the reduction in the military and civilian personnel strengths of those missions, he said.  MONUSCO would continue to reconfigure and move operations to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, maintaining a minimum presence in areas not affected by armed conflict.  Functions related to mine action and electoral assistance would be transferred to other United Nations entities.  As a result, the 2014/15 budget included a net reduction of 384 posts and positions and the conversion of 45 international posts and United Nations Volunteer positions to national posts.  Regarding UNMIS, the Assembly was asked to approve the donation of assets to the Sudanese Government and the Joint Integrated Units, as stipulated in paragraph 17 of the Secretary-General’s report.

Mr. RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair of ACABQ, introduced that body’s related report, recommending a reduction of about $10.3 million in the proposed budget for UNOCI due to the likelihood of the unmanned aerial system not being used in the 2014/15 period, a lower cost estimate for consultants and anticipated savings from a new contract for flight operations.  The Advisory Committee’s recommendations on operational costs of MONUSCO would result in a decrease of nearly $4 million to the proposed budget.  Further, it recommended a reduction of some $282,000 to the proposed budget of UNMIL due to the abolishment of two posts that had been vacant for two years or longer, and a 5 per cent reduction in the cost estimate for official travel.  It also recommended approval of the proposed donation of UNMIS assets.

Statements

FLORA CHRISTIANE SEKA-FOUAH ( Côte d’Ivoire) described how her country was returning to peace and normality.  The security situation had been improving since 2011 and the recent provisional release of 14 prisoners had created an environment conducive for national reconciliation.  The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts were under way, the economy was back on track, and the Security Council had recently lifted the embargoes on diamonds and small arms.  A presidential election would be a crucial step.  Given the situation, the 2014/15 budget for UNOCI should be closely studied by the Fifth Committee and the mission should enjoy the financial capacity to implement its mandate fully.

SUN XUDONG (China), noting that adequate resources were the foundation for ensuring peacekeeping missions fulfilled their missions, said the $1.38 billion proposed for MONUSCO for the 2014/15 budget cycle posed a huge challenge to Member States.  As the world’s largest developing country and the most populous, China faced multiple tasks and difficulties in its modernization process.  But it had fulfilled in earnest its financial obligations to the United Nations.  Greater attention was needed on peacekeeping budgeting to increase the efficiency of fund utilization.  The Secretariat must ensure funds were used wisely.  There were serious inadequacies in internal control in the operation of various missions, especially in budgeting, procurement and asset management.  For example, air transport comprised the largest proportion of operational expense for MONUSCO.  As the Board of Auditors’ noted, MONUSCO had failed to discover the misuse of fuel.  Oversight and accountability of the administrative and budgetary management of peacekeeping missions must be strengthened.  He expressed hope the Secretariat would implement the recommendations of auditing and regulatory bodies and ACABQ to further improve peacekeeping resource management.

United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia

Mr. RAMANATHAN introduced the Secretary-General’s report on estimates in respect of UNSOM (document A/68/327/Add.10), which contained the proposed additional resource requirements for that Mission for 2014.  They related mainly to the enhancement of security arrangements, including for deployment of a United Nations Guard Unit, and for 28 new positions to carry out the additional mandate primarily in the fields of the rule of law and security institutions, human rights and protection, and political affairs and mediation.  A total of $22.2 million (net of staff assessment) was requested, to be charged against the provision for special political missions, appropriated under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2014-2015 programme budget.

Mr. RUIZ MASSIEU introduced ACABQ’s corresponding report (document A/68/7/Add.26), saying it recommended against approving an administrative assistant position in the Office of the Director of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions Group, within the United Nations Volunteers, and a P-4 human rights officer position in the Human Rights Section, with corresponding reductions in post-related operational costs.  Under operational costs, the Advisory Committee recommended a $25,200 decrease for consultants and experts and a $94,100 reduction for official travel.  Taking those recommendations into account, ACABQ recommended approval of an extra $21.97 million net for 2014, to be charged against the provision for special political missions, appropriated under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2014-2015 programme budget.

Statement

BEATRICE PACUNEGA MANANO (Uganda), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the Committee’s February field trip to Mogadishu and other places had enabled delegates to interact with the Secretary-General’s Special Representative there and to see first-hand the challenging environment in which UNSOM operated.  The African Group continued to attach great importance to the Mission’s role in seeking a lasting solution to the situation in Somalia.  She welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal of $22.2 million to enable UNSOM to implement new Security Council mandates, including that of the United Nations Guard Unit that would form part of the Mission’s overall security concept.  The Africa Group would scrutinize all elements of the proposed additional requirements for UNSOM and ACABQ’s related recommendations so as to ensure that the Mission had the requisite resources to carry out its mandate, she said.

Other Matters

JANNE TAALAS ( Finland), Committee Chair, responded to a question raised by Cuba’s representative on Monday, explaining that the event held outside Headquarters last Friday was his doing and his responsibility.  Its aim had been to educate Permanent Representatives about issues on the Committee’s agenda.

The representative of Sudan took note of that explanation, particularly the fact that the meeting was not a consultation meeting of the Committee.  He wanted to know what the purpose of the meeting was if the information discussed at the meeting was the same as what had been discussed in the Committee.

The representative of Cuba said it was necessary to clarify that meeting’s objectives, particularly since it had been held outside Headquarters in an informal format.  The meeting had not been useful if it had only considered information already presented, he said, emphasizing that informal meetings held behind closed doors should not be held outside Headquarters.  The Assembly’s established rules of procedure were still in effect, he said, adding that he would continue to wait for the Secretariat’s written response to the questions he had raised on Monday about the matter.

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