Amid Major Challenges in Haiti, New Support Mission Must Be Spared Arbitrary Cuts, Speakers Warn as Fifth Committee Considers Proposed Funding

GA/AB/4267
18 December 2017
Seventy-second Session, 26th Meeting (AM)

Amid Major Challenges in Haiti, New Support Mission Must Be Spared Arbitrary Cuts, Speakers Warn as Fifth Committee Considers Proposed Funding

Arbitrary reductions in the resources allocated to the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) should be avoided, particularly as the country faced continued humanitarian, health and social challenges, delegates told the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today as it took up a range of reports, including one related to the human rights situation in Myanmar.

MINUJUSTH was established by Security Council resolution 2350 (2017) for an initial period of six months from 16 October 2017 until 15 April 2018, as a follow‑up to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).  The Secretary‑General was initially authorized to enter into commitments of up to $25 million through 31 December 2017, with estimated resource requirements for MINUJUSTH’s maintenance through 30 June 2018 totaling $93.2 million.

The representative of El Salvador, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that Haiti remained vulnerable to a plethora of serious challenges, which underscored the importance of the United Nations continued presence and the involvement of the international community, as well as the need to solidify the decision that the United Nations continue supporting Haiti, he said.  MINUJUSTH’s budget, like those of other peacekeeping and special political missions, should be based on the situation on the ground, with its mandate approved by the Security Council, not by artificial budgetary ceilings.

Jamaica’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), echoed that sentiment, stressing that the Group did not encourage arbitrary resource reductions without technical justification.  CARICOM was pleased that specific attention was being placed on strengthening national capacities, including national ownership of the electoral process, support for victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, and capacity‑building for the Haitian National Police.  The Group also welcomed the Secretary‑General’s proposal to implement 30 quick‑impact projects to meet minor infrastructure and equipment needs of justice and security institutions, she said, stressing the importance of ensuring that those projects were aligned with international codes and standards.

The representative of Chile emphasized the importance of continuing programmatic activities to support the MINUJUSTH mandate, which aimed to strengthen the rule of law and consolidate peace.  The Fifth Committee bore the responsibility to grant all necessary resources the Secretary‑General requested in a predictable, efficient and flexible manner, so that the Mission was “effectively the continuation of a process and not the regression of it,” she said.  In that scenario, adequately considering conditions on the ground was essential, as was avoiding security gaps.

Maria Costa, Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division of the Office of Programme, Planning, Budget and Accounts of the Department of Management, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on the budget for MINUJUSTH for the period from 16 October 2017 to 30 June 2018.  She said the estimated resource requirements for the Mission’s maintenance totaled $93.2 million, including $34.3 million for military and police personnel; $26.8 million for the deployment of 160 international staff, 185 national staff, 6 United Nations Volunteers and 38 Government-provided personnel; as well as $32.1 million for operational costs.

As the Fifth Committee took up a statement submitted by the Secretary‑General on the budget implications of a draft resolution pertaining to the human rights situation in Myanmar, the representative of that country said it had voted against the draft because it was discriminatory and intended to exert unwarranted political pressure.  Myanmar was opposed to any country‑specific resolution in the General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), as it contravened the principle of avoiding overlapping mandates which could result in extra budget implications.  Any political mission established without the consent of the country concerned would fail to produce any positive result, she said, and would squander the Organization’s resources.  

Johannes Huisman, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division of the Department of Management’s Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts, introduced the Secretary‑General’s statement, saying that the General Assembly had asked the Secretary‑General to continue to provide his good offices and pursue discussions related to Myanmar, as well as appoint a special envoy on Myanmar and offer assistance to the Government.  To implement those requests, additional resources of $1.5 million for 2018 had been proposed.

Mr. Huisman also introduced a second statement submitted by the Secretary‑General pertaining to a draft resolution on the investigation into the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and the members of the party accompanying him, as well as the Secretary‑General’s report on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the Secretary‑General’s report on limited budgetary discretion. 

Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, presented its corresponding reports.

At the end of the meeting, Michel Tommo Monthe (Cameroon), Fifth Committee Chair, updated delegations on the status of its work.  While there had been significant progress on several issues, “a big gulf” remained regarding the overall programme budget for 2018‑2019.  Emphasizing that he was not giving up hope, he said he wanted the two opposing sides to come together and meet in the middle in a way that did not leave delegations saying they had won or lost completely.  He appealed for delegations not to stick to their guns, but rather show pragmatism and flexibility.  On management reform, he praised the efforts made so far, but noted that a window of opportunity for agreement was closing, and urged delegations to use their time wisely.

Also speaking were the representatives of Mexico, Argentina, Dominican Republic and Libya.

The Fifth Committee will meet again on Tuesday, 19 December at 10:00 a.m. to discuss Umoja; the programme budget implications of a draft resolution on the modalities for the Intergovernmental Conference to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration; and the financing of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Residual Mechanism.

Financing for United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti

MARIA COSTA, Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division of the Office of Programme, Planning, Budget and Accounts of the Department of Management, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on the budget for the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) for the period from 16 October 2017 to 30 June 2018 (document A/72/560*).  The Mission’s mandate was established by the Security Council for an initial period of six months from 16 October 2017 until 15 April 2018, as a follow‑up to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). 

Estimated resource requirements for MINUJUSTH’s maintenance for the six‑month period totalled $93.2 million, she said.  That amount included $34.3 million for military and police personnel, which provided for deployment at the authorized strength level, given the transfer of formed police units from MINUSTAH and MINUJUSTH and the ability to recruit from United Nations police officers engaged with MINUSTAH.  It also included $26.8 million for the deployment of 160 international staff, 185 national staff, 6 United Nations Volunteers and 38 Government-provided personnel, under the assumption that concerted recruitment efforts during the 2.5‑month period from 16 October 2017 would result in full incumbency on 1 January 2018.  Furthermore, $32.1 million was budgeted for operational costs, taking into consideration the facilities and infrastructure that had been transferred to MINUJUSTH to meet its comparatively scaled down operational requirements.  Existing commercial contracts available to MINUSTAH for goods and services had been scaled down as needed and transferred to MINUJUSTH.

On 6 September 2017, the Controller of the United Nations had sought the concurrence of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) to enter into commitments to meet the estimated preliminary resource requirements for MINUJUSTH’s start up activities from 16 October to 31 December 2017, she said.  The Advisory Committee authorized the Secretary‑General to enter into commitments of up to $25 million; the current budget proposal subsumed that amount.  Funds appropriated by the General Assembly would reimburse advances from the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund.  In addition to the requested resources, the Secretary‑General proposed that the General Assembly approve using MINUSTAH’s special account for funding of MINUJUSTH.

CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, presented its corresponding report (document A/72/642), which recommended an appropriation of $91.81 million for the period 16 October 2017 to 30 June 2018, or $1.37 million less than what the Secretary‑General proposed.  The Advisory Committee recommended against an adjustment to staffing requirements for payroll servicing, given the reduced workload arising from the smaller mission and some reductions to staffing requirements for the Capacity‑Building Section.  It also recommended adjusting the vacancy rates for certain staff categories for the period 1 January to 30 June 2018 in view of actual recruitment patterns.  It went on to recommend reductions in resources for training consultants and proposed expenditures for outside mission travel.  Noting the Secretary‑General’s proposal to use the special account for MINUSTAH to finance the new Mission, he said the Advisory Committee trusted that formal financial reports through Umoja would enable separate and distinct reporting on expenditures and resource usage for both missions, including for the use of the special account during the two missions’ overlapping period.

CARLOS ALEJANDRO FUNES HENRÍQUEZ (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), stressed that for MINUJUSTH to fulfil its mandate, it required adequate resources, including to support programmatic activities to strengthen the peacebuilding agenda.  In that connection, the Group was committed to helping put Haiti on a path of stabilization, sustainable peace and development through the Mission’s current mandate to assist the Government to strengthen rule of law, further support and develop the Haitian National Police, and engage in human rights monitoring, reporting and analysis.  CELAC was very proud of the work done by MINUSTAH, particularly its military component, and of the support provided to Haiti through bilateral channels, regional cooperation and the United Nations system through technical cooperation, humanitarian assistance, medical teams and other forms of support.  It was necessary to preserve the gains of MINUSTAH, especially in security, by appropriately funding its successor.

Haiti remained vulnerable to humanitarian crises, health issues and other social problems, which underscored the importance of the United Nations continued presence and the involvement of the international community, as well as the need to solidify the decision that the United Nations continue supporting Haiti, he said.  CELAC disagreed with any arbitrary reductions, without technical justification, in the resources allocated to the Mission and underlined that MINUJUSTH’s budget, like those of other peacekeeping and special political missions, should be based on the situation on the ground, with its mandate approved by the Security Council, not by artificial budgetary ceilings.  The Group reiterated its commitment to working constructively in the negotiating process to ensure that MINUJUSTH had sufficient resources to implement its mandate with a view to providing all necessary assistance to Haiti.

DIEDRE NICHOLE MILLS (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said it was imperative for MINUJUSTH to be adequately financed and resourced in order to fulfil all its mandates and to consolidate the tremendous gains achieved by its predecessor.  CARICOM was pleased that specific attention was being placed on strengthening national capacities, including national ownership of the electoral process, support for victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, and capacity‑building for the Haitian National Police.  It also welcomed the Secretary‑General’s proposal to implement 30 quick‑impact projects to meet minor infrastructure and equipment needs of justice and security institutions, she said, stressing the importance of ensuring that those projects were aligned with international codes and standards.  MINUJUSTH’s budget, like those of other peacekeeping and special political missions, should be based on the situation on the ground and the mandate approved by the Security Council.  It must not be based on artificial budgetary ceilings.  CARICOM therefore did not encourage arbitrary reductions, without technical justification, in resources allocated to that Mission, she said.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), associating himself with CELAC, said that the establishment of MINUJUSTH represented the culmination of a key phase of the United Nations involvement in Haiti, and underscored and reaffirmed the Organization’s commitment  to continue playing its part in strengthening the rule of law, national institutions and development in Haiti.  Haiti had stepped up to take responsibility for its future, and the United Nations should support future efforts to achieve sustainable and lasting peace in the country.  Public institutions must be strengthened to protect human rights and the operational capacities of the national police, while the new Mission should also showcase the United Nations ability to improve peace, technical and humanitarian assistance and development on the ground in Haiti.  He went on to highlight that Mexico had participated in MINUSTAH for two years, and intended to continue its commitment to future efforts in Haiti.

Ms. DOMINQUEZ (Chile), associating herself with the CELAC, said her delegation fully shared the Secretary‑General’s evaluation that States must ensure a responsible transition in Haiti in the Organization’s presence.  The link between security and development in the Mission’s new cycle would continue to be a fundamental way towards sustainable peace.  As such, she emphasized the importance of continuing programmatic activities in their proper context in order to support the MINUJUSTH mandate, which aimed to strengthen the rule of law and consolidate peace.  The Fifth Committee bore the responsibility to grant all necessary resources the Secretary‑General requested in a predictable, efficient and flexible manner, so that the Mission was “effectively the continuation of a process and not the regression of it,” she said.  In that scenario, adequately considering conditions on the ground was essential, as was avoiding security gaps. 

NATALIA VIRGINIA BABIO (Argentina) said that although Security Council resolution 2350 (2017) envisaged a two‑year term for the new Mission, its duration must depend on the situation on the ground.  A premature withdrawal must be avoided.  Noting that quick‑impact projects had already benefited two million people, she said that such projects, together with others to end community violence, were essential to consolidate peace in Haiti and build trust between the United Nations and its people.  She said her country hoped that the level of resources requested by the Secretary‑General would be approved.

OLIVIO FERMÍN (Dominican Republic) said that, after more than a decade of MINUSTAH’s deployment, Haiti was enjoying greater political stability.  It was also more secure.  Haiti had proven it was willing to do all it could to strengthen political stability, as seen as by the reforms spearheaded by its President in his “Caravan for Change” programme.  Underscoring his country’s support for Haiti going forward, including bilateral meetings and shared programmes, he said it supported the level of financing proposed by the Secretary‑General, including the necessary funding of quick‑impact projects.

2018-2019 Programme Budget Implications of Draft Resolutions

JOHANNES HUISMAN, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division of the Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts of the Department of Management, introduced statements submitted by the Secretary‑General in accordance with rule 153 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly on the programme budget implications of two draft resolutions.  The first statement (document A/C.3/72/L.48) pertained to the budget implications of the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.5/72/13), in which the General Assembly requested the Secretary‑General to continue to provide his good offices and pursue discussions related to Myanmar, and in that regard, to appoint a special envoy on Myanmar and offer assistance to the Government of that country.  To implement the request, the Secretary‑General proposed additional resources of $1.5 million for 2018, to be charged against the provision for special political missions included under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2018‑2019 programme budget.

The second statement (document A/72/L.19) pertained to the draft resolution on the investigation into the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and the members of the party accompanying him (document A/C.5/72/19).  He noted that the General Assembly asked that the Secretary‑General continue to review the potential new information, including that which may be available from Member States, to assess its probative value, to determine the scope that any further inquiry or investigation should take and, if possible, draw conclusions from the investigations already conducted and provide for an oral briefing on any progress made.  To implement that request, the Secretary‑General proposed an additional $357,000 under section 1, Overall policymaking, direction and coordination, section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management of the 2018‑2019 budget as a charge against the contingency fund.

United Nations Support Mission in Libya

Moving to thematic cluster III: regional offices, offices in support of political processes and other missions, he introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) (document A/72/371/Add.8).  The resources for 2018 for UNSMIL totalled $72.2 million, up $11 million compared to the approved resources for 2017.  The proposed budget reflected increases mainly under facilities and infrastructure, primarily due to the higher contractual cost of the UNSMIL compound in Tripoli, and the planned establishment of an office in eastern Libya as well as under military contingent personnel, since the full deployment of the United Nations Guard Unit was expected to be completed by the end of 2017.  The $72.2 million proposed would be charged against the provision for special political missions included under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2018‑2019 programme budget.

Limited Budgetary Discretion

He then introduced the Secretary-General’s report on limited budgetary discretion (document A/72/497), underlining that the proposal regarding the continuation of the discretionary mechanism for 2018‑2019 under the current arrangements would be subject to the General Assembly’s decision on the management reform proposals, as the Secretary‑General had made further recommendations regarding budgetary discretion mechanisms in that context.  Those further proposals, if approved by the General Assembly, would become effective for 2018‑2019.

Mr. RUIZ MASSIEU presented the Advisory Committee’s corresponding reports (documents A/72/7/Add.33, A/72/7/Add.32, A/72/7/Add.18 and A/72/7/Add.30).

Beginning with the situation of human rights in Myanmar, he said the Advisory Committee recommended an appropriation of $853,800 for the period 1 January to 31 December 2018 for the Special Envoy, a reduction of $687,300 from the Secretary‑General’s proposal.  It recommended that resource requirements for field‑based staff and field‑based operation costs in 2018 be recalculated using standard rates for Bangkok, given its proximity to Myanmar and large United Nations presences, and expected that standard budgetary policy on vacancy rates would be followed.  The Advisory Committee expected that the Secretary‑General would have provided more detailed information on major budgetary assumptions used in preparing his estimated cost, and trusted that such assumptions would be outlined in his budget submission for 2019.  It also recommended some reduction in staffing requirements both in the field and in New York in 2018, as well as reductions in resources for consultants.

Regarding the investigation into the tragic death of Mr. Hammarskjöld and members of his party, he said the Advisory Committee — taking into account the pattern of expenditure for 2016‑2017 as well as activities to be implemented — recommended that the proposed requirements be reduced by 10 per cent, $35,700, to $321,600.

Turning to the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, he said the Advisory Committee recommended approval of its staffing resources, with the exception of one position of Senior Political Affairs Officer (P‑5) in the Department of Political Affairs.  It also recommended the abolishment of three positions vacant for two years or longer, and that more positions be nationalized, specifically when the Mission begins the process of its rotational presence and final relocation to Libya.  Regarding operational costs, he said requirements for additional resources for consultants did not appear justified, given the security situation in Libya and the proposed change of duty station for 119 positions from Tripoli to Tunis.  The Advisory Committee therefore recommended maintaining the resources at the level of the approved budget for 2017 under consultants.  It also recommended a review of provisions of the Mission’s rental contract prior to its expiration, and noted the need to keep ground transportation requirements under review.  On information technology, it recommended a $25,700 reduction.

On the limited budgetary discretion mechanism, he noted that only $455,300 had been utilized over the past three biennia, while the discretionary authority granted to the Secretary‑General amounted to $6 million per biennium.  Moreover, the mechanism’s ceiling of $20 million within a given biennium had never been reached.  He also expressed regret that the General Assembly’s request for justification to keep the discretionary mechanism beyond 2016‑2017 had not been met.

HMWAY HMWAY KHYNE (Myanmar) opposed any country‑specific resolution in the General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), as it contravened the principle of the United Nations to avoid overlapping mandates in the system and creating extra budget implications.  Myanmar had also voted against draft resolution “L.48” because it was selective, discriminatory and politically motivated, and was intended to exert unwarranted political pressure.  A Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar had been appointed in 1992 under the Commission on Human Rights resolution 58, and was extended annually.  Human Rights Council resolution 31/24, adopted on 24 March 2016, had broadened the mandate.  In addition, a fact‑finding Mission on Myanmar was established in 2017 through Human Rights Council resolution 34/22.  Her delegation did not believe that any political mission established without the consent of the country concerned would produce any positive result, and would be a squandering of the resources of the United Nations.

MOHAMED A. M. NFATI (Libya) welcomed the efforts of UNSMIL as it implemented the Libyan Political Agreement which had been endorsed by all parties.  His delegation hoped that the Mission would have the necessary resources so it could carry out its mandate and had supported the conversion of international posts to local posts.  Further, his delegation hoped for political and security stability in Libya so that UNSMIL could return to Tripoli with full staffing levels, and so that the Government of National Accord could move forward with the political transition.

For information media. Not an official record.