Speakers Say Proposed Cuts to Peacekeeping Budget Must Not Hinder Mandate Delivery, as Fifth Committee Opens Second Resumed Session, Reviews Work Programme

GA/AB/4319
6 May 2019
33rd Meeting (AM)

Speakers Say Proposed Cuts to Peacekeeping Budget Must Not Hinder Mandate Delivery, as Fifth Committee Opens Second Resumed Session, Reviews Work Programme

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) opened the second part of its resumed seventy‑second session today with several speakers insisting that the Secretary-General’s proposal to cut a total of $382.2 million from the United Nations peacekeeping budget for 2019/20 must not come at the expense of delivering mandates authorized by the Security Council.

Speaking on behalf of the African Group, Senegal’s delegate said that for the current period, total resource requirements for peacekeeping operations stand at $6.637 billion, down $382.2 million from the level approved for the 2018/19 period and $859.2 million lower than that approved for the 2017/18 period.  Stressing that all peacekeeping mandates must be fully resourced, he urged all Member States to pay their assessments in full, on time and without conditions, adding that the consideration of peacekeeping budgets should be policy-driven — and not taken as a mere cost-reduction exercise.

“We cannot and should not ask our peacekeepers to do more with less,” echoed Indonesia’s representative, who drew a link between adequate resourcing and a mission’s ability to achieve a successful conclusion.  Missions are not monolithic events, but constantly evolve, leaving room for improvements, including in the area of safety and security for “blue helmets”.

The representative of the United States, the biggest single contributor to the Organization’s budget, said her delegation is carefully examining the Secretary-General’s 2019/20 budget request for $6.6 billion.  Noting that for the last two sessions, the Fifth Committee has been unable to reach consensus on a cross-cutting peacekeeping policy resolution, she said that given recent key peacekeeping reform initiatives, the Committee has before it a critical opportunity to support and provide strategic direction for those initiatives via a cross-cutting resolution.

Calling upon the Secretariat to make judicious use of limited budgetary resources while strictly adhering to budget discipline, Japan’s representative said his Government is ready to consider the Secretary-General’s proposals.  However, he added, it will take a cautious approach towards any requests for additional financial resources from Member States.

Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine noted that the agenda item titled “Improving the Financial Situation of the United Nations” appears on the provisional programme of work, when the Committee should be focusing of giving peacekeeping operations budgets that are based on their mandates and the real situation on the ground.  He also highlighted the importance of ensuring that the environmental footprint of peacekeeping missions is reduced to the minimum.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the pursuit of greater economies should be aimed at improving the efficiency of peacekeeping missions in ways that would not be detrimental to mandates set by the Security Council.  “At present, there is no financial crisis in the Organization and its financial situation is sound,” he said, noting however long-standing arrears related to long-closed peacekeeping operations as well as the possible recurrence in autumn 2019 of problems related to the cash flow of the regular budget.

Turning to cross-cutting issues, the representative of the European Union conveyed the bloc’s full support for the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance approach to sexual exploitation and abuse.  Ensuring that vulnerable groups are not harmed by those meant to protect them must remain a top priority for the Organization, he said, welcoming progress made in the implementation of the policy and wanting to see the Organization delivering as one, with a coherent, victim-centred approach.

David Kanja, Assistant-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, presented the report on the Activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on peace operations for the period 1 January to 31 December 2019.  Aruna Thanabalasingam, Officer in Charge to the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.  Cihan Terzi, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), presented that body’s related reports on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Also today, the Fifth Committee took up the Secretary-General’s reports on the financing of five peacekeeping operations:  the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

Underlining the importance of UNMIK’s presence and activities in Kosovo and Metohija, Serbia’s delegate said the Mission’s main objectives and tasks — including the return of expelled Serbs and other non-Albanians — have not been achieved.  Her counterpart from Sudan, speaking on the proposed 2019/20 budget for UNAMID, said recent political developments in Darfur will have a positive impact on Darfur, where the Operation is preparing its exit as stability takes root.

In other business, the Committee recommended by acclamation that the General Assembly appoint Na Sang-deok (Republic of Korea) to the Committee on Contributions for a term of office ending on 31 December 2020, thus filling a vacancy on the 18-member body created by a resignation.  It also approved its provisional work programme for the second resumed session.

Also speaking today were representatives of Mexico, Pakistan, China and Uruguay.

The Fifth Committee will meet again on Tuesday, 7 May at 10 a.m. to continue its second resumed session.

Organization of Work

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, spoke on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, pointing out that he is the Ambassador of the State of Palestine and should have been referred to as such when introduced by the Chair of the meeting.  Turning to the agenda items for the Fifth Committee’s second resumed session, he noted that the item “Improving the Financial Situation of the United Nations” appears on the provisional programme of work and emphasized that the session should prioritize the consideration of the financing of peacekeeping operations.  These complex items demand close attention, he said, and deliberations should be concluded on time to ensure that peacekeeping operations are given the necessary resources to fulfil their mandates.

He underscored that the Group looks forward to engaging on key issues, such as ensuring that the formulation, presentation and approval of peacekeeping operations’ budgets are based on their mandates and the real situation on the ground rather than arbitrary, across-the-board cost-cutting exercises.  Another key issue is to explore options to achieve a fair solution for the unpaid assessments, accounts payable and other liabilities of closed peacekeeping missions, to settle claims outstanding in the missions with cash deficits.  He noted the need to address the systemic and unresolved issues faced by troop- and police-contributing countries, including ensuring fair, timely and realistic reimbursement rates, necessary accommodations for female peacekeepers and the adequate representation of troop- and police-contributing countries in the relevant departments of the Secretariat dealing with peacekeeping missions.  He also highlighted the importance of ensuring that the environmental footprint of peacekeeping missions is reduced to the minimum.

CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal), speaking on behalf of the African Group, and associating himself with the Group of 77, lamented the late issuance of reports, saying it hinders the ability of Member States to prepare for Committee sessions.  On the programme of work, he cautioned that extending the session beyond its allotted time will have a negative impact on the Committee for Programme and Coordination, especially as some of its members also sit on the Fifth Committee.  On the introduction of non-peacekeeping agenda items during the second resumed session, he said it would be more appropriate to consider them at another time.  He recalled that for the current period, total resource requirements for peacekeeping operations is $6.637 billion, down $382.2 million from the level approved for the 2018/19 period and $859.2 million lower than that approved for the 2017/18 period.  The Group trusts that more information will be provided on the impact of changes due to developments on the ground and in the Security Council.

Emphasizing that all peacekeeping mandates must be fully resourced, he said that longstanding delays in reimbursing troop- and police-contributing countries exposes them to financial challenges, resulting in delays that adversely impact on operations and the delivery of mandates.  In that regard, the Group urges all Member States to pay their assessments in full, on time and without conditions.  He went on to emphasize that the consideration of peacekeeping budgets should not be taken as a simple cost-reduction exercise, but rather as a responsible mandate resource allocation and policy-driven exercise.  Going forward, the Group will also look carefully at the performance of, and proposals for, all closed and active peacekeeping operations, as well as the Organization’s support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe and the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi.  He reiterated that the Group does not endorse closed-door or small-room configurations for Committee discussions.

JAN DE PRETER, European Union, said that the Fifth Committee must play a key role in ensuring efficient, effective missions that are adequately financed and equipped to carry out their important mandates.  He expressed concern about the United Nations financial situation and viability and looked forward to discussing it during the current session in order to expedite sustainable solutions for both the Organization’s regular programme and peacekeeping budgets.  The regulations and rules governing the United Nations budget are there to respond to the most urgent needs and to help allocate resources strategically.  Budgetary instruments should be fit-for-purpose to deliver results, he said, noting that far too often the Organization’s actions are defined by funding streams and budget lines, not by strategic implementation of common objectives.

He expressed the hope that the General Assembly can find a solution during the current session for the cash held in closed peacekeeping operations.  The European Union supports United Nations peacekeeping by providing uniformed personnel and other capabilities, as well as strong political support for the Action for Peacekeeping agenda.  The Union is conscious of the shared sense of responsibility that peacekeeping entails, as well as of the clear benefits that result from active participation in peacekeeping missions.

CHERITH NORMAN-CHALET (United States) said that as the matter of the Palestinian Chair of the Group of 77 was raised earlier, she would like to offer her own clarification.  As stated in October, the United States strongly opposes the election of the Observer State of Palestine as the Chair of the Group of 77, as it does not recognize the State of Palestine and no such State has been admitted to the United Nations.  It is inappropriate for an Observer to represent a group of States.

She said that her delegation is carefully examining the Secretary-General’s 2019/20 budget request for $6.6 billion, noting the proposed six-month budgets for two peacekeeping operations: the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH).  Welcoming the Secretary-General’s strategic reviews and their important role in shaping the budget requests for these two operations, as well as the reconfiguration of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), she encouraged him to apply the same strategic approach to all missions.  Noting that for the last two sessions, the Fifth Committee has been unable to reach consensus on a cross-cutting peacekeeping policy resolution, she said that given the recent key peacekeeping reform initiatives, the Committee has before it a critical opportunity to support and provide strategic direction for those initiatives via a cross-cutting resolution.   

As 2019 is the first peacekeeping session of the Fifth Committee since the General Assembly endorsed the United Nations reform agenda — particularly the important decisions concerning management and peace and security pillars — she said it is “a year of full and proper implementation of the agenda as we work towards benefits realization”.  With the breakdown of the previously existing silos in the United Nations peace and security architecture, Member States should directly benefit from the improved coordination between the Secretariat’s political and operational work in assessing and addressing threats to international peace and security.  To that end, the Committee should receive responsible resource and policy requests reflecting this new reality through a clear linkage of how resources will be optimized to promote effective, sustainable political solutions to better deliver on mandates.  She also expected that implementation of management reform would yield resource proposals that reflect the realities on the ground and showcase efforts under way to make more efficient use of peacekeeping resources.

WATARU OTSUKA (Japan), emphasizing that the peacekeeping budget requires a particularly high level of accountability, requested a more in-depth elaboration of how assessed contributions are spent, as well as their impacts, including performance.  On that basis, the Committee should consider the appropriate level of resources for each mission.  He added that Japan shares the Secretary-General’s concerns about the deteriorating financial health of the Organization and will pay close attention to his proposals to address that problem.  Japan will continue to fulfil its obligation as a major financial contributor to the United Nations, while calling upon the Secretariat to make judicious use of limited budgetary resources while strictly adhering to budget discipline.  While Japan is ready to consider the Secretary-General’s proposals, it will take a cautious approach towards any requests for additional financial resources from Member States.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), highlighting the fundamental importance of the 16 peacekeeping operations authorized by the Security Council to international peace and security, said all Member States must meet their financial obligations on time and in good faith.  He said his delegation will be giving particular attention to the financing of MINUJUSTH and ongoing cooperation between the Organization and Haiti, as well as efforts to address sexual exploitation and abuse and the Secretary-General’s financial situation report in the context of his reform initiative.

HASEEB GOHAR (Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that his country is proud to be one of the longest serving and largest contributors to United Nations peacekeeping, with peacekeepers in 46 missions in 28 countries since 1960.  It was the first country to embrace the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative and recently achieved the goal of having women account for 15 per cent of the officers it deploys to peacekeeping missions.  Pakistan’s dedicated Center for International Peace and Stability gives courses on how to better protect civilians from sexual exploitation and abuse.  United Nations peacekeeping is an effective way to preserve peace.  To make it “fit-for-purpose” and “relevant for all”, he noted that “achieving more with less” is untenable.  As of March 2019, an amount of $265 million is payable to troop- and police-contributing countries.  This requires redressal, he said, noting the need to act credibly to provide adequate resources to missions to effectively carry out their diverse mandates.  Bolstering triangular cooperation among troop-contributing countries, the Security Council and the Secretariat is more relevant than ever, he said, stressing that such cooperation should not only be used to formulate mandates, but also for their implementation, review and modification.

FU DAOPENG (China), aligning himself with the Group of 77, underlined the importance of United Nations peacekeeping operations in maintaining peace and security, adding that his country is the second-largest financial contributor and a major troop contributor, with 2,500 peacekeepers deployed to eight missions.  Reviewing the proposed 2019/20 peacekeeping budget should avoid cuts for the sake of cuts that can only trigger “cutting traps”.  Operations must have the necessary resources for fulfilling their mandates while using strict financial discipline, tightened control and strengthened supervision so budgetary performance can improve.  However, severe challenges face the peacekeeping budget, with insufficient cash flows affecting mission performance and increased reimbursement delays to police- and troop-contributing countries.  Easing the current situation hinges on Member States’ timely payment of assessed contributions, he said, calling on States to pay their assessments and support the United Nations cause with actions.

MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia), noting that his country currently has 3,000 peacekeepers deployed to nine missions, said it is a moral obligation to contribute to a more effective and efficient conduct of business in the face of many challenges.  As such, the Fifth Committee must consider the complex mandates missions are charged with, requiring all personnel to be equipped and ready to fulfil duties and deal with unforeseen circumstances.  Adequate resourcing is pertinent for achieving a mission’s successful conclusion, he said, adding that “we cannot and should not ask our peacekeepers to do more with less.”  Missions are not monolithic events, but constantly evolve, leaving room for improvements, including in the area of safety and security of United Nations peacekeepers, where tools such as training and capacity-building can help to ensure they are well trained, well-equipped and well-informed.  Equal attention must focus on achieving adequate representation and participation of police- and troop-contributing countries in the Secretariat handling missions and in the field.

ALISON SOLANGE GRAÑA CORONEL (Uruguay) said that as a troop- and police-contributing country, Uruguay is very concerned about the possible impact of insufficient resources for peacekeeping operations.  The financial requirements of each mission must be looked at individually, taking into consideration the situation on the ground, she said, pointing to her country’s experience in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  On closed peacekeeping missions, she called for mechanisms to be established that would resolve outstanding debts to troop- and police-contributing countries.

EVGENY V. KALUGIN (Russian Federation) said the pursuit of greater economies should be aimed at improving the efficiency of peacekeeping missions in ways that would not be detrimental to mandates set by the Security Council.  The specificities of each mission must be taken into account when allocating resources.  Recalling that the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) consist of several indicators, he said the Secretary-General has been guided only by the indicator concerning the cash flow deficit in the regular budget.  The other three indicators remain positive.  “At present, there is no financial crisis in the Organization and its financial situation is sound,” he said, noting however long-standing arrears related to long-closed peacekeeping operations as well as the possible recurrence in autumn 2019 of problems related to the cash flow of the regular budget.  Many of the Secretary-General’s proposals are unrealistic because they address symptoms, not causes, mainly massive arrears on the part of some Member States.  He emphasized that the Committee must consider the agenda items on improving the Organization’s financial situation and closed peacekeeping operations together.  He added that the Committee should focus on improving the financial situation in ways that would be acceptable to all delegations.

Mr. MANSOUR, State of Palestine, emphasized that it is the Group of 77’s prerogative to elect its Chair.  He recalled General Assembly resolution 73/5, saying it provides the State of Palestine with additional rights for 2019 to carry out its role as Chair of the Group of 77.  He acknowledged that certain States do not recognize the State of Palestine, but his delegation pledged that it will, as Chair of the Group of 77, interact with all States in the same manner.

The Committee then decided to approve its proposed programme of work.

Committee on Contributions

For the 18-member Committee on Contributions, which advises the Assembly on the distribution of the Organization’s expenses among Member States, delegates recommended by acclamation the appointment of Na Sang-deok (Republic of Korea) to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Yoon Seongmee (Republic of Korea), which took effect on 4 April 2019, for a term of office beginning on the date of adoption by the General Assembly and ending on 31 December 2020.

Cross-cutting Issues

DAVID KANJA, Assistant-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, presented the report on the Activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on peace operations for the period 1 January to 31 December 2019 (document A/73.324 Part II).  During the reporting period, the Internal Audit Division continued improving its output through enhanced audit tools and methodology.  It partnered with other divisions to strengthen its performance auditing approach and the capacity to identify and address fraud risks in its audits.  The Division will continue to build on other multi-year initiatives such as assessing the impact of organizational culture on attaining results.  In 2019, during the first year of implementing peace and security and other management reforms, the Division’s workplan will focus on providing independent advice towards their successful realization, such as audit engagements that centre on change management initiatives and implementing enterprise risk management.  In 2018, a large proportion of audit results highlighted areas where management needed to improve the adequacy and effectiveness of internal controls and programme implementation.  These audits continue to help improve the peacekeeping operations’ effectiveness and efficiency, assess whether adequate policies and instructions have been developed and implemented, and determine whether strategic planning, risk management, monitoring and oversight activities are appropriate.  The Division issued 78 reports related to peace operations and 448 recommendations, 2 of which were critical.

The Investigations Division streamlined its procedures for receiving, processing and addressing complaints of sexual harassment through a victim-centred approach, in line with the Secretary-General’s commitment to uphold zero tolerance in this area, he continued.  To strengthen the investigations, OIOS recruited investigators in six newly-created posts that specialize in investigating sexual harassment and conducted four training courses for national investigation officers, who are tasked with investigating misconduct by uniformed peacekeepers.

Also during the reporting period, the Inspection and Evaluation Division issued two reports related to peace operations, including one evaluation report on the re-hatting of the African Union forces in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), and one inspection report on missions’ operational responses to incidents related to the protection of civilians.  The Division established its first field presence in Entebbe in 2018 through the deployment of three evaluation officers, in accordance with resolution 71/295 (document A/RES/71/295).  The Division also continued to conduct comprehensive risk assessments of peacekeeping operations and mandates, in accordance with its workplan and in consultation with the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support.

ARUNA THANABALASINGAM, Officer in Charge to the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (document A/73/744), which highlights the progress made across the United Nations to implement the zero-tolerance policy.  In the implementation of the strategy, the Secretary-General has prioritized measures and initiatives that can be executed under his own authority while placing the rights and dignity of victims at the centre.  For example, he has instituted accountability mechanisms to raise awareness among senior United Nations leadership of their individual responsibility to address this agenda through the submission of annual action plans, as well as management letters submitted by members of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB).  The launch of “Clear Check” in 2018 allows the United Nations system to manage the risk of rehiring perpetrators of sexual exploitation and abuse.  The recently established Civil Society Advisory Board serves as a tool to deepen the engagement of the Organization with perspectives from external experts.

The report highlights the strengthened efforts of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee to engage the humanitarian sector in alignment with the Secretary-General’s strategy, she said.  The report also points to the continued partnership with Member States through such initiatives as the Circle of Leadership to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations operations, the Voluntary Compact between Member States and the Secretary-General on the commitment to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse and the Action for Peacekeeping agenda.

CIHAN TERZI, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced its related report on the special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (document A/73/828).  Regarding the measures to strengthen the United Nations response to sexual exploitation and abuse, the Advisory Committee notes the Secretary-General’s efforts to increase awareness, engagement and commitment, and that as a progress report, it contains no specific proposals with additional budgetary implications.  Noting the efforts to adopt a whole-of-system approach to addressing the matter, the Advisory Committee trusts that more efforts will be made through the CEB.  It notes with concern the significant increases in reported cases in entities other than peacekeeping missions and encourages the Secretary-General to carry out further prevention efforts, noting the development of the implementing partner protocol in that regard.

The Advisory Committee recalls that the General Assembly has reaffirmed the collective and unanimous position that one substantiated case of sexual exploitation and abuse is one case too many, he said.  More focus should be given to the nature of the allegations, particularly egregious cases, rather than the number of allegations alone.  Concerning non-United Nations forces and personnel, the Advisory Committee notes the need to align the United Nations standards for uniformed personnel and to apply them equally to non-United Nations international forces.  Noting that the Secretary-General does not provide any information on human and financial resources dedicated to the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse in the United Nations system, the Advisory Committee calls for further efforts to identify the system-wide resources dedicated to this matter.

JAN DE PRETER, European Union, fully supported the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance approach to sexual exploitation and abuse.  Ensuring that vulnerable groups are not harmed by those meant to protect them must remain a top priority for the Organization.  He welcomed the progress made in the implementation of the policy and wanted to see the Organization delivering as one, with a coherent, victim-centred approach.  The European Union stands committed to long-term work with partners, troop-contributing countries and stakeholders in a spirit of genuine cooperation, ensuring that prevention measures are strengthened, allegations are investigated, justice is served and victims are provided with the support they deserve.  He also expressed support of the work of OIOS and looked forward to discussing its report in the context of the cross-cutting informal consultations.

CAROLYN STRAINIC (United States) said that she welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts to implement his zero-tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse.  It is not just a problem in United Nations peacekeeping and her delegation appreciates the Secretary-General’s efforts to address it wherever it appears, system-wide.  This includes his prioritization of the work of the Special Coordinator and the Victims’ Rights Advocate, as well as the creation of the High Level Steering Group.  However, there is still much work to do to achieve accountability and end this problem.  She noted the decrease in allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations peacekeeping but remains concerned about persistent under-reporting.  She welcomed the increased focus on transparency for allegations against implementing partners, noting that, given the rise in reported allegations, “this clearly remains an area for great risk to vulnerable populations”.  She urged all United Nations entities to step up efforts to vet and monitor their implementing partners for abuse.  She also called on Member States to swiftly and credibly address criminal allegations of sexual abuse against their nationals and to report on these steps to the Secretariat.

Financing of Peacekeeping Missions

PEDRO GUAZO, Officer-in-Charge, Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the financing of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) (documents A/73/615 and A/73/738), United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (documents A/73/613 and A/73/733), United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (documents A/73/627 and A/73/735), United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) (documents A/73/617 and A/73/737) and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (documents A/73/653 and A/73/785).

Regarding UNFICYP in Cyprus, he said the Secretary-General is proposing a budget of $51.4 million for 2019/20, down 2.9 per cent compared with the 2018/19 approved budget, reflecting the expected completion of the construction of accommodation for the relocation of military personnel in the first half of 2019, the application of a lower exchange rate between the euro and the United States dollar, lower salary costs for international staff and a lower number of flight hours for patrol and observation operations.  The Mission’s activities will continue to support liaison and engagement with the sides across all components, including intercommunal contacts and confidence-building measures to maintain stability and calm, thereby contributing effectively to conditions conducive to progress towards reaching a potential settlement agreement, he said.

On UNMIK in Kosovo, he said the proposed 2019/20 budget of $37.2 million represents an increase of 0.1 per cent compared to the 2018/19 approved budget as the Mission continues to strengthen and consolidate peace, security, the rule of law and stability in Kosovo and the region.  This year, the Mission will continue to leverage projects and activities towards mandate implementation, particularly in promoting inter-community trust-building, human rights and rule of law initiatives.  He added that, in line with its efforts to reduce its overall environmental footprint, the Mission will focus on energy efficiency, recycling, tree-planting and awareness-raising activities.

Turning to UNIFIL in Lebanon, he said the proposed 2019/20 budget of $485.2 million is up 2.3 per cent from the 2018/19 approved budget, reflecting increased requirements for reimbursements to troop-contributing countries, the proposed implementation of the first year of a five-year asset replacement plan and a higher estimated cost for fuel.  UNIFIL’s activities will continue to focus on restoring international peace and security in southern Lebanon and advancing the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), which called for an end to hostilities between Israel and Hizbullah .  Pursuant to Council resolution 2433 (2018), which extended UNIFIL’s mandate to 31 August 2019, the Mission will also increase its presence within its existing mandate and capabilities and enhance its coordination with the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, he explained.

In respect of MINURSO in Western Sahara, he said the proposed 2019/20 budget of $56.4 million represents an increase of 7.7 per cent compared with the approved resources for 2018/19.  He noted that the Mission will continue its observation and monitoring activities to ensure that the parties comply with the ceasefire agreement, provide support to the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General when visiting the region, facilitate the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in implementing the programme of confidence-building measures once that programme resumes and provide logistical support to the African Union’s observer delegation in Laayoune.

Turning finally to UNAMID, the hybrid operation in Darfur, he said the Secretary-General is proposing financing arrangements for the six months until 31 December 2019 in the amount of $269.9 million.  He explained that that will be a “period of consolidation” as the Secretary-General awaits Security Council decisions to enable further refinement of planning in relation to the scope and pace of reconfigurations as well as the modalities for a drawdown during the latter part of the 2019/20 period.  He explained that the Operation will continue to collaborate with the United Nations country team through the State Liaison to undertake programmatic activities, in line with the transition concept endorsed by the Council through resolution 2429 (2018).  In view of its envisaged exit in June 2020, he said the Operation will undertake critical operational activities during the period, including environmental clean-up and bio-remediation activities.

Mr. TERZI introduced the Advisory Committee’s corresponding reports.  Regarding UNFICYP (document A/73/755/Add.5), he said ACABQ’s recommendations would entail a reduction of $125,400 to the Secretary-General’s proposed budget.  Under civilian personnel, it recommends against the proposed upward reclassification of one P-3 post.  Under operational costs, it recommends reductions under ground transportation, consultants and training.  Regarding ground transportation, he said the Advisory Committee trusts that the Force will make efforts to align the number of its vehicles to the prescribed standard ratios.  He went on to welcome UNFICYP’s environmental initiatives and commended it for achieving a 50/50 gender balance among its international staff.

On UNMIK, he said the ACABQ reiterated its concern about the ongoing deterioration of its cash position.

Turning to UNIFIL, he said the Advisory Committee — noting that the Mission already has three senior officials at the D-2 level — recommends against the proposed establishment of the Principal Coordination Office (D-1) post.  With regards to operational costs, it recommends a $300,000 reduction to the proposed resource requirements for facilities and infrastructure, as well as a $50,000 reduction for communications and information technology.  The ACABQ welcomes UNIFIL’s efforts to come up with a comprehensive 5-year asset replacement plan, as that approach can be replicated in other missions where a significant proportion of assets are nearing the end of their usable life.

Regarding MINURSO, the ACABQ reiterates its concern about the continuing deterioration of its cash position, he said, recalling that the General Assembly has repeatedly urged Member States to fulfil their financial obligation on time, in full and without condition.  He added that the Advisory Committee is recommending a reduction of 5 per cent for the proposed requirements for petrol, oil and lubricants under ground transportation in view of the planned reduced length of ground patrols while also taking into account the high level of the proposed fuel reserve.

Finally, on UNAMID, he said the Advisory Committee considers the proposed level of resources may not be fully justified in several areas, in view of the pattern of expenditure and the Operation’s downsizing.  It therefore recommends a reduction of proposed resources by $2.5 million and that the General Assembly authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments, with assessment, in an amount not to exceed $267.4 million.  He emphasized that UNAMID should continue its training activities aimed at the professional and vocational capacity-building of national staff affected by the downsizing.  The Operation should also continue with its environmental clean-up measures in anticipation of its eventual closure and the handover of mission sites.  Concerning the performance report for the period 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018, the ACABQ recommends that the unencumbered balance and other income/adjustments of $12.6 million be credited to Member States.

JELENA PLAKALOVIĆ (Serbia), underlining the paramount importance of UNMIK presence and activities in Kosovo and Metohija, said the Mission’s main objectives and tasks have not been achieved, including the return of expelled Serbs and other non-Albanians.  Highlighting ethnically motivated attacks on internally displaced persons, she said the Mission’s presence is necessary for implementing agreements reached in the Brussels dialogue, which inter-ethnic mistrust has now stalled.  While Serbia has made courageous efforts to achieve reconciliation and regional stabilization, Priština has been seriously opposing and drastically violating the agreements achieved thus far, including its failure to establish the Community of Serbian Municipalities, its imposition of 100 per cent tariffs on central Serbian goods and its adoption of a law transforming the Kosovo Security Force into armed forces.

Negotiations are the only way to resolve all outstanding issues, she said, noting that Serbia refrained from reciprocal measures following the imposition of tariffs.  For these and other reasons, she insisted on preserving the Mission’s budget to enable UNMIK to fully carry out its mandate.  Regretting to note the high number of vacant UNMIK posts — ACABQ reports 24 vacancies — compared with the total of 355 civilian personnel, she said this situation runs contrary to relevant General Assembly resolutions, and the Secretariat should take all steps to fill the positions promptly.  Disagreeing with the ACABQ contention that posts vacant for more than two years should be re-evaluated to identify if they are needed, she said a re-evaluation should instead be conducted on why they have remained vacant for such a long period.  These posts should be filled without delay, and it must be ensured that the ongoing vacancy rate, created by the Secretariat’s postponement to embark on a recruitment process, should not be reflected as a parameter in the budget’s next assessment.

The Secretary-General’s appropriation in 2019 of funds for programmatic activities and confidence-building projects proved useful and meaningful in ensuring the Mission’s proactive contribution to improving the situation, she said.  “We trust and believe that the full amount of the proposed funds will be approved this year, primarily to contribute to the building of confidence among communities and the promotion of human rights law and the rule of law,” she said.

ABU ALI AHMED (Sudan), emphasizing that political developments in Sudan will have a positive effect in Darfur, said his Government looks forward to cooperating with the Secretariat and the Security Council to implement the UNAMID exit strategy in line with Council resolution 2429 (2018).  He called on the international community, including donors, to provide financial and development support as Darfur enters a peacebuilding phase and the Government implements reconstruction plans.  He appealed for the Organization to work jointly with the Government to assess the environmental footprint of all UNAMID sites and requested that international posts in UNAMID be converted into national posts as the Mission draws down.

For information media. Not an official record.