Delegates in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today voiced their concerns over the worsening cash flow problems enveloping the Organization’s regular budget and stressed the need to give the world body a sounder financial foundation. Some Member States criticized other States for not paying their assessments on time and in full without conditions, which has forced the Secretariat to take emergency measures to pay staff and keep the New York City Headquarters operating.
The observer for the State of Palestine, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Group is gravely concerned with the deepening liquidity crisis. The Working Capital Fund and Special Account have been depleted for the second consecutive year and the Organization has had to borrow from the accounts of closed peacekeeping missions yet again. “This is not good budgetary practice, nor is this sustainable,” he said, adding that finance is a foundation underpinning United Nations governance.
Sri Lanka’s representative, associating herself with the Group of 77, said it is critical to explore new ways to seek the payments of unsettled assessed contributions. She noted “with disdain” that as of 4 October, the amount of unpaid contributions totalled nearly $1.4 billion. “Such a trend must be arrested forthwith,” she added.
In opening remarks, Tijjani Muhammad‑Bande (Nigeria), President of the General Assembly, said the impact of the Fifth Committee’s work cannot be overestimated. Its decisions affect the Organization’s capacity to carry out mandates provided by Member States. Warning of the liquidity crisis, the General Assembly President urged all Member States to fulfil their commitments and obligations in accordance with the budget and scale of assessments.
Delegates agreed that the trend of the Organization’s limited financial liquidity can no longer be ignored, with some pointing the finger at the United States as largely to blame for the lack of cash on hand.
The speaker for Cuba said it is very concerning that the monetary deficit is $230 million more than the deficit experienced in the same month of 2018. “We know perfectly well who is primarily responsible for the very critical financial situation that the Organization is experiencing today,” she said, adding, “The Government of the United States insists on reminding us of its status as the largest contributor.”
Echoing that sentiment, Iran’s representative said the United States is the main offender in creating the Secretariat’s financial crisis, seemingly with the aim of taking the Organization hostage for political objectives. That threat must be addressed promptly and properly, he stressed, as recent years have seen much unacceptable conduct by that country against international bodies and agreements.
The representative of the United States, however, said that as the Secretary‑General has noted on previous occasions, the regular budget’s financial situation has multiple origins and late Member State payments are not the sole reason for the current situation. Some of the steps taken by the Secretary‑General to reduce expenditure levels and the strategic management of resources should be a regular course of business. “We should use this as a wake‑up call that the United Nations cannot continue to conduct business as usual without regard to a budget envelope and constraints,” she said.
The United States recently paid $180 million and will pay the bulk of its current assessments, both regular and peacekeeping, before the end of the year, she added, noting that her Government has made its regular budget payments after 1 October for the past 35 years because it operates on a different fiscal cycle than the United Nations.
The Russian Federation’s representative said Member States that have paid their dues are suffering from the negative impact created by the arrears of those who have not. He proposed the use of “differentiated” pressure on Member States that have not fulfilled their financial obligations, suggesting that vendors from those States be the ones affected first by delayed payments. Moreover, the hiring freeze should not indiscriminately affect nationals of all Member States, he added, insisting that such a measure could be taken against States in arrears.
Canada’s delegate, also speaking for Australia and New Zealand, supported the Secretary‑General’s request for budget flexibility to address underlying systemic issues contributing to the liquidity problem, which has delayed mandated activities. He added that special political missions are being asked to align their spending with liquidity, distorting the programme budget’s intention.
Today’s discussion came a week after Catherine Pollard, Under‑Secretary‑General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, informed the Committee that the Organization was confronting its worst liquidity crisis in recent years as cash deficits occurred earlier in the year, lingered longer and ran deeper. (For background, see Press Release GA/AB/4332 of 11 October 2019.) At today’s meeting, Ms. Pollard provided the Committee with updated information on the financial situation and responded to their concerns.
The Fifth Committee also took up the proposed programme budget for 2020 for special political missions. Reports on the matter were introduced by Chandramouli Ramanathan, United Nations Controller and Assistant Secretary‑General for Programme Planning, Finance and Budget — the Organization’s top financial officer — and Cihan Terzi, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.
Delegates of host countries of some of the missions, including Iraq, Libya and Colombia, insisted that these missions must be equipped with adequate resources to carry out their mandates.
In other business, the Fifth Committee elected Thiago Poggio Pádua (Brazil), of the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean States, as Vice‑Chair.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Singapore (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Switzerland (also on behalf of Liechtenstein), Mongolia, Zambia, India, China, Malaysia, Morocco, Kuwait, Japan, Norway, Botswana (on behalf of the African Group), and Uruguay (on behalf of several other Latin American countries), as well as the European Union.
The Fifth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., on Friday, 25 October, to discuss the United Nations common system.
Opening Remarks by General Assembly President
TIJJANI MUHAMMAD-BANDE (Nigeria), President of the General Assembly, said that the impact of the work of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) cannot be overestimated, as decisions taken by the body affect the capacity of the United Nations to implement mandates provided by Member States and shape the work under each of the three main pillars of the Organization: peace and security, development, and human rights. Noting that the world body is at a juncture as it moves from a biennial to an annual budget, he said that Committee decisions reflect the collective commitment of Member States to share the financial burden and to fund mandated activities of the Organization. Expressing hope for consensus decision‑making and constructive discussions, he warned that the United Nations is facing a liquidity crisis and urged all Member States to fulfil their commitments and obligations in accordance with the budget and scale of assessments.
Financial Situation of the United Nations
CATHERINE POLLARD, Under‑Secretary‑General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, updated the Fifth Committee on developments since her 11 October briefing on the financial situation. For the regular budget, the total number of Member States having paid in full remains 131. For peacekeeping operations, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic and Kuwait have fully paid, which brings the total number of Member States current on their assessments to 40. For the tribunals, Luxembourg has paid in full, bringing to 107 the total number of Member States having fully paid.
Azerbaijan, Czech Republic and Kuwait are now also fully paid for all categories, bringing the total number of Member States having paid in full to 38, she said. In addition, payments have been received from the following Member States: for the regular budget: Argentina, Mexico and the United States; for peacekeeping operations: Bahrain, Malaysia, Morocco, Spain and Ukraine. In addition, Switzerland has made a payment for one peacekeeping operation for the non‑mandated period. On behalf of the Secretary‑General, Ms. Pollard thanked these Member States for their positive action since last week’s briefing on the Organization’s financial situation.
The financial indicators included in her statement on 11 October are included in the Report of the Secretary General on the Financial Situation of the United Nations (document A/74/501). The report includes a review of the Organization’s financial situation relating to the regular budget, peacekeeping operations and international tribunals, based on four financial indicators: assessments issued, unpaid assessments, available cash resources and the Organization’s outstanding payments. The report provides a review of the situation as of 4 October 2019.
SAED KATKHUDA, observer for the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said he is gravely concerned with the deepening liquidity crisis in the regular budget. The Working Capital Fund and Special Account have been depleted for the second consecutive year and the Organization has had to borrow from the accounts of closed peacekeeping missions yet again. “This is not good budgetary practice, nor is this sustainable,” he said. Finance serves as a foundation and is an important element underpinning United Nations governance. The Group firmly believes that any deliberate and unilateral withholding of contributions by Member States that have the capacity to pay is unacceptable. This is particularly so for Member States that have exhibited repeated patterns of withholding contributions for political reasons.
As of today, about 76 per cent of the total unpaid regular budget assessments, and more than half of all funds owed to the United Nations, are attributed to a single Member State that continues “to cling to its special privileges, despite already benefiting from a fundamental distortion in the determinant of how the Organization is financed,” he said. This irresponsible behaviour has contributed to the present crisis and forced the United Nations to take severe measures, some of which would impact mandate delivery. The Group has repeatedly said the simple solution to the liquidity crisis is for all Member States to pay their assessed contributions in full, in time and without conditions, he stressed.
RICHARD ARBEITER (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, welcomed that the pooling of peacekeeping cash and annual letters of assessment have already helped the United Nations meet its obligations to troop- and police‑contributing countries. Pointing out that the 2020 proposed programme budget includes funding for important new and expanded mandates for the Organization’s main organs, he said cash shortages are already undermining its ability to implement mandates, pay staff and use non‑staff resources to implement budgeted activities. “At this critical juncture in the first year of implementation of reforms, managers should not be forced to focus on just keeping the lights on but rather on genuine operational improvements in Headquarters and in the field,” he said.
Special political missions are being asked to align their spending with liquidity, distorting the intentions of the programme budget, he said. “We are now beginning to see impacts on our own daily work,” he stressed, urging Member States to take the opportunity to make improvements to the Committee’s working methods while saving valuable resources. He supported the Secretary‑General’s request for budget flexibility in order to address underlying systemic issues contributing to liquidity problem, which has resulted in the delay of mandated activities. He also supported “freeing managers to manage” to allow the full, efficient implementation of mandated activities.
SILVIO GONZATO, European Union delegation, echoed expressions of concern that the current liquidity crisis risks undermining the effectiveness of the United Nations. Urging Member States with pending assessments to address the matter as one of utmost priority, he said countries have the obligation to pay assessments in full, on time and without conditions. Welcoming efforts to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Organization’s work, he regretted that no consensus could be reached on proposals related to the regular budget and called upon groups and Member States to maintain the functioning of the Working Capital Fund, as well as that of other reserve funds, under close review to ensure that they are “fit for purpose” in the current context.
He also noted with concern the increase in unpaid assessments and the decrease of total cash available in the area of peacekeeping operations, urging States to fulfil their relevant obligations and allow the United Nations to deliver on its mandate at a time when it is called upon more than ever to respond to emerging challenges. Praising the June 2019 decisions that contributed to a more predictable cash situation for peacekeeping, he noted that timely payments of uniformed personnel have improved. “We believe that mandate delivery should always be our first priority,” he said. The Declaration of Shared Commitments to strengthen peacekeeping — which already has more than 150 endorsements — also applies directly to the Fifth Committee’s work.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), regretted that consensus was not reached on alleviating the dire state of the regular budget of the United Nations by replenishing the Special Account by $63.2 million. Without any recourse to new measures, he said, the most effective solution remains for all Member States to pay their assessed contributions on time in full, as they are obligated to by the Charter. “We have all seen the recent correspondence from the Secretary‑General and the Secretariat on the real impact of the liquidity crisis on the work of the Organization,” he said, adding, “now more than ever, it is time for each Member State to demonstrate greater political will and responsibility to the international community by fulfilling their financial obligations to the United Nations.”
Sympathizing with those who face genuine difficulties in meeting their obligations, and commending those who endeavour to overcome such difficulties, he underlined ASEAN’s strong commitment to fulfilling its financial obligations to the Organization even as they have been increasing. He called on all Member States to do so, reaffirming in that way their commitment to the United Nations and multilateralism.
Mr. AMANN (Switzerland), also speaking for Liechtenstein, said that their delegations will continue to honour their financial obligations to the Organization. While noting the adopted measures for the peacekeeping budget and the introduction of a yearly regular budget on a trial basis, he stressed the need to address the lack of consensus on some key proposed measures related to the regular budget. Pointing out that the budget methodology and regulatory framework are outdated, he said that the Secretary‑General, as the Chief Administrative Officer, should have more leeway in managing the budget and be authorized to reallocate resources within budget sections as the need arises, while ensuring full accountability and transparency towards Member States.
YAIMA DE ARMAS BONCHANG (Cuba), associating herself with the Group of 77, said the trend of the Organization’s limited financial liquidity cannot be ignored. There has been no progress on this issue since it was last addressed in May and June. In the case of the regular budget, the 2018 scenario is unfortunately beginning to repeat itself, where existing reserves are exhausted and the Secretariat must borrow funds from closed peacekeeping operations, a practice that should not occur. It is very concerning that the Organization’s monetary deficit is $230 million higher than the one experienced in the same month in 2018. The cause lies in the late payments of Member States’ contributions, which have fallen to a mere 70 per cent of the current year’s assessment, compared with 78 per cent last year. “We know perfectly well who is primarily responsible for the very critical financial situation that the Organization is experiencing today,” she said. “The Government of the United States insists on reminding us of its status as the largest contributor.” The United States owes the regular budget more than $800 million, 72 per cent of the total dues of Member States, out of which more than $381 million are overdue debts. Regarding the peacekeeping operations, the debt of the United States totals more than $2.12 million, more than 50 per cent of the total arrears of Member States in this budget category. She said the United States Government’s “moans over the amounts it must pay to the Organization are shameful” yet it is known the United States pays far less that it should, according to its capacity to pay.
BAASANKHUU PUREV (Mongolia) said all Member States should do their part to support the Secretary‑General’s reform initiatives. The financial health of the United Nations “depends solely on us, the Member States, meeting our financial obligations in a timely and prompt manner,” he said, noting that Mongolia has met its commitment and paid all its assessed contributions to the regular budget on time. Welcoming the fact that notwithstanding the cash flow complications the Secretary‑General remains committed to meeting the Organization’s obligations to troop- and police‑contributing countries, he expressed hope that high priority will be attached to efforts to maximize quarterly reimbursements.
CHRISTINE KALAMWINA (Zambia) said that her country’s economy was initially projected to grow by 4 per cent in 2019, compared with 3.7 per cent in 2018, but that projection has now been lowered to 2 per cent, mainly on account of adverse climatic conditions, including poor rainfall that negatively affected agricultural production and electricity generation. Zambia is likely to continue facing increased pressure in meeting its financial obligations fully and in a timely manner, she said, appealing for the continuation of the current payment methodology and level of assessed contributions. Increasing Member States contributions will only further inhibit Zambia’s capacity to honour its financial obligations to the United Nations, she stressed.
NAGARAJ NAIDU KAKANUR (India) said the liquidity crisis has been endemic and its effects have now grown to be more pronounced, with on 131 Member States having settled their regular budget assessments for the current year. While 63 Member States owe $894 million for the current year, 41 countries are yet to settle their dues from the previous years, an amount that cumulatively stands at $310 million. To pay for United Nations staff salaries, the Secretary‑General has again used closed peacekeeping missions’ funds meant to reimburse the troop‑contributing countries. The Secretary‑General’s obligations to the troop‑contributing countries are equally important, he said, adding that 27 troop‑contributing countries, including 17 from the Group of 77, are still awaiting their legitimate reimbursements from the closed peacekeeping missions.
KSHENUKA DHIRENI SENEWIRATNE (Sri Lanka), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that in view of the present liquidity crisis it is critical to explore new means of seeking out the payments of unsettled assessed contributions. Noting “with disdain” that as of 4 October the amount of unpaid contributions totalled nearly $1.4 billion, he declared: “Such a trend must be arrested forthwith.” Sri Lanka has paid all its assessments to date, despite having many domestic priorities. Calling on the Organization to use available resources more effectively, impartially and transparently, he underlined the need for an extensive rationalization of staff requirements across all categories. Noting that Sri Lanka was subject to a dubious, unilateral and punitive process by the Department of Peace Operations — which violated a memorandum of understanding relating to the country’s sovereignty and challenged the authority of a Head of State — he voiced regret that the Secretariat has to date failed to formally reply to communications on that matter. In that context, he requested clarity on the possibility of a Member State scaling down the related financial contribution commensurate with the curtailment of its deployment, which was also initiated by the Secretariat in violation of the memorandum of understanding.
FU DAOPENG (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said adequate and predictable financial resources are the material guarantee for the United Nations to implement its mandates and programme activities. The payment of assessed contributions by Member States on time and in full is key to solving the current regular budget liquidity crisis. The first year to apply the new scale of assessments is 2019 and the apportionments for China, for both the regular budget and peacekeeping assessments, have been increased by large amounts, 52 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively. As a responsible developing country and the second‑largest contributor to the regular budget and peacekeeping assessments, China has paid about $335 million on time, in full and without conditions. This year, China paid peacekeeping assessments of nearly $1.14 billion, he said, and called on all Member States, particularly those with the capacity to do so, to pay their contributions on time, in full and without conditions. Noting the recent emergency austerity measures, he said that it is an inherent requirement of the Organization’s budget management to improve overall budget performance, strengthen financial discipline and achieve saving while increasing efficiency.
MOHD SUHAIMI AHMAD TAJUDDIN (Malaysia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and ASEAN, called it regrettable that the United Nations is experiencing its worst liquidity crisis of the last few years, with less Member States paying their assessments than previously. It is unacceptable that such a precarious financial situation exists due to non‑payment of assessed contributions. He called on all Member States that have not done so to honour their financial commitments and pay their assessments in full, on time and without conditions. At the same time, he stressed the vital importance that the budget is utilized in the most efficient, effective and accountable manner, adding that strict budgetary discipline is particularly required during this time of dire financial conditions.
CHERITH NORMAN‑CHALET (United States) said she wanted to provide clarification on the amounts owed by the United States as a great deal of misinformation exists in the public domain. The United States will pay the bulk of its current assessments, both regular and peacekeeping, before the end of this year. The United States recently paid $180 million and expects to make an additional payment of $96 million in the next few weeks and will make additional contributions in November. Overall, the United States continues to be the largest contributor to the United Nations, with nearly $10 billion in assessed and voluntary contributions, systemwide.
As the United States has stated before, the amounts owed under the regular budget, and to some degree peacekeeping, result as a difference in the fiscal years between the United Nations and the United States. The United States has made its regular budget payments after 1 October for the past 35 years. She added that the international community should “not be misled by those who want to distort”. The United States believes some of the measures the Secretary‑General has taken to reduce expenditure levels and the strategic management of resources should be a regular course of business. “We should use this as a wake‑up call that the United Nations cannot continue to conduct business as usual without regard to a budget envelope and constraints,” she said. She also pointed out, as the Secretary‑General has noted on previous occasions, that the regular budget’s financial situation has multiple origins and late Member State payments are not the sole reasons for the current situation.
OMAR KADIRI (Morocco), associating himself with the Group of 77, said financial balance is essential for the United Nations to carry out its work, expressing concern that the current cash crisis has negatively impacted its mandates. His delegation therefore supports the multitude of measures proposed by the Secretary‑General to address the structural problems resulting in cash shortages. Morocco is among the first Member States to have fully met its financial obligations for the regular budget, he said, adding that it recently paid its dues for peacekeeping operations and the international tribunals.
Ms. AL-RAISH (Kuwait), associating herself with the Group of 77, noted the vital role played by the United Nations in meeting challenges to international peace and security on all levels. She stressed the importance of ensuring the financial stability of the Organization so it can carry out its responsibilities. The Secretary‑General has warned that the liquidity crisis could affect the salaries of United Nations officials. This is unacceptable. Her delegation supports measures to ensure the financial stability of the Organization, so it can discharge its mandates effectively, she said, stressing that it is the responsibility of the international community to allocate the necessary resources towards that end. She expressed grave concern that the Organization is going through another crisis that might destabilize it. Kuwait is among the Member States that have paid on time, in full and without conditions. All Member States must do the same.
TOMOYA YAMAGUCHI (Japan), noting that his country has faithfully fulfilled its obligation by paying its assessed contributions on time and in full, expressed concern that the programme budget in its entirety tends to expand over time. The overall level of the budget, including subsequent add‑ons, must be duly and effectively constrained. Member States need to remain aware of the fact that resources are not unlimited and that the total budget must be accommodated within those limited resources. To ensure the Organization’s sound financial situation, duplicated mandates should be reviewed and prioritized. He welcomed the improved liquidity of the peacekeeping budget following the General Assembly’s approval of cross‑borrowing across active missions, which has enabled prompt payment to countries contributing troops and formed police units.
DMITRY S. CHUMAKOV (Russian Federation) expressed concern about the cash shortage the United Nations is facing as this has negatively impacted the functions of the Organization and reduced expected outcomes. Austerity measures being taken by the Secretariat violate some articles of the United Nations Charter and financial regulations. Member States that paid their dues are suffering the negative impact created by the arrears of some other Member States. Therefore, he proposed the use of “differentiated” pressure on Member States that have not fulfilled their financial obligations. His delegation understands that payments to vendors are also delayed, he said, wondering why Russian companies don’t get paid. Vendors from Member States in arrears should be the ones affected first by such impacts. In a similar vein, the hiring freeze should not indiscriminately affect nationals of all Member States, he said, insisting that such a measure be taken against those from Member States in arrears.
There is a need for a differentiated approach to penalize arrears, he said, stressing that otherwise those countries that faithfully pay their dues on time may stop doing so. His delegation understands that the Secretary‑General did not give specific instructions about austerity measures but requests the Secretariat to look into a case in which the Russian delegation’s application for a photo exhibit was rejected, also seeking a breakdown of savings from each austerity measure. He went on to propose lowering the threshold for triggering restrictive measures against arrears, in a way that makes it difficult for those Member States to participate in activities, such as procurement and human resource policymaking. He also requested more information on benefit realization from the deployment of Umoja.
MONA JUUL (Norway), noting the Charter obligations of Member States in bearing the expenses of the United Nations, said that the Organization depends on predictable and stable financing to fulfil its mandates in increasingly complex situations. The Organization is facing severe liquidity problems and the cash situation regarding the regular budget is extremely alarming. “This situation troubles us, and we share the Secretary‑General’s concern,” she said, urging all Member States to make every effort to pay their outstanding contributions.
HAMID TAVOLI (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that non‑payment of his country’s contribution to the United Nations is beyond its control. He noted that for the first time the country is approaching the two‑year limit beyond which its right to vote in the General Assembly would be jeopardized. The reason for this, he maintained, is what he called illegal unilateral coercive measures under the so‑called maximum pressure policy imposed by the United States. With restrictions even affecting the Central Bank, the Government has to manage available resources to ensure that the vital needs of more than 83 million of its citizens and over 1 million refugees are met. Calling the United States the main offender in creating the Secretariat’s financial crisis, he said that the aim seemed to be to take the Organization hostage for political objectives. That threat must be addressed promptly and properly, he stressed, as recent years have seen much unacceptable conduct by that country against international bodies and agreements. He called for that potential disaster to be prevented by advance action.
Ms. POLLARD thanked all the delegations for their statements and said she is reassured that Member States take this issue seriously and share the depths of concern of the Secretary‑General. She reassured all Member States that the Secretariat has budget discipline. The 2020 programme budget demonstrates this with zero nominal growth. The Organization is facing a liquidity crisis, not a budget crisis. It had to curtail expenses to operate with the available cash. Salaries make up about 80 per cent of the budget and regular vendors must be paid. It is also necessary to conserve cash in non‑staff spending in order to run the Organization and pay staff.
The Secretariat is making choices on spending resources to keep operations going, it is not making a choice on which programmes to support, she explained. The liquidity crisis does impact programme delivery. Responding to the Russian Federation’s representative, she said that the Secretary‑General directed Secretariat officials to come up with measures to reduce costs. Any disruption to exhibits relates to the wider accessibility to the building. All activities must take place between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. for security purposes to avoid the additional costs of overtime. “These measures were not put in place with lightness of heart. It took us some time on deciding,” she added. Over the past year, the Secretary‑General has highlighted the Organization’s deteriorating financial condition. The Secretary‑General and Secretariat wish they did not have to take these actions. They are keeping the situation under review and will soften the measures if the Organization receives expedited payments. It is also critical to pay vendors, such as utility costs for lighting. The crisis will end as quickly as possible only if Member States accelerate action.
CHANDRAMOULI RAMANATHAN, United Nations Controller and Assistant Secretary‑General for Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, noted that not all expenditures result in cash outflows at the same speed. The outflows can vary greatly. It is also not possible to predict the inflow of contributions. If cash is not sitting in the right account, the cash payments will fail. The Organization cannot borrow money and it must manage the available cash. “It is not an easy task,” he said.
Mr. CHUMAKOV (Russian Federation) said he understands that the Secretariat is in an unprecedented situation and emphasizes that the solutions should be weighed very carefully. He apologized for asking such a detailed question.
Special Political Missions
Mr. RAMANATHAN introduced the reports of the Secretary‑General on the proposed programme budget for 2020 in respect of special political missions, including good offices and preventive diplomacy and post‑conflict peacebuilding missions (documents A/74/6(Sect.3)/Add.1, A/74/7/Add.4, A/74/6(Sect.3)/Add.6 and A/74/6(Sect.3)/Add.6/Corr.1).
He said that the resources proposed for 2020 for the nine special political missions under thematic cluster III amount to $291.2 million, a decrease of $5.6 million or 1.9 per cent from the approved budget for 2019. The overall reductions come mainly from the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia (UNVMC) and the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea‑Bissau (UNIOGBIS). But the reduction was partly offset by increased requirements for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). The 2020 resources proposed for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) total $100.5 million, down $5.3 million or 5 per cent from the approved budget for 2019. All these missions, he said, have been requested to align expenditures with liquidity forecasts. To avert a bigger crisis, managers have been instructed to adjust their hiring and non‑post expenditures.
CIHAN TERZI, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introduced its eponymous reports (documents A/74/7/Add.4 and A/74/7/Add.6). The Advisory Committee recommends approval of resources for the nine special political missions concerning military, police personnel and staffing. As for the reconfiguration of the Mission in Guinea‑Bissau, the Advisory Committee notes that the experience gained during the liquidation of recent peacekeeping missions provides an opportunity for establishing best practices and institutionalizing lessons learned, including those related to staffing. Regarding the Mission in Libya, the Advisory Committee notes the unexpected expenditures and working arrangements due to the security situation in the country, trusting that the Secretary‑General will provide updated information on that situation and its implications on expenditure. Turning to UNAMI, he said that the Advisory Committee recommends reductions to the proposed budget next year, expressing regret that the Mission is not proposing any adjustments to its staffing. More clarity is needed about the staffing needs to implement the new resident coordinator system.
KATLEGO MMALANE (Botswana), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the Group seeks to understand the rationale behind the staffing changes proposed for 5 of the 9 special political missions, namely the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), UNIOGBIS, UNSOM, UNSMIL and UNVMC, as well as the impact of these changes on mandate delivery. The Group will also take a closer look at the services and staffing of the new resident coordinator system, including the division of labour and core support capacity it provides. The Group is also interested in studying cross‑cutting issues, such as the nationalization of posts and positions, the methodology for calculating standard salaries for staff at special political missions, vehicle ratios, information technology equipment, air operations, security services and travel as well as the backstopping support the Headquarters provides to these missions.
ALI MOHAMMED FAEQ ABDALAZIZ AL-DABAG (Iraq) said that special political missions play an important role in the stability of host countries, expressing gratitude to Member States for funding these operations, in particular UNAMI. His country’s Government requested the Security Council to extend the mandate of UNAMI until 31 May 2020. His delegation opposes any cuts to UNAMI resources, including the abolition of national posts, he said, expressing concern that the proposed programme budget for the Mission may negatively impact mandate delivery.
SHOKRI S. I. BENHAMIDA (Libya), associating himself with the African Group, expressed his appreciation for the activities of UNSMIL and reaffirmed that his country’s Government will continue to coordinate activities of UNSMIL with national institutions. Stressing the importance of national ownership by the Government of National Accord, he called for inclusion of local expertise in UNSMIL and an increase in funding for the Mission.
ANDRÉS JOSÉ RUGELES (Colombia) said he believes the Fifth Committee will complete its work in a timely manner. He thanked the Organization for its full efforts to achieve peace in Colombia. On 12 September of this year, the Security Council renewed the mandate of UNVMC with Council resolution 2487 (2019). The Mission’s mandate was extended until 25 September 2020. The Colombian Government is unwavering in its commitment to verify two crucial components of the process. [A 2016 peace agreement ended decades of fighting between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia‑People’s Army.] There are challenges ahead to build on what has been achieved. For the long‑term effort to succeed, there must be continued financial and political support for the country. For the effective fulfilment of the Mission’s mandate, it needs all the financial resources requested by the Secretary‑General. He said Colombia looks forward to the unstinting support of the international community.
LUIS HOMERO BERMÚDEZ ÁLVAREZ (Uruguay), also speaking on behalf of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and the Dominican Republic, said the special political missions have taken on a crucial role for peace and international security and emphasized their role in the region, particularly in Haiti and Colombia. He welcomed the establishment of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) for an initial period of 12 months beginning 16 October, as mandated by Security Council resolution 2476 (2019). Along with the work of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) and its predecessor, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the new Office takes on a crucial role in the peace of the region and represents an historic moment for Haiti.
He also supported Council resolution 2487 (2019), which renewed the mandate of the UNVMC. The advancement of peace requires compromise from all parties, he said, reaffirming support for the Government of Colombia. The Verification Mission continues to be a model for peace talks worldwide. To lock in gains, the UNVMC must be supported by the international community and adequately financed in line with the resources proposed by the Secretary‑General. It is time for the Assembly to discuss financing for the crucial role played by special political missions.