Budgets, Cross-Cutting Issues of Peacekeeping Operations Also Discussed
A top United Nations management official today outlined the Secretary-General’s vision for a more integrated approach to conflict prevention and peacebuilding, including a proposal to merge two of the organization’s main departments, as the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) took up myriad peacekeeping topics.
Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General’s Executive Office, introducing Mr. António Guterres’ programme budget for the biennium 2018–2019 for political affairs and peacekeeping operations, noted the many holistic synergies between the peace and security, development and management reforms.
Emphasizing that the proposed reforms were “realistic, manageable and achievable”, she said that, from the outset, the Secretary-General had stressed that his reforms were not a cost-cutting exercise. Their aim was simply to make peace and security more effective. She added that great care had been taken to strengthen existing capacities from within existing resources without changing mandates and budgetary sources. “We, however, cannot perform our current mandates with less,” she added.
One of the main proposals was to merge the existing Department of Political Affairs and the Peacebuilding Support Office into a new office titled Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs. Doing so would create a single shared political-operational structure, with three Assistant-Secretaries-General assuming regional responsibilities.
According to the proposal, seven posts would be redeployed to the Peacebuilding Support Office from within existing resources, signalling a major step towards its revitalization, she continued. The Department of Peace Operations would also integrate peacekeeping operations with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), as well as the Office of Military Affairs and specialized capacities of the Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions.
Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introducing its related report, said the Advisory Committee had no objection to the Secretary-General’s revised 2018-2019 budgetary estimates, although it did recommend against the redeployment of three posts from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). On the proposed transfer of UNAMI and UNAMA to the Department of Peace Operations, a clear set of criteria should be established to ensure that organizational backstopping arrangements were clear and consistent, he said. It was not clear how enhanced effectiveness — one of the four reform objectives — could be measured.
Timor-Leste’s representative recalled how his country had hosted both special political missions and peacekeeping missions from 1999 to 2012, during which it experienced first-hand the fragmentation that could occur during transitions. Lack of communication between the Department of Political Affairs and DPKO during the transitional stages from one mission to another resulted in lost opportunities to build on knowledge gained as well as good working relations and trust built over many years. Peacekeeping missions began anew, ignoring all the good work previously done. A smooth transition would have been achieved if the missions had been managed by the same department, as now proposed by Secretary-General, he said. Regarding the delegation of authority to the field, he said the lack of such authority in Timor-Leste’s experience had hindered its missions’ ability to respond swiftly to needs on the ground.
The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said the Fifth Committee’s consideration of the topic was a marker on the road to fulfilling the Secretary-General’s vision of a more flexible, responsive and effective Organization. To fulfil the promise inherent in his proposals, the Peacebuilding Support Office must be properly resourced, and the drive for efficiencies must not undermine the essential parts of the reform package. Planning must begin now to ensure full implementation of the reforms in both spirit and letter.
Pakistan’s representative, pointing to the lessons learned from past reform efforts, including the creation of DPKO, said that while restructuring the two departments, equitable geographical representation as well as representation of the troop- and police-contributing countries would be essential.
The speaker for Mauritius, on behalf of the African Group, stressed that any reforms must deliver on the needs of African Member States. The Group appreciated the Secretary-General’s commitment to enhancing the United Nations partnership with the African Union and believed that should be reflected in the restructuring exercise.
Several delegations welcomed a holistic approach to peacebuilding, with China’s representative underscoring that peacebuilding should aim at strengthening development capabilities in order to support the transition from conflict to stability. Efforts must be made to strengthen coordination to ensure a clearly defined accountability system and avoid the overlapping of functions.
The Fifth Committee today also took up financial reports and audited financial statements and reports of the Board of Auditors on peacekeeping operations for the financial year ended 30 June 2017, introduced by Mr. Anand M. Bajaj, Director of External Audit of India and Chair of the Audit Operations Committee. Ms. Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller of the United Nations, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the Board’s recommendations with Mr. Ruiz introducing the Advisory Committee’s corresponding report.
Turning to its agenda item on cross-cutting issues of the administrative and budgetary aspects of financing peacekeeping operations, Ms. Bartsiotas introduced the Secretary-General’s report on their 2016/17 budget performance and 2018/19 proposed budget. Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, with David Kanja, Assistant Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced the report on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services for peace operations in 2017.
Victor Kisob, Director, Learning, Development and Human Resource Services Division, also introducing the Secretary-General’s report on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. Jane Holl Lute, Special Coordinator for Improving the United Nations Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, made further introductory remarks, while Michel Tommo Monthe (Cameroon), Fifth Committee Chair, drew attention to a letter from the Secretary-General transmitting the 2017 edition of the Manual on Policies and Procedures concerning the Reimbursement and Control of Contingent-Owned Equipment of Troop/Police Contributors Participating in Peacekeeping Missions. Mr. Ruiz introduced the Advisory Committee’s related reports.
In the afternoon, Ms. Bartsiotas and Mr. Ruiz presented the Secretary-General’s report of the 2017/17 budget performance of the support account for peacekeeping operations and the Advisory Committee’s corresponding report, respectively. They also presented reports on the 2016/17 budget performance and proposed 2018/19 budget for the following missions: United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) and United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI); United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH).
Also speaking today were the representatives of Egypt (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), United States, Switzerland (also on behalf of Liechtenstein), Norway, Republic of Korea, Morocco, Mexico, Brazil, Israel, El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Caribbean and Latin American States), Suriname (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Chile, Sudan as well as the European Union.
The Fifth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 18 May, to discuss improving the financial situation of the United Nations.
Financial Reports, Audited Financial Statements, Reports of Board of Auditors
ANAND M. BAJAJ, Director of External Audit of India and Chair of the Audit Operations Committee, introduced the Board of Auditors’ report on United Nations peacekeeping operations for the financial year ended 30 June 2017 (document A/72/5 (Vol.II)). Stating that the Board had issued an unqualified position, he said peacekeeping expenditures in 2016/17 had decreased by 2.7 per cent from the previous financial year to $7.8 billion, leaving $100 million ($0.1 billion) unutilized. The Boards’ report contained 75 recommendations, compared with 55 in its previous report, with the increase due to a comprehensive air operations audit as requested by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).
Providing key findings, he said that, given better coordination among missions, there could be more sharing of commercial and military aircraft. Coordination and tasking of all strategic aircraft could be centralized as well, on a regional as well as global basis. More and better indications were needed to manage the peacekeeping aircraft fleet. Noting that Member States provided military aircraft to the Organization on a reimbursement basis, through a contractual process known as “letters of assist,” he said there was neither competition nor transparency in the selection of Member States providing aircraft.
“Aircraft are obtained without paying heed to the costs,” he said, adding that commercial aircraft were “by far” less cost intensive than their military counterparts. He went on to explain that the letter of assist process was neither documented nor did it follow any written rules. Accountability and responsibility were unclear and the process had not been implemented in Umoja. Both the Administration and the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) had reviewed the letter of assist process several times since 2003, but no recommendations concerning transparency and competition had been implemented.
On other issues, he said the Board had found that the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) lacked clear arrangements by which personnel were responsible for managing expenditures. There were also several procurement cases that failed to comply with the Procurement Manual. He added that the Secretariat had not implemented a clear and transparent system of delegating authority for peacekeeping operations, resulting in complex lines of authority. Often, the official responsible for implementing a mandate was not the one with the authority to manage resources. On procurement, he said that in contracts reviewed by the Board, agreed delivery locations and terms had been inconsistent.
On the selection of consultants, he said that due to a lack of rosters, it was not clear which candidates had been shortlisted by a mission. On environmental management and waste management, missions could do more to prevent soil contamination and make better use of renewable energy sources. He went on to identify lessons learned from the liquidation of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), saying preparations should have been started earlier. Key personnel had departed too soon, depriving the Operation of valuable know-how for such tasks as the sale of assets, cleaning and decontamination of mission sites, and the legally secure handover of sites and facilities to the host nation.
BETTINA TUCCI BARTSIOTAS, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller of the United Nations, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the Board of Auditors’ recommendations concerning United Nations peacekeeping operations for the financial year ended 30 June 2017 (document A/72/756). She said that all of the recommendations had been accepted by the Administration, including those dealing with air operations, delegation of authority and the selection of consultants and individual contractors. She went on to say that, out of the 55 recommendations from the Board in 2015/16, two had been overtaken by events, 23 had been implemented, 28 were under implementation and two had not been implemented. During the three previous financial years (2012/13 to 2014/15), 10 recommendations had been overtaken by events. Of the remaining 133 recommendations, 128 had been implemented and five were under implementation. Of the 35 recommendations deemed by the Board to be under implementation or not implemented, the Administration had requested the closure of five while the remainder were in progress as of January this year.
CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introduced the Advisory Committee’s corresponding report (document A/72/850). He said the Advisory Committee’s comments and recommendations on the Board’s findings had been included in its report on cross-cutting issues relating to United Nations peacekeeping operations, which would be introduced later in the morning, and in its reports on individual peacekeeping missions. The Advisory Committee would therefore submit no separate report.
MOHAMED FOUAD AHMED (Egypt) speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that the Group attached great importance to the oversight role of the Board of Auditors as it provided valuable insight into the United Nations financial matters. That indispensable work complemented the oversight roles undertaken by other bodies. The Group had carefully examined the Board’s observations and recommendations pertaining to a broad spectrum of peacekeeping issues, including financial reporting, budget formulation and financial management. It also had noted that according to the Secretary-General’s report, a total of 75 recommendations had been issued by the Board to the Administration. Of those, 11 had been implemented whereas implementation of 64 others remained in progress. He also noted that compared to 2016/17 data, the rate of implementation remained low.
Furthermore, the Board’s main recommendations pointed out that the Administration had increased only by two the number of main recommendations being implemented resulting in a total of only four main recommendations, he said. While some of the recommendations had a set date for completion, eight recommendations had no specific date, he said, requesting their implementation in a timely manner. He expressed concern about myriad issues raised by the Board in its reports, including shortcomings regarding Umoja, lack of comprehensive reporting, weaknesses in internal control relating to payments, fraud, persistent difficulties in complying with the air travel management policy, and shortcomings in relation to air transport, among others.
JAN DE PRETER, European Union, reiterated its appreciation of the important work carried out by the Board of Auditors, which provided an independent assessment on the use of Member States’ funds. The Board helped drive the United Nations system to implement its mandates more efficiently. He welcomed the strengthening of the process of issuing financial statements by implementing Umoja. Further improvements were needed in several peacekeeping operations, including in human resources, travel, and environmental management. Delegation of authority required improvement and reform both at Headquarters and in peacekeeping missions. He supported the Board’s role in raising awareness about fraud prevention.
CHERITH NORMAN-CHALET (United States) also attached great importance to the work of the Board of Auditors, adding that this year’s report provided valuable insight into several issues essential to the efficient functioning of peacekeeping operations. The Board’s findings and recommendations gave Member States the information needed to make informed decisions. She noted that the Board’s report indicated that 96 per cent of its recommendations from the previous three financial years had been implemented and that only five remained under implementation. She echoed the Board’s recommendation for a more systematic and comprehensive determination of mission staffing requirements, and urged the Secretariat to develop a methodology to determine those requirements, based on key performance indicators measuring workload, to ensure an objective approach across all missions.
Air operations, representing close to 10 per cent of overall peacekeeping expenditures, were a major cost-driver for peacekeeping missions, she continued. The United States was closely examining the content of the Secretary-General’s recent review in that regard, she added, urging the Organization to achieve continued efficiencies in the use of existing aircraft. She also called on the Secretariat and field missions to better integrate the Board’s recommendations into its day-to-day operations. Doing so would help boost good governance and transparency and ensure that Member States were able to make informed decisions.
FU LIHENG (China), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, welcomed the Board’s report and expected its recommendations to be effectively implemented. Of the 55 recommendations put forward, only 23 had been fully implemented so far, a completion rate of merely 41.8 per cent. China remained concerned about that low rate. Turning to the challenges highlighted in the report, he said that identifying problems through auditing was just the first step in solving and addressing challenges in a timely manner. The large amount of redeployed resources under certain categories of expenditure had jeopardized the budget and its constraining power. The budget for air operation, about 10 per cent of the whole peacekeeping budget, had led to many problems, including insufficient coordination among peacekeeping missions and excessively costly airplanes, he continued. On Umoja, he said insufficient internal control had led to frequent fraud. There was a lack of a clear and transparent system for delegation of authority and a lack of consistency in human resource practices.
Restructuring of the United Nations Peace and Security Pillar
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI, Chef de Cabinet of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on revised estimates relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2018–2019 under section 3, Political affairs, and section 5, Peacekeeping operations, and the proposed budget for the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019 related to the peace and security reform (document A/72/772). Recalling the General Assembly’s support for the Secretary-General’s vision, by its resolution 72/199 of 15 December 2017, she said his proposal did not seek to change established mandates or functions of the peace and security pillar. It did not increase the overall number of posts, nor did it seek to reallocate resources from development or other areas to peace and security. Preventative diplomacy, peace-making, peacekeeping and peacebuilding were all part of the same toolbox, to be deployed as required by each situation. To do that, structures at Headquarters would have to be reconfigured to create better synergies between the Department of Political Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Peacebuilding Support Office.
Highlighting the main features of the Secretary-General’s vision, she said the proposed Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs — combining the functions of the Department of Political Affairs and the Peacebuilding Support Office — would take a more holistic and integrated approach to conflict prevention, electoral assistance, mediation and peacebuilding. Seven posts would be redeployed to the Peacebuilding Support Office from within existing resources, signalling a major step towards its revitalization. The proposed Department of Peace Operations would integrate peacekeeping operations with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), as well as the Office of Military Affairs and specialized capacities of the Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions. Merging the regional divisions of the Department of Political Affairs and DPKO would meanwhile create a single shared political-operational structure, with three Assistant-Secretaries-General assuming regional responsibilities.
Emphasizing that there were many synergies between the peace and security, development and management reforms, she said the Secretary-General’s reform proposals were “realistic, manageable and achievable”. From the outset, he had stressed that his reforms were not a cost-cutting exercise. Rather, their aim was to make the peace and security more effective. Great care had been taken to strengthen existing capacities from within existing resources without changing mandates and budgetary sources. “We, however, cannot perform our current mandates with less,” she added.
Mr. RUIZ, introducing the Advisory Committee’s related report (document A/72/859), said it had no objection to the revised estimates relating to the biennium 2018-2019 programme budget and the related part of the proposed budget for the 2018/19 support account for peacekeeping operations. Stressing the importance of ensuring that the Standing Principals’ Group functioned as intended, he said the appropriateness and functioning of the proposal regional divisions needed to be assessed against actual workload. On the proposed transfer of UNAMI and UNAMA to the Department of Peace Operations, he said a clear set of criteria should be set out to ensure that organizational backstopping arrangements were clear and consistent. Regarding the proposed transfer of seven posts to the Peacebuilding Support Office, he said the Advisory Committee recommended against the redeployment of three posts from the DPKO. Concluding, he said it was not clear how enhanced effectiveness – one of the four reform objectives – could be measured. The Advisory Committee also expected that a major reorganizational initiative would have led to economies of scale and the freeing up of resources through the elimination of duplication of efforts.
MOHAMED FOUAD AHMED (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, reiterated that trust was critical to improving the Organization’s performance and efficiency. Having closely studied the report, the Group looked forward to discussing how its proposals would make the United Nations more effective on the ground. On peace and security, he requested clarity on how the proposed changes would affect and potentially impact mandate delivery. The Group would pay close attention to how proposed restructuring would make a difference and serve Member States. The Organization must be made more effective and change must be properly managed and coordinated. The Group would engage actively to ensure that Headquarters provided services to missions in the field. The Organization must be able to address cross-cutting issues, such as gender, in a holistic and comprehensive way.
JAGDISH DHARAMCHAND KOONJUL (Mauritius), speaking on behalf of the African Group and aligning himself with the Group of 77, stressed that any reforms must deliver on the needs of African Member States and must support African efforts to address African challenges. Taking note of the Secretary-General’s proposal regarding the new regional divisions, he stressed the need for further analysis, bearing in mind the risk that larger workloads could undermine the implementation of mandates. The Group appreciated the Secretary-General’s commitment to enhancing the United Nations partnership with the African Union and believed that should be reflected in the restructuring exercise. Further, the Group was interested in exploring the strengthening of the Peacebuilding Support Office as a vital pillar of sustaining peace. All reforms must be properly managed and coordinated and adequate risk mitigation measures should be put in place to ensure that efforts under way at Headquarters did not impact ongoing operations in the field.
ALEXANDRA ELENA BAUMANN (Switzerland), speaking also on behalf of Liechtenstein, said her delegation endorsed the Secretary-General’s vision for reforming the Organization’s peace and security pillar. In that regard, it supported giving more capacity to the Peacebuilding Support Office. Emphasizing the need to brief staff members transparently, and for a period of adjustment and reorientation, she also encouraged the Secretary-General to ensure the harmonization of working methods between the various departments affected by reforms.
DAVID GREGORY YARDLEY (Australia), speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said the Fifth Committee’s consideration of the topic was a marker on the road to fulfilling the Secretary-General’s vision of a more flexible, responsive and effective Organization. To fulfil the promise inherent in his proposals, the Committee must turn political will into action. In particular, delegations must ensure that the Peacebuilding Support Office was properly resourced, and that the drive for efficiencies did not undermine the essential parts of the reform package. Planning must begin now to ensure full implementation of the reforms in both spirit and letter. He went on to ask the Chef de Cabinet if she agreed with the Advisory Committee’s recommendation that new posts in the Peacebuilding Support Office not be funded, and what the impact of that recommendation might be.
JOANNE ADAMSON, European Union, said the comprehensive report presented by the Secretary-General was in-line with the mandate set out by the General Assembly through its resolution 72/199. “This institutional restructuring and reshuffling of responsibilities is an important contribution to ensuring a double improvement — that the peace and security pillar as a whole works in a more coherent, nimble and strategic way, and that it works more effectively with the other pillars of the United Nations system,” she said. The bloc saw merit in the single-operational structure to be shared by the two departments as proposed by the Secretary-General and believed that geographically-defined regional divisions would ensure a more coordinated and integrated response to the needs on the ground. The European Union saw an important role for the Standing Principles Group in ensuring coherence between the departments and regional divisions and attached great importance to the strengthening of the Peacebuilding Support Office as a key component of the Secretary-General’s focus on prevention.
CHERITH NORMAN-CHALET (United States) said the Secretary-General’s initiative to reform the United Nations peace and security architecture was a step towards improving the Organization’s coherence, effectiveness and efficiency. The United States supported efforts to improve the coherence of peace operations by prioritizing conflict prevention, ensuring the primacy of political solutions and aligning the peace and security pillar more closely with development, human rights and humanitarian action. Underlining the Peacebuilding Support Office’s unique role in bridging the divides between the United Nations peace and security, development and human rights pillars, she expressed support for efforts to better integrate peacebuilding within the Organization’s peace and security architecture. “The United Nations must deliver results on the ground,” she said, adding that in its consideration of the reform proposals the United States would prioritize those aimed to strengthen effective engagement in political processes and improve mandate implementation.
TORE HATTREM (Norway), welcoming reforms towards an improved, “whole-of-pillar” approach that aligned peace and security more closely with development and human rights, expressed support for the establishment of a single political-operational structure. “It prepares the ground for a better use of the human capital at Headquarters creating the necessary incentives for working in a combined and consorted manner,” he said, echoing the Secretary-General’s statement that peace operation reforms should result in better quality analysis, stronger support to troop- and police-contributors, more effective political engagement and enhanced accountability and results. The proposal to incorporate the Peacebuilding Support Office, and to make its role more central in the Organization’s peace and security architecture, was a logical step in that regard. Emphasizing that there was no perfect solution to organizing a bureaucracy, he encouraged the Secretary-General to take measures to prevent any potential lack of clarity, work in an inclusive and constructive manner and keep Member States informed “as the new structure settles”.
NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said there was a correlation between the peace and security pillar and the management reform tracks. While simplifying processes and procedures, there should be clear delegation of authority as well as clarity on reporting lines and accountability of senior officials of the newly-proposed departments. Underlining that efforts to revamp the peace and security pillar required formal consultations between all stakeholders, he stressed that triangular cooperation would be essential to make United Nations peace operations more robust and agile. He pointed to the lessons learned from past reform efforts, including the creation of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), and said that while restructuring the two departments, equitable geographical representation as well as representation of the troop- and police-contributing countries would be essential.
CHO TAE-YUL (Republic of Korea) noted the Secretary-General’s recent proposals to create a single regional political-operational structure to be shared by the proposed Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Department of Peace Operations; empower the Peacebuilding Support Office to play an integral role across pillars; and provide more dedicated support to field operations. The Republic of Korea had given strong political support to the Secretary-General’s vision and his proposed measures to increase synergies among different parts of the United Nations system. A holistic approach was essential, he said, urging the Fifth Committee not to lose sight of the bigger picture. Deliberations must be focused on how to effectively reallocate resources to ensure stronger synergies among different pillars, especially through enhancing the role of the Peacebuilding Support Office, rather than technical scrutiny of the reform plans only from a perspective of administrative and budgetary efficiency. The Committee’s review exercise must not result in a more bureaucratic and inefficient United Nations.
GAO HUIJUN (China), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that traditional and non-traditional security questions were intertwined and posing serious threats to the international security architecture. The restructuring of the peace and security pillar must be guided by the United Nations Charter and relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. Peacebuilding should aim at strengthening development capabilities in order to move the situation from conflict to stability. Efforts must be made to strengthen coherence and coordination to ensure a clearly defined accountability system and avoid the overlapping of functions. Coordination must be strengthened between Headquarters and the field, he said, underscoring the “huge amount” of work done by the Secretariat to address gender. More must be done, however, including in appointing candidates from least developed countries to field posts. The security of peacekeepers must be strengthened, he added.
HICHAM OUSSIHAMOU (Morocco), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, commended the nature of open consultations where Member States could express their perspectives on the proposed reforms. Peacekeeping operations must remain at the heart of United Nations activities, with their integrity preserved. Peacekeeping operations were currently subject to attack from terrorist and armed groups and required full support from Headquarters. Morocco reiterated the importance of mediation and the peaceful settlement of differences. He pledged his delegation’s constructive participation in that all-important agenda item.
JESÚS VELÁZQUEZ CASTILLO (Mexico) expressed support for the Secretary-General’s report, emphasizing that proposed reforms must respect the nature of the responsibility of each pillar. It was essential to respond effectively to the peacekeeping needs on the ground, he underscored. Sustainable peace could be attained only by addressing the root causes of conflicts and not merely reacting to them. It was fundamental to ensure that all new departments work together in a holistic manner. He called for a meticulous analysis that went beyond the proposed restructuring. The international community must continue to build global governance that took into account myriad challenges.
DANILO JOSÉ NAICOLI XIMENES GONCLAVES (Timor-Leste) said the costing and operationalization of proposed peace and security reforms should be considered holistically. Having hosted both special political missions and peacekeeping missions from 1999 to 2012, Timor-Leste had experienced first-hand the fragmentation — both between and within missions — that could occur during transitions. In its case, lack of communication between the Department of Political Affairs and DPKO during the transitional stages from one mission to another resulted in lost opportunities to build on knowledge gained as well as good working relations and trust built over many years. Peacekeeping missions began anew, ignoring all the good work previously done. A smooth transition would have been achieved if the missions had been managed by the same department, as now proposed by Secretary-General António Guterres. Regarding the delegation of authority to the field, he said the lack of such authority in Timor-Leste’s experience had hindered its missions’ ability to respond swiftly to needs on the ground. The proposed management reforms would also go a long way towards addressing those issues.
Ms. RIBEIRO VIOTTI said that specific information would be provided in due course during informal negotiations. To Australia’s representative, she recalled that the Secretary-General had made the case for peacebuilding before the General Assembly in March. He had proposed a nearly 50 per cent increase in the number of posts for the Peacebuilding Support Office, which the 2010 and 2015 reviews of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture had deemed to have been under-resourced. To China’s representative, she said the principles he outlined were the ones which informed the Secretary-General’s proposals.
MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon), Fifth Committee Chair, said it was clear from the Chef de Cabinet’s presentation that reforming the peace and security pillar was not about cost-cutting or mandate change. She asked her to take back to the Secretary-General a key message: that the Committee was not the place to question his vision, which the General Assembly had, through its resolution 72/199, endorsed. Emphasizing the importance of time-bound negotiations, he said all Committee members would, during informal negotiations, be working actively and constructively
Ms. BARTSIOTAS then introduced the Secretary-General’s report titled “Overview of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations: budget performance for the period from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 and budget for the period from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019” (document A/72/770). As recommended by the Advisory Committee, the report continued to focus on new developments and policy changes, she said. It also provided more analysis of the main cost drivers and organizational initiatives, and — for better transparency — enhanced presentation of budget data. In 2016/17, $7.8 billion had been spent on peacekeeping operations, including all missions, the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi and the support account. Compared to the approved budget of $7.9 million, that showed an overall implementation rate of 98.6 per cent. The unencumbered balance of $108.8 million mainly reflected the pursuit of locally sourced labour and materials for construction by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), lower requirements for facilities, infrastructure and communications by the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the impact of the South Sudanese pound’s depreciation against the United States dollar on national staff costs at the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), the drawdown of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and optimization of the use of aircraft by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
The overall budget implementation rate of 98.6 per cent represented a sharp increase from 96.6 per cent for the 2015/16 period, she said, adding that Security Council decisions had impacted the mandates of MINUSCA, UNMISS, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Turning to 2018/19 requirements, she said $7.27 billion would be required for peacekeeping operations, down $47 million from 2017/18, which itself was down almost $600 million from 2016/17. The overall decrease was mainly due to the closure of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the transition of MINUSTAH to the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) and a reduction in UNAMID’s authorized strength. Lower requirements for air operations in several missions was another factor. She went on to note the Secretary-General’s request for the General Assembly to grant him the authority to enter into commitments without assessment for 2018/19 of $84.5 million for support that MONUSCO would provide for elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as per Security Council resolution 2348 (2017).
ATUL KHARE, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, making further introductory remarks, said greater effectiveness was the best way to honour the sacrifices being made by the more than 110,000 Blue Helmets deployed in challenging and dangerous environments. While 90 per cent of all United Nations personnel were deployed in the field, support had been characterized by slow, unresponsive service delivery, fragmented management structures, and a lack of transparency and accountability. Management reforms would enable the Organization to be more effective in delivering on its mandates while at the same time being more transparent and accountable to Member States. Over the past year, mission successes and transitions in Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti had realized gained of $581 million, while new efficiencies in a range of areas — including better use of emerging technologies, shared services, supply change and environmental management — had resulted in a further $296 million in savings. However, the past year had also seen cost pressures that included currency fluctuations, increased reimbursements to troop- and police-contributing countries, increasingly insecure operating environments and growing staffing entitlements and costs.
Highlighting key efforts under way, he said the Organization would be implementing the recommendations of the report titled “Improving Security of United Nations Peacekeepers: We need to change the way we are doing business”
(the Santos Cruz report) to better protect peacekeepers. It would keep strengthening efforts to address reputational risks, including sexual exploitation and abuse, while making progress on managing the environmental impact of peacekeeping missions. Gender and geographical imbalances would be dealt with through measures to address potential bias in interviews and in strengthening the Senior Women Talent Pipeline. He went on to state that, while improving efficiencies, the United Nations must shift its thinking from “doing more with less” to “doing less with less”. Smarter peacekeeping meant regularly re-examining activities in order to strengthen and improve them, including by taking the Board of Auditors’ findings seriously.
DAVID KANJA, Assistant Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced the report on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services for peace operations for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2017 (document A/72/330 Part II). Summarizing the number of peacekeeping-related reports and audits issued by his Office in 2017, he said the Investigations Division continue to give priority to investigating allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse. Among other things, it had developed training for those tasked with investigating peacekeeper misconduct on behalf of Member States, and it was working closely with the Special Coordinator on Improving the United Nations Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse on developing an incident reporting form. On staffing matters, he said the Office vacancy rate at the end of April was 10 per cent overall, a figure that would improve upon completion of on-boarding procedures for selected candidates.
VICTOR KISOB, Director, Learning, Development and Human Resource Services Division, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (documents A/72/751 and A/72/751/Corr.1). He said that report provided information on measures to strengthen the system-wide response to such abuse, including progress in the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy and the Secretary-General’s “new approach” strategy. Explaining that the report was being presented in a simpler format than in years past, he said additional information on allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse relating to personnel in peacekeeping and special political missions, other United Nations entities and non-United Nations international forces authorized by a Security Council mandate (covering the period from 1 January to 31 December 2017) was available online.
JANE HOLL LUTE, Special Coordinator on Improving the United Nations Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, made further introductory remarks. In the first instance, she said, the Organization had acknowledged and recognized that the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse was not restricted to uniformed personnel or to peacekeeping operations. “It affects every part of the Organization and we have to do everything we can to eradicate it,” she said. That included putting the rights and dignity of victims at the centre of the Organization’s response; eliminating impunity; expanding engagement with civil society and outside experts; and broadening education and outreach. While the number of allegations had gone down, thorough reporting from across the United Nations system might be lacking, she said, adding that while much progress had been made, much more remained to be done, particularly to mainstreaming the prevention and response to sexual exploitation and abuse at all levels of field activity.
Mr. TOMMO MONTHE drew the Committee’s attention to a letter dated 13 July 2017 from the Secretary-General to the President of the General Assembly transmitting the 2017 edition of the Manual on Policies and Procedures concerning the Reimbursement and Control of Contingent-Owned Equipment of Trop/Police Contributors Participating in Peacekeeping Missions (document A/72/288).
Mr. RUIZ introduced the Advisory Committee’s related reports (documents A/72/789 and A/72/824), stating from the outset that the Secretary-General’s overview report reflected a more focused approach, emphasizing new developments, policy changes and management challenges, which the Advisory Committee welcomed. Regarding measures to improve efficiency, the Advisory Committee still had reservations over the use of cost per capita for uniformed personnel as an indicator and looked forward to the development of a more robust set of benchmarks. On implementation of a supply chain management strategy, the Committee once again regretted the absence of a comprehensive description of project costs and benefits. Acknowledging the provision of more comprehensive information in the Secretary-General’s overview report on the management of air operations, he said the liquidation of UNOCI, UNMIL and MINUSTAH was an opportunity to establish best practices and institutionalize lessons learned. Finally, on combating sexual exploitation and abuse, he conveyed the Advisory Committee’s concern over the fragmented nature of reporting and data collection, and the lack of a common platform and mechanisms for ensuring that all databases and offices shared the same information in a timely manner. He also noted that the senior officials in the Office of the Special Coordinator and the Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate had no operational responsibility over the day-to-day work by various offices at Headquarters and in the field. An optimal structure was therefore required.
Mr. FOUAD (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, said it was past time to have a meaningful conversation about rates of compensation for death and disability among United Nations peacekeepers, which were last updated nearly a decade ago. Underscoring the importance of quick impact projects in building confidence in peacekeeping missions, he said the Secretariat must keep working to increase the effectiveness of programmatic activities. In that regard, the Group rejected imposing artificial criteria for the governance of those activities. He went on to welcome the Secretary-General’s strong resolve to ensure that the Organization would not remain silent or passive in the face of sexual exploitation and abuse. The Group looked forward to a more unified, system-wide approach to that problem. It also looked forward to discussing how the Secretariat intended to address such risk factors as the lack of pre-deployment training on standards of conduct, excessive length of deployment for certain contingents, living conditions (including lack of communication facilities to stay in contact with home), and the location of camps vis-à-vis local populations. Concluding, he said the Committee’s draft resolution on cross-cutting issues was intended to give overarching policy guidelines. By no means should it be a means for delegations to pursue arbitrary cuts to the peacekeeping budget.
Ms. ADAMSON, European Union, emphasized the importance of firmly embedding efforts to enhance the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations in the wide context of United Nations reforms. In that regard, the Fifth Committee had a crucial role to play, giving political guidance while putting trust in the Secretary-General without micromanaging the Organization. The European Union would look carefully into all important cost drivers, she said, adding that the Organization should consistently follow the principle of budgetary discipline while also making use of the newest technology to improve the security of Blue Helmets and reducing the environmental impact of missions.
Turning to sexual exploitation and abuse, she welcomed progress in the implementation of the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy. The European Union strongly supported the deployment of gender and child protection advisers in peacekeeping missions, which should also develop strong links with United Nations country teams. Quick impact projects should be pursued as confidence-building tools, but they could not be expected to replace more structural initiatives. Recalling that the Committee last year failed to agree on cross-cutting issues as a whole, she said it must take a step forward during the current session and approve a foreword-looking outcome that would encapsulate a common spirit about peacekeeping.
ALEXANDRA ELENA BAUMANN (Switzerland), also speaking on behalf of Liechtenstein, emphasized the value of conflict prevention, citing a joint United Nations/World Bank study that found that effective prevention would save up to $70 billion a year for affected countries and the international community combined. She welcomed a more systematic integration and expansion of programmatic activities in peacekeeping operations, as well as the Secretary-General’s proposal to strengthen environmental management. On sexual exploitation and abuse, she said more must be done, including at the level of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), to ensure consistency and coherence throughout the United Nations system.
Ms. NORMAN-CHALET (United States), emphasizing that the Organization must continue “to work smarter and more efficiently,” welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts, adding that political solutions should guide the design and deployment of peacekeeping operations. Mission composition and mandates should be re-evaluated when a Mission was not achieving core tasks or when a political solution was not making progress. A culture of performance must also be institutionalized in peacekeeping, with underperformers held accountable. Recent years had seen considerable progress in combating sexual exploitation and abuse, but critical gaps remained to be addressed, with a greater focus put on misconduct by civilian staff members. In that regard, she said her country called on all United Nations agencies, funds and programmes to step up their efforts by properly screening staff and monitoring their implementing partners.
LUIZ FELDMAN (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, supported the Secretary-General’s assessment regarding the asymmetry of resources spent on managing crises and those allocated to preventing them. That imbalance had limited the United Nations capacity to deliver on its peacekeeping mandates. The underlying complexity of the political environment of peacekeeping operations had steadily increased over the past decade. Peacekeeping missions had carried out a broad range of activities across diverse areas, such as gender affairs, rule of law, security sector reform, community violence reduction, and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. The proposed distinction between “types” of programmatic activities was an artificial and unhelpful one, he said. The Fifth Committee did not approve the budgets of the funds, programmes and agencies of the United Nations system, and therefore it made it very unlikely that the Committee could analyse those entities’ supposed “comparative advantages” relative to peacekeeping operations in carrying out programmatic activities. “Programmatic activities do not spring from nowhere,” he said, adding that all strategic objectives of the missions had to be fulfilled. It was not the place of the Advisory Committee, the Fifth Committee or the Secretariat to select which mandated activities would be carried out and which ones would not be. “Our duty here is to adequately resource mandates, not to rewrite them,” he said.
Ms. HAZANOWITZ (Israel) believed a resolution on cross-cutting issues was as important as ever due to the significant changes in the situation on the ground, including the necessity for peacekeeping missions to adjust their mind-sets and improve the protection of peacekeepers. There was a need to standardize medical care in peacekeeping missions, as well as for new technologies and innovative solutions to assist peacekeepers in carrying out their mandates more efficiently and effectively. She called attention to efforts to improve peacekeeping operations’ environmental footprints, as well as the continuing fight to combat sexual exploitation and abuse. Israel believed there was room to address the issue of sexual harassment within peacekeeping missions, particularly due to the nature of the work in the field and the unequal gender ratios of most missions.
Support Account for Peacekeeping Operations
Ms. BARTSIOTAS introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on Budget performance of the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 (document A/72/701/Add.1), Budget for the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019 (document A/72/790*) and the Comprehensive review of the support account for peacekeeping operations (document A/72/814), and said that in 2016/17, responsiveness had been strengthened by streamlining procedures. Other areas of work included key organizational initiatives, the establishment of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPAS) compliant fixed asset management framework and improvement in the quality of medical care in the field. As a result, the support account incurred expenditures of $327.1 million, which was an implementation rate of 99.9 per cent.
The budget proposal incorporated the impact of the proposed initiatives of the Secretary-General, including the peace and security reform, the management reform and the Global Service Delivery Model. From 1 July to 31 December 2018, the proposed budget reflected strengthening in the high priority areas, including sexual harassment investigations and sexual exploitation and abuse case management, gender parity, human rights, occupational safety and health as well as management evaluation. Upon implementation of the proposed reform initiatives starting 1 January 2019, a further reduction of 30 posts was proposed. For the first time, resources for the Peacebuilding Support Officer were presented under the support account.
The financial resources required for the core requirements of the support account for 2018/19 were estimated at $296.7 million, representing a net decrease of $2.3 million, or 0.8 per cent, compared with the approved resources for the 2017/18 period. The total proposed budget amounted to $354.8 million, representing an increase of 29 million, or 8.9 per cent, compared with approved resources for 2017/18. The increased requirements of cross-cutting and corporate initiatives totalled $31.4 million related to the Umoja project, supply chain management, information system security, the Global Service Delivery Model project and the costs for the proposed Global Shared Service Centres, as well as provisions for reimbursing the peacekeeping capability readiness system.
Mr. RUIZ, introducing the Advisory Committee’s related report (document A/72/857), said that with respect to the proposed budget for the support account for 2018/19, the Advisory Committee recommended a reduction of $26.4 million to the Secretary-General’s proposals under both post and non-post resources. That included reductions of $13.1 million related to the proposals for support of Umoja in the field and $9.9 million related to the global shared service centres. The Advisory Committee recommended the approval of a support account budget based on the current organizational structure of the departments and offices funded under the support account for a 12-month period. The Advisory Committee noted the absence of a scalability model, detailed proposals and a conclusion in the recently-finalized comprehensive review of the support account.
Regarding the specific resource proposals under the existing organizational structure, the Advisory Committee recommended against the conversion of a number of positions, given its views regarding scalability and the nature of the support account. The Advisory Committee recommended approval of continuing 62 general temporary assistance positions and a reduction of 5 per cent to non-post resources. The Advisory Committee also recommended the approval of the conversion of two P-3 Finance and Budget Officer positions in the Office of Programme Planning, Budgets and Accounts of the Department of Field Support. Further, the Committee made several recommendations regarding the resource requirements of the OIOS, including the need for further clarification regarding the resources available for carrying out investigation into sexual harassment cases.
KARIM ISMAIL (Egypt), on behalf of the Group of 77, said it remained a staunch supporter of peacekeeping operations, with its members contributing troops and serving as hosts to most current active operations. The Group, therefore, must be given adequate resources so its members could effectively discharge their increasingly complex mandates. He noted the comprehensive review of the support account for peacekeeping activities, but called attention to the absence of detailed proposals in the report. The Group noted that the proposal already reflected the reform initiatives to be tabled in the Fifth Committee, although those initiatives had not been fully considered or approved at that time. The Group would seek further clarification on the relationship between reform initiatives and the support account, as well as the timing of the consideration of the agenda item. The Group would also carefully analyse the Secretary-General’s requests for new posts and financial resources to ensure that they were relevant to the support needs of staff.
The Group remained concerned about the high cost of reform initiatives undertaken in recent years by the Secretariat, such as the Global Field Support Strategy, Umoja and other supply chain management improvements, which had not had a discernible impact on the level of resources being requested under the support account, he said. He requested further information on the efficiencies and economies of scale expected as a result of those initiatives. The Group noted with concern the lack of improvement in the representation of troop- and police-contributing countries within the peacekeeping support structure, both in the field and at Headquarters, particularly at senior levels. The Group would seek updates from the Secretariat during informal consultations on measures taken to improve their representation.
Financing of Peacekeeping Operations
MARIA COSTA, Director, Peacekeeping Financing Division, Office of Programme, Planning, Budget and Accounts, Department of Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the financing of several peacekeeping missions.
On the report concerning the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) (documents A/72/637 and A/72/779), she said the proposed budget for 2018/19 amounted to $945.5 million, an increase of 7.1 per cent from approved resources for 2017/18. The net increase was due to changes to troop strength mandated by Security Council resolution 2387 (2017) and civilian personnel. She said the Mission, through its overarching political strategy, would focus its efforts on the protection of civilians, good offices and support for the peace process, and facilitating a security environment for humanitarian aid delivery.
On the reports concerning the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) (document A/72/655), whose mandate had been extended through Security Council resolution 2284 (2016) for a final period until 30 June 2017, she said the Mission had incurred expenditures of $166.6 million, representing an implementation rate of 96.9 per cent. Earlier-than-planned repatriation of uniformed personnel and the downsizing and separation of civilian staff had reduced resource requirements, she said, with other factors including lower demand for air and ground transportation and for communications and information technologies. Residual activities were transferred after 30 June 2017 to the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe and to Headquarters.
Turning to the reports on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and its successor, the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) (documents A/72/689 and A/72/793), she recalled that the Security Council, through its resolution 2350 (2017), had decided to close the former by 15 October 2017. In 2016/17, that Mission had incurred an expenditure of $337.8 million, representing an implementation rate of 97.7 per cent. Reduced requirements were due mainly to higher average actual vacancy rates and the ongoing drawdown in preparation for the Mission’s closure.
For MINUJUSTH, she said, the proposed 2018/19 budget amounted to $124.4 million, up 41.2 per cent over the approved budget for the 8.5 month period ended 30 June 2018. That increase was primarily due to the provision for 12 months and the proposed establishment of 23 new posts and positions. She went on to note that the Secretary-General had presented the Security Council with a two-year exit strategy for the Mission which included 11 benchmarks developed in collaboration with the United Nations country team and in consultation with the Government of Haiti. The strategy had been harmonized with the country’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
On the reports dealing with the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) (documents A/72/624, A/72/802 and A/72/792), she said the Secretary-General was proposing an additional $65.2 million for 2017/18 for the arrival of additional military personnel and for increased requirements for civilian personnel. For 2018/19, the proposed budget of $1.15 billion reflected increases for the deployment of military personnel, rations and civilian personnel. With an authorised strength of 17,000 military personnel, including the Regional Protection Force, and 2,101 police personnel, the Mission would implement its main priorities, including the protection of civilians, while creating conditions conducive for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, monitoring and investigating human rights, and supporting implementation of the Peace Agreement in South Sudan.
With respect to the reports on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (documents A/72/687 and A/72/794), she said the proposed 2018/19 budget of $782.6 million was 14.1 per cent less than the 2017/18 approved budget, reflecting the full-year impact of the repatriation of military and policy personnel in line with the Operation’s reconfiguration as per Security Council resolution 2363 (2017). That Operation would focus on military protection, clearance of explosive remnants of war and emergency relief in the Jebel Marra area. Elsewhere in Darfur, UNAMID would focus on stabilizing the situation, supporting police and helping rule of law institutions while also protecting civilians, mediating intercommunal conflict and assisting the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. The Operation would also set up a second solar electric system at its El Fasher headquarters with a view to installing similar systems elsewhere in subsequent budget periods.
Mr. RUIZ presented the Advisory Committee’s corresponding reports on the 2016/17 budget performance and 2018/19 proposed budgets of those Missions.
On MINUSCA (document A/72/789/Add.8), he said the Advisory Committee’s recommendations would reduce the proposed budget by $1.32 million. It recommended against the proposed conversion of 39 positions to posts, pending the outcome of a strategic review. It also recommended reductions under facilities and infrastructure and ground transportation, taking past spending patterns into consideration. With respect to the 2017/18 period, he said the Advisory Committee concurred with the Controller’s request for authorization to enter into commitments not exceeding $20.21 million gross to meet requirements for an additional 900 military personnel as authorized by the Security Council.
On UNOCI (document A/72/852), he said the unencumbered balance of $5.35 million for the financial year ended 30 June 2017, as well as other revenue and adjustments totalling $16.57 million for the same period, should be credited to Member States in full and without delay. Noting progress on environmental management, he said accurate details on disposing the Mission’s assets should be provided to the General Assembly when it took up the Secretary-General’s forthcoming report on the subject.
Regarding MINUSTAH (document A/72/853), he said that under certain budget lines, actual expenditures diverged significantly from the planned budget. The Secretariat should provide a more realistic budgeting methodology for future missions undergoing drawdown and liquidation, building on lessons learned from UNOCI, UNMIL and MINUSTAH. He added that the Advisory Committee recommended that the unencumbered balance of $8.11 million for the financial year ended 30 June 2017, as well as other revenue and adjustments totalling $6.27 million, be credited to Member States in full without delay. Updated financial information should be provided to the General Assembly when it considered the Secretary-General’s final performance report.
Introducing two reports on UNMISS (documents A/72/789/Add.15 and A/72/854), he said the Advisory Committee recommended approval of $65.1 million of the additional resources requested for 2017/18 to meet the deployment of additional military contingents that would provide security in the Juba area. Turning to the 2018/19 budget proposal, he said the recommendations would reduce the Secretary-General’s proposals by $6.2 million, including a small reduction to proposed resources for rations for formed police units and the abolishment of two long-vacant civilian posts. Further reductions were recommended under official travel, facilities and infrastructure, and ground transportation. The Advisory Committee also encouraged the Mission to pursue its efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, including the construction of two solar farms.
Introducing the Advisory Committee’s report on UNAMID (document A/72/789/Add.7), he said its recommendations for the 2018/19 proposed budget would entail a reduction of $11.2 million. Those recommendations included official travel, other supplies, services and equipment, consultants and consulting services, and facilities and infrastructure. He added that the Advisory Committee concurred with the Board of Auditors that ongoing guidance and support from Headquarters was essential, taking into account the ongoing strategic review and its potential impact on the Mission going forward.
Finally, on MINUJUSTH (document A/72/789/Add.12), he said the Advisory Committee recommended that proposed resources for the financial year ending 30 June 2019 be reduced by $457,900. Doing so would reflect its recommendation to change vacancy rates to 11 per cent for National Professional Officers and 5 per cent for National General Services staff, as well as its recommendation against the establishment of several national General Service posts. It also recommended that the requirement for consultants be reduced by 10 per cent. He went on to state that the General Assembly should be provided with detained information on the financial impact of Security Council resolution 2410 (2018). [By that text, adopted on 10 April, the Council extended for one year the Mission’s mandate while also laying out a staggered decrease in its uniformed personnel and requesting periodic progress assessments on the Secretary-General’s proposed drawdown and exit strategy.]
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, adequate resources were required. In that connection, he expressed concern about some of the proposed reductions to the Mission’s budget, most of which were focused on objections to new posts in areas that the Secretary-General felt required strengthening. CELAC highlighted the importance of including an adequate level of resources in support of programmatic activities, community violence reduction programmes and quick impact projects. CELAC was opposed to arbitrary reductions without technical justification in the resources allocated to the Mission and underlined that MINUJUSTH’s budget should be based on the situation on the ground and the mandate approved by the Security Council, and not by arbitrary ceilings.
KITTY SWEEB (Suriname), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), pointed out that the resources required for MINUJUSTH for 2018/19 were in keeping with the Mission’s objectives, which included boosting national capacities, specifically those of the Haitian National Police and rule of law institutions, as well as human rights monitoring and analysis. CARICOM underlined the importance of community projects as well as quick impact projects that improved infrastructure and the provision of equipment to the local police, court and prison facilities.
JESÚS VELÁZQUEZ CASTILLO (Mexico), aligning himself with CELAC, said that through MINUJUSTH, the United Nations was demonstrating its commitment to assisting Haiti by helping to bolster institutional capacities and by promoting the necessary change to build sustainable peace. That included strengthening the capacities of the Haitian National Police and the rule of law, as well as promoting and protecting human rights. Mexico was convinced that the support of the United Nations was essential for coordinating initiatives towards Haiti’s sustainable development, which underscored the need for greater collaboration across the United Nations system. Only through the alignment of efforts and resources would efforts in Haiti have the desired effect. The Mission was the way in which the United Nations was showing its ability to coordinate peace, humanitarian assistance and development on the ground.
LEYLA VÁSQUEZ (Chile), aligning herself with CELAC, said there was no doubt that the support of the United Nations had been fundamental for Haiti. She underscored that the link between security and development was fundamental to achieving sustainable peace in the country, stressing that the Mission aimed at strengthening the rule of law and consolidating peace, bearing in mind the conditions and needs on the ground.
MUSTAFA ABUALI AHMED MOHAMMED (Sudan) called attention to the gradual decrease of resources provided to UNAMID following the implementation of the first and second phases of resolution 2363 (2017). Those developments confirmed the success of the Government’s efforts to restore peace and security, particularly with regard to the implementation of the Doha Peace Agreement. UNAMID was moving towards an interim stage as the focus shifted from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, and in that context, he hoped the Mission’s budget would be reconsidered in light of those developments. He pointed out that the Advisory Committee had called attention to the need to mitigate the environmental footprint of the Mission, particularly given the current drought conditions in the Sahel.