ALLOCATION OF SIGNIFICANT RESOURCES TESTIFIES TO IMPORTANCE OF UN PEACEKEEPING, FIFTH COMMITTEE TOLD AS IT CONCLUDES PEACEKEEPING DISCUSSION
NEW YORK, 31 October (UN Headquarters) -- Allocation of significant resources for peacekeeping testified to the importance of the United Nations peacekeeping activities, the representative of Cuba told the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) as it concluded its consideration of the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects. In practical terms, however, it placed peacekeeping in a privileged position, for other equally important areas, including development, had not received similar increases and were being called upon to do more with less.
She further said that, despite the so-called urgency of authorizing 93 additional posts last year, only 44 staff members had been hired to date. Those posts had been established last December without real programmatic and operational need. Many of the proposals before the Committee related to posts in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), increasing its administrative units and duplicating functions carried out by other departments. The reform should be carried out not only through additional posts and non-staff resources, but through improved coordination and efficiency, as well.
The representative of Nepal supported the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) comment that the current exercise to implement the Brahimi Panel’s recommendations should not be seen as a general opportunity for the Secretariat to request resources that were not clearly related to peacekeeping needs. While he was not opposed to providing resources to the Secretariat, he noted that some of its requests were motivated by personal interest and fuzzy arguments. Rationalization of existing resources and efforts to maximize output ought to be a work in progress. The mere addition of personnel in the Peacekeeping Department could do little help, especially in the long run. Objective analysis and rational justification should provide the basis for reforms, not expediency and expectations.
The representative of Iran (on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China) supported the recommendation of the ACABQ calling for complete rethinking of the way the Secretariat justified resources for the support account, when applying results-based budgeting techniques in the next budget submission. Sharing the concern of the Advisory Committee that an increase in the number of organizational units in the DPKO did not necessarily facilitate coordination, nor enhance administrative and management capacity, he stressed the need to eliminate the potential for duplication of work of the political officers in the Peacekeeping Department and the Department of Political Affairs. He also believed that the functions of the proposed DPKO information unit should be performed by a technical unit within the Department of Public Information (DPI). Greater effort needed to be made to further clarify the relationships and interactions between departments. Adequate resources should be provided to the claims unit, and speedy resolution of the outstanding uncertified claims was needed.
While agreeing that adding posts and organizational units would not necessarily improve efficiency, the representative of Norway was surprised that the Advisory Committee had recommended against as much as 40 per cent of the Secretary-General’s requests for new posts. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s emphasis on integrating human rights into the planning and implementation of international peace operations and supported the establishment of new posts in that area. Additional staffing would help to enhance Headquarters’ capacity to manage the increasing number of peacekeeping operations with human rights components. He also welcomed the emphasis that had been placed on the importance of civilian police in multifunctional peace operations, and on the need to focus on security sector reform as an integral part of future peace operations.
Responding to the matter of posts, the Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts and United Nations Controller, Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, said that while the recruitment process tended to be slow, in the case of the 93 posts, it had proceeded more quickly than usual. The recruitment process had been rigorous and it had been conducted in full compliance with all mandates and the proper representation of troop-contributing countries. He added that, since 10 September, an additional 22 staff members had come on board.
Also this morning, as the Committee concluded its general discussion on several aspects of human resources management, the representative of China stressed the need to rejuvenate the United Nations staff, in particular through increased recruitment from the roster of candidates who have passed national competitive examinations and reducing the age limit for such exams. He also expressed serious concern about the large number of retirees and temporary personnel employed by the language services and stressed the need to observe the principle of equality of all six official languages.
Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russian Federation, Ukraine, United States, Argentina, Morocco, Algeria, Ghana, India, Dominican Republic, Azerbaijan and Belgium.
The meeting adjourned at 1 p.m.
The Committee will take up appointments to several United Nations bodies at 10 a.m. Friday, 2 November.
This morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected to conclude its general discussion of financial implications of United Nations peacekeeping review and several issues related to human resources management. For detailed information, see Press Releases GA/AB/3471 of 29 October and GA/AB/3472 of 30 October.
MORTEZA MIRMOHAMMAD (Iran), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said that the Group attached great importance to the provision of adequate resources to all peacekeeping activities. In the same vein, it maintained its view that adequate resources should be provided to all priority activities of the United Nations, in particular those in the area of development.
The statement of programme budget implications of the comprehensive review should concentrate on providing information that justified the totality of resources requested for peacekeeping support and not just additional requests for posts and non-staff costs, he continued. The Group remained concerned that, according to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), the analysis that could provide such justification was still lacking. It supported the recommendation of the ACABQ calling for complete rethinking of the way the Secretariat justified resources for the support account, when applying results-based budgeting techniques in the next budget submission.
Noting that support account resources were intended primarily to provide backstopping support at Headquarters for peacekeeping operations in the field, he said that the support account should be strictly used for the purpose for which it had been established and not for financing activities falling under other Secretariat departments not directly linked to peacekeeping. The number of associated posts must be regularly reviewed to justify continuing need. The current exercise should not be seen as a general opportunity to request resources that were not clearly and specifically related to the increase in peacekeeping needs.
He went on to say that that the Group shared the concern of the Advisory Committee that an increase in the number of organizational units in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) did not necessarily facilitate coordination, nor enhance administrative and management capacity. Regarding the request on the creation of a dedicated information unit within the Peacekeeping Department, the Group concurred with the opinion of the ACABQ that such functions should be performed by a technical unit within the Department of Public Information (DPI). The potential for duplication of work of the political officers in the DPKO and the Department of Political Affairs would need to be eliminated. Greater effort needed to be made to further clarify the relationships and interactions between departments. Adequate resources should be provided to the claims unit. Also, speedy resolution of the outstanding uncertified claims was needed.
He noted with concern that out of 93 posts approved in General Assembly resolution 55/238 on an urgent basis, only 89 posts had been filled and only 44 of those had reported for duty. In that regard, the Group urged the Secretary-General to intensify his efforts in recruiting candidates for posts in the DPKO on as wide a geographical basis as possible, taking into account resolutions on the representation of troop-contributing countries in the DPKO. The Group also welcomed the emphasis on training, planning and establishment of rosters, which would provide capacity to manage and monitor personnel actions in the Peacekeeping Department and the Office of Human Resources Management. It concurred with the ACABQ on the utilization of information technology in reducing the current recruitment period below 180 days.
The implementation of the outcome of the negotiations on the issue under consideration should be kept under review in light of the complex structure and increasing resources of the DPKO, he said. It was also important to take into account the methodological aspects of results-based budgeting and the need to use the resources in an efficient and effective manner.
AYMAN M. ELGAMMAL (Egypt) agreed with the statement by the representative of Iran on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and said that peacekeeping operations were among the most effective tools to maintain international peace and security. The reform of peacekeeping should be complete, balanced and fair. The reform should start with the way the recommendations of the Secretariat were submitted to the Security Council for the approval of peacekeeping missions’ mandates. Participation and involvement of troop-contributing countries should receive special attention. It was also important to put an end to the chronic deficits that had been continuing for years.
All Member States should pay their arrears to the Organization, he continued, and their current assessments should be paid in full, on time and without conditions. That way, the Organization would be able to pay its dues to the troop-contributing countries. The methods and rules in the Secretariat should be reformed on an urgent basis to improve administrative procedures for countries’ participation in peacekeeping, especially regarding establishment of memoranda of understanding and improvement of payment to troop contributors in a timely manner. Proposals from the Secretary-General to improve the submission of settlement of claims included restructuring of the claims unit, and he hoped that those measures would enable that body to be more efficient. Regarding the data bank of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations on the contingent-owed equipment claims, he said it should include information on the original amount of the claims. The value of Egypt’s claims had not been consistent, and the claims unit had not provided any explanations in that regard.
He also stressed the need to abide by the recommendations of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations regarding the structures proposed for the DPKO, the Department of Political Affairs and administrative and financial reinforcement. His delegation did not agree with the ACABQ regarding the Best Practices Unit. Aware of the need to support the peacekeeping ability of the Organization, his delegation supported the recommendations regarding the need to pay special attention to better coordination between various departments involved in peacekeeping, instead of creation of small units. The Peacekeeping Department should not be transformed into a microcosm of the United Nations. He also supported the position of the Group of 77 regarding delays in filling the 93 posts established during the previous session.
FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) said his country was strongly attached to strengthening peacekeeping operations. He appreciated the efforts of those who participated in peacekeeping operations around the world, who daily risked their lives to achieve peace for all peoples. Support account resources were aimed at providing additional power to Headquarters to manage peacekeeping operations in the field. It was necessary to justify the whole demand for supporting peacekeeping operations, not only requests for additional costs. It was also necessary to clarify efforts and reactions between the Peacekeeping Department and other departments.
He said that the issue of decision-making did not require detailed description of units, but required clear-cut indications for new and continuing missions which needed additional resources. The reasons why the present capacity did not meet staff burdens must also be understood. He supported the finding of the ACABQ that disarmament functions and humanitarian issues were not clearly defined. He also shared the view of the ACABQ on the connection between abstract numbers and additional demands. It was necessary to develop an effective system to provide management capacity and to monitor personnel issues in the DPKO and the Office of Human Resources Management. He proposed that the Secretariat reduce the delay in the appointment of peacekeeping personnel from 180 to 90 days. That period would include 60 days to announce vacant posts. Information technology could be used to reduce the delay. Requests for new posts must be justified, including the seven posts that would be funded through the regular budget, and the 122 posts to be funded through the support account.
GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said the main task of the Brahimi Panel was to identify problems in the conduct of peacekeeping operations and to develop suggestions to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations in that field. Emphasis had been placed on the development of an information and analytical capacity, which was important when launching multifaceted operations. Particular attention had been paid to increasing the Organization’s capacities in areas including staffing, logistics support and the rapid deployment of peacemaking missions. His delegation supported that approach and had participated in discussions of the Secretary-General’s suggestions. Its work had been guided by the importance of reform of United Nations peacekeeping activities. Unfortunately, the report of the Secretary-General did not contain all of the elements related to capacity-building in terms of rapid and efficient deployment, that was to say, the proposal to create strategic reserves.
The Russian Federation found it important to strengthen the information and analytical capacity of the Organization, he said. In that context, he supported the proposal to establish a compact secretariat under the Executive Committee on Peace and Security to perform analytical tasks and coordinate the efforts of the various United Nations departments and agencies. The proposal to appoint a person, on a temporary basis, to help senior officers solve everyday problems regarding the reform was well justified. His delegation was ready to support the proposal of the Secretary-General to establish a post of Director of Management on a temporary basis. The Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit was to play an important role in strengthening the United Nations peacekeeping capacity. The problem, however, could not be solved through a simple increase in staff. More intensive use of already existing capabilities and promotion of better coordination within the Secretariat was necessary. He supported the views of the ACABQ in that regard.
On the Military Division and Civilian Police Division, he said additional requirements for increased capacity to support those components were well grounded. However, in a number of cases, requests for resources had no clear-cut link to the task of creating and strengthening the United Nations capacity in the field of peacemaking. The recommendations of the ACABQ were well balanced. That body’s report would serve as a good basis for the Committee to take decisions on the issue.
SUN MINQIN (China) said her delegation fully subscribed to the views of the Group of 77 and China. The proposals before the Committee supported strengthening the DPKO and capacity development, particularly in management, planning and mission support. Priorities in the reform efforts were placed on structural adjustments and increases in staffing levels, and in general, she supported such an approach. The discussion in the Fifth Committee should be based on the report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, taking into account the recommendations of the ACABQ.
The DPKO needed to be strengthened, she continued. The ACABQ had recommended seven additional posts under the regular budget and 122 under the support account. In that connection, she recalled that the Special Committee had requested a detailed post-by-post analysis of the requirements, and she hoped that it would be made available to the delegations in the near future. Regarding the presentation of the estimates, she agreed with the ACABQ that justification must be provided for additional resources and information must be presented in a clear manner. Following results-based budgeting methodology, it was necessary to analyse the workload needed and inform Member States about the reasons for particular requests.
Regarding the support account, she noted it was intended primarily to provide support at Headquarters for peacekeeping operations in the field, and its amount depended on the level of peacekeeping activities. It should be strictly used for the purpose for which it had been established. She fully agreed with the ACABQ that the current exercise should not be seen as a general opportunity to request resources that were not clearly and specifically related to the increase in peacekeeping needs. The Secretary-General had requested additional posts under the support account, but her delegation failed to detect the linkage between that request and the needs of peacekeeping. If those requests were justified, they should be provided with resources under the regular budget, but her delegation could not support requests for something that was not what it claimed to be.
Turning to the question of coordination, she advocated reducing duplication and increasing efficiency. Much could be accomplished through inter-departmental coordination. She also noted that the report endorsed a strategic reserve at the Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy, but no conclusions had been reached on the specifics of that proposal. That matter should be approached with caution, and her delegation would await the submission of detailed requests for the strategic reserve.
MARKIYAN KULYK (Ukraine) said that effective peacekeeping lay at the heart of the United Nations responsibility to maintain international peace and security. As a troop and equipment contributor, Ukraine was strongly committed to peacekeeping. It ranked among the 10 largest troop contributors at the moment.
At a time of surging demand for United Nations peacekeeping activities, the Organization’s capacity in that respect certainly needed to be strengthened, he said. Additional resources should be given to the DPKO, which was the operational arm of the Secretariat responsible for the management, planning and preparation of operations. In that regard, the timeliness and appropriateness of the Brahimi Panel recommendations could not be overestimated.
Stressing the importance of the reports before the Committee, he said the ACABQ recommendations concerning the overall levels of additional requirements under the programme budget and the support account represented a valuable basis for approval. After the establishment of additional posts by resolution 55/258, those posts should be filled expeditiously. Due regard should be given to ensuring proper representation of troop-contributing countries in the DPKO. While additional resources were needed, more could be achieved through optimal use of available resources, in particular through improvement of working methods and procedures. Structural and post changes to be approved by the Fifth Committee should reflect the evolving nature of the peacekeeping reform and future staffing needs, in particular under the support account. They should be periodically reviewed and adjusted, if warranted.
PATRICK KENNEDY (United States) said his country remained dedicated to supporting and improving peacekeeping as a core function of the Organization. He recognized the risks of those on the ground and believed that their welfare was paramount. The Brahimi report provided a useful roadmap for reform. The United States supported targeted additional capacity for the DPKO to improve peacekeeping management in the field and especially at Headquarters. In its latest report, the Secretariat had made a strong effort to incorporate some of the United States’ concerns. He believed DPKO’s leadership when it said that it needed additional support. To justify any funding requests, however, he would need to see concrete reasons to support such requests. The United States would also pay close attention to those aspects of peacekeeping reform which the Committee had approved on an emergency basis last year.
He shared the view of the ACABQ that there was still room for improvement in the presentation of the budget. Results-based budgeting was crucial to measured consideration for more resources. It was important not to offer vague explanations about greater responsibilities to justify an increase in resources. He would like to see a better understanding of how those resources would be put to work and what shortcomings would be reduced or eliminated as a result of increased investment. He would seek additional information from the Secretariat on efforts to make use of already existing resources.
He welcomed efforts to detail ideas regarding the strategic reserve at the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi. He also welcomed the recent briefing for Member States by Assistant Secretary-General Michael Sheehan of the DPKO that was intended to solicit guidance for the Secretariat’s future planning.
Such consultations would improve the presentation of final proposals. "No one said that peacekeeping reform would be an easy or quick task", he said. A comprehensive approach for considering all aspects of peacekeeping was proving its worth.
GUILLERMO KENDALL (Argentina) said that last year the United Nations had undertaken an exhaustive review of peace and security activities. The task was a historic one, which would have profound consequences in the way the Organization shouldered peacekeeping responsibilities. Argentina had been an important troop contributor to United Nations peace operations. The Special Committee had pointed out areas that should be given priority, including strengthening the coordination of tasks both within the Peacekeeping Department and other sectors of the Organization, and the Organization’s analysis capacity. The new establishment of an information and analysis secretariat would better meet the needs of the system. Special attention should also be provided for the safety of staff.
It was necessary to ensure that the Organization meet the challenges of peacekeeping in the shortest time, he added. The proposals and recommendations before the Committee were results of efforts of both the Secretariat and Member States. Adequate resources for peacekeeping operations must be provided. That was the task of the Fifth Committee.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said the Brahimi report had become a milestone in the process of making the United Nations more efficient and effective in planning and conducting complex peacekeeping operations. The time had come for the Committee to take decisive action on the statement of programme budget implications, to take well-founded and creative steps to enable the United Nations to put a new structure into place. He agreed with the ACABQ that adding a number of posts or organizational units would not necessarily improve efficiency. He was surprised, however, that the Advisory Committee had recommended against as much as 40 per cent of the Secretary-General’s requests for new posts, or 87 out of 216 posts.
Norway welcomed the Secretary-General’s emphasis on integrating human rights into the planning and implementation of international peace operations. He supported the establishment of new posts in that area. Additional staffing would help to enhance Headquarters’ capacity to manage the increasing number of peacekeeping operations with human rights components. He also underlined the importance of strengthening the information and analysis capacity of the Organization. He supported the decision to make the "lessons learned" unit more operative and to reorganize it as the Peacekeeping Best Practice Unit. The challenge was to analyse information and make use of it to learn from the past. To achieve that, it was important that the allocation of new posts reflect the actual needs of the Unit also concerning required expertise.
He also welcomed the emphasis placed on the importance of civilian police in multifunctional peace operations, and on the need to focus on security sector reform as an integral participation of future peace operations. Norway, therefore, supported the proposal to strengthen the civilian police division and establish a new unit, the Criminal Law and Judicial Advisory Unit. He also attached great importance to improving coordination between military and civilian components. On the issue of gender mainstreaming into peacekeeping operations, the Security Council had urged the Secretary-General to ensure that field operations included a gender component. Norway welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal to strengthen the Best Practices Unit with gender adviser posts to mainstream gender awareness into both the planning and conduct of peacekeeping operations. Norway was disappointed that the ACABQ did not support new posts for that purpose.
MOHAMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) supported the position of the Group of 77 and China and said that peacekeeping was one of the main functions of the United Nations. Its consideration since the presentation of the Brahimi report had given impetus to improving the Organization’s peacekeeping capacity. The peacekeeping budget had increased to over $3 billion, and the United Nations was now involved in a new era of peacekeeping operations, which had acquired new dimensions. The DPKO was the heart for managing, planning and implementing peacekeeping operations. Called upon to work together with the Security Council, the troop contributors and missions in the field, it needed to be strengthened. Restructuring the Department should ensure streamlining and cut down on peacekeeping costs.
As a troop contributor, his country would like to see improvements in the area of administrative and financial management, he continued. He also noted that out of the posts already granted to the DPKO, many were still vacant. He was surprised that such a high level of vacancies existed, when additional resources were being requested. Also, the recruitment methods were still too slow. He hoped that the vacant posts would be distributed, taking into account the principle of broad geographical representation, including by troop-contributing countries.
It was also important to avoid duplication and overlapping and do away with the bureaucracy, he said. His delegation supported the position of the ACABQ, which had stated that it was necessary to further clarify the working relations between relevant departments involved in peacekeeping. Effective and efficient coordination between the Peacekeeping Department and the Department of Management was needed. Strengthening the capacity of the DPKO should also provide an improvement of services to troop-contributing countries. He was concerned that there were currently no certificates for reimbursement for damaged materials and awaited with interest the report by the Secretary-General on the creation of a strategic reserve at the Brindisi Base.
He said that while particular attention should be given to the maintenance of international peace and security, peacekeeping activities should not divert attention from other areas of the Organization’s activities, including the field of development. The recommendations of the ACABQ reflected considerable rigour and discipline and deserved full attention.
ABDELMALEK BOUHEDDOU (Algeria) supported the position of the Group of 77 and China and said that the structure of the DPKO had to adapt to the unprecedented increase in peacekeeping activities. Currently, it was called upon to manage and develop numerous operations and manage an increasing budget of some $3 billion. Rather than dealing with a simple increase in the number of units in the administrative chart of the Department, the changes should be designed to establish better cooperation and consistency in peacekeeping activities.
In that regard, he agreed with the ACABQ recommendations, which included the suggestion on the need to keep the requirements under review. He also fully supported its conclusions that the Secretariat should justify, not just additional resources, but the total resources requested under the support account. As that account should be used exclusively for the purposes for which it had been established, his delegation would not be in a position to support the funding of the posts requested for the human rights and oversight purposes.
He reiterated his country’s position that, in many cases, proposed reclassifications represented "disguised promotions". His delegation would not support such reclassifications. He also expressed concern over the lack of transparency in recruitment, placement and promotion practices within the DPKO, especially since the Committee was now dealing with a request for the creation of 129 additional posts within the Department. Not all posts already approved had been filled, however. Only 44 positions had been taken up by the incumbents, and he hoped the vacancies would be filled as soon as possible. He asked for the list of officials already recruited, taking into account their country of origin. It was regrettable that lately the Peacekeeping Department had been less careful in respecting the procedures for the management of human resources. He also had serious reservations about a number of posts requested.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) said the recommendations of the ACABQ were generally acceptable to him. He looked forward to the Secretary-General’s intention to adopt a results-based budgeting format for the presentation of the support account estimates, which should sharpen the focus of resource allocation through ensuring a better appreciation of areas with real needs for increased capacity. Even as an integrated management approach was preferred for the planning and execution of missions, Ghana did not share the concern that that should necessarily result in physical reallocation of functional units to the DPKO. He was convinced that focal points should be identified within substantive divisions to coordinate tasks that needed to be intergrated into missions. He supported the recommendation of the ACABQ not to recommend, at the current stage, the setting up of functional units within the DPKO for public information, human rights and gender issues within the Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit, although he could support the strengthening of those units within the respective substantive departments.
On estimates relating to post requirements, he agreed that the resources of the support account were meant to provide additional capacity at Headquarters and should not serve as a means to achieve other purposes unconnected with the need to manage associated posts. He urged caution in the approval of new posts, especially in light of the associated difficulties in terminating existing posts. Posts that did not relate to generic peacekeeping activities should be clearly delineated from those relating to specific peacekeeping activities. It was necessary to ensure that the full complement of 93 posts were fully encumbered. He noted the changing practices on memoranda of understanding for peacekeeping operations and that the responsibilities of troop-contributing countries had increased.
MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said his country had an unflinching commitment to United Nations peacekeeping operations. He recognized the complementary relationship between peace and development. He emphasized the need for careful balance between peace and development and holistic examination of its existing shortcomings. The Organization needed major reform and recalibration to effectively cope with the existing and emergent challenges of the twenty-first century. He called for comprehensive and conscientious reforms in the area of peacekeeping. While recruitment to fill 89 posts in the DPKO had been completed, only 44 of those recruited had reported for duty. He wondered whether the principle of geographical representation had been followed in filling the new posts.
There was tremendous room for reform to remove duplication between the DPKO and the Department of Management and the Office of Human Resources Management, he said. The mere addition of personnel in the Peacekeeping Department could do little to help, especially in the long run. It was hard to understand why the Secretariat continued to fail in using workload indicators to justify resources it requested, despite the ACABQ’s repeated comments to that effect. That behaviour was not consistent with the Secretariat’s eagerness to embrace results-based budgeting. Objective analysis and rational justification should provide the basis for reforms, not expediency and expectations. Redoubled efforts were essential on the part of the Secretariat to reduce that gap and foster confidence.
The current exercise to implement the Brahimi Panel’s recommendations should not be seen as a general opportunity for the Secretariat to request resources that were not clearly related to peacekeeping needs, he said. While he was not opposed to creating positions and providing resources to the Secretariat, he had encountered difficulties when the Secretariat’s requests were motivated by personal interest and fuzzy arguments. Rationalization of existing resources and efforts to maximize output ought to be a work in progress. He was satisfied with the recommendation of the ACABQ regarding the Secretary-General’s proposal to strengthen the Department of Management to provide backstopping support for the current level of peacekeeping operations. Troop-contributing countries should be properly represented in the restructured DPKO, especially at senior levels.
EVA SILOT BRAVO (Cuba) associated herself with the Group of 77 and China and said that special support was being provided to the Peacekeeping Department as proof of the importance attached to peacekeeping activities of the United Nations. That support was also being expressed in practical terms through a significant increase in the level of resources allocated for peacekeeping. As a result of the consideration of the Brahimi report, last December additional resources were approved for the support account and the programme budget for 2000-2001. Also, without real programmatic and operational need, 93 additional posts were established within the DPKO, and two posts for the Electoral Assistance Division of the Department of Political Affairs. Now, the Committee was considering proposed additional resources for 2002-2003 in the amount of some $2.7 million gross for the regular budget and some $25.8 million for the support account. In practical terms, that placed peacekeeping in a privileged position. Other equally important areas, including development, had not received similar increases and were called upon to do more with less. In her view, a more systematic approach was needed.
Her delegation appreciated the valuable considerations contained in the ACABQ report, she continued, particularly on the need to carry out the reform of peacekeeping not only through additional posts and non-staff resources, but through improved coordination and efficiency, as well. Those observations also challenged the merit of the proposed posts. Many of the proposals related to posts which were aimed at increasing the support capacity of the DPKO by increasing its administrative units, duplicating functions carried out by other departments. In general, that would appear to point to a certain underestimation of the existing capacity within that Department.
She also noted with concern that the Secretariat had used the report to indiscriminately request those resources which should be considered within the programmatic context. She hoped that in the future, within the framework of improved management based on results, the Secretariat would make proposals, which would lead to more efficient use of resources. Despite the so-called urgency of authorizing the additional posts last year, only 44 staff members had been hired, to date. She supported an open, in-depth and exhaustive analysis of the posts proposals, based on their merits. She also shared the recommendation of the ACABQ that, in view of the restructuring of the DPKO, the Assembly should, in the short term, determine whether both the size and the structure of the Department provide for the needs of the Organization.
In conclusion, she expressed concern over the ACABQ approach to granting posts on the basis of "general needs", which obviated the principles governing the functioning of the support account and the regular budget. Cuba could not support such an approach.
RAMESH CHANDRA (India) said the recommendations of the ACABQ should be endorsed. As a major contributor of troops and equipment, India always saw peacekeeping as a core function of the United Nations, which needed to be strengthened. One of the most significant recommendations related to the need to provide justification of the totality of the requests. A number of delegations had referred to "vague explanations" of such requests by the Secretariat in the past.
Continuing, he said that emphasis should be placed on the more crucial areas of peacekeeping activities, which included strengthening the office of operations, the administrative support division, logistics support and the military and civilian police divisions. Given the nature of posts approved under the support account, their number and level should be periodically reviewed to justify their existence. He agreed that redeployment and downward reclassification of posts should form an integral part of the analysis of needs. He also supported several points made by the representative of Iran. One of them related to the need to strengthen the claims section. Several previous recommendations in that respect had not been heeded, and he hoped that the new recommendations would be expeditiously implemented. There was also a need for greater representation of the troop-contributing countries in the DPKO.
OSIRIS BLANCO (Dominican Republic) said the difference between the Secretary-General’s statement on the financial implications of the draft resolution and that submitted by the ACABQ should give rise to grave concern. Regarding what was said by the Group of 77 developing countries and China concerning the recruitment of new staff and reclassification of other posts, he noted a large number of vacancies within the Department. The capacity to respond rapidly and effectively should be improved both quantitatively and qualitatively. The requirements of the DPKO should be stronger than those contained in the proposal. The improvements made should be lasting -- at least for five years. Given the importance of the changes, he welcomed the establishment of a high-level committee of experts appointed by the Secretary-General to provide a report on the revolutionary proposals for the Peacekeeping Department.
The Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts and United Nations Controller, Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, said that he was pleased to note the continuing recognition of the need for the Secretariat to be provided with adequate resources. Those resources would be used efficiently. He had noted many useful comments made during the debate. A number of delegations had indicated that they would be seeking additional information, and the Secretariat would be pleased to provide that information. On the issue of the strategic reserve, it was a complex issue and the Secretariat was not yet ready to put it forward to the Committee. They were currently in the process of putting together a paper on the issue, which would be ready early next year.
On the matter of posts, specifically the 93 approved last year, the recruitment process for those posts had proceeded faster than was usually the case, he said. The recruitment process was rigorous and had been conducted in cooperation with the Office of Human Resources Management and in full compliance with all mandates and the proper representation of troop-contributing countries. Since
10 September, an additional 22 staff had come on board. On the issue of results-based budgeting, the Secretariat had been mandated to present the support account next year in that format. It would do so, and hopefully the Committee would find it to be an improved product.
As the Committee turned to the issues of human resources management, LI TAIZHANG (China) said that during the previous session, consensus had been reached on many important issues relating to human resources management. His delegation welcomed the report of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU on the young professionals at the Secretariat, but was concerned over the present situation in that respect. Given the fact that the average age of all professionals in the Secretariat was 46 and that young professionals at the P-1 and P-2 levels accounted for only 21 per cent of all appointments, it would not take long for the aging of the staff to become a serious problem. To rejuvenate the United Nations, his delegation actively supported the relevant recommendations contained in the report before the Committee.
At present, there were two effective approaches that could bring quick results, he continued. One involved recruiting as soon as possible the candidates from the roster of those who had passed the national competitive examinations. It would also be reasonable to set the age limit for such exams at 30 for professional candidates, and at 35 for language candidates. The current age limits, especially the limit of 55 for language candidates, span too wide a range to help reduce the overall age of the staff.
His delegation was also seriously concerned about the large number of retirees and temporary personnel employed by the language services of the Secretariat, he said. Although not opposed to the appropriate use of qualified retirees and temporary staff, his delegation had found that some language services employed them in much higher numbers. Several even employed more retirees and temporary personnel than their regular staff. That was neither rational nor normal. The language services, especially the interpretation services, should use more young people, who are generally better than retirees in terms of quicker thinking and reaction and the capacity to absorb new knowledge.
Not using qualified young professionals who had passed the exam or using them only in small numbers was a waste in itself. Various facts indicated that employing a large number of temporary personnel cost more than increasing the number of regular established posts. That was also difficult from the management point of view. He hoped that the appropriate offices of the Secretariat and the Office of Human Resources Management would carefully study that matter to find solutions. Serious consideration should be given, in particular, to the current problem of an inadequate number of regular staff having to deal with a heavy workload. The number of regular posts should be increased to a reasonable level, while reducing the number of temporary personnel.
His delegation was also concerned about the equality of all six official languages, he said. There were still inequalities, which were expressed in the establishment of language service posts. For example, the Chinese Web site of the United Nations had only one temporary post, while some other official languages had their own dedicated Web site units. Also, the Chinese Editing Section in Geneva had never had a Chinese editor, whereas editing sections for other languages had two editors each. Some United Nations agencies and offices did not provide Chinese translation of their documentation. He hoped that the Secretariat and other appropriate offices would uphold the principle of equality for all United Nations official languages by establishing a team for the Chinese Web site, adding a Chinese editing unit in Geneva, and recruiting a qualified Professional at the P-4 level from China to fill the current vacancy for the Chief of the Asia Radio Unit of the DPI.
ELMIRA SARIJALINSKAYA (Azerbaijan) said that her delegation supported in principle the recommendations to postpone consideration of the human resources agenda item until the next regular session. However, she wanted to comment on several issues. Regarding geographical quotas for the recruitment of external consultants, she said those would be temporary in nature. For that reason, it was possible to use them. Such quotas could be used prior to the adoption of relevant methodology by the Assembly. A special report on the matter should be provided by the Secretariat.
Continuing, she supported the critical remarks of the ACABQ on the report of the Secretary-General on consultants and individual contractors, contained in document A/55/321. To date, there was no established system for gathering data and to promote accountability for hiring of consultants. It was important to speed up full development of the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS), which would allow the creation of a reliable data base on professionals available to the Secretariat. To promote savings, it would be also appropriate to use local highly qualified consultants. The criterion for their use should be high quality and low costs. Broad use of less expensive consultants from developing countries and countries in transition would be in keeping with such a principle.
AHMED FARID (Saudi Arabia) supported the contents of the JIU report on delegation of authority as it was necessary to avoid the establishment of a system of delegation of authority in the absence of a reliable and comprehensive system of accountability. The criteria for performance should be more specific. Performance evaluation should be undertaken in light of those objectives. Delegation of authority to individuals must be clearly set out, including the original source of authority, description of clear objectives of such delegation of authority, restrictions on the sub-delegation of authority and the date and duration of such delegation of authority.
He supported the creation of an accountability committee to assist in promoting accountability at higher levels of administrative authority. It was necessary to have an effective dialogue between administration and staff. The opinions and proposals of staff ought to be taken into consideration. He supported recommendation of the JIU on the need to take further steps in all segments of the Secretariat to establish "a culture of clarity, transparency and communication". As for consultants, he supported the JIU’s recommendation that it was necessary for the Office of Human Resources Management to review all requests for consultative services to ensure whether such expertise was available in the Organization.
Ms. SILOT BRAVO (Cuba), on the recent resolution on human resources management, appealed to representatives of the Secretariat regarding public interpretation of that resolution in its publications. There was a general perception that the General Assembly had been given a green light to reform human resources management. While she did support that, and had been part of the consensus on that resolution, specific trends under which other resolutions had been adopted on human resources reform should also be indicated. Fair consideration should be given to work carried out by the General Assembly in arriving at certain understandings in the reform package that met both the Secretariat’s needs and those of Member States.
KIRILL V. FEDOROV (Russian Federation) said the Secretariat continued to stubbornly neglect specifying relevant agenda items on some reports before the Committee. For example, report A/56/277 on the excessive vacancy rates in language services at some duty stations and issues related to the recruitment of language staff had been presented under agenda item 136 (pattern of conferences). However, the report also dealt with the issues of human resources management and should be designated as such under a relevant agenda item. It was important to rectify the situation.
Mr. MIRMOHAMMED (Iran) said that, yesterday, he had spoken in favour of using the time of the Committee in an efficient manner, devoting more attention to the proposed programme budget. The Committee had already considered thoroughly the report of the JIU on the delegation of authority, which had since been endorsed by the General Assembly. As the ACABQ report had been issued on the matter, he proposed that the Committee should call upon the Secretary-General to implement the relevant decision, taking into account the comments of the ACABQ.
The question of the consultants had already been considered by the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC), he continued. That Committee had made balanced and effective recommendations on the matter, not endorsing several of the JIU recommendations. The Fifth Committee could support the recommendations of the CPC, and call upon the Secretary-General to fully implement them, fully taking into account the recommendations of the ACABQ.
MICHEL TILEMANS (Belgium) said the Group of 77 had proposed an appealing solution, but his delegation needed more time to move ahead on it. It should not take the Committee long to reach an agreement, but no decision should be taken at this stage.
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