5 November 2004
Budget Committee Concludes Debate on Secretary-Generals Plan for Strenghtened UN Security
NEW YORK, 4 November (UN Headquarters) -- We would be making the greatest contribution to the safety and security of the United Nations if we could arrive at an honest, self-critical assessment on ways of restoring and safeguarding the perception of the United Nations as a neutral, benevolent actor, the representative of India told the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning, as it concluded its consideration of the Secretary-Generals proposals to strengthen the Organizations security system.
Looking at those proposals, Member States should not delude themselves that money and posts alone could buy security for the United Nations, he continued. The two cardinal principles in addressing safety and security questions should be strict adherence to basic security regulations and directives and strict enforcement of accountability.
During its last session, the Committee had been informed that the most pressing need was for security personnel in field locations, he said. However, out of the 778 posts sought, nearly 400 were proposed for Headquarters and seven other main offices, with over 200 posts proposed for New York, Geneva and Vienna. On the other hand, no new resources were proposed for peacekeeping operations, on the grounds that their main requirements had been addressed substantially in the Phase I report. Since then, new peacekeeping operations had been launched and existing operations had been enlarged.
In that connection, several speakers agreed with the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) that the new system should focus primarily on the field, without undermining the needs at Headquarters. Delegates hoped the new integrated mechanisms would establish system-wide policies, procedures and standards related to both field and Headquarters needs.
It was also pointed out today that the financial implications of the Secretary-Generals proposals would amount to nearly $300 million for the current biennium -- roughly 10 per cent of the entire budget. In that connection, the representative of Costa Rica said that Member States could not decide to shoulder economic responsibilities that they later might not be able to bear. The costs of the security proposal were enormous for his country. His delegation viewed with concern that the United Nations budget had exceeded the capacity to pay of Member States.
Many speakers also addressed the issue of the Organizations relations with the host countries. The representative of Qatar (on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China) was among the speakers who stressed that the primary responsibility for the safety and security of the United Nations and its personnel should remain with the host government. The Group shared the concerns raised by the ACABQ with regard to the inadequate working arrangements with host governments in that regard. Those responsibilities and obligations were not always finalized in legally binding documents. Another aspect that needed to be fully reflected in the Organizations approach was the uneven capacity of host countries to provide security.
Pakistan urged the United Nations to work closely with host authorities to put in place effective security mechanisms. Without the cooperation of host governments, no effective security mechanisms could be worked out. The United Nations should enhance its relations with national law enforcement structures. That would not only ensure protection of the United Nations staff and premises, but also substantially reduce security costs.
While agreeing that host nations bore significant responsibility for security, the United States representative, however, pointed out that the United Nations could not always depend on a host nations support. The United Nations should not, as part of its own essential independence, cede its internal security responsibilities to anyone else, he said.
The position of the Executive Committee of the United Nations Development Group, which consists of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), was presented by UNICEFs Executive Director, Carol Bellamy, who endorsed the Secretary-Generals statement to the Committee earlier this week. Responding to comments from the floor, the Under-Secretary-General for Management, Catherine Ann Bertini, said that, while many diverse opinions had been expressed, there was common ground on the need to have a strong security mechanism for the United Nations and on the responsibility to ensure staff protection.
Statements on safety and security were also made by representatives of the Netherlands (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Malaysia, Egypt, China, South Africa, Yemen, Cuba, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Jordan, Turkey, Mexico, Israel, Argentina and Morocco.
Also today, the representatives of Canada (also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), China and Switzerland participated in the continued debate on the work of the Office of Internal Oversight Services.
The Committee will consider appointments to subsidiary organs and other bodies at 9:30 a.m. Friday, 5 November.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning was expected to continue its consideration of the United Nations security system and the reports of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) (for summaries of the reports before the Committee, see Press Release GA/AB/3642 of 1 November).
MISHAL MOHAMMED AL-ANSARI (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, recalled that, in the past, the Group had emphasized the importance of a comprehensive approach that should result in lasting solutions. The issue of safety and security could not be effectively addressed in a vacuum. Its many elements should include clear criteria for determining security needs and an agreed framework for the enhancement of system-wide security arrangements. It was necessary to outline clear and realistic time frames for the completion of various projects agreed by the General Assembly and establish clear lines of accountability and responsibility. Also important was a clear chain of command for all participants in field security and at duty stations and a definition of the role, responsibilities and obligations of host countries, as well as the status of their formal arrangements with the United Nations. Clear standards were needed for threat and risk assessment on a worldwide basis. It was necessary to provide adequate security training for all United Nations staff.
The management and staff should work hand in hand to develop a comprehensive approach to security and make sure that proposals yielded desired results, he continued. The primary responsibility for the safety and security of the United Nations and its personnel lay with the host government. The Group shared the concerns raised by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) with regard to the inadequate working arrangements with host governments in that regard. It was also concerned that those responsibilities and obligations were not always finalized in legally binding written documents. The Group shared the views of the ACABQ that the uneven capacity of host countries to provide security to the United Nations staff and premises should be fully reflected in the Organizations approach to security matters.
The organizations of the system needed to further harmonize their efforts in order to ensure coordination and unity of security purposes. The cost-sharing arrangement adopted by the Assembly in its resolution 56/255 was a step in the direction of ensuring a proper security system and should continue to be pursued. Increased funding for safety and security could not be provided at the expense of funding for other programmes of the United Nations.
DIRK JAN VAN DEN BERG (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the abduction of three United Nations electoral workers in Afghanistan last week served as a reminder of just how threatening the working environment had become for United Nations staff. The Union was alarmed by the serious deficiencies in the present system and shared the conviction of the Secretary-General that a new strategy, a new mindset and new structures were needed that would allow United Nations staff to carry out their duties in greater safety. The importance of adequate security to the Organizations ability to deliver its mandates should not be underestimated.
Field security should be strengthened, and the Secretariat should be equipped with the right supporting structure at Headquarters, he said. Particular issues that required attention were an increased field presence of security professionals, enhanced threat assessment and risk-analysis capabilities, rigorous monitoring of and compliance with security standards and adequate security training for staff, especially at high-risk duty stations. The Union had urged the Secretary-General to raise security awareness at all levels throughout the United Nations and insisted on clear reporting lines and accountability at the highest levels. It had also argued for a coordinated approach across the system.
The Secretary-Generals report had set out clearly and convincingly the case for a unified and strengthened central structure at Headquarters, he continued. It was more than time to establish a robust and effective system of professional security management that could be put into effect as soon as possible. The proposed new Directorate would ensure that security policy and procedures were developed and managed in a consistent and robust manner across all duty stations and in the field. It was necessary to ensure clear lines of reporting and accountability on security, especially in complex missions where the funds and programmes and humanitarian agencies had their own security personnel in the field. Equally, he emphasized the importance of transparency with regard to the total costs of security throughout the system.
He welcomed the emphasis on strengthening security in the field and the focus on training, he said, in particular, the proposals for a single accountable senior official in the field and the single reporting chain to the Director of Security. The proposed strengthening of security measures and services at Headquarters and other main United Nations locations was an important element for a strengthened and unified security management system. He noted the ACABQ comments on staffing of the new structure at Headquarters and its proposals to remove a number of the middle management positions that the Union considered key for the implementation of a substantial reform of security management. He would seek further clarification in that regard. He did, however, share the Advisory Committees doubts about the working relationship at Headquarters between the proposed new Directorate and the Department of Political Affairs and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. He asked for further details on how those three departments would work together. All departments of the United Nations must work together to ensure that security policies and standards were developed and applied with consistency. He would welcome information on the conclusions of the recently concluded OIOS management audit of field security and would seek assurances that those had been taken into account in preparing the report before the Committee.
The European Union also wished to further explore the proposals that have the new Directorate assuming responsibility for personnel recruitment and procurement. He welcomed the reassurance provided to the ACABQ that the proposal for a stand-by stock was not intended as the establishment of a separate logistics base. He had also noted the Advisory Committees recommendations that administrative support would continue to be split among four separate departments without additional reinforcement and would like to explore the consequences of such a proposal, compared to the Secretary-Generals recommendations.
The proposals for additional security construction would need to be considered both in the light of the Oversight Office report on the utilization of the $56 million requested in document A/56/286 and an update from the Secretariat on the plans for expenditure of the $38 million on which commitment authority had been given last June. The OIOS and the ACABQ had drawn attention to serious delays in implementation of previously approved projects, in particular in Geneva. The Union would require firm reassurances from the Secretariat that when funds were requested for urgent infrastructure work, they were, indeed, committed and utilized with urgency. That did not seem to be the case, so far. He also asked for clarifications regarding the implications of the proposals for a global access control system and information and communication technology business continuity plans on the Capital Master Plan as they related to New York Headquarters.
On cost-sharing, he looked forward to an informed exchange of views based on more detailed explanations from the Secretariat on the weaknesses of the present system and means to overcome them. In principle, the Union was of the view that financing of the safety and security of the United Nations should be clear, predictable and secure. In that context and in particular regarding the co-financing of security at Headquarters in New York and Vienna, the Union would like to highlight the importance of all bodies participating in those arrangements honouring their obligations in full and on time.
RASTAM MOHD. ISA (Malaysia) associated his delegation with the statement made by Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. Malaysia attached great importance to the safety and security of United Nations personnel. His delegation shared the assessment of the Secretary-General that, as the role and responsibilities of the United Nations expanded, the Organization now faced a security environment that posed unprecedented risks. The deteriorating security environment had placed the United Nations staff members in the field, as well as at Headquarters, at greater risk. Security had become an essential condition for United Nations personnel to carry on with urgent humanitarian and other mandates in the field.
Malaysia welcomed and supported the ongoing efforts of the Secretary-General to ensure the safety and security of United Nations staff and premises. His delegation was of the view that the Secretary-Generals proposal for the creation of a single, integrated security management system with the establishment of a Directorate of Security merited serious consideration by Member States. Malaysia hoped that the proposed unified security structure would result in genuine integration, rather than merely enhanced coordination, and would also help avoid duplication and potentially dangerous confusion. As pointed out in the ACABQ report, in order to achieve full and genuine integration, much work needed to be done. His delegation stressed the importance of appointing as head of the proposed Directorate of Security a person with extensive professional experience in the management of complex international security functions.
He took serious note of the Secretary-Generals proposal to do away with the existing cost-sharing arrangements that have funded field security operations and the suggestion that it be part of the core budget of the Organization. He had also taken note of the important observations of the ACABQ in reacting to the Secretary-Generals proposal. Given the importance of the issue, he urged that serious consideration be given to achieving an amicable financial arrangement as soon as possible to enable immediate implementation of a new single, integrated security management structure.
On the primary responsibility of host countries to provide security and protection of United Nations staff and dependants, Malaysia joined in calling all Member States, particularly where the United Nations was involved in peacekeeping and peace-building, to continue to work with the United Nations to ensure the safety and security of United Nation staff and personnel. Finally, his delegation offered prayers for the safety of the three United Nations staff who were taken hostage last Thursday in Kabul and joined the international community in calling for their immediate and unconditional release.
PATRICK KENNEDY (United States) noted that his delegation had consistently supported the creation of a robust security system for the protection of all United Nations personnel. Just as each of the Member States worked to ensure the safety of their representatives, the United Nations must take steps to ensure the safety of its representatives. Events of recent years had highlighted the need for enhanced security. However, the security challenge in the field and the inconsistent application of United Nations security measures had been a problem for the Organization throughout its history.
Since 1992, there had been nearly 220 malicious deaths of United Nations personnel in the field, with tragic losses suffered by many countries - including Ethiopia, Kenya, Cambodia, Egypt, Angola, and the United States, to name a few. Since 1992, 272 staff members had been taken hostage. A week ago, on 28 October, three United Nations elections workers were abducted in Kabul, Afghanistan, and were still missing. The United States joined the United Nations in calling for their immediate and unconditional release.
To honour those who had lost their lives and to ensure that the United Nations could continue doing its important work, the Member States must fully address the shortcomings of the system. The United States believed the Secretary-Generals proposal represented decisive action towards meeting the goal of establishing a robust and effective security apparatus. His concept defined a structure that was holistic in nature and that integrated all elements of United Nations security - and which addressed the eight major weaknesses of the existing security system identified by the report of the Ahtisaari panel of experts.
The Secretary-Generals proposal -- which included the creation of a new United Nations department -- was one of the most comprehensive and important proposals received by this Committee. It was also, as the Secretary-General made clear this week, the most important proposal he has made to the General Assembly during his two terms in office.
He asked delegates to consider that the new structure would be responsible for ensuring the safety and security of approximately 400,000 United Nations personnel and their dependants around the world. Its operations required constant vigilance in every location where the United Nations was present -- including all duty stations and 150 field locations -- and the capacity to respond to emergency situations as they arose. The Secretary-Generals proposal provided sufficient flexibility for the United Nations to redirect its resources as necessary to manage crises globally.
Beginning with strong leadership through the creation of a new under-secretary-general to be supported by an assistant secretary-general, the proposed Directorate laid a solid foundation and established clear lines of accountability for decision-making at all levels, he continued. That development was a vital departure from the current fragmented system. The establishment of a Threat and Risk Analysis Unit within the Directorate -- as recommended by the Ahtisaari panel -- would provide the Organization with the necessary capacity to better understand and respond to situations on the ground. In order to promote safe practices and avoid the wasted expense of duplication and inconsistency, there must be a single point of coherence at Headquarters to coordinate support worldwide.
Lastly, the proposal to substantially increase the field security presence was the most welcome development for the United States. While adequate provisioning at all United Nations duty stations was a critical element of a sound security policy, the dangers presented to United Nations personnel in the field were far more frequent and varied, and must urgently be addressed. Host nations bore significant responsibility there, but the United Nations could not always depend on a host nations support. Furthermore, the United Nations should not, as part of its own essential independence, cede its internal security responsibilities to anyone else.
If the General Assembly wanted to continue to pass resolutions that increase United Nations staffing and activities in the field, it must first provide the structure and resources to ensure that United Nations field personnel were as safe and secure as feasible. The United States believed that the Secretary-Generals proposals provided the very tool required for such a commitment.
AMR ABOUL ATTA (Egypt) expressed concern over the safety and security of United Nations personnel, who had to confront many threats and dangers in their work. The fundamental element for the provision of safety and security to United Nations staff lay in promoting the neutrality of the Organization, particularly in an environment where some expressed scepticism about many activities that the United Nations was involved in today. While convinced of the utmost importance of safety and security within the United Nations system, he believed that the issue, on the whole, must be based on clear concepts and specialized professional studies. Mere allocation of funds and creation of additional posts would not be an ideal way of handling the issue.
Continuing, he said that the Secretariat needed to provide Member States with clear comprehensive data that could lead to knowledgeable decision-making on their part. He agreed with the Advisory Committee regarding the absence of underlying assumptions and basic principles that could be relied upon to develop the response to the proposals contained in the Secretary-Generals report, as well as some selectivity in taking up particular technical criteria on which proposals were built.
The Athisaari Panel had shown many structural shortcomings in the system, he continued, which needed to be addressed by any new security proposals. The major burden for providing security fell on the host country. Therefore, host governments had a responsibility and commitment in that regard. Without a clear delineation of the level of their responsibilities in agreements with the United Nations, the structure would not provide the requisite security. Agreements with host governments must be reviewed and clearly drafted, where they were absent. An effective structure must be set up, without bureaucratic inflation of posts or red tape.
The Fifth Committee must undertake the requisite financial consideration of the resources required, based on logical and real justifications, he said. It must find the balance between wise allocation of resources and the highest return from funding, while also ensuring the best possible qualifications of staff. Any new projects, such as the proposed global access control system, must be proposed on the basis of technical studies supported by Member States. Various initiatives also should be integrated with the Capital Master Plan. He shared the views of the Group of 77 on cost-sharing and believed that financing of security projects should not be provided at the expense of other programme activities. He also warned about the need to undertake an objective evaluation of risks. Egypt stressed the need for a true partnership among all parties through a streamlined security system, clear lines of responsibility and accountability, and a clear system to satisfy resource needs.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) associated his delegation with the statement made by the representative of Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and wished to add further comments on the financial implications associated with the Secretary-Generals proposal to strengthen the United Nations security management system. His delegation welcomed the Secretary-Generals report, believing that the issue of security was of paramount importance and should receive priority. The Secretary-General had proposed creation of a new Directorate of Security in order to strengthen unity of command, unify management, and integrate existing security resources. The Chinese delegation hoped that the new Directorate would, indeed, prove to be a streamlined, efficient entity, with a simple organizational structure, lean staff, and clear accountability.
Regarding the Secretary-Generals proposal for 190 additional posts to be established at Headquarters, he noted that only 88 of them were security service posts, while the number of administrative support posts was on the high side. The Chinese delegation would appreciate it if the Secretariat would provide an explanation of the functions and duties of the posts to be added to help Member States assess the need for them. His delegation appreciated the report of the ACABQ on that issue, and noted the Advisory Committees suggestion to establish an under-secretary-general post for head of the proposed Directorate by abolishing the existing assistant secretary-general post.
On the issue of cost-sharing arrangements, the Chinese delegation believed the current system should be maintained, as the practice reflected well the shared responsibilities of all participating agencies of the United Nations system. The Chinese delegation also stressed that the host country should provide required protection of the United Nations at every duty station, including its Headquarters in New York, outside the perimeter of the United Nations district in that country. On that question, it was necessary for the Secretariat to strengthen its collaboration with the host country to seek greater support and protection.
BRUNO STAGNO UGARTE (Costa Rica) noted that his delegation shared the views expressed by the representative of Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on the need to have an effective modern safety and security system. The tragic events that have forced the security issue on the United Nations agenda were truly deplorable. As stated by the Secretary-General, safety and security of United Nations staff must be the number one priority, and the discussions by the Committee must lead to an effective, rational, and responsible solution.
Like other delegations, Costa Rica was pleased to see the recommendations of the ACABQ. He highlighted several concerns on which he requested more explanation from the Secretariat. First, he noted that the plan responded to emergencies, but that there was no comprehensive security strategy. Second, his delegation shared with the ACABQ the view that the United Nations was still working on the basis of fragmented system, with no clear statistical information on the measures and materials requested. A comprehensive vision should focus on improving resources on the ground, rather than at Headquarters. Host countries had principle responsibilities in that regard. In order to ensure rational use of existing experience, equipment, and resources, there should be greater cooperation with host countries.
Also, there should be clear specifications of the responsibilities and qualifications the proposed increased staff for the new Directorate. The need for a separate security Directorate itself should be reviewed, as his delegation believed it was not viable to have a separate structure, but rather for security to be better integrated within the existing system. Regarding the global access control system, he asked the Secretariat to provide a detailed report to avoid resolving situations in a temporary fashion. Vulnerability and risk assessments must be part of a global strategy and done in stages. He shared the view that the existing system of cost-sharing was the appropriate way to fund security.
He cautioned that the Member States could not decide to shoulder economic responsibilities that they later might not be able to bear. The costs of the security proposal were enormous for countries such as Costa Rica, and they would appreciate efforts to reduce costs further. The United Nations budget had exceeded the capacity to pay by Member States. It was, therefore, imperative to engage in a comprehensive review of how the budget grew, and to review carefully each and every proposal.
SHOZAB ABBAS (Pakistan) said that his country was currently the largest troop contributor to the United Nations and had had lost 82 peacekeepers in various missions. Pakistan, therefore, attached great importance to the issue of air safety and hoped that, under a new integrated system, it would be given high priority. Noting with satisfaction the progress made during the first phase of security reforms, he endorsed the Secretary-Generals proposal to amalgamate the existing fragmented security system into one cohesive entity. With the establishment of a new Directorate, the existing weaknesses, ad hoc arrangements and complexities of the security structure would be eliminated, and the United Nations family would enjoy better security environment at each duty station. He hoped that the new unified management system would restore shattered confidence of staff, which had been particularly weakened after the Baghdad incident. He agreed that the new Directorate should be headed by a competent professional at the under-secretary-general level.
Continuing, he agreed with the ACABQ that the new system should focus primarily on the field, without undermining the needs at Headquarters. He hoped the new integrated mechanisms would develop streamlined security capacities by establishing system-wide policies, procedures and standards related to field and Headquarters needs. He believed in professionally oriented training for security personnel to enhance their capacity in high-risk situations.
Turning to arrangements with host countries, he said that security of personnel was primarily the responsibility of host countries. However, it was not clear as to how many countries had entered into security arrangements with the United Nations. He urged the United Nations to work closely with host authorities to put in place effective security mechanisms. Without the cooperation of host governments, no effective security mechanisms could be worked out. The United Nations authorities should enhance their relations with national law enforcement structures. That would not only ensure protection of the United Nations staff and premises, but also substantially reduce security costs.
On cost-sharing arrangements with participating agencies, funds and programmes, he said that the system could be made more effective through regular coordination and consultations with those bodies. The comments and recommendations of the ACABQ in that regard merited consideration. The financial situation of the United Nations had been unstable for many years. Under those circumstances, the existing cost-sharing arrangements should be maintained. He urged the Secretariat to report to the Committee how the inter-agency coordination could be promoted to strengthen collective responsibility for better and enhanced safety.
ANANT G. GEETE (India) said, We would be making the greatest contribution to the safety and security of the United Nations if we could arrive at an honest, self-critical assessment on ways of restoring and safeguarding the perception of the United Nations as a neutral, benevolent actor. Looking at the proposals of the Secretary-General, Member States should not delude themselves that money and posts alone could buy security for the United Nations. The two cardinal principles in addressing safety and security questions should be strict adherence to basic security regulations and directives and strict enforcement of accountability. Therefore, his delegation placed the utmost importance on the management aspects of ensuring security of United Nations staff and premises.
The Advisory Committee had correctly pointed out the absence of a statement of underlying assumptions describing the nature of the threat and the basic principles relied upon by the United Nations to develop the response presented by the Secretary-Generals report, he continued. The ACABQ had further pointed out that the absence of such a basic framework and the fact that the proposed system had been formulated on a piecemeal basis, had made consideration of the proposals more difficult. He was also concerned that the proposed security structure was far from being the unified and integrated structure that it was made out to be. The potential for duplication and resultant dangerous confusion remained. For example, the proposed Directorate would not be responsible for security at Headquarters locations of specialized agencies; the proposed resource requirements would be in addition to the provisions that had been, or would be proposed by, individual funds, programmes and agencies. He was, therefore, left wondering as to the degree of unification, if any, that had taken place and would seek clarifications on the issue in informal consultations.
In the absence of genuine integration of security management, he did not believe that upward classification of posts would improve safety and security, he said. Nor did he believe that additional management tiers would enhance security. Duplication of existing functional departments, such as the Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM), the Budget Office and the Procurement Division within the Proposed Security Directorate was also unlikely to make the United Nations safer. During its last session, the Committee had been informed that the most pressing need was for security personnel in field locations. However, out of the 778 posts sought, nearly 400 were proposed for Headquarters and seven other main offices, with over 200 posts proposed for New York, Geneva and Vienna. On the other hand, no new resources were proposed for peacekeeping operations, on the grounds that their main requirements had been addressed substantially in the Phase I report. Since then, new peacekeeping operations had been launched and existing operations had been enlarged. He looked forward to receiving information on how those needs would be addressed.
Many host country agreements had not been reviewed or updated since as early as 1946, he said. In any case, they did not specify the exact commitments of the host country with regard to the safety and security of United Nations personnel and premises. In many cases, they were not even embodied in legally binding documents. Although the Secretary-Generals report recognized that the primary responsibility for protection of staff members rested with the host government, it did not contain any proposals on ensuring the realization of that responsibility.
On cost-sharing, he strongly supported the ACABQs recommendation to retain existing arrangements. The problems cited by the Secretariat as justification for the proposal to do away with cost-sharing could be overcome through better inter-agency coordination and cooperation. Only with retention of cost-sharing could there be a sense of common ownership of a truly unified security structure. In its absence, the tendency of individual agencies to perpetuate their own security structures would only increase. The financial implications of the Secretary-Generals proposals were at least of the order of $300 million over each of the coming two bienniums. That was nearly 10 per cent of the entire regular budget. Given the magnitude of resources and the system-wide nature of appropriations, the Committee could consider establishing a separate account for financing safety and security requirements. That would enable the Assembly to better monitor appropriations and payment of assessments spread over many sections of the budget relating to safety and security.
In conclusion, he noted that, while the Secretary-General had mentioned that the proposals had the support of staff organizations, the President of the Coordinating Committee of International Staff Unions and Associations (CCISUA) had levelled serious criticism in that regard in her statement on 28 October. It would be very unfortunate if the very staff who were safeguarded did not have faith and confidence in the system.
DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) associated his delegation with the statement made by the representative of Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. South Africa remained cognizant that no legislative measures and no amount of police action, intelligence gathering, or military force could ever guarantee safety while millions of disaffected and marginalized people across the world continued to suffer the threat of hunger and debilitating poverty. The insecurity that derived from the lack of food, lack of shelter, and other basic human needs, if continuously overlooked, could become a serious cause of instability and conflict. The United Nations, therefore, should continue to maintain an effective and visible presence in the field, and Member States must ensure that staff could perform the numerous tasks assigned to them in a secure environment.
It was imperative that Member States provided the United Nations with the necessary resources required to fulfil its mandated activities. South Africa trusted that the budget outline and programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007 would reflect the increases in mandates, as well as the need to ensure the safety and security of United Nations personnel and premises. The success of the Organization depended not only on the political support of the Member States, but also on the extent to which they ensured that the United Nations received adequate resources and reliable financing to support completion of its tasks, without having to resort to extrabudgetary funding for core activities, such as security.
His delegation recognized that the protection of United Nations premises and personnel was the responsibility of the relevant host government. At the same time, it should be recognized that different States had different means, and appropriate consideration should be given to provide assistance to host governments that requested assistance. South Africa stood ready to consider the proposals of the Secretary-General, as well as the recommendations of the ACABQ thereon.
ABDULMALIK AL-ERYANI (Yemen) supported the statement made by the representative of Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and expressed appreciation for the extreme sense of responsibility demonstrated by the Secretary-General in presenting his proposal for strengthening United Nations security. Until very recently, United Nations personnel had been immune from the evils of war and threats of blood-letting that accompanied conflicts around the world. The United Nations had always represented the hope in transforming swords into ploughshares, and followed words with deeds.
That the situation had changed was proved by recent events in which a large number of United Nations personnel had fallen victims in different parts of the world to those who had no respect for morality or law. It was, therefore, high time to ensure protection of international civil servants and to deal seriously with the situation. His delegation welcomed the proposals contained in the report of the Secretary-General aimed at establishing an effective, integrated security system to ensure the safety and security of United Nations personnel.
ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) endorsed the statement by Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and said that he supported adoption of effective measures to improve the safety and security of the United Nations staff and premises. A well motivated staff would be in a better position to carry out their mandates. As a country well familiar with terrorism, including State terrorism, Cuba believed that dealing with terrorism required international cooperation. There was no doubt that creating a safe and secure environment in developing countries was of great importance. The United Nations organizations, funds and programmes should increase -- without any preconditions -- resources for development activities, including those funded from the regular budget. While placing importance on the efforts to enhance the security system, he was not in favour of funding it from resources coming from other parts of the budget, as a result of misguided trust in the zero-growth budgeting principles.
Continuing, he agreed with the observations of the ACABQ on the need to provide more detailed information on the nature of the threat and the basic principles that had led to the preparation of the proposals before the Committee. A clear idea of the total amount of resources that would be required would be needed. The information provided so far appeared fragmented. For example, the report failed to include estimates on special political missions. Financial projections for the next biennium seemed to indicate that there would be additional expenditures. He requested explanations in that respect.
He supported a new unified security Directorate, he said, but the exact needs were difficult to clearly assess. The proposal before the Committee allowed for duplication of existing structures and did not provide for real integration. It was important to have further details to further avoid expensive and unnecessary overlaps. He agreed with the ACABQ that United Nations security should be concentrated on the ground with simplified capability at Headquarters. It was also essential to avoid creating a large number of posts, some at very high level, without full justification. He did not agree with proposed changes in the system of financing security. All components shared collective responsibility for security, and that should be reflected in financial provisions.
CHUN YUNG-WOO (Republic of Korea) agreed that there was an urgent need to fix and strengthen the United Nations security system. His delegation respected the Secretary-Generals judgement on the resource requirements to restructure and upgrade security and supported the basic direction of the reform plan. He also agreed that there was a need to strengthen the roles and responsibilities of host countries in protecting United Nations personnel and infrastructure. Host country agreements, signed decades ago, when the United Nations flag was a symbol of protection, should be updated to deal with the changed security environment. Additional United Nations resources must be allocated as a matter of priority to high-risk areas where host countries lacked their own resources and capabilities to provide adequate protection.
He supported the proposal to integrate the existing four security structures under a single Directorate. However, more information was needed why that required as many as 754 new posts. If the new Directorate was a super-organization in terms of the number of staff, he agreed that it must be headed by a senior official at the Under-Secretary-General or Assistant Secretary-General level. Supporting the proposal to create integrated field security teams, he also underscored the importance of closer coordination and information sharing with other members of the United Nations system who would continue to manage their own security. In that regard, he noted the ACABQs concerns that phasing out the current cost-sharing arrangements would increase the cost of security to Member States by more than $30 million. More information was needed on that issue. He recognized the danger of depending on the unpredictable voluntarily funded budgets of agencies, programmes and funds, but believed that the additional costs to Member States would be worthwhile if they translated into enhanced security.
In conclusion, he said that, while investing additional resources was inevitable to improve the United Nations security system, there was no substitute for professionalism of staff, he said. To achieve that goal, it was important to intensify training and career development efforts.
ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY (Indonesia) associated her delegation with the statement made by Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. There was no doubt that the issue of security management reform was important, since the security environment for the United Nations had changed. No one would deny that the mandates of the United Nations were expanding, which had resulted in increased field deployment of United Nations staff. There were a number of problems that cried out for immediate remedy, among them, inadequate and over-extended security personnel, limited monitoring and threat-assessment capability, and fragmentation among various United Nations entities in the field.
There was an urgent need for greater unification and strengthening of the security management system of the United Nations. In spite of that need, the proposal to merge existing security structures into a new Directorate of Security merited further discussion. It was vitally important that the new Directorate facilitate better coordination of security in the field. For that to happen, all stakeholders must complement one another and function harmoniously, with their responsibilities clearly demarcated. Certainly, that type of integration should improve the effectiveness of the system, making it more coherent and professional. Indonesia was aware that the new structure would comprise 1,034 existing posts and an additional 754 new posts.
It was expected that Directorate staff, based at Headquarters, would be exemplary in their dedication and possess all technical expertise necessary to review the recommendation made by security officers in the field. Those assessments would, of course, be made with the assistance of relevant authorities of the host country. Their inputs were necessary in order to ensure the effectiveness of country-specific, United Nations-mandated initiatives to protect staff in the field.
Her delegation believed that United Nations agencies, funds, and programmes needed to enhance coordination in the field of safety and security -- and that all concerned should share common ownership in the system and participate in the decision-making process. Therefore, careful consideration should be made to determine whether the cost-sharing arrangements for field-related activities should be phased out.
MOHAMMAD TAL (Jordan) associated his delegation with the statement made by the representative of Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and firmly believed that the safety and security of United Nations premises and personnel were a prerequisite for effective programme delivery. As stated by the Secretary-General, the United Nations was neither protected by its flag nor was it a peripheral target for terrorists. Such an unfortunate reality dictated that Member States should deal with the issue in a responsible, comprehensive, and integrated manner.
His delegation took note of the proposals contained in the Secretary-Generals report and its addendum and fully endorsed the reasons behind the needed changes. Jordan supported revamping the United Nations security management apparatus, but had several preliminary comments on the proposal of the Secretary-General. First, accurate information and proper analysis of threats and challenges was an important step in ensuring the safety and security of United Nations personnel. It was not enough to know that the United Nations was threatened, but equally important was the ability of the new security system to predict the likelihood that such threats would translate into action. Second, collaboration with host countries must be maintained, formalized, and strengthened. Third, his delegation appreciated the comments made by the ACABQ on cost-sharing arrangements. While fully understanding the need for a predictable level of resources for security, his delegation believed that the security and safety of the United Nations premises and staff was the responsibility of all, and so all must shoulder its financial burden. Cost-sharing arrangements must be maintained but simplified and streamlined to avoid the cumbersome burden of their administration.
Jordan believed that the new security Directorate was a first and important step in unifying the United Nations security command structure. However, noting that simplicity was a virtue, he expressed concern that the proposal of the Secretary-General established lines of reporting, division of labour and responsibilities, and multiple layers within the proposed command structure that were bound to create problems. His delegation felt a closer look at the relationships between the proposed security bodies might be worthwhile.
CIHAN TERZI (Turkey) aligned himself with the statement by the representative of the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, and said that the clothes cut for the Organizations childhood were not longer sufficient. That was why the Organization had embarked on the reform initiatives. Unless security issues were addressed appropriately, they might affect the Organizations crucial activities. As United Nations operations expanded, the risks increased. United Nations staff and independent experts had assessed the security structures of the Organization, concluding that they were weak, fragmented, ineffective and plagued with systemic problems. Differing opinions existed, however, on the way the problem should be addressed. It was possible to sort out those differences listening to experts and looking at the best practices.
Efforts were being made to create accountability in the Organization to make it work more effectively and efficiently, he continued. Now, the Committee was accountable for providing the necessary resources and structures for security. The situation was urgent and required swift solutions. Deferral of the issue could be costly. Agreeing on the general frame, principles, the broad structure, it would be better to launch the programme immediately. Then, key appointments could be made swiftly, so as to allow experienced and professional staff could come up with new ideas. It would be better not to focus on individual trees, spending a lot of time on a few posts. Instead, the Committee should see the whole forest and act swiftly. Sometimes, timely action was more beneficiary than perfect, but late, action.
DIEGO SIMANCAS (Mexico) said that his delegation had always supported measures to improve the safety and security of the United Nations. In Security Council resolution 1502 (2003), the Secretary-General had been invited to include in his reports information on the safety and security situation in various countries, to allow the Council to take appropriate measures. It was of vital importance to have the greatest amount of information possible to take well informed decisions. To date, the Secretariat did not have the capability to assess the level of risks and plan security measures in a broad and appropriate way. Therefore, the proposed system had been formulated in a piecemeal way, based on fragmented information.
Continuing, he agreed that the primary responsibility for safety and protection of United Nations staff and premises fell on the host countries. Regarding premises in Mexico City, he added that it was necessary to improve protection there, in particular installing window protection against explosions. His country was ready to cooperate with the United Nations on that matter. Priority should be given to the efforts to update and review host country agreements. He expressed appreciation to Switzerland on the measures taken to update the Offices of High Commissioners for Human Rights and Refugees.
DAN GILLERMAN (Israel) expressed deep concern about the security of United Nations staff, premises, and infrastructure. Terrorists clearly believed that the United Nations staff, along with aid workers and innocent civilians, were somehow legitimate targets. The tragic terrorist attack on United Nations headquarters in Baghdad last year was clearly part of a worldwide trend of terrorism that had struck here in New York, in Moscow, in Jerusalem, and around the world. The abduction of United Nations electoral workers in Afghanistan last week was another dangerous signpost that must be heeded. There could be no doubt that the need to take strong and decisive measures to ensure the safety of the United Nations around the world was paramount to the United Nations ability to fulfil its global mandate.
As the Secretary-General himself noted, his proposal on strengthening security was perhaps the most important initiative he had placed before the General Assembly. Member States must not fail in bringing about its realization. The report of the Secretary-General provided a blueprint for the steps to be taken, principal among them the unification of various security structures through a new and integrated Directorate of Security. Israel attached particular importance to the creation of a threat and risk-assessment capability within the new security Directorate.
Israel also believed that appropriate funding for security reform must be found within the regular budget, as it could not depend on voluntary contributions or the goodwill of donor States. His delegation took note of the important contributions of the ACABQ and looked forward to a detailed dialogue during informal consultations that would enable delegates to find a balance between urgent action and upholding structural and financial efficiency. The logistics employed towards that goal must avoid politicization. Israel offered its strong support to the security initiative of the Secretary-General and was interested in offering any assistance from its experience to the new Directorate.
Mr. TORRES LEPORI (Argentina) associated his delegation with the statement made by the representative of Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. In keeping with the statement made by the Secretary-General, Argentina understood that safety and security of United Nations staff was an issue of the highest priority. They viewed with great sadness and distress that the United Nations had become a deliberate target of extremists. As mentioned in the past, a new, proactive way of proceeding must replace the current system. He took note of the proposal of the Secretary-General and suggested that the comments made by the ACABQ offered the appropriate framework required for the discussions. His delegation recognized the usefulness of the principle of cost-sharing, but was ready to work constructively to develop those concepts.
FATIMA BAROUDI (Morocco) supported the position of the Group of 77 and China and said that any effort to ensure safety of the United Nations would only positively contribute to strengthening international security. She hoped that the new Directorate would standardize security management for the entire United Nations system. To improve efficiency, it was necessary to ensure the best possible coordination between the Directorate and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, taking into account specific needs in different countries. She also highlighted the primary responsibility of host countries for the safety and security of United Nations personnel, which needed to be the subject of legally binding instruments. The host countries should ensure safety beyond the perimeter of the Organizations premises.
The Executive Director of the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), CAROL BELLAMY, speaking on behalf of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), said that the four agencies comprising the Group - United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF -- endorsed the Secretary-Generals statement to the Committee earlier this week. There was nothing more precious than the people and their security and well-being. The staff of the agencies could accept that their work could be difficult and often had to be carried out under adverse or even hostile conditions, particularly during complex emergencies. What they could not accept, nor would the system ever accept, were intentional and deliberate killings of United Nations personnel, injuries brought on by targeted acts of violence, and continued abductions, hostage-takings, harassment and illegal detainments.
Since January 1992, 219 civilian staff members had lost their lives due to acts of violence, she continued. Of those, 83 had been from the four organizations she was speaking for today. The rate for occurrences of violent assault, rape and vehicle hijackings was increasing. The Assembly had addressed the issue several times. Since 2000, several teams of independent experts hard reviewed the Organizations security systems, noting the shortcomings and identifying remedial actions required. The plan presented by the Secretary-General represented the end result of that rather lengthy and extremely rigorous process. It had a strong support of the four UNDG Executive Committee agencies. It represented a structure required to ensure that the Organizations security was organized, staffed, managed and administered to ensure the required level of staff safety. She did not believe that the needs of staff would be enhanced by any micro-management of the proposals. On the contrary, such tinkering would likely have a negative effect.
She believed the $97 million requested was not only reasonable, but relatively modest, she said. Without it, the United Nations could not function effectively. The four agencies also endorsed the element of the proposal calling for Member States to do away with the cost-sharing arrangements. Security was a core element of the work of the United Nations, a sine qua non for its operations. It was a cost necessitated in part by the political nature of the institution. It must be part of the core budget of the Organization. Cost-sharing was administratively cumbersome and would leave critical needs subject to the fluctuations of voluntarily funded budgets. It was neither predictable and assured, nor dependable. Cost-sharing would deprive both the development and the humanitarian programmes of the United Nations of scarce resources. Simply put, cost-sharing was inappropriate for the funding of a core activity of the United Nations.
JERRY KRAMER (Canada) asked Ms. Bellamy for her opinion on the view expressed by various delegations that the current cost-sharing principle for funding field security was necessary to ensure shared ownership.
Ms. BELLAMY said that it was critical for any security system to be anchored at the country level when it came to field security. What gave ownership was not so much cost-sharing, but ensuring that full respect and attention was paid to the security management team at the country level. It was not about who put the money in. They strongly believed that security funding should be a core budget item of the United Nations, but that did not mean the agencies would become cheap on that. They would continue to fund security needs, and humanitarian agencies were already increasing collaboration, communication and information-sharing. The idea was not to save money on security, but that it should be part of the core budget. The reality was that, if separate funding for security was not coming in, it would have to come out of core funding.
CATHERINE ANN BERTINI, Under-Secretary-General for Management, then responded to the comments made by the delegates, noting that, while many diverse opinions were expressed, there was common ground on the need to have a strong security mechanism for the United Nations and on the responsibility to ensure staff protection. She looked forward to answering questions regarding cost-sharing, senior-level posts, host-government arrangements, and other matters during the informal sessions. Noting that many delegates had highlighted the Secretary-Generals statement that that was perhaps the most important proposal put forward in his eight years in office, she looked forward to their support.
Mr. KRAMER (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said that the Offices annual report illustrated once again that its independent work contributed to increased efficiency and accountability. It was an important pillar for the confidence among Member states that their contributions would be well used.
Continuing, he expressed concern over the high number of recommendations that had not been acted upon. Mechanisms for systematic follow-up needed to be improved. The OIOS internal audit should continue to expand the attention it devoted to safety and security issues. A good start had been made this year. He was concerned over the degree of non-compliance found in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) field operations and would like to know how that would be remedied. Looking ahead, he envisioned an important role of OIOS internal audit in connection with future security operations.
Information technology remained a high-risk area, which required attention, he said. He had been disheartened to read about the continuation of piecemeal approaches to the development of systems in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Impediments to the formulation and implementation of an Organization-wide information technology strategy appeared to have not been overcome. The delegations he represented had made known on earlier occasions their disappointment at the slow pace with which the OIOS had developed its audit capacity in that field. Peacekeeping operations must remain a high audit priority, and the demand would grow as missions did. The problems in the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) illustrated the importance of proper control mechanisms. He wondered what the OIOS had learned about accountability in the missions and if it conducted similar work in special political missions.
Finally, he said it was essential that the outcomes of investigations be acted upon. He would appreciate an assessment of where that stood. He had questions on the steps taken to address the perception found in the integrity survey that accountability was unevenly distributed. He also wondered about the findings of the present investigation of sexual exploitation of young girls by military Mission members in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He thanked the OIOS for its much-improved programme performance report, its contributions to identifying ways to make conference management more cost-effective, and for its work on regional commissions.
Regarding a proposed comprehensive independent review of the OIOS, he said that more information was required on that idea, for it was not clear what the Secretary-General had in mind or what problem he believed needed to be solved. He would like to see a more focused formulation of a possible review. An external review should also address the adequacy of how OIOS findings and recommendations were acted upon. Reporting procedures were related to that, because direct reporting by the OIOS to the Assembly was part of the system of governance. It was hard to contemplate change in that regard outside the context of a broader governance reform that would strengthen confidence that internal oversight findings and recommendations would be acted upon systematically. He emphasized that his priorities for reform ran in the direction of enhancing transparency further and in strengthening the independence of the OIOS.
XUDONG SUN (China) said that the work of the OIOS had been effective, and its recommendations had been extremely important for improving management and efficiency and realizing savings. Referring to the statistics regarding the recommendations of the Office, he expressed hope that they would be carefully studied and implemented by the departments concerned as soon as possible. In its 10 years of hard work, the OIOS had recommended an average $31 million in annual savings. That was a precious gift that the Office had given the Member States.
Turning to the findings of the OIOS, he expressed concern over the fact that MONUC had not implemented controls to ensure that its rations contractor delivered the full amount and that, in most contingents, stocks of combat rations were below the 14-day requirement. He hoped the Secretariat would further clarify the measures taken by the Mission to improve the monitoring of its rations contract. Also detected by the OIOS had been errors in the daily troop-strength reporting system for MONUC, as well as deficiencies in the system used to calculate monthly payments. The Secretariat should be requested to provide information in writing, in that regard. As for the abuse and serious weaknesses in telephone system settings for the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) that had resulted in the abuse of $1.1 million, he would like to know the exact amount of the resources recovered so far.
The self-evaluation carried out by the Office had provided solid information for Member States to better understand and support its work, he said. He hoped the OIOS would, on the basis of the results achieved, forge further ahead. With improved management, the normal functioning of the United Nations would also be greatly improved, and he expected the number of recommendations of the OIOS to come down in time. Only through the detection and resolution of problems could the Organization strive for the better.
ANJA ZOBRIST RENTENAAR (Switzerland) commended Under-Secretary-General Nair and his staff at the OIOS for their dedication and hard work in carrying out their internal oversight mandate. The annual report of the OIOS had, as usual, provided a comprehensive picture of how the Office helped identify savings, recover misspent funds, and improve the efficiency of the Organization. Her delegation commended the OIOS for various initiatives taken to strengthen the Office and enhance its contribution to the Organization -- including the introduction of the risk-management framework, the organizational integrity initiative, and the electronic working-paper system. They were also pleased with the rationalization of the organizational structure of the Office and the resulting synergies for better oversight coverage.
The self-assessment by the OIOS was very useful and presented a number of interesting proposals, most of which did not need General Assembly approval and should be implemented expeditiously. Others might require discussion, as they went beyond improving internal management of the Office. As mentioned by her delegation earlier, the priorities of Switzerland were to see the budgetary independence of the Office strengthened, the term of the head of OIOS extended, and a coordinated mechanism set up to review the status of implementation of oversight recommendations.
The United Nations Secretariat did not currently have a coordination mechanism in place to follow up and monitor the implementation of oversight recommendations. Many United Nations organizations and specialized agencies did, however, have an oversight or audit committee to oversee the work and implementation of recommendations of their auditors, investigators, and inspectors. Those committees also served as an issue resolution forum to discuss and reconcile differences between managers and auditors. If the preference would be to not set up a new structure in the Secretariat, the Committee should consider the reanimation of the Accountability Panel instead. That body was established in October 2000, but had not met since the fall of 2001. The purpose of the Accountability Panel was to ensure that the Secretariat addressed the findings of the oversight review bodies from a systematic perspective. Although the Panel was broader in scope than an oversight committee -- as it was charged with questions relating to delegation of authority and the administration of justice, as well -- it would be a very good substitute.
Noting the intention of the Secretary-General to establish an outside panel of experts to conduct a comprehensive review of the operations of the OIOS, her delegation was not convinced of its usefulness at this time. Independent evaluations of the OIOS had been conducted by the Board of Auditors and the United States General Accounting Office. Furthermore, the timing was not ideal as they would have preferred to receive such a proposal well in advance of the time they were to take up the review of the mandate of the OIOS. However, they would not oppose such a study once they received further details on its terms of reference and on the composition of the panel.
In conclusion, she expressed her delegations greatest appreciation to Mr. Nair for his excellent work and proven leadership over the past five years. It was in large part thanks to him that the Office was no longer thought of as the Organizations secret police, but as a partner and agent of change.
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