26 June 2006
Budget Committee Discusses Financing of Peacekeeping Operations in Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, Western Sahara
Delegations Express Concerns over Late Submission of Budget Proposals
NEW YORK, 23 June (UN Headquarters) -- With the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) expected to take action on peacekeeping financing next Wednesday, several speakers today expressed concern over the late issuance of budget proposals for United Nations missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire and Western Sahara.
In that connection, the representative of the United States stressed the importance of Member States' right to analyse the proposals in full, so that they could have a solid understanding and justification of the resources being sought. The introduction of the budgets at such a late stage raised questions as to how the Committee would consider them by 28 June. She encouraged the Secretariat to ensure that future reports were introduced in a timely manner to allow for their proper consideration.
That concern was echoed by the representative of Austria, who spoke on behalf of the European Union. A strong supporter of United Nations peacekeeping, the Union contributed over 38 per cent of the overall peacekeeping budget. However, as each mission had to be judged on its own merit, he was concerned about the late submission of various budget proposals.
Introducing the missions' budget requirements, United Nations Controller, Warren Sach said that the $1.08 billion budget for the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007 had been based on the assumption that elections would be held by 30 June 2006. As there had been a delay, pending determination for full requirements for the elections, it was the Secretary-General's intention to absorb those requirements, to the fullest extent possible, from within the proposed budget. Related expenditures would be reported in the context of the Mission's 2006-2007 performance report.
Concerning the financing of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), he said the Secretary-General had originally planned to submit a full 2006-2007 budget for ONUB. However, pending the Security Council's decision on the mission's mandate, including planned withdrawal of ONUB by 31 December 2006, the Secretariat had felt it prudent to request a commitment authority for 1 July to 31 October 2006. The full budget would be submitted during the regular part of the sixty-first session.
A revised budget would also be submitted regarding the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), for which the Council at the beginning of this month had authorized a 1,500-person increase in personnel.
He also drew attention to the unsatisfactory status of contributions to the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). As of 30 April, the Member States' debt to the Mission had exceeded $45 million -- more than the budgeted provisions for a full year. That reflected a chronic under-funding of the Mission, which had resulted in the fact that there had been no reimbursement of troop contributors for more than two years.
The position of the African Group on the financing of the missions in Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo was expressed by the representatives of the United Republic of Tanzania, Morocco and Nigeria, respectively. The speakers focused on the missions' main challenges and priorities and insisted on the need to ensure adequate funding, which would allow them to successfully implement their mandates.
On the Côte d'Ivoire mission, the representative of Morocco said that an appropriate framework was already in place for achieving a peaceful and lasting settlement of the crisis in the country. Yet, its final solution could only be achieved with the support of the international community for the electoral process, financial assistance for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and the work of the High Representative for the elections.
He also noted the Advisory Committee's comment that additional resources would be required to support the deployment of the additional personnel authorized by the Council. Also, despite the fact that the budget proposal before the Committee included an increase of 91 posts, the Group continued to be concerned regarding the high prevalence of vacancy rates at UNOCI. The staff shortages would undoubtedly have an impact on the mission's ability to carry out its mandated activities.
Nigeria's representative expressed concern over persistent vacancy rates at MONUC. In this connection, she noted that, during the Assembly's last consideration of that Mission's budget, it had expressed deep concern over a high rate of attrition and related difficulties in recruitment, and had requested the Secretary-General to intensify his efforts to rectify the situation, ensuring expeditious filling of all vacant posts. In view of the fact that several months later, high vacancy rates in the Mission had persisted, the Group would like an assurance that the matter would now receive increased attention. More concrete action was required to urgently arrest the situation and mitigate its negative effects.
Regarding the Assembly's request for a review of the Mission's structure, she was pleased that the consultancy group Dalberg had undertaken a comprehensive review of MONUC's staffing and structure and had submitted its report on 24 February 2006, albeit a little too late to allow for a detailed consideration of all the recommendations. Upon conclusion of its review of the consultant's study, the Secretariat should report on its relevance not only to MONUC, but also to other missions.
The peace process in Burundi had a history of sliding back, said the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania. Therefore, the African Group was concerned over the Secretary-General's observation that, while significant achievements had been realized in resolving the political problem in Burundi, some of the root causes of the problem had not been fully addressed. He took note with interest of the consultations between the United Nations and the democratically elected Government of Burundi for an agreement on the plan for gradual disengagement of the United Nations peacekeeping presence and an adjustment of the mandate of ONUB. The Group encouraged close cooperation between the Secretary-General and the Government of Burundi in closely monitoring developments in the country to determine the appropriate pace for the mission's drawdown.
Also speaking today were representatives of Uganda, Japan, Côte d'Ivoire, Brazil (also on behalf of Guatemala), South Africa, Pakistan, Argentina and India.
Also today, the Controller introduced a note on the resource requirements for the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) under the support account from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007. The reports of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) were introduced by that body's Chairman, Rajat Saha.
The Committee will continue its work at a date to be announced.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to continue its consideration of the Secretary-General's request for expenditure authorization for the rest of the biennium (for background information, see Press Release GA/AB/3745 of 20 June) and to take up the financing of the United Nations missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire and Western Sahara.
Regarding the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), the Committee had before it that Mission's performance report on the budget for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005 (document A/60/669), which contains a recommendation that the General Assembly decide that Member States shall waive their respective shares in other income amounting to $14.89 million, and their respective shares in the amount of $13.01 million from the unencumbered balance of $54.88 million, to be applied to meeting the current and future after-service health insurance liabilities of the United Nations. The Assembly should also decide on the treatment of the remaining unencumbered balance of $40.87 million with respect to the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005.
Document A/60/840 contains the budget for MONUC for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007. The budget reflects the conclusions and recommendations of a review of the structure of the Mission, according to Assembly resolution 60/121 of 8 December 2005. The Mission's maintenance would require $1.08 billion for the 12-month period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007.
The budget would provide for a proposed 760 military observers, 16,115-strong military contingent, 391 United Nations police, 750 formed police units, 1,122 international staff, 2,189 national staff, and 604 United Nations Volunteers. The proposed staffing establishment takes into account general temporary assistance positions and additional United Nations Volunteers positions authorized by resolution 60/121 for the 2005/2006 of the Mission's expansion and reflects the conversion to posts of general temporary assistance positions and the retention of United Nations Volunteers positions for the same period, with the staffing establishment of the support component rejustified in full.
In its related report (document A/60/888), the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) points out that its ability to analyse properly the requests of the Secretary-General has, in the past, been hampered by late submissions of MONUC budgets and that the situation has not improved. The Advisory Committee recommends a reduction of the estimated budget requirement of $1.08 billion by $6.05 million and, accordingly, an appropriation by the Assembly of $1.09 billion for the maintenance of MONUC for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007.
Some of the recommended reductions stem from delays in the deployment schedule of military and civilian personnel, which should have been taken into account in the budget estimates. Taking issue with the way in which the overall table on human resources was provided in the budget report, the Advisory Committee does not recommend approval of any of the 24 net new international posts, but it does recommend approval of 98 national General Service staff posts and 14 national officer positions, among other recommendations on human resources. Other reductions stem from observations and recommendations regarding requirements under facilities and infrastructure, communications, medical and special equipment.
Regarding liabilities for after-service health insurance benefits, the ACABQ says there may be a consequential impact on the financing of MONUC and other peacekeeping operations, depending on what the Assembly may decide. It, therefore, recommends that the unencumbered balance of $53.88 million, as well as income and adjustments in the amount of $14.89 million, be credited to Member States in a manner to be determined by the Assembly. The Committee also expresses concerns about the apparent lack of budgetary controls over travel expenditures.
The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General's report on the financing of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) for the period 1 July to 31 October 2006 (documents A/60/731 and Add.1).
Pending submission to the Assembly during the main part of its sixty-first session of a full budget for ONUB for the period 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007, including results-based frameworks, the report contains a request for commitment authority with assessment in the amount of $79.18 million to cover the Operation's requirements for the period 1 July to 31 October 2006. The commitment authority will provide for the deployment of some 71 military observers, 3,985 military personnel and 15 United Nations police officers, as well as 341 international staff, 376 national staff and 120 United Nations Volunteers.
In a related report (document A/60/893), the ACABQ notes that the level of anticipated under-expenditure would suggest that the Operation should continue to refine budgetary assumptions, and recommends approval of the full amount requested for commitment authority. However, in view of the expenditure pattern referred to, the Advisory Committee is of the opinion that an assessment of 50 per cent of the commitment authority should suffice. Accordingly, it recommends that the Secretary-General be authorized to enter into commitments for the period 1 July to 31 October in the amount of $79.18 million gross for the maintenance of ONUB, and that the amount of $40 million be assessed at a monthly rate of $10 million gross, should the Security Council decide to extend the Operation's mandate.
In his performance report on the budget of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005 (document A/60/630), the Secretary-General recommends that the Assembly decide that Member States shall waive their respective shares in other income for the period ended 30 June 2005, amounting to $15,800,000, and their respective shares in the amount of $10,041,700 from the unencumbered balance of $41,582,300 for the same period, to be applied to meeting the current and future after-service health insurance liabilities of the United Nations. The Assembly is also requested to decide on the treatment of the remaining unencumbered balance of $31,540,600 for the period ended June 2005.
In its related report (document A/60/896), the Advisory Committee recommends that the unencumbered balance of $41.58 million and other income in the amount of $15.8 million be credited to Member States.
According to the budget for UNOCI for the period 1 July 2006 through 30 June 2007 (documents A/60/753 and Corr.1), maintenance of the Operation for that period would require an Assembly appropriation of some $420.18 million. That amount would provide for the deployment of 200 military observers, 6,890 contingent personnel, including 120 force headquarters staff officers, 350 United Nations police officers, 375 formed police personnel, 467 international and 575 national staff, including 36 national officers, as well as 277 United Nations Volunteers and eight government-provided personnel. The resource requirements have been linked to the Operation's objective through a number of results-based frameworks, grouped by components: ceasefire; disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation and resettlement; humanitarian and human rights; peace process; law and order; and support.
In its related report (document A/60/896), the Advisory Committee recommends approval of the full amount proposed.
The actions to be taken by the Assembly in connection with the performance report on the budget of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005 (document A/60/634) are: to decide that Member States shall waive their respective shares in other income, amounting to $1.02 million, and their respective shares in the amount of $111,600 from the unencumbered balance of $462,000, to be applied to meeting the current and future after-service health insurance liabilities of the United Nations. The Assembly should also decide on the treatment of the remaining unencumbered balance of $350,400.
The proposed budget for MINURSO for the period 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007 (document A/60/724) amounts to $46.12 million, inclusive of budgeted voluntary contributions in kind in the amount of $3.32 million. The proposed action by the Assembly is to appropriate the amount of $42.8 million for the Mission's maintenance for the 12-month period, and to assess that amount at a monthly rate of $3.57 million should the Security Council decide to continue MINURSO's mandate.
The budget provides for the deployment of 203 military observers, 27 military contingents, six United Nations police, 115 international staff, 149 national staff, 23 United Nations Volunteers and 10 government-provided personnel. The total resource requirements have been linked to the Mission's objective through a number of results-based frameworks, grouped by components: substantive civilian, military and support. The budget report also contains a summary of follow-up actions taken to implement resolution 59/296 and recommendations of the ACABQ and the United Nations Board of Auditors.
The recommendations of the Advisory Committee, in a related report (document A/60/897), would entail a reduction of $26,200 in MINURSO's proposed budget for 2006-2007. The ACABQ recommends that the estimated budget requirements be reduced to some $42.78 million and makes a number of recommendations regarding opportunities for further savings.
In connection with the proposed measures to fund accrued liabilities for after-service health insurance, including the transfer of $250 million from unencumbered balances and savings on or cancellation of prior-period obligations of active peacekeeping missions as at the end of the 2005 fiscal year, the Advisory Committee states that, depending on the decision of the Assembly, there may be a consequential impact on the financing of MINURSO and other missions. The Advisory Committee recommends that the unencumbered balance of $462,000, as well as other income and adjustments in the amount of $350,400, be credited to Member States in a manner to be determined by the Assembly.
Further by that report, the ACABQ expresses regret that, as a consequence of the non-payment of over $62 million in assessed contributions to the Mission's account, the Organization was not in a position to reimburse the troop-contributing Governments for any costs incurred since April 2002. It also notes that the low level of the unencumbered balance projected for the end of the 2005/2006 budget period indicates that the Mission is making efforts to meet its financial goals. This was taken into consideration in the preparation of the 2006/2007 budget proposal. It thus appears that budgetary assumptions have been refined to ensure that the Mission's financial resources are utilized and managed properly, as is also reflected in the 98.9 per cent budget implementation rate for 2004/2005.
At the outset of the meeting, Committee Chairman JOHN WILLIAM ASHE ( Antigua and Barbuda) said he was distributing a draft decision that he had prepared in connection with the Secretary-General's request for expenditure authorization for the rest of the 2006-2007 biennium. Prepared following his consultations with delegations and groups of delegations after the introduction of the item on 20 June, the text could be used as the basis for further consultations.
MOVSES ABELIAN, Committee Secretary, then read out a letter from the President of the General Assembly to the Chairman of the Fifth Committee, according to which the President had been updated on the Committee's deliberations regarding the lifting of the spending cap. The President had been assisting by holding consultations with representatives of individual Member States and regional groups with the objective of lifting the spending cap by consensus. It was his sincere intention to bring the matter to a conclusion by Wednesday, 28 June.
DUMISANI SHADRACK KUMALO (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, thanked the Chairman for the draft, saying that, while the Group could support the decision right now, it appreciated the continuing consultation efforts. The Assembly President had talked about 28 June, and the Group was ready to return on that date to take action on the text. The spending cap should be lifted without any conditionalities whatsoever.
Financing of Peacekeeping Operations
WARREN SACH, United Nations Controller, introduced reports of the Secretary-General on four peacekeeping operations.
On the performance report for MONUC for 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005, he noted that the actions to be taken by the General Assembly had been overtaken by the provisions of Assembly resolution 60/255 in connection with the funding of liabilities for after-service health insurance benefits. Consequently, the draft resolution on MONUC's financing would reflect the credit to Member States of some $68.8 million in a manner to be determined by the Assembly.
Turning to the budget for MONUC for 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007, he said requirements for MONUC had been based on the assumption that elections would be held by 30 June 2006. In connection with the delay and pending determination for the full resource requirements for the elections, it was the Secretary-General's intention to absorb those requirements, to the fullest extent possible, from within the proposed 2006-2007 budget. Related expenditures would be reported in the context of the Mission's 2006-2007 performance report.
Concerning the financing of ONUB, he said the Secretary-General had originally planned to submit a full budget for ONUB for the 2006-2007 period. However, pending the Security Council's decision on the Secretary-General's proposals in his latest report to the Council, including the planned withdrawal of ONUB by 31 December 2006, the Secretariat had felt it prudent to request a commitment authority for 1 July to 31 October 2006. Pursuant to the Council's decision on the mission's mandate, the Secretary-General would submit the full 2006-2007 budget during the regular part of the sixty-first session.
On the performance report for UNOCI, he explained that the actions to be taken have been overtaken by the provisions of General Assembly resolution 60/255 in connection with the funding of liabilities for after-service health insurance benefits. Consequently, the draft resolution on the financing of UNOCI would reflect the credit to Member States of the total amount of $57.4 million in a manner to be determined by the Assembly.
Regarding the mission's budget for 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007, he noted that subsequent to the submission of the budget for UNOCI for the 2006-2007 period, the Council, in its resolution 1682 of 2 June 2006, had authorized, until 15 December 2006, an increase in the strength of UNOCI of up to 1,500 additional personnel, including a maximum of 1,025 military personnel and 475 civilian police personnel. In light of that decision, it was the Secretary-General's intention to submit a revised budget for the mission for 2006-2007 for the Assembly's consideration at the regular part of its sixty-first session.
Turning to the financing of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), he said he wished to draw attention to the unsatisfactory status of contributions to the MINURSO. As of 30 April, the total outstanding contributions exceeded $45 million. That exceeded budgeted provisions for a full year and reflected a chronic under-funding of the Mission, a situation that had resulted in there being no reimbursement of troop contributors for more than two years. The position was clearly unsatisfactory and merited Member States' attention.
RAJAT SAHA, Chairman of the ACABQ, introduced the related reports of that Committee.
Speaking on behalf of the African Group on the financing of ONUB, JOHN J. NG'ONGOLO (United Republic of Tanzania) said that the Group appreciated the presentation of the information on the performance of the Operation in a results-based framework and welcomed the achievements reported so far in bringing about peace and security in Burundi. The Group wished to express its sincere gratitude to the United Nations and the international community for the unwavering commitment and support for the cause of Burundi. The Group was also grateful for the effective complementary roles played by the United Nations and the international community to the efforts by the African Union, the countries of the Great Lakes region, and the people of Burundi themselves. Peace for Burundi was peace for the whole of Africa and the entire world.
The political problem in Burundi was complex in nature and thus very challenging to resolve. However, Africa had always had a strong determination to ensure that there was lasting peace in Burundi. Thus, a serious initiative to resolve the political problem peacefully had been undertaken in early 1990s by the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the founder President of his country, as facilitator of the Burundi peace process. That role had been later passed to Nelson Mandela, the first President of a free and democratic South Africa. That process had led to the signing of the Arusha Agreement in 2000. As the international community celebrated the achievements in the peace process in Burundi, the African Group wished to pay tribute to those sons of Africa for their outstanding contribution.
The peace process in Burundi had a history of sliding back, he continued. Therefore, the Group was concerned over the observation by the Secretary-General that, while significant achievements had been realized in resolving the political problem in Burundi, some of the root causes of the problem had not been fully addressed. The Group took note with interest that consultations had been going on between the United Nations and the democratically elected Government of Burundi for an agreement on the plan for gradual disengagement of the United Nations peacekeeping presence and an adjustment of the mandate of ONUB. The Group encouraged close cooperation between the Secretary-General and the Government of Burundi in closely monitoring developments in the country to determine the appropriate pace for the drawdown.
The Government of Burundi had requested assistance from the United Nations and donor agencies in consolidating the achievements through the activities of the newly established Peacebuilding Commission, he said. The Group was also aware that the Government had been meeting in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania, on 29 May to 16 June with the PALIPEHUTU-FNL under the facilitation of the Minister of Safety and Security of South Africa. That meeting had been followed by the twenty-sixth regional Summit on Burundi in Dar es Salaam on 17-18 June, under the chairmanship of the President of the United Republic of Tanzania. The meetings had resulted in the signing of a comprehensive Peace Accord between the two sides on 18 June. The African Group commended the Government of Burundi and the PALIPEHUTU-FNL for having put in the forefront the interests of their country and its people, thus, listening to the call by the international community to overcome their differences. The two parties should enhance their efforts towards a complete halt of hostilities and bring about lasting peace, security and stability in Burundi.
Despite the positive developments, the situation in Burundi remained fragile, he continued. Therefore, the United Nations still had an important role to play. The Group had taken note of the comments by the ACABQ on the request by the Secretary-General for a commitment authority of some $79.18 million to meet the requirements of ONUB for the period from 1 July to 31 October 2006, pending submission of a full budget proposal for 2006-2007 and welcomed the request by the Secretary-General.
NOR DINE SADOUK ( Morocco), also speaking on behalf of the African Group, addressed the financing of UNOCI. Among numerous important developments since the Fifth Committee had adopted the revised budget of the mission last November, he mentioned the appointment of the new Government in Côte d'Ivoire, the introduction of a road map for the peace process, and the setting up of the International Working Group at the ministerial level, entrusted with the task of verifying that all the necessary powers were delegated to the newly appointed Prime Minister.
The newly established Independent Electoral Commission had been focused on a number of priority issues, he said. Also, 21 regional commissions had been created, which would be staffed by some 7,000 electoral officers. A working group on the identification and elections had been established under the supervision of the Prime Minister. During the government seminar and the meeting of the Ivorian leaders in Yamoussoukro on 28 February, agreements had been reached on a number of outstanding issues, including the disarmament and identification processes, the preparation of elections, and the role of the media in the peace process.
Commending the people of Côte d'Ivoire for their determination to move forward, he said that every effort should be made to support the preparations for elections adequately. The Group called on all Ivorian parties to maintain a constructive engagement to help consolidate the work of the Commission and UNOCI. The Operation had a vital role to play in such areas as providing guidance and technical assistance for the elections, training the electoral officers, ensuring transparency and confidence-building, and contributing to security in the main voting areas. It should also monitor and verify the ceasefire agreement, the movement of armed groups and redeployment of forces, assist in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, and promote the rule of law and the protection of human rights. Those tasks could only be performed with the tangible support of all Member States. The Group reaffirmed its strong support for UNOCI and emphasized that the Operation must have all the resources necessary to accomplish its mandates.
Noting the Council's decision of 2 June to authorize the increase in the strength of the mission of up to 1,500 additional personnel, he also noted a 0.3 per cent increase of the proposed budget over the amount of $418.78 million appropriated for the 2005-2007 period. The Group had taken due note of the Advisory Committee's recommendation that additional resources were required to support the deployment of the additional personnel. He requested that a revised 2006-2007 budget of the Operation be submitted at the next session of the Assembly.
Agreeing with the ACABQ that there were overall improvements in the presentation of the budget, he commended UNOCI for having been able to fully respond to the Assembly's request, in resolution 59/296, with respect to results-based budgeting. He also joined the Advisory Committee in commending the efforts of the Operation in developing a results-oriented management culture focused on achieving desired programme goals. UNOCI's experience in the field of budgeting should be shared with other missions.
He added that, despite the fact that the budget proposal before the Committee included an increase of 91 posts, the Group continued to be concerned regarding the high prevalence of vacancy rates at UNOCI. The staff shortages would undoubtedly impact on the mission's ability to carry out its mandated activities. While joining the ACABQ in commending the efforts of the Secretariat to adopt a strategy to fill in the posts in UNOCI, the Group would revert to that issue in informal consultations.
The appropriate framework for achieving a peaceful and lasting settlement to the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire was in place, he said in conclusion. Yet, the final solution of the crisis could only be achieved with the support of the international community to the electoral process, financial assistance for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and the work of the High Representative for the elections.
NONYE UDO ( Nigeria), on behalf of the African Group, said the Group was pleased to consider a full budget for MONUC, prepared with due regard to the provisions of Council resolution 1635 (2005). On several occasions, the Committee had looked at budgets for MONUC that were out of step with additional mandates accorded to the complex Mission as those budgets had been generally prepared prior to the approval of important Council resolutions. The latest budget proposal was indeed comprehensive and addressed pertinent mandates conferred on the Mission. She commended the Mission for the improved presentation of both the performance report and the budget in a results-based budgeting format.
She said she wished to recognize, at the outset, the tremendous challenges facing the Mission in the electoral process and the achievement so far recorded, including the registration of over 25.6 million voters, the adoption of a new constitution, and the enthusiasm for the presidential and parliamentary elections as evidenced by the large number of candidates that would participate in the elections. The Mission was standing at an important juncture of its existence. With such major a challenge on hand, now was the time to strengthen it to better deal with the tasks before it, during and after the elections, and to secure the gains made. It was imperative that the Committee provide the Mission with necessary resources to assist the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in moving ahead with the elections and other processes that would ensure lasting peace and socio-economic improvement.
There was a need to include training in the area of elections as an important element for the current period, she continued. While not reflected in the budget, the issue deserved priority consideration. Further, she had noted efforts targeted at capacity-building, including through conversion of general temporary assistance positions to national staff posts. That and other mechanisms that would address capacity-building should continue to be explored.
She said the Group wished to place on record that the very late issuance of the ACABQ's report for the important Mission had allowed the Group little or no time to undertake a detailed study and analysis. She realized that the Secretariat and the Mission had had to respond to decisions taken by the Council, the timing of which impacted on the Mission's ability to prepare and revise budgets. She also realized that the Mission had had numerous mandate changes in the past few years -- more than any other mission. The Group trusted that the Secretary-General would inform the Council that timing of its decisions placed the Assembly under considerable strain when reviewing peacekeeping budgets. She hoped every effort would be made to facilitate Member States' consideration of important reports by ensuring their timely issuance. The Group would, therefore, only be in a position to make preliminary remarks.
Regarding the Secretary-General's request for $1.1 billion for the Mission, which, given the tasks on hand, appeared reasonable, the Group had taken note of the ACABQ's recommendation for a reduction in the sum of $6.05 million. In that regard, she requested that the Secretariat detail the actual impact that that action would entail for the Mission and its ability to successfully deliver fully all the mandates on hand. The Group also sought clarification as to the resultant impact of the various recommendations of the Advisory Committee on the Mission's smooth functioning.
On the Mission's performance for the current period, she said the Group trusted that all outstanding payments would be settled quickly. The Group also wanted assurances that payments were being made in a timelier manner. The Group was concerned with the indication in the report that 12 claims for death and disability compensation might still be pending and requested further information on action that had been undertaken to address that. Such claims should be settled expeditiously.
She noted that, during the Assembly's last consideration of MONUC's budget, it had expressed deep concern at the high rate of attrition and related difficulties in recruitment, and had requested the Secretary-General to intensify his ongoing efforts to rectify the situation, including through innovative approaches, and to ensure the expeditious filling of all vacant posts. The African Group was concerned that, several months later, the very high vacancy rates in the Mission had persisted and would like an assurance that the matter would now receive increased attention. While the Group encouraged the efforts under way, there was no doubt that more concrete action was required to urgently arrest the situation, as well as mitigate the negative effects of the prolonged situation.
Regarding the Assembly's request for a review of the Mission's structure, she said she was pleased to learn that the consultancy group Dalberg had undertaken a comprehensive review of MONUC's staffing and structure and had submitted their report on 24 February 2006, albeit a little too late to allow for a detailed consideration of all the recommendations in the budget proposal for July 2006-June 2007. She trusted that the Secretariat would, on conclusion of its review of the consultant's management study of MONUC, report on their relevance, not only to MONUC but also to other missions. In the interim, she welcomed the initial reflection of some of the consultant's recommendations in the budget before the Committee. In that connection, she looked forward to receiving at the informal consultations an elaboration of the existing structure and the deployment of the human resources to facilitate the Committee's consideration of the complex mission, given the short time that Member States had had to consider the Secretary-General's proposals.
ENNO DROFENIK (Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union had been a strong supporter of United Nations peacekeeping, and contributed over 38 per cent of the overall peacekeeping budget. Each mission had to be judged on its own merit, and he was concerned about the late submission of the various budget proposals. The Union had outlined its general approach previously and looked forward to engaging in a constructive debate on the issues. There must be no doubt that the Union was fully committed to progress on the consideration of peacekeeping budgets and was ready to work with all Member States to achieve a satisfactory outcome.
MELANIE J. ATTWOOLL ( United States) said that her country was deeply concerned over the late submission of the budget proposals. As was the case with every other peacekeeping mission, her delegation attached great importance to the right of Member States to analyse the proposals in full, so that they could have a solid understanding and justification of the resources being sought. The introduction of the budgets at such a late stage raised questions as to how the Committee would consider them by 28 June. She encouraged the Secretariat to ensure that future reports were introduced in a timely manner to allow for their proper consideration. In light of the late issuance of the reports, some of which had been received only this morning, her delegation reserved questions for informal consultations on the matter.
FRANCIS MUMBEY-WAFULA ( Uganda) associated himself with the position of the African Group on the financing of the missions in Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His country was actively engaged in the quest for peace in Burundi and was participating in the peace process in Cote d'Ivoire, as well. The Democratic Republic of the Congo was Uganda's neighbour, and stability in that country was of particular importance to his country. Like the African Group and the ACABQ, he believed that delayed documentation on MONUC had not allowed the delegations sufficient time to study the reports. Hence, his delegation had not been able to have an in-depth study of the documents. He hoped to return to most issues in informals.
He said that his delegation wanted to commend, however, the efforts of the Secretary-General in preparing the MONUC budget, responding to the completion of the constitutional referendum and expected holding of national elections there. Specific attention should be paid to preparing results-based budgets, reflecting the post-transitional activities, good governance, coordinating technical and political support, assisting the Government in the re-establishment of State authority, disarmament of foreign combatants, support for national security, assistance in the organization of local elections and humanitarian assistance. He also supported the aspects geared at creating stability and peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
His delegation would support the efforts aimed at reducing the costs of transportation through the use of roads and introduction of efficiencies in air operations, he continued. The United Nations and the international community should place emphasis on regional approaches to help achieve peace and security in the region, and on the efforts aimed at establishing sustainable mechanisms for regional cooperation in the Great Lakes area to address issues concerning foreign armed groups and implementation of the repatriation, reinsertion and resettlement programmes for disarmed and demobilized foreign ex-combatants. Also important were operational links with ONUB and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), including search operations to establish weapon-free zones, as well as cooperation with UNMIS, ONUB and the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) in the use of personnel and the use of the regional logistics base.
A review of the structure of MONUC's administrative and logistical support would allow for a more efficient delivery of services and related efficiencies. He also welcomed the incorporation of some recommendations of the consultants report on the budget and the pledge to ensure the availability of an expanded Entebbe logistical base.
While not in a position to ensure in-depth study of the budget proposals, he supported the Secretary-General's proposal for resources to the tune of $1.08 billion and would seek further clarification regarding some of the ACABQ's recommendations in informal consultations.
HITOSHI KOZAKI ( Japan) said that, as his delegation had made a comprehensive statement at the beginning of the session, he would make only a few comments. The Committee was under enormous time pressure, and delegates had no time to fully analyse the budgets and to seek guidance from their respective capitals. On the issue of MONUC, he expressed concern that the budget had been issued late. He was also disappointed that the work of the consultants had not been fully studied by the Secretariat and that the resultant analysis had not been included in the report before the Committee. Given the size of MONUC's budget, the Committee was in a situation where it would have to take quick action on a $1 billion budget. Such a state of affairs was not acceptable to his delegation. Having said that, his delegation would actively participate in informal consultations during which time it would raise questions on the missions under consideration.
MARC-AUBIN BANNY ( C ôte d'Ivoire) said he appreciated the international community's support to Côte d'Ivoire for four years now. Since last December, political blossoming had been visible in the country. A new Prime Minister and national Government had been elected and had taken a number of projects that led one to hope that there would be rapprochement in the political situation. The military and security forces had withdrawn from the front. The beginning of identifying the population had been carried out in 10 areas throughout the territory, even in areas controlled by rebel forces. At the current time, the country was moving towards normality. He hoped that the budget would be adopted by the Committee with a view to enabling the country to regain an era of peace and prosperity.
FERNANDO DE OLIVEIRA SENA ( Brazil), speaking also on behalf of Guatemala, said he supported the statement of the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania on the financing of the mission in Burundi. Peace in Burundi was fundamental for Africa and the world. The mission must have the necessary resources to restore lasting peace and bring about national reconciliation and social development. He also supported Morocco's statement on the financing of UNOCI. He strongly supported that mission and joined in stressing the need to provide it with the resources it needed to implement its mandate. He also supported Nigeria's statement on the financing of MONUC. On that Mission, he joined in requesting that the Secretariat address the impact of the proposed reduction of some $6 million and stressed the need for it to receive the resources it required in full and without condition. Brazil and Guatemala would work constructively in informal consultations. While time was short, the delegations would actively participate to ensure that the missions carried out their respective mandates.
Mr. SEAKAMELA ( South Africa) associated himself with the position of the African Group and said that in terms of conflict prevention, management and resolution, the peace processes in Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo remained a priority for the international community. In that context, he supported the efforts of the African Union through its Peace and Security Council to assist the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in finding a comprehensive and lasting solution to their current challenges. He further welcomed the date of that country's first election in more than 40 years being finalized for 30 July. Peace and stability there were critical for the peace and prosperity of the region and the continent as a whole.
South Africa had been working tirelessly on behalf of the African Union trying to bring an end to the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire, he continued. It also worked through the mechanism of the International Working Group. He was encouraged by the commitments made by President Gbagbo and Prime Minister Banny to work together in recognition of their responsibility to their country. The implementation of the first phase of the disarmament process between the New Forces and the Armed Forces of Côte d'Ivoire constituted progress. South Africa would continue to encourage forward movement, particularly on key issues of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and national identification processes.
He said his Government also reiterated its commitment to working with the regional leadership of the African Union and the Government and people of Burundi in their endeavour to find a sustainable solution to their current political challenges aimed at bringing lasting peace to Burundi. He welcomed PALIPEHUTU/FNL entering into unconditional negotiations with the Government, which had led to the signing of the comprehensive peace accord.
The General Assembly, with the adoption of resolution 59/296, had tasked the Management of various peacekeeping operations and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to complete a wide variety of reviews and take steps to ensure the effective management of peacekeeping operations and the efficient use of resources. His delegation was encouraged by the concrete measures taken by the missions in the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire and Burundi to ensure implementation of that resolution. He was also encouraged by the efforts to implement the recommendations of the Board of Auditors and the ACABQ, as adopted by the General Assembly.
He reiterated his full support for the continuation of quick-impact projects beyond the two-year time frame, particularly where the situation on the ground and the change in mandate necessitated it. He took note of the ACABQ's recommendations on various issues and would revert to the issues raised by the African Group in informals. He welcomed the delegations' willingness to engage in constructive consideration of the budget proposals and hoped the Secretariat would respond to the questions posed in time to allow for their adoption on Monday.
IMTIAZ HUSSAIN ( Pakistan) said he welcomed the presentation of the budgets that the Committee had been expecting for a long time now. He supported and took note of the statements by the United Republic of Tanzania, Nigeria and Morocco on behalf of the African Group and thanked the ACABQ for its reports. He hoped the concerns raised by the Group would be given due consideration by the Secretary-General and the Secretariat.
Late presentation of the reports was obviously a matter of concern, for it impeded appropriate consideration of the budget proposals on important large missions, he continued. The Committee needed time to thoroughly consider all issues, including cross-cutting ones. With the current practice, it was deprived of that important opportunity. It was necessary to overcome that serious problem. Late consideration and the difficulties experienced at the moment could have an impact on the situation in the countries involved. Also, as a troop-contributing country, he was concerned about what would happen to troop contributors, should the budgets not be adopted on time. He requested the Secretary-General to look at that aspect carefully.
He also expressed concern over the visible linkage of discussion on those budgets with other issues. Such linkages had created problems in the Committee. He hoped that kind of thinking would not become an impediment for decisions and looked forward to the conclusion of the budgets' consideration over the weekend, so that early next week the Committee could adopt them.
ALEJANDRO TORRES LEPORI ( Argentina) endorsed Brazil's statement. The operations in particular should have the resources they needed so that they could effectively discharge their mandates, particularly in the area of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation, and quick-impact projects. His delegation would proceed with that in mind during informal consultations.
DHARAM VIR SINGH ( India) endorsed the statements by the various representatives of the African Group on the various missions. He also supported the endeavours by the United Nations and the African Union for restoring peace in those countries. He endorsed in particular the statement by the representative of Pakistan on the delayed introduction of documents. As a troop-contributing country, he was also concerned that the 30 June deadline was fast approaching and expressed hope that peacekeepers in the field would not be rendered bankrupt after 30 June.
Ms. UDO ( Nigeria), addressing the issue of UNOCI, aligned herself with the statement by Morocco on the item. It was with great pleasure that she supported the Secretary-General's request for some $420 million for the period 2006-2007, a request that the ACABQ fully endorsed. The UNOCI had grown out of the amalgamation of the United Nations mission in Côte d'Ivoire and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) forces. ECOWAS member States, therefore, paid close attention to the mission. While there had been setbacks and challenges along the way, there had been a concerted effort to achieve a positive outcome. Negotiations had led to the establishment of the structure and rules of procedure of the independent electoral commission and the opening of regional commissions, and he hoped that that effort would be maintained. He echoed the ACABQ's call for the mission to continue to assist the office and commended UNOCI for the steps it had taken to improve the presentation of its performance report and budget.
She also supported the statement by the representative of Côte d'Ivoire regarding positive developments in the political arena and commended steps taken towards peace and prosperity for the peoples of Côte d'Ivoire. The late issuance of important reports was a matter of concern, however. She trusted that greater effort would be made to address the issue. The various points raised in interventions were pertinent for the successful implementation of the mandates of the various missions. She also trusted that the Secretariat would also work to ensure their implementation.
Mr. SACH, United Nations Controller, introduced the note contained in document A/60/898 on the resource requirements for the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) under the support account from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007. He noted that, in paragraphs 114 and 115 of its report on the proposed budget for the support account, the ACABQ had deferred action on the post and non-post resources proposed for the OIOS, pending the submission of the report on governance and oversight, which would include a detailed review of the OIOS as part of the United Nations machinery. Pending its consideration of the report, the Assembly had been requested to provide interim resources for the OIOS for the 2006-2007 period. The provision of resources would ensure continuity in the OIOS' oversight responsibility over United Nations peacekeeping activities.
He said action to be taken by the Assembly included approval, on an interim basis, of some $21.8 million for the OIOS under the support account, comprising non-post resources in the amount of $18.8 million for the continuation of approved 2005-2006 resources in 2006-2007, including general temporary assistance to finance 119 temporary positions; non-post resources of $918,800 for general temporary assistance to finance 11 temporary positions in the Resident Audit Unit of UNMIS; and non-post resources of $2.1 million for additional requirements for 2006-2007, including general temporary assistance to finance 13 temporary positions. The Assembly would also be requested to include the amount of $21.8 million in the resources for the support account for peacekeeping operations, to be prorated among the budgets of the active peacekeeping operations for 2006-2007.
Introducing a related ACABQ report, Mr. SAHA, Chairman of the ACABQ, said that the Advisory Committee had issued a brief report on OIOS resource requirements under the support account for peacekeeping operations, which was self-explanatory. In it, the ACABQ recommended maintenance of the resource level for the period from 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2006 and continuation of general temporary assistance approved in 2005/2006, recosted using the budget parameters for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007 and amounting to some $18.8 million.
He said that the only point that he wanted to make was that the ACABQ intended to revisit the issue after all relevant forthcoming reports, including the report of the Secretary-General on governance and oversight,had been considered by the Assembly. He hoped such revised estimates, as necessary, including for the support account, would be prepared by the Secretariat.
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