3 May 2005

Peacekeeping Finance for 2005/2006 Could Reach $5 Billion, Budget Committee Told, as Resumed Session Begins

NEW YORK, 2 May (UN Headquarters) -- The cost of United Nations peacekeeping operations in 2005/2006 could reach an unprecedented level of almost $5 billion, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was told, as it opened its second resumed session today.

The Budget Committee traditionally devotes its late spring session, which is expected to last through 27 May this year, to various aspects of financing of United Nations peacekeeping, ranging from individual mission budgets to procurement and procedures for determining Member States’ reimbursement for contingent-owned equipment.  The financial year of peacekeeping operations runs from 1 July to 30 June, and their costs are assessed among Member States on the basis of a special peacekeeping scale.

Introducing the proposed peacekeeping budget for 2005/2006, the new United Nations Controller, Warren Sach, stressed the volatile and unpredictable nature of peacekeeping, which was subject to decisions of the Security Council in response to conflicts in various parts of the world.  A recent surge in peacekeeping had put an extraordinary strain on the capacity of the Secretariat to support and manage peacekeeping operations, he said.

In the absence of full budgets for missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and East Timor, the $3.6 billion budget proposals for only 13 out of 15 ongoing missions, the Support Account and the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy, were submitted to the Committee today.  [The proposal includes commitment authority requests for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan missions for the period from 1 July to 31 October 2005.]  That figure also takes into account the downsizing of operations in Sierra Leone and Kosovo, the liquidation of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) and the planned downsizing of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), on the assumption that the elections in that country would be completed in October.

In the past year, however, three large operations had been established in Haiti, Burundi and Côte d’Ivoire, he said.  The UNMISET and the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) had evolved to new stages of their existence; the mandate of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) had been further expanded; and the Sudan mission had been authorized at the end of March.  The budget for 2004/2005 had now risen to some $4.4 billion, due to the additional resources approved for MONUC, the commitment authority for the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and the revised appropriation for the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).  The total authorized number of military and civilian police personnel in peacekeeping operations had increased to 64,709 in 2004/2005 and was projected at 68,843 in 2005/2006.

Presenting his detailed remarks on the peacekeeping budget, the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), Vladimir Kuznetsov, said that as the Organization’s peacekeeping activities continued to grow in size and importance, the aggregate level of related expenditure far outstripped the level of its regular budget.  However, the administration and financing of peacekeeping operations lagged far behind the discipline, which characterized the regular budgeting process.  It was incumbent upon all to move past the “make it up as we go along” phase and to learn from past experience.  The Advisory Committee intended to take an active role in fostering the establishment of consistency and efficiency in the structure, financing and operation of peacekeeping missions.

Among the speakers who commented on the weaknesses noted by the ACABQ was the representative of the Republic of Korea, who stressed the need for significant improvement.  He said there should be a focal point for analysis and assessment reviews and application of the results throughout the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  That work should be linked to the Peacekeeping Best Practices Section.  Peacekeeping operations were among the most expensive efforts of the United Nations, and making them more efficient and accountable would go far in increasing the public’s trust in the Organization.

Several speakers in the debate also expressed concern over the 41 per cent increase in outstanding assessed contributions, as well as “the ageing” of unpaid peacekeeping assessments.  In that connection, the representative of Namibia (on behalf of the African Group) urged all Member States to pay their assessed contributions in full, on time and without conditions in order to ensure the effective operation of all peacekeeping missions and timely reimbursement for troops and contingent-owned equipment.

Some 70 reports before the Committee were introduced by Sabiniano Cabatuan, Director of External Audit of the Philippines, who spoke on behalf of the Chairman of the Board of Auditors; Jonathan Childerly, Senior Management Analyst in the Office for Management Improvement and Oversight Support; Hazel Scott, Director, Administrative Support Division of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; Joan McDonald, Director of the Facilities and Commercial Services Division; Michael Edward Hanrahan, Chairman of the 2004 Working Group on Contingent-Owned Equipment; Barbara Dixon, Officer in Charge of the OIOS; and Jan Beagle, Director of the Division for Organizational Development, Department of Management.

Statements in two meetings were also made by representatives of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Norway, Turkey and Serbia and Montenegro.

Also today, the Committee approved its programme of work for the coming month, on the understanding that adjustments would be made, as necessary, during the course of the resumed session.  The representative of Brazil spoke on the organization of work on behalf of the Rio Group.


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning opened its second resumed session, which would be devoted primarily to peacekeeping financing.  During two meetings today, the Committee was expected to hear introduction of numerous reports to be considered during the session, including those on the Board of Auditors’ audit of peacekeeping operations for the period ending on 30 June 2004, administrative and budgetary aspects of peacekeeping; the budgets of individual missions, the UN Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy, and the Support Account; the staffing and management of field missions; peacekeeping procurement; and regional investigations in Vienna and Nairobi hubs.

Organization of Work

Speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, FRANCISCO S. DUQUE ESTRADA MEYER (Brazil) agreed with the proposed programme of work and the items to be considered during the session.  The Fifth Committee would have to provide the Secretary-General with the necessary resources to allow the execution of the mandates of peacekeeping operations, on the understanding that they carried out the strict purposes and principles of the Charter.  However, the Group was concerned over the overall level of peacekeeping resources, which constituted an increasing financial burden for Member States.  For that reason, he insisted that the budgets of peacekeeping missions needed to be fully justified, in search of the greatest possible efficiency.  The Group attached great importance to the cross-cutting issues related to peacekeeping and would work in a constructive manner to reach a resolution in the second resumed session.

Among other important issues, he also mentioned the need to address the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions.  However, the proposal to establish a personal conduct unit in New York and in all peacekeeping missions may result in duplication of functions.  He was also concerned over the financial burden that would create and asked for clarifications in that regard.

The Group followed with interest the Organization’s peacekeeping activities, and within its region, the mission in Haiti, he said.  In that regard, he stressed the commitment of the members of the Group established in the Rio Declaration during the Rio Group Summit in November 2004.  In order to reach a complete solution to the crisis in Haiti, it was important to create a solid base in which the Haitian society would build efficient and democratic institutions, achieve economic development and social justice.

Regarding the Capital Master Plan, he said that the Group was concerned over the shortage of time assigned to that issue.  The Group expected to receive an updated report on the issue and be informed in detail on the evolution of the negotiations.  He invited all delegations to constructively engage in negotiations for the Committee to conclude its work in a timely manner.

The Committee then approved its programme of work for the coming month, on the understanding that adjustments would be made, as necessary, during the course of the resumed session.

* *** *