33RD MEETING (AM)
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today sent the General Assembly three resolutions to help keep three peacekeeping missions running smoothly until the end of June by delivering $14.59 billion in additional funding for the 2022/23 fiscal year.
If adopted by the Assembly at its upcoming 31 May meeting, the resolutions would supplement the existing 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023 budgets for the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Under the terms of the Committee’s financing resolution for the peacekeeping Mission in the Abyei region, the Assembly would appropriate $8.5 million to maintain the force until the end of June. This would be in addition to the $259.66 million already appropriated for the same period by Assembly resolution 76/281.
The financing resolution for UNDOF in the Golan asks the Assembly to appropriate $1.03 million to maintain the Observer Force’s operations until June’s end. This would be in addition to the $64.54 million already appropriated for the 2022/23 period through Assembly resolution 76/289.
Finally, the Fifth Committee endorsed the Secretariat’s request for $5.05 million to maintain UNMISS in South Sudan until the current fiscal period wraps on 30 June. This is in addition to the $1.12 billion previously delivered under Assembly resolution 76/291.
The Fifth Committee approved all three resolutions without a vote.
In other business today, the Committee considered reports issued by the Secretariat and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) that laid out overall financing details for the Organization’s peacekeeping operations.
Maria Costa, Officer-in-Charge of the Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget in the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, introduced a report that detailed the budget performance for the 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022 fiscal period and the upcoming budget for 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2024. She said the proposed budget for the 2023/24 fiscal period is $6.8 billion, $359.5 million, or 5.6 per cent, higher compared to the 2022/23 approved budget.
Abdallah Bachar Bong, Chair of the ACABQ, speaking via videoconference, introduced the Advisory Committee’s related report.
The representative of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Group will carefully consider the cross-cutting budget performance and proposed budget of peacekeeping operations to ensure resources meet the mandated tasks and operational environment. The Group, he said, wants to ensure troop- and police-contributing countries, particularly from developing countries, are properly represented at the senior and policymaking levels in peacekeeping field missions and relevant new departments, he said. While these countries make “unquantifiable contributions” to United Nations peacekeeping efforts, nationals from countries from Western European and Other States make up nearly 40 per cent of the posts financed by the support account in the Department of Peace Operations and nearly 50 per cent of posts in the Department of Operational Support, he pointed out.
Ms. Costa told delegates that United Nations peacekeeping remains one of the Organization’s most important and visible conflict management and resolution instruments. “It is critical that our missions receive adequate resources to effectively discharge the mandates given to them by the Security Council,” she added. “The ultimate beneficiaries are the people of the countries where our peacekeepers serve.”
United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA)
The Fifth Committee first took up the draft resolution titled “Financing of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei” (document A/C.5/77/L.36).
MARIA COSTA, Officer-in-Charge of the Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget in the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, noted that operative paragraph 1 endorses the conclusions and recommendations of the related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). From the Secretariat’s understanding, only paragraphs 12 and 53 of that report will be endorsed by approving the draft resolution, she said.
The Committee approved “L.36” by consensus.
United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)
The Committee next turned its attention to the draft resolution titled “Financing of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force” (document A/C.5/77/L.35).
Ms. COSTA said that only paragraphs 11 and 36 of the ACABQ’s report pertaining to the Force’s financing arrangements for 2022/23 will be endorsed if the draft text is approved.
The Committee then approved “L.35” without a vote.
United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS)
The Committee also took up the draft resolution titled “Financing of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan” (document A/C.5/77/L.37).
Ms. COSTA noted that only paragraphs 11 and 48 of the Advisory Committee’s report pertaining to the Mission’s financing arrangements for 2022/23 will be endorsed by approving the draft resolution.
The Committee then approved “L.37” by consensus.
Financing of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations
Ms. COSTA introduced the Secretary-General’s report “Overview of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations: budget performance for the period from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022 and budget for the period from 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2024” (document A/77/779). The first section provides an overview of the impact and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic while Sections II-XI are structured in line with Action for Peacekeeping Plus (A4P+). Sections XII-XVI and the annexes focus on the budgetary and financial aspects of peacekeeping. The report responds to several General Assembly cross-cutting resolutions with updates and focuses on new developments in peacekeeping and policy changes with updates on methodology to support the budget proposals.
On the 2021/22 budget performance, she said the approved budget for peacekeeping operations for this period totalled $6.4 billion. The overall unencumbered balance of $51.6 million, 0.8 per cent of total expenditures, was lower than in the previous two budget periods. This variance is primarily due to under-expenditures in three missions: the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO); African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID); and the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS). Turning to the proposed budgets for the 2023/24 period, she said the $6.8 billion total is $359.5 million, or 5.6 per cent, higher compared to the 2022/23 approved budget. The principal reasons for the variances for each mission are provided in Section XIV and Annex II.
Ms. COSTA told delegates that United Nations peacekeeping remains one of the Organization’s most important and visible conflict management and resolution instruments. “It is critical that our missions receive adequate resources to effectively discharge the mandates given to them by the Security Council,” she added. “The ultimate beneficiaries are the people of the countries where our peacekeepers serve.”
ABDALLAH BACHAR BONG, Chair of the ACABQ, speaking via videoconference, introduced the Advisory Committee’s related report (document A/77/767). He welcomed the measures undertaken by the Secretary-General in response to the General Assembly’s requests in its resolution 76/274 and shared that the Advisory Committee had recently carried out a field visit where it observed the importance of host country involvement for mandate success. It is incumbent upon all to encourage such healthful cooperation, he stressed, also underscoring the importance of peacekeeper safety and security. Progress on mitigating risks to their safety and security should be reflected in the Secretary-General’s next report, he encouraged.
He then underlined the increase in proposed resources for 2023/24 and in the number of proposed civilian personnel even though the overall number of uniformed personnel has been decreasing since 2017/18 due to the closure of some missions. He said the Advisory Committee has noted the significant change in the applicable exchange rate in some missions and trusts that the most up-to-date information will be provided to the Assembly. In light of the lack of consistency in vacancy rate applications and the lack of clear justifications in many cases, efforts must ensure that proposed vacancy rates are based on actual rates as much as possible. The Advisory Committee notably expects that the Secretary-General will provide in his next overview report and budget submissions the outcome of the discussions in the working group led by the Department of Peace Operations on options to address the negative impact of significant reductions in mission subsistence allowance rates on military, police and correctional personnel recruitment.
Turning to human resources matters, he said the Advisory Committee recommended that the Assembly request the Secretary-General conduct periodic civilian staffing reviews at mission levels in a transparent and objective manner to identify efficiencies and avoid redundancy as well as overlap. The Secretary-General should also ensure that such reviews do not focus solely on the mission support component but rather expand to cover substantive staff. Moreover, limited tailored mission reviews in specific fields should be conducted more regularly during the preparation of mission budget proposals — including through assessing the need for long-vacancy posts and the possibility of repurposing them to meet new requirements. He stated that the Advisory Committee has other comments and observations on field recruitment, mobility, flexible work arrangements, gender balance and equitable geographical representation.
Concerning operational matters, the Advisory Committee recommended that missions make concrete efforts to use their air assets efficiently and effectively and develop a framework for inter-mission cooperation, including through the sharing of leased aircraft among missions within the same proximity area. For his part, the Secretary-General should ensure that the procurement process for air operations contracts is conducted in full compliance with general procurement principles. The Secretary-General should also continue to review and optimize the composition of missions’ vehicle fleets; ensure that they are fit-for-purpose; and submit a cost-benefit analysis outlining the type, quality, efficiency, maintenance cost and environmental impact of vehicle adjustments. A general review of assets’ life expectancy could identify their possible regeneration in order to update standards and efficiently use existing resources, he suggested.
Regarding environmental management and efficiency, he encouraged the Secretary-General to continue his efforts on reducing the footprint of peacekeeping operations. Since fuel consumption and prices are a main issue impacting resource requirements, updated information on fuel prices and their potential financial implications should be provided to the Assembly. In the meantime, the Secretary-General should continue to use fuel resources efficiently, consider alternative methodologies and models to refine projections and report thereon in his next overview report.
On peacekeeper safety and security, particularly as it concerns the guidance framework under development to address misinformation and disinformation, he pointed out that a more comprehensive strategic level framework — tailored to the circumstances of each mission — could be developed. Within the context of the whole-of-missions approach to monitoring, analysis and response, efforts to improve the perception of missions — including through more well-designed and impactful programmatic activities, quick impact projects and environmental initiatives — can be undertaken in close cooperation with host countries and relevant entities, he stressed.
RICHARD TUR (Cuba), speaking on behalf the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted the 5.6 per cent increase in overall requirements for the Organization’s 2023/24 peacekeeping operations, compared to the 2022/23 period. While uniformed personnel decreased as missions closed, the number of proposed civilian personnel for 2023/2024 is increasing. He said the Group will carefully consider the cross-cutting budget performance and proposed budget of peacekeeping operations to ensure that resources meet the mandated tasks and operational environment. He said the Group is concerned that the percentage of unpaid assessments has increased over the past five periods, urging all Member States to fulfil their financial obligations on time, in full and without conditions. The Group is also concerned with the high level of civilian staffing vacancies and asks the Secretary-General to ensure vacant posts are filled quickly and to review posts that have been vacant for 24 months or longer.
He then turned to the Secretary-General’s increased efforts to ensure proper representation of troop- and police-contributing countries, particularly at senior and policymaking levels, in the field missions and relevant new departments. The Group wants to know how specific programmes, initiatives and relevant aspects of senior managers’ compacts are being applied to address this historical and profound deficit, particularly for troop- and police-contributing countries of developing countries. These countries have made unquantifiable contributions to United Nations peacekeeping efforts, he said. Even though countries from the Western European and Other States Group do not provide significant numbers of uniformed personnel for these missions, their nationals make up nearly 40 per cent of the posts financed by the support account in the Department of Peace Operations. These Western countries also make up nearly 50 per cent of the posts related to the Department of Operational Support.
“If we consider only the D-1, D-2 level posts, they occupy a much higher share and it has become necessary to make arrangements for ensuring proper representation of the TPCCs [troop- and police-contributing countries],” he added. He also welcomed initiatives to improve the safety and security of peacekeepers, one of the Fifth Committee’s prime considerations. He stressed that relevant resolutions and decisions of the Security Council and Assembly, particularly Council resolution 2518 (2020), must be fully and well implemented. “We underscore the importance of avoiding casualties and we will continue to analyse and support proposals with this aim,” he added.
For information media. Not an official record.