Fifth Committee takes up peacekeeping budget proposals for 10 additional missions for 2012/13, with a number of delegates arguing against across-the-board cuts
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
33rd Meeting (AM)
As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) scrutinized the budget proposals today for 10 peacekeeping operations for the fiscal year 2012/13, several delegates argued against across-the-board cuts and warned that reductions in Haiti, Côte d’Ivoire, South Sudan and Kosovo could jeopardize the ability of the “blue helmets” in those countries to implement their mandates.
Several Latin American countries took issue with the proposed cuts to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), particularly for its community violence reduction programme aimed at mitigating conflict in violence-ridden neighbourhoods and camps for internally displaced persons, as well as for fuel and rations.
Guatemala’s representative said that despite progress in rebuilding Haiti since its devastating 2010 earthquake, significant challenges remained, including the threat of resurgence in gang violence and organized crime in some parts of the country. Brazil’s representative agreed and said MINUSTAH’s continued strong presence was vital to overcome that menace, as well as hurdles to training and equipping Haiti’s National Police and strengthening national institutions.
Chile’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said sufficient funding was necessary to continue implementing quick impact projects, which went a long way towards improving MINUSTAH’s relationship with the local population. He encouraged the Mission to make the best use of available resources, including engineers, to continue supporting the country’s reconstruction and socioeconomic development.
Côte d’Ivoire’s representative, speaking in his national capacity, expressed concern over the proposal to shave off $59.8 million, or 9.3 per cent, of the 2012/13 budget for the United Nations mission in his country, known as UNOCI, as well as the extra $7.34 million reduction recommended by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). The new Government that had taken office in mid-March had much to do to restore security, achieve national reconciliation and spur economic development, he said. It needed the mission to support that process, as well as the upcoming municipal and regional elections. He added that ACABQ’s proposed budget cuts for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security sector reform were a negative sign.
Nigeria’s representative expressed worries that the proposed abolition of 14 posts in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) would impact its implementation. UNMISS was a vital lifeline for South Sudan, which he likened to a “newborn baby in an intensive care unit” grappling with insecurity in certain areas, continued uncertain relations with Sudan, recurring humanitarian needs and a fragile political situation. But he did praise the increased budget estimates for UNMISS for the 2012/13 period, which the Mission needed to fulfil its role of strengthening civilian protection and early warning systems, as well as to dispatching police and civilian personnel to high-risk areas.
Serbia’s representative called for an end to the process of eliminating posts in the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) through attrition, as it was not justifiable and would not bring positive results. As the status-neutral UNMIK was the only acceptable framework in which players in the region could work together to improve the lives of ordinary people in Kosovo, the Mission must be sufficiently staffed and funded.
At the outset of the meeting, María Eugenia Casar, Assistant Secretary-General and United Nations Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports related to MINUSTAH, UNOCI, UNMISS and UNMIK, as well as to the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC)/United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the United Nations Support Office for the African Union Mission in Somalia (UNSOA).
Collen Kelapile, Chair of ACABQ, introduced that body’s corresponding reports, while Carman Lapointe, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced two reports of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) that weighed in on MINUSTAH and MONUC/MONUSCO, respectively.
Also speaking today were representatives of Côte d’Ivoire (on behalf of the African Group), Canada (also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), Senegal, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Mexico, Peru and Norway.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Monday, 14 May, to discuss improving the United Nations financial situation, the support account for peacekeeping operations and the United Nations Logistics Base.