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Budget Committee takes up third report on restructuring of peacekeeping operations; financing proposals for support account for peacekeeping, Brindisi Logistics Base

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Sixty-fifth General Assembly
Fifth Committee
35th Meeting (AM)

Heads of Departments of Peacekeeping, Field Support Deliver Joint Remarks;
Also Takes Up Reports by Internal Oversight Services, Audit Advisory Committee

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today heard the United Nations top officials responsible for peacekeeping and the mission support needed to sustain it review the successes and difficulties of the restructuring of operations begun in 2007, and lay out the approach they developed to ensure the support account for the operations strengthened the capacity to manage them in a changing world of greater financial constraints.

Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, and Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, made joint introductory remarks to the Committee — in view of their close partnership — as they detailed the benefits and challenges brought about by the massive restructuring of the Organization’s peacekeeping operations that began more than three years ago.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s third report on the restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the creation of the Department of Field Support, Ms. Malcorra said the report highlighted challenges and gaps thus far and proposed minor adjustments to consolidate the gains achieved. She added that the sharing of the two Departments’ resources had, as envisioned, boosted coherence while producing economies of scale in areas from communications and information management to crisis response.

Yet, the challenge of backstopping Department of Political Affairs-led missions had grown. The two Department were examining how to best leverage the specialist capacities and ensure that they could fulfil their responsibility to special political missions, including the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ lead in backstopping the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Her Department was mindful of the Assembly’s repeated calls for support account funds to be used for the sole purpose of backstopping peacekeeping operations, unless the Assembly provided prior approval, she added.

Mr. Le Roy said there had been significant changes in the peacekeeping landscape over the past years. After a seven-year period of historic deployment levels, peacekeeping operations were now consolidating. Current deployment for 14 peacekeeping operations and one special political mission led by DPKO stood at about 123,000 field personnel with an annual support budget of about $7.6 billion. The Department of Field Support supported another 17 special political missions and field presences and had lead support for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and eight missions undergoing field or administrative liquidation.

Jun Yamazaki, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller, introduced four reports issued by the Secretary-General that detailed budget numbers for the support account for peacekeeping operations and the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy.

The Secretariat proposed a budget of $315.8 million for the support account for peacekeeping operations from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012. This did not include ERP requirements of $47.2 million. The budget proposed 1,356 posts, including 1,350 continuing posts. This accounted for the proposed net redeployment of 43 posts from the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, which included the abolishment of four posts and the establishment of six new posts.

Mr. Yamazaki also introduced a proposed budget of $60.5 million for the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi for the 2011/12 period. The primary factor behind the budget decline of $7.6 million, or 11.2 per cent, over the 2010/11 budget was decreased resource requirements, as budgetary requirements for tenant units were shifted to the support account for peacekeeping operations for the 2011/12 year. These tenant units include Standing Policy Capacity and others.

The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), weighed in with its related reports, which were introduced by Chairman Collen Kelapile. He said the restructuring exercise was laying a strong basis for the consolidation of budgetary gains and should lead to a more efficient management of the backstopping of peacekeeping operations.

The Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, Carman L. Lapointe, introduced two reports produced by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and noted that cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations had become increasingly important in peacekeeping operations. Yet difficulties persisted in mobilizing efforts towards a common objective, she added. The Office urged the Departments to use their resources more strategically, build on the knowledge of regional partners, and reduce structural overlap.

The representative of Argentina, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, stressed the importance of providing sufficient backstopping to all missions and said the support account’s level should broadly correspond to the mandate, number, size, and complexity of peacekeeping missions and special peacekeeping missions.

Fifth Committee Chairman Gert Rosenthal of Guatemala drew the Committee’s attention to the report of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee (IAAC) on the budget of the OIOS under the support account for peacekeeping operations for the 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 period. David M. Walker, IAAC Chairman, was not at the Fifth Committee meeting to present the report.

Also speaking today were delegates of Switzerland (on behalf of Liechtenstein) and Norway.

The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 20 May, to discuss the financing of peacekeeping operations at the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC)/United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) and United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).