United Nations Role in Haiti Crucial to Stability, Say Delegates in Fifth Committee, Speaking out against Proposed Financial Cuts

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Sixty-eighth General Assembly
Fifth Committee
37th Meeting (AM)

Budget Proposals for Other Peacekeeping Operations also Discussed

Delegates expressed alarm today that proposed cuts to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti would thwart that struggling Caribbean nation’s gains towards stability and development, as the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Financial) examined the budgets for the previous and current cycles of that mission and three other peacekeeping operations.

Costa Rica’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) played a crucial role there and must have the requisite resources to help Haitian authorities bolster security, institute democratic governance and the rule of law, and combat cholera.

“MINUSTAH’s budget, like those of other peacekeeping missions, should be based on the situation on the ground and the mandate approved by the Security Council, and not by artificial budgetary ceilings,” she said, voicing concern over the Secretary-General’s proposal to revise the Mission’s budget downward by $64.58 million, or 11.2 per cent, in 2014/15.

Echoing that view, Brazil’s representative stressed the need for MINUSTAH law enforcement support in remote areas and said the Mission should be phased out responsibly. He strongly opposed efficiency measures at the expense of the safety and security of Mission staff and would seek further clarification on existing arrangements to handle medical evacuation cases.

Similarly, Guatemala’s representative disapproved of any unjustified reductions, particularly considering the Mission’s essential role in helping Haiti hold legislative and local elections expected later this year. Haiti’s representative warned of his Government’s financial woes and said the Mission needed a well-balanced budget to fight cholera, among other challenges.

Other speakers took issue with proposed cuts to the United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA). Ethiopia’s representative said that mission had helped thousands of Sudanese return home safely and had helped prevent large-scale inter-communal violence. He objected to the Secretary-General’s proposal to cut $898,000 from the budget for construction and equipment, saying that measure failed to fully consider that the Mission was operating in extremely difficult circumstances and with little infrastructure.

When the Committee turned its attention to the budget for the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy, Bolivia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted a lack of transparency in allocating resources to the Base and the facility in Valencia for hosting and providing Umoja support services. The Group would seek further clarification on those items during informal consultations.

María Eugenia Casar, Assistant Secretary-General and United Nations Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on 2012/13 budget performance and his proposed 2014/15 budgets for MINUSTAH, UNISFA, United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and the Logistics Base. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced that body’s related reports.

Also today the Committee examined the financial reports and audited financial statements of the Board of Auditors on peacekeeping operations for the fiscal year ending 30 June 2013. Introducing the Board’s reports, Hugh O’Farrell, Director of External Audit and Chair of the Audit Operations Committee, said progress in implementing the Global Field Support Strategy, the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) and the new enterprise resource planning system known as Umoja would improve the way peacekeeping was managed and backstopped. Ms. Casar and Mr. Ruiz Massieu introduced the corresponding reports of the Secretary-General and ACABQ, respectively.

In the discussion on those reports, the European Union’s representative, among other speakers, echoed the Advisory Committee’s call for greater clarity and details on the new peacekeeping service delivery model and how it would improve peacekeeping management.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Canada (also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), Uganda (on behalf of the African Group), Sudan, Mexico, Turkey and Cyprus.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 9 May, to consider reimbursement rates for troop-contributing countries and financing of both active and closed missions.