As United Nations Peacekeeping Portfolio Continues to Grow, Speakers in Fifth Committee Welcome Efforts to ‘Do More with Less’

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Sixty-fifth General Assembly
Fifth Committee
33rd Meeting (AM)

Support Voiced for Global Field Support Strategy, Reviews of Long-Vacant Posts, Troop Cost Reimbursement Rates to Sustain Ability to Train, Maintain Peacekeepers

Speakers lauded last year’s launch of the global field support strategy and called for its further implementation as the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning considered cross-cutting administrative and budgetary aspects of financing United Nations peacekeeping operations.

The Republic of Korea’s representative, noting that many Member States had been tightening their belts recently, welcomed efforts to “do more with less” in peacekeeping and supported consecutive implementation of the strategy’s four pillars — financing, predefined modules and service packages, service centres and human resources — to ensure cost efficiency and transparency in management. He said the standardized funding model, proposed as part of the strategy, was fundamental for expediting the budget process for the first year of peacekeeping operations.

China’s representative expressed hope that the strategy’s implementation would, among other things, help achieve accountability, reinforce financial management, ensure effective use of peacekeeping resources and strengthen training for peacekeepers. He called for timely information about its impact, including an account of expenses, achievements and baselines.

The strategy was leading in the right direction, said Switzerland’s representative, who also spoke on behalf of Liechtenstein. Upcoming discussions would be an opportunity to learn more about the creation of the governance structure, the lessons learned in setting up the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, and the mapping exercise carried out in relation to both the Regional and Global Service Centres.

A number of troop-contributing countries expressed worries that troop cost reimbursement rates had not been reviewed since 1992 and had not increased since 2002, seriously thwarting their ability to train and maintain troops in peacekeeping operations. They urged expediting reimbursements to troop-contributing countries that had additional burdens, owing to overdue payments by Member States of their assessments. They also sought approval by the General Assembly of an ad hoc increase during the current session, as well as the setting up of an automatic periodic mechanism for the level of compensation for death and disability to adjust for inflation and cost-of-living changes.

Peacekeeping illustrated how the United Nations could help Member States save money while achieving the common objective of global peace and security through its comparatively efficient, cost-effective missions, suggested the representatives of Pakistan and Bangladesh. The latter pointed to studies showing an 87.5 per cent success rate for United Nations-led peacekeeping missions versus a 50 per cent rate for more deep-pocketed peace operations. He noted the proposed 3 per cent budget cut for United Nations missions amid the significant operational challenges facing some of them, and cautioned against slashing budget levels to the point where peacekeeping support services were jeopardized.

While noting the call for an ad hoc increase in reimbursement rates, Hungary’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she was not convinced that a sufficient evidence-based case had been made that suggested that the Committee should diverge from the process agreed in 2009 by the Assembly and begun under resolution 63/285 concerning recruitment and staffing.

Some speakers commented on the proposed budget level for peacekeeping for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012, which was estimated at $7.6 billion, nearly the same amount as the previous period. Japan’s representative said there was no room for complacency given the difficult global financial climate. Noting that the proposed 2011/12 budget had efficiency gains of only $24 million and that 239 international staff posts in peacekeeping had remained vacant for more than a year, he said greater efficiency and a review of long-vacant posts could render more savings without hindering implementation of peacekeeping mandates.

Other speakers expressed concern over continued sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers, as revealed in the Secretary-General’s report on that subject. Canada’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand (CANZ), said that despite the overall drop in reported cases, the increase in egregious cases, particularly those involving minors, was unacceptable. He pledged to continue pursuing “robust outcomes” in the context of the cross-cutting resolution to enforce the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation. Costa Rica’s representative called for disciplinary measures, including dismissal for proven transgressions, and criticized the insufficient information available to Member States on investigations and their results.

Also today, the Committee heard the introduction of the Secretary-General’s report on the overview of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations and his note on the proposed budgetary levels for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 by Jun Yamazaki, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller of the United Nations.

Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, introduced the reports on the global field support strategy, air operations and training in peacekeeping. Ruth de Miranda, Chief of the Human Resources Policy Service of the Office of Human Resources Management, introduced the report on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.

Collen Kelapile, Chair, Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced the ACABQ report on cross-cutting issues related to United Nations peacekeeping operations. Carman Lapointe, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), introduced the OIOS report on activities related to peacekeeping operations during the 12-month period ending 31 December 2010.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Argentina (on behalf of the “Group of 77” and developing countries), Senegal and the Russian Federation.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., on Thursday, 5 May, to continue its work.