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Budget Committee Takes up Financing for Missions in Cyprus, Georgia, Liberia

20 May 2009
General AssemblyGA/AB/3906
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly

Fifth Committee

46th Meeting (AM)


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today took up the proposed budgets of $56 million for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), $38.84 million for the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and $593.49 million for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

Presenting the Secretary-General’s proposals on the financing of the three missions for the period 1 July 2009 through 30 June 2010, the Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division, Catherine Vendat, said that the estimates for the maintenance of the Cyprus mission included $24.37 million from voluntary contributions from the Governments of Cyprus and Greece.  The proposed amount of about $56 million represented an increase of about 2.1 per cent compared to the approved resources for the 2008/09 financial period.  Additional requirements were related to the proposed establishment of two additional international posts and the increase in the cost of rations.

The proposed budget for UNOMIG represented an increase of 12.6 per cent, compared with the approved resources for the current financial period, she said, due to additional resources for salaries and common staff costs for international staff, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 63/250 on human resources management, offset in part by the elimination of requirements for mission subsistence allowance.  Other factors contributing to the increase included the proposed establishment of 20 new national General Service posts and 3 United Nations Volunteer positions, and revision of the national salary scales effective 1 July 2008.

She said that, compared to 2008/09, the proposed budget for the Mission in Liberia reflected a decrease of 1.7 per cent, mainly due to the phased drawdown of the Mission’s military contingents, from 10,232 to 8,693 personnel.

In connection with the three missions’ performance reports, she explained that the Assembly needed to decide on the treatment of unencumbered balances and income for the period ended 30 June 2008.

Presenting the related reports of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), its Chair, Susan McLurg, said that the Advisory Committee recommended an appropriation of about $54.67 million for the maintenance of UNFICYP in 2009/10.  In particular, the Advisory Committee had recommended against the establishment of a number of new posts as the Force was a long-standing peacekeeping mission and its scope, activity and budgetary requirements had remained relatively stable.

ACABQ had also been informed that, based on the terms of a new rations contract for the mission, the estimate for military and civilian police personnel would be reduced by $717,400.  ACABQ’s recommendation that the average fuel cost for the first three months of 2009 be used as the basis for estimating the fuel requirements for 2009/10 would result in a reduction of over $1.9 million in the proposed budget.

Turning to UNOMIG, she noted that the Mission was facing many challenges and uncertainties, including with regard to its mandate and concept of operations.  The Advisory Committee was of the view that, should the Security Council extend the mandate of UNOMIG beyond 15 June 2009, the Secretary-General should be requested to submit a revised budget proposal for 2009/10.  Pending the submission of the revised budget, the Advisory Committee recommended that the level of the budget be maintained at the appropriation of $34.5 million approved for 2008/09.  That would entail a reduction of $4.3 million in the proposed budget for UNOMIG. ACABQ stressed that its recommendation in no way prejudged the position that the Committee might take on proposed requirements for the Mission.

On UNMIL, she said that the Advisory Committee’s recommended reduction of $18.6 million in the proposed budget was related to the application of recent data on the average fuel cost.  ACABQ had also pointed out that a progressive reduction in the number of flights for rotary wing aircraft (about 40 per cent since 2007/08) had not been accompanied by a corresponding reduction in the number of such aircraft employed by the Mission.  In implementing the budget for 2009/10, measures should be taken to align the number of rotary wing aircraft more closely with the changes in the number of flight hours required.

Commenting on the financing of the Liberia Mission, the representative of Angola, speaking on behalf of the African Group, observed that it had transitioned into the drawdown phase.  It was “imperative” for the Fifth Committee to undertake a decision to provide UNMIL with the resources it needed for its operational work, and to ensure lasting peace in the country.

The African Group welcomed the Mission’s support initiatives, aimed at helping build institutional capacity and strengthening the rule of law, alongside other forms of support to the Government, she said.  She commended UNMIL for providing training to a large number of participants in a cost-effective way, and said the Group was “delighted” to note that 60 per cent of those participating in training programmes were national staff.  The Group urged full implementation of quick impact projects to fill gaps identified by the Secretary-General.  Rule of law and institution-building were two areas that were still fragile, and it was important to allocate adequate resources to implement projects envisaged in those areas.  The Group trusted the Secretariat to provide a detailed explanation of the potential impact of proposed reductions to the budget.

The representative of Brazil, aligning himself with the statement by the African Group, also stressed the need to provide UNMIL with the resources it needed, highlighting the importance of sufficient resources for quick impact projects.  Such projects provided the population with tangible benefits in the areas of health, education, food security and rule of law.

The representative of the Russian Federation advocated the need to adjust some of the language in the Secretary-General’s report in document A/63/684, specifically relating to the name of “UNOMIG” and the evaluation of the events of August 2008.  In its resolutions 1866 of 13 February 2009 and 1839 of October 2008, the Security Council had used an updated name -- “UN Mission”.  In the Secretary-General’s 19 May report on the United Nations presence in the region, a new name was proposed -- “the UN stabilization mission”.  Some of the language of the budget report also did not take into account the latest realities in the Caucasus.  Among the key priorities, it mentioned the facilitation of the implementation of the Moscow agreement of 1994.  However, it was well known that from the international law standpoint, that agreement was no longer functional, as Georgia had unilaterally withdrawn from it.  In that regard, he noted that the new report of the Secretary-General proposed updated parameters for the security regime in the region.

He added that the initial budget report on the Mission had described Georgia’s aggressive attack on South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers in August 2008 as “the war between Russia and Georgia”.  Such a description was fundamentally wrong.  In preparing budgetary documents in the future, the Secretariat should take due account of his comments.  As for the Mission’s proposed budget for 2009/10, he supported the recommendations of ACABQ, including the proposal that, pending the submission of the revised budget, the level of the budget be maintained at the level of the appropriation of $34.5 million approved for the 2008/09 financial period.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 22 May, to debate on improving the financial situation of the United Nations.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.