Peacekeeping Support Account Should Be Guided by Mission Mandates, Size, Delegates Say, as Fifth Committee Reviews Budget Performance, Proposals for Five Operations
The support account for peacekeeping missions should correspond with the number and mandates of such operations in the field, speakers told the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budget) today as it considered the Secretary-General’s proposed budget for the account during the upcoming 2022/23 fiscal cycle as well as financing for five peacekeeping missions in Africa.
The representative of Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that having the support account level correlate with the many variables of missions — such as their size, complexity and given mandates — will provide seamless backstopping support. That support must be part of mission closures and downsizing to ensure completion and transition planning activities are carried out smoothly, he said, stressing that the resource requirements must reflect the missions’ specific needs.
The Secretary-General proposed $331.1 million for the 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023 budget for the peacekeeping operations support account, a 4.9 per cent increase over the previous budget cycle, according to Maria Costa, Director of the Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance’s Finance Division, who introduced the Secretary General’s reports on the financing of the support account on behalf of the United Nations Controller.
She said the scalability review has again confirmed that resource requirements under the support account are not linked solely to the number of operations or personnel deployed, but that the increased complexity of missions and mandates also play a part. The core budget proposal of $333.1 million, an increase of $15.4 million, stems primarily from salary rate changes, caused by inflation, and the proposed regularization of 18 posts, through transfer from the cost recovery mechanism, which are currently charged to the budgets of peacekeeping operations.
Juliana Gaspar Ruas, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced that body’s corresponding report, saying that ACABQ remains concerned about the continued increase in the support account budget even as missions close and there are reductions in military and civilian personnel. The Assembly should ask the Secretary-General to review and update previous studies, based on a workload analysis, and consider the results when preparing the next proposed support account budget, she said. The aim would be to better demonstrate scalability and reflect efficiency gains.
Ms. Costa also introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the budget performance of five peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021, and their respective budgets for the 2022/2023 cycle. The missions include the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA); the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA); the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO); and the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS). Ms. Gaspar Ruas presented the Advisory Committee’s related reports.
Also today, Fatoumata Ndiaye, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced the Office of Internal Oversight Services’ (OIOS) report on the Office’s outcome evaluation of MINUSMA’s contribution to the rule of law and the fight against impunity in Mali. The report covered the period between 2017 and 2020. Pointing to OIOS’ eight important recommendations, she said the development of a joint country-wide strategy on the restoration and extension of State authorities is overarching and requires a whole-of-mission approach to enable implementation of the recommendations.
The representative of Mali, aligning himself with the statement made by Cameroon’s delegate on 3 May on behalf of the African Group, reaffirmed commitment to the “mission-by-mission” approach. Noting the proposed $90.5 million increase in the MINUSMA budget, he highlighted the difficult and complex conditions of the stabilization process in Mali and paid tribute to all victims. Underscoring the collective responsibility to allocate necessary resources, he stressed that the Government is focusing on protecting civilians and emphasized MINUSMA’s role in supporting these efforts, in line with Security Council resolution 2584 (2021).
The Fifth Committee will reconvene at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 10 May, to hear a briefing on the revised concept of strategic deployment stocks maintained at the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy.
Support Account for Peacekeeping Operations
MARIA COSTA, Director, Finance Division, Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, speaking on behalf of the United Nations Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the budget performance of the support account for peacekeeping operations from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 (document A/76/596) and the proposed budget for the support account for the period from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023 (document A/76/725). On the 2020/21 budget performance, she said the budget implementation rate was 99.9 per cent of the approved $355.7 million. Departments and offices at Headquarters provided continued backstopping support to client missions in the field, using measures established in the previous period, despite COVID-19-related challenges. She noted an over-expenditure under staff costs, due to the inflation-related adjustments to staff salaries and the rotations of seconded military personnel. Overall increased requirements under post resources were offset by lower expenditures in non-post resources, mainly owing to pandemic-related travel restrictions. Under corporate costs, additional expenditures were incurred for Umoja maintenance and support, offset partially by lower expenditures under peacekeeping capability readiness.
Turning to the budget proposal for the 2022/23 period, she said the scalability review has again confirmed that resource requirements under the support account are not linked solely to the number of missions or personnel deployed, but also to the increased complexity of missions and mandates. During the pandemic, the Secretariat continued to deliver its mandates while maintaining personnel safety. Noting that the pandemic increased the Organization’s dependence on the global information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure that enabled remote working, she said the proposal considers the need to strengthen core digital technology capacities to increase the Organization’s resilience and effectiveness and contribute to the Secretary-General’s Data and New Technologies Strategies. The core budget proposal of $333.1 million is an increase of $15.4 million, primarily due to salary rate changes, caused by inflation, and the proposed regularization of 18 posts through transfer from the cost recovery mechanism, which are currently charged to the budgets of peacekeeping operations.
Greater staff costs represent an increase of $9.4 million, which does not reflect the additional increase in rates set by the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) in February 2022, which is expected to add $2.0 million not included in the present proposal, she said. There is an increase of $1.8 million under corporate costs, estimated at $40.5 million, mainly due to an uptick in the peacekeeping operations’ share of the enterprise resource planning solution, based on the level approved in the General Assembly’s main session. She noted that the budget proposal for the support account reflects an increase in resources for continuing functions. Changes stem primarily from adjustments in technical parameters, impacted by the global inflation affecting all locations where support account staff are located; the cost-neutral regularization of 18 posts through transfer from peacekeeping operations’ budgets; the triennial Working Group on Contingent-Owned Equipment; and an increase in the peacekeeping share of global costs.
JULIANA GASPAR RUAS, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced that body’s corresponding report (document A/76/808). Noting that the Secretary-General’s budget proposal for 2022/23 totals $373.6 million — including requirements for corporate initiatives in the amount of $40.54 million — she said that represents an increase of $17.18 million, or 4.8 per cent, compared with the approved resources for 2021/22. Outlining the report’s recommendations, she said ACABQ remains concerned about the continued increase in the support account budget despite mission closures and reductions in military and civilian personnel. It recommends that the Assembly request the Secretary-General to review and update previous studies based on a workload analysis, within existing resources, with a view to considering the results in the context of the next proposed support account budget to better demonstrate scalability and reflect efficiency gains. As information on Umoja-related costs continues to be piecemeal and inconsistent, the Assembly should ask the Secretary-General to provide, in his next report on Umoja, an overview of all post and non-post resources, across all funding sources, related to the Umoja project, as well as more detailed information and justifications for the positions for supply chain management initiative support.
On the use of general temporary assistance, ACABQ noted the inconsistency in proposing conversions of such positions and pointed to the pending study on standards related to those positions, she said. It recommended that the Assembly ask the Secretary-General to submit policy proposals to guide the creation, extension or conversion of general temporary assistance positions. It also reiterated its recommendation that the Secretary-General develop a more refined methodology for an efficient use of such assistance for sick and maternity leave replacement, as well as support during peak workload periods, that would provide guidelines for the planning and use of such resources. ACABQ also recommended the approval of the establishment of three posts, the transfer of 16 general temporary assistance positions to the Umoja implementation support project as positions and the discontinuation of two additional assistance positions. On the proposals to convert 15 general assistance positions to posts, ACABQ recommended the approval of 5 proposed conversions, with the remaining 10 to remain as general temporary assistance positions. Under non-post resources, it recommended reducing the Secretary-General proposed 2022/23 budget by $1.81 million.
MUHAMMAD JAWAD AJMAL (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, reiterated that the support account’s level should be commensurate with the different variables, including the given mandate, number, size and complexity of peacekeeping operations in the field, in order to continue to provide seamless backstopping support for peacekeeping operations. The Group notes that financial resources required for core activities of the support account for the period 2022/23 are estimated at $333.1 million, a 4.9 per cent increase over the 2021/22 approved budget, he said.
The Group also notes that for the 2022/23 period, the number of authorized uniformed personnel, including African Union personnel, is expected to decline, owing mainly to the closure of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). He stressed that the closure and downsizing of missions must include backstopping support to provide for completion and transition planning activities, and resource requirements must reflect the specific needs of these missions. The Group highlights that only activities and initiatives fully considered and approved by the Assembly should be budgeted for, and their resource requirements reflected in the support account after the Assembly’s approval, he said.
Financing of Peacekeeping Missions
Ms. COSTA, speaking on behalf of the United Nations Controller, then introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the budget performance of five peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 and their respective budgets for the period from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022. They include the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) (documents A/76/545 and A/76/699), the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) (documents A/76/572 and A/76/708), the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) (documents A/76/564 and A/76/721), the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) (documents A/76/529 and A/76/692) and the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) (documents A/76/552 and A/76/711).
Turning first to UNISFA in Abyeyi, she noted that the proposed 2022/23 budget amounts to $263.4 million, up 1.1 per cent compared to the 2021/22 approved budget. The increased requirements are attributable mainly to the increase in air operations costs, with two fixed-wing aircraft added to the existing fleet, and to a higher number of projects and programmatic activities in cooperation with implementing partners, she said, pointing out that they are offset, in part, by the reduced requirements under military and police personnel, due to the reduced authorized military strength.
Regarding MINUSCA in the Central African Republic, she said the proposed 2022/23 budget of $1.09 billion reflects an increase of 4.9 per cent compared to the 2021/22 budget to reflect greater requirements for military and police personnel, higher costs for civilian personnel and higher operational costs to enhance the Mission’s capacity regarding mine detection and mine clearing services.
The proposed budget of MINUSMA in Mali, she continued, of $1,262.1 million for 2022/23 is $90.5 million more than to the 2021/22 approved budget. That reflects increased requirements for military and police personnel, higher costs for contingent-owned equipment, self-sustainment and higher costs for rations. It also reflects increased requirements for civilian personnel, operational and fuel costs, the acquisition of safety and security equipment and higher costs for the operation and maintenance of various systems. The Mission will continue to work towards its overall objective of long-term peace and stability in Mali and will also support the ongoing political transition, she said.
Turning to MINURSO in Western Sahara, she noted that the increase of 8.0 per cent in the proposed 2022/23 budget of $61.0 million, compared to the approved resources for 2021/22, reflects an increase in operational requirements primarily due to the higher average prices of fuel, a proposed new contract for technical support services and an increase in requirements for civilian staff, as well as the proposed establishment of three new international posts and one United Nation Volunteer. MINURSO will continue its observation and activities to promote cessation of hostilities, provide continued support to the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, facilitate the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and provide logistical support to the observer delegation of the African Union in Laayoune when they return, she said.
Taking up UNSOS in Somalia, she said the proposed 2022/23 budget totals $526.9 million, up 1.4 per cent from the 2021/22 approved budget. The estimate reflects the increased cost of petrol, oil and lubricants as well as acquisition of specialized vehicles and higher rates for international staff salaries. These increases are partially offset by reduced requirements under military and police personnel, she pointed out, adding that notwithstanding the adjustments to be made in relation to the reconfiguration of the African Temporary Assistance Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), it is anticipated that the required logistic support would be performed during the planned period within the proposed 2022/23 budget. The changes to the mandate, planning assumptions and the budgeting framework of UNSOS for 2022/23 will be reflected in the respective performance report, she added.
Ms. GASPAR RUAS took the floor again to introduce the Advisory Committee’s related reports on the financing of the five peacekeeping missions. Regarding MINUSMA (document A/76/76/760/Add.9), the Advisory Committee notes the number of national posts which have been vacant for more than two years and encourages the mission to fill these posts quickly. It recommends that proposed resources for 2022/23 be reduced, including adjustments under operational costs, by $8.12 million, from $1.26 billion to $1.25 billion.
Turning to MINUSCA (document A/76/76/760/Add.10), she said the Advisory Committee recommends proposed resources for 2022/23 be reduced, including adjustments under operational costs, by $4.72 million, from $1.09 billion to $1.08 billion. Regarding the deployment of unmanned aircraft systems, the Advisory Committee trusts that lessons gained from the underutilization of unmanned aircraft systems will be used during upcoming commercial contract negotiations so the Board of Auditors’ recommendations on cost effectiveness can be reached.
With respect to UNSOS (document A/76/76/760/Add.12), she noted that the Secretary-General’s 2022/23 budget proposal was submitted in February 2022 before adoption of Security Council resolution 2628 (2022) on 31 March. The Secretariat’s planning assumptions do not reflect the changes requested in the Council resolution now that the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has been reconfigured into ATMIS. The Advisory Committee trusts that an update reflecting the resolution’s impact on the mandate and budget of UNSOS, including the development of an appropriate logistical support plan and the drawdown of 2,000 ATMIS uniformed personnel by December 2022, will be provided to the Assembly. ACABQ recommends that the proposed resources for 2022/23 for UNSOS be reduced, including adjustments under operational costs, by $2.24 million, from $526.93 million to nearly $524.7 million, she said.
Turning to the proposed budget for UNISFA (document A/76/76/760/Add.8), she said the Advisory Committee trusts that updated information on the Mission’s reconfiguration, along with the related expenditures, will be provided to the Assembly. Reiterating its concern about the high vacancy rates of the Mission’s police personnel and encouraging the Secretariat to renew efforts to improve the deployment rate of police personnel, she said ACABQ also recommends that the proposed resources for 2022/23 be reduced, including adjustments under operational costs, by $8.13 million, from $270.47 million to $262.35 million.
Finally, turning to MINURSO (document A/76/76/760/Add.13), she said the Advisory Committee is increasingly concerned about the continuing deterioration of the Mission’s cash position as the outstanding contributions of $57.3 million in March 2022 were higher than the appropriation of $56.5 million approved for 2021/22. For that period, the Advisory Committee agrees with the Board of Auditors’ recommendation that the administration train mission staff to record, monitor, analyse and investigate fuel consumption data. ACABQ recommends proposed resources for 2022/23 be reduced, including adjustments under operational costs, by $446,500 from $61.04 million to nearly $60.6 million, she said.
FATOUMATA NDIAYE, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), introduced the report of the OIOS outcome evaluation of the contribution of MINUSMA to the rule of law and the fight against impunity in Mali (document A/76/698) for the period between 2017 and 2020. Despite a challenging and volatile political and security environment, she said MINUSMA’s achievements during those years include support for infrastructure development, rehabilitation and equipment; support for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; the establishment of a specialized judicial unit with 12 judges, more than 50 police investigators, and additional judicial staff; and support for reforms and legislation to formal and traditional justice for the prevention of gender-based violence.
Outlining cross-cutting gaps, she noted a lack of a joint country-wide strategy for the restoration and extension of State authority, and of an agreed definition of “stabilization”. Community perception and partner experience suggested that future interventions should balance addressing security, political, developmental and peacebuilding needs to establish the rule of law in a more sustainable and holistic manner. While the prosecution and processing of serious crimes, including human rights violations and abuses, slightly improved, the overall human rights situation in the north and the centre deteriorated and impunity for such crimes persisted. In that regard, interlocutors encouraged MINUSMA to focus on enhancing the impact of its good offices, convening power and political advocacy activities.
Pointing to OIOS’ eight important recommendations, she said the development of a joint country-wide strategy on the restoration and extension of State authorities is overarching and requires a whole-of-mission approach and effort to enable the implementation of the other recommendations. Subsequent recommendations relate to supporting the integrity of the judicial system, enhancing the use of good offices to further the reform processes as well as the investigation and prosecution of serious human rights violations, conducting a critical review of capacity-building efforts, strengthening collaboration with the National Commission on Human Rights and improving communication programmes to inform the population of its legal rights and obligations, she said.
MOHAMED TRAORE (Mali), aligning himself with the statement made by Cameroon’s delegate on 3 May on behalf of the African Group, reaffirmed commitment to the “mission-by-mission” approach. Noting the proposed increase of the MINUSMA budget by $90.4 million, he highlighted the difficult and complex conditions of the stabilization process in Mali and paid tribute to all victims. Underscoring the collective responsibility to allocate necessary resources, he stressed that his Government is focusing on protecting civilians and emphasized the role of the Mission in supporting these efforts, in line with Security Council resolution 2584 (2021). The Mission’s work is essential to help break the cycle of violence by preventing predictable attacks against local populations and strengthening early warning mechanisms. Affirming his Government’s aim to reestablish its presence and authority throughout the country, he pointed to the withdrawal of certain international forces and said it is essential to increase technical, operational and financial support for the Mission in order to bridge the security gulf.
Also stressing the importance of ensuring the safety of United Nations personnel deployed in Mali, he noted that the Government is particularly committed to making decent and durable housing available for personnel. Despite successive Assembly resolutions underscoring the importance of working with local suppliers, the 10 temporary posts in the budget proposal under consideration only pertain to internationally recruited staff. The life of a peacekeeping mission often contains periods of uncertainty and doubt, he said, but “there is no anti-MINUSMA sentiment in Mali”. Instead there are simply people who are exasperated by ongoing attacks, he added, noting high levels of frustration directed also towards the Malian authorities and the municipal forces. That called for increased mobilization of resources and quick-impact projects to promote a climate of trust, he stressed.