Assessed Contributions, More Support for Peacebuilding Fund Key to Meet Growing Field Needs, Speakers Say, as Fifth Committee Reviews 2022/23 Proposed Peacekeeping Budget
Delegates in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today threw their support behind the Organization’s peacekeeping activities as Secretariat officials unveiled the details of a $6.5 billion budget earmarked for 11 missions in the upcoming 2022/23 fiscal year and the need to adequately fund peacebuilding activities through the Peacebuilding Fund.
The representative of South Africa, speaking for the African Group, said peacebuilding financing that is solely dependent on voluntary contributions is inadequate, unpredictable and unsustainable. “It is time to move beyond rhetoric to urgent actionable steps to preserve peace,” he said. While broadening the Peacebuilding Fund donor base and exploring innovative financing options is important, he said that, without assessed contributions, peacebuilding financing remains a challenge. He strongly supported allocating a certain percentage of assessed contributions to peacebuilding efforts, and for providing $100 million to the Fund, as proposed by the Secretary-General.
The European Union’s delegate, speaking in his capacity as observer, stressed steadfast support for global peacebuilding and conflict‑prevention, noting that the rules-based multilateral order — with the United Nations at its core — is vital. New ways to fund United Nations peacebuilding must be explored, as voluntary contributions are insufficient against growing peacebuilding needs. Assessed contributions would offer a crucial addition to adequate and predictable financing.
Japan’s delegate also supported investment in prevention and peacebuilding and said his country has voluntarily contributed $60 million to the Peacebuilding Fund since 2006. It is steadily fulfilling its pledge of $10 million for the 2020-2024 strategy. He said adequate, predictable and sustained resources should not be pursued at the expense of the Fund’s agility and flexibility in responding to realities on the ground, but, rather, by ensuring accountability.
The representative of Switzerland, speaking also for Liechtenstein, said investing in peace is “extremely profitable” on an economic, social and environmental basis as it saves lives. “Voluntary funding should not and cannot cover existing needs,” she said, stressing that all mandated tasks should, as far as possible, be financed by assessed contributions, letting the Organization better plan its activities.
Elizabeth Spehar, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, speaking on behalf of Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, and along with Assistant Secretary-General Alexandre Zouev, speaking on behalf of Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on investing in prevention and peacebuilding. “United Nations prevention and peacebuilding activities save lives,” Ms. Spehar stated, adding: “They can also save money.” While increased investment in preventative action could save between $5 billion and $70 billion per year, prevention and peacebuilding activities remain significantly underfunded.
Juliana Gaspar Ruas, Vice‑Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced its related report on prevention and peacebuilding.
Earlier in the meeting, Chandramouli Ramanathan, United Nations Controller and Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on cross-cutting peacekeeping issues. An overview report detailed the total approved budget for peacekeeping operations during the 2020/21 period of $6.8 billion. He also laid out the details of the proposed budget for the 2022/23 period of $6.5 billion, an increase of $134.5 million, or 2.1 per cent, compared to the approved budget for the 2021/22 period. Other reports focused on the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy, and the Regional Service Centre Entebbe in Uganda. Ms. Ruas presented ACABQ’s related report.
Pakistan’s representative, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted the proposed change in nomenclature of the United Nations Logistics Base and recalled past attempts to change this nomenclature, which was not approved by the Assembly. He said the Group agrees with the Advisory Committee’s recommendation against the proposal to use the nomenclature of “United Nations Global Service Centre”. The Group also is concerned that 48 posts were vacant as of 23 March, he said, stressing the need to fill these vacancies as expeditiously as possible.
Cameroon’s representative, speaking for the African Group, said that the workload and volume of transactions carried out by the Regional Service Centre has greatly increased, which underscores the need to allocate requisite resources. Noting the high turnover of staff recruited on temporary assignments, he requested that incentives be considered to keep staff and fill vacant posts in a timely manner.
Several delegates also reminded Member States of the need to pay their assessed contributions to the United Nations on time and in full as Chandramouli Ramanathan, United Nations Controller and Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, provided an update on the Organization’s financial situation since a briefing was given last week by Catherine Pollard, Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance.
Singapore’s delegate, speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), highlighted concerns about the United Nations liquidity situation and the unpredictability of collections. Though the Organization’s regular budget was in better shape this year, compared to 2021, delayed payments in the first quarter have partially negated the positive start. “It is untenable for the Organization to continually operate in cash-conservation mode,” as this would harm its ability to deliver its mandates, she said, adding that several activities and outputs had to be postponed or cancelled.
Mr. Ramanathan also presented the Secretary-General’s report on the programme budget implications of a draft decision regarding an intergovernmental conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The convention concerns the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. Ms. Gaspar Ruas introduced the Advisory Committee’s related report.
In other business, the Committee sent the name of Evgeny Kalugin, of the Russian Federation, to the Assembly to fill a vacancy in ACABQ that was created by the resignation of Pavel Chernikov, also of the Russian Federation. Mr. Kalugin’s term of office will begin on 21 August 2022 and end on 31 December 2023. After a secret ballot started at the inception of the meeting, Mr. Kalugin drew 105 votes and the other candidate for the Eastern European seat, Ihor Humennyi of Ukraine, drew 68 votes.
Also speaking today were the representatives of the United Kingdom, United States, Uganda, Brazil, China, Mexico, Morocco and the Dominican Republic.
The Fifth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 17 May, to consider reimbursement to troop- and police-contributing countries and the liquidity situation.
Improving the Financial Situation of the United Nations
CHANDRAMOULI RAMANATHAN, United Nations Controller and Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, updated the Fifth Committee on the developments surrounding the Organization’s financial situation since a briefing was given last week by Catherine Pollard, Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, and presented in the Secretary-General’s report titled “Financial situation of the United Nations” (document A/76/435/Add.1).
For the regular budget, Albania and Saint Lucia have paid in full, bringing the total number of Member States having paid in full for the regular budget to 99, he said. Regarding peacekeeping operations, Algeria, Czech Republic and Republic of Korea have fully paid all peacekeeping assessments, which brings the total number of Member States having fully paid peacekeeping operations to 55. For the International Tribunals, Algeria, Egypt, Norway and Paraguay have paid in full, bringing the total number of fully paid Member States to 78. As a result of recent payments from Algeria, Czech Republic, Norway and Republic of Korea, these Member States are now fully paid for all categories. The Secretary-General pays special tribute to the 47 Member States that have fully paid all assessments due at the time of reporting, he said. In addition, payments have been received from Oman for the regular budget; and from Egypt, Estonia, Malta, Pakistan, Paraguay, Slovenia and Thailand for the peacekeeping budget.
MUHAMMAD JAWAD AJMAL (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Group is seriously concerned with the United Nations continuing liquidity crisis, which has no sustainable end in sight. It is quite evident that, if allowed to persist, the current situation would seriously affect the Organization’s ability to function effectively. As noted in the addendum report, the unpaid assessed contributions, as of 30 April 2022, were $154 million more than on 30 April 2021, indicating a problematic trend in payments for the regular budget. Similarly, for peacekeeping operations, the level of unpaid assessments as of 30 April 2022 was $2.8 billion, $341 million more than 30 April 2021. The Group highlights that Member States’ payment of assessed contributions is key to addressing the Organization’s current challenges, in term of its financial health. He reiterated the need for all Member States to pay in full, on time and without conditions.
FELICIA CHUA (Singapore), speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), highlighted concerns about the United Nations liquidity situation, especially the unpredictability of collections. Despite that the United Nations started this year in a better financial position for the regular budget than in 2021, delayed payments in the first quarter have partially negated the positive start. “It is untenable for the Organization to continually operate in cash-conservation mode,” as this would harm its ability to deliver its mandates, she said, adding that several activities and outputs had to be postponed or cancelled. The only way to break the cycle of liquidity challenges is for all Member States to pay their assessments in full, on time and without conditions, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. She underscored the moral obligation to ensure that adequate resources are provided to implement the mandates that “we ourselves have given to the Secretary-General”. While ASEAN’s assessed contributions continue to increase, the bloc is fully committed to fulfilling its financial obligations to the Organization, and by extension, to multilateralism, she said, urging Member States to likewise reaffirm such support.
ANTHONY STANLEY (United Kingdom) welcomed that the United Nations is on better financial footing, compared to recent years, noting that sustained improvement depends on all Member States paying assessed contributions in full and on time. Recalling that the United Kingdom is transitioning its payments to align with the United Nations’ financial years, he said that, from January 2023, it will pay its full assessed contribution to the regular budget in January and to peacekeeping budgets in August. He also announced that the United Kingdom rectified its unpaid contribution for the international tribunals with its payment today. Stressing that time and resources spent managing and mitigating the impact of liquidity shortages could be used to enhance delivery and achieve more and better results on the ground, he encouraged the Secretariat to prioritize and use its resources effectively — and where necessary, agilely — including in response to new mandates and emerging priorities and challenges, in support of delivery. The Secretary‑General has warned of the significant number of credits due to be returned to Member States in 2023, and the potentially devastating impact this could have on the Organization’s liquidity. “We have another opportunity this session to agree measures to mitigate the impact of this extraordinary situation,” he observed.
CHRISTOPHER P. LU (United States) said his country contributed $700 million in advanced payments to the current year’s peacekeeping budget and will contribute an additional $100 million to the regular budget, on top of its regular assessment, addressing the funds owed. One meaningful way to add greater liquidity to the United Nations regular budget is by increasing the Working Capital Fund. Improving liquidity in the regular budget would also allow for returning funds held in closed peacekeeping missions. Noting that the cash pooling of peacekeeping operations has substantially improved the timeliness of payments of troop-contributing countries, allowing them to be paid on time, he voiced support for continued cash pooling and said his delegation sees the merits of the practice in other contexts.
2022 Programme Budget Implications: Marine Biodiversity
Mr. RAMANATHAN presented the Secretary-General’s report (document A/C.5/76/24) on the programme budget implications of draft decision A/76/L.46 titled “Intergovernmental conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction”. He noted the request for an additional appropriation of $1.01 million under the 2022 programme budget comprising $894,700 under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management. He also cited a request for an additional appropriation of $107,400 under section 36, Staff assessment, of the programme budget for 2022. The Fifth Committee should take action on a priority basis to allow early adoption of its recommendation by the General Assembly, he said — ideally by the end of May or early June at the latest. This would ensure that Member States have sufficient time to secure credentials and make travel arrangements, as developing States in particular will need to submit applications for assistance from the Trust Fund by 21 June.
JULIANA GASPAR RUAS, Vice‑Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced its related report (document A/76/435/40). With respect to the requirements proposed for the convening of the fifth session of the intergovernmental conference, the Advisory Committee believes the Secretariat should be able to absorb requirements related to webcasting and playback of pre-recorded videos within the resources approved for the programme budget for 2022. It recommends reductions of $8,100 and $2,800, respectively, to the Secretariat’s proposal, she said. If the Assembly adopts the draft decision, an additional appropriation totalling $1 million, net of staff assessment, would require the Assembly’s approval under the 2022 programme budget.
Mr. AJMAL (Pakistan), speaking for the Group of 77, recognized the need for protecting the oceans for the benefit of future generations, making their sustainable use a shared responsibility. Stressing that access to marine resources should be done in a fair and equitable manner, he said the Group looks forward to the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Conference in August. He called for adequate allocation of resources for support services for that meeting and underscored the importance of having sufficient resources for the participation of experts from their respective capitals. The Group is committed to working with all delegations on this important agenda item and he signalled its readiness to engage — with a spirit of flexibility — to achieve consensus and conclude the item in a timely manner, he said.
Administrative and Budgetary Aspects of Financing Peacekeeping Operations
Mr. RAMANATHAN, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports regarding the administrative and budgetary aspects of financing the United Nations. They include: “Overview report on the financing of peacekeeping operations: budget performance for the period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 and budget for the period from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023” (document A/76/717); “Budget performance of the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy, for the period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021” (document A/76/566); “Budget for the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy ,for the period from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023” (document A/76/730); and “Budget performance of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, for the period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 (document A/76/548) and “Budget for the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, for the period from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023” (document A/76/685). The reports provide consolidated information on the budgetary performance for the 2020/21 period and the budget proposals for the 2022/23 period and also reflect actions taken to implement the provisions in relevant resolutions regarding related cross-cutting issues in peacekeeping operations, he said.
Regarding the overview report, the total approved budget for peacekeeping operations for the 2020/21 period amounted to $6.8 billion, he said. The overall unencumbered balance of $211.7 million, 3.2 per cent of the total expenditures, was higher than in the prior four budget periods. Regarding the proposed budgets for the 2022/23 period, the estimates are now $6.5 billion, an increase of $134.5 million, or 2.1 per cent, compared to the approved budget for the 2021/22 period. This excludes the authority to enter into commitments with respect to the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) for the 2021/22 period in the amount of $67.5 million, approved by ACABQ on 23 March 2022.
The increase stems primarily from three budget proposals: $90.5 million for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); $50.5 million for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA); and $30.4 million for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). This is partially offset by the decreased requirements of $78.9 million resulting from the closure of United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
Turning to the proposed budget for the United Nations Logistics Base, he said the proposal of $66.3 million for the Base’s maintenance is up 1 per cent, or $0.6 million, compared to approved resources of $65.7 million for the 2021/22 period. The budget proposal reflects an increase in operational requirements of $0.9 million, primarily due to an $0.8 million increase in requirements for communications and information technology to replace obsolete equipment classified as high risk or very high risk, and new contracts for high performance data storage and backup. The increase is offset in part by reduced requirements for civilian personnel, $0.3 million, due to the appreciation of the United States dollar against the euro. This impacts national staff salary rates and international staff post adjustment.
Regarding the proposed budget of $43.2 million for the maintenance of the United Nations Regional Service Centre in Entebbe for the 2022/23 period, he said it represents an increase of $2.9 million, compared to the 2021/22 approved budget. The increase primarily results from additional requirements under civilian personnel of $3.3 million, or 10 per cent, mainly owing to the proposed reduction of vacancy rates and updated salary rates for international staff; the application of a higher step for national professional officers; and an increase for common staff costs for international and national staff.
Ms. RUAS, introduced the Advisory Committee’s related report on the cross‑cutting issues related to peacekeeping operations (document A/76/760). She noted that the Secretary-General’s report on the financing of peacekeeping operations cited expenditures of $6.6 billion for the budget performance for the period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021, in support of 11 active peacekeeping missions, the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), the United Nations Logistics Base, the United Nations Regional Service Centre Entebbe and the support account, against the total approved resources of $6.8 billion, exclusive of budgeted voluntary contributions, resulting in an overall unencumbered balance of $211.7 million. This reflects an overall budget implementation rate of 96.9 per cent, as compared to a rate of 98.5 per cent for the preceding 2019/20 period.
As of 31 March, troop- and police-contributing countries were owed $552.1 million for both contingent-owned equipment and personnel reimbursement, she noted, while Member States’ outstanding contributions to each mission as of 31 March totaled $2.6 billion. She noted that the numbers of uniformed and civilian personnel have progressively decreased since 2016-2017, mainly due to closure of some missions. The Advisory Committee recommended that the Assembly request the Secretary-General to present detailed information on the data and the methodology for calculating and applying the rates of mission subsistence allowance, along with the financial implications. With a view to reduce travel costs, ACABQ reiterated that where possible, advanced technology and remote training tools should be fully utilized, and trips should be combined or undertaken with fewer travelers.
She noted that the peacekeeping support account ratio has risen steadily, from 4.21 in 2016/17 to a projected 5.52 in 2022/23, with the field support ratio rising from 5.82 in 2016/17 to a projected 7.34 in 2022/23 period — adding that the Secretary-General’s report does not contain adequate justifications for this continual increase in resource requirements. Future budget proposals should demonstrate the scalability of mission support components and their structures regarding the United Nations Logistics Base and the United Nations Regional Service Centre Entebbe.
On human resource matters, she called for more efforts to address the gender imbalance in the staffing of peacekeeping missions, particularly at the more senior levels, and the importance of equitable geographical distribution in the recruitment of staff. She also noted that there has been little progress made in the nationalization of posts. The proposed resource requirements relating to mine action activities total $143.9 million for 10 missions, compared with the $142.6 million approved for 2021/22. Noting the Advisory Committee’s concern about the management of mine action activities in missions, she looked forward to the findings of the independent review of the cost-effectiveness and efficient implementation of mine action in peacekeeping operations. With respect to inter‑mission cooperation, she noted the continued lack of clear and transparent reporting on the areas of cooperation and the respective financing arrangements. She reiterated the recommendation that the Assembly ask the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to mitigate the risks to the safety and security of all personnel in peacekeeping operations and update on this in his next overview report.
She then introduced the Advisory Committee’s reports on the United Nations Logistics Base budget performance for 2020/21, and proposed 2022/23 budget, as well as the revised Strategic Deployment Stocks concept, annexed to the budget for the Logistics Base (documents A/76/760/Add.5 and A/76/760/Add.14)
Turning to the Logistics Base, she said the Assembly appropriated $62.05 million for 2020/2021 through resolution 74/282 and decision 74/571, with expenditure of $62.05 million for a budget implementation rate of almost 100 per cent. The Secretary-General’s proposal for 2022/23 amounts to $66.31 million, comprising $45.04 million under civilian personnel and $21.27 million under operational costs, an increase of 1 per cent — or $624,100 — compared to 2021/22. ACABQ recommends against the proposal that the nomenclature “the United Nations Global Service Centre” be used to commonly refer to both centres in Brindisi and Valencia, she said, adding that the nomenclature endorsed by the Assembly in resolution 71/294 remains valid.
Turning to civilian personnel, she said ACABQ recommends against the proposed establishment of a Logistics Officer (at the P-4 level); the proposed upward reclassifications of a Logistics Officer (to the P-4 level), a Logistics Assistant (at the G-6 level) and a Human Resources Assistant (at the G-6 level); and the proposed conversion of a general temporary assistance position of Environmental Officer (at the P-3 level) into a post. It also recommends against nine redeployments (one P-3 and eight national General Service). Regarding tenant units, it recommends that the Assembly request the Secretary-General to provide an assessment of the services offered by the Standing Police Capacity and the Justice and Corrections Standing Capacity in the next report on the Logistics Base.
Regarding the scalability model, she said the Advisory Committee notes efforts to refine the current model and trusts that updated information will be included in the next report. It recommends that the proposed resources for 2022/23 be reduced, including adjustments under operational costs, by $360,200 from $66.32 million to $65.96 million. Turning to the reports on the Strategic Deployment Stocks and the Revised Strategic Deployment Stocks concept, annexed to the Logistics Base budget, she said additional data and analysis are needed to assess the impact and how the proposed changes would be implemented.
Finally, she introduced the ACABQ report on the budget performance for the 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 period, and proposed budget for 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023 of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda (document A/76/760/Add.6)
She said that, for 2020/21, the Assembly by resolution 74/281 and decision 74/571 appropriated $37.16 million, with expenditure of $36.3 million for a budget implementation rate of approximately 98 per cent. The Secretary-General’s proposal for 2022/23 amounts to $43.2 million and comprises $36.34 million under civilian personnel and $6.84 million under operational costs, representing an increase of 7.2 per cent — or $2.91 million — compared to 2021/22.
She said the Advisory Committee recommends the approval of the Secretary‑General’s proposals for civilian personnel. Regarding operational costs, it recommends reductions under consultants and consulting services, official travel, and facilities and infrastructure. Acknowledging the benefits of the Regional Service Centre’s scalability model in identifying the level of resource requirements to perform transactional functions, she said ACABQ looks forward to updates on measures taken to reduce or eliminate the need for a weighted approach and considers that the model can be refined and stabilized, taking into account its comments in the present report. She recommended that the Assembly request the Secretary-General to present in the 2023/24 budget proposal a full cost-benefit analysis for the move of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) air services from Entebbe to Goma. Also, as the downsizing and possible closure of MONUSCO would impact the Regional Service Centre, there is a need to present an overview of the estimated related operational and financial implications, including regarding the repercussions on the Centre as a tenant of the MONUSCO Entebbe Support Base.
Mr. AJMAL (Pakistan), speaking again for the Group of 77 and China, noted the proposed change in nomenclature of the United Nations Logistics Base and recalled past attempts to change this nomenclature, which was not approved by the Assembly. Noting that the core function of the Base remains logistics support and information and communications technology (ICT) services to United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said the Group agrees with the Advisory Committee’s recommendation against the proposal to use the nomenclature of “United Nations Global Service Centre”. He referred to the same report which states “the proposed change in nomenclature has a broader implication on the work of the Organization, including in relation to the concept of a global service delivery model”.
Turning to the Regional Service Centre Entebbe in Uganda, the Group appreciates the Centre’s critical work in supporting seven peacekeeping missions and nine special political missions, as well as other missions in the region, including residual liquidation functions for closing missions and the closed peacekeeping missions, he said. The Group notes that the Centre provides support to more than 77 per cent of the United Nations field operations globally and serves more than 16,400 personnel, including international and national staff, as well as uniformed personnel. As the Centre’s workload and volume of transactions has increased significantly, adequate resources, commensurate with this increasing workload and responsibility, must be provided so it can fulfil its mandate successfully, he said. The Group is concerned that 48 posts were vacant as of 23 March, he said, stressing the need for filling these vacancies as expeditiously as possible.
FELIX-FILS EBOA EBONGUE (Cameroon), speaking for the African Group, said that, since its establishment the workload and volume of transactions carried out by the Regional Service Centre has greatly increased, which underscores the need to allocate requisite resources. Aligning with the Group of 77 and China, he said the African Group would continue to support the full allocation of resources to the Centre. On a related matter, he noted the high turnover of staff, due in part to staff being recruited on temporary assignments. As this practice is expected to continue in the budget period, he requested that incentives be considered to keep staff and fill vacant posts in a timely manner. Noting that the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to make use of the Centre in Entebbe for procurement in the field, he said it should be fully used to increase local procurement. He also noted the complementarity between the Centre and the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi, calling for increased synergies between the two entities.
PHILIP ODIDA (Uganda), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe plays an important role in enabling the work of the United Nations, especially on the African continent. Uganda has given unwavering support to the continued operations of United Nations activities at the Centre in Entebbe and peacekeeping operations in the region. In the current budget period, the Centre will support 17 client entities, including 8 peacekeeping missions and 9 special political missions, as well as other missions in the region by providing human resources, finance, communications and information technology, transportation and movement control services. The Centre must receive adequate resources commensurate with its increasing workload and responsibility, he said. Concerned that 48 posts were vacant as of 23 March, he appealed to the Secretary-General to ensure they are quickly filled so the Centre can carry out its functions.
Investing in Prevention and Peacebuilding
ELIZABETH SPEHAR, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, speaking on behalf of Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, and along with Assistant Secretary-General Alexandre Zouev, speaking on behalf of Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on investing in prevention and peacebuilding (document A/76/732). “United Nations prevention and peacebuilding activities save lives,” she stated, adding: “They can also save money.” While increased investment in preventative action could save between $5 billion and $70 billion per year, she stressed that prevention and peacebuilding activities remain significantly underfunded. The Peacebuilding Fund plays a unique role as the only instrument dedicated to financing coherent United Nations system-wide peacebuilding action, supporting national priorities worked out between Governments and United Nations leadership on the ground.
The Fund is supporting work to address farmer-herder conflicts in southern Chad and in border regions of Burkina Faso, as well as engaging with women’s groups and police in South Sudan to enhance security and reduce gender-based violence. However, she noted the Fund relies on voluntary contributions and therefore lacks the predictability or scale to achieve its potential and meet growing demand. In 2015, the Advisory Group of Experts on the peacebuilding architecture review recommended the Fund be financed in part through assessed contributions — echoed by the Secretary-General, who called for a “quantum leap in financing”. The report presents modalities for the Assembly to provide $100 million in assessed contributions on an annual basis, through a dedicated assessment separate from either the programme or peacekeeping budgets.
She noted additional reports on the activities and finances of the Fund would be made available to the Fifth Committee, and the appropriation would be considered for approval on an annual basis by the Assembly. If the Assembly were to approve the provision of $100 million in assessed contributions, she noted that voluntary contributions would nonetheless continue to be the Fund’s primary source of funding — but assessed contributions would place it in a more sustainable position. “There has never been a more important time to invest in prevention and sustaining peace,” she stressed.
ALEXANDRE ZOUEV, noting that the Peacebuilding Fund works in partnership with peace operations in various countries, complementing and supporting efforts of peacekeeping missions, said it often supports strategic cross-border initiatives that may not be covered by mission mandates, but help to support mandate implementation. He cited efforts at the Mali-Niger border, where funding helped reduce local land conflicts in communities by integrating environmental protection into the work of local land commissions and strengthening local capacities for environmental protection and conflict resolution.
The Fund also plays a role in supporting the transition of peace operations, safeguarding and building upon hard-won achievements. He noted that, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, investments focus on the provinces from which MONUSCO is withdrawing — Kasai and Tanganyika — while transition projects also build momentum for national peacebuilding strategies. Citing the “financial cliff” that often emerges following the departure of a peace operation, he stressed that a strengthened Fund can be especially valuable in those cases. With an additional channel of assessed funding in place for peacebuilding, the United Nations will be better positioned to reduce the likelihood of conflict, saving lives and livelihoods — a prudent investment to avoid costlier crisis response efforts in the future, he said.
Ms. RUAS then introduced ACABQ’s corresponding report (document A/76/821), stressing the critical contribution of the Peacebuilding Fund for countries emerging from violent conflict or at risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict — particularly following the closure of United Nations peace operations. She noted that any change to the funding modality, including the proposed introduction of assessed contributions, constitutes a policy decision outside the Advisory Committee’s purview. The Secretary-General should provide more clarity on the proposed level of funding through assessed contributions and the proposed scales of assessment. On voluntary contributions, she said greater fundraising efforts should be pursued, including with the private sector, and the Secretary-General should also provide clarity on the impact of assessed funding on the mobilization of voluntary funding. The appropriate oversight by Member States in managing and utilizing assessed contributions is indispensable, she added.
She noted that the management of assessed contributions in an unearmarked pool of resources — where assessed and voluntary funds would be commingled — raises concerns on the possibility of effective oversight by the Assembly. She called for further clarity on how accountability for that management would be ensured, including their administration under United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Financial Regulations and Rules. She further noted ACABQ would not have access to the most recent consolidated annual financial report on the Fund during its consideration of the Secretary-General’s yearly request for assessed contributions. More information and clarification are also required on fund management fees, planned activities of the Fund including on prevention, and additional resources aimed at addressing socioeconomic needs.
AXEL VON SCHWERIN of the European Union delegation, in its capacity as observer, underscored steadfast support for global peacebuilding and conflict prevention, noting that the rules-based multilateral order — with the United Nations at its core — is vital in this regard. New ways to fund United Nations peacebuilding must be explored, as voluntary contributions have shown to be insufficient against the growing peacebuilding needs. Assessed contributions would offer a crucial addition to adequate and predictable financing. His delegation is encouraged by the cross-regional statement delivered by Osama Abdelkhalek (Egypt) and cosponsored by 108 Member States, including all those within the European Union, he said, underscoring the bloc’s readiness to engage on the basis of the Secretary‑General’s proposal and to consider all options available, including voluntary, assessed and innovative financing.
IRINA FEISTHAUER SILVEIRA (Brazil), also speaking on behalf of Argentina, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru, said though it is the Assembly’s responsibility and prerogative, through its Fifth Committee, to oversee and authorize the use of assessed contributions, the Group is mindful of the use of resources and reiterates the importance of avoiding overlapping discussions. The subjects included in the Secretary-General’ report on investing, prevention and peacebuilding, and the related ACABQ document are being discussed simultaneously by the Assembly in a broader way. This situation is neither desirable, for there’s a risk of different outcomes about the same matter, nor is it in line with the best financial practices. She underscored the State-driven character of the United Nations, for which the intergovernmental approval of the mandates financed by Member States is essential. Mandates should determine the level of resources, and not the other way around.
Member States needs to be mindful of accountability and oversight, she said. Unlike the traditional United Nations practice related to assessed contributions, if the proposal before the Fifth Committee is approved, Member States would be financing activities that were not previously planned and budgeted accordingly. There would be no prior scrutiny by ACABQ, nor would there be Assembly approval of the budget, as is the current practice. The Fifth Committee’s consensual decision-making is essential and it can only properly fulfil its purpose if all phases are duly complied with, she stressed, also expressing concern about the proposal of combining both scales of the regular budget and peacekeeping. Noting that the activities performed by the Peacebuilding Fund are of a “peace and security” nature, she said the Group looks forward to better understand the rationale behind the proposed combination of scales. It also notes that differently from other assessed contributions, the use of these resources would not be regulated by the Organization’s Financial Regulations and Rules.
Ms. DANESE (Switzerland), speaking also for Liechtenstein, said investing in peace is “extremely profitable” economically, socially and environmentally, but also because it results in saved lives. The Peacebuilding Fund has proven to be an effective instrument to rapidly respond to conflict in an integrated manner. It must have sufficient predictable and sustainable funding, however, current contributions are insufficient to achieve its objectives. “Voluntary funding should not and cannot cover existing needs,” she said, stressing that all mandated tasks should, as far as possible, be financed by assessed contributions, allowing the Organization to better plan its activities. She expressed support for the Secretary-General’s proposal to allocate $100 million in assessed contributions to the Fund.
MASOTSHA MNGUNI (South Africa), speaking for the African Group, said that the broad support among Member States for prioritizing peacebuilding as a proven and cost-effective investment has yet to translate into action. Peacebuilding financing that is solely dependent on voluntary contributions is inadequate, unpredictable and unsustainable, with demand outpacing available resources. “It is time to move beyond rhetoric to urgent actionable steps to preserve peace,” he said. Recalling the Assembly’s “very encouraging” high-level meeting on peacebuilding financing, he said that, guided by the Common African Position, it is imperative to pursue a comprehensive approach to enhancing the adequacy, predictability and sustainability of peacebuilding financing. While broadening the Peacebuilding Fund donor base and exploring innovative financing options is important, he said that, without assessed contributions, peacebuilding financing will remain a challenge. He expressed strong support for allocating a certain percentage of assessed contributions to peacebuilding efforts, and for allocating $100 million to the Fund, as proposed by the Secretary-General. The design of new and more sustainable funding sources for the Fund will strengthen its ability to strategically align funding, guarantee transparency and accountability, and ensure national ownership in the delivery of mandates across the United Nations system.
KIMURA TETSUYA (Japan) expressed support for the emphasis on investing in prevention and peacebuilding, as inclusive and effective institutions and empowering people are the keys to ensuring human security. Japan has voluntarily contributed $60 million to the Peacebuilding Fund since 2006 and is steadily fulfilling its pledge of $10 million for the 2020-2024 strategy. Noting that adequate, predictable and sustained resources should not be pursued at the expense of the Fund’s agility and flexibility in responding to realities on the ground, but, rather, by ensuring accountability, he said that, given the importance and diversity of those realities, the proposed allocation of assessed contributions to the Fund should be thoroughly discussed from a broad perspective, taking into account various contexts where gaps actually exist. Member States should continue to explore adequate, predictable and sustained financing for peacebuilding, he said, expressing hope that the Fifth Committee will enrich the discussion with its expertise in financial discipline and established principles in this area.
CHENG LIE (China) said that, while the peacebuilding architecture has registered progress, expectations for peacebuilding are growing. The United Nations should form innovative partnerships and broaden its financial contributor base. It also should enhance its strategic programming. Under the current circumstances, any alteration of financing modalities should not change the voluntary nature of the Peacebuilding Fund or weaken the historic responsibility of developed countries as its main contributors, as they have a moral obligation to help developing countries accelerate their development. The United Nations should clarify existing peacebuilding mandates, he said, noting that any change to the Fund’s financing modalities requires a mandate from the Security Council and the Assembly. Noting that Member States have not reached political consensus on this matter, he said many believe it is premature to discuss the proposal and that the issue goes beyond the Fifth Committee’s purview. The United Nations should develop peacebuilding budgets in compliance with rules and regulations, he said, pointing out that special political missions, peacekeeping operations, among others, also have peacebuilding mandates funded by the regular budget or peacekeeping assessments. The Fund also must avoid duplication with existing processes, he added.
JESÚS VELÁZQUEZ CASTILLO (Mexico,) associating himself with Brazil’s statement on behalf of several countries, underscored the importance of investing in peacebuilding. Drawing attention to the Secretary-General’s recommendations in the Our Common Agenda report and in his proposal, he said that, to address the Fund’s financing, Member States must propose creative and realistic solutions. He called for a frank dialogue on the proposal before the Fifth Committee, as many countries are still tackling the effects of COVID-19. Clarity on the structural aspects of the Fund is crucial in order to avoid duplicative efforts. He also advocated for exploring the rational use of existing funds and resources, noting that the character of the Peacebuilding Fund is ideal for fostering South-South and triangular cooperation, and that its flexibility must be preserved.
Mr. BOUTAQA (Morocco), associating himself with South Africa on behalf of the African Group, noted that financing needs for peacekeeping have increased and stressed that missions must be adequately supported. Partnerships and cooperation are important tools that can be leveraged to build strong peacekeeping operations. National ownership and leadership are essential, he stressed, adding that this is at the heart of peacebuilding. He called on the Organization and Member States to exhibit innovation in peacekeeping. Member States must pay their contributions in full in order to ensure fully predictable financing for peacekeeping, he said.
CLELIA LUCY UHART (United Kingdom) said as Co-Chair of the Group of Friends to the Peacebuilding Fund, the United Kingdom is deeply committed to and invested in conflict prevention. She noted the country has contributed over $230 million to the Fund since its inception. “The [Peacebuilding Fund] is not a silver bullet, of course,” she said, as national Governments and international development actors must all play their part, including the United Nations development system. Her delegation is active on various tracks to advance prospects for innovative financing and deepening strategic partnerships with international financing institutions, working to achieve a well-financed and effective Fund.
MELANIE HIDALGO (Dominican Republic) said the increase in conflicts and ongoing effects of the pandemic on global economies make it all the more necessary to count on the Peacebuilding Fund to support national authorities. The lack of a predictable financing mechanism could result in the loss of progress, especially in nations where the United Nations has withdrawn its peacekeepers. She urged the Assembly to consider all available options, including voluntary contributions and innovative financing, expressing hope that the Fifth Committee’s consideration of the issue will allow for clarity on questions raised by Member States about establishing the necessary procedures for accountability, in line with financial rules. She advocated for a focus on providing more robust financial support for building peace, so that assessed or other contributions are translated into development.