Delegates Stress Need to Adequately Fund Peacekeeping, Urge Agreement on Financing Device for Peacebuilding Activities, as Fifth Committee Begins Resumed Session
Delegates of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today urged each other to build on their momentum as they consider the Secretariat’s $6.8 billion budget for 11 peacekeeping operations and agree on a financing device for peacebuilding activities.
The Committee opened its second resumed session with a wide-ranging meeting that considered the financing aspects of the so-called cross-cutting issues — the crucial elements of peacekeeping operations that include sexual exploitation, peacekeepers’ safety and environmental safeguards — as well as the Board of Auditors review of peacekeeping operations during the 2021/22 fiscal year.
The United States’ delegate stressed that the Fifth Committee’s role is to lay down policy guidance and resources so the peacekeeping missions can efficiently and effectively carry out their mandates. He strongly encouraged that all cross-cutting policy issues be discussed within the context of a cross-cutting revolution. “We owe it to the UN, the missions and all the personnel operating in difficult and dangerous environments to do our jobs by providing needed guidance so they can do theirs,” he stressed, pledging to carefully examine the Secretary-General’s budget request of $6.8 billion for the 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2024 period, which is nearly $360 million more than the 2022/23 fiscal year.
Philippe Kridelka (Belgium), Committee Chair, said he hoped the Committee would work this session with the same spirit of trust that let it close its March session on time. Urging delegates to provide peacekeepers with the administrative and budgetary resources needed to do their jobs, he noted the Committee is considering the issue of financing for peacebuilding for the fourth time.
The United Kingdom’s delegate said he aimed to expand on the success of last year’s comprehensive cross-cutting resolution. He underlined the importance of a clear focus on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions and urged progress on the climate impact of peacekeeping operations. This would include efficient, professional and sustainable supply chain management and climate-efficient local procurement. As a peacebuilding champion, his delegation is happy to see peacebuilding financing back on the Committee’s agenda and will work across regions to move towards an agreement.
Speaking on behalf of the African Group, the representative of Uganda underscored the need for timely approval of each peacekeeping mission’s budget, as well as additional resources for some missions, so all entities can carry out their mandates. He also urged the Bureau to set realistic deadlines for the Committee’s consideration of its agenda items. The current programme of work, as with previous programmes, has the end of May as the date for the session’s conclusion. “This tight schedule has in the past proved unrealistic,” he said, urging the consideration of a more practical date. He also urged the Committee to carry out its work within working hours. “The undesirable practice of spending endless days and nights in negotiations, with the critical stages of the negotiations being extended to the end of June, should be discouraged and avoided,” he said.
Turning to the Board of Auditors input on peacekeeping operations, Xuewen Hu, Director of External Audit of China and Chair of the Audit Operations Committee of the United Nations Board of Auditors, introduced the Board’s report for United Nations peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022.
Maria Costa, Director of the Finance Division of the Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget in the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the Board’s recommendations for the financial period that ended on 30 June 2022. Abdallah Bachar Bong, Chairman of the Advisory Committee, introduced that body’s related report for the 2021/22 period.
Taking up the administrative and budgetary aspects of financing peacekeeping operations, including cross-cutting issues, Ilene Cohn, Director of the United Nations Mine Action Service, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the summary of findings and recommendations included in an independent review of the Service’s delivery model. Mr. Bachar Bong took the floor again to introduce the Advisory Committee’s related report.
Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, Cuba’s delegate said peacekeeping operations remain one of the most effective multilateral tools to help prevent the outbreak of — or relapse back into — conflict and the operations pave the way to peace. On the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, he called for improved efforts to ensure the United Nations will not remain silent in the face of reported incidents.
Likewise, the Philippines’ delegate said Manila will continue to place a priority on the strengthening of accountability and system-wide efforts to ensure a zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse. He stressed that peacekeeping missions should have adequate resources to address peacekeepers’ needs, ensure their safety and guarantee their security. Concerning contingent-owned equipment, she reaffirmed her support for the regular review and updating of the manual on policies and procedures concerning reimbursement rates, as this would help sustain and upgrade peacekeeping capabilities in various missions.
On the financing of peacekeeping operations, Chandru Ramanathan, Controller and Assistant Secretary-General for the Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on budget performance for the 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022 period, as well as budgets proposed for the 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023 period, for several missions.
The Fifth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 4 May, to consider the United Nations financial situation; the administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of two peacekeeping missions; and the financing of two other missions.
Organization of Work
PHILIPPE KRIDELKA (Belgium), Chair of the Fifth Committee, said he hoped it would work in the same spirit of trust that let it close its session in March in a timely manner. He thanked the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) for its hard work and the efforts of the Fifth Committee Secretariat, led by Lionelito Berridge. He recognized the dedication of the uniformed and civilian personnel serving in peacekeeping operations around the world and noted that some had paid the highest price by giving their lives. He urged the Committee to provide peacekeepers with the administrative and budget finances they need to do their jobs. For the fourth time, the Committee is considering the issue of financing for peacebuilding. He said there is strong support for peacebuilding among all States and he hoped that a consensus can be reached on this issue. He urged all delegates to work on this issue with a spirit of compromise, adding that he would use the Committee Chair’s offices in a transparent manner to help its work.
MEDARD AINOMUHISHA (Uganda), speaking on behalf of the African Group, underscored the need for timely approval of the peacekeeping missions’ respective budgets and to approve additional resources for some Missions, such as the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), for the current period, before the end of May. The Committee’s timely action is required for the missions to continue and carry out their mandates. While commending the Secretariat’s progress in issuing reports in a timely manner, he expressed hope that the supplementary information, traditionally requested by Member States, will be provided early enough to facilitate negotiations. The current programme of work, as previous ones, has the end of May as the date for the session’s conclusion. “This tight schedule has in the past proved unrealistic,” he said, requesting the Bureau to allocate sufficient time and set realistic deadlines to consider the agenda items. This should be guided by a more practical date for the session’s conclusion. Sufficient time must be allocated to members of the Secretariat, technical and advisory bodies to introduce and discuss their reports while appearing before the Committee, he added.
Turning to the Committee’s working methods, he said it should strive to conduct its work within the working hours of the programme of work’s allocated time. “The undesirable practice of spending endless days and nights in negotiations, with the critical stages of the negotiations being extended to the end of June, should be discouraged and avoided,” he said, adding the Committee needs to seriously consider delegates’ “work-life balance”. The Group believes this can be achieved as the Committee suffers not from a lack of time, but the proper use of the available time, he said.
GERARDO PEÑALVER PORTAL (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, reiterated that the timely submission of reports from the Secretariat and ACABQ is crucial for the Fifth Committee to effectively carry out its work. The continuation of in-person meetings also remains vital when attempting to achieve delicate balances, truly successful outcomes and meaningful engagement among all Member States.
The Group is committed to a thorough consideration of agenda items, including the one on improving the Organization’s financial situation, he said. It also attaches great importance to the consideration of peacekeeping operations’ administrative and budgetary aspects, especially since these multifaceted items demand Member States’ close attention and focus on concluding deliberations on time so as to ensure the necessary resources for mandates. As such, the Group will engage actively with special attention to ensuring that the formulation, presentation and approval of peacekeeping operations budgets are based on their mandates and not on arbitrary, across-the-board cost-cutting exercises but rather the real situation on the ground. He then assured the Committee of his active engagement with all on the other items which have been allocated to the second resumed session.
THIBAULT CAMELLI, representative of the European Union, speaking in its capacity as observer, noting that today is Labour Day, paid tribute to the hard work and commitment of all United Nations personnel, uniformed and civilian. Stressing his delegation‘s support for the Organization’s peacebuilding and peacekeeping efforts, he said that the bloc works closely with the United Nations and other partners, like the African Union, on issues related to peace and security at large. Stressing the need to ensure more predictable and sustainable funding for the Peacebuilding Fund, he also expressed commitment to ensuring that peacekeeping operations and their support functions are well-financed, sufficiently staffed, and adequately equipped to carry out their important mandates. He called upon all Member States to pay their contributions to all peacekeeping missions – in full, on time and without conditions.
Welcoming the adoption of the long-awaited cross-cutting policy resolution last year, he said it is now the Committee’s responsibility to measure progress in this regard, for instance, on the important operational issues of the women, peace and security agenda, as well as on safety and security of peacekeepers. Noting that the Fifth Committee achieves better results by concentrating policy discussions in “cross-cutting”, and delinking them from budget numbers, he said: “We will not introduce cross-cutting policy paragraphs in the budget resolutions of individual peacekeeping operations, and we invite all our partners to continue to do the same.” At the same time, he pointed out, more informed decisions are possible by conducting thorough mission-by-mission discussions. Therefore, the Committee will need a combination of both approaches. “Concluding our session on time and with consensus” will send a positive message to staff and the troops in the field, he added.
NOEL MANGAOANG NOVICIO (Philippines), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, voiced his hope that a resolution on cross-cutting policy issues can be concluded by consensus. In this session, ASEAN will work to ensure: adequate resourcing for the full and effective implementation of peacekeeping mandates by carefully examining the Secretary-General’s budget request and the Advisory Committee’s recommendations; an enhanced peace and security agenda by prioritizing efforts on gender parity and women’s effective participation in peacekeeping; and reimbursements to troop- and police-contributing countries. These countries have an invaluable contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security, he recognized, stressing the importance of continued and close consultations between them and the Secretary-General on all peacekeeping operation-related matters. In expressing his appreciation to the Secretariat’s firm resolve to settle these countries’ outstanding claims regarding their respective formed units’ service, he said that he would like to take stock of the progress on the application of reimbursement rates.
On strengthening transparency, accountability and support for victims, he reaffirmed his commitment to a zero-tolerance policy, accountability at all levels and preventive measures to eradicate sexual exploitation and abuse committed against the very people whom peacekeepers have a duty to protect. ASEAN looks forward to hearing the progress made in achieving a more unified and robust system-wide approach in that regard. It also welcomes updates on the implementation of the comprehensive planning and performance assessment system as well as the increased use of digital technologies so as to better understand how the system can support effective responses to mitigate the multi-faceted challenges that operations face, he added. Regarding investments in prevention and peacebuilding, he reiterated ASEAN’s firm view that assessed contributions for the Peacebuilding Fund should be based on the peacekeeping scale of assessment and that such a decision should be reached through consensus. He then turned his attention to the Organization’s financial situation; noted that he looks forward to hearing updates on the use of the $100 million in unspent funds from the 2021 regular budget which was supposed to be credited to Member States; and urged all countries to fulfil their financial obligations on time, in full and without conditions.
MAY LUONG (Canada), speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said the operating environment of peacekeeping missions is increasingly challenging. She cited the growth in misinformation, multifaceted peace processes and evolving security situations, which increase the risks to peacekeepers and to the communities they are committed to protect. This ever-changing environment has not only increased the need for United Nations peacekeeping as a critical tool to support peace but has also placed significant pressure on operations. These pressures have been further compounded by rising costs of critical resources and supply chain challenges. In light of these challenges, she stressed the need for adequate resourcing of peacekeeping operations to ensure the full implementation of mandates, as well as the efficient use of resources.
Outlining her key priorities, she emphasized the need for the full and equal participation of women in peacekeeping. Further, she voiced concern about the prevalence of sexual exploitation and abuse allegations, calling for the implementation of policies to prevent sexual harassment within peacekeeping operations and to ensure timely investigations and support to victims. She also highlighted the importance of adequate resourcing to ensure the effective implementation of mandates to protect civilians, including children, and to respond to conflict-related sexual violence. In the same vein, she stressed the need to improve the safety of all peacekeepers and ensure they have the necessary tools to address threats and deliver their mandates. Disappointingly, the item on investing in prevention and peacebuilding has been deferred once again, she observed, also noting that the Peacebuilding Fund now faces a critical funding gap.
MUHAMMAD ABDUL MUHITH (Bangladesh), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, stressed that the provision of adequate financing will certainly increase the efficiency of any operation. As such, all Member States must pay their peacekeeping assessment in full and on time to provide the appropriate logistical support for the Blue Helmets. At the same time, the Secretariat should continue to improve budgetary performance and its internal control by rigorously enforcing financial discipline. The Fifth Committee must follow the Board of Auditors’ recommendations while keeping in mind that an operation’s budget must be based on its mandate and the real situation on the ground, he added. In emphasizing the need to do everything necessary to maintain peacekeeper safety and security, he encouraged Member States to consider realigning peacekeeping mandates with peacebuilding elements so as to reinforce resilience and enhance the capacity of host countries’ governance institutions. Moreover, they must ensure the full, effective and meaningful participation of women in peacekeeping operations and engage constructively to achieve a consensus-based outcome.
JESUS VELAZQUEZ CASTILLO (Mexico), noting peacekeeping operations’ contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security, called on those present to negotiate constructively to timely adopt a realistic, adequate budget that allows such operations to meet their specific needs and comply with their respective mandates. He observed that the draft budget for such operations is higher than the previous cycle, largely justified by inflation, rising fuel prices and the need to replace aerial vehicles. The Committee must approve the necessary resources so that the 12 active peacekeeping operations, Brindisi logistics base and Entebbe regional service centre can operate optimally and meet their objectives in a streamlined manner. He also emphasized that, to be transparent and accountable with the resources Member States have entrusted to the Organization, the Committee must keep in mind the programme spending disbursements over the past year. Adding that the Committee’s programme of work includes other cross-cutting issues relating to peacekeeping operations — including the Mine Action Service — he expressed hope that the Committee will give the necessary guidance to the Secretariat on that entity.
DAI BING (China), aligning himself with the Group of 77, noted that peacekeeping is the Organization’s largest single budget item with billions of dollars being spent. He supported the Committee’s efforts to provide peacekeeping missions with necessary financing and urged it to improve internal controls to enhance the missions’ effectiveness and efficiency. Noting the relatively large increase in the 2023-24 peacekeeping budget, he said it should be reviewed carefully. Supporting the Organization’s timely reimbursement to troop- and police-contributing countries, he noted that China has sent more than 50,00 peacekeepers to missions over the past 30 years and set up an 8,000-strong peacekeeping standby force. Expressing serious concern that as conflicts increase around the world the safety of peacekeepers is at increasing risk, he hoped the Organization would implement relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions and allocate adequate resources to effectively mitigate the risks. His delegation gives great importance to investing in prevention and peacebuilding, which has been deferred three times since the discussion began last year. Developing countries’ historical responsibility as major donors to peacebuilding financing should not be changed. When using assessed contributions for peacebuilding, it is imperative to respect the supervisory rights of Member States. “This is a shared concern of many Member States, including China, and should be treated with due regard and addressed prudently,” he added.
CHRISTOPHER P. LU (United States), underlining that the Fifth Committee’s role is to provide policy guidance and resources to allow peacekeeping missions to efficiently and effectively carry out their mandates, strongly encouraged that all cross-cutting policy issues be discussed within the context of a cross-cutting revolution. “We owe it to the UN, the missions and all the personnel operating in difficult and dangerous environments to do our jobs by providing needed guidance so they can do theirs,” he stressed, pledging to carefully examine the Secretary-General’s budget request of $6.8 billion — almost $360 million higher than the level approved for 2022 to 2023. His Government will also review the discretionary increases in budgets so as to ensure that they accurately reflect operating environments on the ground. On sexual exploitation and abuse, he reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to a zero-tolerance policy, a survivor-centred response, accountability and prevention measures to address root causes. The Committee has an obligation to ensure that United Nations missions and offices worldwide are free from sexual harassment and that every member of the Organization’s diverse community feels safe in their workplace.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) emphasized that the Committee must ensure that peacekeeping operations receive adequate and cost-effective financing and staffing in support of full mandate delivery. In light of an increasingly challenging operating environment and a tough macroeconomic context, it must endeavour to provide the Secretariat with certainty on resources as soon as possible. In that regard, his Government will ensure that the Committee’s recommendations are evidence-based, data-driven and designed to ensure that mandates can be implemented in a manner consistent with efficient management, resources and budget discipline. The United Kingdom looks forward to building on the success of last year’s comprehensive cross-cutting resolution to develop further policy guidance on key issues and to take stock of the progress made on that resolution’s implementation, he added. As a peacebuilding champion, it is also happy to see peacebuilding financing back on the Committee’s agenda and will work across regions to move towards an agreement. He then underlined the importance of a clear focus on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions and urged progress on reducing the climate impact of peacekeeping operations, including through efficient, professional and sustainable supply chain management and climate-efficient local procurement.
VADIM N. LAPUTIN (Russian Federation), stressing the importance of accurate budget planning and streamlined use of resources, welcomed the adoption last year of the resolution on cross-cutting issues. Encouraging the Committee to adhere to a pragmatic approach, he said this year it should focus on renewal of the provisions that are agreed upon following the resumed second session. This could be underpinned by last year’s groundwork, he said, adding that this should help the Committee reach consensus. The quest for additional savings should be focused on enhancing the effectiveness and accountability of peacekeeping operations, he said, adding that while it is important to prevent reductions which may undermine implementation of mandates, it’s also vital to account for the specificities of each operation in taking decisions on appropriations. Noting that the focus of the activities of the Peacebuilding Fund is anticipatory in nature, he said it should not have any difficulty in forecasting and early planning of its expenditure. He also stressed that the Secretariat must strictly comply with budget procedures when using assessed contributions.
YAMANAKA OSAMU (Japan), emphasizing that adequate funding must go hand-in-hand with ensuring efficient and effective resource use, said his Government — as a strong supporter of peacekeeping operations — will focus on accountability, mission impact and performance. It is Member States’ responsibility to give guidance to peacekeeping operations on a wide range of administrative and budget policies, he underscored. For its part, Japan will engage in all of this session’s discussions in a positive and constructive manner with a view to achieving consensus on all agenda items by the scheduled deadline.
ISHMAEL TSHOLOFELO DABUTHA (Botswana), aligning himself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, said that his delegation is interested in discussions on cross-cutting issues, including measures taken to ensure the safety and well-being of peacekeeping personnel and civilians. Also of importance are procurement matters in peacekeeping and the implementation of the General Assembly’s guidance on procurement, he said, urging the Committee to examine the impact of the increasing number of vacant posts in this area. He also underlined the need to examine the role played by regional and subregional actors in peacekeeping operations, asking for an update on the implementation of the General Assembly’s request for the United Nations to deepen its cooperation and coordination with such entities. Adding that programmatic activities and quick-impact projects help save lives and foster trust among local populations, he expressed hope that the Committee will explore opportunities to expand the budget for these two initiatives.
MINHING YI (Republic of Korea) reiterated his delegation’s steadfast support of the Organization’s peacekeeping operations and efforts to maintain the safety of its peacekeepers. His delegation aims to advance the excellence of the operations and will engage in talks to ensure they are funded in an adequate manner that works to strengthen peace. It will spare no effort to ensure their efficiency and accountability, he stressed. He attached great importance to cross-cutting issues and hoped the Committee can resolve those issues. He added that his delegation firmly supports efforts to finance peacebuilding efforts.
FELIPE MACHADO MOURIÑO (Uruguay), noting his country’s commitment to peacekeeping as one of the main troop contributors, urged all States to ensure adequate financing for that. Resource scarcity affects not only the delivery of mandates but also the ability of operations to face security threats, he pointed out, expressing concern about the increase in operating costs due to increased fuel costs and contractual expenses for renting and operating aircrafts. The Fifth Committee should ensure that missions are able to comply with their mandates in such circumstances, he stressed, adding that it is vital to increase reimbursement rates for contingent-owned equipment in order to keep it in the best possible conditions. On vacancy rates, he added that it is essential to ensure that they are based on actual rates. Adjustments to those should contribute to better resource planning. Highlighting the crucial role of peacebuilding in transitional contexts, he called for appropriate allocation of resources to allow the Peacebuilding Fund to respond to existing mandates. However, it is a delicate matter in the context of slowing global growth, he said. Pointing to differences in responsibilities, he said contributions to the Fund must be established according to the scale of assessments used for peacekeeping.
The Fifth Committee then approved the programme of work by consensus on the understanding that it will be reviewed and adjusted by the Bureau as necessary during the course of the seventy-seventh session.
Report of the Board of Auditors on Peacekeeping Operations
XUEWEN HU, Director of External Audit of China and Chair of the Audit Operations Committee of the United Nations Board of Auditors, introduced the Board’s report for the United Nations peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022 (document A/77/5 (Vol.II)). The report is the collective output of the Board Members: Chile, China and France. As the new lead auditor of peacekeeping operations, France audited operations at Headquarters, three missions, the United Nations Global Service Centre and the Regional Service Centre Entebbe. China audited five missions and Chile audited three.
The Board issued an unqualified opinion, which means that the financial statements presented fairly, in all material respects, the financing position of United Nations peacekeeping operations as of 30 June 2022. This opinion also means the financial performance and cash flows for the year ended in accordance with International Public Sector Accounting Standards.
The Administration had to implement 41 recommendations of previous audit reports, he said, noting that 19 were implemented while 21 remained under implementation and one was overtaken by events. The current report provides 20 new recommendations — eight on risk management, eight on budget and finance, and four on supply chain management.
On risk management in particular, the Board recommended that the Administration provide the appropriate elements to fuel a strategic discussion at the level of legislative bodies, with a view to build a more consensual, sound and practical basis for risk-taking in peacekeeping operations, he highlighted. The Administration should also clarify the roles of the first and second lines of defence in risk management — taking concrete steps to increase their empowerment, involvement and accountability — in addition to conducting a thorough review of the existing accountability requirements.
Regarding budget and finance, the Board underlined issues related to the implementation of the cross-borrowing mechanism between missions; the accumulated surplus of the cost-recovery fund; a liability related to two peacekeeping missions which were closed in the 1960s; the reconciliation between general accounting and budgetary accounting; supply chain management; and the valuation of employee benefits liabilities, which was $1.5 billion in June 2022. On supply chain management, he reported that the Board examined several areas, which included the quality of resource and demand planning as well as the implementation of the category management reform which was launched in 2019. The report also contains other audit observations such as the necessity to find a sustainable funding solution for the acquisition of new equipment for UNMISS and the importance of better medicine management.
MARIA COSTA, Director of the Finance Division of the Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget in the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Board of Auditors concerning United Nations peacekeeping operations for the financial period that ended on 30 June 2022 (document A/77/766). The report provides additional information, when necessary, in response to the Board’s recommendations.
She also noted that, in the text, the Board decided to pay particular attention to enterprise risk management in the area of peacekeeping operations. This work led to six main audit findings and eight main recommendations, which the Administration accepted while noting that, as some aspects of implementing such recommendations may have resource implications, related activities will be prioritized based on available resources.
She went on to report that the Board assessed the overall implementation status of all 265 recommendations that it issued for the six prior financial periods — from 2015/16 to 2020/21 — reflecting an overall implementation rate of 80 per cent. In Annex II, the Board provided a summary of the status of implementation of its 41 extant recommendations issued during the six prior financial periods, up to 30 June 2021. Of these, 19 were assessed as “Implemented”, 21 as “Under implementation” and 1 as “Overtaken by events”. Out of the 21 recommendations assessed as being “Under implementation”, the Administration requested the closure of 6, with the other 15 under implementation as of February 2023.
ABDALLAH BACHAR BONG, Chairman of the Advisory Committee, introducing its related report (document A/77/802) for the 2021/22 period, noted the emphasis placed on risk management in the Board’s report on peacekeeping operations and said that effectively implementing the existing Enterprise Risk Management policy, which has not yet reached maturity, should be a priority. Concerning the Board’s recommendation to create Chief Risk Officer functions in peacekeeping operations, ACABQ notes that the Secretariat intends to engage with the responsible stakeholders to develop the role of the Chief Risk Officer, which is to be assigned to an existing senior official in each peacekeeping mission, using existing resources. The ACABQ trusts that the responsibilities of the Chief Risk Officers will be clearly defined and delineated, while the risk owner will ensure its oversight.
Turning to budget and finance matters, he said the Advisory Committee concurs with the Board’s recommendations to issue a standard operating procedure on cross-borrowing loans between peacekeeping operations and a policy document defining the actuarial valuation of employee benefits. Regarding supply chain management, ACABQ welcomes efforts to improve the quality of data entered in the Supply Chain Planning Tool and refine the key performance indicators to monitor the quality of demand planning. The ACABQ also reiterates its concern about the number of cases of fraud and presumptive fraud. He recalled that the Assembly has repeatedly requested the Secretary-General to ensure the full implementation of the Board’s recommendations in a prompt and timely manner. He reaffirmed that the Board’s annual findings are an essential pillar of the Organization’s oversight framework and trusted the Board will keep ensuring the transparency and accountability of all administrative and financial matters in peacekeeping operations.
RICHARD TUR (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, noted that the implementation rate of the Board of Auditors’ recommendations decreased from 60 per cent in 2020/2021 to 46 per cent in 2021/2022, and nine recommendations have been under implementation for more than three years. He expressed concern at the delay towards implementation of some of the previous recommendations as well as those contained in the present report. Moreover, he reiterated the Group’s request to the Secretariat to effectively implement the endorsed recommendations of the Board for the smooth functioning of operations. Stressing the need for all entities to undertake prompt actions to ensure that the accepted Board recommendations are implemented as a matter of priority, he called upon the Secretary-General to put in place robust accountability mechanisms for unjustified delays in implementation and to provide a full explanation on root causes of the recurring issues and the measures to be taken.
He further noted the recurrence of similar or related recommendations from previous audits, as well as the emergence of new goals with respect to peacekeeping operations. The present report highlights significant shortcomings in different areas, such as quality check deficiencies data entered into the digital Supply Chain Planning Tool and key performance indicators for demand planning. In this regard, he stressed the need to examine the Secretariat’s corrective actions. Expressing concern that the United Nations peacekeeping operations had a cash ratio of just 0.48 in 2022, mainly due to non-payment of assessed contributions, he called on Member States to pay their assessed contributions in full, on time and without conditions. He also underscored the need for more focus on fraud awareness and prevention involving peacekeeping missions. The Group will carefully review the reports and financial statements to identify specific concerns and potential systemic issues, he said, asking the Secretariat about the reasons that have given ground for an accumulated surplus of $115 million, as of 30 June 2022, related to the peacekeeping operations cost-recovery arrangements. Seeking clarity on why this amount is so elevated, he said the Group wishes to understand how this accumulation of resources has been possible.
ATUL KHARE, Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the triennial review of the rates and standards for reimbursement to Member States for contingent-owned equipment (document A/77/757), also known as the Contingent-owned Equipment Working Group. Recalling General Assembly resolution 50/222 of 1996, he said it sought to simplify the mechanism for reimbursement to countries for providing equipment and self-sustainment support services to contingents in field missions. The Working Group met in New York in January and discussed 118 issue papers and adopted 57 proposals by consensus, with 62 actionable recommendations, he said. The Member States agreed on an increase of 1.57 per cent to the wet lease reimbursement rates for major equipment and self-sustainment, resulting in an estimated increase, once approved by the General Assembly, of $13.61 million per annum.
Further, he added, recommendations of the 2023 Working Group include introduction of a new classification methodology for Armored Personnel Carriers as well as new major equipment, such as all-terrain vehicles, new police crowd control vehicles, mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles, as well as equipment for temporary deployments. Other recommendations concern changes to policies related to reimbursement and transportation of ammunition as well as the simplification of the reimbursement rates for renewable energy to encourage troop and police contributors to deploy renewable energy systems in the field. Recommendations also include increasing the reimbursement rates for the Internet and inclusion of language to better reflect the needs of women personnel in peace operations, he added.
Mr. KRIDELKA (Belgium), Committee Chair, then drew the Committee’s attention to the report of the 2023 Working Group on Contingent-Owned Equipment (document A/77/736).
CHRISTIAN SAUNDERS, Under-Secretary-General and Special Coordinator on Improving the United Nations Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, introduced the Secretary-General’s report titled “Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse” (document A/77/748), covering the period from 1 January to 31 December 2022. The report, he said, provides information on measures taken to strengthen the Organization’s system-wide response, including the progress on implementing the Secretary-General’s four-pronged strategy: prioritizing victims’ rights and dignity; ending impunity through strengthened reporting and investigations; engaging with Member States, civil society and external partners; and improving strategic communications for education and transparency. It also outlines the Organization’s ongoing efforts and identifies challenges and areas that require further attention. Supplementary information is notably provided in a separate document which presents statistics and general information regarding allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving various personnel categories.
Despite clear gains, allegations of exploitation and abuse involving all personnel categories sadly continued to emerge in 2022. This conduct is rooted in the abuse of power, gender inequality, violence, entrenched harmful practices and situations of vulnerability caused by economic and social disparities, he pointed out. In particular, the impacts of war, climate shocks and disease on populations where the Organization operations heighten the risk of such behaviours. Such misconduct notably detracts from the efforts of the vast majority of personnel who uphold the Organization’s standards and work with pride and purpose, often in harsh and dangerous conditions. This misconduct must be anticipated as must the costs of prevention and response.
Much has been accomplished in recent years but much more remains to be done, he stressed, highlighting the need to ensure effective delivery at the country level; work coherently and consistently across the system and with partners; and strengthen interventions on improving transparency, accountability and victim support. “If we are to eliminate sexual misconduct from within the UN system, it requires recognition that this is a core responsibility of each organization and considered an integral part of the ‘cost of doing business’,” he underscored.
ILENE COHN, Director of the United Nations Mine Action Service, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the summary of the findings and recommendations of the independent review of the Service’s delivery model (document A/77/747). The review — conducted by an independent external consulting firm — found positive aspects in the current collaboration between the Service and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), including UNOPS’ speed, agility and responsiveness in providing expertise, recruiting personnel and procuring specialized services and equipment. Potential areas for improvement included the UNOPS fee structure, the lack of competition and a lack of Secretariat capacity, which results in UNOPS’ de facto assumption of core Service functions, including those related to programme design and budget development.
Pointing out that the review analysed alternative delivery models, she stated that it found that any delivery model — including the status quo — requires that the Service and the Secretariat have adequate leadership and expertise to fully assume responsibility for programme design, monitoring and reporting functions. This will allow for maximum cost-effectiveness, efficiency, accountable governance and transparency. She added that the Secretariat concurs with the three recommendations contained in the review: to resource the Service and Secretariat adequately to fulfil programme-design, monitoring and reporting functions; to enhance the cost-efficiency, effectiveness and good governance of the collaboration with UNOPS to maintain delivery of life-saving programmes; and to take a cautious, phased, programme-to-programme approach to identify the appropriate delivery model for each setting and transition programmes accordingly.
Mr. BACHAR BONG, ACABQ Chair,introducing its related report on the findings and recommendations of the independent review of the United Nations Mine Action Service (document A/77/816), said the Advisory Committee is of the view that models A and B are not the most effective options. Since the Secretary-General’s report also does not present a clear timebound plan for pursuing model C, it recommended that a comprehensive updated report which explores alternative and/or additional options — including demining activities to be performed by missions in a decentralized manner — be provided in the seventy-ninth session. This report should also elaborate on a number of issues, including the actions and resources required to strengthen the Service’s capacity based on a staffing review and workload analysis of existing capacities; cot recovery mechanisms; and the possibility for administrative and other support services. It should also provide details alongside a cost-benefit analysis of asset acquisition and management by the missions and UNOPS; baseline information, including cost estimates and realistic timelines for implementing various options; as well as lessons learned and best practices of other entities in the field.
He next presented the Advisory Committee’s eponymous report on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (document A/77/831). In that report, it encouraged the Secretary-General to pursue a clearer delineation of roles and a promotion of synergies among entities to that end. The Advisory also provided further observations on the need for system-wide staff resources dedicated to the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, on risk management, on victim services, on the timely completion of investigations and on the implementation of effective accountability measures.
He also introduced the Advisory Committee’s related report on the triennial review of the rates and standards for reimbursement to Member States for contingent-owned equipment (document A/77/832). In noting the positive outcome of early Member State engagement and its contribution to the consensus on reimbursement rates, it recommended approving the recommendations of the 2023 Working Group.
FATOUMATA NDIAYE, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introducing part II of the annual report on the peace operations activities of her Office for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2022 (document A/77/278), said that during 2022, it issued 156 oversight reports relating to peace operations, which included 312 audit and evaluation recommendations, all but two of which were accepted by programme managers. Noting coordination with the Board of Auditors and the Joint Inspection Unit, she said there were no inappropriate scope limitations that impeded the work or independence of her Office during the reporting period.
Pointing to the five priority areas for 2022, she highlighted the implementation of the reforms of the management, peace and security, and development pillars; strengthening of organizational culture; procurement and supply chain management; management of mission drawdown or transition; and strengthening of the protection against retaliation (whistle-blower) system. In 2022, the Inspection and Evaluation Division continued to support results-based management in peace operations by supporting four peacekeeping entities to strengthen their evaluation capacity. Further, she added, in 2022, the Office issued 87 investigation reports and closure memorandums related to peace operations, also highlighting the action plan to implement the recommendations of the independent panel’s external quality assessment of the investigation function.
Mr. KRIDELKA (Belgium), Committee Chair, also drew the Committee’s attention to the Secretary-General’s notes on approved resources for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023 (document A/C.5/77/30) and on proposed budgetary levels for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2024 (document A/C.5/77/29).
Mr. TUR (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said peacekeeping operations remain one of the most effective multilateral tools available to help prevent the outbreak or relapse into conflict and pave the way to peace. Apart from reduced resources, these operations continue to face increasing challenges including wide-ranging mandates, ever more complex political and security environments and threats targeting United Nations personnel. On sexual exploitation and abuse, he called for stronger efforts to ensure that the United Nations will not remain silent in the face of reported incidents. Urging a more robust system-wide approach, he called on the Secretary-General to ensure synergy of efforts and a clear delineation of the roles of each entity involved, including the standing of the Special Coordinator in the overall sexual exploitation and abuse prevention architecture. He further underlined the need to examine the efforts undertaken to strengthen accountability as well as to include in the next Secretary-General report a comprehensive overview of system-wide resources. Additional challenges persist, namely in agreeing on the exchange of information on sexual exploitation and abuse allegations within the United Nations system, developing a system-wide tracking system to monitor protection to victims and ensuring a safe environment for reporting cases of abuse.
On the triennial review of the rates and standards for reimbursement to Member States for contingent-owned equipment, he noted the key outcomes from the 2023 Working Group and pointed to matters that will be discussed during the informal consultations, such as the introduction of a new classification methodology for armoured personnel carriers and the expansion of the categories of ageing equipment eligible for rotation at United Nations expense. He underlined the need to ensure that demining activities are performed in the most efficient ways possible, leveraging all existing capacities, including in the field. On the challenges faced by the Mine Action Service, he said more information is needed on the cost-effectiveness of the current United Nations Mine Action Service-UNOPS partnership to establish a more cost-effective way to deliver mine action services in all settings. He also encouraged the Secretary-General to strengthen efforts to improve geographical representation within the Mine Action Service.
Mr. AINOMUHISHA (Uganda) took the floor again on behalf of the African Group and noted that the United Nations will support 11 active peacekeeping operations for the upcoming budget cycle, with a budget requirement of $6.8 billion, $359.5 million higher than the level approved for the 2023/23 period and $366.8 million higher than that approved budget for the 2021/22 period. The main factors behind the increase include a military and police personnel increase of $125.8 million and an increase in operational costs of $234.8 million, largely due to air operations costs, facilities and infrastructure, information and communications technology (ICT) and ground transportation, including for fuel. Noting that 7 of the 11 active peacekeeping missions are on the African continent and spread across various regions with unique features and operational environments, he reiterated the Assembly’s call for greater coordination and collaboration with regional and subregional organizations, especially in Africa, to implement the missions’ mandates. He emphasized that the missions, especially those on the African continent, have unique and complex mandates that require particular consideration of their resource requirements. The Group has emphasized a “mission-by-mission approach” to consider the proposed budget requirements of the individual missions, which is the “only logical budgetary practice”.
Recognizing the important role of programmatic activities and quick-impact projects, he said these projects could help counter the misinformation and disinformation experienced by some missions. He also encouraged troop- and police-contributing countries to be considered as implementing partners, where possible and appropriate, and have an enhanced role in implementing quick-impact projects in their areas of operation. Regarding procurement, the African Group reiterates that the Secretary-General should strictly incorporate host country content in the procurement of construction projects of all peacekeeping operations by using local materials and contractors. The Group will look at the efforts and concrete measures taken by the Secretary-General to promote local use. He also advocated for a regional approach in recruiting national posts if local capacities cannot be used to fill vacant national posts within host countries.
GINA ANDREA SCHMIED (Switzerland), speaking also on behalf of Liechtenstein, voiced her deep concern over the large number of cases of sexual exploitation and abuse that continue to emerge each year — a trend that indicates that much remains to be done before a lasting change in culture, behaviour and attitudes can be achieved. As such, the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy for inaction first and foremost requires awareness of the applicable standards and prohibitions by all staff as well as a safe environment for reporting cases. In thanking the Secretary-General for his efforts on raising awareness in this regard, she stressed that victims must continue to be at the centre of all efforts to implement this policy. It is essential to provide them with the support they require, she underscored.
On the women, peace and security agenda in peacekeeping missions, she pointed out that considerable, long-term efforts are still needed to achieve gender equality and ensure that this agenda is implemented in practice. Continued work is also needed to ensure that the Organization’s peacekeeping operations are environmentally sustainable. She then stressed OIOS’ great importance for ensuring effectiveness and efficiency and encouraged the Secretary-General to implement its recommendations as soon as possible.
HUSSEIN ATHMAN KATTANGA (United Republic of Tanzania), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said that his country is proud to be one of the top 10 contributors of troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions across the world, adding that it will contribute more if so requested. Taking note that the proposed resource requirements for peacekeeping operations for the financial period of 2023/24 is slightly higher than the resources approved for the 2022/23 period, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts to ensure that budgeted resources are clearly linked to mandated activities. The United Republic of Tanzania will continue financing peacekeeping operations in full and on time according to its assessed contribution, he said, urging other Member States to honour their financial obligations. This will allow for a United Nations peace architecture that is predictably resourced, with modern equipment and capable peacekeepers. Adding that political support and adequate resources are critical to the success of peacekeeping operations, he called on the Committee for timely approval of such resources.
MARIVIL VILLA VALLES (Philippines), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China, stressed that peacekeeping missions should be accorded with the adequate resources to address peacekeepers’ needs, ensure their safety and guarantee their security. As such, Manila will continue to prioritize the strengthening of accountability and system-wide efforts to ensure a zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse in support of victims’ rights and dignity. On contingent-owned equipment, she reaffirmed her support for the regular review and updating of the manual on policies and procedures concerning reimbursement rates so as to sustain and upgrade peacekeeping capabilities in various mission area. She also reiterated her Government’s commitment to increasing the meaningful participation of women in uniformed roles; echoed the calls on integrating gender perspectives in all aspects and across command levels; and asked to hear more about the efforts of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and the Department of Peace Operations in enhancing coordination, reporting lines, operating modalities and resource adequacy.
Financing of Peacekeeping Operations
CHANDRAMOULI RAMANATHAN, Controller and Assistant Secretary-General for the Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, introduced the reports of the Secretary-General on budget performance for the period from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022, as well as budgets proposed for the period from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023, of the following peacekeeping missions: United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) (documents A/77/595 and A/77/722); United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (documents A/77/589 and A/77/723); UNDOF (documents A/77/594 and A/77/725); United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (documents A/77/602 and A/77/740); and the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) (documents A/77/598 and A/77/731).
He also presented the Secretary-General’s final performance report of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) (document A/77/620); the Secretary-General’s note on financing arrangements for UNDOF for the period from 1 July 2022 to 30 July 2023 (document A/77/754); and the budget performance of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) for the period from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022 (document A/77/638).
Regarding UNFICYP in Cyprus, he said the proposed budget of $57.4 million for the 2023/24 financial period represents an increase of 6.3 per cent ($3.4 million) compared to the 2022/23 approved budget. Regarding Haiti, the present report includes information on the assets, outstanding liabilities and fund balance as of 30 June 2022, in respect of MINUJUSTH and, owing to the use of the same special account for both missions, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The assets of both missions as of 30 June 2022 included $7.73 million as cash available, $9.796 million as fund balance, and $21.84 million as uncollected assessments from Member States. The Secretary-General’s recommendation is to return the cash balance of $7.73 million, available as of 30 June 2022, to be credited to Member States.
Turning to UNMIK in Kosovo, he outlined a proposed budget of $40.7 million for the 2023/24 financial period, a reduction of 3 per cent ($1.2 million) compared with approved resources of $41.9 million for 2022/23. Regarding UNDOF in Golan Heights, he said the Secretary-General proposed additional requirements of $2.1 million for 2022/23, related to substantial changes in the cost parameters since the Assembly’s adoption of resolution 76/289 on the Force’s financing. Turning to UNIFIL in Lebanon, he said the proposed budget of $551.1 million for the 2023/24 financial period represents an increase of 9.6 per cent ($48.2 million) compared to the 2022/23 approved budget.
Turning to MINURSO in Western Sahara, the proposed 2023/24 budget of $65.2 million represents an increase of 7.6 per cent ($4.6 million) compared to the approved resources for 2022/23. Regarding UNAMID, he said the Operation in Darfur incurred $64.9 million in expenditures for the 2021/22 reporting period, representing a resource utilization rate of 82.3 per cent. The resource performance for the 2021/22 period reflects reduced requirements, attributable primarily to lower-than-budgeted requirements under civilian personnel owing to the earlier-than-planned repatriation of civilian personnel and lower-than-planned separation payments to staff members.
Mr. BACHAR BONG, ACABQ Chair — introducing its related reports on UNFICYP (document A/77/767/Add.1); MINUJUSTH (document A/77/775); UNMIK (document A/77/767/Add.4); UNDOF (document A/77/767/Add.2); UNIFIL (document A/77/767/Add.9); MINURSO (document A/77/767/Add.3); and UNAMID (document A/77/780) — said the Advisory Committee provides observations and recommendations on posts, including vacancies and vacancy rate management; operational resources, including information on some of the significant variances under petrol, oil and lubricants; and other matters such as environmental initiatives. The Advisory Committee concurs with the proposal to credit the cash balance of the special account — $7.73 million — to Member States in line with paragraphs 8 and 9 of Assembly resolution 72/291.
On UNAMID, he reported that the appropriation for its maintenance during the reporting period amounted to $78.86 million, $64.88 million of which was expenditure — a resource utilization rate of 82.3 per cent. Outstanding contributions from Member States as of 30 June 2022 notably amounted to $132.53 million. In taking this peculiarity into account the history of UNAMID’s financial position, the Advisory Committee recommended that the Assembly take note of the unencumbered balance of $13.97 million and the other revenue for the period amounting to $40.13 million and defer its consideration and decision of the final performance report on the treatment of those areas, which total $54.11 million. It also recommended authorizing the Secretary-General, on an exceptional basis, to enter into commitments in respect of the expenditures identified after the operation’s liquidation and to use the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund for cash flow purposes if necessary.
Regarding the 2023 to 2024 proposed budget, the Advisory Committee noted the proposed increase of $48.19 million, or 9.6 per cent, for UNIFIL; increase of $6.33 million, or 9.8 per cent, for UNDOF; increase of $4.59 million, or 7.6 per cent, for MINURSO; increase of $3.43 million, or 6.3 per cent, for UNFICYP; and decrease of $1.25 million, or 3 per cent, for UNMIK.
He then noted that the Advisory Committee’s recommendations amount to a total reduction of $8.7 million from the proposed resources for 2023 to 2024. (It recommended a reduction of $1.22 million from UNFICYP; $35,000 from UNMIK; $331,400 from UNDOF; $6.55 million from UNIFIL; and $622,800 from MINURSO.)
Ms. NDIAYE, taking the floor again, this time to present her Office’s report on the evaluation of the contribution of UNMIK to the rule of law (document A/77/734), noted that several significant international actors were implementing strategic, multi-year initiatives in support of the rule of law during the reporting period. UNMIK had focused its support on the integration of the judiciary in Kosovo, meeting the rule of law needs of non-majority communities through coordination and information-sharing efforts among donors, civil society, and local rule of law actors, she said. The evaluation found UNMIK’s support for judicial integration in northern Kosovo effective in contributing to a reduction in case backlog and increased court user satisfaction. However, she added, the administration of justice in Kosovo, despite improvements over the years, continued to require strategic, sustainable and coordinated interventions and UNMIK activities mostly addressed short-term operational needs. Highlighting her Office’s three important recommendations for UNMIK, she said it needs to address the overarching needs in a coordinated manner with other influential rule of law actors, design and implement more strategic interventions, and communicate these activities to the Kosovo authorities and all communities to improve the perceptions about the Mission. All the recommendations were accepted, she added.
ESSAM ALSHAHIN (Syria) said that the aggressor must bear the responsibility for financing UNDOF, in line with relevant General Assembly resolutions. Further, the Disengagement of Forces agreement and all relevant resolutions that stress that the occupied Golan is an integral part of Syria must be fully respected. He went on to call for the condemnation of continued Israeli attacks on Syria, which demonstrate that Israel does not care about UNDOF’s presence. Additionally, the Force must be adequately financed so that it can fulfil its mandate, and he welcomed the increase in personnel — who must be able to fulfil their tasks across the Force’s area of operation, including monitoring, observing and documenting repeated Israeli attacks. He added that it is important to clearly distinguish between UNDOF and all other United Nations missions operating in Syria and the region, as the Force is confined to maintaining the ceasefire and monitoring the Disengagement of Forces agreement and has nothing to do with the internal situation in Syria.
JELENA PLAKALOVIC (Serbia) called for a more active United Nations approach on Kosovo and Metohija, opposing all attempts of marginalizing this issue. The frequent attacks on the Serbian Orthodox Church’s properties are unacceptable, she stressed, urging UNMIK to devote additional attention and engagement to the issue of internally displaced persons and their sustainable return. She pointed out that there is no detailed overview and description of the planned confidence-building projects, some of which are for the Serbian community. Since that community is faced with numerous problems and obstacles of a predominantly systematic and institutional nature, UNMIK should consult with that community when selecting concrete projects. She then went on to voice her regret that the budget proposal does not mention the unresolved issue of displaced persons’ property rights. It is necessary to determine adequate resources — either through projects or by establishing a post on awareness raising and advocacy — on this issue, she emphasized, pledging her Government’s continue call for the increase, if not maintenance, of UNMIK’s budget. “We should not lose sight of the fact that the risk of worsening the situation on the ground can cost us many times over,” she underscored.