Posted by: APO | 20 November 2007

FIFTH COMMITTEE TAKES UP $1.48 BILLION BUDGET FOR FIRST YEAR OF AFRICAN UNION-UNITED NATIONS DARFUR OPERATION


FIFTH COMMITTEE TAKES UP $1.48 BILLION BUDGET FOR FIRST YEAR OF AFRICAN UNION-UNITED NATIONS DARFUR OPERATION

 

Speakers this morning urged the international community to spare no efforts in giving the newly-established African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) the necessary resources to execute its mandate, as the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) began its consideration of the $1.48 billion proposed budget for financing that mission from July 2007 to June 2008.

 

The representative of Angola, speaking on behalf of the African Group, cited the scope, vastness and hybrid nature of the Operation and expressed the full support of the Group for the Secretary-General’s proposed structure and resources for UNAMID, as well as for the plan to rapidly deploy a robust peacekeeping force in Darfur.

 

He said that, in conformity with Security Council resolution 1769 (2007), the Secretary-General should be given adequate resources to begin deployment of the command and control structures and systems in order to ensure a seamless transfer of authority from the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to UNAMID.  The approval of the proposed budget for UNAMID should bring to an end the flexible use of resources already approved for UNMIS.  It was necessary to appropriate resources commensurate with the challenges that UNAMID would face.

 

The representative of South Africa said that the mission should be provided with resources commensurate with the challenges ahead, saying that his country supported the deployment of a robust peacekeeping force.  There should be no attempt to alter the proposed structure for that complex Operation, as that could negatively impact the effective implementation of the Operation’s mandate.  The Secretary-General’s proposed budget levels and resources would ease coordination and cooperation between the United Nations, the African Union and the host Government.

 

The representative of Zambia expressed confidence that the full and timely implementation of UNAMID would turn around the situation in Darfur.  Saying that Zambia supported the package that had been proposed, she warned that any attempt to cut that budget proposal would adversely affect the desired result.

 

While calling on all actors to take all possible measures to ensure that UNAMID became fully operational as soon as possible, so that it could carry out its vital mandate, the United States representative reiterated his country’s position that, at a time of rapidly escalating expenses associated with multiple and varied activities of the Organization, it was imperative to make every effort to maximize effective use of available resources through strong leadership and management, more efficient implementation of mandates and greater accountability. 

 

Several delegations, however, expressed concern about the fact that the Secretariat had had to resort to extraordinary measures to expedite the start-up of the mission, including granting a $250 million non-competitive and single-source procurement contract to PAE/Lockheed.  The representative of Portugal, on behalf of the European Union, called for more information about those measures, saying that it was an issue that had relevance beyond the mission.  The Union would be using informal consultations to explore those and other questions further and would draw conclusions about the proposed administrative arrangements and budget level in the light of the answers it received.  Several speakers also agreed with the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) that there must be international competition for peacekeeping contracts on a wide geographical basis.

 

In the same vein, the representative of Canada, speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said that, while the three countries supported the quickest deployment of UNAMID and understood the challenges facing the Secretariat in meeting deadlines set by resolution 1769, circumventing established administrative policies and procedures that were in place to ensure proper controls and accountabilities was an imperfect solution.  He called on the Secretary-General to do his utmost to preserve transparency, accountability and fairness in the utilization of those exceptional measures, especially in the field of procurement, where large amounts of money were involved.

 

The representative of Japan said a phased approach was the most practical way to ensure the successful deployment of UNAMID staff and equipment, bearing in mind the slow process and uncertain political climate.  He added that the prospects for success might be maximized by mobilizing as much cooperation and support as possible from within the mission, as well as relevant departments, such as the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Field Support and the Department of Political Affairs.  It was essential that UNMIS and UNAMID, stationed in the same country, pursue the maximum synergy and collaboration, particularly in the field of liaison, support services and logistics, he added.

 

In his statement, the representative of the Sudan expressed appreciation for the partnership that had been undertaken between the African Union and the United Nations in order to deploy UNAMID and stressed the need for full commitment to the Sudan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  The implementation of UNAMID should ensure full respect for those terms of reference contained in relevant Security Council resolutions, and that there were no indications that activities of national and local powers were being overruled.

 

Statements were also made by the representatives of Pakistan (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Egypt, Bangladesh, Philippines, Brazil, Kenya, India and Nicaragua.

 

The Officer-in-Charge of the Peacekeeping Financing Division and the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) also made statements.

 

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 20 November, to continue its consideration of the financing of UNAMID and to take up consideration of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) procurement task force.

 

Background

 

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to begin its consideration of the financing of the newly-established African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

 

The Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report on financing of the Operation from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, which contains a proposed budget of $1.48 billion for the mission.  The budget would provide for the deployment of 240 military observers, 19,315 military contingent, 3,772 United Nations police, 2,660 formed police units, 1,542 international staff, 3,452 national staff, 548 United Nations Volunteers and 6 Government-provided personnel.  In addition, the budget includes 55 international and 30 national staff under general temporary service.

 

The mandate for UNAMID –- what the report calls a “complex mission, in a difficult environment, with a challenging mandate” — was established by the Security Council, in resolution 1769 (2007) for an initial period of 12 months, to help achieve a lasting political solution and sustained security in Darfur.  As mandated by 1769, no later than October 2007, the Operation was to establish initial operating capability for its headquarters and command and control structures.  As of October, UNAMID was to complete preparations to assume operational command authority of the light support package, personnel currently deployed to the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS), the heavy support package and hybrid personnel deployed by that date.  Complete transition of authority from AMIS is to take place no later than 31 December.

 

The most immediate and essential preparatory steps towards the establishment of UNAMID were financed through the authorization of $50 million by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).  As that amount would be insufficient to establish UNAMID by the end of 2007, the Secretary-General, in a letter dated 2 October 2007 to the President of the General Assembly (document A/62/379) expressed his intention, as an exceptional measure, to continue providing support to AMIS, under the heavy support package provisions, through the temporary use of resources approved by the Assembly for the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS).  UNMIS would be reimbursed by UNAMID upon approval of its budget. 

 

In accordance with resolution 1769 (2007), there will be unity of command and control in UNAMID, with a single chain of command.  Strategic directives to UNAMID will be issued by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security.  To define the workings of the Operation, the two organizations will exchange letters on the legal terms of their partnership and agreement to the full application of administrative authorities and delegations in accordance with United Nations rules and regulations.  A number of strategic and legal documents, such as the rules of engagement for the heavy support package and the concept of operations for the mission, were finalized and signed by the United Nations and African Union during the joint planning session held from 30 July to 2 August in Addis Ababa.

 

In connection with the establishment of the mission, the Assembly is requested to create a special account for UNAMID and appropriate and assess the amount of some $1.48 billion for the 12-month period starting on 1 July, inclusive of the amount of $50 million previously authorized by ACABQ.

 

The recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), contained in a related report (document A/62/540), would entail a reduction of some $151.14 million to the proposed UNAMID budget.  In particular, ACABQ has doubts about the proposed budgeted pace of deployment of personnel and operational costs.  Based on its experience in observing the pace of deployment of other large missions, as well as its observations with regard to the administration and management of the mission and opportunities for further savings, it believes that the level of the proposed budget exceeds requirements for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 and recommends that the budget for UNAMID for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 be reduced to $1.33 billion.

 

With UNAMID presenting greater than usual management challenges and risks, because of prevailing circumstances and the high level of procurement and infrastructure development required, the Advisory Committee emphasizes the need for the Secretary-General to ensure that these risks are managed prudently.

 

In connection with extraordinary measures undertaken for rapid deployment of the mission, the Advisory Committee states that the likelihood that either the UNMIS mandate in Darfur would be expanded or that a separate mission would be established has been clear for quite some time.  ACABQ underlines the importance of adequate advance planning to obviate the necessity of resorting to exceptional measures and cautions against the recurrent application of exceptional measures.

 

The Advisory Committee recalls that the Assembly had previously requested the Secretary-General to submit a revised budget for UNMIS, reflecting the financial resource requirements for the heavy support package for AMIS.  The proposed budget for UNAMID for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 incorporates those provisions.  However, the Security Council, in resolution 1769 (2007), has decided that the authorized strength of UNMIS shall revert to that specified in resolution 1590 (2005) upon the transfer of authority from AMIS to UNAMID, which should take place no later than 31 December.  This reduction should be reflected in the performance report for UNMIS for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 and the proposed budget for the period from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009.

 

The Advisory Committee also emphasizes the importance of maximizing synergies between the two missions in the same country and exploiting all opportunities for efficiencies through joint and collaborative action between UNMIS and UNAMID.  It recommends that the proposed budget for 2008-2009 presents an analysis of the scope for joint services, such as in the areas of port clearance, freight forwarding, aviation operations, logistics and training and that the plan for the balance of 2007-2008 be re-examined accordingly.  The 2008-2009 budget should also draw out more clearly the extent of collaboration between UNAMID and the United Nations country team.  In particular, the Advisory Committee recommends, among other things, that the humanitarian component for UNAMID be further reviewed with UNMIS, with a view to maximizing efficiency, and that any proposed changes be reflected in the programme and resources for both missions’ budgets for 2008-2009.

 

Further, the Advisory Committee reiterates the need for cooperation in carrying out the support tasks involved within the mission, as well as among relevant departments (the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Field Support, the Department of Political Affairs and the Department of Public Information).

 

Providing detailed recommendations on proposed posts, the Advisory Committee also makes a general recommendation that deployment of staff should be phased in order to conform to the operational needs of the mission as it evolves, on the basis of a realistic assessment of what is required at different times.  Not all functions are needed simultaneously at the start-up of the mission.  While the planned deployment schedule provides for the deployment of 62 per cent and 60 per cent of the total numbers proposed for international and national staff, respectively, by 30 June 2008, the structure of the mission, the final allocation of posts and their grade levels should remain under review as the mission is deployed.  ACABQ, therefore, expects that the budget for UNAMID for the period from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009 will reflect experience gained and include further review, taking into account actual workload, as well as justification for all staffing proposals.

 

Given the fact that the United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies are carrying out substantive work in their domain, the Advisory Committee is of the opinion that the grade levels of mission personnel performing liaison, advocacy and coordination functions could be done at lower levels.  Further, close coordination with the UNMIS Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General/Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Secretariat must be ensured.

 

The Advisory Committee also highlights the need to rigorously review the capacity of the mission to effectively utilize the full amount of resources for operational costs currently budgeted for 2007-2008.  The Secretary-General should provide directly to the General Assembly a detailed update (including the phase-in of deployment), so that resource requests can be reduced accordingly.  It is also necessary to strictly monitor the use of resources under operational costs.  The Advisory Committee expects that related requests in the 2008-2009 budget will reflect refinements on the basis of experience gained and further review.

 

The Advisory Committee also recalls that, in A/62/379, the Secretary-General indicated that he had authorized a number of extraordinary measures with a view to expediting the procurement mechanism, including the “entering into non-competitive, single-source contract(s), for the provision of logistics support in the short term, subject to a review by the Headquarters Committee on Contracts”.  In this connection, ACABQ was informed that, following negotiations on the original bid valued at $700 million, a contract was awarded to PAE/Lockheed in the value of $250 million for a six-month period, with possible extension options.

 

The Advisory Committee stresses the importance of ensuring effective international competition from all qualified vendors on a wide geographical basis for provision of the full range of goods and services to be procured at the conclusion of the sole source contract.  In that connection, ACABQ was informed that on 9 October the Procurement Division had posted on its website a request for expressions of interest regarding provision for multifunctional logistics services for Darfur, Chad/ Central African Republic and Somalia.  The report also recommends that immediate action be taken to supply goods and services using the appropriate mechanisms, so as to avoid extension of the present contract.

 

Introduction

 

BOCK YEO, Officer-in-Charge of the Peacekeeping Financing Division, introduced, on behalf of the United Nations Controller, the report of the Secretary-General on the budget for UNAMID.  He said that the budget presented to the Committee was based on the phased deployment of those personnel and the fully authorized strength was not expected to be achieved by the end of the current budget period, 30 June 2008.

 

The operational resource requirements of $1.07 billion represented the largest resource group category (72 per cent of the total) and included facilities and infrastructure, air operations, ground transportation and communications.  Resource estimates for military and civilian personnel took full account of the phased, planned deployment, containing a delayed deployment factor of 45 per cent for military contingents, 15 per cent for military observers, 25 per cent for United Nations police and formed police units, 5 per cent for international staff, and 40 per cent for United Nations Volunteers.  The budget also included 13 posts for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations/Department of Field Support integrated operational team up to 30 June 2008.  Those posts would be included in the proposed support account budget for the 2008-2009 period.

 

As the proposed budget for UNMID included resource provisions for the heavy support package, there would be no requirement to submit to the Assembly a revised budget for UNMIS, he said.  The projected cash position for UNMIS, after setting aside a 3-month operating reserve, amounted to $87 million (cash on hand of $247 million as at 12 November, less the projected 3-month operating reserve of $160 million).  Troop-contributing countries had been reimbursed for troop costs up to 31 August, and contingent-owned equipment and self-sustainment up to 30 June, in the total amount of $56.4 million.  As of 31 October, the total assessed amount for UNMIS since inception to 31 October amounted to some $2.58 billion, of which $2.38 billion had been received, and the amount of $200 million was outstanding.

 

In conclusion, he said that the approval of the UNAMID budget and prompt receipt of the assessed contributions would be vital to meet not only the immediate cash requirements of the mission, but would also enable prompt reimbursement of the UNMIS special account for disbursements made by that Mission during the implementation of the heavy support package, as well as the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund.

 

Presenting the ACABQ report, RAJAT SAHA, Chairman of the Advisory Committee, said that the recommendations contained in the document had been made on the basis of the Committee’s experience in observing the pace of deployment at the start-up of other large missions and its conviction that the level of the proposed budget was very likely to exceed requirements.  It also took into account reductions related to ACABQ’s recommendations on posts for the civilian staffing proposed for the mission.  In that connection, ACABQ noted that civilian personnel costs included in the budget proposal were based on a planned deployment schedule, which projected 3,550 staff on board by 30 June 2008, rather than the total of 5,497 posts proposed for the mission.  Not all functions were required simultaneously at the start-up of the mission and deployment of staff should be phased, in order to conform to the operational needs as the Operation evolved, on the basis of a realistic assessment of what was achievable or required at different times.  The budget for UNAMID for 2008-2009 should include a further review of and justification for all staffing proposals on the basis of experience gained and actual workload.

 

The Secretary-General’s proposal did not provide a detailed analysis of the opportunities to maximize synergies between the two missions in the Sudan, he continued, and the Advisory Committee recommended that the proposed budget for 2008-2009 present an analysis for the scope for joint services, and the plan for the balance of 2007-2008 be re-examined accordingly.  The use of resources under operational costs should be strictly monitored and comprehensive information provided in the performance report.

 

In connection with the Secretary-General’s letter of 2 October, he said that most of the extraordinary measures that he had exceptionally authorized related to the support component, particularly in the area of deployment of personnel and procurement.  The Advisory Committee underlined the importance of adequate advance planning to obviate the necessity of resorting to exceptional measures and cautioned against the recurrent application of such measures.

 

Statements

 

EDUARDO RAMOS ( Portugal), on behalf of the European Union, said that the Union wanted to see the mission fully deployed and fully effective, as soon as possible.  However, given the groundbreaking hybrid nature of UNAMID, its size and the enormous logistical challenges, as well as the significant financial implications, ensuring proper budget scrutiny was essential.  There were, as pointed out by ACABQ, important questions to be asked about the proposed shape of the mission, about its relationship with other actors on the ground, and about the planning assumptions on which the budget proposals were based.  More detail was needed to allow the Union to properly scrutinize the mission’s proposed operational costs.  The Union also needed more information about the Secretary-General’s use of extraordinary measures –- an issue that had relevance beyond the mission.  The Union would be using informal consultations to explore those and other questions further and would draw conclusions about the proposed administrative arrangements and budget level in the light of the answers it received.

 

IMTIAZ HUSSAIN (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed concern about late submission of the documents before the Committee, which had created difficulties for many delegations.  Regarding the absence of the logical framework in the report, which, the Committee had been told, would be coming during the second resumed session, he said that such exceptions should be kept to a minimum.  The Group was going ahead with the consideration of the report in the spirit of flexibility, and realizing the importance of the mission.

 

Only $1 million had been allocated to important activities in the area of quick impact projects, and he advocated a much broader and larger allocation in that regard.  He hoped adequate resources would be coming in the future budget proposals.

 

On recruitment, he said that, with a large number of posts requested, relevant resolutions should be kept in mind while recruiting.  A number of extraordinary measures taken by the Secretariat would be closely examined in closed consultations.  Such measures should be avoided at all costs.  If there was careful planning, extraordinary measures might not be needed.  He understood the difficulties and challenges of establishing the mission, but the Group would carefully scrutinize all the elements contained in the Secretary-General’s letter to the President of the General Assembly.

 

ISMAEL A. GASPAR MARTINS ( Angola), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the Group fully supported the deployment of UNAMID as per Security Council resolution 1769.  UNAMID was the result of constructive consultations and cooperation between the United Nations, African Union and the Government of the Sudan.  In that context, the Group welcomed the first proposed budget covering the financial period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 for UNAMID.  He drew attention to the mission’s unique, complex and multidimensional nature.  Owing to the scope, vastness and hybrid nature of the Operation, he fully supported the Secretary-General’s proposed structure and resources for UNAMID, as well as the plan to rapidly deploy a robust peacekeeping force in Darfur.  No effort should be spared to give the Operation the necessary resources to execute its mandate.

 

Regarding the exceptional measure taken by the Secretariat, which had resulted in granting a contract of $250 million on a “single-bid” basis, he said that the process should have been open to competitive bidding and that should have been done in a manner that ensured timely deployment of the Operation.  Qualified bidders from different regions, including developing countries, particularly from Africa, should have had equal access to an open and fair competitive bidding process.  Resolution 1769 had recalled the Addis Ababa agreement, which stated that UNAMID should have a predominantly African character, and the troops should be, as far as possible, sourced from African countries.  He was encouraged that numerous African countries had pledged to send their peacekeepers and equipment in support of the Operation, while other Member States had also pledged their troops and resources.  The Group called on the Secretariat to expedite the process of personnel recruitment and force deployment.  The proposed structure for the complex Operation was compatible with its mandate.  Any restructuring at this stage could negatively impact on the implementation of its mandate.

 

He said that, in conformity with resolution 1769, the Secretary-General should be given adequate resources to begin deployment of the command and control structures and systems to ensure a seamless transfer of authority from AMIS to UNAMID.  The approval of the proposed budget for UNAMID should bring to an end the flexible use of resources already approved for UNMIS.  It was necessary to appropriate resources commensurate with the challenges that UNAMID would face.  The mission had immense operational support requirements, and as such, Member States should ensure that it was adequately resourced.  The Group also stressed the importance of close coordination and cooperation between the African Union, United Nations and the Government of the Sudan to ensure a lasting solution to the situation in Darfur.  The role of international partners and donors would remain critical.

 

The African Union had a Comprehensive African Strategy for Post-Conflict Reconstruction in the Sudan, he added, which set out clear and time-bound actions and would be coordinated with reconstruction efforts funded by donor countries.  UNAMID had a critical role to play towards coordinating international efforts in support of immediate assistance to, and long-term economic development of, the Sudan.  It was, therefore, imperative that the Assembly provide the Operation with the means necessary to implement its mandate.  “We should not lose sight of the urgent need to support the Darfur peace process,” he said.  “We should equally take into account the mandates and decisions of the General Assembly and the rules and regulations of the Organization.”

 

OLIVIER POULIN (Canada), speaking on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, expressed strong support for the Darfur peace process and said that the three countries he represented had been strong supporters of the African Union in its efforts to bring peace and security to Darfur through AMIS.   Canada had provided 27 aircrafts to the mission and 103 armoured personnel carriers to support contingents from Nigeria, Senegal and Rwanda.  He welcomed the establishment of UNAMID and would continue to support the international efforts to help the people of Darfur.

 

He recognized that the Secretary-General had prepared a complex budgetary proposal in a very short time frame and welcomed the inclusion of additional information on resource planning assumptions as requested in resolution 61/276, he went on.  However, he was concerned with the lack of information and justification related to operational costs.  As highlighted by ACABQ, those costs amounted to 72 per cent of the budget, but were not justified.  It was incongruous for a budget proposal to elaborate more on a single junior post than on some operational items valued at several hundred million dollars.  That situation must be addressed in future peacekeeping budget proposals and in compliance with resolution 61/276.

 

In contract with the regular budget, in which costs were mostly driven by posts, peacekeeping costs were largely driven by operational requirements, such as transport, infrastructure and communication, he went on.  He believed that the oversight role of ACABQ and the Fifth Committee would be enhanced if closer attention was paid to those aspects of peacekeeping budget proposals.  ACABQ had recommended reducing the budget by $150 million, largely because of doubts about the proposed budgeted pace of deployment and comparison with the deployment patterns of other large United Nations peace operations.  Likewise, he doubted that the mission would require the full amount sought and he would like information related to updated assumptions associated with operational costs and the results of the Darfur Mission Start-Up Risk Assessment.  He would also like more information on the staff recruitment and deployment strategy, as it must be assured that the right people were deployed first, since housing and other sustainment resources would be scarce in the initial months.

 

He shared ACABQ’s view that there were a number of opportunities for UNAMID and UNMIS to share support assets in order to improve efficiencies and synergies, and he encouraged the missions to work cooperatively in that regard.

 

Regarding the extraordinary measures the Secretary-General had authorized to enable the Secretariat to efficiently and effectively respond to demands placed upon it in implementing Security Council resolution 1769, he said that, while he supported the quickest deployment of UNAMID and understood the challenges facing the Secretariat in meeting deadlines set by resolution 1769, circumventing established administrative policies and procedures that were in place to ensure proper controls and accountabilities was an imperfect solution.  The Secretary-General should do his utmost to preserve transparency, accountability and fairness in the utilization of those exceptional measures, especially in the field of procurement, where large amounts of money were involved.

 

MOTUMISI TAWANA ( South Africa) supported the position of the African Group and endorsed the Secretary-General’s proposed budget for UNAMID in its entirety.  The head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had stated on many occasions that, in order for UNAMID to succeed, it had to be robust and effective.  He was convinced that the mission should be provided with resources that were commensurate with the challenges ahead.  In line with the resolution creating the mission, his delegation supported the deployment of a robust peacekeeping force.  UNAMID was mandated to undertake a wide range of activities to support the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement.  He trusted that there would be no attempt to alter the proposed structure for that complex operation, as that could negatively impact on the effective implementation of the operation’s mandate.  The Secretary-General’s proposed budget levels and resources would ease coordination and cooperation between the United Nations, the African Union and the host Government, Sudan.

 

Continuing, he stressed the importance of close coordination and cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations in Darfur.  Without any doubt, UNAMID marked a significant milestone in creating synergies between the African Union and the United Nations and it gave practical expression to that partnership.  In support of the Darfur Peace Agreement, it was necessary to promptly approve a sufficient budget for UNAMID.

 

MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) welcomed the budget proposal and said that it was imperative that the Committee took a decision which would provide a solid foundation for the work of the Operation and contributed to lasting peace in the region.   Egypt took note of the recommendations of ACABQ and stood ready to consider them further during informal consultations.  He hoped that the Secretariat would be able to provide a detailed explanation of the potential impact that any proposed reductions might have on the work of UNAMID.  On the question of human resources, Egypt noted that the estimated cost of the military, police and civilian personnel amounted to over 25 per cent of the total proposed budget of the Operation, but, at the same time, noted with disappointment the poor performance of the Secretariat in the area of deployment and recruitment, in order to meet the deadlines stipulated in Security Council resolution 1769 (2007), maintaining the African character of the Operation.  Egypt would like a detailed update of that situation from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

 

He added that, while admitting the need for close coordination between UNMIS and UNAMID, such coordination efforts should not affect the ability of both missions to undertake their responsibilities effectively.  Egypt was also concerned that the Secretary-General had not responded to the request of the General Assembly for a revised budget for UNMIS that reflected the resource requirements for the heavy support package to the African Union Mission.  Further, he supported the ACABQ observation that the establishment of UNAMID had been clear for quite some time, which should have eliminated the need to resort to the exceptional measures of using resources already approved for UNMIS.

 

He noted with concern that a single source contract of about 25 per cent of the operational costs of the Operation had been signed last October — in addition to 17 other exceptional measures.  His delegation would be looking forward to discussing the details that justified taking such measures on the basis of exigency, taking into account the actual rate of deployment and the exact time frame required to tender a construction and support package.

 

DAVID TRAYSTMAN ( United States) said that the situation in the Sudan had been, and would continue to be, a top priority for his country.  The large, robust peacekeeping force for Darfur was finally on the verge of deployment.  The transition to that essential operation was due to take place by 31 December.  All actors must take all possible measures to ensure that UNAMID became fully operational as soon as possible, so that it could carry out its vital mandate.

 

His delegation commended those in the Secretariat involved in the preparation of the proposed budget and the measures they were taking to ensure an orderly and timely transition from AMIS to UNAMID.  He also welcomed the analysis and recommendations provided by ACABQ to facilitate the Committee’s consideration of the matter.  As his delegation had stated on other occasions, at a time of rapidly escalating expenses associated with multiple and varied activities of the Organization, it was imperative to make every effort to maximize effective use of available resources through strong leadership and management, more efficient implementation of mandates and greater accountability.  He hoped that the Committee would proceed without delay to complete its examination of the proposed budget and adopt it, to ensure that UNAMID would have the funds it needed to implement its vital mandate.

 

AGNES MUSUNGA ( Zambia) said that her country took note of the keen interest that had been taken by the United Nations to end the conflict in Darfur.  It welcomed the establishment of UNAMID and commended the Secretary-General for the rapid response to the crisis in Darfur.   Zambia was confident that the full and timely implementation of UNAMID would turn around the situation in Darfur.  She supported the package that had been proposed, as any attempt to cut that budget proposal would adversely affect the desired result.

 

Turning to the Secretary-General’s letter regarding extraordinary measures he had taken and the recommendations of ACABQ on that subject, she said that Zambia recognized that, while responding to humanitarian emergency in Darfur with the speed it deserved, some administrative decisions had to be made.   Zambia supported the continuation of the rapid deployment, as envisaged in the Secretary-General’s report.  On the other hand, normalization of the process, according to United Nations procedures and regulations, should be done.

 

MUHAMMAD A. MUHITH ( Bangladesh) said that his delegation was fully aware of the complexity of UNAMID in a difficult environment with a challenging mandate.  UNAMID also stood out to be unique in its nature –- the first ever hybrid peace operation established by the Security Council for an initial period of 12 months.  Against that backdrop, due to time factors, many “extraordinary measures” had been taken, with the Secretariat exercising “some flexibility in the application of administrative policies and procedures”.  Taking into account the Assembly’s prerogative in taking decisions and also the exceptional situations involved, he looked forward to discussing the details of the issues in the forthcoming meetings.

 

Given the unusual circumstances and urgent need for effectively deploying a robust peacekeeping force in Darfur within the envisaged time frame, he saw merit in the budget proposal made by the Secretary-General, he continued.  Given the multifaceted and critical elements characterizing UNAMID and the critical challenges lying ahead, the mission should be adequately resourced, so that its mandate, as indicated in paragraph 1 of 1769, was realized in full.  He noted, however, that the budget for UNAMID for 2007-2008 had not been submitted in a results-based format.  Like ACABQ, his delegation would also expect that the mission’s budget for 2008-2009 be submitted in full compliance with relevant General Assembly resolutions.

 

As for the $250 million non-competitive and single-source procurement contract, he agreed with ACABQ with regard to the importance of ensuring international competition on a wide geographical basis.  His delegation intended to discuss the issue of extraordinary measures on procurement during informal meetings, in the light of existing financial rules.

 

ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMAD ( Sudan) expressed appreciation for the partnership that had been undertaken between the African Union and the United Nations in order to deploy the hybrid mission to implement the peace agreement in Darfur in all its political, military and humanitarian aspects.  At a time when arrangements were being set up as a temporary measure with clear exit strategy, peace in the Sudan was a continuing factor.  The Sudan saluted the special efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to convince parties that did not sign the Darfur Peace Agreement to join the peace process.  He confirmed his country’s commitment and willingness to meet its obligations in order to build on the successes made so far, particularly to begin the operational centres for the hybrid mission.

 

Security Council resolution 1767 was the fundamental document that created the mission and served as its terms of reference, he went on.  That resolution stressed the need for a full commitment to the Sudan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  The implementation of UNAMID should ensure full respect for those terms of reference and ensure that there were no indications that activities of national and local powers were being overruled.  The Government of the Sudan, while expressing full cooperation with the mission, would like to have the channels of cooperation proposed with the mission continued, particularly in vital fields like health, education, protection of women and national police.  The Sudan was fully convinced of the need for wide-ranging cooperation with the mission, but noted certain contradictions that needed to be examined.  For instance, the proposal provided for 544 international United Nations Volunteers, but only four national United Nations Volunteers.  UNAMID was a reflection of cooperation between the United Nations, the Sudan and the African Union in an effort to obtain permanent peace in the Sudan.  Thus, it ought to be funded in a transparent manner, so that resources provided by Member States could be used in the expected manner.

 

He called on the Secretariat to provide the promised answer to the questions previously raised by the Sudan and to clear doubts regarding a breach of financial regulations, as well as details of a no-bid contract that had been awarded to a company.  Negotiations for that contract had begun on 26 April.  There was a need for effective international competition in providing services an end to one-source contracts.  That contract had raised questions and the request for information was part of the record of the meetings of the Committee.  The Secretariat should distribute that record to all Member States, so that the information on that contract would be cleared up.

 

It was necessary to find out why the Secretariat went forward in completing the contract even though:  the company did not own the relevant equipment; the equipment was owned by the United States Government; and it was not clear that the equipment would be available to the United Nations.  It was also not the tradition to agree on a contract whose final text had yet to be set.  The Sudan called on the Secretariat to fully explain why it did not abide by the relevant General Assembly resolution.  Such a selective treatment of General Assembly resolutions should not be repeated.

 

The Sudan also called on the Secretary-General to submit a report on progress made in UNMIS activities through disarmament, demobilization and reintegration projects.  That mandate had been disregarded by the Secretary-General.  UNAMID was different, and complemented the effort of the African Union and the United Nations through complementarity.  The budget proposal did not reflect that complementarity at the leadership level.  The Sudan expected Member States to be provided with a list on the proposed leadership, showing those supplied by the African Union and those supplied by the United Nations.  It was important that the African character be reflected in all areas.

 

UNMIS was a separate mission with specific and well-known responsibilities, he continued.  The proposed resources — in order to achieve disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and rapid impact — did not rise to the size, responsibility and mandate of the Mission.  The Sudan expected the Secretariat to set forth proposals to fund the Mission in a way that would ensure the success of all its activities.  The Sudan hoped development and reconstruction would be given the importance they deserved and that the ethical breaches by some UNMIS elements in Juba would not take place again.

 

HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR. ( Philippines) associated himself with the position of the Group of 77 and said the success of a peacekeeping operation was contingent both on the clear and robust mandate and the provision of adequate resources to United Nations missions around the world, including the Sudan, his delegation strongly believed in and subscribed to that conviction.  It was necessary to remove all the obstacles to ensure that the people on the ground were equipped with the knowledge and tools to accomplish their mission.  Given the ultimate goal of ending the suffering in Darfur, UNAMID must be given all the support it required and deserved.  Inasmuch as the distinct operational consideration of the African Union-United Nations collaboration had been deliberated upon by those organizations and the Government of the Sudan, a fact acknowledged by the African Group, his delegation joined others in supporting the UNAMID budget proposed by the Secretary-General.

 

His delegation also viewed UNAMID as a concrete manifestation of cooperation between the African Union and United Nations, particularly in the spirit of the Declaration on Enhancing African Union-United Nations Cooperation signed on 16 November 2006.  The United Nations had always been an unwavering ally of Africa, and Africa’s regional and subregional institutions had become more and more active partners with the United Nations over the years, especially in Darfur through AMIS.  Approval of the budget proposal before the Committee would further strengthen that cooperation and partnership in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  The Philippines shared that conviction, not only as a founding member of the United Nations, but also as it believed the problem in Darfur affected the entire world.

 

KEN MUKAI ( Japan) said that UNAMID should go forward and be managed in such a way that it reinforced the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations in Darfur.   Japan requested the Secretary-General to provide information on the substantive work being done by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as well as United Nations funds and programmes and specialized agencies, to confirm that they worked together.  Bearing in mind the slow process and uncertain political climate, a phased approach would be the most practical way to ensure the successful deployment of UNAMID staff and equipment.

 

Japan supported the peace process component, to be headed by a Deputy Joint Special Representative at the Assistant Secretary-General level, as a means of enhancing the political climate in the Sudan, he went on.  However, many political affairs posts needed to be rationalized.  In particular, it was naturally expected that the Political Affairs Division would coordinate its work with the Joint Mediation Support Team.  Also, the prospects for success might be maximized by mobilizing as much cooperation and support as possible from within the mission, as well as relevant departments such as the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Department of Field Support and the Department of Political Affairs.  It was essential that UNMIS and UNAMID, stationed in the same country, pursue the maximum synergy and collaboration, particularly in the field of liaison, support services and logistics.

 

Japan also shared ACABQ’s concern about the collaboration taking place between UNAMID and the United Nations country team, he went on.  He pointed out that the humanitarian presence in Darfur was currently estimated at 10,944 personnel, with 1,219 personnel from the United Nations agencies, funds and programmes.  It would be most conducive to the successful implementation of the liaison, advocacy and coordination functions that UNAMID had been given if the maximum use was made of the substantial assets and specialized skill available in the United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies.  He added that the deployment of staff should take place in phases in order to conform to operational needs of the mission as it evolved, on the basis of a realistic assessment of what was achievable or required at different times.  Not all functions were required at the start-up of the mission.

 

Japan fully concurred with the recommendation by ACABQ that the figure for the budget be reduced by $151 million, to adjust the level of assessments based on updated information on the deployment of military and police personnel.  That could, in turn, impact on the deployment of civilian personnel and operational costs, which could then result in lower expenditures than initially proposed.  Japan was of the view that a reduction of 20 per cent of the proposed budget would be realistic for a phased deployment approach, in the light of the present situation.

 

PAOLO ROBERTO CAMPOS TARRISE DA FONTOURA ( Brazil) supported the position of the African Group and said that the Committee should approve a budget that would allow for effective implementation of UNAMID’s complex and unique mandate, which aimed at creating the conditions for the parties to reach a lasting peace through negotiations.  It went without saying that Brazil supported the proposed budget as presented by the Secretary-General.  However, the willingness of the international community to match the broad mandate of UNAMID with the necessary resources must go hand in hand with the readiness of all parties involved in the conflict to support the full and prompt deployment of troops in Darfur.  UNAMID was not a panacea in itself, but could help to build durable peace and a fair society, as long as all parties on the ground committed themselves to a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

 

Brazil would also like to stress that procurement processes in peacekeeping operations should be handled in an open, transparent and competitive manner.  Procurement must be carried out in full compliance with the financial rules and regulations, as well as General Assembly resolutions, he said.  He also underscored the need for active participation of companies and vendors from all regions, in particular developing countries, in all bids carried out by the United Nations.   Brazil firmly supported the role of United Nations peacekeeping operations in all regions, which were crucial in assisting countries to emerge from conflict and achieve economic development and sustained peace.  Aware that peacekeeping budgets had increased significantly over the past few years, his delegation reiterated, nevertheless, that all missions should receive all the resources needed to fulfil their mandates.  Missions should be given equal and non-discriminatory treatment in respect of financial and administrative arrangements.

 

ANOTHONY ANDANJE ( Kenya) associated himself with the position of the African Group and welcomed the Secretary-General’s budget proposals for UNAMID.  The hybrid force authorized by the Security Council was an important step, which demonstrated a clear international consensus that a robust peacekeeping force was needed in Darfur.  Member States should take the cue and act decisively without further delays.  The United Nations must be provided with adequate resources to expedite the deployment of peacekeepers in Darfur to address the security and humanitarian situation there.  The deployment of the complex and multidimensional Hybrid Operation posed great challenges.  The scope of the mission, the vastness of Darfur, the support and coordination required between the African Union and the United Nations was unprecedented.  The operational and logistical difficulties would be immense, compounded further by the ambiguity over authority, command and control.  Nevertheless, those challenges were not insurmountable.  The international community must do everything necessary to secure rapid deployment of the Operation to protect civilians and humanitarian efforts in Darfur.

 

Security was essential for humanitarian assistance, and Kenya underscored the need to make adequate provision for the security of United Nations staff, humanitarian workers, civilians and installations, he said.  Incidents such as the fatal attack on African Union soldiers in the Darfur town of Haskanita must not be allowed to occur.  The political will demonstrated by the African Union and regional economic communities in mobilizing peacekeeping troops for the Hybrid Operation was commendable, and he urged the countries that had offered to supply troops, but had not indicated their actual commitments, to do so.

 

Needless to say, the difficulty of force generation was not the only problem, he added.  Clearly, the international community had the responsibility to provide the logistical and technical support for UNAMID to deploy quickly and effectively.  “We have to be candid to one another,” he said.  “As we are all fully aware, the African Union is not yet equipped to respond to peacekeeping operations.”  In the face of that challenge, the international community must respond immediately to the Secretary-General’s appeal for technical and logistical assistance in support of the African Union to help expand and reinforce its efforts in Darfur.

 

Turning to ACABQ’s recommendations, he said his delegation was disappointed with the recommendation to reduce the budget of UNAMID by some $151 million.  Success of the mission and its effectiveness hinged on the provision of adequate resources, and a budget cut would only serve to undermine the mission before deployment.  His delegation would appreciate if the Secretariat explained the impact, if any, of the proposed budget reduction on the mission, especially the structure envisaged, taking into account the complexity of UNAMID.

 

Another issue of concern to his delegation was the mission leadership, he said.  The ambiguity regarding authority, command and control raised fundamental questions.  Bearing in mind that the mission was supposed to have a predominantly African character, under whose command would troop contingents contributed by non-African Union countries be placed?  Would they be under African Union or United Nations command?  In his view, the Security Council decision of June 2007, giving the United Nations authority, command and control of the Hybrid Operation, while the African Union took responsibility for routine operations, was not very helpful.  It was difficult to imagine how the arrangement would be practically implemented, if the United Nations did provide such operational strategic control and direction of the mission.  Serious questions also remained concerning backstopping by the United Nations.  Those issues had to be resolved prior to deployment.

 

He concurred with the Advisory Committee’s recommendation that the level of posts be set at levels similar to those in other large missions, such as the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and UNMIS.  However, the requests for the posts of the economic adviser and liaison officer in Khartoum should have been granted at the D-2 level, as requested by the Secretary-General.  It was important that the holders of the posts in question be able to interact at the highest level in support of the political process.

 

SUDHAKAR REDDY ( India) said that the establishment of UNAMID reflected the collective will of the international community, including the African Union and the Government of the Sudan.   India supported the scheduled deployment of a fully-resourced UNAMID, which would have the necessary wherewithal to effectively execute its challenging mandate.  Deployment of a mission of this magnitude and complexity without the requisite means would not only be counterproductive, but be doomed to failure.  For that reason, he welcomed the mission’s proposed budget, as it provided the correct administrative and budgetary framework for setting up the Operation.  The unique and complex structure of UNAMID was based on close cooperation and coordination between the African Union and the United Nations, and he commended that process.  He called for expedited recruitment of required civilian staff that could be deployed in the field as and when required, based on the security situation.

 

Regarding the extraordinary measures taken by the Secretariat, he said that, while acknowledging that similar measures on a smaller scale might have been taken in the past for other missions, his delegation concurred with ACABQ that, given the experience gained and lessons learned over the years, the Secretariat should understand the importance of advance planning in order to avoid recourse to those exceptional measures.  Recurrent application of exceptional measures undermined the budgetary and administrative discipline and compounded the risk of failure of internal controls.  He was concerned over the non-competitive “single-source” contract amounting to $250 million awarded to a vendor under the pretext of exigency, even though the probability of a mission in Darfur had been under discussion for some time.  He reiterated his delegation’s strong opposition to such waivers of United Nations procurement regulations and rules, except under extraordinary circumstances, which did not seem to be the case for the contract in question.  He echoed the Advisory Committee in stressing the importance of ensuring effective international competition from all qualified vendors on a wide geographical basis, not just for UNAMID, but for all United Nations procurement.  The process should be open, fair, transparent and rule-based.

 

While strongly advocating provision of full resources for UNAMID, he supported the comment of ACABQ that, given the presence of two peacekeeping missions in the same country, it was imperative to maximize synergies and exploit all efficiencies through joint and collaborative efforts between UNMIS and UNAMID.  The bottom line was that the proposed structure for UNAMID and the existing one for UNMIS, and their capacities to efficiently and effectively execute their respective mandates, should not be compromised, in an effort to maximize synergies and exploit efficiencies.  Given the larger than usual management challenges and risks associated with UNAMID, ACABQ had also advised the Secretary-General to be vigilant about prudent risk management.  Member States should also be closely following the evolution of that important mission.  He called on all parties to the conflict in Darfur to exercise restraint and urged them to participate in the Darfur peace talks.  He also called on the international community to provide financial and material support for the deployment of UNAMID and the alleviation of the humanitarian situation in Darfur.

 

DANILO ROSALES DIAZ ( Nicaragua) expressed regret at the delayed submission of the ACABQ report to Member States, noting that it was only made available this morning.   Nicaragua wholeheartedly supported the Secretary-General’s report, but expressed concern for the disregard for financial rules and General Assembly resolutions.   Nicaragua was greatly perturbed to see that a contract of $250 million had been granted without public tender, in violation of the financial rules of the Organization.  His country would participate actively in informal consultations on that subject and would be asking the Secretariat to provide information on those extraordinary measures.  When exceptions became the norm, the accountability of the Secretariat must be increased proportionately.

 

Mr. YEO said that the responses to the questions raised in the debate and the Advisory Committee’s request for up-to-date information on the deployment of the mission would be provided to Member States in informal consultations.  Responding to a question regarding non-submission of a revised budget of UNMIS with respect to the heavy support package, he said that the budget had not been submitted because related resource requirements had been included in the UNAMID budget itself.  However, those funds had not been explicitly identified, and additional information in that regard would be included in the responses provided in informal consultations.

 

Mr. SAHA said that he wanted to place on record that the Advisory Committee had not delayed the submission of its report on UNAMID.


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