Posted by: APO | 3 June 2008

Darfur / Fifth committee takes up proposed $1.7 billion budget for african union-united nations operation in Darfur

Darfur / Fifth committee takes up proposed $1.7 billion budget for african union-united nations operation in Darfur

 

NEW YORK, USA, June 3, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning took up the proposed $1.7 billion budget for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) for 2008/09.

 

The representative of Angola, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said he regretted that UNAMID -– the biggest slice of the peacekeeping budget -– had been presented with four days left in the session.  He was mindful of the challenging mandate and aware of the backlog in terms of full deployment.  He added that the scope, vastness and hybrid nature of the Mission justified the need to allocate sufficient resources for it.  UNAMID had existed for hardly six months, and he was conscious of the challenges it faced in realizing its full deployment.  He looked forward to hearing in consultations about the progress made thus far in ensuring that the Mission became progressively equal to its mandate.

 

The representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said that the Mission’s success depended on the assistance of all contributing stakeholders filling resource shortfalls.  UNAMID was facing unprecedented challenges, ranging from extreme remoteness and poor communication infrastructures to reluctant cooperation from the host Government.  While fully understanding those challenges, he was seriously concerned by the delays experienced so far.  Indeed, 10 months after the adoption of resolution 1769, the Mission did not appear significantly more robust than the African Union Mission in the Sudan, which it had absorbed.

 

The experience in deploying UNAMID had highlighted the need for stronger integration between all components of the Organization, he continued.  He was pleased by the rapid set-up of the Darfur Integrated Operational Team.  While that initiative had been helpful, the Team needed to be further empowered, so that it could drive the process and resolve the numerous issues hampering deployment.  The senior management of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support should instruct all substantive directors and managers to fully collaborate with the Team.  Without their support, the establishment of the Team would have been fruitless.

 

The representative of Japan noted that the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) had recommended the appropriation of the amount of $1.7 billion proposed by the Secretary-General, while also recommending the assessment of the amount of $849 million be made in two phases and the Secretary-General submit a report on progress in the implementation of the budget, to provide a revised appropriation and further assessment. 

 

He said, before embarking on such an approach, though, it was necessary to consider allowing the level of assessments to be adjusted, based on updated information on the deployment of military and police personnel.  That could have an impact on the deployment of civilian personnel and operational costs, which could then result in lower expenditures than initially proposed.  A reduction of 30 per cent of the proposed budget would be realistic in the light of the present situation.

 

The representatives of the United States and the Sudan also made statements.

 

Warren Sach, United Nations Controller, and Susan McLurg, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introduced relevant Secretariat and ACABQ reports.

 

The Committee Secretary made a statement regarding the organization of the work of the Committee.

 

The Committee will meet again on Wednesday, 4 June, to take up the proposed budgets for the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) as well as the administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of United Nations peacekeeping operations.

 

Background

 

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to consider the budget request for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) for the period from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009.

 

According to the Secretary-General’s report on the matter (document A/62/791), the budget proposal amounts to some $1.7 billion providing for the deployment of 240 military observers, 19,315 military contingent personnel, 3,772 United Nations police officers, 2,660 formed police units personnel, 1,554 international staff and 3,455 national staff, including 59 international staff and 40 national staff under general temporary assistance, 548 United Nations Volunteers and 6 Government-provided personnel.

 

Introductions

 

WARREN SACH, the United Nations Controller, introduced the reports of the Secretary-General on the financing of UNAMID, saying that the proposed budget of $1.7 billion for the period 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009 represented an increase of $424 million, or 33.2 per cent, compared to the approved resources for the 2007/08 period.  The main factors contributing to the variances were the higher planned deployment of military, police and civilian personnel, as well as increased air transportation requirements due to intensified military air patrols, as well as cargo and personnel movements.

 

SUSAN MCLURG, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), presenting the related report of the Advisory Committee, said that the Committee had recommended the appropriation of the full amount requested by the Secretary-General in his proposed budget, but, for a number of reasons, had also recommended that only 50 per cent of the proposed budget be assessed to cover the six-month period from 1 July 2008 to 31 December 2008.  The Committee also recommended that the Secretary-General be requested to submit a report to the General Assembly no later than 30 November 2008 on progress in implementation of the budget, to provide for a revised appropriation and a further assessment, if required.  The Committee expected that the performance report for the 2007/08 budget would be submitted at that time.

 

Noting that the proposed budget was based on a deployment plan that aimed at 80 per cent deployment of the authorized strength of UNAMID by the end of 2008 and full deployment of civilian personnel by June 2009, Ms. McLurg said that planned deployment depended on a number of factors.  Those included the ability to significantly strengthen the Mission’s engineering capability, which was needed to build new camps and upgrade existing African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) camps; a major improvement in the movement of goods from Port Sudan to Darfur; and provision by the Government of land and water access, as well as assistance with the expeditious movement of goods across the Sudan into Darfur.

 

Given the time remaining in the financial period, the Committee was of the view that it might be difficult for the Mission to achieve the projected level of expenditure, she went on.  Further, the proposed budget, having been prepared by the Mission within one month after its establishment, was, understandably, not based on experience in implementing a previous budget.  Nevertheless, the Committee recognized that, once the Mission progressed beyond the start-up phase, expenditure would accelerate and the need for adequate funds would become acute.

 

Under the circumstances, the Committee had no basis for recommending an appropriation other than that proposed by the Secretary-General, she said.  Accordingly, in order to ensure efficient funding to support the functioning of the Mission, the Committee recommended appropriation of the full amount, subject to the submission of the progress report mentioned earlier.  That progress report, in addition to reporting on implementation of the budget, should also reflect the ongoing review of the structure of the Mission, as well as other issues raised in General Assembly resolution 62/232.  In addition, it should provide updates concerning the deployment of aircraft and adjustments that might be required to the Joint Mediation Support Team following the appointment of the joint Chief Mediator, as well as a detailed description of developments in coordination and collaboration between UNAMID and other missions deployed in the region, and the United Nations country team.

 

Statements

 

ELSA CRISTINA DE JESUS PATACA (Angola), speaking on behalf of the African Group, regretted that the item on UNAMID -– the biggest slice of the peacekeeping budget -– had been presented to the Committee some four days before the end of the session.  The Group was mindful of the challenging mandate of the Mission and aware of the backlog in terms of the Mission’s full deployment.  She was, nevertheless, confident that the Mission would soon be at full strength.  UNAMID needed to work within frameworks organized according to the components — peace process, security, rule of law, governance, human rights and so on — which were derived from the tasks of the Mission.

 

The Group welcomed the proposal of the Secretariat to provide professional development opportunities for national staff and to fully include those staff in all relevant training, she continued.  That would be one of the key steps in terms of building capacity in Darfur.  She also recalled the Group’s call on the Secretary-General to entrust the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) to audit the use of exceptional measures for UNAMID.  That process had been under way since January 2008, and OIOS was planning to complete the audit in May.

 

The scope, vastness and hybrid nature of the Mission justified the need to allocate sufficient resources for UNAMID, she said.  The Mission continued to require adequate resources to execute its mandate.  UNAMID had existed for hardly six months, and she was conscious of the challenges it faced in realizing its full deployment.  She looked forward to hearing, in informal sessions, of progress made thus far, as well as constructive deliberations on that important agenda item.

 

OLIVIER POULIN (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said that the countries he represented were assisting African troop and police contributing countries to ensure rapid deployment in Darfur.  The Mission’s success depended on the assistance of all contributing stakeholders to fill resourcing shortfalls.  UNAMID was facing unprecedented challenges, ranging from extreme remoteness and poor communication infrastructures to the reluctant cooperation from the host Government.  While fully understanding those challenges, he was seriously concerned by the delays experienced so far.  Indeed, 10 months after the adoption of resolution 1769, the Mission did not appear significantly more robust than the African Union Mission in the Sudan, which it had absorbed.

 

He called on the Secretary-General to spare no effort in accelerating the deployment of the Mission.  UNAMID’s senior leadership should be present in Darfur to resolve the issues causing the delays.  The success of United Nations efforts would require more cooperation from the host Government.  He called on the Government of Khartoum to demonstrate its commitment to peace and security in Darfur by cooperating fully with the Mission.

 

The experience in deploying UNAMID had highlighted the need for stronger integration between all components of the Organization, he continued.  He was pleased by the rapid set-up of the Darfur Integrated Operational Team (IOT).  While that initiative had been helpful, the Team needed to be further empowered, so that it could drive the process and resolve the numerous issues hampering deployment.  The senior management of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support should instruct all substantive directors and managers to fully collaborate with the Team.  Without their support, the establishment of the Team would have been fruitless.

 

At $1.7 billion, the Mission’s proposed budget was the highest peacekeeping budget ever introduced to the Fifth Committee.  Sadly, he noted the absence of information and justification for operational costs, which amounted to half of the budget.  There were also significant requests for facilities and infrastructure, air operations and rations.  He would seek more information on those costs during informals.  In particular, he looked forward to receiving information on the plan for the implementation of infrastructure requirements.  He would also seek clarification on the key assumptions underpinning the deployment schedule.

 

The Mission had spent a small portion of its apportionment for the current period, despite a significantly lower appropriation than the one originally sought by the Secretary-General, he said.  Notwithstanding his desire to see the Mission deployed and fully operational as soon as possible, he believed that the budget in front of the Committee was also based on overly optimistic assumptions.  Adopting the budget as it is would result in unnecessarily high assessments to the membership.  Hence, he saw merit in the proposal of ACABQ for a partial assessment, accompanied by a progress report to be considered at the main sixty-third session.  He hoped that would allow the Secretary-General to submit revised requirements, based on the situation on the ground and accurate assumptions.

 

DAVID TRAYSTMAN ( United States) said that success in the Darfur peace process and success for the African Union-United Nations peacekeeping operations were essential in the collective efforts to assist the people of Darfur.  His delegation remained deeply disappointed by the numerous delays that had slowed the deployment of UNAMID forces, as called for by Security Council resolution 1769 (2007).  The Secretary-General should take all necessary steps to expedite the arrival of peacekeeping forces to Darfur.

 

The United States fully supported the proposed budget for UNAMID, he went on.  Under that arrangement, the United Sates alone would be assessed more than $440 million for that one Mission.  It, however, believed that such a commitment was essential in the efforts to decrease the violence, provide for the humanitarian needs of the people and restore peace in Darfur.  Separately, the country continued to serve as the largest single donor to Darfur and to the Sudan, having provided more than $4 billion in assistance since 2005.

 

He said the approach recommended by ACABQ — that Member Sates be assessed only half of the Mission’s total cost pending the submission of a progress report to the General Assembly — was sensible, given the unfortunate delays already experienced in the deployment of UNAMID forces and other unpredictable factors that continued to impact the Mission.  Approval of the proposed budget for UNAMID was one critical way to expedite delivery of assistance most needed by the long-suffering people of Darfur.

 

MOHAMED YOUSIF IBRAHIM ABDELMANNAN (Sudan) aligned his delegation with the statement made earlier on behalf of the African Group and renewed his concern on the delay in issuing reports on the Mission, especially the ACABQ report.  That report had only been issued a few hours before the meeting and then only in English.  Those delays affected the Committee’s discussions and lead to the adoption of hasty decisions, because outcomes were driven by time.  Despite that situation, his delegation had showed flexibility due to its appreciation of the objective of the Mission and because of its desire to achieve the goals of the Mission in a peaceful manner.  He hoped that the situation would not be repeated in the future with regard to UNAMID, or other missions.

 

He expressed appreciation for the cooperation of the African Union in partnership with the Sudan in the efforts to activate the Mission, which was aimed at implementing the Sudan peace agreement.  The work of that Mission, like those of all others, were temporary measures that had clear exit strategies.  The main expectation remained that peace in the Sudan would be one that was sustainable.  On that basis, the Sudanese Government had offered, and was continuing to offer, all possible support to the Mission.  However, the rebel movements had continued to march against that trend.  The action of the rebel movements needed to be met firmly by the international community, so that its resources were not wasted and the lives of its personnel were protected.  The people of the Sudan were well-prepared against the rebels and had smashed their attacks, even though the rebels were supported by some Member States.

 

He said that effective realization of the Mission’s objective must start with effective planning.  In looking at the deployment rate, the Sudan had noticed the high rate of vacancies and gaps, especially in the human component.  Primary among those were temporary national roles.  That shortcoming should be treated by removing its cause, instead of using illogical justifications.  The Sudan would address the issue of the illogical justifications during informal consultations.  Regarding the increase in United Nations national Volunteers, the Secretariat had not carried out a review, but continued to say what it did last year.  It had used the United Nations Mission in the Sudan experience, even though that experience did not necessarily relate to the present Mission.

 

The Sudan had shown full cooperation in matters related to it and the report did not mention any lack of cooperation, he continued.  However, some other partners had remained hesitant in providing the Mission with its needs.  In that regard, Member States took months on the issue of the provision of helicopters and that slow pace also appeared in the signing of the status of forces agreement.  The Government waited for three months for the United Nations to sign it.  Thus, the areas in which there were shortcomings were well-known to all, and the Sudan would address those issues in detail during informal consultations.

 

YUN YAMADA ( Japan) stressed the need to ensure effective implementation of all mandates by the Security Council, while striving at the same time to enhance budgetary discipline, accountability and transparency.  The establishment of UNAMID was most welcome, and he hoped that personnel would be deployed to the region efficiently.  The consolidation of peace in the country, including Darfur, was important for the entire world.

 

ACABQ had recommended the appropriation of the amount of $1.7 billion proposed by the Secretary-General, while also recommending that the assessment of the amount of $849 million be made in two phases and that the Secretary-General submit a report on the progress in the implementation of the budget, to provide a revised appropriation and further assessment.  Before embarking on such an approach, though, it was necessary to allow for the possibility of adjusting the level of assessments, based on the updated information on the deployment of military and police personnel.  That could, in turn, impact the deployment of civilian personnel and operational costs, which could then result in lower expenditures than initially proposed.

 

He said that a reduction of 30 per cent of the proposed budget would be realistic in the light of the present situation.  The Secretary-General should provide the Assembly with the most up-to-date information on the status of force generation and preparations for deployment, based on the progress made so far in implementing Security Council resolution 1769.  His delegation supported the Secretary-General in the efforts to confront and surmount the management challenges and risks that the largest-ever Mission presented.

 

Before the meeting closed, the Secretary of the Committee, MOVSES ABELIAN, updated Member States on the status of documentation. 

SOURCE : UNITED NATIONS


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