Press Releases

    GA/AB/3509
    22 May 2002

    DELEGATES EXPRESS DISAPPOINTMENT AT SECRETARIAT FAILURE TO PROPOSE WAYS OF RESTORING FULL GAMUT
    OF CONFERENCE SERVICES TO MEMBER STATES

    Speakers Also Criticize Advisory Committee's Recommendation
    Against Creation of Senior-Level Post for Gender Mainstreaming

    NEW YORK, 21 May (UN Headquarters) -- Among the consequences of the cutbacks in services announced last February was the inability of a number of bodies to conclude their work programme, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was told this morning as it considered the implementation of the provisions of last December’s resolution 56/242 on the pattern of conferences.

    Demanding a withdrawal of all measures that adversely affected the work of the Main Committees, other bodies and regional groups, the representative of Venezuela (on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China) said they had resulted in the postponement of meetings, lack of sound services, interpretation, air conditioning and heating. The Group was also deeply concerned over the practices of the Secretariat, under which different treatment was given to meetings in terms of conference services allocation.

    [By the terms of its resolution 56/242 on the pattern of conferences, the Assembly approved the Organization’s calendar of meetings for 2002-2003; emphasized the importance of providing adequate conference-servicing resources to all United Nations conference centres; and decided to include all necessary resources in the budget for the biennium 2002-2003 to provide interpretation services for meetings of regional and other major groupings of Member States, on an ad hoc basis. Following the $75 million reduction in real level of resources under the budget for 2002/2003, however, the Secretariat announced cuts in services available to Member States in such areas as servicing night and weekend meetings other than those of the Security Council and the Assembly plenary.]

    Several delegations supported Venezuela’s position, saying that, as funding was being provided to deal with such needs as strengthening the safety and security of United Nations premises, similar creative approaches should be applied to the cutbacks in services. Speakers also criticized the Secretary-General’s report on the matter, which states that "having analysed existing capacity and the level of available resources vis-à-vis the established programme of conferences and the legal obligations of the Organization, the Secretary-General concludes that it is not possible to restore the services to Member States to the previous level without additional resources".

    The United States representative said that the document failed to set priorities as decided by the General Assembly. It also made "a rather audacious claim" that no further efficiencies could be achieved by the Secretariat, but he had no doubt that the current review of conference services would lead to further proposals in that regard.

    His delegation had supported the cuts in the budget last December, said the representative of Israel, but now the Secretariat was trying to make its life easier by laying the burden of budget cuts on Member States. There were other ways to cut expenses, rather than put delegates in unbearable conditions, subjecting them to the lack of heat, water and air conditioning. It was necessary to introduce new ideas, looking for more justifiable and fair ways of implementing resolutions.

    Also this morning, several speakers supported the proposals of the Secretary-General aimed at strengthening the safety and security of United Nations premises, total costs of which under the regular budget are estimated at $57.79 million, including one-time requirements for upgrading the physical and security infrastructures, acquiring related equipment and other expenditures totalling $44.86 million. Emphasized in the discussion was the particular relevance of this subject in the aftermath of the 11 September events, with the Organization representing an attractive target for terrorists.

    Among the issues addressed in the discussion of the support account budget was the need to incorporate gender issues in peacekeeping activities. As the Committee concluded its consideration of that matter, several speakers expressed disappointment about the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) against creating a senior-level post for gender mainstreaming.

    Canada’s representative (also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand) said that there was no doubt that Member States attached priority to the need to incorporate the gender perspective in peacekeeping missions. The staffing of gender expertise was important to translate the political will of Member States into political reality, and it was time to outline exactly how the United Nations was going to implement it.

    The representative of Norway said that, while the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement on Women had the mandate to provide advice and monitor progress in each department, the Department of Peacekeeping Operation was responsible for the implementation of gender mainstreaming in peacekeeping operations. Additional resources should be provided within the Peacekeeping Department to provide the necessary expertise for backstopping the field gender advisers/gender units. She strongly believed in the need for a focal point within the Department’s Best Practices Unit. Women needed to be integrated on the ground and needed support. Proper backstopping and gender mainstreaming would have a positive effect in that regard.

    Also speaking this morning were representatives of Spain (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Yugoslavia, China, Egypt, Jamaica, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Costa Rica, New Zealand (also on behalf of Canada and Australia), Indonesia, Cuba, Kenya and Iran.

    The United Nations Controller, Jean-Pierre Halbwachs; the Chairman of the Advisory Committee, Conrad S.M. Mselle; and the Assistant Secretary-General for Central Support Services, Toshiyuki Niwa, responded to comments and questions from the floor and introduced reports before the Committee.

    The Committee will continue its work at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 22 May, when it is expected to take up financing of three missions -- the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET)/United Nations Mission of Support for East Timor (UNMISET); the United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM); and the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).

    Background

    This morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected to continue its consideration of the administrative and budgetary aspects of peacekeeping operations (see Press Release GA/AB/3508 of 20 May) and take up financing of three missions –- United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET)/United Nations Mission of Support for East Timor (UNMISET), United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM), and United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). Under the agenda item on the current biennial budget of the United Nations, the Committee was also expected to take up several reports on the implementation of the General Assembly resolution on the pattern of conferences and measures to strengthen security.

    2002-2003 Budget

    Under this agenda item, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the provisions of last December’s resolution 56/242 on the pattern of conferences (document A/56/919), by which the Assembly, inter alia, approved the draft biennial calendar of United Nations meetings for 2002-2003; emphasized the importance of providing adequate conference-servicing resources to all United Nations conference centres; reiterated that meetings of Charter and mandated bodies must be serviced as a priority; and decided to include all necessary resources in the budget for the biennium 2002-2003 to provide interpretation services for meetings of regional and other major groupings of Member States upon request by those groups, on an ad hoc basis, in accordance with established practice.

    Following the adoption of the budget for 2002/2003, however, citing the $75 million reduction of the real level of resources available to the Organization, the Secretary-General, in his note verbale dated 28 February, and the Under-Secretary-General for Management, in his information circular ST/IC/2002/13 of the same date, announced cuts in services available to Member States in such areas as servicing night and weekend meetings other than those of the Security Council and the Assembly plenary. Cuts were also announced in telephone support, services provided by sound engineers and other contract personnel.

    The report before the Committee contains an analysis of the ability of the departments and offices involved in servicing the conferences and meetings of the United Nations organs to meet, within available servicing capacity, the requirements of the programme of conferences and meetings for 2002-2003. It also contains proposals for the implementation of specific provisions of the pattern of conferences resolution.

    Having analysed existing capacity and the level of available resources vis-à-vis the established programme of conferences and the legal obligations of the Organization, the Secretary-General concludes that it is not possible to restore the services to Member States to the previous level without additional resources. Over the last decade, the Secretariat has made significant increases in its productivity in order to cope with the stagnant budget level, while servicing expanded mandates of the Organization. Further increases in productivity will be minimal, given that the budget for information technology resources, which underpinned most of the efforts to improve productivity, has been cut by $10 million. The Secretariat has, therefore, been left with no option but to reduce services, as explained to Member States in the Secretary-General’s note verbale dated 28 February 2002.

    With the present level of resources, the Secretariat will continue to provide servicing for the meetings scheduled in the calendar of the conferences and meetings of the United Nations for the biennium 2002-2003, within normal working hours and at the level of service detailed in information circular ST/IC/2002/13. Proposals for formalizing conference servicing of meetings of regional and other major groupings of Member States could be further developed for consideration by the Assembly if Member States so desired. In the meantime, services for regional and other major groupings will be provided on an as-available basis in accordance with established practice.

    The experience of the first quarter of 2002 has indicated that the number of meetings for the year will exceed the projected level, due, in part, to the additional mandate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee. It has, therefore, become problematic to accommodate, within existing capacity, not only the requested meetings with interpretation for regional and other major groupings of Member States, but also to service the meetings already programmed in the United Nations calendar for the current biennium.

    Strengthening Security

    Following the events of 11 September 2001, the Committee also had before it a report of the Secretary-General on strengthening the security and safety of United Nations premises (document A/56/848), which is based on a comprehensive review of arrangements at Headquarters and other main locations. The document contains a set of proposals, total costs of which under the regular budget are estimated at $57.79 million (net of staff assessment), including one-time requirements for upgrading the physical and security infrastructures, acquiring related equipment and other expenditures totalling $44.86 million. The additional requirements are reported to the General Assembly as supplementary budget proposals for the biennium 2002-2003 in accordance with the provisions of financial regulations 3.8 and 3.9.

    The long-term safety and security proposals for UN Headquarters in New York would require $36.65 million; for the Office in Geneva, $16.65 million; for the Office at Vienna, $1.62 million; for the Office at Nairobi, $862,200; for the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), $1.01 million; for the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), $691,400; for the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), $502,400; and for the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), $1.05 million.

    Those costs represent additional requirements over and above those already approved for that purpose in the programme budget for the current biennium, and are deemed to be covered by the provisions of paragraph 11 of annex I of Assembly resolution 41/213 concerning extraordinary expenses, as well as by paragraph (b) (ii) of section A of the annex to Assembly resolution 42/211 concerning unforeseen obstacles to be treated on an ad hoc basis. Accordingly, the provisions could fall outside the scope of the contingency fund.

    The Assembly is requested to approve establishment under the regular budget of 130 new posts; to convert 22 local-level temporary posts utilized for security officers at the United Nations Office at Nairobi into established posts; to establish outside the regular budget two permanent and four temporary General Service posts for security officers in the Security and Safety Service of the United Nations Office at Vienna, to be financed on a cost-sharing basis by the organizations located at the Vienna International Centre; to approve an additional appropriation under the regular budget in the amount of $57.79 million; and to approve an additional appropriation in the amount of $1.56 million under section 32, Staff assessment, to be offset by an equivalent amount of income under section 1, Income from staff assessment.

    In its report on this matter (document A/56/7/Add.9), the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) expresses its trust that the proposed physical security improvements, such as security barriers, fences, tents and other structural additions, would not impact adversely upon the architectural integrity of the United Nations premises.

    The Advisory Committee notes that the 65 local-level posts out of the 130 proposed new posts represent a conversion of work-months currently financed through contractual arrangements and general temporary assistance. The total additional cost for those posts would be $1.86 million, while the total corresponding reductions under contractual services, general temporary assistance and overtime are $1.02 million, resulting in a net additional cost of $839,700 for the biennium 2002-2003. The ABACQ states that the continuing need for the level of security support should be kept under review and reported in the context of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005.

    The Advisory Committee stressed the need for the closest collaboration between the United Nations and the appropriate host government authorities in working out measures necessary to ensure security and safety at United Nations premises.

    The Advisory Committee recommends that the Assembly appropriate the requested amount for the biennium 2002-2003, but cautions that any additional appropriation the Assembly may wish to authorize in connection with the Secretary-General’s report should be used strictly for the purposes for which the appropriation was authorized. It also recommends that the question of any additional assessment should be considered by the Assembly in the context of its review of the first performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2002-2003.

    The Advisory Committee further recommends that the one-time provision of $44.86 million for upgrading the physical and security infrastructures be placed in a separate account, to be administered in a manner similar to that in effect for accounts established for construction projects.

    Financing of UNTAET/UNMISET

    The Secretary-General’s report on financing of United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) (document A/56/890) provides details on the final disposition of UNTAET’s assets, which amounted to some $72.4 million as at 13 March 2002. Seventy-nine per cent of that amount has been transferred to other peacekeeping operations or to the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy, for temporary storage. The Secretary-General recommends that the Assembly take note of the report and approve the donation of assets with total inventory value of some $8.15 million and corresponding residual value of $5.32 million to the Government of East Timor.

    The Secretary-General, in his financial performance report of UNTAET for the period from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001 (document A/56/922), states that the Assembly appropriated an amount of $563 million gross ($546.05 million net) for the maintenance of the mission during the period. Expenditures totalled $527.59 million gross ($513.14 million net), resulting in an unencumbered balance of $35.41 million gross ($32.91 million net) mainly due to reduced requirements under civilian personnel costs and operational requirements.

    In this document, the Secretary-General recommends that the Assembly decide on the treatment of the unencumbered balance and of other income for the period of $29.14 million, comprising interest income, other/miscellaneous income and savings on, or cancellation of, prior period obligations.

    Following East Timor’s acquisition of an independent status as of 20 May, the Committee has before it the proposed budget for the period from 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003 for the operation of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) -- the successor mission to UNTAET -- which amounts to some $318.49 million gross ($309.25 million net), inclusive of budgeted voluntary contributions in kind amounting to $60,000. Of the total budget, some 42 per cent relate to military personnel costs. Civilian personnel costs account for 32 per cent of the budget, operational costs reflect 22 per cent, and staff assessment comprises 3 per cent of the total. Less than 1 per cent of the total resources is related to other programmes. The estimates are based on the plan for a successor mission to UNTAET outlined in the report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council dated 17 April 2002.

    By his note contained in document A/56/947, the Secretary-General addresses the financing arrangements for the transitional period from UNTAET to UNMISET for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002. By this document, the General Assembly is requested to decide that the expenditure for the period from 21 May to 30 June 2002 will be met from the amount of $455 million appropriated for UNTAET for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002; to apportion among Member States the amount of some $80.1 million (the balance of the appropriation that has not yet been apportioned -- $53 million), and the balance of the amount earlier apportioned subject to extension of the mandate of UNTAET but not assessed ($27.1 million). It is also proposed to set off against the apportionment among Member States their respective share in the Tax Equalization Fund of the estimated staff assessment income of some $1.04 million, representing the estimated staff assessment income that has not been set off in respect of the amount assessed so far.

    UNOSOM

    According to the final performance report of the United Nations Operation in Somalia II (document A/56/915), a total of $1.8 billion gross ($1.79 billion net) was appropriated by the Assembly and apportioned among Member States for the operation of UNOSOM. Expenditures amounting to some $1.7 billion gross ($1.69 billion net) were reported in previous performance reports. Decisions were taken by the Assembly on the treatment of unencumbered balances amounting to some $150.13 million gross ($143.67 million net) reported for the period from 1 May 1992 to 31 May 1994. Currently, there is an unencumbered balance of appropriations amounting to some $40.94 million gross ($39.99 million net) due to savings resulting from the cancellation of prior period obligations. Funds are needed to settle outstanding claims of some $19.62 million for contingent-owned equipment, goods and services provided under letters of assist and death and disability claims, which exceed amounts recorded in accounts payable.

    Action proposed by the report is for the Assembly to take a decision to retain the amount of some $19.62 million gross and net from the balance of appropriations of $40.94 million gross to meet the cost of outstanding government claims. The Secretary-General also recommends that the Assembly temporarily suspend the provisions of financial regulations in respect of the remaining surplus of some $421.32 million gross in the light of the continuing cash shortage of the mission.

    In a related report (document A/56/947), the Advisory Committee recommends acceptance of the proposals of the Secretary-General regarding UNOSOM’s final performance report.

    MONUC

    In March, the Committee considered the budget of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) for 2001/2002. During the debate on this issue, the Assistant Secretary-General for Missions Support of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Michael Sheehan, characterized the Mission as a "massive operation of a size and scope never before undertaken by the United Nations", which was also being undertaken "in a country broken by years of war and neglect" without participation of military units from developed countries. Taking into account the amounts previously appropriated by the Assembly, at the conclusion of the first resumed session, an amount of $56.75 million gross was appropriated for the maintenance of the Mission for the period ending on 30 June 2002.

    Now before the Committee are the Mission’s financial performance report for 2000/2001 and its proposed budget for 2002/2003.

    According to MONUC’s financial performance report for the period from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001, the Assembly, by resolutions 54/260B of 15 June 2000 and 55/275 of 14 June 2001, appropriated an amount of $232.12 million gross ($229.09 million net) for the period to that Mission. In addition, commitment with assessment in the amount of $41 million gross and net was authorized by the Assembly in its resolution 55/275 for a total of $237.12 gross ($270.09 million net). Expenditures for the period totalled $246.46 million gross ($243.46 million net), resulting in an unencumbered balance of $26.65 million gross ($26.63 million net), due to lower costs for military personnel, transport operations, air operations, communications, equipment and freight.

    The Secretary-General recommends that the Assembly decide to appropriate the commitment authority of $41 million gross and net, and decide on the treatment of the unencumbered balance and on other income for the period amounting to $4.14 million from interest income, other miscellaneous income and savings on or cancellation of prior period obligations. He also recommends that special arrangements as regards article IV of the financial regulations, similar to those contained in the annex to Assembly resolution 55/251 B related to the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) be applied to MONUC in such a way that at the end of the 12-month period any unliquidated obligations relating to goods and services from governments for which claims have been received shall be transferred to accounts payable, that any unliquidated obligations owed to governments for provision of goods and services rendered but not yet verified shall remain valid for an additional period of four years, and that at the end of the four-year period any unliquidated obligations shall be cancelled and the then remaining balance shall be surrendered.

    The Secretary-General's proposed budget for MONUC for the period from 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003 (document A/56/897) amounts to $603.91 million gross ($593.80 million net), excluding budgeted voluntary contributions in kind amounting to $2.75 million. Sixteen per cent of the budget relates to civilian personnel costs, 50 per cent to operational costs, 32 per cent to military personnel costs, and 2 per cent to staff assessment.

    The Secretary-General recommends that the Assembly appropriate the amount mentioned above and assess the amount at a monthly rate of $50.33 million gross ($49.48 million net), should the Security Council continue the mandate of the Mission.

    In a related report (document A/56/887/Add.11), the Advisory Committee recommends the appropriation of the commitment authority of $41 million gross and net approved by the Assembly in its resolution 55/275. The Committee also recommends that the unencumbered balance of $26.65 million gross for 2000/2001, as well as the interest and other income in the amount of some $4.14 million, be credited to Member States in a manner to be determined by the General Assembly.

    Commenting on the performance report, the ACABQ concludes that proper planning of procurement, better estimates of needs and greater monitoring and control would have prevented a number of overruns as far as financing of MONUC for 2000/2001 is concerned. Also recommended by the ACABQ is improved monitoring and recording of expenditure.

    The Advisory Committee also notes with concern continuing cash-flow difficulties experienced by the Mission. From the performance report, the Advisory Committee also notes that 75 per cent of the total expenditure is for operational activities, while the military and civilian personnel components account for 12 and 11 per cent, respectively. This fairly unusual pattern of expenditure has further exacerbated cash-flow difficulties. In view of these circumstances, it is essential to ensure adequate cash flow through timely payment of contributions.

    Turning to the proposed budget for 2002/2003, the Advisory Committee commends the Secretariat for its efforts to improve the structure and clarity of the presentation of the estimate. It is necessary, however, to better harmonize the information on posts and other budgetary proposals in the tables with the information contained in the narratives.

    From the budget document, the Advisory Committee also notes that phase III requires the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and that the Secretary-General intends to seek further revisions to the mandate of MONUC from the Security Council. In that connection, the ACABQ states that, should such revisions involve a need to adjust the budgetary resources for MONUC, current notification procedures would be followed to inform both the Advisory Committee and the General Assembly in a timely manner.

    Regarding military personnel, the Advisory Committee comments that in view of the high vacancy rates experienced by the Mission up to now, the 10 per cent vacancy factor applied to the estimates may be overly optimistic. As specialized contingent units are to be deployed by troop contributors to perform such services as medical evacuation, cargo handling, crash rescue, engineering and water treatment, the Advisory Committee requests that the next performance report contain information about the impact of such activities on the budget expenditure. On the whole, the Advisory Committee recommends that the estimate of some $191.07 million for military personnel costs be reduced by $3.82 million, or 2 per cent, to $187.25 million.

    The Advisory Committee was informed that, as at 28 February 2002, 674 of the 1,695 civilian posts proposed, or 40 per cent, were vacant. The ACABQ believes that vacancy factors used in the estimate appear low, since the numbers provided to the Committee included staff under recruitment. The estimate for mission subsistence allowance (MSA) and standard salaries should be adjusted to take this into account. The Advisory Committee, therefore, recommends that the estimate of $86.51 million for international and local staff be reduced by $3.51 million, or approximately 4 per cent, to $83 million. Furthermore, the Advisory Committee questions the use of the budgeted level of G-3, step 1 (entailing a net salary of $575.75 and common staff costs of $99.92 per month) for local staff throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    In general, the ACABQ recommends acceptance of the Secretary-General’s proposals on posts, agreeing, in particular, with the proposed increase from 25 to 43 posts for the Division of Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Resettlement and Reintegration, including the reclassification of the head of the office from D-1 to D-2. Should additional staff resources be required, the Advisory Committee recommends that MONUC continue, as it has done in the past, to meet such additional needs by redeploying posts from other areas, where possible. Aware of the relatively small number of troops currently authorized for MONUC, the Advisory Committee nevertheless requests that the adequacy of the staff resources for this Contracts Management Unit be monitored and adjusted, should that be deemed necessary. Also recommended by the ACABQ is close monitoring of the performance of the Fuel Management Unit in the Office of Integrated Support Services, for it considers the number of posts allocated to this unit to be inadequate.

    Making recommendations regarding future staffing, the Advisory Committee states that the Mission should identify areas for which national officers can be used (for example, in public information to produce materials and broadcast in local languages), which should be reported in the context of the next budget estimates. The Mission should also inquire about the practice of United Nations funds and programmes regarding the employment of national professional officers.

    Since phase III is not fully operational in all its aspects, the Advisory Committee also reiterates its concern that air assets should be activated only when actually needed. With respect to the estimates for 2002/2003, upon inquiry, the Committee was informed that the cost estimates had been prepared on the basis of utilization of the aircraft for the full financial period, at the end of which it was expected that savings would result. Accordingly, it would appear that there is some room for adjustment in the estimates for air operations. As the number of passengers and amount of air cargo handled by MONUC will inevitably increase in 2002/2003, the challenges for internal control, monitoring of use and overall management of air assets will become greater. Therefore, the Advisory Committee reiterates its call for effective internal control and monitoring of the use of air assets in MONUC, as well as in all other peacekeeping missions. In view of its concerns, the Advisory Committee recommends that an amount of $155 million be approved for air operations for the Mission. This represents a reduction of some $14.65 million, or 9 per cent, from the proposals of the Secretary-General.

    For the 2002/2003 budget cycle, the Advisory Committee recommends appropriation and assessment of an amount of some $581.93 million for the maintenance of MONUC, reflecting a reduction of $21.98 million gross, or 4 per cent, from the estimates proposed by the Secretary-General.

    The Committee also had a note by the Secretary-General on audit of a contract for the provision of airfield services in MONUC (document A/56/906) transmitting the report of the Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services on the matter. In his note, the Secretary-General states he concurs with the recommendations made in the report, in general.

    During August and September 2001, according to the report, the Office of Internal Oversight Services conducted an audit of the proposed $34 million contract for the provision of airfield services in MONUC and found that the objective of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to expeditiously establish an airfield services contract was not achieved, owing mainly to inadequate consultations between the Department's Field Administration and Logistics Division and MONUC during the preparation of the statement of work for the contract, and the Division's failure to articulate the modalities for a "requirements contract". As a result, the contractor had not started providing services as at November 2001, although the contract was awarded on 28 March 2001, because of protracted post-award negotiations. Consequently, MONUC's large fleet of aircraft had operated in an aviation environment that the Peacekeeping Department considers to have an unacceptably high level of risk.

    The audit revealed several discrepancies and errors in the technical evaluation of proposals, raising concerns about the capacity of the Field Administration and Logistics Division to prepare comprehensive technical specifications and evaluate complex technical proposals pertaining to aviation-related services. The Oversight Office is of the view that the Division could benefit from engaging outside expertise in that area and needs to develop and establish appropriate contractual mechanisms. This would include the formulation of clear provisions for imposing liquidated damages to ensure that critical services are provided to field missions in accordance with operational timelines.

    The Office of Internal Oversight Services made a number of recommendations, including that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) should ensure that cost-effectiveness of its outsourcing decisions is properly documented and that its Field Administration and Logistics Division should determine field mission's operational requirements in consultation with the concerned missions. That Division and the Procurement Division should clearly define the scope of services and the associated contractual arrangements, in order to avoid confusion. The Field Administration and Logistics Division should also consider engaging the services of consultants or experts for preparing detailed specifications and conducting technical evaluations relating to complex projects. The Division should also identify the lessons learned from this case and devise appropriate strategies to respond effectively to urgent operational requirements of field missions.

    According to the report, DPKO has informed the Office of Internal Oversight Services that, in view of the audit observations and recommendations, and comments made by the ACABQ (see A/56/845), the Department has decided to take corrective action to rebid the contract as soon as possible.

    Statements

    Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, DANIEL SOTO (Spain) commended the Secretariat for its efforts to introduce the results-based budgeting format and said that, as a result of the process initiated by the Brahimi Panel on peace operations, more than 200 new support account posts had been approved. As Under-Secretary-General Guéhenno had stated during the last session of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping, it was now time to deliver. While there were significant improvements in the Secretariat’s performance, there was still some way to go.

    In general, he said that the Union supported most of the recommendations and observations of the ACABQ, but he wanted to comment on some of the proposed posts. He strongly supported the establishment of a position of Director of Change Management at the DPKO, which would lead the much-needed overhaul and strengthening of the entire Department’s management system and practices. As disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) increasingly played a critical part in the success of peacekeeping operations, the Peacekeeping Department must have the capacity to fully backstop and coordinate such efforts in the field. Therefore, he fully supported the establishment of a P-4 post for that purpose.

    Expressing support for gender mainstreaming in peacekeeping, he said that specialized gender expertise was needed within the Department. However, he was disappointed that the Secretariat had been unable to properly describe the role and activities of the proposed P-5 Senior Gender Adviser.

    Regarding public information activities, he said that the Department of Public Information (DPI), in consultation with the DPKO and other parts of the Secretariat, was developing standard operating procedures for public information components in peacekeeping and other types of missions. To enable the DPI to implement the recommendations of the Brahimi report, he hoped the Fifth Committee would look positively at the additional resources required by the DPI.

    The number of posts for the support account should be directly correlated to the existing number of peacekeeping operations, hence, there should be a proportional relationship between the two. Therefore, for the near future, it was necessary to avoid financing permanent posts within the budget support account.

    MICHEL DUVAL (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said that significant progress had been made in the area of mission support. Recent increase in its budget demonstrated the importance that Member States attached to support peacekeeping activities. A few key areas remained unaddressed, however.

    He was encouraged by the proposal to introduce the post of Director of Change Management, he said, which remained a priority for the Organization. He was also glad to see resubmission of the Senior Gender Adviser position and the DDR officer. He regretted, however, that the Secretariat had not resubmitted its request for humanitarian affairs officer, for it was important to address such issues in the field. He complimented the Secretariat for its efforts to use results-based budgeting.

    Turning to the ACABQ report, he said that his delegation was encouraged by the recommendations in favour of the Director of Change Management and DDR posts. However, he noted that the ACABQ had, for the second time, recommended against creating dedicated capacity for addressing gender issues. There was no doubt that Member States saw that as a priority, for it was important to incorporate the gender perspective in peacekeeping missions. It was also necessary to take into account the fact that women accounted for the vast majority of those affected by armed conflict. In such missions as those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kosovo, introduction of gender capacity could have made a great contribution.

    The staffing of gender expertise was important to translate the political will of Member States into political reality, he said in conclusion. The issue was going from committee to committee, and it was time to clarify the purpose and function of such capacity and to outline exactly how the United Nations was going to implement it. That could not happen without Member States providing the necessary resources for that initial conceptual work. Policy development in gender issues was sufficiently important to warrant the financing of such capacity.

    KATARINA LALIC-SMAJEVIC (Yugoslavia) addressed the issue of United Nations entitlement to restitution as a result of non-compliance with status-of-forces agreements. Noting that her country joined the United Nations on 1 November 2000, she said that, at the time restitution issues were reviewed, Yugoslavia was not a Member, did not have a status-of-forces agreement signed with the Organization, and was not a contracting party to the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. Unfortunately, those facts had not been taken into account in the Secretary-General’s report, and no adequate recommendations had been made.

    She said her Mission had received a note verbale from the Secretary-General dated 18 December 2000, requesting reimbursement from her country for expenditures incurred for peacekeeping operations in the region. Her Mission had asked the Secretary-General for clarification, pointing out that the stipulation that the "costs of the combined Forces are expenses of the Organization to be borne by Member States" applied to Yugoslavia. But the Mission had so far not received a response. The fact that her country was not a Member of the United Nations at the time when the expenditures were incurred should be duly reflected in the decision to be taken by the Committee.

    ANNE MERCHANT (Norway) welcomed the fact that the estimates for support account resources had been presented using the results-based budgeting format for the first time. The Advisory Committee’s observations and recommendations in that regard were very valuable. She also welcomed the emphasis by the ACABQ on an internal management reform process within the DPKO. Establishment of a new post as Director of Change Management was justified. She underlined the importance of strengthening the Peacekeeping Department’s capacity to coordinate an integrated approach to DDR and the need to provide a focal point for that area.

    Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security had recognized the urgent need to incorporate and mainstream a gender perspective into peacekeeping operations. The Special Committee on Peacekeeping had made recommendations in that regard, which the Assembly had endorsed. She was disappointed that the ACABQ had once again failed to support a new post for the Senior Gender Adviser in the Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit. She asked the Secretariat to provide information on the status of the development of an overall policy on mainstreaming of gender, and would request a report on that subject for the fifty-seventh session.

    She said, while the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement on Women had the mandate to provide advice and support and to monitor progress in each department, the DPKO was responsible for the implementation of gender mainstreaming in peacekeeping operations. Additional resources should be provided within the DPKO to provide the necessary expertise for backstopping the field gender advisers/gender units. She strongly believed in the need for a focal point within the Best Practices Unit within the Peacekeeping Department. Women needed to be integrated on the ground and needed support. Proper backstopping and gender mainstreaming would have a positive effect in that regard, she said.

    WANG XINXIA (China) welcomed the fact that results-based budgeting had been adopted for the first time in the support account budget presentation for 2002-2003. It better clarified the work and functions of the various units and offices involved. However, it had room for improvement, for it was necessary to simplify the budgeting process. For example, the budget for training activities had increased, but analysis was lacking in connection with requirements in that regard. She hoped the new budget would establish the necessary achievement indicators for training activities.

    She went on to say that from the support account performance and ACABQ reports, it was clear that vacancy rates in connection with 91 posts approved in December reached over 50 per cent. She wanted to know what the vacancy rate was now and wondered about the need for additional recommended posts if the recruitment process was still continuing. She would like to see the list of nationalities of staff members recruited for the new posts. Were gender perspectives incorporated in the recruitment efforts? If yes, how? If no, why not?

    AYMAN M. ELGAMMAL (Egypt) said that peacekeeping was an effective way to preserve international peace and security, and his delegation reaffirmed its great interest in all peacekeeping operations. Egypt continued to express its concern over the financial situation of the Organization as far as financing of peacekeeping was concerned. That situation could be resolved if all Member States paid their contributions in time, unconditionally and in full.

    Despite the improvement in the state of indebtedness to troop- and equipment-contributing countries, there were continued delays in the payment to those countries, he continued. That was slowing down the possibility for developing countries which supplied troops and equipment to receive what was due to them. He was very pleased with the use of results-based budgeting in preparation of the report on the support account, and subscribed to the recommendations made by the ACABQ in that regard, in particular, as far as rejection of the P-5 post for Senior Gender Adviser in the DPKO was concerned.

    He also expressed regret that the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) had not yet completed its report on appointments to peacekeeping operations. That report would have helped to better understand the situation as far as personnel and resources for peacekeeping operations were concerned. It would also have shed light on continuing inadequacies in geographical distribution of peacekeeping posts and representation of troop-contributing countries within the DPKO. He supported China’s request for additional information regarding recruitment accomplished since December 2001, and the way in which equitable geographical distribution and the contribution of troop-contributing countries had improved, in particular, as far as senior posts were concerned.

    In conclusion, he said that he had looked carefully at the Secretary-General’s report on equipment write-offs. Although that document contained positive indicators regarding the deadlines (30 June 2002), by which claims should be completed, he noted with concern a request for an extension of those deadlines until the end of the year. He would like to know the reason for such a request.

    JOAN ELAINE THOMAS (Jamaica) welcomed the new format reflecting results-based budgeting in the support account report, and hoped that the constructive criticism in the recommendations of the ACABQ would be taken into account in the future. The scale of current peacekeeping operations demanded a high level of backstopping. She supported the proposed staffing structure for the period, but hoped that the increase in posts would be tied to more effective management of peacekeeping as a whole.

    She was puzzled that the ACABQ had not recommended acceptance of the post for Senior Gender Adviser. Given the increased role of women in conflict situations, it was important that serious attention be given to the matter. She supported the creation of such a post, and the need of adequate backup by the Secretariat for gender advisers in the mission. Gender concerns should be taken into account in the formulation of peacekeeping mandates. The Senior Gender Adviser should be at an appropriately senior level within the DPKO. She concurred with Canada’s representative regarding the need for adequate resources and a coordinated strategy for gender mainstreaming in the Peacekeeping Department.

    Training in the DPKO was important, she said, and she was, therefore, encouraged by increased expenditures and supported the ACABQ recommendations in that regard. Public information remained a priority in the area of peacekeeping.

    ABDOU AL-MOULA NAKKARI (Syria) said he had no problems with the results-based budgeting approach in the support account budget, but it needed to be further strengthened as indicated in the report of the ACABQ, which presented important criteria that should be taken into account in the future. So did the Assembly resolution on that subject. He agreed with the ACABQ that an increase in the volume of work should not automatically lead to new posts. Such an increase should first be absorbed through better performance and productivity. In that light, all proposals for new posts were examined scrupulously by his Mission before approving them, with the Mission taking into account that previous posts had not yet been filled.

    He asked for more information on how training was given, who the trainers were, and who was responsible for training. Was there cooperation with certain countries or with trainers in certain countries? he asked. Regarding the proposal for a public information post, he said that the proposal was one which was in line with the creation of a "microcosm in United Nations peacekeeping operations". That post should be considered at within the framework of the DPI and the Committee on Information, taking into account equality among languages.

    He concurred with the observation made by the representative of India yesterday, regarding inflation of figures and resources in the support account as compared with the regular budget. The proposed budget for peacekeeping operations exceeded the biennium programme budget of the United Nations. However, peacekeeping operations budgets were sometimes adopted within half an hour as a block, while whole months and nights were devoted to the programme budget minutiae. Peacekeeping operations should be given support, but a different kind of approach should be adopted regarding their budgets. Peacekeeping operations budgets should be examined in the same way as the regular budget.

    AHMED FARID (Saudi Arabia) commended the utilization of results-based budgeting methodology in the presentation of the support account budget. As new rules for human resources management had been introduced as of 1 May, limiting the time every member of the Secretariat could stay in one post, he wondered what would happen to positions filled for the support account after five years.

    OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) said that his country fully supported the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security and attached great importance to the work of the DPKO. The Department should have adequate resources to carry out its activities. He supported the recommendations of the ACABQ as far as financing of the support account was concerned. He hoped that, in view of initial results, future budget presentations would be further improved.

    In conclusion, he said that the Secretariat had not yet dealt with the question of write-offs of contingent-owned equipment of liquidated missions.

    Statement by Controller

    The United Nations Controller, JEAN-PIERRE HALBWACHS, thanked those who had supported the Secretariat’s proposals and made comments on the new budgeting format. In preparing future budgets, the Secretariat would take their remarks into consideration, as well as the comments of the ACABQ.

    The questions from the floor had revolved around the issues of vacancies and recruitment, he continued. In terms of the 93 posts approved under the "Brahimi-I" report, recruitment had been completed for all but four posts, for which it was necessary to await the results of competitive examinations. Regarding 91 posts under "Brahimi-II", he said that, as of today, 73 had been filled, some on a permanent and others on a temporary basis, pending the completion of applicants’ review. (For the 91 posts approved, over 9,000 applications had been received). As to why 12 more posts were needed if not all of the previously approved positions had been filled, he said that those posts would bring the DPKO to full operational readiness.

    Responding to comments on the gender perspective, he said that it had been taken into account, together with all other criteria referred to in relevant resolutions. The Secretariat would seek information from the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, Angela King, regarding the overall policy of gender mainstreaming, and would revert to that issue in the future. He would also return to the issue of training during informal discussions. Regarding write-offs, he said that, as indicated in the report, the Secretariat planned to complete the work in December, although originally it was supposed to be done in June. All the Member States concerned had been contacted, and 21 of them had not yet responded. It was not realistic to expect work with those States to be completed by the end of June.

    Turning to the recent administrative instructions on the new personnel policy and recruitment procedures, he said that they were not expected to have any material impact on the 91 posts under the support account. Regarding resident auditors, he explained that they were not funded from the support account budget, but through individual missions. The formulas for their employment had been largely applied to their hiring.

    Programme Budgeting, Security of UN Premises

    The Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts and United Nations Controller, JEAN-PIERRE HALBWACHS, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of Assembly resolution 56/242. In its resolution A/56/253, he said, the Assembly had decided to reduce resources by $75 million, but had not given specific provisions on interpretation services for regional and other major group meetings. In its resolution 56/242, the Assembly had approved the meeting calendar. The Secretariat had been assigned the task of implementing the resolution with reduced servicing capacity. It had become problematic to accommodate requested meetings for regional and other major groupings. Services to meetings for those groupings had been given on an as-available basis. The Assembly might wish to programme those meetings in the meetings calendar. To accommodate those meetings would require additional resources of $12 million to $15 million. The Office of the Central Service Support Centre budget had undergone a reduction of some $25 million in operation requirements. Therefore, services could only be provided during normal working hours. It was not possible to restore services at the previous level without additional resources, as a further increase in efficiency and productivity was impossible.

    Mr. Halbwachs then introduced the Secretary-General’s report on strengthening the security and safety of United Nations premises.

    The Chairman of the ACABQ, CONRAD S.M. MSELLE, said that, regarding implementation of resolution 56/242, the Advisory Committee had had an exchange of views with the Secretary-General on 16 May concerning the pattern of conferences. The Secretary-General’s report did not contain budgetary proposals for consideration by the ACABQ. It dealt with the implementation of resolution 56/242 on the pattern of conferences, a subject that was also within the purview of the Committee on Conferences. By the resolution, the Secretary-General had been requested to submit to the Assembly through the Committee on Conferences the implementation of the decision of the Assembly to provide interpretation services to meetings of regional and other major groupings of Member States.

    Regarding the implementation of the 2002-2003 approved budget in the context of the demand for conference services and the capacity of the Secretariat to deliver those services, he referred to ACABQ report A/56/7, paragraphs I.36 to I.54. Those paragraphs had been endorsed by the Assembly subject to the contents of its resolution 56/253, part III, paragraph 38.

    He then introduced the ACABQ report on safety and security of United Nations premises.

    ASDRÚBAL PULIDO LEÓN (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said that in resolution 56/240D the General Assembly had expressed concern over the implementation of cutback measures and their adverse impact on the services provided to Member States. It had also requested the Secretary-General to implement the budget resolutions and the resolution on the pattern of conferences in a way that did not negatively affect Member States. As far as the pattern of conferences resolution was concerned, of particular importance to the Group were the articles calling for the provision of adequate conference services to the bodies, committees and regional groups of the United Nations, as well as reducing to a minimum the adverse impact of the implementation of the cutback measures.

    The Group had expected that the Secretary-General’s report on the matter would address the above concerns, he continued, presenting proposals that would lead to comprehensive implementation of relevant resolutions, within the framework of the resources approved in the 2002-2003 budget. The situation continued to deteriorate, however. As a result, the Group of 77 and China, as well as other regional groups, had been handicapped in their work. That was unacceptable, given the international nature and multilateral character of the Organization and the equality of rights of all Member States.

    Among the consequences of the cutbacks was the inability of a number of bodies to conclude their work programme, he said. Some meetings had been postponed, others were held without such minimal required conditions as local sound, interpretation, air conditioning and heating. Some meetings had also been held in buildings outside of Headquarters. The Group was also deeply concerned over the practices of the Secretariat, under which different treatment was given to meetings in terms of conference services allocation.

    The Secretary-General’s report contained in document A/56/919 failed to provide any alternatives allowing for a reasonable and adequate solution to those problems, he continued. It did not even identify the amount of resources required, which would at least provide flexibility in obtaining conference services in exceptional instances, for example, when there was an urgent need to hold meetings beyond normal working hours. At the same time, alternative solutions had been provided to deal with such needs as strengthening the safety and security of United Nations premises. Similar creative approaches should have been applied to the issue of cutbacks in services. The Group reiterated its demand that all measures that adversely affected the work of the Main Committees, other bodies and regional groups, in particular, the Group of 77 and China, be withdrawn.

    On strengthening the security of United Nations premises, NAZARETH INCERA (Costa Rica) said that, following 11 September, it was clear how vulnerable were the various public institutions in New York, including the United Nations. Heads of State and other political leaders came to Headquarters, which was situated close to major transportation routes. That made the Secretariat a target for terrorist groups. The danger increased during major summits held by the Organization. She welcomed the Secretariat’s assessment of needs in this respect. She recognized that the implementation of new tasks required new and additional resources, and supported the request for 36 additional security posts. It was an essential minimum, given the situation.

    She went on to say that, in hiring for those posts, it was important to adhere to the principle of equitable geographical distribution and provide incentives, including promotions, to existing staff. She was concerned over the present pace of promotions and the number of senior security officers at the United Nations. Regarding the resources to cover the costs, she noted with concern the amount required to outsource additional bomb-detection teams. To reduce the costs involved in bomb-detecting activities, the United Nations should have the capacity to maintain its own dog teams. The security team should use its resources wisely.

    Ms. WANG (China) addressed the issue of implementation of Assembly resolution 56/242. She said her delegation always had held the position that programme budget should provide adequate resources for mandated activities. She was in favour of ongoing reforms and economy measures, but believed that those measures should not be taken at the expense of implementation of programmes. She reiterated that all resolutions adopted by the fifty-sixth session should be respected, and that the implementation of the resolutions’ provisions and those of the programme budget should be balanced. She noted that the level of resources proposed by the Secretary-General had never been accepted in total and had always been reduced, which was also the case with the current programme budget. It was true that the reduction of some $75 million had been a decision made by all Member States, but during negotiations there had been differences of opinion about the amount and no implementation body had stepped forward at the time to explain the consequences, which would have been logical.

    She said Member States would be working together to find a solution, but she opposed limiting of services before such a solution was found. Up till now, resources had not been actually saved and efficiency not actually improved. Timely and reasonable solutions should be made so as not to affect the working of the United Nations.

    Regarding strengthening of the security and safety of United Nations premises, she said protection of those premises was an important component of maintaining peace and security. She asked the Secretariat for a briefing on the latest developments in the capital master plan. She inquired whether the fifty-seventh session would be given an overall review of the plan. If so, had overall consideration been given to the required resources? How were duplications to be avoided, she asked, and what kind of efforts had been made by the Secretariat in that regard? She also asked for a detailed description of the proposed posts. If the host country bore a responsibility for safety of United Nations localities, what efforts had gone into cooperation with the host country, especially with regard to Headquarters. She also asked for clarification on recommendations of the ACABQ regarding the one-time appropriation being put into a separate account.

    FELICITY BUCHANAN (New Zealand), also speaking on behalf of Canada and Australia, said that last December significant steps had been taken to strengthen security with respect to field operations. At the same time, work had begun on measures to strengthen the protective legal regime for United Nations and associated personnel. She viewed consideration of security at United Nations premises as an appropriate component of broader safety and security issues.

    She said the proposals were practical and focused. She endorsed the global approach taken to compiling the security blueprint, including regional commissions and United Nations funds and programmes. While the cost of the total package was a significant sum, the expenditure was justified and a significant portion of that was a one-off cost. She noted that discussions on a cost-sharing arrangement for security costs in Vienna had yet to be concluded, and urged the executive heads of the organizations located at the Vienna International Centre to give that issue due priority.

    PATRICK KENNEDY (United States) said the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the pattern of conferences resolution raised important questions regarding the functioning of the Department of General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services. The document failed to set priorities as decided by the General Assembly. It also made "a rather audacious claim" that no further efficiencies could be achieved by the Secretariat, but he had no doubt that current review of conference services would lead to further proposals in that regard.

    Quarterly spending reports had been requested from the Secretariat, but the first one -– covering the period from 1 January to 31 March -- was yet to be issued, he continued. As for the request for additional resources for the Department of General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services, the Organization was in the fifth month of the new budget that had been agreed upon last December. Any such requests should take place within the context of the first performance report, and his delegation could not support any new requests at this point.

    Turning to the issue of safety and security, he said that everybody understood its heightened urgency. Without proper security, the work of the United Nations would be severely compromised. The Secretary-General’s proposals in this respect were appropriately comprehensive in nature, spanning United Nations facilities around the world. He anticipated swift implementation of those proposals, and he hoped other delegations would support them.

    Mr. NAKKARI (Syria) said that he expected the ACABQ report on the implementation of resolution 56/242 to be issued in all official languages. Regarding training for the support account, he had not received a complete answer to his question, and he would follow up on that matter in informals.

    Turning to the implementation of the resolution on the pattern of conferences, he said that his delegation subscribed to the point of view of the Group of 77 and China. In general, the Secretary-General’s report on the matter did not provide an answer to the requests made by the Assembly. Instead of offering solutions, it had been presented as a fait accompli, trying to justify the existing inadequacies and gaps. He was also concerned that the report made a distinction between various resolutions of the General Assembly, giving priority to the budget at the expense of the resolution on the pattern of conferences. An attempt was being made to justify the reasons why the Department of General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services was unable to comply with the Assembly resolution on the pattern of conferences.

    Instead of carrying out its mandate, the Department was presenting excuses regarding non-compliance with relevant resolutions, he continued. As for the reductions, which had had an effect on the Department and provision of services to Member States, he still did not know what their total amount was and what amount was needed to rectify the situation, for the report did not contain such figures. Another important question related to the distribution of reductions among various departments. It was not clear if they were equitable or fair. The recommendations in the report did not have his support, because erroneous justifications and excuses for unacceptable actions were being presented there.

    The question of safety and security was a true concern, he continued. Necessary prudence was needed to avoid any risk to the United Nations buildings, which stood as an international symbol. The Advisory Committee, in its report, stated that structural additions should not compromise the structural integrity of the United Nations complex, and he wanted to know: would security measures have a positive effect or not? Another question was whether security measures would involve outside assistance. Contractual provisions for outside services in this respect should be treated in the same way as in other areas, in particular, as far as canine teams were concerned. The ACABQ report also stated that the Advisory Committee trusted that the Secretary-General would explore all alternatives to the current contractual arrangements, and he wanted to know what gave it such a conviction.

    The issue of training was of particular importance to his delegation, he concluded, and he wanted to know what kind of training would be given to security personnel and who would provide it.

    DEWI SAVITRI WAHAB (Indonesia) said resolution 56/242 stated that meetings of Charter and mandated bodies must be serviced in full as a priority. She felt that that requirement had not been fulfilled. The non-availability of conference and support services had hampered the last Preparatory Committee meeting of the World Conference on Sustainable Development in fulfilling its mandate. The Secretariat could have applied some flexibility in that instance. She said security and safety of United Nations premises was an important issue on which her delegation would work closely with other delegations in informals to find resources.

    EVA SILOT BRAVO (Cuba) said she was surprised at the absence of solutions in the Secretary-General’s and ACABQ’s reports on implementation of Assembly resolution 56/242, where in the framework of the report on security and the Anti-Terrorism Committee alternative solutions had been proposed. Reference there had been made to additional appropriations outside the pattern of expenditures, but those practical solutions had not been proposed for conference services, because there was perhaps a different treatment in the programme budget. She would have hoped that resources would have been identified for services at the end of a particular meeting so that that meeting would be postponed, which was a burden to delegations.

    It was important to provide appropriate financing for safety and security of United Nations premises, she said, and asked what mechanism was proposed for providing the additional amount of $56 million. She asked if, bearing in mind the cutbacks, there were any savings measures for the first budget year. If not, how were the additional resources to be financed by the Member States? she asked.

    ALBINA CHEPKOECH CHEBOMUI (Kenya) said her delegation supported the measures for improving safety and security at the United Nations, which were very timely, especially in view of increased threats. At the United Nations Office at Nairobi, there was such a need, as well, but she did not agree with the strong language in the report, which characterized the situation there as unstable. Kenya was one of the most secure countries in the region. Although it faced increased security challenges due to the influx of refugees and proliferation of small arms and other weapons, the Government had strengthened security in Nairobi and its environs. It was not true that demonstrations were common in Nairobi, and even when they did take place, the United Nations Office at Nairobi was in no danger, for it was situated 20 kilometres outside the city centre. She reserved the right to make another statement on the matter at a later date.

    RON ADAM (Israel) supported the Secretary-General’s proposals and the ACABQ recommendations to upgrade the security infrastructure of the United Nations. As for the implement- ation of resolution 56/242, his delegation was among those which had supported the cuts in the budget last December, but he had the feeling that the Secretariat was simplifying the matter now and trying to make its life easier by laying the burden of budget cuts on Member States. There were other ways to cut expenses, rather than put delegates in unbearable conditions, subjecting them to the lack of heat, water and air conditioning. It was necessary to introduce new ideas, looking for more justifiable and fair ways of implementing resolutions.

    ALIREZA TOOTOONCHIAN (Iran) asked where the proposals were that had been referred to in the first paragraph of the Secretary-General’s report regarding implementation of resolution 56/242. There it was said that the report "also contains proposals for implementation of specific provisions of resolution 56/242". He could not find them anywhere in the document, particularly not in the conclusions and recommendations section. Formalizing meetings of regional groups, referred to in paragraph 17 of the report, might be considered a proposal, but development of that proposal had been deferred to other occasions.

    Secretariat Response

    The Assistant Secretary-General for Central Support Services, TOSHIYUKI NIWA, responding to delegates’ questions and comments, said he had taken note of the representative of Costa Rica’s remarks regarding hiring and promotion of staff. Regarding the question about bomb-detection services, he said he had taken note of ACABQ’s recommendation to look at all alternatives and would continue to pursue alternatives. However, that particular service had to be executed in cooperation with a corporation in the host country. Whenever there was a question of suspicious materials, the Organization had to resort to local authorities.

    In answer to questions from the representative of China, he said a study in the framework of the capital master plan, which had been somewhat delayed as it was a complex exercise, was near completion, and he hoped to complete documentation in the next few weeks for submission to the fifty-seventh session. On completion, he would give a briefing. He said many of the capital improvements had been deferred to await for the realization of the capital master plan. The amounts which had been brought forward would be deducted once the master plan was approved. He would try to do everything possible to avoid duplications. The answer to China’s question regarding job descriptions had been answered in paragraph 20 of the report. The matter of a separate account for the one-time appropriation had been explained in the ACABQ report.

    Answering the concerns of the representative of Syria on architectural integrity, he said there were temporary and permanent aspects to that matter. Regarding the permanent aspects, full attention would be given to architectural integrity. Using prefabricated construction had been considered, but it was felt it was not a good idea. He would address questions about training during the informal sessions.

    Comments by Controller

    Mr. HALBWACHS said that delegates had expressed a lot of dissatisfaction with regard to the implementation of resolution 56/242. The Secretariat was called upon to implement its provisions within specific resources specified in the budget resolution. At this point, it was clear that it was impossible to fully implement those provisions following the budget cuts. That was what the Secretariat had specified earlier this year, and the report before the Committee confirmed that.

    As for specific measures that could be taken, if Member States wanted, further proposals could be formulated, which would involve an additional amount of $12 million to 14 million. In the meantime, services for regional and other major groupings would be provided on an as-available basis. The Secretariat had also indicated in the report before the Committee that within the context of the next budget, proposals could be considered to mitigate the lateness of issuance of summary and verbatim records.

    Responding to comments regarding different treatment of conference services and other issues, including security and the Afghanistan mission, he said that no additional resources were being proposed for the provision of conference services, because the Secretariat had been mandated to provide them within existing resources. The Afghanistan mission and the Committee on Terrorism were newly mandated and required resources, which had not been provided for in the budget resolution.

    As for the possibility of savings, at this point he did not see any, he said. The dollar had weakened significantly, no savings were envisioned as far as vacancy rates were concerned, unless artificial vacancies were created to fund activities.

    Mr. NAKKARI (Syria) pointed out that he had received no answer to his question on security training. He had inquired about the training procedures for security officials and wanted to know who the trainers would be. What countries would be involved? He was waiting for detailed information in that regard.

    Mr. NIWA had also said that there was a need to help the host country in looking for explosives and other materials, and he asked if there would be a special mechanism to cover the need for inspection. "Don’t you think we have to cover all the needs concerning the safety of premises?" he asked. While that proposal would not cause harm, he wondered if results-based budgeting should be applied to the measures to enhance the Organization’s safety and security. It was important to know what was expected from them.

    Regarding the implementation of the pattern of conferences resolution, he said that there should be no preferences and priorities as far as various resolutions were concerned, and their implementation should not be conditional on other matters. Any resolution adopted had to be automatically implemented. As money was being sought for other causes, the same initiative should be demonstrated when Member States needed a certain amount.

    Answering Syria’s concerns, the Assistant Secretary-General for Central Support Services, Mr. NIWA, reiterated that he would respond in detail during the informal session on training. He said there were four types of training for security and safety services: a staff development programme; a security and safety training unit which provided training in such issues as first aid, firearms and incident command; training by outside agencies for specific, more technical training requirements; and training by local enforcement authorities (at no cost) for hazardous material response and escorting dignitaries.

    Regarding questions about capital improvement, he said a detailed study was under way. An amount of $35 million had been dedicated for improvements, out of which $17 million would be brought forward. Aspects of access to various locations, as well as matters of hazardous materials, were all included in the study.

    Responding to questions, Mr. HALBWACHS said he did not discriminate between resolutions. Resolution 56/242 asked the Secretariat to do a number of things, and resolution 56/254 had cut some $75 million. "That is why we are in the current predicament", he said. The Secretary-General would be derelict in his duties if he ignored the level of resources approved in the budget. Additional money had been asked for conference services, which would be paid for by cuts in other sections, but that did exceed the level of the budget as approved by the Assembly.

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