Press Releases

                                        GA/AB/3621
                                                                                        26 May 2004

    In Fifth Committee, African Group Expresses Concern at Proposed Resolution on Funding for UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire

    Group Supports Advisory Committee’s Proposal for Burundi Operation

    NEW YORK, 25 May (UN Headquarters) -- As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) took up the financing of the two new United Nations operations Côte d’Ivoire and Burundi this morning, the African Group emphasized the collective responsibility of the General Assembly to ensure that the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) received adequate human and financial resources to successfully implement its mandate, which would culminate in elections in October 2005.

    In that regard, the representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the African Group, expressed concern that the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) had recommended a reduction of some 50 per cent of the Secretary-General’s proposed budget to cover the Operation’s requirements through 31 December 2004.  That budget, if approved as recommended, would comprise some $96.4 million for the period from 4 April to 30 June 2004, and some $200.6 million for the period from 1 July to 30 December 2004.

    Noting that the Secretary-General’s first proposed budget for the Operation amounted to some $502.3 million, she said the Group was concerned with the Advisory Committee’s “terse explanation” in its report whereby it could be deduced that it had been unable to determine the Operation’s real needs, and that further consideration hinged on progress to be made in streamlining the organizational structure, the signing of memorandums of understanding and updated vacancy information. It was also not clear how the reductions proposed in several paragraphs of the ACABQ’s report correlated with the 50 per cent reduction, she said.

    The proposed budget, she added, had been prepared in a very short period, as the Security Council had only on 27 February 2004 established the Operation, which replaced the United Nations Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MINUCI) from 4 April 2004. A wide range of tasks had been assigned to the Operation, including assisting the Government of National Reconciliation with the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation and resettlement of combatants; establishing the necessary security conditions to ensure the free flow of humanitarian assistance, and re-establishing the authority of the judiciary and rule of law.

    The Group was also disappointed that at the time of the Advisory Committee’s consideration of the budget, a chief administrative officer had not been appointed to the mission.  That had adversely impacted both the budget’s preparation and submission, as well as on the justifications provided to the ACABQ, including the streamlining of the organizational structure.  In that regard, she urged the Secretariat to ensure that the post of chief administrative officer was filled as a priority matter at the early stages of the establishment of any new mission.

    The broad parameters of UNOCI’s mandate, as established by Security Council resolution 1528 (2004) were clear, she said. The results-based budgeting framework elaborated to facilitate the fulfilment of the described functions and the standard costs used for the various calculations should result in a reasonable budget.  In the absence of clear explanations, the seemingly broad approach did not provide the necessary assurances that it would not impact on the Operation’s functioning, the speedy replacement of the equipment provided to UNOCI by other peacekeeping operations in the region, and the reimbursement to troop-contributing countries. In the future, the Secretariat should make every effort to provide the ACABQ with full justification and adequate information to facilitate the consideration of peacekeeping budgets.

    Regarding the proposed downgrading of the post of one of the two Deputy Special Representatives to the D-2 level, she said the Group was not entirely convinced by the ACABQ’s reasoning. Noting that the Deputy Special Representative would serve concurrently as the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator and assume responsibility for all humanitarian and economic activities of the United Nations system in the mission area, she said the tasks assigned to the Deputy Special Representative were crucial for the success of the Operation’s mandate. The level of the post should not only depend on the number of support staff, but also on the functions assigned to it.

    The Secretary-General had recently informed the Council that there were some 500,000 internally displaced persons, 69,000 refugees and thousands of affected host communities in Côte d’Ivoire, she said. The country was experiencing a serious humanitarian crisis. As there would be no lasting peace without development and no development without peace, the post of Deputy Special Representative should, therefore, be established at the appropriate level, as it would enhance coordination between the Operation and other stakeholders in those important areas.

    As UNOCI was critical to facilitating the implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis and Accra Accords, she urged that the ACABQ’s otherwise legitimate concerns not become a constraining element for the successful implementation of the mission’s mandate. The Secretariat should ensure that the next budget submission provided adequate information and reflected the review of the organizational structure requested by the ACABQ.  In the interim, the Secretariat should make every effort to ensure full deployment of military contingents and recruitment of civilian personnel.

    Turning to the interim budget for the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) for the period from 21 April to 31 December 2004, she said the Group trusted that the deployment of United Nations personnel would restore peace and bring about reconciliation in that country. In that regard, the Group supported the approval of a total commitment authority of some $156 million, with assessment, as proposed by the ACABQ.

    Ghana’s representative associated himself with the position of the African Group and inquired about the rationale behind the statement in paragraph 13 of the Advisory Committee’s report on Côte d’Ivoire, where the ACABQ welcomes the steps taken thus far to promote regional cooperation, but states that “it is the impression of the Committee that not all countries in the region are involved in this process”.

    Responding to that question, the Chairman of the Advisory Committee, Vladimir Kuznetsov explained that the report referred to cooperation between several peacekeeping missions in the area in terms of efforts to coordinate border control among several neighbouring countries. That issue had been addressed at several meetings of force commanders and administrations in the area. He apologized for any possible misunderstanding and said that the Advisory Committee would try to make clearer statements in the future.

    During the organizational part of today’s meeting, the Committee’s attention was drawn to the fact that, in addition to the financing of the United Nations Operation in Burundi, another agenda item had been allocated to its agenda by the General Assembly yesterday:  appointment of a member of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC).

    The documents before the Committee were introduced by Director of Peacekeeping Financing Division, Catherine Pollard, and Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), Vladimir Kuznetsov.

    The Committee will hold its next formal meeting at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 26 May.

    Background

    The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to consider the financing of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) and the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).

    Before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General on the interim budget for the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) for the period from 21 April to 31 December 2004 (document A/58/802). It notes that pending the submission to the General Assembly during its fifty-ninth session of a full budget for ONUB for the period from 21 April 2004 to 30 June 2005, including results-based frameworks, an interim budget is being submitted for the period from 21 April to 30 June 2004 and from 1 July to 31 December 2004, which reflects the Operation’s preliminary financial requirements of some $58.42 million and $142.3 million, respectively. [The Security Council established the United Nations Operation in Burundi by its resolution 1545 (2004) of 21 May 2004.]

    Provided for in the interim budget is the deployment of 5,450 military contingent personnel, 200 military observers, 120 civilian police, 442 international and 462 national staff, including 36 national officers and 191 United Nations Volunteers. Human resources requirements for the Operation are presented at an aggregate level comprising military and civilian police personnel, executive direction and management, and substantive and support staff. Section II of the report contains the support outputs the Operation plans to deliver.

    The Assembly is asked to take a number of actions in connection with the financing of ONUB, including establishing a special account for the purpose of accounting for income received and expenditure incurred in respect of the Operation. It is asked to appropriate some $58.42 million for the Operation’s establishment for the period from 21 April 2004 to 30 June 2004, including the amount of some $49.5 million previously authorized by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), and some $145.3 million for the Operation’s maintenance for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2004. Further action is requested for the period from 22 November to 31 December 2004 should the Council decide to continue the Operation’s mandate.

    In the ACABQ’s related report (document A/58/811), it says that the situation concerning the proposal for the United Nations Operation in Burundi is similar to that of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti and the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET). The Advisory Committee recommends that the Assembly approve commitment authority of some $49.71 million, including some $49.5 million previously authorized by the Committee for the period from 21 April to 30 June 2004. For the period from July to October 2004, the Advisory Committee recommends that the Assembly approve commitment authority in the amount of some $106.33 million. Thus, the total commitment authority for ONUB, including the amount previously authorized by the ACABQ, would be $156.04 million. The ACABQ recommends assessment of that amount for the Operation.

    While the Secretary-General’s budget proposal for a recently established mission in Côte d’Ivoire for the period from 4 April 2004 to 30 June 2005 (document A/58/788) amounts to some $502.35 million, the Advisory Committee, in a related report (document A/58/806) recommends an appropriation of some $297.01 million. The Advisory Committee also makes a number of observations and recommendations regarding the administration and management of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and opportunities for further savings, and recommends that, pending the presentation of a revised budget in the autumn of 2004, provision be made only for the periods from 4 April to 30 June 2004, and from 1 July to 31 December 2004.

    The United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) was established by the terms of Council resolution 1528 (2004) of 27 February 2004 for an initial period of 12 months as from 4 April 2004.  By the same text, the Council also requested the Secretary-General to transfer authority from the United Nations Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MINUCI) and the forces of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to UNOCI on that date. It was decided that UNOCI would comprise, in addition to the appropriate civilian, judiciary and corrections component, a military strength of a maximum of 6,240 United Nations personnel, including 200 military observers and 120 staff officers, and up to 350 civilian police officers.

    By a letter dated 24 March 2004, the Chairman of the Advisory Committee communicated to the Secretary-General the ACABQ’s concurrence, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 49/233 A, with the request to enter into commitments in an amount not to exceed $49,943,300 gross to meet initial critical logistical and personnel requirements of the Operation for the period ending 30 June 2004, on the understanding that the full budget for the 2003/2004 and 2004/2005 periods would be submitted to the General Assembly at the second part of its resumed fifty-eighth session.

    According to the documents before the Committee, UNOCI is to be an integrated mission, having close cooperation with other United Nations entities in the country. That fact is reflected in its proposed organizational structure, with one of the Deputy Special Representatives serving as coordinator of all humanitarian and economic activities of the United Nations system in Côte d’Ivoire, as well as of non-governmental organizations. While stressing the importance of coordination of efforts among all players, the Advisory Committee states, however, that the proposed structure of the mission does not appear to support the establishment of a second Deputy Special Representative post, at least not at the Assistant Secretary-General level.

    The Advisory Committee believes that it is possible to achieve savings taking into account current high vacancy rates for both military and civilian personnel (current delayed deployment rates amount to 38 per cent for military observers; 73 per cent for military contingents; 89 per cent for civilian police; 62 per cent for international staff; 60 per cent for national staff; and 89 per cent for United Nations Volunteers. The ACABQ also notes that an additional 206 international staff, 207 national staff and 158 United Nations Volunteers are proposed by the Secretary-General. Given the availability of qualified local candidates in Côte d’Ivoire, the staffing of the mission should include more national staff, particularly in the area of administration.

    In general, finding the proposed structure of the mission to be fragmented and top-heavy, the Advisory Committee recommends that a review be undertaken with a view to streamlining the structure by combining smaller units or integrating them into larger sections and eliminating some posts for heads of units and other higher-level posts, including in the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Deputy Special Representatives. In this connection, the Committee questions, among other things, the establishment of a post of Chief of Staff at the D-2 level.

    The ACABQ also recommends against approval of several other posts, at least until the structure of the mission is reviewed.  Another recommendation does not support the establishment of the Joint Mission Analysis Cell at this time. The matter should be reported on in the context of the comprehensive report of the Secretary-General on strengthening security, to be submitted to the Assembly next fall.

    Based on those recommendations, for the period from 4 April to 30 June 2004, the Advisory Committee recommends that the estimated budget requirements of some $101.06 million be reduced by $4.69 million. Accordingly, it recommends that the Assembly appropriate an amount of $96.37 million gross for the establishment of UNOCI for the period from 4 April to 30 June 2004, inclusive of some $49.94 million previously authorized by the Committee.

    For the 2004/2005 financial period, the Advisory Committee recommends appropriation of an amount of some $200.65 million gross at this time (a reduction of 50 per cent), to cover the requirements of the mission to 31 December 2004. A revised budget should be presented, through the Advisory Committee, in September 2004.  At that time, progress on streamlining the organizational structure and the signing of memorandums of understanding, as well as the availability of updated vacancy information, will allow for a better determination of real needs.

    * *** *