Press Releases

    GA/AB/3638
    28 October 2004

    Fifth Committee Recommends Budgets for Peacekeeping Missions in Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Côte D’ivoire, Haiti

    (Issued on 27 October 2004.)

    NEW YORK, 26 October (UN Headquarters) -- The Administrative and Budgetary Committee (Fifth) this morning provided recommendations to the General Assembly on the budgets of peacekeeping missions in Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti, which had been newly authorized or revised by the Security Council earlier this year.

    Acting on five draft resolutions, without a vote, the Committee recommended that, for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005, the Assembly appropriate:

    -- $94.62 million for the maintenance of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), in addition to the amount of $207.25 million already appropriated for the same period under the terms of resolution 58/308;

    -- $329.71 million for the maintenance of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), inclusive of the amount of $106.33 million previously authorized under the terms of resolution 58/312 for the period from 1 July to 31 October 2004;

    -- $177.83 million for the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), in addition to some $200.65 million already appropriated for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2004 under the terms of resolution 58/310; and

    -- $379.05 million for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), including $172.48 million previously authorized by resolution 58/311 for the period from 1 July to 31 October 2004.  Also appropriated would be the amount of $49.26 million for the period from 1 May to 30 June 2004, which had been authorized by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) at the opening of the Mission.

    The Assembly would also appropriate some $85.15 million for the maintenance and liquidation of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) following its extension for a final period ending on 20 May 2005.  That amount would include $77.07 million for the period from 1 July 2004 to 20 May 2005 for the maintenance of the Mission and $8.08 million for the commencement of liquidation activities of the Mission for the period from 21 May to 30 June.

    Also this morning, the Committee agreed on a draft decision, by the terms of which the Secretary-General would be requested to report to the Assembly, at the second part of its resumed session next spring, on the management structure of all peacekeeping operations, taking into account the complexities, mandates and specificities of each operation and the necessity to carry out each mission effectively and efficiently.

    In connection with that draft, the representative of South Africa, on behalf of the African Group, stressed that the model being used by the Secretariat to determine the structure for peacekeeping missions should be applied in a flexible manner.  She reaffirmed that each and every peacekeeping budget should be considered on the basis of its own financial justifications, with full recognition of the specificities and complexities of individual missions, their mandates, and their unique environment.

    While supporting such a template in principle, the representative of the Netherlands, on behalf of the European Union and associated States, shared the concerns of the African Group, adding that the use of the template must not lead to lax budgeting procedures, or arbitrary inflation in the grading of posts.

    Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts and United Nations Controller, Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, commented on several texts before the Committee, and representatives of Sierra Leone, Haiti, Costa Rica, China, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia, Timor-Leste, Canada, Japan, and Brazil (also on behalf of several Latin American troop contributors) also spoke in explanation of position on various texts.

    The Committee will begin its consideration of human resources management and the United Nations common system at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 27 October.

    Action on Drafts

    The Committee first approved, without a vote, the draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) (document A/C.5/59/L.4), which was submitted by Vice-Chairman of the Committee KARLA SAMAYOA-RECARI (Guatemala).

    By the terms of the text, the Assembly would appropriate $94.6 million for the maintenance of the Mission for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005, in addition to the $207.2 million already appropriated for the same period under resolution 58/308.  Endorsing the conclusions and recommendations contained in the ACABQ report, the Assembly would specifically request that the Secretary-General continue efforts to recruit local staff for the Mission against General Service posts; make the fullest possible use of facilities and equipment at the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy; and take all necessary action to ensure that the Mission is administered with maximum efficiency and economy.  By other terms, it would express concern at the delay experienced in providing adequate resources to some recent peacekeeping missions, particularly those in Africa, and would emphasize that all peacekeeping missions should be given equal treatment.

    Speaking after approval of the text, the representative of Sierra Leone gave sincere thanks to all members of the Committee for their support of UNAMSIL.  He noted that, when UNAMSIL first arrived in 1999 facing severe difficulties, many people were not sure it would last for six months.  But the forces had performed extremely well after getting over initial setbacks, and the work of individual contingents in building schools, churches, roads, and bridges had helped tremendously.  He regretted the loss of life suffered by UNAMSIL.

    Finally, he thanked colleagues in the African Group for being very, very supportive, and added that the staggered drawdown had helped the Government prepare the security forces to take over the maintenance of peace and security in the country.

    The draft resolution on financing of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) (document A/C.5/59/L.6), submitted by the Rapporteur of the Committee, DENISA HUTANOVA (Slovakia), was then introduced and approved without a vote.

    By the terms of the text, the Assembly would appropriate $329.7 million for the maintenance of ONUB for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005, inclusive of the $106.3 million previously authorized under resolution 58/312.  Endorsing the recommendations of the ACABQ, subject to certain provisions of the present resolution, the Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General to fill a number of posts at appropriate grades until 30 June 2005, including the post of Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (Humanitarian and Development Coordination).  The draft encouraged the Secretary-General to continue to take additional measures to ensure the safety and security of all personnel under the auspices of the United Nations participating in the Operation.

    The Committee then turned to the draft resolution on financing of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) (document A/C.5/59/L.7), submitted by Ms. Samayoa-Recari, which was also approved without a vote.  By the terms of the text, the Assembly would appropriate some $177.8 million for the maintenance of the Operation, in addition to the amount of $200.6 million already appropriated for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2004 under the terms of resolution 58/310.

    As the Committee began its consideration of the draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) (document A/C.5/59/L.5), which was submitted by Ms. Hutanova, there was a brief statement from Controller JEAN-PIERRE HALBWACHS.  He noted that, with regard to operative paragraphs 13 and 14 of the draft resolution, the Secretariat would, in its forthcoming performance report, present accomplishment 2.3 from the proposed results-based budget as “free and fair elections”.

    The representative of Cuba thanked the coordinator for the extraordinary efforts that allowed the Committee to approve the draft resolution during the informals and appreciated the Controller’s understanding.  The delegation joined the consensus that took that understanding into account.  While there was no reformulation of the expected accomplishments, that did not mean that the delegation of Cuba considered that the Fifth Committee should abdicate its responsibilities in results-based budgeting.  Cuba would continue to review such matters when considering the budgets of future peacekeeping operations.

    The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

    Following the approval of the text, the representative of Haiti thanked members of the Secretariat for the very relevant information provided to the delegations during the debates on peacekeeping operations, and also thanked the African Group for the tireless efforts made to achieve the results before the Committee today.

    The approval of the draft resolution was eloquent proof of the flexibility, understanding, and the spirit of constructive compromise that characterized the work of the Fifth Committee.  There was an urgent need for full deployment of the mission in Haiti as soon as possible to help restore peace, stability and the rule of law.

    The representative of Costa Rica said that his delegation had taken into account the reports of the ACABQ on each of the peacekeeping operations, and suggested that the Secretariat should readjust posts for the next budgetary period and provide explanations.  It appeared that some posts were not adequately justified.  His delegation took note of the particular features of each mission, but also believed that it was important to have a better organizational model that might improve transparency and accountability.

    The representative of China stated for the record that, while her delegation had agreed to appropriate the full amount requested for MINUSTAH, the anticipated savings suggested by the ACABQ must be reflected clearly in the performance report.  Her Government had approved the amount, as suggested by the ACABQ, with the understanding that such savings would be used to help deal with damage caused by the recent hurricane, but wanted to know for sure that recommended savings had actually taken place.  For future budgets, she would like to see full justifications for spending.  It was important to do away with waste and unnecessary expenditures, so that scarce resources could be used where they were most needed.

    As the Committee took up a draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) (document A/C.5/59/L.8), which had been submitted by the Rapporteur of the Committee, following informal consultations, Mr. HALBWACHS said that, by operative paragraph 12 of the draft, the Secretary-General would be requested to measure the accomplishments of the Mission fully in accordance with Security Council resolution 1543 (2004).  In the light of that paragraph, in the performance report for the period 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005, to be considered at the resumed sixtieth session, the Secretariat would present the indicator of achievement 1.3.3 as “Timorese courts by May 2005 decide on all arrest warrant requests”.

    By the terms of the draft, following the extension of the Mission for a period of six months by Security Council resolution 1543 of 14 May 2004, with a view to subsequently extending its mandate for a final period of another six months, until 20 May 2005, the Assembly would appropriate some $85.15 million for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005, inclusive of the amount of $30.49 million previously authorized for the period ending on 31 October.  That amount also comprises $77.07 million for the period from 1 July 2004 to 20 May 2005 for the maintenance of the Mission and $8.08 million for the commencement of liquidation activities of the Mission for the period from 21 May to 30 June.

    Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Indonesia said that since its establishment by resolution 1410 (2002), her country had supported the Mission.  Indonesia also lent its support when the Mission had been extended by resolution 1543 (2004) for a further final period until 20 May 2005.  Considering the progress made and since it was the final stage of the Mission, it was important that the Mission complete its mandate by May 2005.

    Taking note of the efforts of the Secretary-General to implement a results-based budgeting format for the presentation of peacekeeping budgets, she emphasized paragraph 4 of resolution 57/290B, in which the Secretary-General was requested to ensure that, in applying that methodology, specific characteristics and mandates of each mission were taken fully into account.  In that regard, Indonesia had raised concerns about the indicator of achievement as stated in paragraph 1.3.3 of document A/59/290, which she felt was not in accordance with the mandate.  Some differences had been resolved in informal consultations, and her delegation had joined the consensus based on the understanding that the Secretariat would revise the indicator of achievement in question.

    The representative of New Zealand stressed that there should be no impunity for human rights violations in East Timor, saying that his delegation had consistently called for perpetrators to be brought to justice.  The Security Council had also addressed that issue in its most recent resolution, in particular requesting that the Serious Crimes Unit complete trials and other activities no later than 20 May.  For the work of the Unit to be completed, decisions needed to be taken on all outstanding arrest warrants. Thus, he felt that indicators of achievement were appropriate standards to judge the achievements of the Mission.

    He also referred to a footnote to the final preambular paragraph of the text, which referred to the Assembly taking note of the views expressed by Member States.  He wanted to confirm that the document number contained in that footnote referred to the summary records of today’s meeting, for that was where he expressed his views.

    Australia’s representative said that his country’s views on the matter were well known.  He welcomed the draft, which provided UNMISET with resources for the last stretch of its operations.  He also agreed with the point of view of New Zealand.

    The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

    Speaking after action on the text, the representative of Timor-Leste expressed gratitude to all Member States, which had been able to agree on the draft resolution, although there had been difficulties in the consideration of the text.  Concerning the political implications in the draft, he said that his Government was determined to work with its neighbour and friend Indonesia and the Secretary-General to find a solution to the remaining problems and do it in a way that could be acceptable to the international community, Timor-Leste and Indonesia.  He felt that international efforts in Timor-Leste were on the right track.  With the Mission ending in May 2005, he reiterated that much had been achieved, but much remained to be done.  He also appealed for continued support in the areas of justice, police and the financial sector.

    The Committee then turned to the draft decision contained in document A/C.5/59/L.9, by which the Assembly would address administrative and budgetary aspects of peacekeeping financing.  By this text, the Secretary-General would be requested to submit to the General Assembly, at the second part of its resumed session next spring, a report on the review of the management structure of all peacekeeping operations.  Such a review should include, if appropriate, administrative comparisons, taking into account the complexities, mandates and specificities of each operation and the necessity to carry out each mission effectively and efficiently.

    Prior to action on the draft, Mr. HALBWACHS said that five new or revised budgets for the current period had been prepared as a result of the decisions of the Council in the course of the year.  Those budgets would have an impact on the preparation of reports for the May session next year, when the Committee would take up peacekeeping budgets for 2005-2006 and related performance reports for 2003-2004.  The Secretariat could not go ahead with preparation of the budgets for the next financing cycle for those five missions until the review was finished for the current period.  Thus, the submission of 2005-2006 budgets of those five missions would be delayed.

    He added that, for the May session, the Secretariat would have to prepare no fewer than 45 reports.  To add additional reports to what was already an “almost unmanageable workload” would put great strain on the Secretariat.  “We will do our best, but I am not certain that we will be able to provide in time for submission and review at the May session next year” the report requested in the draft.

    Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, the representative of the Netherlands, in explanation of position, welcomed the new peacekeeping operations and strongly supported their actions.  By approving their budgets, the Committee had given the Secretariat, and each of the operations, the finances, human resources and flexibility needed to fully carry out their mandates.  He trusted that the Secretary-General, when filling the posts identified by the Assembly, would bear in mind the observations and recommendations of the ACABQ, as well as the views of the Member States concerning the appropriate levels required for efficient functioning of the missions.

    Placing great confidence in the work of the ACABQ, the Union would continue to use its recommendations as guidelines for discussions and, ultimately, decisions on peacekeeping budgets, he said.  In the case of MINUSTAH, for instance, they would look forward to detailed accounting of the disbursement of the $9.3 million allotted for the remediation of the effects of hurricane Jeanne.

    As had been apparent from recent discussions, he had concerns about the way in which a “template” had been implemented in recent peacekeeping operations.  While supporting such a template in principle, the Union agreed fully with the statements made by the representative of the African Group, and with the comments of the ACABQ, that the template must be applied in a very flexible manner.  The Union remained strongly of the view that the use of the template must not lead to lax budgeting procedures, nor arbitrary inflation in the grading of posts.  The Union’s continued acceptance of the use of the template was wholly dependent on the Secretary-General being able to fully justify all positions, especially those at senior levels.  In that context, coherence and coordination with other humanitarian actors in the field, with their respective means and personnel, were essential to the cost-effective and efficient discharge of a mission’s mandate.  The Union would pursue that closely in the context of the budgets of all peacekeeping operations and in the cross-cutting resolution, next May.

    He looked forward to the outcome of the review, as mandated by the Assembly and recommended by the ACABQ, of the staffing and structure of new missions, and the management of existing missions.  While he understood that such a request might put pressure on the Secretariat, he did not consider the timing too onerous.  Indeed, he expected the Secretariat to review and justify the resource requirements of all peacekeeping operations throughout the budgeting process.

    What had been requested by the Assembly should simply be an extrapolation of that ongoing review process.

    The representative of the United States agreed with the position of the European Union, saying that she looked forward to revisiting the issue during the resumed session next May.

    The representative Canada supported the statement made by the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union.

    The representative of Japan also aligned his delegation with the statement made by the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, noting that Japan would continue to closely monitor the budgets of all peacekeeping operations.

    Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of South Africa, on behalf of the African Group, said the Group joined the consensus with the understanding that the Committee’s decision would provide for the needs of those peacekeeping operations.  However, they wished to make a few remarks that they hoped would be considered by the Secretariat and the ACABQ in the future.

    First, he said, they reaffirmed the principle that each and every peacekeeping budget should be considered on the basis of the financial justifications contained therein, with full recognition of the specificities and complexities of individual missions, their mandates, and their unique environment.  That was the longstanding position of the African Group and had been the basis of negotiations in the Fifth Committee -- and should remain so.  Second, the model being used by the Secretariat to help determine the structure for peacekeeping missions should be applied in a flexible manner.  Third, they expected the ACABQ to consider the resource requirements and staffing structures of each peacekeeping operation on a case-by-case basis.  They further expected the Advisory Committee to provide the Budget Committee with detailed explanations of its advice and to avoid cross-referencing to the extent possible.

    The representative of Brazil, speaking also on behalf of other troop-contributing countries of Latin America -- Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Guatemala, and Uruguay -- associated the group with the statement made by South Africa on behalf of the African Group.

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