Press Releases

    GA/AB/3665
    29 March 2005

    Budget Committee Takes up Revised Financing for Democratic Republic of Congo Mission

    NEW YORK, 24 March (UN Headquarters) -- Acknowledging the tremendous importance of the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and daunting challenges it faced, speakers in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today expressed concern over the growth of the Mission’s overall requirements to almost $1 billion in the current financial cycle and the lack of clarity in the presentation of its revised budget.

    [Following the expansion of the Mission’s mandate by the Security Council last October, the revised financing request for MONUC for the 12 months ending on 30 June 2005 amounts to $962.01 million, representing an increase of $252.89 million.  Those resources would provide for the deployment of an additional 5,900 personnel and implementation of the Mission’s expanded capacity, including deployment in “the key areas of potential volatility to promote the re-establishment of confidence, discourage violence and allow United Nations personnel to operate freely, particularly in the eastern part of the country”.]

    Following the introduction of the revised budget by the Acting Controller of the United Nations, Warren Sach, several speakers agreed with the observations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) -- introduced by its Chairman, Vladimir Kuznetsov -- which commented on the lack of “a clear linkage” between requested resources and the expanded mandate.

    Agreeing with the Advisory Committee, Japan’s representative added that the revised budget proposal also did not explain why additional resources were being sought on top of the currently available capacity.  Furthermore, there was no analysis on how the activities of the United Nations and other entities in the area might impact on resource requirements of the Mission.

    With the United Nations peacekeeping budget projected to go beyond the unprecedented level of $5 billion shortly, he stressed that any resource requirements should be fully justified in a transparent and organized manner.  Otherwise, Member States would be placed in a difficult situation.  Full justification of all requirements, prudent resource utilization and good coordination to avoid any duplication were indispensable.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea said that, confronted with volatility on the ground, the complexity of the Mission’s mandate, the lack of infrastructure and the sheer size of the country, MONUC could not afford to operate without comprehensive administrative and budgetary oversight.  Her delegation was anxious to see clearer linkages between requested financial and human resources and increases in troop strength or newly mandated activities.  She also agreed with the Advisory Committee that the Mission’s next budget, which the Fifth Committee would consider in May, should be much clearer in terms of analysis of existing resources and capacities and justifications for new posts.

    The representative of Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, insisted on the need to identify proposals for further rationalization for the Committee’s May session, saying that he expected “a certain level of ambition” both from the Secretariat and ACABQ in that regard.  He also recalled that the Security Council, in its resolution 1565 (2004), had requested the Secretary-General to ensure coordination of activities of MONUC and the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), in particular by pooling their logistic and administrative resources.  He would expect to see concrete efficiencies in both missions, as a result of such coordination.

    Canada’s representative, who also spoke on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, agreed with the ACABQ that it would be best to assess all the requirements for posts in the context of the budget proposals for 2005-2006, bearing in mind that additional resources might not, in fact, be the only, or the best, means of achieving the Mission’s mandate.  In the meantime, however, MONUC should be given the authority to start hiring the people it needed to ensure that the essential work of the Mission was not jeopardized.

    South Africa’s representative, on behalf of the African Group, was one of the speakers who also addressed “the enormous logistical challenges” associated with conducting a free and fair election “in a country larger than Western Europe, yet lacking a road network or telecommunications infrastructure”.  She cautioned against any decision that might further delay the deployment of MONUC’s elections staff.  While supporting close cooperation between MONUC and various other entities on the ground, the Group did not support the proposal to fund MONUC’s staff from extrabudgetary funds, as the ACABQ had alluded to.  It was her understanding that the budget for the electoral process would fund the functioning of the Independent Electoral Commission, its regional offices, its liaison offices, the registration centres and polling centres.  The electoral budget did not provide for MONUC activities, which should be funded from its own budget.

    Speakers also commented on grave allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse, noting that disciplinary action had been taken against 17 MONUC personnel found to have been involved in sexual exploitation and abuse.  With a comprehensive report on the matter expected to be available soon, the Republic of Korea representative said that the Fifth Committee would deliberate on the matter in May and take action to contribute to the eradication of sexual abuse by United Nations personnel.

    Statements were also made this morning by representatives of Uruguay, China, United States, Syria, Venezuela and Bangladesh.  Responses to questions were provided by Mr. Sach and Vice-Chairman of the ACABQ, Rajat Saha.  The representative of Egypt spoke on other matters.

    The Committee is expected to take up human resources management at its next formal meeting 10 a.m., Tuesday, 22 March.

    Background

    The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) is expected to consider the revised budget for the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) for the period from 1 July to 30 June 2005.

    In its resolution 58/259 B of 18 June 2004, the General Assembly appropriated $746.07 million for the Mission from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005, including $709.12 million for Mission maintenance, $30.21 million for the support account for peacekeeping operations, and $6.74 million for the Logistics Base in Brindisi.  Those resources provided for the Mission’s maintenance based on the concept of operations and authorized troop and civilian police strength approved by Security Council resolution 1493 (2004) of 28 July 2004.

    In its resolution 1565 (2004) of 1 October 2004, the Council extended MONUC deployment until 31 March, authorized the increase of MONUC strength by 5,900 personnel, as well as the deployment of appropriate civilian personnel, appropriate and proportionate air mobility assets and other force enablers, and expanded the Mission’s mandate.  Pending submission of the Mission’s revised 2004-2005 budget, the Controller requested to enter into commitments for MONUC an amount not exceeding $49.95 million in order to meet the immediate additional logistical and military personnel requirements.

    A report of the Secretary-General (document A/59/707) contains the revised budget for MONUC for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005, which amounts to $962.01 million, representing an increase of $252.89 million for the maintenance of the Mission.  It provides for the deployment of an additional 5,674 military contingent personnel, 86 civilian police personnel, 190 international staff, 393 national staff, including 11 national officers, and 115 United Nations Volunteers for a total revised strength of 760 military observers, 15,714 military contingent personnel, 268 civilian police officers, 1,162 international staff, 1,747 national staff, including 36 national officers, and 605 United Nations Volunteers.

    According to the report, the revised resource requirements of MONUC have been linked to the Mission’s objective through a number of results-based frameworks, grouped by the components set out in its initial 2004/05 budget (document A/58/701):  peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Transitional Government and elections, rule of law, the human dimension of sustainable peace and support, which remain unchanged.  Accordingly, in the framework components already reviewed by the General Assembly, the present report reflects only additional or revised indicators of achievement and outputs.  The additional human resources of the Mission in terms of number of personnel have been attributed to the individual components, with the exception of the Mission’s executive direction and management, which can be attributed to the Mission as a whole.

    The Secretary-General recommends that the Assembly appropriate the amount of $252.89 million for the maintenance of the Mission for the nine-month period from 1 October 2004 to 30 June 2005, inclusive of the amount of $49.95 million previously authorized by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), in addition to the $709.12 million already appropriated for the maintenance of MONUC for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005.  He further recommends assessment of $168.59 million for the period from 1 October 2004 to 31 March 2005, and assessment of $84.3 million at a monthly rate of $28.1 million, should the Council decide to continue the mandate of the Mission beyond 31 March.

    In a related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (document A/59/735), the Advisory Committee states that, in many cases, it was unable to identify a clear linkage between requested additional financial or human resources and the increase in troop strength or newly mandated activities.  The Secretary-General’s report contains little indication of how already available capacity has been taken into account and how the activities of other entities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and voluntary contributions by donors might impact on resource requirements for MONUC.

    The complexity of the Mission and the dangerous and highly volatile environment in which it operates call for strong budgetary control and strict monitoring of expenditures, according to the report.  It is essential that adequate oversight coverage and effective management tools be provided for the Mission and that the Mission and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations make every effort to introduce strict budgetary discipline and enforce adequate controls over budget implementation.  Had those been in place, the Advisory Committee states, they would have provided the ability to make a clear revised budget presentation with adequate explanation and discernable linkages to the expanded mandate.  The Committee expects that its concerns and observations will be fully taken into account in the preparation of the proposed budget of the Mission for 2005-2006.

    Among issues addressed by the ACABQ was the fact that it was informed that the present rations supplier had the capacity to provide fresh and frozen food for the additional troops under the current contract.  Recalling its reservations on the initial 2004-2005 budget regarding the Mission’s plan to go forward with door-to-door delivery of rations by the contractor by air, the Advisory Committee reminds the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) of its request that it prepare, together with the Mission, the Procurement Division and the Office of legal Affairs, a cost/benefit analysis on the matter, and, pending completion of the analysis, to continue to deliver rations using United Nations air assets.  It expects that the matter will be addressed in the proposed budget for 2005-2006.

    As for civilian personnel staffing, the ACABQ points out that the fact that additional staffing requirements may be accommodated within currently approved resources owing to high vacancy rates does not mean that the additional posts are without costs.  In fact, any savings realized as the result of high vacancy rates would have been returned to Member States.  The presentation of additional staffing requirements in the revised budget should have been more transparent and better organized.

    The Advisory Committee has not been provided with the necessary information on which to base considered recommendations on specific requests for additional posts as redeployments, according to its report.  It, therefore, requests that the Mission and the DPKO review the civilian personnel requirements.  In the meanwhile, the Advisory Committee recommends that the Mission begin hiring, on temporary contracts of up to one year, the personnel it deems essential to deal with the expansion.  Not commenting on post-by-post requests for additional staff, it would defer its consideration of that matter until the proposed budget for 2005-2006.  However, the Committee is of the view that, wherever feasible and cost-effective, national general service staff and national officers should be hired to carry out required functions.

    Regarding the estimated requirements of $1.88 million for an additional 115 United Nations Volunteers, the Advisory Committee believes that, given current high vacancy rates for the Mission and the fact that there are only three months left in the 2004-2005 budgetary period, that amount could be absorbed within currently available resources.

    The ACABQ notes that the initial apportionment for official travel for 2004-2005 amounted to $3.94 million and that, in eight months, expenditures already amount to nearly $2.9 million.  For the revised budget, an additional $1.5 million is requested.  It appears, according to the Advisory Committee, that the Director of Administration has no control over unforeseen travel by the DPKO to the Mission.  As the additional requirements for official travel are to cover a period of only three months, the Advisory committee believes that the official travel requirements could be reduced by $500,000.

    The revised estimate for air transportation amounts to $199.77 million, the report notes.  That is an increase of $37.34 million or 23 per cent over the initial 2004-2005 apportionment.  Additional requirements are largely attributable to the planned deployment of 26 additional aircraft, combined with a 16.5 per cent increase in fuel costs.  As the Advisory Committee was informed that the Mission was planning to reconfigure its air fleet and regionalize the use of some aircraft, it expects that any savings will be reflected in the performance report.

    Noting that an additional amount of $6.02 million is requested under air transportation services, of which $362,500 was attributable to unpaid invoices from prior periods and $4.87 million to increases in the compensation package to the contractor’s international staff, the Advisory Committee does not see the need to provide the related additional resources at this time and recommends that the request be reduced by $4.9 million.

    In conclusion, the Advisory Committee recommends that the estimated additional budget requirement of $252.9 million for the period from 1 October 2004 to 30 June 2005 be reduced by $7.25 million.  It, therefore, recommends that the Assembly appropriate an amount of $245.64 million gross and net for the maintenance of MONUC for the period from 1 October 2004 to 30 June 2005, inclusive of the amount of $49.95 million previously authorized and in addition to the amount of $709.12 million already appropriated.  It further recommends that the Assembly assess the amount of $163.76 million for the period from 1 October 2004 to 31 March 2005, and assess the amount of $81.88 million at a monthly rate of $27.29 million should the Council decide to continue the mandate of the Mission beyond 31 March.

    Introduction of Reports

    WARREN SACH, Acting Controller, introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the revised budget of MONUC for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005 (document A/59/707), said he recognized there were certain concerns on the revised budget.  The Secretary-General intended to address those issues in the proposals for 2005-2006, focusing on organizational structure, additional staff, linkage of additional resources with increased troop strengths and distribution of personnel by office and geographical distribution.  He pointed out, however, that not all concerns relating to the budget could be fully taken into account in the short period before preparation of the new budget.  The Mission was in need of a structural review, which would also be done in the 2005-2006 proposals in order to prepare the ground for a better operational situation.

    VLADIMIR KUZNETSOV, Chairman, Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introducing the Advisory Committee’s related report (document A/59/735), said the revised budget was necessary because of the Council’s new mandate that increased MONUC’s troop strength.  In December 2004, the ACABQ had granted a request for commitment authority in an amount not exceeding $49.95 million, pending submission of the revised budget.  In considering the estimates, the ACABQ had kept in mind that revised budgets should only be submitted in exceptional instances and should be limited and directly related to unforeseen changes.  In the current instance, the Committee had been unable to find a clear linkage to requested resources and the expanded mandate.  Nor was there an analysis of how activities undertaken by other entities and voluntary contributions by donors might impact on resource requirements.

    He said the inadequacy extended across the budget, including requests for additional staffing and for additional operational resources.  It was made worse by an attempt to reflect in the revised budget the resource implications of a major reorganization.  The rationale behind the organizational change was not clearly spelled out.  That left the impression that the Mission had not been able to develop a clear vision for its managerial structure or processes.  He emphasized that the place for such proposals was the proposed budget for 2005-2006.

    He said the ACABQ recommended that all action on posts be deferred pending a thorough review by the Mission and the presentation of coherent and well justified proposals for the next budget.  For urgent needs, the Committee recommended that the Mission begin hiring, on temporary contracts of up to one year and without prejudice to actions the General Assembly might take, the personnel it deemed essential to deal with the expansion.  The ACABQ recommended that all action proposed would be pending for 2005-2006.  Overall, the ACABQ recommended a reduction of $7.2 million in the proposed revised budget, aside from its recommendations on posts which did not have a budgetary implication.

    KAREN LOCK (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the security and humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remained critical.  An estimated 3 million Congolese were in “acute need of assistance in a complex emergency” situation.  The recent death of United Nations peacekeepers and civilians underscored the dangerous nature of the situation there.  An effective, well-managed and well-resourced peacekeeping mission, however, would support the Democratic Republic on the road to political change, security and stability, and economic and social development.  Security Council resolution 1565 (2004) had mandated establishment by MONUC of three joint commissions to assist the Transitional Government in security-sector reform, essential legislation and elections.  Those three joint commissions had been established and had assisted the Independent Electoral Commission, revised the military concept of operations and reconfigured its administrative organization.

    Realizing that the revised budget submission had been prepared within a short period of time, she noted, however, with concern that it did not meet the expectations of the ACABQ.  She trusted that the next budget submission would meet ACABQ’s and MemberStates’ expectations.  Turning to the ACABQ recommendations, she registered concern with recommendations concerning the posts for the Electoral Assistance division and stressed that no decision had been taken to “delay” elections.  The ACABQ comments in that regard fell outside the scope of its mandate.

    She said the enormous logistical challenges associated with conducting a free and fair election in a country larger than Western Europe, yet lacking a road network or telecommunications infrastructure, were simply immense.  She said the Group cautioned against any decision that might further delay the recruitment and deployment of MONUC’s elections staff.  While supporting close cooperation between MONUC and the various UN entities on the ground, the Group did not support the proposal to fund MONUC’s staff from extrabudgetary funds, as the ACABQ had alluded to.  It was her understanding that the budget for the electoral process would fund the functioning of the Independent Electoral Commission, its regional offices, its liaison offices, the registration centres and polling centres.  The electoral budget did not provide for MONUC activities, which should be funded from its own budget.

    In conclusion, she said the Group expressed its strongest condemnation of any form of sexual exploitation or abuse by some United Nations personnel and peacekeepers.  She urged the Secretariat and the management of peacekeeping operations to make every effort to prevent occurrence of those incidents.

    KARL VON DEN BOSSCHE (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, paid tribute to the nine peacekeepers who had lost their lives on 25 February and said that that day’s events underlined the deadly risks and challenges that had become a daily part of life in the Mission.

    Turning to the budgetary aspects of today’s discussion, he expressed the Union’s concern over the quality of the revised budget of the Mission.  Inadequate justification of many of the proposed additional elements did not allow the Committee to measure the requests effectively and lacked clear logic.  The ACABQ’s pertinent comments must guide the Committee in this delicate matter, taking into account, however, the fact that the mandate of MONUC had changed substantially.  In that context, he was concerned by the slow rate of recruitment of civilian police, who played a key role in securing the environment of the coming elections.  He expected a full justification for additional resources in May.  At this stage, it was necessary to allocate to the Mission the resources needed for its efficient operation.

    In May, the Union expected a certain level of ambition both from the Secretariat and ACABQ, he continued, to identify proposals for further rationalization.  In that regard, he recalled the important provisions of Council resolution 1565 (2004), which requested the Secretary-General to ensure coordination of activities of MONUC and the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), in particular by pooling their logistic and administrative resources to an extent that did not prejudice the ability of those missions to carry out their respective mandates.  That was supposed to ensure their maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness.  He would expect to see concrete efficiencies in both missions, as a result of such coordination.

    On a separate but related issue, he said that MONUC had been in the spotlight because of grave allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse.  The Union condemned categorically all such abuses, wherever they occurred.  The report requested by the Peacekeeping Committee would guide the Budget Committee during its May session.  No effort should be spared to tackle those grave abuses and the impunity, not least because they tarnished the image of the United Nations and peacekeeping and undermined their credibility with the local population.  He awaited with great interest future proceedings to be able to discuss that serious matter in an informed and swift manner.

    ADELLE FERGUSON (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said that there was little doubt that, in addition to being one of the largest United Nations peacekeeping missions, MONUC was also one of the most complex and challenging ones.  The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remained volatile and dangerous.  A recent ambush resulting in the deaths of 9 peacekeepers attested to that reality.  As a result, the Security Council had adopted an expanded mandate for the Mission, increasing its level by some 5,900 troops.  She understood that the revised budget before the Committee was intended primarily to respond to the enlarged mandate.  The link between those expanded functions and a requirement for expanded resources was clear.  Unfortunately, the presentation of the need for additional resources and their relation to the change in mandate and operating requirements were less clear.  Such a lack of clarity made it difficult to evaluate specific proposals with any confidence.

    Under the circumstances, the delegations she represented tended to agree with the ACABQ that it would be best to assess all the requirements for posts in the context of the budget proposals for 2005-2006, bearing in mind that additional resources might not, in fact, be the only, or the best, means of achieving the Mission’s mandate. In the meantime, however, MONUC should be given the authority to start hiring the people it needed to ensure that the essential work of the Mission was not jeopardized.

    Continuing, she also registered her deep concern regarding the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by MONUC personnel.  That issue was of utmost importance, and it should be fully addressed by the organization in a manner that was fair, transparent and effective. In particular, once the report of the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser was released, the delegations she represented would look forward to a full discussion of any financial or resource requirements resulting from his recommendations.

    The delegations she spoke for were traditionally strong advocates of effective management and clear budgeting practices, she said.  The Secretariat should continue to strive to produce the clearest, most fully justified budgets possible.  At the same time, they were fully cognizant that the administration and management of a peacekeeping operation was not simply a paper exercise.  That was why they were determined to ensure that MONUC’s operating requirements were met, while the budget presentation for the next period was improved and considered.

    SANTIAGO WINS (Uruguay) said that, as a country with some 1,750 personnel deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uruguay was particularly interested in the situation there.  Of particular importance were the implementation of the peacekeeping mandate and the holding of credible elections.

    The Secretary-General was now calling for an increase in budgetary resources to implement the Council’s resolution 1565, which called for an increase in personnel and for adapting the political and military mandate of the Mission to the situation on the ground.  The ACABQ was recommending the adoption of almost the total amount requested.  In that connection, he noted that, in a mission of MONUC’s size, there was a possibility of duplication of functions and overlapping administrative problems, which should be considered during the Committee’s session in May.  He regretted that the information supplied in document A/59/735 did not contribute enough elements for full consideration of the issue.

    It was not possible to consolidate the pacification and election activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, unless necessary resources were available, he continued.  His delegation fully agreed with the need to provide support for electoral activities.  As the documents before the Committee mentioned the possibility of elections being moved to the first quarter of 2006, when examining the topic in informals, the Committee should have detailed information on the matter from a representative of the Electoral Division.

    Regarding the overall level of resources, he expressed concern over the tendency of the budget to grow:  MONUC’s total requirements had almost reached $1 billion, now.  Air transportation requirements, alone, represented about 23 per cent of the total amount.  More information was to be provided on that matter, and he was sorry the ACABQ had not provided more details in that respect.  In particular, he asked about the costs of an hour of flight, fuel costs and their comparison with market prices.

    XUDONG SUN (China) said that, in a departure from past practice, this year, peacekeeping operations financing featured on the agenda of both the main part of the fifty-ninth session and its first resumed session.  Moreover, documents had only been received on 16 March.  The Secretariat could do with more meticulous care in the preparation of the peacekeeping operations budget.  He asked what the implications for implementation of MONUC’s mandate were if its revised budget was considered in May.  He further expressed the hope that, in the future, consideration of peacekeeping operations financing would continue to be confined to the second resumed session in May.

    Regarding MONUC’s budget, he said the larger the Mission, the greater the need for strict monitoring to guard against any misuse of funds or waste.  The Chinese delegation had always stressed the need for clear and reasonable justifications for additional requirements.  The ACABQ had pointed out that, in many cases, it had been unable to identify a clear linkage between requested additional resources and the increase in troop strength.  He asked the Secretariat to further explain in writing the requirements it had submitted in a serious and responsible manner.  In view of the high vacancy rate in MONUC and the fact that the next budget cycle was only three months away, he also asked the Secretariat for more convincing reasons for the request of $1.87 million for 115 additional United Nations volunteers.

    He said it was necessary that MONUC administer its operational costs, especially the cost for official travel and to make savings whenever possible, more effectively.  The ACABQ recommendations merited serious consideration by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

    KANG KYUNG-WHA (Republic of Korea) acknowledged MONUC’s tremendous importance and the daunting challenges it faced due to continuing volatility of the environment it operated in, the complexity of its mandate, the lack of infrastructure and the sheer size of the country.  In that light, she paid tribute to the courage and hard work of the United Nations peacekeepers and civilian personnel in the line of duty.  In confronting those challenges, MONUC could not afford to operate without comprehensive administrative and budgetary oversight.  Her delegation was anxious to see clearer linkages between requested financial and human resources and increases in troop strength or newly mandated activities.  She also agreed with the Advisory Committee that the next budget should be much clearer in terms of analysis of existing resources and capacities and justifications for new posts.

    It was also a source of concern that MONUC had been unable to develop a clear vision for its managerial structure and processes, she continued.  Without such vision, there would be a lack of proper budgetary control, increasing the risk of fraud, waste and other financial and management problems.  She hoped that the proposed budget for 2005/2006 would take those concerns into consideration and include detailed information on how the Mission intended to ensure more effective financial and management control.

    The United Nations had taken disciplinary action against 17 MONUC personnel found to have been involved in sexual exploitation and abuse, she said.  It was appalling and deeply saddening that those deplorable acts continued to be committed by United Nations peacekeepers and staff.  It was her understanding that a comprehensive report on the matter would soon be available.  She expected that the Fifth Committee would deliberate on the matter in May and take action to contribute to the eradiation of sexual abuse by United Nations personnel.

    HITOSHI KOZAKI (Japan) noted that the United Nations peacekeeping budget was projected to go beyond the unprecedented level of $5 billion shortly and said that, under those circumstances, any resource requirements should be fully justified in a transparent and organized manner.  Otherwise, Member States would be placed in a difficult situation.  Full justification of all requirements, prudent resource utilization and good coordination to avoid any duplication were indispensable.

    As rightly pointed out by the ACABQ, the revised proposed budget of MONUC lacked a clear linkage between additional requests and the increase in troop strength or newly maintained activities, he continued.  It also lacked organized information on why additional resources were being sought on top of currently available capacity.  Furthermore, there was no analysis on how the activities of United Nations and other entities in the area might impact on resource requirements of the Mission.  His delegation expected to receive a budget request for 2005-2006, which would fully take into account the Advisory Committee’s comments, in particular on civilian staffing.  Last, but not least, he also expressed his strong support for the Organization’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and reiterated that necessary actions should be taken appropriately.

    MELANIE J. ATTWOOLL (United States) said her country fully supported MONUC’s expanded mandate and its role in contributing to the stability of the country and its political process.  Referring to a briefing for delegates on the matter of the revised budget earlier tin the week, she expressed her appreciation for the candour about the reality of the environment in which MONUC operated, and the many challenges it faced.  That presentation, she said, set a good example for the type of information her delegation would like to receive about other large missions, in advance of the May peacekeeping session.

    She said that, among the major challenges the Mission faced was the challenge of managing a mission of such size and complexity.  She had concerns about the resource requirements as currently presented, which left more questions than answers.  She requested the Secretariat to present a clear and logical explanation of how the Mission had assessed its current capacity and had formulated its current request based on that capacity.

    The second challenge faced was that of the ongoing situation of sexual exploitation and abuse in MONUC, she said.  Much remained to be done by the United Nations and MemberStates to effectively address the problem.  She would, however, reserve comments until the May session in the broader context of all peacekeeping missions.

    NAJIB ELJI (Syria) said he fully supported the statement made by the representative of South Africa on behalf of the African Group.

    Mr. SACH, responding to questions and comments, said the concerns regarding air transportation and cost efficiency would be addressed that would be done for budget requirement for 2005-2006.  As for China’s question on what the impact would be on the implementation of MONUC’s mandate if the revised budget was considered in May, such action would seriously jeopardize the Mission’s operations, as MONUC was now very cash poor.  At the moment there was just $43 million.  To sustain the Mission, funds from the Reserve Account would have to be used.  He reminded delegates that payments to troop contributors in December 2004 had excluded any reimbursement for MONUC and that, at the end of March, such payments would be excluded, as well.  It was urgent that the Assembly address the issue now.  A bad situation would be made worse if matter was deferred to May.

    As to questions on the overall level of mission personnel and the need to demonstrate linkages between resource requirements and the expanded mandate, he said the main cost driver in the budget was the level of authorized troops and support requirements.  The report showed that, of the additional requirement, $110 million directly went for troop costs and $35.8 million for support of those troops.  Roughly $200 million was driven by requirements of the expanded mandate.

    Concerns expressed by a number of speakers regarding format and clarity of current presentation would be taken into account for the 2005-2006 budget, he continued.  As for the request for 115 United Nations volunteers, he said they were needed for operating the Mission.  He would work on the suggestion that they could be financed through the high vacancy rate in MONUC.

    The issue of sexual abuse and exploitation was already being considered within other frameworks, he said, but regarding MONUC, additional resources would be provided in the 2005-2006 budget for a “Personnel Conduct Unit”.

    Vice-Chairman of the ACABQ, RAJAT SAHA, noted the suggestion that officials from the Electoral Division be present in informal consultations to provide a clearer picture of the time frame for the elections.  In paragraph 32 of its report, the Advisory Committee had noted that, owing to significant delays in the passing of essential legislation, registration of voters was being rescheduled to commence in October.  Thus, the elections, which were to be held in June 2005, would be delayed in all likelihood until the first quarter of 2006.  The Advisory Committee had requested information on the matter and stressed the need for close cooperation between the Mission, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other entities supporting the electoral process.

    ASDRUBAL PULIDO LEON (Venezuela) recalled that his delegation had, on previous occasions, requested additional information on air transportation issues, and supported the representative of Uruguay who had asked questions today.  His understanding was that a study would be submitted not only on fuel costs and cost comparisons, but also on the rations delivery for the Mission.  In that connection, he drew the Committee’s attention to paragraph 17 of the ACABQ report, in which the Advisory Committee reminded the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of its request that it prepare, together with the Mission, the Procurement Division and the Office of Legal Affairs, a cost/benefit analysis on the plan to go forward with door-to-door delivery of rations by the contractor by air.

    In the light of many delegations’ concern over the format of the Secretary-General’s report and the lack of clarity in the request presentation, as well as the Advisory Committee’s contribution, he said that the next budget report should be more specific.  The questions raised in the debate should be tackled in depth, probably in a separate report.  The MONUC was one of the most important United Nations missions, and it was necessary to help it overcome its management problems, so that it could fully carry out its mandate.

    MUHAMMAD A. MUHITH (Bangladesh) thanked the speakers for the condolences on the death of nine Bangladeshi peacekeepers in the Ituri region on 25 February.  They had died while on duty in the service of peacekeeping.

    Mr. SACH, addressing questions raised by Venezuela, said the matter of the distribution of rations, raised by the ACABQ in paragraph 17 of its report, would be addressed in the context of the budget for 2005-2006, probably in the format of an annex to the proposed budget, in order to ensure that it be addressed at the appropriate level.  However, Member States should be aware of the fact that, generally, however, only so much could be done in the context of the next budget.  Some problems with the Mission, such as managerial problems, would take longer to solve and would be addressed during the programme of work in 2005-2006.

    Other Matters

    Under “other matters”, YASSER ELNAGGAR (Egypt) raised an issue regarding recruitment of posts for strengthening the safety and security of United Nations operations, staff and premises, as provided for by Assembly resolution 59/276.  While welcoming the Secretary-General’s appointment for an Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Safety and Security, he said that, three months after adoption of the resolution, he was still awaiting announcement of posts created by that resolution.

    Although three D-2 posts had been announced, he said, many delegations had not received hard copies of that announcement.  Moreover, they had been posted in the Galaxy system by the end of January, but those postings did not accurately reflect the date of announcement, as they were predated to 31 December.  That was a clear violation of the 60-day rule.  He asked if the Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Safety and Security had been consulted regarding the job description of the D-2 posts.  Posts created for the Executive Office had also been announced, but he had not received written copies of the announcement and they had not been posted on the Galaxy system.

    He stressed the necessity of ensuring transparency and adherence to rules and regulations of the Organization, as well as ensuring the highest levels of professionalism.  He requested answers from representatives from the Department of Safety and Security during the Committee’s next formal meeting, and further requested that the situation regarding the posts referred to be amended in accordance with the regulations of the Organization.

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