Press Releases

    GA/AB/3735
    24 May 2006

    Fifth Committee Continues Debate on Management of $5 Billion Peacekeeping Budget, with Speakers Calling for Efficiency, Innovation, Culture of Accountability

    NEW YORK, 23 May (UN Headquarters) -- Continuing its consideration of all aspects of peacekeeping management this morning, speakers in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) noted progress in the Organization's overall peacekeeping programme, while at the same time calling for greater accountability and internal control in carrying out increasingly ambitious and complex peace operations.

    With a total peacekeeping budget of roughly $5 billion, Canada's representative, speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand (CANZ), said it was more important than ever to be efficient and innovative in peacekeeping administration.  In that regard, he looked forward to seeing the implementation of the recommendations of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) for improving peacekeeping management.  Particular emphasis should be placed on the urgency to develop a culture of accountability at Headquarters and in the field.  "We should not sit on our laurels.  We must find every opportunity to get the maximum results of our investments in peacekeeping", he said.

    South Africa's representative, on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, reminded the Committee that it was the Group of 77 had called for a comprehensive management audit of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  Given the scale and complexity of peacekeeping operations, an audit of that nature had been long overdue.  According to the reports before the Committee, internal controls in the Department of Management and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations needed significant improvement.  Pointing towards an inadequate emphasis by management of establishing "a high level of ethical behaviour and accountability", the OIOS further raised important questions regarding the management culture, management practices and accountability for violations of rules and regulations.  Many of those concerns were not new, she added, noting that the Assembly -- as recently as in its resolution 60/260 -- had stressed the importance of defining accountability and establishing effective accountability mechanisms, as well as of ensuring enforcement of accountability at all levels of the Secretariat.

    Focusing on the comprehensive management audit of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the representative of the Russian Federation explained that the issue of procurement reform had been under the General Assembly's attention since the beginning of the 1990s.  The procurement rules introduced at the end of the 1990s -- if strictly implemented -- ensured the needed transparency and objectivity in United Nations procurement activities.  The OIOS had provided an anthology of procurement violations, many of which had been known for a long time.  He was surprised, therefore, that the Secretariat had not taken all the necessary steps to eliminate them.  He also questioned why such a harsh report had only come out now, although most of the facts about abuses were several years old.  The OIOS should devote its attention not to concealing information from Member States, but to finding and punishing dishonest officials who leaked to the press one of the OIOS confidential reports, resulting in great harm to the Organization's image.

    Highlighting several areas of concern, the United States' representative noted the increase in cases of fraud and presumptive fraud identified by the Board of Auditors, particularly in Sierra Leone.  In that regard, he wondered what was being done to recover the losses identified and to hold those accountable.  He also noted that "further steps" had been taken by the Peacekeeping Department to mitigate risks of fuel fraud.  According to the Board of Auditors, an electronic fuel accounting system recommended for each mission was being developed and would only be fully functional by early 2007.  Every effort should be made to ensure that United Nations personnel and contingents were advised of new fuel oversight measures.

    Addressing the financing of UNAMSIL, the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, Nigeria's representative, on behalf of the African Group, congratulated the United Nations on the completion of the major operation, which demonstrated that the Organization -- with determination and the cooperation of Member States -- could start and successfully complete an operation within a reasonable time frame.  From the outset, UNAMSIL had been a flagship mission and it had remained so to the very end.  The feat had been accomplished at a great cost, she said, paying special tribute to the men and women who had lost their lives in the course of their service in the Mission.  The UNAMSIL's success had been anchored in careful planning.  With the strategies that had worked in UNAMSIL now extended to other missions, she called on the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to use the Sierra Leone Mission as a case study for documenting best practices.

    Also participating today were the representatives of Malawi (on behalf of the African Group), Serbia and Montenegro, Brazil and Egypt.

    Sharon Van Buerle, Director, Ad Interim, of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, briefly took the floor to respond to questions raised yesterday on the appointment of the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support.

    The Committee will meet again at a time to be announced.

    Background

    The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to continue its consideration of reports relating to peacekeeping financing and management, as well as the oversight of peacekeeping operations.  [For background information, see Press Release GA/AB/3734 of 22 May.]

    Statements

    OLIVIER POULIN (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand (CANZ), noted that important progress had been made in improving the management of the overall peacekeeping programme.  However, with a total peacekeeping budget of roughly $5 billion, it was more important than ever to be efficient and innovative in peacekeeping administration.  "We should not sit on our laurels.  We must find every opportunity to get the maximum results of our investments in peacekeeping", he said.

    He welcomed the recommendations of the Board of Auditors and expressed hope that the Secretariat would implement them as soon as possible.  He noted with satisfaction the improvement in the financial situation of peacekeeping operations, but expressed concern on the increase of outstanding assessments.  Late payment and non-payment of dues had very real impacts on the ability of the Organization to implement its peacekeeping mandates.  He urged all Member States to pay their assessed contributions on time, in full and without conditions, including those for completed missions.

    Turning to procurement, he reiterated the importance of recommended measures to strengthen the integrity, competitiveness and sound administration of the procurement system, as well as improving the access of local suppliers, and a broader range of suppliers.  Procurement policies needed to reflect the realities of peacekeeping in the field.  As the Board of Auditors pointed out, several of the recommended measures had not yet been fully implemented.  He stressed the particular need for improving staffing and training procedures, as well as enforcing the use of procurement plans.

    Current operations were complex and multifaceted and called for integrated missions, he continued.  He welcomed the progress achieved so far on that front, but also supported further development of the concept of integrated missions and their guidelines and policies.  He also supported the concept of regional cooperation among peacekeeping operations and with special political missions, where it made sense.  The CANZ endorsed the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ)'s recommendation that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations continue to explore ways to increase regional management of air assets and that it coordinate with the Department of Political Affairs with a view to the sharing of assets between peacekeeping and special political missions.

    Continuing, he said that CANZ was looking forward to seeing the implementation of Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) recommendations for improving peacekeeping management.  Particular emphasis should be placed on the urgency to develop a culture of accountability at Headquarters and in the field.  Another important item was the support account.  He supported the ACABQ recommendations in that regard, which would limit the overall growth of the support account.  He also welcomed the recommendation of the Board of Auditors to undertake an analysis of the support account.  The CANZ was looking forward to the report of the Secretary-General on the use of consultants.  The delegations he represented were pleased by the proposed creation of 27 posts in the police division to staff the standing police capacity, an outcome of the World Summit, and the strengthening of the Best Practices Section.  Finally, he welcomed the management review initiated by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

    DAVID TRAYSTMAN (United States) paid tribute to those who had lost their lives in the duty of peacekeeping and commended the hard work and commitment of all United Nations staff dedicated to peacekeeping and to the pursuit of assisting populations making a transition out of conflict.  Their efforts had resulted in the recent successful completion of peacekeeping missions in East Timor and Sierra Leone, and he hoped to soon see Burundi added to the list.  Concurrently, they were strengthening operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Côte d'Ivoire and the Sudan, to name just a few operations.  The United States was firmly committed to providing the necessary resources for the effective and efficient operation of peacekeeping missions.  To that end, it was equally committed to improving the management of missions.

    Highlighting progress and improvement, he commended the Secretary-General for the overall improvement in the presentation of the proposed 2006-2007 budget.  In many cases, the justification of posts had improved considerably and reflected clear reasoning and a sound basis for change.  He looked forward to further clarity of future resource requests, building upon the positive changes made in the past year.  The budget format, which provided concise answers to the requests and recommendations of the General Assembly, the ACABQ and the Board of Auditors, was a welcome development that enabled a more holistic understanding of management efforts and improvements made, and those that needed to be continued or even strengthened.  In further refining the presentation, he encouraged missions, where possible, to provide their own specific information and feedback, rather than the generic response that was observed in many budgets.

    The United States was also pleased to see that missions had identified areas of efficiency to be achieved in the upcoming budget year, he added.  In most cases, however, a uniform approach had been taken.  He encouraged missions to do more to identify their own specific efficiencies and requested the Secretariat to provide information on the savings to be achieved from the measures identified.  The OIOS overview report on its comprehensive audit of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations stressed that, while some management improvements had been made in recent years, the Department still needed to strengthen its internal controls and enforce accountability.  In that regard, he noted a number of resource proposals in the support account and individual mission budgets aimed at enhancing internal controls.  The linkage between proposed resources and the actual enforcement of accountability, however, remained unclear.

    Applauding efforts in the past year to address sexual exploitation and abuse, he said his delegation could see the beginnings of what it expected to be a major institutional shift in attitude on the issue.  But the process had only just begun and it was critical that the momentum be sustained and even boosted to expeditiously proceed with current cases and enhance preventive measures.  He looked forward to an update on progress made and information on what needed to be done to ensure that the issue was being addressed in a robust and comprehensive manner.  The Secretary-General's proposal represented the minimum resource requirements for Personnel Conduct Units.  Similarly, his delegation wanted more information on the capacity of OIOS investigators to learn when the resource implications stemming from the OIOS review would be available for consideration.

    He said his delegation remained concerned, however, about the lack of coordination and consultation between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and other United Nations entities.  While efforts were being made in that respect, a quicker pace was needed.  Given the number of major operations currently under way, there were plenty of opportunities to make progress on mission coordination and integration.  The Secretary-General's proposal for the support account attributed the need for additional resources in part to the support provided to special political missions.  While that was a sizeable area of activity, there were a number of duplicative activities that could be addressed and better managed through more consistent and comprehensive consultation between Headquarters, field missions and other United Nations field entities.  That applied to both peacekeeping and special political missions.

    With regard to integration, he said he looked forward to an update on the status of the agreement for shared funding of the posts of Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, which had been under consideration for more than a year and a half.  It was not clear from the mission budgets whether the cost of those posts was still being borne completely by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, or whether the cost-sharing agreement had taken effect.

    While there was welcome progress on decreasing reliance of some missions on air transport, for instance in the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), there was room for improvement on the budgeting for, and utilization of, aircraft, he said.  The Board of Auditors, for example, pointed to an inefficient use of air assets in the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).  Yet, the provision for UNMIL air transport had increased by 7 per cent in the proposed 2006-2007 budget.  The extent to which contingent-owned equipment shipments were dependent upon air transport or surface transport also remained unclear.  He would be grateful for information on whether there was a trend towards greater reliance upon surface transport, particularly now that missions were no longer in the start-up phase of operations.  He also requested more information on the financial impact to the Organization of air carrier vendors that went bankrupt during the 2004-2005 financial period, and what efforts had been made to recover funds.

    He also noted with concern the increase in cases of fraud and presumptive fraud identified by the Board of Auditors, particularly in Sierra Leone.  He wondered what was being done to recover the losses identified and to hold those accountable.  He asked that the Secretariat elaborate on efforts made to determine the losses in the four cases that were unquantified at the time of the Board's report, and clarify who was taking the lead on those matters.  He also noted that "further steps" had been taken by the Peacekeeping Department to mitigate risks of fuel fraud.  His delegation would appreciate detailed information on what those steps entailed and what the impact had been of changes already made.  According to the Board of Auditors, an electronic fuel accounting system recommended for each mission was being developed and would only be fully functional by early 2007.  Every effort should be made, in addition to that measure, to ensure that United Nations personnel and contingents were advised of new fuel oversight measures.

    He noted from the support account budget that a total provision of over $11 million, representing an increase of 186 per cent, was being sought for consultants.  He requested the justification of that total provision, particularly in light of the increase of 364 new posts approved for the support account in the past six years and the request for an additional 142 posts this year.  He requested the Secretariat to provide clear evidence that the functions and projects for which consultants were being sought could not be otherwise performed by existing expertise.  The OIOS had made a number of important conclusions and recommendations with respect to procurement.  To that end, the United States Government had also conducted an extensive review of procurement practices.  His delegation had carefully considered the necessity of procurement reform for the Organization and would comment on that upon the introduction of additional procurement reports later in the session.

    Speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, KAREN LOCK (South Africa) supported the work of both internal and external oversight bodies and recalled that it had been the Group of 77 that had called for a comprehensive management audit of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in the context of General Assembly resolution 59/276.  An audit of that nature had been long overdue, given the scale and complexity of peacekeeping operations.  She strongly supported the primary oversight role of the General Assembly and insisted that the OIOS reports be submitted to the Assembly and not be debated by the Security Council.

    She was concerned that, according to the reports, internal controls in the Department of Management and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations were lacking and needed to be significantly improved.  The OIOS reports pointed towards an inadequate emphasis by management of establishing "a high level of ethical behaviour and accountability".  The OIOS further raised important questions regarding the management culture, management practices and accountability for violations of rules and regulations.  Many of those concerns were not new, and the Assembly -- as recently as in its resolution 60/260 -- had stressed the importance of defining accountability and establishing effective accountability mechanisms, as well as of ensuring enforcement of accountability at all levels of the Secretariat.

    The Group supported the request by Singapore for a comprehensive table indicating the problem areas, the status of implementation of the OIOS recommendations, the areas where those recommendations were being disputed by the Secretariat and the reasons for the dispute.  The Group, furthermore, wanted an indication of the extent of the cooperation by senior management of peacekeeping operations with the OIOS auditors and investigators in the field.  The Group also wanted an elaboration of numerous procurement-related audits undertaken by the OIOS and various external auditors in recent years.  In that regard, she asked for a clarification of commissioning of some of those audits and the legislative mandates upon which they were based.

    The Group joined the ACABQ in commending the Board of Auditors for the improvements to the presentation of the Board's report, she said.  It was encouraging that the Board had been able to issue an unqualified audit opinion on the financial statements of peacekeeping operations.  At the same time, she noted the recurrence of a number of recommendations by the Board and stressed the importance of fixing responsibility and setting achievable time frames for the implementation of the recommendations by the Secretariat, to avoid repeated non-compliance with some recommendations.  Encouraged by the efforts to improve coordination between various oversight bodies and the measures to ensure that they continued meeting the highest auditing and investigating standards, the Group welcomed the efforts by the Board of Auditors to coordinate with the OIOS and the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) in the planning of its audits.  She encouraged the oversight bodies to increase their collaboration, where feasible.

    The Board of Auditors and the OIOS had raised several issues concerning the management of peacekeeping-related procurement, she continued, and the Group intended to pursue them further in informals.  At this stage, the Group wished to stress its concern with the findings that system contracts had not been allocated on an equitable geographical basis.  The Secretariat should take immediate and concrete measures to increase procurement opportunities for vendors from developing countries.  The efforts to reform the procurement system should reflect the international character of the Organization.

    ANDREY T. KOVALENKO (Russian Federation), focusing on the issue of procurement activities, took note of the OIOS comments that the limit on pages for documents resulted in the omission of some recommendations.  Russia planned to make full use of the information to be found in the Office's internal reports, access to which Member States received thanks to resolution 59/272 of December 2004, which had become an important step in enhancing transparency in the Secretariat's work.  He attached great significance to the reform of the Organization's procurement system, with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of procurement and ensuring equal access to the United Nations market by honest vendors, thereby limiting the abuse of fraud.  Reforming the procurement system had been under the Assembly's attention since the beginning of the 1990s.  Member States had adopted more than a dozen resolutions on the matter.  At the last session, the Committee had adopted resolution 59/288, which laid a good basis for improving the United Nations procurement activities.

    He noted that many of the comments of the OIOS dovetailed with the concerns expressed by Member States in the discussion of procurement during the fifty-ninth session.  A year ago, his delegation had expressed misgivings that the lack of clear criteria on the practice of best value for the money could lead to subjectivity in choosing vendors.  His delegation wanted to see, in a future report, a clear analysis as to how that procurement technique was used in practice.  The procurement rules introduced at the end of the 1990s, if strictly implemented, ensured the needed transparency and objectivity in procurement activities.  An objective picture of the process of reform of the procurement system would be impossible without a comparative analysis of what system existed 10 years ago, what existed now, what loopholes still existed and how to eliminate them.  In that regard, he asked the Secretariat to urgently ensure that the Secretary-General's report on procurement give due attention to such an analysis.

    The internal report of the OIOS that served as the basis for document A/60/717 provided facts on the Organization's financial rules, he said.  The report, however, was an anthology of violations, many of which had been known for a long time and had been discussed by intergovernmental and expert United Nations bodies.  They had also been covered by the press.  He was surprised that, although the facts were not new, the Secretariat management had not taken all the necessary steps to eliminate them.  The question also arose as to why such a harsh report had only come out now, although most of the facts about abuses were several years old.  The facts had now come out of violations that should have been totally excluded as a result of the procurement reform at the end of the 1990s, for example, on the inadmissibility of direct purchases by client departments.  Where had the managers of the Secretariat been all that time? he asked.

    The problem of the registration of vendors had also been repeatedly raised, he said.  The facts revealed by OIOS were not new.  The question of conflict of interest had also been raised, particularly in resolution 52/226 of 1998.  However, the Secretariat's higher management had not done anything until last year, in that regard.  Only last year had it promulgated a bulletin, providing another example of ignoring Member States demands and an example of the need for urgent measures.  The facts had been known for some time, but were only now presented as a great revelation.  The problem of letters of assistance was also nothing new.  The new facts and analysis of violations in the OIOS report showed that the Secretariat's leadership had not given due attention to initiatives by Member States expressed in the context of procurement reform.  That brought him back to the issue of the need for measures to ensure the Secretariat's accountability and responsibility for implementing Member States' decisions, as well as ensuring transparency of its activities.

    He said he was also surprised that, in the OIOS report on procurement, some peacekeeping operations had been specifically referred to as "Mission A" or "Mission B".  Such a game of cat and mouse not only contradicted the principle of transparency, but also made the work of delegations more difficult in considering the report.  He called on OIOS to refrain from such a practice and hoped that such bureaucratic inventiveness would not lead to a situation where the Fifth Committee would have to consider budgets for mission A or B.  The OIOS should devote its attention not to concealing information from Member States, but to finding and punishing dishonest officials that had organized a leak to the press of one of the OIOS confidential reports.  He suspected that those people were not low-ranking Secretariat staff.  As a result of a distortion of the contents of that report by the media, the Organization's reputation had been done great harm.  He agreed with the Secretary-General and Mark Malloch Brown that the event was disgraceful.  He was surprised that the OIOS had not taken any steps to find and punish those who were guilty.

    FELIX CHANDO (Malawi), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that Africa had had its share of suffering from the devastating effects of hostilities and supported enhancing the capacity of the support account by providing it with adequate resources.  The Group, therefore, intended to approach the discussions on that matter with an open mind in order to ensure that the Secretary-General was provided with the necessary resources to carry out the important mandated tasks, while bearing in mind that the support account should not be used as a vehicle to establish posts, which could more properly be under the regular budget.

    In the account's performance report, he noted some savings of over $2.5 million under the posts as a result of lower-than-budgeted staff costs and the prevalence of vacancies over the period in question.  A total of 761 posts had been approved for 2004-2005, out of which 719 had been filled; 831 posts had been approved in 2005-2006, and as at the end of March this year, 781 posts had been filled.  In 2006-2007, the Assembly was requested to approve 973 posts -- an addition of 142 posts over the previous financial year.  He anxiously looked forward to discussing the continuing need and rationale of persistent post increases, while vacancies remained unencumbered for over a year.  It was not the number of posts that a department or an office had that would fulfil its expected accomplishments, but rather the actual personnel in place with the appropriate skills and expertise.  Further efficiency gains as a result of improved technology, streamlined procedures and work methods, delineation of functions and coordination with other departments and offices ought to be recognized when determining the need for personnel vis-à-vis the workload.

    Turning to non-post resources, he noted the proposals to embark on training and professional development of staff aimed at enhancing staff capabilities and skills.  The proposal to establish the Customer Relationship Management and the Enterprise Content Management systems under the Information Technology Services Division was aimed at automating and streamlining business processes, as well as standardizing the creation, storage and management of structural and non-structural content.  The Group looked forward to further discussion and clarification on those initiatives and was confident that their implementation would lead to improved and efficient delivery of outputs in peacekeeping operations.

    In the Secretary-General's report on the financing of peacekeeping operations, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had presented goals to be achieved in its four-year plan into 2010, including a goal on the direction and priorities that would enable the Department to be a more responsive and effective partner in peacekeeping operations.  Within that goal, there were various priorities that were planned for implementation in 2006-2007, which included the establishment of a standing police capacity and the creation of a dedicated United Nations capacity for support to African missions.  The African Group was keen to pursue those priorities in the forthcoming consultations, taking into account various mandates by the Assembly.

    Regarding the Logistics Base, he supported strengthening it and all the ongoing programmes to enhance its disaster recovery capacity.  However, all those efforts must be in the context of enhancing cost-effectiveness and realizing efficiencies.  The development of the Brindisi Base should, therefore, take into account the end-users and accessibility of services.  The need to expand and give capacity to regional logistics bases beyond the current levels of Forward Logistical Bases would be in line with the objective of enhancing cost-effectiveness and in the utilization of the strategic deployment stocks.  The Group would, therefore, like to know what thoughts had been taken into expanding the Entebbe Regional Logistical Base, in light of the fact that 99 per cent of the strategic deployment stocks were used in Africa, including the expansion of peacekeeping to Darfur in the near future.  The General Assembly had not taken any decision re the expansion of the Base or the development of the capacity in other areas.  He, therefore, cautioned against any developments without the approval of the Assembly.

    SLAVKO KRULJEVIC (Serbia and Montenegro) said the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) budget for 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007 was especially relevant at a time when talks on the future status of Kosovo and Metohija Province were being held.  Unfortunately, certain aspects of the report were misleading and were based on incorrect assumptions and unrealistic expectations, leading to a reduction in the budget and the number of personnel and diminishing the Mission's capacity to fulfil its mandate.  Bearing in mind the Mission's expenditure from its inception in 1999, as well as its mandate to create a multi-ethnic society, he could not but question the achieved results.  The report before the Committee did not reflect actual reality.  The people of Kosovo and Metohija had not witnessed any significant improvement in security, safety and the rule of law in the last two months.  The report, among other things, claimed accomplishments in terms of crime against property without giving any grounds for such, failed to provide at least a tentative time frame for the settlement of 10,000 cases sitting in the court dockets, and also failed to mention the number of returns of internally-displaced persons.

    He noted that, despite such distressing indicators, at the beginning of the political process that would determine the Province's future status, UNMIK had continued the transfer of authority to the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, even in the most sensitive domains of security and justice.  In his latest report to the Security Council, the Secretary-General expressed serious concern about delays and setbacks in most areas of standards implementation.  A further account of the alarming state of affairs was given by the OIOS in its report.  In view of the political process currently under way, he fully supported the recommendations of that report.  He also welcomed the fact that UNMIK had taken note of the recommendations and believed that their full implementation was indispensable.  Inadequate references were still being used in documents A/60/637, A/60/684 and A/60/720, directly challenging the sovereignty of Serbia and Montenegro in its province which, to the current time, remained a part and parcel of its national territory.

    NONYE UDO (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, addressed the financing of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), congratulating the United Nations on the completion of the major operation in that country.  That demonstrated that the Organization, with determination and the cooperation of Member States, could start and successfully complete an operation within a reasonable time frame.  All Member States, troop contributors, donors and staff had contributed to that remarkable success.  From the outset, UNAMSIL had been a flagship mission, which it had remained to the very end.  However, the feat had been accomplished at a great cost, she said, paying special tribute to the men and women who had lost their lives in the course of their service in the Mission.

    The success of UNAMSIL had been anchored in careful planning, she continued.  The Group had had reason, on several occasions, to caution on the need for a well-structured schedule for the drawdown.  It had been the careful planning and execution of the drawdown that had allowed for the implementation of established benchmarks leading to the successful conclusion of the Mission.  An integrated follow-up mission, called United Nations Integrated Mission in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) was now preserving the work done by the Mission.  That was a welcome and necessary development that could ensure the consolidation of gains.

    As indicated by the Advisory Committee, as the Mission continued with liquidation activities, it should work closely with the OIOS and exercise caution to ensure application of proper oversight and implementation of relevant rules and regulations.  She was pleased that UNAMSIL had taken swift steps to recover outstanding debts due it and that, in turn, it would settle all outstanding debts before concluding its liquidation.

    With the strategies that had worked in UNAMSIL now extended to other missions, as advocated by the Assembly, the African Group called for application of the lessons learned, as well, particularly in Liberia, which was fast approaching the drawdown stages, as well.  The African Group called on the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to use UNAMSIL as a case study for documenting best practices.  The outcome of such a study could be included in the next report on the liquidation activities of UNAMSIL.

    FERNANDO DE OLIVEIRA SENA (Brazil) said the completion of UNAMSIL and its transition to UNIOSIL represented a major step towards sustainable peace in the region.  Stressing the need for the United Nations to follow up and continue supporting countries in transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, he said the Organization could not afford to lose the efforts and investments it had already made.  In that context, he referred to the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET).  While UNMISET also represented a successful case of peacekeeping, the Mission required continued United Nations support to consolidate its institutions.  The United Nations should send a strong signal to Timor-Leste.

    Other Matters

    Replying to questions posed yesterday by Egypt's representative on General Assembly resolution 60/255, SHARON VAN BUERLE, Director, Ad Interim, of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, noted that regarding paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 5, the Secretariat, in adhering to paragraph 22, bore in mind resolution 55/488 in which the term "takes note" was neutral and meant neither approval nor disapproval.  With regard to paragraph 3, the General Assembly had approved a provision of up to $1.5 million to operationalize a Peacebuilding Support Office.  Bearing in mind paragraph 5, the General Assembly would revert to the subject of the Office in the context of the 2008-2009 proposed programme budget.  She reiterated the General Assembly had not approved posts and the resources of $1.5 million would be utilized as necessary by the Secretary-General only to operationalize the Office.

    YASSER ELNAGGAR (Egypt) requested that Ms. Van Buerle's response be provided in writing.

    * *** *