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UN Week – 5/16/2011

May 16, 2011

John and Douglas Carey, Editors, www.unweek.blogspot.com 

Contents of this issue: paying the bills for UN peacekeeping operations.

This discussion promises to be boring, unless you enjoy dissecting budgets inWashington, Albany, or wherever else you live. But if you watch closely, you will see that the UN occasionally spends less than it budgets for; where else does that happen?

Secretariat officials last week laid out to the Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) their financing proposals for the 2011/12 period for four peacekeeping operations — the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and support for African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Several delegates expressed their support for MINUSTAH and the need to ensure it had adequate resources to carry out its mandate of maintaining political stability and establish the rule of law nearly 18 months after the January 2010 earthquake had devastated the Caribbean country and a day before a new President, Michel Martelly, assumed office.

Chile, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said it was opposed to any arbitrary reduction in the resources allotted to MINUSTAH and the United Nations had to focus on security, as that contributed to the country’s social and economic development. Canada’s delegate, speaking also on behalf ofAustraliaandNew Zealand, emphasized that any decision to decrease mandated troops and police forces should be made cautiously and any withdrawal should be staggered, in consultation with the Haitian Government.

Haiti’s delegate thanked the United Nations for its support of the electoral process, but remained worried about unfilled administrative posts in theMission. Haitibacked the Secretary-General’s proposal to maintain funding for projects that combat violence in communities.

The Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) introduced the related ACABQ reports on the four peacekeeping missions.  The Advisory Committee, in its report on financing of MINUSTAH, was recommending a $17 million reduction in the proposed 2011/12 budget of $810.3 million.

Carman Lapointe, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced her Office’s program evaluation of the performance and achievement of results made by UNMIS. She said the national elections had exposed weaknesses in theMission’s cooperation with the United Nations country team. It was imperative that the successor mission to UNMIS initiate a more effective partnership with the United Nations country team and other relevant stakeholders.

Jun Yamazaka, Assistant Secretary-General and United Nations Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the respective peacekeeping missions. Concerning MINUSTAH, he said that the approved budget for the financial period 2009/10 amounted to $732.4 million, and that expenditures for the same period amounted to $713.7 million.  That resulted in an unencumbered balance of $18.7 million, representing a resource utilization rate of 97.5 per cent. The main factors contributing to those variances were delays in the deployment of the additional military contingent and police personnel, including contingent-owned equipment authorized by Security Council resolution 1908 (2010), as well as deployment of contingent- and police-owned equipment by ship rather than by air, as originally envisaged. Other variances were the direct results of the earthquake.

The approved budget for 2010/11 amounted to $853.8 million. The proposed budget for 2011/12 amounted to $810.3 million, a decrease of $43.5 million. The main factors contributing to the decreased resource requirements included application of higher deployment factors for military contingent and formed police personnel, exclusion of provisions for support to the Office of the Special Envoy and less acquisition of vehicles, among others.

Regarding the financing of United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), he said that the approved budget for the financial period 2009/10 amounted to $958.4 million. Expenditures for the same period amounted to $932.5 million, resulting in an unencumbered balance of $25.9 million. The main factors contributing to variances included lower actual cost of rations and bottled water, due to using drinking water from water treatment plants; unutilized balances for international staff and discontinuation of hazard pay for staff in Khartoum, El Obeid and Port Sudan effective February 2010; lower consumption of aviation fuel due to non-deployment for two aircraft and shorter deployment periods for five aircraft; delays in implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program; additional requirements of national staff due to new salary scales; higher within-mission travel costs due to unforeseen requirements to support the April 2010 elections in Sudan; and higher acquisition of information technology equipment for the United Nations House in Juba.

He said that the approved budget for UNMIS for the period 2010 /11 amounted to $1.008 billion, including the $70 million for supporting the Southern Sudan referendum. The proposed budget for 2011/12 amounted to $947.1 million, representing a decrease of $60.9 million or 6 per cent. Excluding support for the referendum during 2010/11, the proposed budget represented a 1 per cent increase over the budget apportionment of $938 million for 2010/11.  The main factors contributing to the increased resource requirements included the application of new salary scales for international staff and lower delayed recruitment factors for international and national staff, and higher rental and opera-tional costs for helicopters.

Turning to the financing for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), he said the approved budget for financial period 2009/10 amounted to $1.599 billion, while expenditures for the same period amounted to $1.548 billion, resulting in an unencumbered balance of $51 million. This represented a resource utilization rate of 96.8 per cent. The main factors contributing to the variances were reduced rates for fresh rations and the delayed deployment of contingent-owned equipment, reduced construction requirements due to a cancelled contract, increased international staff costs due to lower than budgeted vacancy rates and higher actual costs, and increased resource requirements for the use of a third-party logistics provider to clear a backlog of United Nations-owned equipment at Port Sudan.

He further said that the approved budget for UNAMID for the 2010 /11 period amounted to $1.808 billion. The proposed budget for 2011/12 amounted to $1.709 billion, representing a decrease of $99 million, or 5.5 per cent. The main factors contributing to decreased resource requirements included lower estimated resources for international staff costs, reduced requirements for construction services because of the near completion of major projects and reduced requirements for rations based on the prevailing contract terms.

Turning to the financing of support for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), he said that the approved budget for the financial period 2009/10 amounted to $213.6 million, while expenditures for the same period amounted to $164.3 million. That resulted in an unencumbered balance of $49.3 million, representing a resource utilization rate of 76.9 per cent. The variances were mainly due to unutilized facilities and infrastructure balances, slower than expected project deployment of AMISOM contingents and a substantial delay in the recruitment of staff. The approved budget for the 2010/11 period amounted to $174.3 million.  The proposed $303.9 million budget for the 2011/12 period represented an increase of 74.3 per cent.

That increase was due to additional requirements for military and police personnel as a result of the Security Council authorizing the increase in the African Union force strength and increased troop-rotation costs; increase in civilian personnel costs for 56 new posts and temporary positions; increased requirements for facilities and infrastructure, ground transportation, medical and other supplies and services to support increased troops; and increased facilities and infrastructure requirements for ground transportation and naval transportation based on contractual prices of the existing key fuel contract, as well as the establishment of long-term maintenance services for vehicles and acquisition of special-purpose and material-handling vehicles.

He said that pursuant to Financial Regulation 4.6 amended by General Assembly resolution 64/269, the Secretary-General sought the concurrence of ACABQ to enter into commitments in an amount not exceeding $35.9 million for the 2010/11 period for the expanded operational activities and additional logistical and personnel requirements of the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA), to which ACABQ concurred, with the expectation that efforts would be made for the absorption of $4.4 million of projected over expenditures under civilian staff costs.

Carman Lapointe, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, said the support by UNMIS in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement had contributed to the sustained ceasefire between North andSouth Sudan. Most of the governmental bodies and laws stipulated in the Agreement were in place, and a wealth-sharing arrangement had been established. TheMission’s achievements were also notable in other areas, among which were the successful support of elections, advancement in mine action and ensuring the safety and security of personnel. While those were significant achievements, the initial emphasis of theMission’s activities onDarfurdemonstrated the impact of clear focus on the achievability of key mandates.

Even so, she said, the national elections had exposed weaknesses in cooperation with the United Nations country team, partially due to the absence of a strategic planning cell, which, had it been established at mission inception, might have provided the framework for integrated program planning and implementation. While cooperation had increased among many of the components of the Integrated United Nations Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Unit during the time of theSouthern Sudanreferendum, a closer partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) would have been beneficial. It was imperative that the successor mission to UNMIS initiate a more effective partner-ship with the United Nations country team and other relevant stakeholder to enable “serving as one”.

Thanking the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, she expressed appreciation for the cooperation extended to her Office by UNMIS staff at all levels, during a time when conditions on the ground were especially uncertain and volatile.

There you are; I told you this would be boring. But without boring discussions like these, no complex organization can keep its financial house in order. Good- bye for now; see you in the next issue of United Nations Week: News and Views

 

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