The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today opened the second part of a resumed seventy second session which was expected to focus on the multibillion financing needs of more than a dozen active peacekeeping missions for a 12 month fiscal period beginning 1 July.
Committee members stressed the necessity of moving vigorously and transparently through an arduous workload that required laying down budgets for each of the 16 active missions, as well as several other entities, while taking heed of the Secretary General's call for organizational reforms.
Norway's representative said the Fifth Committee might be embarking on its most decisive session in decades, and improving the Organization's way of working hinged on reform. We have to make important choices for the global service delivery model and for UN accountability systems, she said.
The United States representative said her delegation strongly supported the Secretary General's efforts to improve the performance of peacekeeping missions. Performance standards and accountability measures would be required, especially in decisions regarding mission resources, Member States must have a clear picture of what is working and what is not, she added.
In opening remarks, Fifth Committee Chair Michel Tommo Monthe (Cameroon) urged delegates to wield their tools of resilience, expertise and pragmatism to complete their programme of work on time. A pending annual budget of more than $7 billion for 2018/19 required that peacekeeping operations be examined rigorously and carefully, he said.
Speaking on behalf of the African Group and aligned with the statement made by Egypt on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, the representative of Ethiopia said the African Group welcomed the Secretary General's call for more adequate support to African forces in peace enforcement.
While conscious of the Fifth Committee's heavy workload, the African Group believed hard work, dedication, frankness and transparency would help the Fifth Committee conclude its work in a timely manner, he said. The Group discouraged negotiations under small configurations behind closed doors and stressed that the Committee needed to stick to the approved official times as outlined in the programme of work.
Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas, Assistant Secretary General and Controller of the United Nations, introduced the Secretary General's report on the financial position of closed peacekeeping missions as of 30 June 2017, and two reports of the Secretary General for the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda. One report concerned the budget performance for 2016/17 and the other the 2018/19 budget proposal. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introduced corresponding reports on the same issues.
Ms. Bartsiotas and Mr. Ruiz also introduced their corresponding reports on the budget performance for the period from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017, and proposed budgets for the period from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019, for the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
Other delegates speaking today included representatives of Egypt (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Mexico, Pakistan, Japan, Russian Federation, China and Uganda (on behalf of the African Group and in its national capacity), as well as the European Union.
The Fifth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 8 May, to discuss the financing of various peacekeeping missions and the proposed 2018 2019 budgets of the special political missions.
MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon), Chairman of the Fifth Committee, welcomed its members and urged them to finish within the upcoming deadlines. He thanked everyone for the results achieved during the main part of the seventy second session from October to December and the resumed session in March. He hoped the Committee members had returned with renewed strength and the qualities that characterized the Fifth Committee, including its resilience, expertise and pragmatism. He hoped everyone would demonstrate the desire to work together to have a rational and effective management of the upcoming business. Those qualities were needed to work on the many pending issues.
The budget for peacekeeping operations was the first focus of the Committee's attention, he said. Peacekeeping operations were the most visible way the United Nations had to manage conflict situations in all parts of the world. There was an annual budget of more than $7 billion and those appropriations had to be examined very rigorously. Issues needed to be looked at with a sharpened sense of responsibility and compassion. The Fifth Committee had to remember the volatility of risk and the suffering of men, women and children caught in deadly conflicts. Other issues to be considered were the development of a new reimbursement rate for troops and the issues of reforms proposed by the Secretary General in the areas of peace and security, management and economic areas. Another issue was preparations for the shifting of the budget programme cycle from two to one years, beginning in 2019.
Organization of Work
MOHAMED EDREES (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that the issues the Committee was focusing on, namely the financing of peacekeeping operations, were complex in nature and demanded close attention. It was important to conclude deliberations in time to ensure that peacekeeping missions were given the necessary resources to fulfil their mandates. He said the Committee would examine the Secretary General's proposals on management reform. Reaffirming support for the Secretary General's reform efforts, he underscored the exceptional circumstances related to the inclusion of non peacekeeping budget items on the agenda of the current session. He further reiterated that that should not be used as a precedent for future decisions on the programme of work of the second resumed session.
Citing time constraints, he stressed the importance of issuing documentation on time, expressing concern over the late submission of several reports. That impacted the ability of Member States to examine reports in detail, he said, adding that it was also challenging for numerous delegations when reports were not available in all six official languages in a timely manner. He looked forward to engaging in discussions on ensuring that the approval of peacekeeping budgets was based on their mandates. The Group would also focus on exploring options to achieve a fair solution for unpaid assessments and other liabilities of closed peacekeeping missions. It was essential to address the unresolved issues faced by troop contributing and police contributing countries, including ensuring fair and realistic reimbursement rates and necessary accommodations for female peacekeepers, he added.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the Committee's second resumed session was traditionally dedicated to the consideration of peacekeeping operations overall and, most importantly, to the approval of the budgets of various peacekeeping missions. The African Group reiterated its call to the Committee Bureau to ensure sufficient time was provided for those important discussions and urged the Secretariat to ensure supplementary information requested by Member States was provided in a timely manner to ease negotiations.
The African Group was concerned that the budget proposals for many peacekeeping missions reflected significant cuts, he said. The Group intended to scrutinize the basis upon which those proposals had been developed and how best to ensure the mandates were effectively delivered and the security of all peacekeepers was not compromised. The Group also recalled that the General Assembly had repeatedly indicated that peacekeeping budgets had to be based on the existing mandates of the Security Council at the time of the preparation of the budget document. The Group emphasized the importance of providing all peacekeeping missions with adequate resources to fully implement mandates. Therefore, it would not subscribe to any approach to pre judge the mandate of any of the operations.
RUBA�N ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBASN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said some of the Committee's agenda items � including reports related to the financing of peacekeeping operations such as the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) were of great interest to the group. Others included overview and cross cutting issues, measures against sexual exploitation and abuse, review of the rates of reimbursement to troop contributing countries, the support account and management, peace and security reforms. Asking the Secretariat to abide, during the current session, by the resolutions that had given scope and set parameters for reform guidelines � especially with regards to the proposed programme budget � he said MINUJUSTH's budget for 2018/19 must take into account the Mission's programmatic activities and the resources required to carry them out. Previous reports submitted under that agenda item must be thoroughly discussed and an outcome to the issue should be sought, while ensuring that Member States in arrears to the closed missions met their financial obligations.
JAN DE PRETER, European Union, expressed the bloc's strong support for United Nations peacekeeping and underlined its position as a core task of the Organization. European Union member States were committed to ensuring that the United Nations was both effective and accountable in maintaining peace and security. In its current session, the Committee would continue to play a key role in advancing the idea of efficient and effective missions that were adequately financed and equipped to carry out their mandates, he said, drawing attention to the demanding and challenging conditions in which peacekeepers worked. Welcoming proposals to reform the delivery of peacekeeping in the field, aimed at focusing on improved performance, accountability, security and effectiveness, he also praised the Secretary General's reform initiatives in the areas of management, development and peace and security.
Improving the effectiveness of the United Nations should remain our primary goal, he said, also welcoming the recent General Assembly resolution on the implementation of the Secretary General's sustaining peace vision to help focus on prevention. This year, the Committee would have an impact far beyond its own work, he said, noting that in order to implement reforms by 1 January 2019, the Assembly would need to consider, make every effort to reach agreement and take action on all reform related initiatives during the present session. In light of that heavy workload, he expressed support for an extension of the Committee's session and urged all parties to work in a spirit of good faith, transparency and constructive cooperation.
JESASS VELA�ZQUEZ CASTILLO (Mexico), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and CELAC, noted that during this session, delegations would be responsible for making important decisions on the appropriation of resources to various peacekeeping missions. He expressed gratitude to personnel serving in those missions, particularly in complicated regions. It was important to improve operations, which would in turn lead to security solutions and the development of human rights. He also emphasized the importance of women in those missions. Increasing the effectiveness and coherence of peacekeeping operations meant uniting behind the three pillars of sustainable development.
He pledged Mexico's constructive participation, adding that it would remain a financial and troop contributing country. Mexico would ensure that all necessary resources were given to missions so that they could properly respond to the issues on the ground. He also stressed that cases of sexual exploitation and abuse must be dealt with appropriately. An extensive report presented by the Secretary General demonstrated the way forward for future operations, he noted, recognizing the positive nature of the proposals. Regional centres, adequately equipped and staffed, would help facilitate implementation of the United Nations mandate, he added.
CHERITH NORMAN CHALET (United States) stressed that given that most United Nations uniform and civilian personnel were deployed in active conflict zones, words like efficiency, effectiveness and performance took on a more serious meaning: safety and security of peacekeepers, protection of civilians from violence, expansion of State authority and promotion of human rights. With these very real and critical issues at stake, missions must demonstrate both concrete results and how the significant investments made by Member States have translated into these results, she said. Emphasizing that efficiency was essential, she continued: We each have a duty to our taxpayers to ensure that their resources are being used wisely.
The Fifth Committee had the important responsibility of ensuring that peacekeeping budgets reflected actual requirements, were driven by realistic planning assumptions and reflected demonstrable benefits from ongoing management initiatives, she said. The United States strongly supported the Secretary General's efforts to improve the performance of peacekeeping missions, as well as policies that enabled and incentivized overall mission performance, the execution of its civilian, military and police components and of support staff at Headquarters. Performance standards and accountability measures would be required, she said, stressing that, especially in decisions regarding mission resources, Member States must have a clear picture of what is working and what is not.
NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that peacekeeping had been instrumental to achieving and maintaining peace, noting his country's large police and troop contributions to United Nations missions. Our commitment and resolve to serve peace remains stronger than ever, he continued, adding that thousands of his fellow countrymen were serving in peacekeeping missions right now. That was a true demonstration of Pakistan's adherence to the United Nations Charter and commitment to international peace and security. He expressed concern that 59 peacekeepers had died in 2017, a sharp increase from 2016. The mantra of doing more with less is simply unacceptable, he stressed. Underfinancing of peacekeeping operations jeopardized peacekeeping efforts and civilian life. He stressed the need to boost cooperation, provide sufficient training, and underscored the importance of accountability and transparency. Pakistan remained proud of its active role in strengthening peace around the world.
TOSHIYA HOSHINO (Japan) said that his delegation placed great importance on the effective, efficient and accountable management of United Nations peacekeeping operations. Japan was especially interested to know in detail how the United Nations Secretariat was held accountable for performance and misconduct, particularly sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment by non Secretariat entities whose activities were funded by the Secretariat through transfers from the United Nations peacekeeping budget. This is a serious matter of accountability, as their activities are funded by our assessed contributions, and accordingly borne by our taxpayers, he said. Japan supported the Secretary General's reform initiatives and believed that efforts should be made so as not to lose the unprecedented momentum that currently existed.
SERGEY V. KHALIZOV (Russian Federation) noted that the Fifth Committee's May session on the financing of the peacekeeping missions typically focused on the budget results of the past year and the upcoming budget year. Yet, this year, in addition to administrative and budgetary aspects, the Committee had to discuss reform initiatives and the maintenance of peace and security and the management of the necessary resources. The Russian Federation trusted that with the Committee's unprecedented workload and the limited time frame, all documents would be provided to Member States on time and in strict accordance with established rules and procedures. The peacekeeping budgets adopted last year were substantially lower than the amounts initially allocated. Additional savings needed to focus on the Secretariat's management process while not hurting the Mission mandates established by the Security Council.
The Russian Federation asked that any reform decisions be based on a clear understanding of the associated costs and the implications of the reforms' effects, he said. There had to be a balance of authority between the Secretary General and the General Assembly. Member States had to keep full control of the reform process as the accountability of the Secretariat was strengthened during it. There were many cross cutting issues to consider, such as the global service delivery model and reform of the criminal tribunals, in addition to the efforts to administer the financing of peacekeeping missions.
FU DAOPENG (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country was the second largest troop contributor among Security Council members to United Nations peacekeeping operations. The preparation and review of the Organization's peacekeeping budget should be based on facts and prudent scientific approaches, he said, emphasizing the need to provide peacekeepers with the resources required to fulfil their mandates. Recalling that the 2018/2019 peacekeeping proposal was approximately $7.3 billion � lower than the previous biennium's budget � he said the Secretary General had nevertheless submitted additional budgetary requirements for both the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The recommendations of the Board of Auditors could be a reference point for 2018/2019 budget negotiations. On management reform and the proposals to restructure the Organization's peace and security pillar, he called for efforts to maximize consensus and safeguard the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, stressing that such efforts should also pay more attention to the concerns of developing countries. Finally, more should be done to address the legitimate concerns of troop- and police contributing countries, while respecting the sovereignty of host countries and working to build trust with them. Countries with the capacity to contribute financial resources to the United Nations, especially those that owed considerable amounts in outstanding payments, should do so in full and without any conditions.
LILL-ANN BJAARSTAD MEDINA (Norway) said the Fifth Committee was beginning what might be the most decisive session in decades. Critical decisions will have to be made on two comprehensive and interlinked reforms, she said, adding the reforms were essential to improve the Organization's way of working. We have to make important choices for the global service delivery model and for UN accountability systems.
It was the time to decide on the organizational and budgetary changes that were needed to prepare the ground for a major shift in the working culture of the United Nations. And now is the time to respond to the Secretary General's call for action of peacekeeping, she added. Norway would focus its efforts on peacekeeping operations in South Sudan, Mali and Haiti, as well as the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) and the special political mission in Afghanistan, countries in which Norway has had long term engagements, she said. Norway would maintain its interest in the negotiations on all peacekeeping missions and had always supported a robust budget for United nations peacekeeping. It shared the Secretary General's commitment to budgetary discipline and optimizing peacekeeping resources.
The Fifth Committee then approved its programme of work for its second resumed session.
Committee Chair Mr. Tommo Monthe understood the Committee members were ready to examine all issues and needed the help of all sets of managers. That included the managers of the Secretariat, which must provide documents in a timely manner and convincing answers to Committee members during negotiations. Managers of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions must also provide documents in a timely manner and provide concrete recommendations. The Bureau would provide a credible timetable of the work and work calendar, he said, adding that the Bureau was committed to providing leadership.
Election of the Vice-Chair of the Fifth Committee
The Fifth Committee elected by acclamation Haseeb Gohar (Pakistan) as Vice Chair of the Committee to serve until the end of the seventy second session. Mr. Gohar had been nominated by the Asia-Pacific States Group to replace Abbas Yazdani (Iran).
Closed Peacekeeping Missions and Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda
BETTINA TUCCI BARTSIOTAS, Assistant Secretary General and Controller of the United Nations, introduced the Secretary General's report on the Updated financial position of closed peacekeeping missions as at 30 June 2017 (document A/72/649). As of 30 June 2017, 24 of 29 closed missions had net cash surpluses of $85.3 million, and the remaining 5 missions had net cash deficits of $86 million. Pending the receipt of outstanding assessed contributions, $62.9 million was owed to troop contributing countries. She noted the Secretary General's proposals to address the issue of outstanding dues to Member States and cash issues in active missions by authorizing temporary cross borrowing. The Secretary General also proposed the establishment of a working capital fund for peacekeeping operations.
She said that cash surpluses were used to alleviate occasional shortfalls in active peacekeeping operations, noting that that had been the case in Western Sahara, Kosovo, and Cyprus. Some active missions were still facing cash shortages owing to outstanding assessments that required temporary borrowings from closed peacekeeping missions. The balance of cross borrowing at the end of March 2018 was $22.5 million. The Secretary General had proposed that temporary borrowing between active peacekeeping missions be authorized by the General Assembly. Should the Assembly not authorize such borrowing, the Secretary General maintained the proposal to establish a peacekeeping working capital fund.
Ms. BARTSIOTAS also went on to introduce two reports of the Secretary General on the budget performance for 2016/17 and 2018/19 for the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, respectively titled: Budget performance of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, for the period from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 (document A/72/639) and Budget for the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, for the period from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019 (document A/72/777). The Centre continued to provide shared services to participating missions, including in human resources, finance, movement and control, personnel and cargo transport, and communications and information technology support.
The Regional Service Centre's clients currently comprised eight peacekeeping operations and seven special political missions, she said. Since November 2016, the Centre had also been providing payroll services to the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), among others. The Centre had been seeking to standardize administrative processes and was particularly involved in the implementation of Umoja. For the 2018/19 period, the Regional Service Centre proposed to reorganize its structure to provide more customer centric, standardized, timely and quality services to end users. The proposed 2018/19 budget amounted to $35.2 million, an increase of 6.7 per cent compared to approved resources for 2017/18, she noted. The increase was primarily attributable to civilian personnel, mainly due to the application of lower vacancy rates for international staff and United Nations Volunteers, partly offset by the net reduction of 19 posts.
CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introduced the Advisory Committee's report on the updated financial position of closed peacekeeping missions as of 30 June 2017 (document A/72/838). He said that since the highest level of borrowing over the past three calendar years had been $40 million, the Advisory Committee recommended that the cash balance proposed for retention to cover temporary borrowing needs of active missions be reduced to $40 million and any available cash surplus over that amount be returned to Member States.
Turning to the Advisory Committee's report on the budget performance for the 2016/2017 period and the proposed budget for the 2018/2019 period of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda (document A/72/789/Add.9), the Advisory Committee's recommendation would entail a reduction of nearly $2.26 million to the Secretary General's proposed budget. The Secretary General proposed to reorganize the Centre's structure into four service delivery sections, which entailed staff changes. The Advisory Committee noted the Secretary General also had proposed restructuring the 2017/2018 period, yet the implementation was deferred. Since the 2017/2018 structure was not fully implemented, the Advisory Committee recommended the abolishment of a P 5 post of Service Delivery Manager, which was established as part of the 2017/2018 restructuring. The Advisory Committee also recommended against the establishment of the two new posts, a P 3 and a National Professional Officer. Under civilian personnel, the Advisory Committee recommended an adjustment to vacancy rates for international staff, National Professional Officers and national General Service Staff in order to align the 2018/2019 rates with the actual vacancy rates.
KARIM SAMIR ISMAIL ALSAYED (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, recalled that in years past the Group had repeatedly expressed concern about the cash deficit situation in several closed peacekeeping missions, owing to the continued non payment of some Member States. That had caused an unacceptable situation particularly for troop- and police contributing countries, he emphasized, stressing that all Member States must fulfil their financial obligations as set out in the Charter. He further requested the Secretariat provide complete information on the Member States in arrears and amounts due regarding the 29 closed peacekeeping operations.
He expressed concern about the continued reliance on borrowing from closed missions, calling it another manifestation of some Member States' failure to fulfil their financial obligations in a timely fashion. He recalled that the General Assembly had asked the Secretary General to submit concrete proposals and alternatives to address the issue of outstanding payments to Member States from closed peacekeeping operations with cash deficits. The Group stood ready to explore options to achieve a fair solution to that long standing problem.
Regarding the Regional Service Centre in Uganda, he welcomed the initiative presented by the Secretary General indicating that the Centre would participate in the planned end to end process of the East Africa Corridor project. The Group also looked forward to obtaining more information on the scope of the project as well as how it can be strengthened beyond the six missions it was currently covering. He welcomed the proposed restructuring of the Centre as recommended by the independent review into four service delivery sections to provide more customer centric, standardized, timely and quality services.
The Group would also seek information on why the reorganization of the service lines of 2017/18 were not fully implemented before a new arrangement was embarked upon, he continued. The Group would make sure that the new structure was adequately staffed and funded, he said, adding that it would also affirm the continued validity of the nationalization plan. He requested clarification on the Centre's governance structure and its consistency regarding operational and managerial independence. The Group took note of the Advisory Committee's recommendation regarding the need for the Secretary General to review the coordination between the Transportation and Movements Integrated Control Centre and the Strategic Air Operations Centre.
CAROLINE NALWANGA (Uganda), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, recalled that the General Assembly had established the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe in July 2010 as the first shared service centre for field missions in the region. The Group looked forward to the enhancement of the Centre and to finding a permanent financing arrangement, as well as to discussing how to increase the Centre's role in facilitating peacekeeping operations, including the processing of personnel benefits, mission support services, procurement and training.
She welcomed the continued implementation of the East Africa Corridor project and its consideration for expansion to cover all procurements in African peacekeeping missions. She looked forward to the enhancement of shared services at the Regional Service Centre. She also commended the Secretary General for reorganizing the Centre's structure as recommended by the independent review of shared services managed by the Department of Field Support in order to improve service delivery. She further expressed support for the Advisory Committee's recommendation regarding the need for the Secretary General to review coordination between the Transportation and Movements Integrated Control Centre and the Strategic Air Operations Centre.
Ms. NALWANGA (Uganda), speaking in her national capacity and associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the Regional Service Centre had continued to successfully provide service and achieve the vision of the Secretary General through provision of human resources. The coexistence of complimentary services in one location had not just proven to be time- and cost effective; it had also made the Centre a one stop hub for peacekeeping. She expressed hope that the investments made by the Secretary General, which included personnel training and infrastructure development, would be fully utilized and harnessed by the General Assembly. She expressed support for the East Africa Corridor project, and commended the Secretary General for the reorganization of the structure of the Centre in Entebbe as recommended by the independent review. She also said it was important to examine the Advisory Committee's recommendation regarding the need for the Secretary General to review coordination between the Transportation and Movements Integrated Control Centre and the Strategic Air Operations Centre.
Financing of United Nations Peacekeeping Missions in Abyei and Cyprus
Ms. BARTSIOTAS introduced the Secretary General's report on the budget performance of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) for the period from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 (document A/72/644) and UNIFSA's budget for the period from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019 (document A/72/730) as well as the Budget performance of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for the period from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 (document A/72/628) and UNFICYP's budget for the period from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019 (document A/72/735).
Regarding the security force in Abyei, she noted a budget increase of 1.7 per cent for 2018/19 compared to 2017/18. With a total budget of $271.1 million, UNIFSA would continue to support the implementation of the Agreement of 20 June 2011 between the Government of the Republic of the Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement on temporary arrangements for the administration and security of the Abyei Area. UNISFA would focus on projects related to camp infrastructure improvements, security instalments and maintenance of access roads.
Turning to the peacekeeping force in Cyprus, she said that the budget for 2018/19, which amounted to $55.2 million, had increased 2.1 per cent from 2017/18. The increases were attributable primarily to the appreciation of the euro against the dollar and the one off construction activities to accommodate the relocation of military personnel. At the request of the Security Council, a strategic report of the peacekeeping force in Cyprus was also conducted. The Secretary General's recommendations were taken into consideration in the budget proposal. They included the reduction of military contingents, the repatriation of contingent owned armoured personnel carriers, and the creation of a Joint Mission Analysis Centre.
Mr. RUIZ introduced the Advisory Committee's reports on the budget performance for the period from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 and proposed budgets for the period from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019 for UNISFA (document A/72/789/Add.13) and UNFICYP (document A/72/789/Add.3). With respect to UNFICYP, the Advisory Committee recommended a reduction of $713,100 to the Secretary General's proposal included in his report on UNFICYP for the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019. The Advisory Committee recalled that in resolutions 70/273 and 71/300, the General Assembly had endorsed its recommendation to carry out a civilian staffing review before the submission of the Mission's budget for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 periods. It noted that the review was not completed before the submission of the budget proposals. The Advisory Committee expected that such staffing reviews would be conducted in a timely manner and the results reflected in subsequent budget proposals.
Concerning the Secretary General's proposed budget for 2018/19, the Committee recommended the approval of the proposed staffing and recommended that a vacancy rate of 10 per cent be applied to the cost estimated for international staff, and it recommended reductions under facilities and infrastructure, training, communications and information technology.
Mr. ALEMU (Ethiopia), speaking again for the African Group and aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the present report provided an overview of the financial and administrative aspect of the United Nations peacekeeping operations. The United Nations now supported 16 active peacekeeping missions, funded under individual special accounts; two long standing peacekeeping missions, the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which were established long ago under the programme budget; and UNSOS, the logistical support operation in Somalia. For the period 2017/2018, the total proposed budgets were $7.97 million for peacekeeping operations, while the total approved resources were $6.8 million. For 2018/2019, the Group noted a proposed budget that is $277 million lower than the level proposed for the 2017/2018 financial period and $980 million lower than that proposed for 2016/2017 period. He noted that between the 2016/2017 and the 2018/2019 periods, changing conditions in mission areas had led to the closure of three missions: UNMIL; United Nations Operation in CAte d'Ivoire (UNOCI); and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which was replaced by MINUJUSTH.
He said the Group welcomed the Secretary General's call for more adequate support to African forces in peace enforcement � with strong mandates from the Security Council and predictable funding � made during his address to the African Union Summit last January. The Group recalled General Assembly resolution 70/286, which requested the Secretary General to report on measures to expand the participation of women in peacekeeping missions. The Group was concerned that only 3 per cent of United Nations peacekeepers and 10 per cent of police were women. The Group welcomed the upward trend which showed an increase in the number of women being appointed: women accounted for 46 per cent of appointments at the Head and Deputy Head of Mission level in 2017, compared with 22 per cent in 2016.
While conscious of the Fifth Committee's heavy workload, the African Group believed hard work, dedication, frankness and transparency in the deliberations would facilitate its timely conclusion. He said the Group would like to discourage negotiations under small configurations behind closed doors and stressed that the Committee needed to stick to the approved official times as outlined in the programme of work.
Source: United Nations