Statement by Ms. Misako Kaji, Minister, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
Item 115: Financial reports and audited financial statements, and reports of the Board of Auditors
Item 132: Administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations: Cross-cutting issues
May 9, 2007
- The proposed 2007/2008 budgets for UN peacekeeping operations, which we have before us, once again exceeded $5 billion and are envisaged to continue to grow. Under the circumstances, the Government of Japan is obliged to continue scrutinizing the budgets of UN peacekeeping operations both for Headquarters and the field, to make sure that they are fully justified, budgetary discipline ensured and fiscal prudence exercised in the management of these operations. We are also engaged in the examination of the proposal of the Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, on the strengthening of the capacity of the Organization in peacekeeping operations, together with the forthcoming report of the Advisory Committee on this matter.
- The budgetary process gives the Secretary-General ample opportunity to demonstrate his commitment and efforts to running an efficient, effective, and accountable United Nations. He is expected to do this by providing Member States with a thorough explanation of present and future efforts to promote efficient and effective management of the human and financial resources entrusted to him. For its part, the General Assembly, in its resolution 59/296, affirmed that budget submissions should reflect management improvements and efficiency gains to be achieved and should articulate future strategies in this regard. The budgetary process should provide an integrated picture of planning and results-based-budgeting; it should make clear the linkage between indicators, outputs, and resources. It should not be merely a paper exercise carried out simply to extract assessed contributions from Member States.
- The budgetary process is important for Member States in assuring them that the Organization is making proper use of resources their taxpayers have contributed. My delegation will participate actively in the forthcoming informal consultations to determine whether budget proposals are well justified and will truly serve their intended purposes, whether the Secretary-General is undertaking the required review of the functions of the posts as an ongoing exercise to avoid duplication of functions and an excessive proportion of high-grade posts, and finally whether the Secretary-General has done the homework the Member States requested him to do in the relevant General Assembly resolutions. We believe that careful consideration must be given to thematic management issues with a view to providing further guidance for future strategies before we approve individual mission budgets. Please allow me to make some specific points.
- Firstly, we fully share the concern expressed by the Advisory Committee about the absence of evidence of concrete action having been taken in response to the General Assembly and the Advisory Committee's requests to the Secretary-General to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of management and administrative processes before additional resources are requested. We fully agree with the Advisory Committee that "adding post and non-post resources for inefficient processes is not an acceptable management practice." Furthermore, the problem of duplicative and top-heavy structures of complex, integrated missions remains unresolved, and there appears to be little Headquarters involvement in the monitoring of the evolution of structures in individual peacekeeping operations. Should the study on a mission template be carried out in such a manner that it only analyzes and draws lessons from those missions that have had the problem of duplication and top-heaviness and then proceeds to replicate such a template structure in other missions, it would raise fundamental questions as to the validity and usefulness of such exercise and we strongly caution against a template approach to staffing.
- Secondly, the significant amount of unencumbered balance and cancellation of prior period obligations suggests much room for improvement, which is to say there should be more realistic budgeting and tighter control of budgetary planning and administration. My delegation would like to see budgets based on realistic assumptions with regard to the delayed deployment factor, actual vacancy rates, as well as the expenditure pattern and experience to date of a mission and other missions in similar situations.
- Thirdly, my delegation continues to attach great importance to promoting efficiency in the area of operational costs, in particular of air operations, ground transportation, fuel management, information communication technology, training, and travel. While cognizant of efforts underway to explore the possibility of economies and efficiencies in air operations, my delegation is eager to learn more about the current undertakings of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in this regard and its future strategies, in light of the forthcoming analysis of the new costing structure of air operations.
- Fourthly, my delegation also is very much interested in the administrative and budgetary aspects of complex and integrated missions, namely cooperation, coordination, and delineation of roles and functions among PKO missions and UN entities, at Headquarters as well as in the field. What we expect to see in these integrated missions is the elimination of duplication and the enhancement of synergies among partners so that integrated missions facilitate collective international efforts to consolidate peace in countries emerging from difficult conflict situations. It would be highly unsatisfactory if missions simply replicated and/or duplicated activities carried out by funds and programmes and other agencies in the UN country teams. And it would be most unfortunate if integrated missions were utilized merely as a mechanism for financing activities of UN entities from UN assessed contributions.
- And fifthly, we strongly support further promotion of inter-mission cooperation, as it would contribute to the effective use of mission resources. General Assembly resolution 60/266 calls for the Secretary-General to develop and implement regional coordination plans aligned to the mission's objectives. While we are fully conscious of the unique nature of each individual mission, we cannot but express our concern that, as both the BOA and the ACABQ have noted, the Secretary-General has yet to implement the above-mentioned General Assembly resolution. My delegation urges the Secretary-General to ensure that implementation of GA resolutions and the recommendations of the BOA and the ACABQ constitute an integral part of the process of preparing the budgets.
- Last but not least, my delegation wishes to mention briefly that the issues of conduct and discipline are of the utmost importance to safeguarding the integrity and reputation of UN peacekeeping operations. In the spirit of zero tolerance, no efforts should be spared to continue to address these issues, taking into account the lessons learned and an assessment of the risks involved in this area.
- Enhanced accountability and effective management of human and financial resources are of highest priority both for the membership of this body and for the Organization itself. I should like to conclude by stressing once again that the Government of Japan attaches importance to budgetary discipline, and it believes that we should carefully examine the current undertakings of the Secretary-General, including his implementation of the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly.
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