Statement by Mr. Ken Mukai
Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
On Agenda Item 118: Programme Budget for the Biennium 2008-2009 (Estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives, authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council)
At the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly
New York, 16 December 2008
At the outset, my delegation wishes to thank Ms. Sharon Van Buerle, Director of Programme Planning and Budget Division, for presenting the Reports of the Secretary-General (A/63/346 and Add. 1-5). We also wish to thank Ms. Susan McLurg, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), for presenting the report of the Committee (A/63/593).
My delegation had expected to have an opportunity to consider the proposed budgets for SPMs (special political missions) at this session, with reasonable time to examine them. According to paragraph 2 of General Assembly resolution 62/238V, the reports of the Secretary-General should have been submitted no later than the first week of November. We regret that the timing of their presentation to this Committee is delayed until the very last week of the session, as has unfortunately been the case in previous years. We are thus once again forced to make hasty decisions under the pressure of time.
The SPM occupies a substantial portion, nearly 20% of the overall programme budget for 2008-2009. Like the ACABQ, my delegation notes that the level of resources for SPMs has increased significantly in recent years, from $94 million in 2002 to $436 million in 2008. Compared with the approved resources of $436 million, the request for 2009 represents an annual increase of approximately $53 million, or more than twelve percent. The Secretary-General's proposal for special political missions amounts to nearly $925 million for the current biennium. Cost should be taken into account when efficiency and effectiveness of SPMs are examined in the relevant legislative bodies including the Security Council. Allow me to raise the following four points concerning the management of SPMs.
Firstly, my delegation wishes to seek clarification from the Secretary-General what SPMs are. According to paragraph 11 of the ACABQ report, the Secretary-General states that "Their activities are directed towards operational matters and, as such, do not lend themselves to full integration with the work programme of the Secretariat." If this was the case, why is the Secretary-General proposing SPMs without a time span as in the case of UNRCCA? To cite another example, according to the Secretary-General, UNOWA is to facilitate collaborations among United Nations peace missions: UNIPSIL, UNMIL, UNOCI and UNOGBIS. Why these functions could not have lent themselves to the work programme of the Secretariat? My delegation concurs with paragraph 11 and 12 of the ACABQ report and it would like to see analysis to determine whether the establishment of a special political mission is the best option under a particular circumstance. Only through such careful scrutiny, the Secretary-General would be able to implement the complex mandates of the peace operations in a cost effective way. At the same time, the functions and responsibilities of special envoys, special representatives and other special high-level positions should be more clearly defined and streamlined, as stipulated in paragraph 6 of General Assembly resolution 62/238 V. My delegation endorses the ACABQ recommendations in paragraphs 13 and 14 of its report regarding the establishment and management of special political missions and looks forward to the requested Secretary-General's report to the General Assembly.
(Presentation, performance report)
Secondly, my delegation largely supports the recommendations set out in paragraphs 7 to 10 of the report of the Advisory Committee, as they should improve the presentation of future budgets and enable Member States to better analyze the resource requirements. My delegation expects the presentation and justification of resource requirements for special political missions to be of the same standard as those for peacekeeping missions. Consideration should be given to the submission of performance reports for certain missions every year so that the Member States can properly evaluate their programmatic performance.
While we fully understand the difficult and special circumstances under which some political missions operate, it is important for the Secretary-General to propose realistic budgets, so that the finite resources of the Member States can be allocated in an optimal manner. We wish to determine whether the 2009 budget proposals for SPMs have been adjusted, with consideration of a more realistic vacancy rate and operational costs in particular, in light of the experience gained during the course of the previous year.
(Systemic cooperation and complementarities)
Thirdly, my delegation strongly encourages the Secretary-General to intensify efforts to find areas of collaborations and complementarities among SPMs, PKOs and other UN activities, as in the case of Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Cyprus where UNFICYP covers the overlapping geographic and substantive responsibilities. We are interested in learning about the progress made in ensuring systemic cooperation among DPA, DPKO and DFS, in order to prevent duplication of efforts, as stipulated in paragraph 4 of General Assembly resolution 62/238 V.
Fourthly, the provisional amount set aside for special political missions in the current and previous budget outlines has not, in our view, provided an accurate forecast of the overall requirements of these operations during the previous and current biennium. For example, the 2008-2009 budget outline provided $604 million for the biennium, but the actual requirements for 2008-2009 exceed $925 million. In this context, while we recognize that estimated resource requirements are subject to the extension of the mandates of the operations, consideration should be given to ensuring a more accurate forecast of the overall requirements for the entire two-year period of the programme budget. To ensure budgetary discipline and sound management, my delegation is of the view that it is important to maintain the SPMs included in the regular budget.
My delegation supports a number of specific recommendations by the ACABQ on resource requirements for the 27 special political missions. We are confident, however, in saying that further reduction of up to 15% out of the resource requirements is appropriate in many cases. We note from the Secretary-General's report significant under-expenditure in relation to the 2008 appropriations for many missions including UNAMI. Budget allocation should normally be based on the pattern of expenditure in the previous year.
(UNAMA, UNAMI, UNPOS)
My delegation believes that the recruitment and deployment of staff should be carefully planned and phased based on realistic assumptions and an accurate understanding of the security situations. My delegation also would like to be assured that the activities currently undertaken by other entities in the UN system particularly in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia would in no way be hindered by a premature deployment of the additional resources requested for these missions.
We intend to raise other mission-specific questions during informal consultations.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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