Statement by Mr. Jun Yamada
Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
Agenda item 132: Administrative and Budgetary
Aspects of Financing UN PKOs: Cross-cutting Issues
Second Resumed Part of the Sixty-third Session
of the United Nations General Assembly
13 May 2009
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to thank Mr. Jun Yamazaki, the Controller, Ms. Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Ms. Susan McLurg, Chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and Mrs. Inga-Britt Ahlenius, Under-Secretary-General for the Office of Internal Oversight Services for introducing their respective reports. In the following statement, I wish to extend the views of my delegation on the reports on cross-cutting issues presented today to us, in particular on the issues of financial resources, management issues, human resources management and operational issues.
At the outset, I wish to emphasize the sobering reality that we are considering the peacekeeping budgets this year in the midst of a global financial crisis. Under the circumstances, fulfilling the financial responsibilities to the United Nations has never been so challenging for Member States. However, the figures presented by the Secretary-General on the financial resources needed for United Nations peacekeeping activities are inconsistent with our hopes that the organization would practice austerity. The proposed requirements for the 2009/10 period total approximately $8.2 billion, which is an increase of 16% over the amount apportioned in 2008/09. We simply cannot accept such size and growth under the current circumstances.
We are fully aware that peacekeeping missions have mandates that cannot be compromised and should be supported with sufficient financing. The past records of unencumbered balances however, lead us to believe that the same or even higher level of achievement could be made with fewer resources. The overall unencumbered balance of the total approved budget for 2007/08 for instance marked $500 million, and the figure is expected to be higher if other income and adjustments from the missions were added.
The Secretary-General in his overview report explains that the United Nations has experienced a sustained, extraordinary period of growth in peacekeeping in the field, and the report includes a table containing data on trends for the financial years 2003/04 to 2009/10. My delegation is of the view that the report of the Secretary-General could have further increased its transparency by presenting the trend of unencumbered balances.
Management issues of peacekeeping deserve great attention. While financing peacekeeping entails risks and uncertainties, the Secretary-General and senior management of the Secretariat should continue to raise awareness of their managerial responsibilities and should not spare efforts in making their activities accountable.
In this connection, my delegation is alerted to the point made by the ACABQ, in paragraph 91 of its report that the findings of the Board of Auditors have not been fully brought to the attention of the higher management of the peacekeeping operations. If the statistics that appear in the Secretary-General's budget documents are no accurate reflection of the value of expendable/ non-expendable property, for example, our serious deliberation in this Assembly could be based on a somewhat misguided ground, which may hinder us to reach relevant conclusions. While the Secretary-General may be reacting to each points made by the Board, what seems more pertinent is to have an overall view in search for root causes if any, for persistent problems and to take effective measures including holding accountable the individuals with managerial responsibilities.
Another issue to be noted is that it has become increasingly evident that the United Nations financial regulations and rules remain silent in a number of functions in the peacekeeping operations that has expanded during the past years. An individual mission is legally not prohibited from redeploying resources among any of its budget components. According to the ACABQ report, the Secretary-General has imposed upon himself a method whereby the missions have the discretion of redeploying resources with the authorization of the Controller among the three components of military personnel, civilian personnel and operation. This has taken place in thirteen missions during the budget year 2007/08 within the range of 0.25% to 4.89%. My delegation appreciates the Secretary-General's endeavors in maintaining a certain budgetary discipline while enabling the missions to deal with the dynamism in the field. At the same time, my delegation is of the view that the Member States should be given the whole picture of redeployment in all peacekeeping operations. It requests that the record of redeployment included in the Annex II of the ACABQ report be reported to the General Assembly in the future overview reports.
As for the use of commitment authority with assessment, we should recall that this serves as a tool, in an exceptional state of urgency, to finance the start-up of a new mission or the expansion of an existing one. We are of the view that the Secretary-General should carefully examine the situation on the ground before using commitment authority with assessment, with the clear understanding that sufficient information on financing the missions should be presented to the General Assembly at the earliest stage possible. We therefore concur with the views of the ACABQ on this matter.
<Human Resources Management>
General Assembly resolution 63/250 approved the new contractual arrangements and the harmonization of conditions of service. In the process of deciding the concrete procedures and finalizing the new system, my delegation wishes to stress the importance of greater mobility of staff among Headquarters and the field, together with proper performance management.
At the same time, we are of the view that the financial implications including in the coming years of addressing the challenges of human resources management deserve attention. According to the report of the ACABQ, while the financial implications of the implementation of A/RES/63/250 as reflected in the proposed budgets for 2009/10 are estimated at $75.9 million, the total cost of the personal transition allowance is unknown at this time.
As for the specific initiatives outlined in the overview report and the thematic reports related to human resources management--for example, on training, welfare and recreation, death and disability--we wish to discuss them in detail during the informal consultations. A coherent training system, in particular, should have a substantive role to play and we look forward to a new comprehensive report on it.
At this juncture, I am compelled to draw your attention to an announcement by the Office of Human Resources Management posted on its website on 7 May, namely, that it has decided to suspend the National Competitive Recruitment Examinations in 2010. Its reasons for doing so, it was announced, was that it took too much time to administer them and place successful NCRE candidates, and that there was a need to review the current business process for administering the examinations. My delegation is deeply concerned about this decision and its announcement without consulting with the Member States. It is contrary to A/RES/63/250, which clearly reaffirmed the value of the NCRE as a means of recruiting candidates for P-2 posts subject to geographical distribution and thereby reducing non-representation and under-representation of Member States in the Secretariat. My delegation requests the Secretary-General that the OHRM explain in detail how and why it reached this regrettable decision and its unilateral announcement both during this formal meeting or if not the following formal meetings on the record and later in writing as well.
I wish now to touch upon operational issues. The overview report of the Secretary-General covers a number of important topics which include air operations, spare parts, fuel management, rations and procurement. In terms of cost, we recognize the difficult challenges posed by increasing fuel and food prices, which directly impact the activities and budgets of peacekeeping missions. We believe that it is always possible, and appropriate, to engage in discussion about further efforts that might be made to this end.
We welcome the views expressed by the ACABQ on the need to enhance the effectiveness of air services procurement, the need for an integrated fleet management, and on the initiative it took in recommending updating the budgetary assumption for fuel costs for 2009/10 to the recent average fuel costs, which in turn would result in a net reduction for all peacekeeping missions of approximately $70 million. We also note that the report of the ACABQ covers topics that the Secretary-General has not touched upon, such as the process of liquidating missions, disarmament demobilization and reintegration (DDR), cooperation with the African Union, business process improvement and information and communications technology. My delegation wishes to discuss these issues during the informal consultations with a view to identifying ways of further enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of peacekeeping operations.
In closing my statement, I would like to reiterate that my delegation will actively participate in the discussions during the informal consultations in order to arrive at a resolution that will help us address the challenges that lie ahead of us in all spheres of peacekeeping operations.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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