Statement by Mr. Akihiro Okochi, Counsellor
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
Agenda item 132: Special political missions

Fifth Committee
Sixty-fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly
17 December 2009

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, I would like to express my appreciation to Mr. Jun Yamazaki, Assistant-Secertary-General/Controller, 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 reports.

Mr. Chairman,

A substantial portion of the overall programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011, more than 20 percent, is devoted to SPMs. Like the ACABQ, my delegation is conscious of the fact that the level of resources for these missions has increased significantly in recent years. I wish to make some specific points to analyse the background of this development and shed light on measures to be taken.

First, my delegation shares the concern expressed by the ACABQ that the Secretary-General lacks a clear basis for determining the type of UN presence in the world. Peacebuilding Offices with a heavy structure similar to a peacekeeping mission are proposed in Cluster III. Regional Offices with appearances of permanent structures are built in West Africa and Central Asia. Backstopping functions are carried out by different departments; DPA(UNAMAI) and DPKO(UNAMA) without rational distinctions. My delegation expects that the assessment of backstopping underway would be completed expeditiously so that SPMs are proposed based on a more coherent thinking.

Second, let me touch upon the budget outline for the biennium 2010-2011, which provides about 800 million dollars for SPMs. If the budget the Secretary-General is proposing is approved as it is, only 200 million dollars will remain for 2011. While my delegation recognizes that the proposed resource requirements are estimates and as such subject to change based on whether the mandates of SPMs are extended, it is concerned that the decision of the General Assembly on the budget would lose much of its meaning if the figures are repeatedly revised afterwards. In this regard, my delegation is ready to engage in discussion on the budgetary structure of SPMs at the coming resumed session, with a view to ensuring more accurate forecasts of overall requirements.

Third, Mr. Chairman, my delegation welcomes the effort the Secretariat has made to enhance the transparency of the process through which SPMs are established by providing background information. In this regard, however, my delegation is obliged to express concern over certain practices of the Secretariat. When the establishment of an SPM was discussed in June of this year, the Secretary-General submitted a report to the Security Council that contains not only its mandate and overall structure, but also a detailed description of the posts that will be required in each section of the mission. The structure and posting of SPMs have always been discussed in the General Assembly from a budgetary and administrative standpoint, and they should continue to be discussed. My delegation requests the Secretariat to give due and prudent consideration to this division of labour between the General Assembly and other organs of the United Nations.

Forth, in the course of our discussion on the SPMs here, my delegation will pay special attention to vacancy rates and unencumbered balances, as well as resources that are budgeted for consultants. Along with the ACABQ, my delegation recalls the view expressed in the past resolutions of this Assembly that missions should resort to the hiring of consultants only when very specialized expertise not found in the UN system is required.

Mr. Chairman,

Before concluding, allow me to touch upon another important issue. As my delegation has frequently pointed out in the past, ensuring the safety of United Nations staff deployed in missions is a responsibility that should be shared by all Member States and the Secretariat. Japan therefore supports in principle the measures the Secretary-General described in his letter dated 9 December, including meeting the immediate and urgent need to enhance the level of security for all United Nations personnel working in Afghanistan through the UNAMA budget. My delegation is committed to participating constructively in discussions on this important issue with other Member States.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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