STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MS. SONDRA CHEONG, FIRST SECRETARY OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF THE CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA TO THE UNITED NATIONS ON AGENDA ITEM 148: ADMINISTRATIVE AND BUGETARY ASPECTS OF THE FINANCING OF THE UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS - OVERVIEW AND CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES, DURING THE SECOND PART OF THE RESUMED SEVENTY-FOURTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New York, 4 May 2020)
1. I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on agenda item 148: Administrative and Budgetary Aspects of the Financing of the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Overview and Cross- cutting issues.
2. The Group wishes to thank the Secretariat and the Advisory Committee for the submission of their respective reports.
3. The Group also wishes to express its appreciation for the reports of the Board of Auditors (BoA) on United Nations peacekeeping operations and that of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on United Nations peace operations. As it is the practice of the Group of 77 and China, findings and recommendations coming forth would be taken into account during the analysis of this and other relevant agenda items.
4. We would, most importantly, like to pay tribute to all United Nations peacekeepers who have sustained various degrees of damages and to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of global peace and security.
5. The overall requirements for United Nations peacekeeping operations, in the proposed amount of $6,655.2 million for the 2020/21 period, is $118.9 million lower than the level approved for the 2019/20 financial period and $502.6 million lower than that approved for the 2018/19 period. Reductions over recent years have become a trend. It is the Group's observation that approved resources, in most cases, are not commensurate with the mandated tasks and/or operational environment.
6. We do not have to lose sight of the fact that peacekeeping operations remain one of the most effective multilateral tools available to help prevent the outbreak or relapse into conflict and pave the way to sustainable peace. Apart from reduced resources, these operations continue to face increasing challenges including wide-ranging mandates, increasingly complex political and security environments, and threats that are often targeted at United Nations personnel, while transnational threats across regions continue to affect stability in some host countries. These challenges are not alien to the knowledge of member states hence if there is a call to renew our collective commitment to the Organization's peace effort, this should not be beyond our comprehension.
7. On the part of the Secretariat, the Group acknowledges that worthy steps of note have been taken to improve the work of the Organization. For instance, through the management reform, Heads of peacekeeping missions have been provided with increased delegation of authority, with an emphasis on transparency, simplification and decentralized decision-making closer to the point of mandate and programme delivery. The Group looks forward to receiving a comprehensive appraisal of progress made and efficiencies gained as a result of the restructuring of functions, offices and departments through the reform initiative.
8. The Group of 77 and China holds a longstanding position on the crucial role of Quick Impact Projects and Programmatic Activities for successful mandate implementation. We, in this regard, wish to underscore the importance of QIPs in building confidence in missions, their mandate and political and peace processes. These projects also contribute to force protection by generating support for the military and police components of missions, a growing concern for all troop and police contributing countries.
9. Although constituting a small share of the peacekeeping missions' budget, programmatic activities are used by peacekeeping missions as a tool to more effectively pursue political processes and wider mandate delivery. The Security Council has in recent years expanded the number of programmatic activities it tasks peacekeeping missions with, with a view to preventing and resolving conflicts and building lasting peace.
10. On the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse, the Group reaffirms its strong commitment to the United Nations' zero-tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA).
11. The Group welcomes the strong resolve of the United Nations towards ensuring that it will not remain silent or passive in the face of reported incidents, as well as towards protecting and supporting victims of SEA through adopting a victim-centered approach addressing this problem and putting in place effective preventive policies and measures.
12. The Group looks forward to examining progress towards adopting a more unified, system-wide approach to SEA. In particular, the Group will seek further information on mechanisms that aim to address SEA cases involving civilians and UN personnel both at Headquarters and in the field, and will also be interested to examine how existing mechanisms can ensure accountability for personnel found guilty of sexual exploitation and abuse.
Mr. Chair, 13. Also on the issue of representation, the Group wishes to recall resolution 72/262C where the Secretary-General was asked to intensify his efforts to ensure proper representation of troop- and police contributing countries in the relevant new departments. In this respect, the Group will seek to understand the application of specific programmes, initiatives and relevant aspects of senior managers' compacts in addressing this historical deficit, particularly for TCCS/PCCS of developing countries who have contributed and sacrificed unquantifiably to UN peacekeeping. Mr. Chair, 14. You may recall that the General Assembly decided in its resolution 73/307 to allow the management of cash balances of all active peacekeeping operations as a pool, while maintaining the balances in separate funds for each mission. As expected, payments to troop-and police contributing countries have seen some improvement. We would also like to acknowledge that the prompt payment of claims has brought about improved performance by troop- and police contributing countries. The Group is encouraged by such tangible improvements in performance due to steps taken to improve cash flow for operations. 15. On another issue related to performance, the Group looks forward to engaging and having a proper understanding of the basis on which the comprehensive performance assessment system (CPAS) derives its mandate as well as its impact thus far on 'the evidence-based strategic decisions of Mission leadership'. 16. Nonetheless, the Group of 77 and China wishes to reiterate that performance in peacekeeping operations is a rather a collective effort that involves Member States, the Secretariat, and all components of missions. Any attempt to utilize performance assessment as a basis for furthering arbitrary cuts on the peacekeeping budget would gravely undermine mandate implementation and may even erode hard-earned progress.
17. Further on the issue of budget, we appreciate that the Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget has been conducting visits to peacekeeping missions to help with budget formulation and preparation. It is our hope that these outreach efforts would enable the presentation of realistic budget proposals tailored to specific needs whose application would improve the ability of missions to deliver on mandates.
18. Of utmost importance to the Group is the provision of adequate healthcare to those who risk their safety in the implementation of organizational mandates. In this regard and in the face of recent developments, we welcome the plan to develop an overarching UN telehealth system to improve access to health care in UN peace operations irrespective of location. The Group looks forward to learning more about the details and advancement of this initiative.
19. Last but not the least is the Secretariat's action plan on the safety and security of peacekeepers. The Group wishes to underscore that the Action Plan has contributed towards decreasing peacekeeper fatalities due to acts of violence from 58 fatalities in 2017 to 27 fatalities in both 2018 and 2019. We welcome this development and anticipate that a sustained approach would be adopted with the singular aim of keeping casualties to their barest minimum.
20. In conclusion Mr. Chair, the Group of 77 and China will carefully consider the cross-cutting budget performance and proposed budget of peacekeeping operations, bearing in mind that a robust peacekeeping budget is fundamental for the full implementation of agreed mandates. It is a long-standing position of the G77 and China, and indeed, of all Member States, that mandates must be funded. Cuts for the sake of cuts are unacceptable. The Group will examine closely the areas most impacted by shortfalls in financing, and how this has affected mandate implementation. The Group continues to call for responsible implementation by the Secretariat through financial discipline and adherence to the mandates laid down in the relevant resolutions. It is not for the Secretariat to decide which mandates carry a high priority and which do not. Mandates, as we all know, are the prerogative of Member States. It is also known and universally accepted that the only way to cure the perennially difficult financial situation that hamstrings peacekeeping operations is if all Member States pay their assessments in full, on time, and without conditions.
21. As always, the Group of 77 and China stands ready to engage constructively and transparently with a view to concluding the agenda item in a timely manner.
I thank you Mr. Chair.