STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MS. MEGAYLA AUSTIN, MINISTER COUNSELLOR OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF THE CO-OPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA TO THE UNITED NATIONS ON AGENDA ITEM 148: ADMINISTRATIVE AND BUDGETARY ASPECTS OF THE FINANCING OF THE UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS: UNITED NATIONS LOGISTICS BASE (UNLB), AT THE SECOND RESUMED PART OF THE SEVENTY-FOURTH SESSION OF THE FIFTH COMMITTEE OF THE UNITED NATIONS 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: United Nations Logistics Base (UNLB), for the period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021.
2. At the outset, the Group would like to thank Secretariat and the Advisory Committee for their respective reports.
3. The Group welcomes the report of the Secretary-General A/74/730 and that of the Advisory committee A/74/737/Add.6 on the financing of Peacekeeping operations; UNLB and once again recalls that the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy, has been in operation since late 1994.
4. The Group further recalls that the United Nations Logistics Base operates as a unified entity, comprising the Global Service Centre, Brindisi, and the United Nations Information and Communications Technology Facility, Valencia, both of which provide global geospatial, information and telecommunications technologies, logistics and supply chain operational management, as well as enabling support services throughout the life cycle of field missions, from start-up planning and preparation to liquidation.
5. The Group recognizes the important role of the UNLB in supporting peacekeeping missions to deliver their mandates, and therefore continues to believe in improving its functioning. In this regard, we will take interest in obtaining more information about the Staffing changes proposed by the center in line with the mandate approved by the General Assembly.
6. The Group notes that over 50% of the assets of UNLB will need to be replaced in this period and the Group looks forward to obtaining more information about the sudden surge in replacement of the assets and to understudy the existing monitoring mechanisms and long-term plans for the replacement of assets in this entity.
7. The Group also takes note of the remarks of the Advisory Committee in regard to the Scalability model and reiterates that in as much as the General Assembly did not object to the Scalability model presented by the Secretary-General, the model presented by UNLB was not based on the full-time equivalent requirements and that it was also not in line with the scalability model applied to other centers of the United Nations Secretariat. This is further complicated by the surge in the use and normalization of contract staff, something which is against the long-standing position of this Group that Contractors should not be hired for tasks that can be done by staff.
8. The Group is interested in receiving more information on the remote mission service, noting that the implementation of reforms under DOS may have created certain changes in the mandate of UNLB which are yet to be brought to the attention of the General Assembly for approval.
9. The Advisory Committee as well as the General Assembly over the years have expressed concern about the transparency of the receipt and use of income from non-secretariat entities by UNLB without satisfactory responses. Our Group would like to seek further information on the income obtained from other entities that are outside the Peacekeeping entities as well as detailed and transparent breakdown on how this income is used.
10. In a similar manner, we are interested in obtaining full and transparent information about the activities that will be carried out by the 546 full-time support personnel mentioned in Paragraph 63 of the report of the Secretary-General who will occupy UNLB premises to provide services related to ICT. The Group is interested in the recruitment process of these personnel as well as the mandate given by the General Assembly for the activities to be carried out. We note that this includes personnel from the United Nations Field Staff Union, the Umoja master data management team and other United Nations personnel.
11. Paragraph 27 of the report of the Advisory Committee and Paragraph 58 of the report of the Secretary-General note that the new global structure began effective January 2019, and has created the expansion of the UNLB to cover SPMS, Regional Commissions, OAH and RCO’s in line with the mandate of DOS to support a wide range of Secretariat and Non-Secretariat entities. The Group will seek to understand the origin of the mandate that approved the expansion of the UNLB services to make them Global in nature, even though the Group recalls that in 2017 the name but not the mandate of UNLB was changed to Global Service Center while that of the center in Valencia changed to United Nations Information and Technology Facility Valencia.
12. As has been noted every year without a satisfactory conclusion, our Group will require transparent and desegregated information and data by location on the Geospatial information and telecommunication technology in Brindisi and Valencia.
13. The Advisory Committee also notes that the summary-level information on the revised study and the two business cases as provided in the report do not appear to fully address the Committee’s recommendation for a revised study with more comprehensive information on the implications of deploying the service in two locations or regarding the centralization and remote mission support efforts of the Service and the impact of the Service on mandate delivery, as endorsed by the General Assembly in resolution 70/288, para. 9.
14. The Group further notes that in paragraph 77 and on page 30 of the report the Secretary-General, the activities of the Strategic Air Operations Centre, are highlighted under three main functions, namely exercising global operational control for all out-of-mission flights and providing strategic air support for all clients, exercising global fleet management for the overall United Nations air fleet and providing technical administration for the real-time United Nations global tracking system, strategic air movement of contingent personnel and standby aircraft charter agreement.
15. The Group notes with concern that while the mandate of SAOC is being endorsed to operate at 100% for air operation activities at the UNLB, the Secretary-General indicates that in the case of the Air Operations carried out at the Transport Movement Integrated Control Centre “TMICC” in Entebbe, there is a study being undertaken to define and optimize the collective roles of SOAC in Brindisi, TMICC in Entebbe and the Headquarters and that the findings would be presented in the budget proposal for 2021/2022 period. The Group does not, therefore, understand where the full mandate of SOAC in Brindisi is derived from on air operations and we find this development rather disconcerting.
16. The Group remains ready to engage in a constructive manner on this agenda item in line with the rules and regulations of the General Assembly as well as the relevant resolutions made by the General Assembly.
I thank you