STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MS. MEGAYLA AUSTIN, MINISTER COUNSELLOR OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF THE COOPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, ON AGENDA ITEM 141: PROGRAMME BUDGET 2021: REVIEW OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS PEACE AND SECURITY PILLAR REFORM, AT THE FIFTH COMMITTEE DURING THE MAIN PART OF THE SEVENTY-FIFTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New York, 18 November 2020)
1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on agenda item 141: programme budget 2021: review of the implementation of the United Nations peace and security pillar reform.
2. The Group of 77 and China would like to thank the Under-Secretary-General, Mrs. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, United Nations Chef de Cabinet, for introducing the report of the Secretary General (A/75/202). The Group also wishes to thank Mr. Abdallah Bachar Bong, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), for the introduction of his report (A/75/596).
3.The Group attaches paramount importance to the Secretary General's reforms, especially to the restructuring of the peace and security pillar whose overarching goals are to prioritise prevention and sustaining peace; enhance the effectiveness and coherence of peacekeeping operations and special political missions; make the pillar more coherent, nimble and effective through a whole-of-pillar approach and in line with the Charter of the United Nations.
4. The Group notes that the progress achieved so far in the implementation of the reform of the pillar and recognises the approach of the Under-Secretaries-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, of working jointly so as to monitor progress and take corrective measures as needed to address difficulties encountered in the implementation of the reform.
5. Furthermore, the Group notes that the two departments are operating on the ground with a single political-operational structure with regional responsibilities for the management of all political and operational peace and security activities and looks forward to reviewing whether this structure is performing in accordance with resolution 72/262C, including the effectiveness of the reporting lines and the impact of the important work of the Peacebuilding Support Office. It is noted that the two Departments work closely with the development pillar, including through the peacebuilding architecture and its role as the "hinge" to the other United Nations pillars. With the recent creation of the Development Coordination Office, we strongly believe that this single political-operational structure should be strengthened to continue to play its corresponding role in the provision of advice and support to Resident Coordinators and country teams, contributing to the realization of nationally-defined priorities.
6. The Group believes that a balanced approach to the different UN thematic pillars underpins our political commitment to peacebuilding. Whereas we recognize the interdependence of the three pillars, we should also acknowledge the intrinsic value and specific mandates of each one of them. The cooperation among thematic fora, as well as among different types of UN presence in the field, must continue to observe a rational division of labor, based on their specific political mandates.
7. The Group will follow up on the efforts by the Secretariat to produce evidence of the complex and interdependent set of reforms, including through the establishment of a benefits tracking system to ensure transparent delivery against the overarching objectives of all three tracks of the Secretary General's reform agenda.
8. We note that nine case studies are listed in the Secretary-General's report, including the priority of prevention and sustaining peace in Burkina Faso; the needs-based peacekeeping operations focused on political processes in the Central African Republic; the systematic adoption of a holistic approach to the pillar in Mali and Papua New Guinea, and the increased impact of the Peacebuilding Commission. Though important, we also note these examples are already reflected in the proposed Programme Budget for 2021, where some of the related programme narratives have received recommendations from the Committee on Programme and Coordination.
9. The Group notes with concern the overloading of some key offices in the new structure, such as the Executive Office of the Department of Political Affairs and Peacebuilding, the Department of Peace Operations, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, whose responsibilities and workload have increased significantly.
10. The Group is of the view that this situation needs to be examined very carefully and with a view to adopting the necessary corrective measures.
11. Furthermore, in a recent evaluation (IED/20/001), the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) noted the existence of inconsistent instructions and redundant procedures between the two Departments. We hope that the SG's demand to the two Departments to review the role of the Office of the Director of Coordination and Shared Services, to which the Executive Office reports, in relation to the roles of their management teams, will be acted upon as soon as possible.
12. The Group also stresses the importance of fully taking into account the areas for improvement in the implementation of the peace and security reform that have been identified by the board of auditors in its report on the financial statements of the United Nations for the year ended 31 December 2019 such as planning and implementation of the reform; change management; revitalization of the Peacebuilding Support Office; and financing the Peacebuilding Fund.
13. The group echoes the concerns raised by the Advisory Committee concerning the end-date of the reform process and in that regard, we will request more clarity on the completion period of the peace and security reform activities as well as on the type of mechanism to be introduced for continuous improvement.
14. The Group will engage to seek updated information on the impact of the reform, particularly the results obtained in terms of improved effectiveness and coherence.
15. In conclusion, the Group of 77 and China would like to assure you of its continued commitment to working constructively with all delegations on this agenda item in order to reach a positive outcome in a timely manner.