STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MR. RICHARD TUR, SECOND SECRETARY, PERMANENT MISSION OF CUBA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, ON CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES, FOR THE SECOND PART OF THE RESUMED SEVENTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE FIFTH COMMITTEE OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New York, 1 May 2023)
1. I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on agenda item 151: Administrative and Budgetary Aspects of the Financing of the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Cross-cutting issues (SEA, UNMAS, COE and OIOS report), for the second part of the resumed 77th session of the Fifth Committee.
2. The Group appreciates the Secretariat and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions for their efforts towards the timely submission of their respective reports for consideration.
3. We also wish to express our appreciation for the reports of the 2023 Working Group on Contingent-owned Equipment and the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in this context. 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. On another note, the Group welcomes the adoption of the resolution on "Cross-cutting issues" in 2022, after six years. We strongly believe that this resolution is of the utmost importance in guiding the Secretariat and peacekeeping missions on the issues related thereto.
5. 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 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.
6. We also believe that accountability and transparency are of the utmost importance for all activities of the Organization and therefore evaluation and improvements on those should be an ongoing process.
7. On the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), the Group reaffirms its strong commitment to the United Nations' zero-tolerance policy towards SEA. We call for strengthening efforts towards ensuring that the United Nations will not remain silent or passive in the face of reported incidents as well as protecting and supporting victims of SEA through adopting a victim-centered approach.
8. The Group looks forward to examining progress towards adopting a more unified, and robust system-wide approach to SEA. In this regard, we call upon the Secretary-General, in his role as the Chair of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, to ensure synergy of efforts and a clear delineation of the roles of each entity involved, including the standing of the Special Coordinator in the overall sexual exploitation and abuse prevention architecture, so as to avoid the duplication of functions, streamline coordination and harmonize the implementation of his strategy. We will also be interested to examine the efforts undertaken to strengthen accountability with regards to SEA.
9. The Group also considers that there is still an insufficient overview of the system-wide staff resources dedicated to the prevention of SEA and in that context stresses the need for the Secretary-General to include in his next report a comprehensive overview of system-wide resources, so as to optimize administrative and financial arrangements for the continued and coordinated implementation of his strategy.
10. Additional challenges persist, namely in agreeing on the exchange of information on sexual exploitation and abuse allegations within the UN system, developing a system-wide tracking system to monitor assistance and protection to victims and ensuring a safe environment for reporting cases of sexual exploitation and abuse. We look forward to receiving further updates on the progress made in this regard in next reports.
11. On the Triennial review of the rates and standards for reimbursement to Member States for contingent-owned equipment, the Group notes the key outcomes from the 2023 Working Group on Contingent-Owned Equipment and looks forward to discussing this matter during the informal consultations, in particular, the introduction of a new classification methodology for armoured personnel carriers, the inclusion of new major equipment, changes to ammunition policies for effective management, the strengthening of environmental management provisions by simplifying the reimbursement rates for renewable energy, the expansion of the categories of ageing equipment eligible for rotation at United Nations expense, the improvement of deployment timelines by including the phased deployment of contingent-owned equipment and expanding the rapid deployment level base, the inclusion of mental health professionals in the medical facilities, the updates and changes to the COE Manual, among others.
12. The Group also stresses the need to include more information on the quantitative and qualitative benefits related to the recommendations of the Working Group and trusts that such information will continue to be collected and made available in future reports.
13. The Group underlines the need to ensure that demining activities are performed in the most efficient and effective ways possible, leveraging all existing capacities, including in the field, based on lessons learned.
14. We notice that a review was conducted between April and November 2022 on the shortages in the current delivery model and the challenges faced by the Mine Action Service. However, we strongly believe that more information is needed on the cost-effectiveness of the current UNMAS-UNOPS partnership, the alternative approaches to mandate delivery, including direct delivery by the Secretariat, the implementation of partnerships with United Nations entities, international non-governmental organizations or commercial entities, in order to address a most efficient and cost-effective way to deliver mine action services in all settings.
15. The Group also takes note of the negotiations on a new memorandum of understanding to improve clarity on the terms and conditions of the engagement with UNOPS and notices it is expected to be finalized by the second quarter of 2023. We look forward to receiving updated information on the status and content of this new memorandum during this session.
16. We also encourage the Secretary-General to strengthen efforts to improve geographical representation within Mine Action Service and look forward to obtaining further information on this matter in the next overview report on peacekeeping operations.
17. The Group notes that, in 2022, OIOS issued 68 internal audit and evaluation reports containing 312 recommendations relating to peace operations. A total of 194 recommendations were closed during 2022, a decrease compared with 2021.
18. Of the 503 audit and evaluation recommendations issued to peace operations (including in prior years) that were open at the end of 2022, 146 (29 per cent) had been open for between 12 and 24 months, while 81 (16 per cent) had been open for more than 24 months. The Group trusts that OIOS will continue to work closely with the entities to remedy the causes of slow implementation.
19. The Group of 77 and China will carefully consider the cross-cutting issues related to peacekeeping operations. We reiterate the importance of responsible implementation by the Secretariat through financial discipline and adherence to delivery of mandates laid down in relevant resolutions. 22. The Group stands ready to engage constructively with all member States with a view to concluding this agenda item successfully in a timely manner.
I thank you.