– As delivered –
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Member States of the European Union.
The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Iceland+, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this statement.
I would like to thank Under Secretary General Ms Ameerah Haq, Head of the Department of Field Support, the Controller, Assistant Secretary General, Ms Maria Eugenia Casar, and the Chief of the Human Resources Policy Service, Ms Ruth de Miranda, for introducing the reports of the Secretary General. I would also like to thank the Chair of the ACABQ, Mr Carlos Ruiz Massieu, and the Under Secretary General for Internal Oversight Services, Ms Carman L Lapointe, for introducing their reports.
As we reaffirmed in our statement at the opening of this session on 6 May, the Member States of the European Union strongly support UN peacekeeping – the UN’s flagship activity. We are important contributors financially. We are active supporters and participants in UN-mandated peacekeeping operations and other relevant activities, contributing with troops, civilian police and other personnel. We note that the Secretary General’s proposed budgets for peacekeeping for the period 2013/2014 currently total $7.2bn, a modest decrease compared to the final appropriation for 2012/2013 of $7.324bn, which mainly results from the closing of the UNMIT mission. In addition, this amount is set to rise significantly in view of new or evolving mandates, including in Mali and Abyei. Accordingly, the 2013/2014 peacekeeping budget is likely to reach an historic peak.
This means that strict budgetary discipline will continue to be necessary to ensure that resources are really needed and used as effectively and efficiently as possible, and in the context of the financial pressures all Member States are facing. In this regard, we have noted the downward trend projected for military and police costs and for their share of the total budget in 2013/2014 whereas civilian staff costs are projected to be stable at around $1.7bn. This seems contradictory. We acknowledge that as peacekeeping mandates have become more complex in recent years, the role of civilian personnel has increased and that the more than 20,000 civilian personnel members deployed in peacekeeping are an important part of a truly global secretariat. Nevertheless, as we said last year, it is our opinion that we need closer scrutiny of the civilian component of peacekeeping, including requests for new posts. That is why we tasked the Secretary General a year ago to comprehensively review the civilian staffing requirements of each peacekeeping mission to ensure that the civilian staffing structure is appropriate to effectively implement the current mission mandates. We are therefore deeply disappointed to learn that this comprehensive review has not yet taken place. We expect it to be taken forward as a priority and in the meantime, we will look closely into this aspect of the mission budgets in the informals.
Likewise, we have noted that, despite the steady decrease of military head counts, the operational costs are projected to rise in terms of both requirements and share of the total budget. Transport costs, facilities and infrastructure costs and use of consultants are among the items we will want to look into closely. In doing so, we will be particularly interested in the extent to which efficiency gains have been realised, and how they can continue to be achieved.
We reiterate our continued support for the Global Field Support Strategy and its full implementation. We welcome the close involvement of the membership and relevant United Nations bodies in this process. We see GFSS as an important enabler in making peacekeeping more effective. We encourage the Secretariat to work to ensure that the strategy produces economies of scale and that GFSS proves itself as a “value for money” project which brings strengthened accountability and improved delivery of services on a global and regional basis.
The implementation of UMOJA and IPSAS in parallel with GFSS is important if the latter is to reach its full potential. It is noteworthy therefore, that the roll-out of UMOJA begins in a peacekeeping mission this year and that IPSAS will be also be implemented in PKO budgets, again ahead of the rest of the UN Secretariat. We will take a close interest in developments in both projects.
We share the view of the Secretary General and the ACABQ that one substantiated case of sexual exploitation and abuse is one case too many. We therefore remain concerned about the number of allegations which are reported and at the number of cases involving the most egregious forms of sexual exploitation and abuse. We echo ACABQ’s call for the time taken to investigate allegations to be reduced. We will also want to hear from the Secretariat about further measures or sanctions that can be used to address the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse and what is being done to assist victims.
Finally, Mr Chairman, let me reaffirm our readiness to engage in constructive discussions with all Member States. We look forward to the important negotiations ahead of us.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.
* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
+ Iceland continues to be a member of EFTA and the European Economic Area.