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Remarks by Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Susana Malcorra to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions

9 Feb 2012
Susana Malcorra

Remarks of Ms. Susana Malcorra
Under-Secretary-General for Field Support
Overview of United Nations peacekeeping
9 February 2012

Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Advisory Committee, 

1. It is a pleasure to be with you again this morning. I will take this opportunity to add to the overview of peacekeeping and the work of DPKO just offered by Hervé with some words about the work of my own Department over the past year and our goals for the upcoming financial period.


2. Mr. Chairman, often when we stop to take stock of where we are and where we are going, it’s good to go back to the beginning; to see the goals we set and measure whether we are on the right track. With your permission, I will take a few minutes to look back at the reasons why my Department was established and the goals set for it nearly five years ago.

3. When the General Assembly decided to establish the Department of Field Support in 2007 (GA resolutions 61/256 and 61/279), it intended to meet the need for a dedicated and accountable administrative and logistical enabling support capacity for the Organization’s field missions – both peacekeeping and special political missions.

4. We trust that the series of reports and budgets presented to the Advisory Committee during this spring session will demonstrate the value added over the past nearly five years of positioning mission support as a strategic enabler in the delivery of the full range of political, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding mandates. Despite some remaining challenges in the areas of human resources management and procurement, a 2011 survey of field missions demonstrates sustained improvement in the timely and accountable delivery of integrated and high-quality mission support services.

5. Over this past year, DFS has continued its work at headquarters and in the field on the implementation of the Global Field Support Strategy, moving towards managing field support as a global enterprise with a professional, structured and systematic approach that can adapt easily to a variety of operating environments. I will be presenting the second report on GFSS implementation next week, so I will not go into detail this morning. But, I do want to highlight how these changes impact both how we do business and the bottom line cost of our field missions.

You will see that impact in the overview report, the mission budgets, the support account, and the GSC budget.

Mr. Chairman, 

6. Currently, DFS supports 16 DPKO-led operations (1), 15 peacekeeping operations and one special political mission (UNAMA) that count some 119,000 personnel deployed in the field (2).

7. DFS also supports 14 special political missions (3) led by the Department of Political Affairs with a total budget of $577 million for 2012. This budget represents an overall decrease of 3 per cent from the previous 2011 budgetary period. The increasing size and complexity of special political missions, as well as rising security imperatives, has, in part, affected the cost-effectiveness and affordability of these field operations.

(2) Total: 119, 146 (82,355 troops, 14,306 police, 1,986 Military Observers, and 20,499 civilians).

8. DFS also leads support to the African Union deployment in Somalia (AMISOM), delivering Security Council-mandated logistical support to AU troops. The 2012-2013 budget period reflects the first for UNSOA to provide logistics support, including limited sustainment, for AMISOM’s full deployment of 12,000 troops, including a guard force of 300. 99.9 per cent of the approved budget from the previous budget period was utilized to consolidate and deliver the logistical support package to the full AMISOM deployment. UNSOA’s proposed 2012-2013 budget is $239 million, an 18 per cent decrease over the current budgetary period. This will be impacted by the recent decisions of the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC), and the consideration of the Security Council on the Secretary-General’s Report on the expansion of AMISOM.

9. These decreases in resource requirements across our field operations represent not only our recognition of the serious financial climate we all confront, but the concrete results of our efforts to do business differently: to plan more adequately, to strengthen policy direction and to deliver stronger, integrated guidance and support to mandate delivery; while achieving efficiencies, economies of scale, and improved services. As DPKO and DFS sustain a process of continuous reform, we strive to not only address, but also to anticipate, international peace and security challenges with flexibility and professionalism.

10. As it supports the full spectrum of United Nations field missions, DFS operates in an extremely dynamic global environment. In Abyei, UNISFA will expand its operations to support the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) recently mandated by the Security Council by its resolution 2024, wherever its activities fall within the UNIFSA's area of operations. This expansion will require provision of rations, fuel, accommodation, water and transport support to the JBVMM and the UNIFSA elements collocated with them.

In the meantime, our ability to deliver the required support (from construction to rations) is seriously hampered by the lack of staff on the ground. We are working to find alternatives to overcome these shortcomings.

11. In Southern Sudan, our peacekeepers will have to ensure optimal outreach to communities across the new country, while establishing needed facilities for the Mission. For the Mission to be able to operate effectively, airfield improvements will have to be made throughout Southern Sudan.

12. The situation in Somalia has been characterized by the withdrawal of Al-Shabaab, the consolidation of control by the African Union forces across Mogadishu, and the military operations against Al-Shabaab by the neighbouring countries. This offers new opportunities, but also means operating in a still highly challenging security environment. Despite this highly challenging security environment, DFS – through UNSOA - is meeting its support responsibilities and is effectively serving as a lifeline between Mogadishu and Mombassa. To ensure appropriate delivery and oversight of these services, we have had a team rotating in and out of Mogadishu on a continuous basis. Our support has been mainly affected by the severe security situation in Somalia, coupled with the intensification of UNSOA combat operations and the increased requirement for medical aero-evacuations and services. Meanwhile, we have also seen a shift in the needs of the political mission, UNPOS, with the relocation of SRSG Mahiga and his immediate team into Mogadishu on 24 January 2012. We expect their role inside Somalia to evolve further in 2012.

13. We have also responded to the pressure of supporting numerous electoral processes across our missions. The lack of road infrastructure and mobility hinder peacekeepers’ efforts to adequately support elections, and other functions. The shortage is particularly acute in our operations in Darfur, Southern Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

14. In our support to the launch of the DPA-led mission in Libya, UNSMIL’s support staffing requirements reflect the principles of the Global Field Support Strategy.

For the first time, the Mission’s support footprint in theatre is smaller than the Mission’s programmatic component. We are leveraging capacities at the Global Service Centre to achieve efficiencies, and critical administrative support is being delivered from Brindisi. The Global Service Centre also serves as the staging point for deployment, and is providing ongoing administrative support and logistics coordination, with only a relatively small mission support component deployed to Libya.


Mr. Chairman, 

15. Since the creation of DFS nearly five years ago, we have dedicated our efforts to not only improving our service delivery model, but also proving our value for money. Whether on the subject of the backstopping and financing of special political missions or on the review of SPM or PKO budgets, the deliberations over this past year highlight the serious impact of the global financial situation on the ability of Member States to contribute to and finance our operations. In this coming budget cycle, we will build on the foundation of the first phase of GFSS implementation to realize the benefits of managing globally, and assure Member States that we deliver our mandates with the most reasonable level of resources.

We are deeply engaged in finding disciplined, creative and responsible ways to effectively deliver our mandates with fewer resources.

16. In the meantime, we face the reality of market forces, which includes, but is not limited to, the rising cost of fuel and the increasing costs for commercial air charter arrangements in lieu of military aircraft. These market forces, coupled with a greater scrutiny of mission performance reports, make it imperative that our Departments take a hard look now at how we plan, mount and sustain our field operations.

 17. Budget proposals for 2012-2013 demonstrate proper and genuine restraint, as well as increased cost-effectiveness in operations and programme delivery. Changing resourcing requirements are a significant feature of these budget proposals; as are the ongoing efforts of DPKO and DFS to ensure that budget requirements align with changing mandates and operational circumstances. We have made significant strides in identifying efficiencies and effecting other targeted reductions in resourcing requirements, based on solid planning assumptions and past performance.

18. Excluding UNAMID, peacekeeping operations utilized more than 98% of funding approved for peacekeeping for 2010-2011 towards the implementation of mission mandates. UNAMID's budget performance for the year was characterized by continued uncertainty in its deployment levels and challenging circumstances on the ground. This uncertainty resulted in an under-spend of $225 million, or 12% of its approved budget, skewing the overall yearly budget performance. It is clear that UNAMID presents challenges and requires stronger managerial oversight.

We are focused on addressing these matters.

19. Notwithstanding the increasing costs of the two new missions in Sudan as they reach full deployment, funding requirements for 2012-2013 for ‘continuing’ missions will reduce by 10 per cent on average compared to the funding approved for 2011-2012.

20. I am happy to report that you will see efficiency gains in the budgets coming before you this session in the areas of: rations management, troop and police rotations, ground and air transportation, fuel supply contracts and information and communications technology operations. The overview report will give you background on how these gains have been achieved, beginning on paragraph 77.

21. As Hervé has mentioned, the total proposed resource requirements for peacekeeping operations for the period 1 July 2012 - 30 June 2013, inclusive of the Global Service Centre and the Support Account, are currently estimated at $7.2 billion. This represents a decrease of approximately $614 million, or 7.8 per cent over current levels.

22. Reductions for the 2012-2013 period are proposed in a number of key resourcing areas. Fuel and rations consumption will be reduced by 5 per cent, as will the movement of contingent troops and police. Spare parts acquisitions will be reduced by 30 per cent, and within-mission travel will be reduced by 25 per cent.

Significant reductions have been made compared to the 2011-2012 period for the estimated costs of new vehicles, construction and facilities and infrastructure acquisitions, and the purchase of new ICT equipment. None of this will impact on the ability to deliver on mandates.

23. These are good results, but I know that more can be done.

24. The Department is revising existing policies and practices on the standard requirements for equipment and useful life. And, as the requirements of peacekeeping operations evolve, we are making concerted efforts to ‘right-size’ resources for mandate implementation. Evidence of this approach can be seen, for example, in reductions in budget proposals for MINUSTAH and UNMIT.

Compared to the previous budget period, these proposals show reductions of 19 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively. Just as adequate resourcing is critical in the establishment of a new mission, the Departments equally recognize the need for sustained resource levels in mature missions to be adjusted as mandates are altered and operational circumstances change. We have a close eye on the technical assessment missions and reviews taking place in UNIFIL, UNMIL, MONUSCO, UNAMID, UNOCI, UNMISS and UNAMA with precisely the purpose of ensuring that we are ready and flexible enough to calibrate our mission support plan to the potential changes on the ground.


Mr. Chairman,  

25. While the Advisory Committee will have a separate hearing on the Global Field Support Strategy on 16 February, I want to say a few brief words about the impact GFSS implementation is already having on our field operations. The key tenets of this Strategy and its implementation remain improved service delivery to the field and resource optimization both at DFS headquarters and at the field level. Almost two years into the five-year Strategy implementation, I can already highlight quite a few positive developments.

26. Underpinning the GFSS approach is the delineation of the Department’s role as a strategic mission support headquarters focused on policy development and management oversight, and the movement of operational functions to the optimum location to support the mission and minimize the in-theatre footprint. In so doing, GFSS is lightening the operational footprint of the missions, thereby enhancing the security and safety of its personnel. The emphasis on evolving to a more strategic Headquarters that is focused on management oversight will allow us to better serve field missions in improving their practices, their use of resources and their compliance with rules and regulations while fully serving their mandates.

27. We are achieving economies of scale, in part by locating as many as possible of the mission support functions in the Regional Service Centre or at the Global Service Centre in Brindisi. Building on the successful experience of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, the Secretary-General’s second Progress Report on the GFSS implementation presents the case for the creation of two additional service centres, in West Africa and the Middle East. The delineation of the roles and responsibilities of DFS strategic headquarters, the Global Service Centre and the Regional Service Centre(s) and the field missions being supported will be articulated in clear accountability and reporting lines and conducted through streamlined and improved business processes. By instilling greater standardization across business processes and streamlining decision points, we are achieving better, more reliable and timely service. Again, leveraging our investment in training of DFS, DPKO and DM staff, we are dedicating our existing expertise and expanding our capacity to conduct business process improvements at headquarters and at the Global and Regional Service Centres.

Mr. Chairman, 

28. The implementation of the GFSS depends, in large measure, on the quality of the Secretariat’s global workforce, its capacity to carry out tasks required and continual effort by the Secretariat to improve its practices and procedures. DFS places priority in investing in our greatest resource: its people. Our goal is to employ and retain the best and brightest individuals to serve our Organization.

The human resources reforms approved by the General Assembly in 2009 highlight the importance that the Organization places on those who serve. These harmonized conditions of service have had a positive impact on our workforce.

29. It is worth noting that thirty-nine (39) duty stations were changed from non-family to family duty stations, and the proportion of mission staff assigned to family duty stations has increased from 10 per cent in July 2011 to a current figure of 35%. Nevertheless, a majority of staff in field operations continue to serve in hardship duty stations. I would like to acknowledge the enormous sacrifices of these staff members, as they carry out their very important work in austere environments characterized by volatile security conditions.

30. Because it will have significant impact on our staff serving in the field, we look forward to contributing to the development of a comprehensive mobility policy with the Department of Management that will be presented to the General   Assembly this fall as a framework for professional development and burden sharing for our workforce.


Mr. Chairman, 

31. The vast majority of resources approved for field operations are managed in the field under delegated authority. In response to General Assembly resolution 64/259, DFS and the Department of Management are partnering to strengthen the accountability framework. We continue to draw on lessons learned, experience and expertise across the United Nations system. Our dual goals are to empower decision-makers to make decisions in these very fluid environments, and to hold them accountable for their actions.

32. As we move towards the adoption of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), DFS has taken a proactive stance to enhance accountability.

As a first step in this process, we are introducing this year a Letter of Representation (LoR) in all field operations. These Letters are designed to build a culture of greater accountability and an enhanced assurance that the Organization’s resources are being utilised as intended and in alignment with Departmental strategic goals and existing delegations of authority.

33. Along with the Department of Management, we are investing heavily in the Enterprise Resources Planning project (UMOJA) to ensure its success. We view this initiative and its tools, training and technology as critical enablers for our core business to meet increasing demands under increasing financial pressure. By enhancing accountability, transparency, and internal controls, UMOJA will help to ensure high-quality and cost-effective service delivery anywhere in the world in support of the evolving mandates.

34. Last week, this Committee discussed the Board of Auditor’s report on United Nations peacekeeping for the 2010-2011 period. DFS takes the Board’s findings and recommendations very seriously. I want to confirm my Department’s commitment to ensuring that the Board’s recommendations, as well as the recommendations of all oversight bodies, are fully implemented in a timely manner. We are pleased that the Board has issued – again this year – an unqualified audit, and that it has noted that “improvements continued to be made in 2010/11, and programmes were underway to address the management of assets”.

35. Along with managerial accountability, the principle of strengthened personal accountability remains a fundamental prerequisite in the conduct of all personnel.

The data on our public website puts the trends in the right direction – down. But, these trends are just not enough; allegations relating to rape or sexual relationships with minors remain high, compared to the total number of allegations received.

36. In this regard, Hervé and I agree there is an urgent and pressing need to take additional steps to address misconduct in the field missions, not only by civilian and uniformed peacekeepers, but by all members of the United Nations family and their partners that work alongside us in fragile post conflict societies. We need to supplement the existing framework with sterner measures that will appropriately sanction those civilian and uniformed personnel that commit despicable acts of sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as the senior leaders who repeatedly fail to discharge their duty to enforce the highest standards of conduct among their subordinates and thereby fail the local populations they are duty bound to protect from exposure to any form of prohibited conduct, especially sexual exploitation.

37. To this end, Hervé and I are working with colleagues in the Secretariat, in the United Nations Development Programme and UN Women, and with the champions of reform within the General Assembly to expand the existing framework agreement on conduct and discipline that has served us for the better part of the past decade. I expect to be able to report to the Committee in the next Overview Report the results of these collaborations and the immediate concrete impact that the outcome has had on the incidence of sexual exploitation and abuse in our missions.


In closing, Mr. Chairman, 

38. We trust that the various reports that will come before the Advisory Committee this session give evidence to our sustained and dedicated efforts to deliver proactive, effective and responsive support to all field operations in a highly dynamic operational environment. At the same time, we maintain our focus on the long-term strategic goal of moving toward a global enterprise that delivers high-quality, integrated and cost-effective mission support.

39. You have before you the Secretary-General’s Report on the Overview of the Financing of the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations for the 2012-2013 period.

40. We believe that our requirements for this period respond to the operational realities and budgetary imperatives before us. Extensive effort has been invested in formulating budget proposals to ensure that requirements are “right-sized” across missions.

41. My Department stands ready to respond to any questions or concerns that you may have regarding this Report.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and distinguished Members of the Advisory Committee.