Welcome to the United Nations

Remarks by Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Susana Malcorra to the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations

21 Feb 2012
Susana Malcorra

Remarks of Ms. Susana Malcorra
Under-Secretary-General for Field Support
Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations
21 February 2012

Madam Chair, Distinguished Members of the Committee,

1. It is a pleasure to be with you again this morning and it is the fourth time I have had the pleasure of addressing this Committee. 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 the Department of Field Support (DFS) over the past year and to outline our challenges and goals for the coming year.

Let me start by concentrating on operational issues

2. Currently, DFS supports 16 DPKO-led operations -- this includes 15 peacekeeping operations and one special political mission (UNAMA) that count with around 119,000 personnel deployed in the field. DFS also supports 15 special political missions led by the Department of Political Affairs.

The Department also leads support to the African Union deployment in Somalia (AMISOM), delivering Security Council-mandated logistical support to the African Union troops. DFS also supports the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS).

3. In Somalia, the situation 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 dangerous environment.  Despite this, DFS – through UNSOA - is meeting its responsibilities to support the African Union 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 AMISOM 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 as the Security Council considers further steps.

4. As it supports the full spectrum of United Nations peace and security operations, DFS operates in an extremely dynamic global environment. In Abyei, the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) has been mandated by Security Council resolution 2024 to expand its operations to support the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM), wherever its activities fall within the UNIFSA's area of operations, entailing provision of support to this mechanism and the UNIFSA elements collocated with them, including life support critical enablers such as water, rations, fuel, accommodation, and transport.

5. In Southern Sudan, the timely establishment of UNMISS concurrently with the liquidation of UNMIS is a dramatic illustration of the effectiveness and adaptability inherent in the Global Field Support Strategy. The application of the standardized funding model, the utilization of the first modules designed for the 200-person camp and the ability to use the capacity of the Regional Service Centre at Entebbe (RSC-E) as a bridging mechanism to provide critical functional support during the start-up of UNMISS (as well as UNISFA), which permitted a light footprint on the ground in the mission area, are examples of the potential of the new service delivery model that we are implementing.  6. Similarly, in order to expedite the launch of the DPA-led mission in Libya, the Department maximized the utilization of the Global Service Centre in Brindisi as the “Support HQ’s” for the new Mission. This approach allowed for SRSG Ian Martin and a small team to be operational in Tripoli within a few days of the adoption the Security Council Resolution. The deployment was achieved minimizing the mission footprint in a manner that prioritized substantive programmatic mission components and made optimal use of mission support personnel for punctual, targeted and optimally phased support to the Mission.

7. We have also responded to the pressure of supporting numerous electoral processes across United Nations missions. The various challenges, such as 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.

Madam Chair, Members of the Committee

8. In order to effectively support peacekeeping operations in the implementation of their mandates, enabling capabilities are essential. We are all painfully aware of the continuing shortage of key assets across our missions, and the impact this has on our ability to implement our mandates, particularly in volatile areas such as Eastern DRC, South Sudan and Darfur. Hervé just mentioned the gap of 44 military helicopters. Let me briefly touch on efforts being made to address this gap.

9. First, we need to make contribution of military helicopters more appealing to TCCs. Therefore, in close consultation with them – with you -- we are piloting changes to the reimbursement structure of Letters of Assist to ensure that its provisions directly relate to real-time costs and properly compensate contributors for the services rendered. Secondly, we need to carefully consider whether military helicopters are in all instances the only possible tool for the job. In this light, the  Office of Military Affairs conducts regular Mission Capability Studies to review force requirements. At the same time, DFS actively considers alternatives, such as civilian helicopters or fixed wing aircraft. Thirdly, we need to further optimize the use of available helicopters and we are thus seeking the acquisition of an integrated information technology system, and Hervé referred to a part of this in his statement, which will not only increase operational efficiency, but could also result in significant cost-savings. And fourthly, we should increase intermission cooperation and consider innovative solutions such as regionalizing not just part of our civilian fleet, but our military assets as well and this is something to be further discussed and developed.

10. In addition to ensuring strong support services, we must also ensure that the resources we do have for peacekeeping are directed where they are needed most. As the requirements of peacekeeping operations evolve, we are making concerted efforts to ‘right-size’ resources for full mandate implementation. Adequate resourcing is critical in the establishment of a new mission. The Departments also recognize the need for sustained resource levels in mature missions to be adjusted as mandates are altered and operational circumstances change, and as national staff capacities are strengthened. 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.


Madam Chair, Distinguished Delegates

11. I want to also say a few brief words on the important issue of Death and Disability. As directed by the General Assembly, the Secretariat endeavors to settle all cases within the prescribed three-month period, except for cases where a longer period is required to determine the degree of permanent disability. In this regard, I am pleased to inform Member States that death claims submitted with full documentation are routinely paid within two months.  12. I also recognize the importance that the Committee and Member States attach to the issue of rates of reimbursement for troop costs. DFS and DM, continue their efforts to support Member states in responding to the baseline troop costs survey, in accordance with the General Assembly resolution 63/285 and we remain available to assist Member States with any technical questions regarding the survey. The Department is also extending its support, in collaboration with DM to the Senior Advisory Group, established pursuant to resolution 65/289, as appropriate.

Let me now talk about the overall efforts to improve support to the field on a global perspective:  

13. 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. 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.

14. Concretely the GFSS is focused on improving service delivery to the field as its primary objective. Results are detailed in the Secretary-General’s second progress report on the implementation of the GFSS (A/66/591). Through this change management programme, DFS is working with its Secretariat implementing partners, namely Departments of Peacekeeping, Political Affairs and Department of Management to strengthen policy frameworks and implementation and to deliver comprehensive support to missions’ mandate delivery. This process of professionalization, benchmarking and setting service delivery targets has begun to evidence improvements in services and efficiencies.

15. The Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the GFSS describes the key achievements in this regard. These successes are the base upon which DFS will  continue to implement the service delivery model endorsed by the General Assembly.

This model calls for a DFS Headquarters focused on interaction with Member States and other Secretariat Departments to ensure that transformations for service improvement focus on Member States’ priorities and are fully coordinated within the Secretariat. To enable the DFS Headquarters to fulfill this role, the Global Service Centre is assuming the operational and transactional service delivery activities, in particular as they relate to global assets management, integrated support to the field and design and implementation of the modularization programme. Many of you have seen with your own eyes our work in Brindisi.

16. In addition, the model relies on the implementation of Regional Service Centres, owned, staffed and managed by the missions, to reduce the missions’ footprint of support staff, to improve quality of services to the field, and to simplify and standardize support processes.

17. This service delivery articulates clear lines of responsibility, authority and accountability while streamlining and improving our business processes. By increasing standardization across our business processes, we are achieving better, more reliable and more-timely service.

18. As I have indicated to the Fourth Committee last October, building on the successful experience of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, the SecretaryGeneral’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.

19. I want to thank this Committee once again for its insights, which continue to inform the Global Field Support Strategy. The bi-monthly briefings to the C-34 have provided opportunities for regular consultation and vital feedback throughout the development and implementation of the Strategy. Your continued engagement will be very important for us in further refining that vision and in implementing that vision.  


Madam Chair, Distinguished Delegates

20. 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 in the field. 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.

21. 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 prior to July 2011 to 30 percent.

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.

22. 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.


Madam Chair and Members of the Committee

23. 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. As Hervé has mentioned, our dual goals are to empower decision-makers to make decisions in these very fluid environments, and to hold them accountable for their actions.

24. As we move towards the adoption of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), DFS has taken a proactive stance to enhance financial accountability. As a first step in this process, I am introducing this year the requirement for the heads of the mission support elements in each mission to submit a Letter of Representation (LoR) to me within two months of the closure of their financial accounts. These Letters are an Internal control measure that is designed to build a strong culture of accountability among those who I and Under-SecretaryGeneral for Management entrust with the management of the Organization’s financial, human, physical and information and communication (ICT) resources. Over time, these Letters also will increase the credibility of the reports that the organization makes under IPSAS.

25. The principle of strengthened personal accountability remains a fundamental prerequisite in the conduct of all personnel. The data on our public website shows that the rate of incidence of misconduct is moving in the right direction – down. But, encouraging trends are not enough; allegations of rape and sexual relationships with minors continue and constitute a discouragingly high proportion of the total number of allegations received. Zero tolerance is not enough; we want zero incidents, particularly incidents of the most egregious nature.

26. Thus we will continue to press for training, pre-deployment awareness and every aspect of prevention. Nevertheless, the present framework of sanctions should be supplemented with additional measures that will create a range of progressively more severe penalties applicable both to individual perpetrators and to groups that have, through their acts and omissions, either abetted or condoned sexual exploitation and abuse within their community. This requires the articulation of unambiguous  standards of conduct and the establishment of sanctions for failures in leadership and group toleration of prohibited conduct.

27. We will, of course, be further consulting with Member States on these issues. I know that I speak for Hervé, and all of my colleagues, when I say that we are absolutely determined to do all in our power to put an end to these breaches in conduct and – with the support and collaboration of member states - to be able to take prompt and effective action to address misconduct. I trust that the combined efforts and the impact of initiatives under this Framework will further emphasize that our responsibilities to serve and protect cannot be compromised and that the UN does not hesitate to take any and all measures necessary to ensure that the trust of those we serve is not compromised.


In closing, Madam Chair,

28. I want to pay tribute to the 113 peacekeepers that lost their lives in the last year. I cannot but emphasize that this is another clear sign of how difficult it is the environment where we operate. Our daily work must always bear in mind the lost ones and their families for the sacrifice to the cause of Peace.

29. We trust that sustained and dedicated efforts to deliver proactive, effective and responsive support to all field operations in a highly dynamic operational environment have been recognized by our missions. 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 without compromising the Missions’ ability to deliver on their Mandates. Our success is hinging upon the degree of support and cooperation we get from Member States, in particular host countries where our missions serve. Working together, we can make a difference to the people who look to us with anticipation and hope for a better, peaceful future.

I thank you.