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

19 Feb 2013

Statement by 
Under-Secretary-General for Field Support 
Ameerah Haq 
2013 Substantive Session of the C34
19 February 2013

Madame Chair, Distinguished Delegates, 

It is a pleasure to appear before you today, together with the UnderSecretary-General for Peacekeeping, Hervé Ladsous, at the outset of the C34’s substantive session. This Committee provides the Department of Field Support with invaluable direction and advice in its continuing efforts to deliver the highest standard of support to our field operations. We share with you common goals: to ensure the safety, security and well-being of our personnel, to reach ever higher levels of effectiveness in our operations, and to safeguard the resources entrusted to us by the membership.

Indeed, partnership is fundamental to the credibility, legitimacy and effectiveness of peacekeeping. It involves all actors – not only contributing countries, the Security Council and the Secretariat here in New York, but relevant stakeholders on the ground, including national authorities. Trust, respect and mutual confidence among these actors enhance peacekeeping’s effectiveness. Where these pre-requisites are unfulfilled, peacekeeping cannot achieve its goals.

Since my appointment as Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, I have concentrated on the ambitious reform agendas of DFS and of the Organization as a whole. As one who has served in peacekeeping missions for the past decade, I believe firmly in the goal of improving support to our operations— in terms of quality and in terms of cost-effectiveness- so that peacekeepers can focus on implementing their mandate and addressing the needs of conflict-affected communities. Like the Member States we serve, we in the Secretariat must seek the efficiencies demanded by the current financial climate. Improving our support to the field necessarily means making better use of human and financial resources through economies of scale, specialization, and a clearer division of labour among the key actors in mission support.

Hervé has spoken on an important issue that I would also like to emphasize and to which I attach the highest importance - the safety and security of the men and women working in peacekeeping operations. Having served in countries and situations where attacks against peacekeepers were not uncommon, this is an issue very close to our hearts. I know first hand the difficult conditions in which our troops and civilian personnel serve. We are committed to doing the utmost for their safety, security and welfare. Your deliberations offer an opportunity for all of us to pay tribute to those who have paid the ultimate price while serving in UN peace operations.

The work of the Senior Advisory Group on rates of reimbursement to troop contributing countries and related issues has also demonstrated the value of working in partnership to address important and complex issues. The report of the SAG, currently before the ACABQ and then the Fifth Committee, represents the best opportunity in over a generation for the Membership of the United Nations to come  together to find a way forward on an issue that has proven divisive and difficult. The report of the SAG serves as a good basis for Member States to consider how to further develop and strengthen peacekeeping as a global public good.

Today, I would like to update you on how my Department, in close cooperation with Hervé and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, is working to reach this vision. I will focus on four broad areas: our efforts to implement the Global Field Support Strategy; issues pertaining to peacekeeping personnel; strengthening accountability, and; securing critical capabilities in field operations.

The Global Field Support Strategy – GFSS – provides the strategic backdrop for my department. GFSS is about supporting UN peace operations in a more timely manner, with high quality support. It is about utilizing resources with a greater appreciation of its strategic function. It is about believing, indeed knowing, that we can do more to raise the standards for the UN’s efforts in peacekeeping.

The Secretary-General’s third progress report on the implementation of the GFSS outlined the Strategy’s End-State vision, which envisages improved support with fewer redundancies and bottlenecks. Achieving the End State requires each level of service provision – from Headquarters, to the Global and Regional Service Centres, and to the mission level – to fulfil specific and complementary roles. I would like to reiterate a point I have made on earlier occasions, that the articulation of the End State according to these four levels integrates the earlier pillars of the GFSS, namely, human resources, finance, supply modularization, and the service centres. It is part of an attempt to mobilize our efforts around a shared vision that is easily understood by all, that clarifies in no uncertain terms how our workflows will differ from the past.

GFSS represents a step forward in developing the spirit of partnership of the New Horizon initiative through regular, transparent and substantive communication between the Secretariat and you, the Member States. Managing this ongoing dialogue will continue to be the priority function of DFS Headquarters, as will the provision of strategic guidance, planning and policy direction for field support activities, and monitoring and oversight of global services and resources.

During the past year, we have made a concerted effort to develop and improve the functioning of the Global and Regional Service Centres. By consolidating the global management of the supply chain and processing transactions closer to the field we achieve several benefits. Missions will no longer have to perform transactional tasks that do not need to be executed in-country – these will now be centralized in less volatile and costly locations. At the same time, Headquarters can focus on strategic guidance and interface with Member States and other partners.

This year, the Global Service Centre in Brindisi has successfully supported the testing and roll-out of pre-defined modular service packages to the UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) in Mogadishu. The Global Service Centre has deployed some 100 mission support personnel to meet a range of logistics, administrative and ICT requirements in 12 missions. When I visited the three modular camps in Somalia in November, I saw for myself the impressive work that had been accomplished in operationalizing the modular approach  With your support, in the year ahead, we intend to build on this experience to further refine and test the modules that have been developed. This approach will be aligned with the holistic global supply chain management concept that is integral to the GFSS. Together, these initiatives will enable DFS to more efficiently manage the entirety of logistical support needs of missions.   Peacekeepers drive everything we do and will remain our number one client group. We are also able to meet challenges of supporting other field presences. In the past year, the Global Service Centre has continued to provide essential back-office support to the Special Political Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

I have also witnessed first-hand progress in the integration and standardization of non-location-dependent administrative functions; these include transactional human resources, finance, transport, and Information and Communication Technology roles. This includes vital rotation and deployment support to Troop and Police Contributing Countries operating in some of the largest and most complex peacekeeping missions in Africa through the Transportation and Movements Integrated Control Centre (TMICC) at the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe.

I understand that the paragraphs on developing strong United Nations field support arrangements in the Special Committee’s report will not be renegotiated this year. Of course, this does not mean that our work is on hold. Quite the contrary, the year ahead is a crucial one as we move into year four of the GFSS five-year implementation plan. We will continue to engage with Member States and seek cooperation and guidance, including through our quarterly briefings.

Let me turn now to changes that are taking place in the ways in which we recruit, deploy, and manage our civilian staff; the women and men – recruited locally and internationally – that make up DPKO and DFS personnel in the field.

GA resolution 66/264 of July 2012 requested the Secretariat to conduct a comprehensive review of the civilian staffing requirements of peacekeeping missions. This resolution called for particular attention to the feasibility of nationalizing some Field Service posts and improving the ratio of substantive to support staff. The objective is to ensure that all mission civilian staffing structures are appropriate to mandate implementation and reflect best practices.

Accordingly, a comprehensive review of staffing structures is underway to streamlining processes to permit more efficient service delivery. This review will take into account GFSS efficiency gains already achieved as well as opportunities and demands created by the roll out of Umoja and IPSAS. It will also look at the feasibility of enhancing the role of national staff in implementing mission mandates, and the potential to enhance activities that contribute to building national staff capacity.

While on the issue of staffing, let me turn to the subject of representation of TCCs and PCCs in the Secretariat and in the field. In various resolutions, the General Assembly has identified the need to ensure the proper representation of troopcontributing countries in civilian peacekeeping structures. Various attempts to deliver on the General Assembly’s request have been made, with some progress.

Nonetheless, we fully acknowledge that there is still a need to do more, especially at Headquarters. For the field, as you have been briefed we have recently launched an outreach initiative, in consultation with OHRM, aimed at communicating opportunities to attract more nationals from TCCs and PCCs into civilian roles. Over the coming year, we will liaise with you also in an effort to improve our geographic representation, with a focus on TCCs and PCCs at Headquarters.

Assessing our current staffing also requires us to address the challenge of improving the recruitment and retention of women in peacekeeping – an important issue that has come up during exchanges with the Committee. Increasing the number of women in peacekeeping remains a challenge: currently only 29 per cent of  international and 17 per cent of national civilian field staff are women. Despite our efforts, these statistics have remained largely unchanged for several years. At the most senior levels – that is to say, D2, ASG and USG – the situation is even more disappointing. As of December 2012 only 10 per cent of these positions were encumbered by women, a two per cent drop from the previous year. We need to understand why this is happening and take measures to counteract this trend.

On 2 January the Department of Field Support, with the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Political Affairs, launched the “Bridging the Gender Gap in Peace Operations” initiative. The twelve-month project, chaired by Hervé and generously funded by the Government of Norway, focuses on improving women’s participation in our field operations through targeted roster recruitment, adjusting our measures to retain and promote women and taking the necessary measures to address organizational and cultural issues. The initiative addresses factors that affect both national and international staff.

To fill the current gap of female UN Police in Francophone field missions, the Police Division is launching a project that aims to deploy one hundred Francophone female police officers within two years, as well as to increase the number of female police peacekeepers available for deployment more generally. This year, a first allfemale Selection Assistance and Assessment Team (SAAT) is scheduled to take place, with generous support from the US Government.

Madame Chair, as the Secretary-General has highlighted in his reports to the General Assembly on the topic, accountability is an organization-wide concept that spans financial, managerial and personal responsibilities.

The implementation of GFSS, IPSAS and Umoja will provide DFS and DPKO with common data sources that will improve the ability of senior management and Member States to monitor financial performance at all levels of the Organization.

Together, the reforms under way will help us to strengthen performance management.

Key performance indicators will make it possible to systematically track and report progress in the implementation of the framework.

We have made progress to strengthen managerial, command and individual accountability for the conduct and discipline of our personnel. You are likely familiar by now with the Integrated Conduct and Discipline Framework and its ongoing implementation under its strategic pillars of integration of roles and responsibilities; capacity-building; outreach, including information dissemination and communication; and performance-based accountability.

Among key efforts associated with this framework are the strengthening of existing support delivery models in order to better use our regional capacities and streamline the prioritization of cases. This will ensure timeliness of response and review of cases for referral upwards for Organisation or Member State actions.

Our priorities include continuing to define effective preventive measures, pursuing a comprehensive training strategy at the pre-deployment and induction stages, ensuring that mechanisms for reporting misconduct are established and functioning in all mission areas, taking action to have all allegations of misconduct promptly investigated and acted upon, and supporting victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.

In 2012, a total of 60 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse were reported, down from 74 allegations reported in 2011. Still, the percentage of those  allegations involving the most egregious forms of sexual exploitation and abuse remains high and, therefore, extremely concerning.

I join the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping in his statement that just one incident of sexual exploitation and abuse by our personnel overshadows the exemplary behaviour of most peacekeepers. Misconduct destroys the confidence in, and support for, the work we do, in particular because such incidents involve the very population we are mandated to protect. We in the Secretariat and in TCCs and PCCs must continue to strengthen accountability for prevention, enforcement and response including criminal accountability where warranted - and in accordance with national laws. Victim assistance must also remain a priority.

I would like to highlight the importance of the decision by the SecretaryGeneral’s Policy Committee in December to adopt a Policy on Human Rights Screening of United Nations Personnel. The Policy reinforces our efforts to ensure that all United Nations personnel – uniformed or civilian, national or international – conform to the highest standards of efficiency, competence and, most of all, integrity, as stipulated in Article 101 of the United Nations Charter.

As past cases have shown, the human rights records of the individuals who enter the service of the United Nations can reflect directly on the organization itself. It is of the utmost importance for the credibility and reputation of the United Nations, and for the effectiveness of its work, that UN personnel be seen to embody the highest standards of human rights.

Under the policy, Member States will affirm that their personnel have not been the subject of prior allegations of violations of human rights and humanitarian law or criminal offences. The policy is about protecting the integrity of the United Nations by ensuring that the Organization fulfils its obligations under international law and the UN Charter. The role of troop and police contributing countries in support of this policy will be critical.

We also feel that it is the duty of the United Nations and its personnel to adopt responsible practices towards the host country's environment. Responsible environmental management is key to sustainable transition and therefore key to the effectiveness of peacekeeping. We are working closely with our partners, in particular the United Nations Environment Programme, to help us to better implement the DPKO/DFS Environmental policy in UN field missions.

Finally, Madame Chair, I would like to touch briefly on the ongoing DFS and DPKO efforts to ensure that our missions are provided with the capabilities essential to successful peacekeeping operations. We cannot – and should not – expect personnel to deploy with less than what they require to do their job.

Military helicopters are among the most important capacities for field operations. I know that the distinguished delegates to the C34 are well aware of the criticality of military helicopters to the implementation of peacekeeping mandates.

They are critical to force protection and sustainment, protection of civilians, support to elections, efforts to stem the activities of spoilers and for MEDEVAC and CASEVAC. Where these assets are lacking, our Missions are sorely pressed to deliver on their mandates, and the safety and security of peacekeepers and the population alike are put into jeopardy.

As Hervé has mentioned, we can report progress in narrowing the gap in helicopters, both through updating of force requirements following military capability  studies and through efforts to improve incentives to contribute helicopters. DPKO and DFS have worked together to achieve these results. Nonetheless, a gap of helicopters remains across three missions, with several commitments in the pipeline. We continue to seek creative solutions, but need the continued support of Member States in this effort.

As we move towards an ever-more professionalized, systematized and consistent approach to peacekeeping capabilities, DFS has been working closely with DPKO to develop capability standards, particularly for military medical support.

These standards will help guarantee certain minimum levels of service which will benefit all peacekeepers in the field. We are now looking at how this approach might be applied to other capabilities.

Looking ahead to the year before us, Madame Chair, I conclude where I began today: DFS will continue to be guided by its highest priority – providing top quality support to the field, even in the context of diminishing resources. The nature of conflicts facing the UN today requires missions with more agility, nimbleness at start-up, and greater capacity to respond to changing environments. As we enter the “homestretch” of GFSS implementation, the Department of Field Support – in close partnership with Hervé - is redoubling its efforts to provide the type of support necessary to enable these missions to serve the interests of peace.

We look ahead to a very challenging year for United Nations peace and security missions. The coming months will demand considerable efforts to support new operations in Mali, should the Security Council direct us accordingly. We will also continue to provide consistent, speedy and effective support to our existing operations, including those with evolving needs, such as in Somalia, DRC and South Sudan. These processes will be exacting for our changing systems. Be assured that we will make every effort to learn and apply lessons from the past.

In closing Madame Chair, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the distinguished delegates of the C34 for the support you have shown me in this first year of my tenure as the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, and for the continued support you have provided for the implementation of the GFSS and the many other initiatives underway in the Department. We will continue to report regularly on our progress and I look forward to our dialogue.

Thank you.