Statement of ASG Ms. Jane Holl Lute,
Officer-in-Charge of the Department of Field Support,
to the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations
Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, it is my pleasure to come before you this morning as the Officer-in-Charge of the Department of Field Support, a department that considers itself an integral member of the “Peacekeeping Group” in association with and under the leadership of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
I will give you an update on where we stand with regard to the establishment of the Department of Field Support, in crafting our identity as a member of the Peacekeeping Group and share with you some of the early lessons that we have learned from restructuring. I will touch briefly on some of the reforms in human resources management, issues of national staff, and welfare. I will discuss conduct and discipline, procurement, communications and other enabling activities in the field, as well as important initiatives underway in the area of risk management, environmental impact, recruitment innovations, and relocation.
Growth and complexity of UN peacekeeping
Peacekeeping has grown enormously over the past number of years. When I started in peacekeeping in 2003, we had a budget of approximately $2.5 billion. The budget today is $6.6 billion and may exceed $7 billion in the coming period. In 2003, we had over 10,000 civilian staff in the field. Today we have over 27,000 authorized civilian posts. In addition, the Department of Field Support supports nearly 2,500 posts and budgets totaling $250 million in Special Political Missions. The peacekeeping budget is now more than three times the size of the regular budget of the entire Secretariat.
In logistics matters alone, the increases over the previous fiscal year have been significant. There is a 25% increase in our aircraft fleet; a 40% increase in engineering systems in place; and a 20% increase in the use of the strategic deployment stocks, which are essential to mission start-ups. Indeed, in the past eighteen months alone, we have newly started or significantly expanded five missions. There has been an 18% increase in satellite communication links, a 25% increase in the use of computer technology and email, and an overall increase of 20% in our reliance on communications and IT assets in the field.
Peacekeeping as a core activity of this organization depends, critically, on the strategic enabling capabilities provided by mission support. We are pleased and proud to be peacekeeping partners with our colleagues in DPKO, and with the military, police and the substantive areas on the ground.
The simultaneity and high tempo of operations has presented challenges to us across the board. You have expected that we rapidly deploy and retain high quality personnel for the field at all levels. You have expected that we provide timely and reliable logistical support across the full spectrum of operations – for supplies, for food, for water, for transportation by road and by air, and the key enabling capabilities in engineering, medical and other important support functions. You have expected that we rapidly establish and maintain continuous and reliable voice, data and, wherever possible, video communications and connectivity to our operations in the field. We have had to provide comprehensible and reliable information on resource requirements, and report accurately on their use in performance reports. You have expected that we provide reliable input to planning and support structures for operational and strategic decision-making in missions in which events continuously unfold dynamically. And you have expected to be kept constantly, reliably and accurately informed.
While we have conducted these activities in the field, we have restructured the Department and the Organization’s approach to peace operations in the field. We have learned a lot from this process and have made significant progress. We have made good progress in recruiting against the new posts that we have been given to strengthen the Department of Field Support, and we expect selections for all these posts will have been made by 1 July of this year. We have worked to firmly establish our identity within the Peacekeeping Group. Since the establishment of the Department of Field Support, DPKO and DFS have worked seamlessly to establish the IOTs, to establish work processes; and to adjust and update the Administrative Instructions that will guide these two Departments. The Department of Field Support has made special efforts to reach out to the Troop Contributing Countries. I have personally made outreach visits to four of the top five TCCs, and will complete visiting all top five TCCs before the one year mark of DFS’ establishment. We have had dialogue with many of you directly, which highlights the importance that the Department of Field Support attaches to its relationship with Troop and Police Contributing Countries as key constituencies that this Department is designed to support.
What have we learned so far about the restructuring? What have been the early wins or early achievements? The establishment of the Department of Field Support has elevated the profile of support functions and issues and has raised the level of engagement of Member States on these issues. There is a growing realization amongst Member States that support functions are not merely services to be provided but that they are strategic enablers essential to the success of any mission – if the support does not succeed, the mission will not succeed. It is clear that Member States now have a greater understanding of the efforts that go into ensuring that support succeeds. This in turn has meant that the standards have been raised, and in turn again that our performance has been raised. I thank you for your support and interest, and we count on your continued support for the important initiatives and ongoing processes such as human resources management reforms, the provision of welfare and recreation and conduct and discipline.
Over the past eight months, the Department of Field Support has worked to orient its emphasis on meeting field needs in the field, wherever possible. We have improved follow-up and feedback, reduced decision-making time, highlighted gaps sooner, and offered solutions quicker, at increased senior level engagement to identify problems, solve them and keep the machinery in the field moving. As a result, we can already see better operational integration of support issues and better incorporation of operational requirements in our support planning.
Among the initiatives that we have been working on at Headquarters are the strengthening of the Joint Logistics Operations Centers and deploying more rapidly and more frequently personnel Tiger Teams and finance Abacus Teams to support personnel recruitment and budget preparation in the field. We have also worked to clarify our business designs and approaches to start-up, risk management and the use of our most precious resources – our personnel in the field.
Human resources management
In this regard, Member States are currently considering a series of human resources management reform proposals. These are designed to deal with the persistently high vacancy rates, the persistently high turn-over rates, our relatively inexperienced staff and the increased competition that we face with other international agencies in recruiting and retaining the very best quality of staff to work in our operations. We have, I reiterate, over 27,000 authorized posts in the field. The average peacekeeper is 46 years old. Nearly 60% of all international civilian staff are professionals. Forty per cent are in the technical category. Of all civilian staff in the field, only 288 individuals have career peacekeeping appointments. All others operate on the basis of short term contracts; 88% have contracts of one year or less. Forty-four per cent of our staff in the field has less than one year, and nearly 60% of our staff in the field has fewer than two years of experience in peacekeeping.
It is time that we address these issues if we are to recruit and retain the highest quality people. We believe that the human resources management proposals currently before the Committees do that in an important way. They seek to streamline contract procedures and improve conditions of service, an element of which is necessary if we are going to make progress on Resolution 1325 and increase the number of women serving in peacekeeping and serving at senior levels. We ask for your support for these proposals.
We are working also on other aspects of personnel management in order to improve our recruitment procedures and accelerate our ability to put high quality people in the field. For the first time ever we are working on a staff-management initiative to address national staff issues. National staff comprises two-thirds of the civilian staff of our missions in the field. Many of their needs have changed over the course of time and we are working together constructively to identify, prioritize and meet these needs.
Welfare and recreation
We have also recognized that austerity, remote locations, difficulty and increasingly dangerous operations in the field require that we address the welfare and recreation needs of our uniformed and civilian staff. The Secretary-General’s report on this issue (A/62/663) was published last month at the request of this Committee and includes a number of proposals to establish and maintain a minimum level of recreation and welfare for our staff in the field. In this regard, we would like to thank you for your support in the COE Working Group that has addressed some of these issues and we look forward to further positive consideration of the proposals that are before you.
Conduct and discipline
Conduct and discipline requires our constant vigilance. With the full deployment of peacekeepers to Darfur and Chad, we will have nearly 140,000 military, police and civilian staff serving around the world in the twenty DPKO-led peacekeeping missions. Because of turn-overs and contingent rotations, however, we are managing well over twice this number. This requires constant messaging, reiteration of standards, improvement of training and a partnership with you, which I am extremely pleased to say, has been developing very well over the past several years. We now work very closely with Troop and Police Contributing Countries to address problems before they arise, address them quickly when they arise, and resolve them in order to maintain the reputation of peacekeeping that we all expect and share.
Incidents of sexual abuse and exploitation will still occur. Incidents of indiscipline will still occur. In 2007, there were 127 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, resulting in completed investigations of 136 individuals. For 121 individuals the allegations were substantiated, resulting in the repatriation of 115 individuals. The report of the Secretary-General “Comprehensive Overview of Conduct and Discipline” is very close to being finalized and will be taken up by the appropriate Committee later this spring. As I mentioned, we need to maintain our vigilance, but we also need to maintain our partnership, together tackling this problem and communicating the standards expected of peacekeepers, wherever they serve.
Our operational capacities in the field will continue to be stretched – not only by the ongoing operations, but by operations that are in planning or in contemplation. In this regard, a brief word on the importance of the procurement process. In 2002, the procurement budget for United Nations peacekeeping was $640 million. In the coming period, it is budgeted to be $2.6 billion. This is an enormous process, essential to the success of any mission. Continued discussion is underway between the Department of Management and the Department of Field Support to ensure the timely and effective procurement of services and supplies to the field, permitting us to meet the expectations of rapid deployment, while under the scrutiny of adequate controls. The report of the Secretary-General on procurement governance will be submitted for consideration by the General Assembly at the second resumed session of this year.
Communications and IT is a function that is essential to the command and control of all of our operations in the field. The strengthening of CITS is vital in order to permit the rapid mobility of units within missions and the reliable oversight and management of those missions by senior personnel in the field and at Headquarters. ICT service delivery to the field, as a responsibility of the Department of Field Support, is guided by and will be subject to the overarching ICT policy framework, standards and best practices that will be promulgated by the Office of the Chief Information Technology Officer. We look forward to a relationship with that Office that ensures not only that we achieve much needed system-wide coherence in this area, but that we also achieve timely and reliable information and communications technology support to the field.
Additional initiatives – risk management, relocation and ERP
There are other initiatives that we have been working on in the Department of Field Support together with our colleagues in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. As you know, we have been working to improve the risk management of operations in the field, particularly as they deploy. We are developing a risk management policy and guidelines to minimize risks and highlight those areas that require special management and leadership attention before they turn into insurmountable problems. We have conducted a pilot risk assessment in UNAMID and are satisfied that the results are pointing us in the right direction for better mission deployment and oversight.
We are doing all of this while we are facing the relocation of the Peacekeeping Group from the Secretariat building. In the coming months, we will prepare for and relocate all of the staff in peacekeeping to another site in New York City. We recognize that we have to maintain continuous oversight and management of the missions in the field, as well as continuous communication with you, while this is happening. It has been a priority for both DPKO and DFS to be collocated in order to achieve the synergies important in managing field operations.
We will also face the employment of an enterprise resource platform, a major new software system designed to help us manage our inventories, our personnel, our budgets and financing in more transparent and capable fashion. This represents a major step forward in the IT management of missions in the field, of management at Headquarters, and a major undertaking for the two Departments.
We will continue to work on budget templating in order to streamline the budget process and streamline mission start-up. We are beginning to look systematically at the environmental impact of our large deployments and missions in the field. And we are continuing to find ways to innovate recruitment for the field.
And as I mentioned earlier Mr. Chairman, we are grateful in the Department of Field Support for the support of this Committee and for our relationship with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. I should like to say also that the starting up the Department of Field Support would not have been possible without the work of Mr. Phil Cooper who has been acting as my Deputy these past eight months. I am personally grateful for his expertise, wise counsel and calm demeanor with which he has approached the challenges that have come our way.
And as I close Mr. Chairman, please permit me to speak not only for myself but for all of my colleagues in saying how much we have learned from Mr. Guéhenno; how much we appreciate his stewardship and leadership not only intellectually, but with the passion of a true peacekeeper. It has been our privilege to be in his company for these past eight years.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.