Continuing its consideration of the United Nations peacekeeping budget, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today took up the proposed 2019/20 budget of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and heard the introduction of a draft resolution on financing the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Introducing the Secretary-General’s reports on the budget performance for 2017/18 and the budget for 2019/20 for MONUSCO (documents A/73/633 and A/73/826), Chandramouli Ramanathan, Controller and Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, said the Mission’s proposed 2019/20 budget amounts to $1 billion, a decrease of 8.2 per cent from its 2018/19 approved budget. It reflects a reduction of the Mission’s footprint as it concentrates its efforts on areas affected by armed group violence, notably the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Kasaï provinces, he explained. Seven of MONUSCO’s field offices and one site in Kamina, in southern Haut-Lomami Province, will be closed by 30 June, he said, adding that the adjustment in the Mission’s posture and the closure of offices will result in a net reduction of 752 staff posts and positions.
Setting out the Mission’s priorities during 2019/20, he said it will engage with President Félix Tshisekedi and the newly established Government — along with national institutions and key international partners — to advocate for progress on governance and security reforms and to support efforts to address root causes of conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. MONUSCO will also focus on the protection of civilians, particularly by reducing the threat of armed groups and by working with the Government to sustainably address those armed groups that have expressed a willingness to lay down weapons, he said.
Cihan Terzi, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), presented its related report (document A/73/755/Add.15), saying with regard to staffing proposals that ACABQ recommends against the establishment of a Transition Adviser post at the P-4 level, given the similarity of its functions with those of the proposed Senior Transition Advisor post. It also recommends against establishing a United Nations Volunteers position for a Planning and Coordination Officer in the Office of the Deputy Special Representative for Protection and Operations in Goma, given the Office’s existing capacity.
While welcoming MONUSCO’s efforts to build national capacity, and encouraging it to continue along that path, the Advisory Committee is recommending further reductions under official travel, facilities, infrastructure and ground transportation, given the downsizing of MONUSCO and the pattern of expenditure, he stated. Finally, ACABQ is asking the Secretary-General for more information on the financial implications of a new memorandum of understanding between the Secretariat and the United Nations Volunteers programme that took effect on 1 January and included, among other things, an increase of programmatic support costs from 8 per cent to 13 per cent, he said.
[On 29 March 2019, following largely peaceful elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 30 December 2018 and the inauguration of President Tshisekedi on 24 January 2019, the Security Council called for an independent strategic review of MONUSCO by 20 October 2019, including the articulation of a phased, progressive and comprehensive exit strategy, while extending its mandate for nine months until 20 December 2019. Unanimously adopting resolution 2463 (2019) under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Council also decided to maintain MONUSCO’s authorized troop ceiling at 16,215 military personnel, 660 military observers and staff officers, 391 police personnel and 1,050 personnel of formed police units. (See Press Release SC/13759.)]
Nada Tarbush, observer for the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the draft resolution on the financing of UNIFIL for 2019/20 (document A/C.5/73/L.31). In doing so, she stressed that $1.17 million in accounts receivable due by Israel as a result of the shelling of UNIFIL headquarters in Qana, southern Lebanon, on 18 April l996, should be paid by that country, and requested that the Secretary-General report on that matter to the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session.
The Fifth Committee will meet again at a date and time to be announced.