Statement by Bruce Rashkow, Minister Counselor for UN Management and Reform, on the Program of Work of the Fifth Committee

U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
Bruce Rashkow, Minister Counselor for UN Management and Reform
New York, NY
May 11, 2009


Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, the United States welcomes the commencement of the Second Resumed session of the Fifth Committee. We join other delegations in welcoming back you and other members of the Bureau as well as the Committee Secretariat, and the Chair of the ACABQ.

Mr. Chairman,

This session is traditionally very important because of the focus on the budgets of peacekeeping missions. During the next four weeks, we will review and decide on the financial requirements needed to sustain the Organization's peacekeeping missions involving more military and civilian peacekeepers than have ever been previously authorized for service in the field.

The commitment of the Organization and its individual Member States to addressing ongoing threats to international peace and security comes at a high price, both in human and financial terms. During this session, the members of this committee will examine and adopt proposed budgets for current peacekeeping missions that are expected to total some $8.5 billion. If approved, this amount would be more than twice the level of the 2008/2009 biennium regular budget and represents a 20 percent increase from the previous peacekeeping budgets.

While many of us have for a long time been aware that the peacekeeping activities of the Organization have been growing, a year ago we did not foresee the very changed circumstances under which we are called upon now to fund those activities. Member States are finding themselves in the midst of a global financial crisis that seriously threatens their economies and budgets. As a result, Member States are faced with a substantial increase in already large peacekeeping budgets at a time when they can least afford such an increase.

Of course, my delegation fully supports the peacekeeping activities of the Organization and respects the need to properly fund these activities. At the same time, given the global financial crisis, the Secretariat and Member States need to carefully scrutinize the budgets of these missions in an effort to eliminate any expenditures not absolutely necessary to achieve the objectives of these missions, and to ensure that the resources we provide are used in an efficient, effective and transparent manner.

Mr. Chairman,

In order to accomplish this task, we must have adequate time to carefully review the management and organization of each mission.

With the above considerations in mind, my delegation would like to comment on the ongoing problem of the late issuance of reports. As indicated in our current program of work, the proposed budgets of several large and expensive peacekeeping operations, including both MONUC and MINURCAT, totaling over $2 billion, will not be introduced and examined by this committee until essentially the last week of the four-week session. While my delegation understands the challenges faced by those at Headquarters and in the field who are tasked with preparing these budgets and by the ACABQ in reviewing those budgets, my delegation remains concerned that the Committee is not being provided with sufficient time to consider these matters.

Mr. Chairman.

We must find ways to ensure that the members of this Committee will have the time required to deliberately and closely examine these important budgets. Surely, we can all agree that the members of this Committee should not be asked to conduct a responsible review and approve proposed budgets, such as those in a matter of a few days.

My delegation believes that ultimate responsibility for ensuring timely performance by the Secretariat rests with the Secretary General. We urge the Secretary General to work with the heads of the relevant Departments to ensure that the recurrent problem of late reports is effectively addressed. We also urge the ACABQ to consider what it can do in this respect.

We look forward to working with our colleagues in this Committee and in the Secretariat to ensure that, in the future and despite the challenges involved, the members of this Committee receive these important reports well in advance of the beginning of the sessions of the Fifth Committee in accordance with the requirements laid down by the General Assembly.

Thank you.


PRN: 2009/096