Reimbursement Rates Must Account for Costs Associated with Female Peacekeepers, Post-deployment, Speakers Say as Budget Committee Discusses Troop Costs

It was important to consider the costs associated with deploying female peacekeepers, post-deployment medical expenses and the unique challenges faced by Blue Helmet personnel working in particularly dangerous environments, speakers said today as the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) discussed the findings of a survey on the reimbursement rate for troop- and police-contributing countries.

The 2017/18 survey aimed to give Member States a credible basis for setting a standard rate for covering the cost of deploying troops and police in United Nations peacekeeping operations worldwide. The last such quadrennial review took place in 2014, which led to the first increase in the reimbursement rate in more than two decades.

Rick Martin, Director of the Field Budget and Finance Division of the Department of Field Support, introduced the Secretary-General's report outlining the survey results, which featured data from a sample of 10 troop- and police contributing countries in five areas: personnel allowances; personal kit and equipment; predeployment medical expenses; predeployment inland transportation; and United Nations-specific predeployment training.

Using June 2017 as a base month for data collection, the study revealed the weighted average monthly cost across the 10 countries to provide a more accurate picture of the typical costs for the contributing countries than a simple average. he said. The findings revealed an average cost of $1,428 per person per month. The current monthly reimbursement rate for contingent personnel is $1,410 per person.

Babou Sene, Vice-Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), presented its related report, noting that based on certain criteria and assumptions, the potential financial implications of a $1 increase to the current reimbursement rate would amount to about $1 million annually.

In the ensuing discussion, several delegations supported an increase in the reimbursement rate, with the representative of India, the largest troop contributor, underscoring that the success of peacekeeping efforts would largely depend on adequate resources and full and timely reimbursement. While troop- and police-contributing countries have been asked to provide well equipped and trained troops, the recognition of the importance of reimbursement to the peacekeeping partnership continues to lag, he said.

Other speakers focused on the growing role of women in peace operations and their specific needs, with Egypt's representative, speaking for the Group of 77 developing countries and China, noting that the number of female uniformed peacekeepers deployed in contingents had increased from about 3,800 in January 2014 to almost 4,300 in December 2017. Their predeployment medical expenses and need for dedicated accommodation and other facilities, among other requirement, must be taken into account when assessing troop costs, he said. Furthermore, future surveys should consider and incorporate such costs, as well as those associated with post-deployment, such as demobilization and medical procedures, including psychological testing and counselling.

Some delegations called for a more thorough assessment of the death and disability compensation package, which had not been reviewed since 2009. In that context, Pakistan's representative recalled that, since 1948, more than 3,500 personnel had died serving in peace operations; 943 of the deaths were due to acts of violence, 195 of which occurred in the last four years.

Pakistan was proud to be one of the largest and most consistent contributors to the United Nations peacekeeping, he said, with 6,000 personnel currently deployed in different operations. Nevertheless, given the deaths of 156 Pakistanis in peacekeeping missions, the death and disability package must be increased considering the lapse of several years and exponential rise in fatalities in peacekeeping missions.

The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania recommended removing the proportional deduction of troop payment in the case of absent or non functional major equipment as specified in the memorandum of understanding between the United Nations and troop contributing countries. That suggestion considered that contingents always performed most of the functions even in the absence or malfunction of some equipment; troops were still assigned to perform their tasks by using other contingent's assets; and double deductions to troop contributing countries negatively impacted their ability to address shortfalls. Peacekeepers are performing with great diligence and professionalism, enduring hardship and danger in the cause of peace so there is no need to punish them, he said.

Some speakers stated their continued commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Senior Advisory Group on reimbursement rates set forth in General Assembly resolution 67/261, which called for a more targeted, interactive approach to collecting and assessing data.

The European Union's representative welcomed the development of a clear, transparent methodology to better measure peacekeeping performance, in the interest in troop safety and improved mandate implementation. The speaker for the United States said his Government too was committed to the revised survey process and it continued to study the results to determine whether a rate increase was justified. As peacekeeping evolves, my delegation will continue to support the Organization's efforts to align accountability with responsibility and identify and implement clear peacekeeping performance standards to ensure effective mandate delivery, she said.

In other business, Pedro Guazo, Deputy Controller of the United Nations, presented the Secretary-General's statement on the budget implications associated with the high-level meeting on the fight against tuberculosis, scheduled for 26 September at Headquarters, while Mr. Sene presented the Advisory Committee's related report.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Singapore (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations), China and Indonesia.

The Fifth Committee will meet again on a date and time to be announced in the Journal.

Programme Budget Implications: Meeting on Fight against Tuberculosis

PEDRO GUAZO, Deputy Controller of the United Nations, introduced the statement submitted by the Secretary-General on the programme budget implications of the draft resolution titled Scope, modalities, format and organization of the high-level meeting on the fight against tuberculosis (document A/C.5/72/22), highlighting that the Secretary-General proposed additional resources of $60,000 for holding the one-day high-level meeting and for the related documentation. Those extra resources would be reflected under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Affairs and Conference Management, and section 28, Public Information, of the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019, and would represent a charge against the contingency fund.

BABOU SENE, Vice-Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), presented its corresponding report (document A/72/7/Add.46) and said that, given the fact that the resources requested represented a very low proportion of the authorized resource levels for the respective budget sections, the Advisory Committee recommended that the General Assembly ask the Secretary-General to absorb the extra requirements under the 2018 2019 programme budget. The Advisory Committee also noted that in the past, Secretariat departments were in some instances able to absorb resources arising from new, existing or expanded activities. The Advisory Committee was cognizant that full absorption may not always be possible should further activities arise during the biennium 2018-2019, he said.

MOHAMED FOUAD AHMED (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, attached great importance to the holding of the high-level meeting. Noting that it would be the first high-level meeting of its kind to address tuberculosis, he said the Group was keen to see all relevant resources provided to facilitate the holding of the meeting and expected global leaders to adopt a strong political declaration as a result. Clearly, the international community should not miss our common aim to end tuberculosis by 2030, he stressed. The Group fully supported the provision of the $60,000 in resources requested by the Secretary-General. Further, the Group called for all mandates approved by United Nations intergovernmental bodies to be given adequate resources from the regular programme budget for their implementation.

ANJANI KUMAR (India), aligning himself with the statement delivered by Egypt on behalf of the Group of 77, pointed out that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), tuberculosis remained one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. Tackling tuberculosis was a high priority for India. At the Delhi End TB Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the TB-Free India campaign to eradicate the disease by 2025. The Government would provide $100 million annually in nutrition support for patients suffering from the disease. An India tuberculosis research consortium had been set up to facilitate technology and innovation to improve drugs, diagnosis and treatment of the disease and to boost research. India supported the organization of the meeting on the fight against tuberculosis, scheduled for 26 September. We feel that this high-level meeting will help mobilize global efforts to address his serious global health challenge, he said.

Survey Results: Troop- and Police-Contributing Countries Reimbursement Rate

RICK MARTIN, Director of the Field Budget and Finance Division of the Department of Field Support, introduced the Secretary-General's report titled Results of the survey to support the review of the standard rate of reimbursement to troop- and police-contributing countries (document A/72/728*), noting that the current monthly reimbursement rate for contingent personnel was $1,410 per person. The report reflected the data received from the 10 troop- and police-contributing countries that participated in the review, the second of its kind. Those 10 countries represented half of the overall contingent personnel contributions over the three years prior to the survey. Further, the participating countries represented four separate World Bank income groups; including one high-income, one upper-middle-income, four lower-middle-income and four low-income countries. The countries that participated in the survey included Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa and Uruguay.

Using June 2017 as a base month, he said, the survey focused on five mandated categories of costs: personnel allowances; personal kit and equipment; predeployment medical expenses; predeployment inland transportation; and United Nations-specific predeployment training. After receiving preliminary responses to the questionnaire, experts from the Secretariat visited each country to ensure completeness and consistency in the approach used to collect the data in the survey and allow for more scrutinized input. The report provided the weighted average monthly cost across the 10 countries surveyed to provide a more accurate picture of the typical costs for the contributing countries than a simple average. The weighted average across five cost categories would total $1,428 per person per month, effective for contingents in United Nations peacekeeping in June 2017.

Given the concerns surrounding confidentiality and the sensitivity of the data, the report did not identify the costs associated with any particular country and the data was presented anonymously, he said. Information on a number of costs other than the five cost categories mandated for the survey was also reflected in the report, including a section dedicated to cost data related to female deployment. It highlighted that while the questionnaire requested specific information on costs associated with deploying female peacekeepers, and 9 of the 10 participating countries deployed female uninformed personnel, very few costs specific to the deployment of female unformed personnel were incurred.

Mr. SENE, introduced the Advisory Committee's corresponding report (document A/72/771), and said that the actions required constituted policy matters to be decided by the General Assembly. Pointing to paragraph 4 of the Advisory Committee's report, he said that the Advisory Committee was informed, upon enquiry, that, based on certain criteria and assumptions, the potential financial implications of a $1 increase to the current rate of reimbursement would amount to about $1 million annually.

Mr. AHMED (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, attached great importance to preserving the methodology established in Assembly resolution 67/261 for determining the standard reimbursement rate. The periodic review and adjustment of the rate was imperative given that troop- and police-contributing countries had to augment their investment to address the contemporary challenges of peacekeeping and meet the stricter standards that it entailed. That was particularly relevant for enhancing the ability of troops to protect civilians and enabling the contingent personnel to respond to increasing levels of direct threats to their security, as well as threats to other United Nations personnel and property. The Group welcomed the partnership between the Secretariat and the newly established Headquarters Contingent�owned Equipment/Memorandum of Understanding Management Review Board in ensuring adherence to the approved methodology. The Group was encouraged by the increase in the number of female uniformed peacekeepers deployed in contingents from about 3,800 in January 2014 to almost 4,300 in December 2017, and called for their increased participation in peacekeeping operations in both number and function.

The determination of troop costs should have a provision for the specific needs and requirements of women peacekeepers in terms of their predeployment medical expenses, their personal kit and equipment, as well as other aspects of their deployment, including the need for dedicated accommodation and other facilities, he said. The Group would seek to incorporate those requirements into the cost data to be considered during the next review. Equally important to future survey exercises was the need to consider and incorporate costs associated with post-deployment, such as demobilization and medical examinations and procedures, including psychological examinations, tests and counselling. Regarding the 2017/18 survey on reimbursement rates, the Group sought further clarification on the weighted average amount of $1,427.80 per person per month arrived at in the survey versus the current monthly rate of $1,410; variations in the approaches to determine additional allowances paid for peacekeeping service; overlaps between and among cost categories; and other costs and the level of standardization within that category.

DIANA LEE (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating herself with the statement made by Egypt on behalf of Group of 77, welcomed the fact that the survey took into account the individuality and confidentiality of the costs and other data provided by the 10 sample countries. ASEAN was pleased that the Secretariat had worked with the newly establish Management Review Board and its efforts towards an outcome that followed the approved methodology in line with General Assembly-established criteria. The Fifth Committee should also bear in mind the impact of its discussions on the men and women who had put their lives on the front line. We should not be so focused on cost and amount to the exclusion of the real contributions and sacrifices that our peacekeepers are making, she said.

She welcomed the increase of female peacekeepers deployed from 3,801 in January 2014 to 4,275 in December 2017 and encouraged all stakeholders to continue effort to further increase their number and role in peace operations. The data used to determine troop costs should specifically provide for the requirements of deploying female personnel and the next survey should take those elements into account, in line with gender parity efforts across the United Nations system. Future cost data should incorporate not only data from predeployment costs, but also those associated with post-deployment stage, including medical and psychological examination and care.

JAN DE PRETER of the European Union remained committed to implementing the Senior Advisory Group's recommendations set forth in Assembly resolution 67/261. The world was rapidly evolving and the United Nations should quickly adapt to new challenge and complex situations on the ground. The bloc continued to support the different United Nations reforms that would make the Organization more responsive and effective, attached great importance to the performance of missions, including troop performance and effective deployment, and looked forward to the development of a performance policy framework. Contingent-owned equipment should be up to date, he said, stressing that the European Union had zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse and believed that gender balance in peacekeeping could be improved. Full support for the Organization was needed to overcome the challenges ahead. In a world where peacekeepers are targeted specifically for being on the ground under our collective wills, there is only room for professionalism, he said. Accountability and transparency were principles the bloc held dear, he said, underscoring that the bloc welcomed the development of a clear, transparent methodology to better measure performance, in the interest in troop safety and improved mandate implementation.

CHERITH NORMAN CHALET (United States) stressed that ensuring that United Nations peacekeeping continued to be an important tool for addressing conflict, and protecting civilians remained a top priority for her delegation. The United States remained committed to the implementation of the Senior Advisory Group recommendations, including the revised survey process, and continued to study the results to determine whether an increase was justified. As peacekeeping evolves, my delegation will continue to support the Organization's efforts to align accountability with responsibility and identify and implement clear peacekeeping performance standards to ensure effective mandate delivery, she said, underlining that the United Nations had taken important steps to enhance transparency in peacekeeping, including upholding the zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse, although more remained to be done.

Mr. KUMAR (India), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said that, as the largest cumulative troop contributor, having provided almost 200,000 troops in nearly 50 of the 71 peacekeeping missions mandated over the last 60 years, including in 13 of the current 16 missions, India was deeply conscious of the complexities and challenges involved in United Nations peacekeeping operations. While troop- and police-contributing countries have been asked to provide well equipped and trained troops, the recognition of the importance of reimbursement to the peacekeeping partnership continues to lag, he said. The success of peacekeeping efforts would largely depend on well-trained and equipped troops, adequate resources and full and timely reimbursement. As a member of the Senior Advisory Group, India attached importance to preserving the methodology approved in Assembly resolution 67/261. India, which had supported the first female formed police unit to United Nations peacekeeping in Liberia, welcomed the increase in the number of female peacekeepers and called for including cost data from aspects specific to their deployment, as well as costs associated with post deployment, in future determination of troop costs. There was an urgent need to review the death and disability compensation package, he said, underscoring that there was a drastic increase in the incidence and intensity of targeted attacks against peacekeepers and pointing out that the last four years had seen the largest number of fatal causalities in the history of peacekeeping. Further, the United Nations owed a significant amount of outstanding reimbursement for active and closed missions, he noted, emphasizing that he hoped that dues would soon be settled.

WEN DONG (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, underscored that peacekeeping operations made important contributions to international peace and security, despite operating in difficult environments. China supported a sound and reasonable rate of reimbursement, which was an important guarantee for the rights of peacekeepers. He noted that China had close to 2,600 peacekeepers in 10 missions, including in Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, and had constituted an 8,000-strong standby peacekeeping force. His delegation attached great important to the safety of peacekeepers and the adoption of measures to ensure their well-being.

HASEEB GOHAR (Pakistan), associating himself with the statement made by Egypt on behalf of the Group of 77, said that Pakistan was proud to be one of the largest and most consistent contributors to the United Nations peacekeeping, having served in 41 missions in 23 countries since 1960, with 6,000 personnel currently deployed in different operations. Pakistan requested further clarification on how the data in the Secretary-General's report from the sample countries for determining common denominator for increasing reimbursement rate was used to come up with the new base figure of $1,427 per person. The cost associated with female contingents and other costs had to be factored in the troop reimbursement rate. Since 1948 over 3,500 personnel died serving in peace operations with 943 due to acts of violence, 195 of which occurred in the last four years. Out of the total, 156 were Pakistani. The recently released Improving security of United Nations peacekeepers report, known as the Cruz Report, substantiated those facts. Pakistan was concerned that the review of the death and disability compensation package had not taken place since 2009. That package had to be increased considering the lapse of several years and exponential rise in fatalities in peacekeeping missions.

INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), aligning herself with the statement delivered by Egypt on behalf of the Group of 77 and with the statement delivered by Singapore on behalf of ASEAN, pointed out that, as threats and challenges had become multidimensional and asymmetric, regular policy updates and review were needed to ensure that peacekeeping matched current needs. Indonesia supported the cooperation between the Secretariat and the Management Review Board, stressing that the survey must be objective, representative and comprehensive. An equitable and predictable developing reimbursement system would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of peacekeeping operations. Making peacekeepers well-trained, well equipped and well-informed had to be a higher priority. Affirmative action should respond to the increased demands for the role of female peacekeepers. Equal attention should be given to the post-deployment stage, taking into account the physical and mental toll that peacekeeping operations could have on individuals.

SONGELAEL W. SHILLA (United Republic of Tanzania) highly valued the decision to involve his country in the troop cost survey process for the first time, welcomed that the survey thoroughly reviewed actual costs incurred to prepare and sustain troops and recommended improving personal emoluments for troops. He commanded the professionalism and transparency in which the survey was conducted. He called for thoroughly considering the hostile action factor on troops serving in the Force Intervention Brigade of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and for a special allowance for troops in such Special Forces Units due to the operational risk they incurred. He also called for a review and increase in the disability and death compensation rate, as well as an increase in the daily allowance. Further, the United Republic of Tanzania recommended removing the proportional deduction of troop payment in the case of absent or non-functional major equipment as specified in the memorandum of understanding between the United Nations and troop contributing countries. That proposal was based on the fact that contingents always performed most of the functions even in the absence of or the lack of function of some equipment; troops were still be assigned to perform their tasks by using other contingent's assets; and double deductions to troop contributing countries negatively impacted their ability to address shortfalls. Peacekeepers are performing with great diligence and professionalism, enduring hardship and danger in the cause of peace so there is no need to punish them, he said.

Source: United Nations