Speakers Call for Greater Focus on Post‑Reconstruction, as Fifth Committee Considers Revised Budget Proposal for Peacekeeping Operation in Darfur

With the second stage of the drawdown of the African Union‑United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) set to begin in February 2018, delegates in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today took up the revised budget proposal for that Operation, stressing the importance of prioritizing post‑conflict reconstruction.

Following a strategic review conducted earlier this year, the Security Council decided in its resolution 2363 (2017) that the hostilities in Darfur had ceased and the Operation should pursue a drawdown of activities.  Given those developments, the General Assembly did not approve resources for UNAMID for the full 2017/2018 period in its seventy‑first session, with the expectation that the Secretary‑General would provide a revised budget during the current Assembly session, reflecting decisions taken by the Security Council.

The revised budget proposal of $948.8 million, covering the period from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018, represents a decrease of 8.7 per cent compared with the approved resources for 2016/2017.

Mustafa Abuali Ahmed Mohammed (Sudan) emphasized the need for a stronger focus on post‑conflict reconstruction in Darfur, adding that given the United Nations reform process under way under the Secretary‑General’s auspices, the region should also concentrate on peacebuilding and seek to address the root causes of conflict.

He welcomed the Security Council’s resolution as confirmation of his Government’s success in implementing the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, recalling that the Government had also called for armed groups to surrender their weapons.  Further, the Government had made efforts to help displaced people and had engaged in positive communications with the Government of South Sudan to allow refugees and internally displaced persons to return to provinces in that country.  He said most of the displaced would be repatriated, according to figures published by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

He went on to note that there had not been any further clashes in Sudan in the past year, except for incidents on 20 May, when armed groups had infiltrated the country through Libya and South Sudan.  However, those groups had been neutralized, and a unilateral ceasefire had been maintained since then.

Marcio Sandro Aleixo Pereira Burity (Angola), speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted that the security situation in Darfur had continued to show progress, and no confrontation between the Government and the Darfur rebel group had been reported in recent months.  The reduction in intercommunal violence was due to effective measures taken by the Government of Sudan, which helped stabilize the overall humanitarian situation in the country.

The Group believed that the implementation of the Doha Declaration, including the disarmament of the civilian population and the militia, would help address the root causes of the conflict and facilitate sustainable peace and security in Darfur, he said.  Allocation of appropriate resources for UNAMID would be instrumental for helping the law enforcement and justice institutions, as well as the Government, make the arms collection campaign successful.

The Group hoped that the second phase of the drawdown would also be successful and resources required for the Mission would soon be reduced to a minimal level, he said.  Furthermore, it was important to increase the amount of resources allocated for environmental concerns, and the Secretariat must bolster emphasis on post‑conflict reconstruction efforts.

Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas, Assistant Secretary‑General and Controller of the United Nations, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on the revised budget for UNAMID (document A/72/563), highlighting that the reduction contained in the revised budget proposal reflected the planned repatriation of military and police personnel, in accordance with the reconfiguration of the Operation.

The Operation would focus on military protection, clearance of explosive remnants of war and emergency relief in the Jebel Marra area, she said.  In other parts of Darfur, where there had not been fighting recently, the Operation would focus on stabilizing the situation, supporting the police and helping the rule of law institutions, while continuing to protect civilians, mediating intercommunal conflict and following up on issues related to reforming the security sector.

Considering the amount of $486 million previously assessed on Member States for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2017, an additional amount of $462.8 million would have to be assessed for 2017/2018, she said.

Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair, Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introduced its corresponding report (document A/72/636), and noted that in accordance with the Security Council resolution, the Operation would downsize its military, police and civilian personnel over a one‑year period in two phases; the first concluding on 31 December 2017, and the second concluding on 30 June 2018.

The Advisory Committee recommended an overall reduction of approximately $9.8 million for the Operation’s proposed budget, he said.  Reductions relating to civilian staffing pertained mainly to one‑termination indemnity costs, he said, noting that there was some uncertainty in terms of the number of civilian members on board at the end of the budget period.

Therefore, he said the Advisory Committee recommended a resource reduction for those costs for both international and national staff.  Moreover, the calculation of the one‑time termination indemnity costs should be more transparent.  As such, the Advisory Committee requested that the Secretary‑General provide related details to the General Assembly when the report was considered.

The Advisory Committee further recommended the following operational reductions:  10 per cent under official travel; $2 million under facilities and infrastructure; and $2 million under communications.  The Advisory Committee had also urged the Operation to strengthen its environmental efforts and pursue alternative renewable energy sources to minimize the need for fossil fuel‑powered equipment.

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