To the General Assembly Fifth Committee on behalf of United Nations Development Committee Statement on "A Strengthened and Unified and Security Management System"
New York, 4 November 2004
Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to join you today to represent the four agencies of the UN Development Group Executive Committee—UNDP, UNFPA, WFP and UNICEF, speaking on the issue of A Strengthened and Unified Security Management System for the United Nations. In this regard, let me preface my remarks by saying that we four agencies endorse completely the remarks of the Secretary-General on this subject as made to this Committee on Monday, the 1st of November.
Also, let me thank the delegations that have spoken yesterday and today on this issue for their support.
Mr. Chairman, for the four Executive Committee agencies, as for the entire UN system, there is no asset more precious to us than our people, and their security and well-being are therefore of utmost concern to us.
Our staffs are dedicated, talented and committed; they want to perform their duties. They can accept that their work can be difficult and often has to be carried out under adverse or even hostile conditions, particularly during complex emergencies.
What they cannot accept, nor will we as a system ever accept, are the intentional and deliberate killings of UN personnel, the injuries brought on by targeted acts of violence, and the continued abductions, hostage-takings, harassments and illegal detainments.
Today our staff face an unprecedented level of risks and threats. Since January 1, 1992, 219 civilian staff members have lost their lives due to acts of violence. Of these, the four organizations I speak for today have lost 83 staff members. Since 1994, there have been 81 cases of abduction involving 278 UN personnel. The rate for occurrences of violent assault, rape and vehicle hijackings is increasing.
The situation cries out for action.
Mr. Chairman, the General Assembly has addressed the issue several times, and as a result of requests to the Secretary-General to ensure full respect for United Nations personnel and to consider ways in which to strengthen their protection, we have improved security management and strengthened field protection.
Since the year 2000, several teams of independent experts have reviewed our security systems, noting the shortcomings and identifying remedial actions required. The plan placed before you by the Secretary-General on Monday represents the end result of this rather lengthy and extremely rigorous process. This Plan has the strong support of the four UNDG Executive Committee agencies. It builds the security system needed for the future: unified, professional, robust and capable of meeting the demands placed on it.
I will not address the individual components of the package presented; you have them in your documentation, but I will say that we believe it represents the structure required to ensure that our security is organized, staffed, managed and administered so as to ensure the required level of staff safety. We do not believe the security needs of our staff would be enhanced by any micro-management of the proposals developed through a demonstrably lengthy and professional process. Quite the contrary, we believe that such “tinkering” would likely have a negative effect.
The proposed package has a significant cost. Given the mandates we are required to carry out, the development and emergency programmes, the more than 100,000 total international and national staff plus their families and other dependents, the operations of headquarters and field offices in some 160 countries, we believe the $97 million requested is not only reasonable, but relatively modest. Without it we cannot function effectively.
Mr. Chairman, we four agencies also endorse the element of the proposal calling for us to do away with the cost-sharing arrangements that have funded field security operations to date. Security is a core element of the work of the UN, a sine qua non for our operations. It is a cost necessitated in part by the political nature of the institution. It must be part of the core budget of the Organization.
Cost-sharing is administratively cumbersome and will leave critical security needs subject to the fluctuations of voluntarily funded budgets of agencies, funds and programmes. It is neither predictable, assured nor dependable. And cost-sharing will deprive both the development and the humanitarian programmes of the United Nations of scarce resources—reducing the number of children we can immunize, the number of refugees we can feed and the number of development programmes we can support. Simply put, cost-sharing is inappropriate for the funding of a core activity of the UN.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I will close my statement by quoting from the Secretary-General on Monday:
It is time for you to take resolute and unstinting action. Our staff are saying so. Exhaustive, authoritative reviews of our security system, including the Ahtisaari Report, have reached the same conclusion. We need to fix and update our security system.
Distinguished delegates, We, the four heads of UNDP, UNFPA, WFP and UNICEF, thank you for your support and your understanding of this challenge, and for backing the earlier actions taken. Security, and the capacity to implement fully our mandated programmes, are our top priorities. We look forward to working with you on these further improvements to the security system and will be pleased to respond to any questions you may have or clarifications you may seek.
Together we can ensure that the United Nations continues to work towards its noble goals.