New strategy set to transform UN support to field operations – senior officials

30 July 2010
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Susana Malcorra

The United Nations is on track to transform the way it deploys missions around the globe and to ensure that its field operations have the support they need to successfully carry out their work, a senior official with the world body said today.

Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support (DFS), said Member States have endorsed the proposal for a global field support strategy, which outlines a new approach to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery to field missions and the better use of resources, as well as the timely start-up and deployment of operations.

“We have received essentially a full endorsement on what we have put on the table as a five-year plan to enhance our services to the field,” she told a news conference at UN Headquarters.

DFS currently provides logistics, administrative and information and communications technology support for 32 peacekeeping and field-based special political missions, including to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). These field missions represent a total civilian, police and military deployment of more than 139,000 personnel.

The strategy, put forward by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in January, envisions a global approach to supporting UN operations around the world, which have a combined budget of nearly $8 billion.

“A new global service-delivery model is proposed,” Mr. Ban wrote in his report to the General Assembly, outlining the proposed strategy.

“In addition to achieving greater levels of efficiency and effectiveness, this new delivery model will have important effects in terms of reducing mission footprints and risk exposure, improving safety and security and bettering living conditions for civilian support staff, which, in turn, will promote a higher rate of retention and increased productivity,” he stated.

The strategy was met with interest by the Assembly in June, with the 192-member body authorizing the Secretary-General to, among other measures, commit up to $50 million for mission deployment should the Security Council decide to start a new mission or expand an existing one.

It also authorized the UN to start working on a global and regional approach to delivering services, establishing an initial regional service centre in Entebbe, Uganda, to serve the large missions in the area and to enhance the world body’s presence in Brindisi, Italy, with the goal of transforming the logistics base located there into a global service centre.

Mr. Ban was also requested to further develop specific proposals – in consultation with Member States, in particular troop-contributing countries – on functions and resources to be transferred to the global service centre in Brindisi, and to submit these to the Assembly at its next session.

Anthony Banbury, Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support, highlighted today that the new model draws on lessons learned from several decades of deploying field operations.

He cited Chad as an example of what happens when expectations regarding rapid deployment of a peacekeeping mission following a mandate assignment are not met.

The UN Mission in the CAR and Chad (MINURCAT) was set up in September 2007 to help protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid to thousands of people uprooted due to insecurity in the two countries and the neighbouring Darfur region of Sudan.

But with new agreements on border security with Sudan, and with MINURCAT not strong enough to provide complete security in eastern Chad, the Government in N’Djamena said it would assume full responsibility for protecting civilians on its territory and called for the mission’s withdrawal. The Security Council in May voted to end the mission by the end of this year.

“Had we had the global field support strategy in place at the time the Security Council originally decided to authorize a peacekeeping mission in Chad, I think we would have deployed much faster, much more effectively and built up operational capability in the east much more quickly,” said Mr. Banbury.

“That could have had a very significant impact on how events ultimately unfolded.”


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