Statement by David Traystman, U.S. Adviser to the 61st GA on item 133: Financing of the United Nations Operation in Burundi, before the Fifth Committee of the 61st UN General Assembly, October 12, 2006Washington, DC
October 16, 2006
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
My delegation is pleased that we will soon be able to add ONUB to the list of successfully completed missions. We commend all involved, both at headquarters and in the field, for their dedicated service.
The United States looks forward to the successful completion of ONUBís mandate, an orderly transition, including the transfer of assets, to the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), and the efficient liquidation of the missionís assets through the strict implementation of an exit strategy and liquidation timetables. We expect that all UN agencies, funds and programs will work together to effectuate a smooth transition from ONUB to the envisaged UN Integrated Office. Such a smooth transition will facilitate BINUBís important work in the areas of peace consolidation, reconstruction, national capacity building, and development. Country team agencies, working closely throughout the transition period from ONUB to BINUB, must ensure that they are positioned to take over many of ONUBís programs once the mission is closed.
My delegation notes that three new posts are being requested. While we recognize that these new posts are for national officers, we question the utility of establishing these new posts at this stage. We wonder whether these new posts will be filled quickly to allow these individuals to make a meaningful contribution. My delegation believes that missions should truly scale back and not establish new posts when they are undergoing downsizing and liquidation.
My delegation also has concerns regarding the missionís training program. We note that the training program envisaged for international staff would provide refresher training in almost all functional areas of the mission - from property management to finance to communications. My delegation, agreeing with the Advisory Committee, questions the necessity of conducting such non-mission-specific training at this late stage. As the mission ends its substantive activities, mission funds should not be used for such purposes, especially if such training involves expenditures for travel and the hiring of consultants. As the Advisory Committee noted, the mission should focus its training on the skills required to carry out the missionís liquidation. We would expect that all training of a general, functional nature, if at all necessary at this stage, would be conducted within the mission itself or by videoconference or e-learning?
On the overall question of official travel, my delegation believes that, at this stage in the life of the mission, the missionís personnel should remain in the mission area to address the important tasks being undertaken during the missionís downsizing and liquidation.
My delegation also notes that funding is being requested for consultants to conduct training in hazardous waste disposal and transportation of dangerous goods. My delegation believes that expertise in these critical areas, already present in other missions, should be drawn upon. For example, the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), which closed last December, established an Asset Disposal and Environmental Protection Unit. The expertise developed by UNAMSIL should be shared with ONUB.
My delegation would also like to comment on the consistent over-budgeting of ONUB, including in the proposed budget before us. The fact that the Advisory Committee asked for and received in short order a reduction in requested expenditures of over $4 million leads one to question the accuracy of other expenditure items in the proposed budget.
We will seek clarification of these issues during our informals.
Again, Mr. Chairman, the United States would like to thank all involved for their continuing hard work in this important mission.
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