Ms. Mari Skåre
New York, 12 May 2004.
The blue UN flag is a symbol of peaceful cooperation. The image of our organization is the one of a helping hand. For more than 50 years the United Nations has contributed to world peace and development.
Norway would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff of the United Nations. We admire your dedication, your courage and your tireless efforts to help those in need and to keep world order.
To provide assistance and protection to the world’s neediest people UN staff is working in dangerous places. Many have lost their lives and many more have been suffering injuries. Our perception has been that UN staff have been victims to circumstances - that they have been at the wrong place at the wrong time. The bombing of the UN facilities in Baghdad shattered this perception. It has become clear that the UN is no longer only a random victim but has also for some groups become a target for terrorist attacks.
This change of security paradigm caused a pressing need to review the existing safety and security arrangements. We are therefore concerned about the apparent lack of implementation of already scheduled improvements. A large part of the extra funding approved by the General Assembly in 2001 remains uncommitted or unspent.
We have noted the observation of the Independent Panel on the Safety and Security of UN Personnel in Iraq that ‘ the current security management system is dysfunctional and needs to be reformed’. The report was delivered more that six months ago. Its time to act.
The primary responsibility for the protection of UN staff lies with the host country. However, there are circumstances that will affect the ability of the host country to protect the UN. Many duty stations are today defined as potentially hazardous. As a responsible employer the UN must take measures to ensure security of its staff.
We have before us the Secretary General’s proposals as reflected in A/59/756 for a first phase of urgently required measures for the strengthening of security and safety. We do understand the sensitivities attached to full disclosure of security related information. Still, the committee could perhaps have been provided with more information on current threats and how the Secretary General has arrived to the estimated financial requirements.
Ideally, we would have had before us a budget proposal reflecting a full review of the security management system and the necessary changes in the organizational structures. The present security arrangements with in the UN family seem fragmented. It is our view that the UN needs one unified security system, with a clear chain of command and a clear mandate. Establishing a UN house and common premises for UN entities in duty stations could be a remedy and merits considerations.
We accept, however, that more time is needed to conclude the security management study and are convinced that a number of measures are urgently required to strengthen security on UN premises. The perfect should not be the enemy of the good. Financial consideration should never be the predominant factor in decisions regarding security. We were therefore surprised to learn that the ACABQ recommends cutting the Secretary General's budget proposal with more than 25%.
Norway disagrees with the ACABQ recommendations in particular regarding the proposed 116 new posts under the office of the UN Security Coordinator. It is necessary to strengthen the capacity in the field as well as the procedures for risk and threat assessments. We can not se that a deferral of the Secretary General’s request for 58 new security coordinators is justified. Knowing the lengthy recruitment time in the UN system, we need to take action on this now and appropriate the necessary funding.
We agree fully with the Secretary General that the magnitude and the gravity of the security threats requires a change in funding approaches. Security arrangements should not depend on voluntary contributions. Security personnel should not spend their valuable time and resources on fund raising. Funds and programmes should not be forced to develop separate security arrangements to provide a minimum of security to their staff. It is indeed unfortunate that funds provided for the purpose of development assistance to an increasing degree are spent on security measures.
Security should rely on predictable funding arrangements. It should be viewed as a shared responsibility for all member states and should thus be funded from the regular budget. Norway welcomes therefore the Secretary General’s proposal to phase out the present cost sharing arrangement between UN funds, programmes and organizations.
I wish to reiterate that the strengthening of the physical security of the UN staff and premises is extremely important. We are outraged that some terrorist groups have identified the UN as a target. While we shall not take lightly on those perpetrating terrorist acts, we should not limit the security issue to a matter only of providing physical security to UN premises and staff. We need to engage in a broader, political dialogue in order to strengthen the legitimacy, integrity and security of UN operations. We need to reinstall the blue flag as a symbol for peaceful cooperation.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.