The support account for peacekeeping operations finances the post- and non-post resources at Headquarters that support peacekeeping operations.
The requirements for the support account are presented by the Secretary-General and considered by the General Assembly separately from the requirements of peacekeeping missions. However, the support account is financed through the assessments for individual peacekeeping missions rather than through a separate set of dedicated assessments for the support account. This arrangement was approved by the General Assembly in its resolution 50/221B of 7 June 1996.
Each mission's share of the support account is reflected in its individual financing resolution, and the breakdown of the budget by mission is summarized in a dedicated note submitted to the Fifth Committee each year, which also captures the similar arrangements for the United Nations Logistics Base and the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe. The note for the 2018/19 financial period is contained in A/C.5/72/24.
The support account for peacekeeping operations was established by the General Assembly in its resolution 45/258 as a means of consolidating “overload posts” at Headquarters providing backstopping support to peacekeeping operations which, before 1990, had been funded through the budgets of individual missions. The overall level of the support account was initially pegged at 8.5 per cent of the total civilian personnel requirements within missions and was funded through a dedicated line item in each of the six active missions funded at the time through special accounts.
In 1992, the ACABQ recommended that an annual budget be established for the support account rather than using the standard charge to missions, due in large part to the significant increase in the scale of peacekeeping activity. The resulting proposal of the Secretary-General introduced the concept of “continuing posts”, to be funded from both the regular budget and support account, and “flexible posts”, to be funded from the support account, to meet on-going and temporary requirements, respectively. The ACABQ, however, found that “the Secretary-General’s proposals have not provided a clear delineation of the criteria for which support activities should be funded from the regular budget and which from the support account”.
In 1994, the Secretary-General proposed defining “core functions” as executive direction; policy formulation and guidance; data collection, research and analysis; liaison with Member States and international, regional and non-governmental bodies and coordination within the United Nations system; operational planning; administrative planning; and start-up capacity. These were proposed to be financed through the regular budget. All other requirements related to the number and size of peacekeeping operations would be financed through the support account.
The ACABQ, however, found that criteria proposed by the Secretary-General and their application to be confusing and therefore concluded that “it may no longer be useful to continue to try to compose arbitrary and, in the end, inevitably rigid and artificial criteria for core and non-core posts and activities” and that attempts to consider whether to finance posts on the basis of whether they were core or non core activities would be counter-productive given the conflicting Member State interests associated with the different scales of assessments. Instead, the ACABQ recommended a pragmatic approach in which proposals for variations in the number of posts should be justified on an individual basis. This was the basis on which the General Assembly, in resolution 50/221 B, approved the switch to an annual budget for the support account beginning 1 July 1996.
By 2006, the ACABQ and Board of Auditors were concerned that the growth in the support account did not appear to have any relation to the overall level of peacekeeping requirements. In particular, the ACABQ was concerned that the support account was being used as “a vehicle to propose the establishment of posts that more properly should be proposed under the regular budget”.
Recent legislative history
The General Assembly has made a number of requests to the Secretariat related to the use of the support account.
- Resolution 60/268 requested the Secretary-General to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of the support account, the results of which were presented in A/63/767
- Resolution 63/287 requested a re-justification of the totality of posts funded under the support account during the 64th session, which was presented in A/64/697, Add.1 and Add.2
- Resolutions 66/265 and 67/287 encouraged the Secretary-General “to determine what constitutes a core or basic capacity to effectively manage and backstop peacekeeping operations”
- Resolution 67/287 emphasized that “there should be a relationship between the level of backstopping capacity provided through the support account and the number, size and complexity of peacekeeping operations”
- Resolution 70/287 requested the Secretary-General to present a comprehensive review of the support account “to ensure that the support account broadly corresponds to the evolving mandate, number, size and complexity of peacekeeping missions and to the implementation of organizational transformation initiatives”
- A/45/493 Support account for peacekeeping operations: report of the Secretary-General (18 September 1990)
- A/45/801 Administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of the UN peacekeeping operations: report of the ACABQ (28 November 1990)
- A/57/655 Support account for peacekeeping operations: report of the Secretary-General (12 November 1992)
- A/47/747 Support account for peacekeeping operations: report of the ACABQ (7 December 1992)
- A/48/470 Add.1 and Support account for peacekeeping operations: report of the Secretary-General (22 October 1993 and 27 May 1994)
- A/48/955 Support account for peacekeeping operations: report of the ACABQ (24 June 1994)
- A/49/717 Support account for peacekeeping operations: report of the Secretary-General (28 November 1994)
- A/49/904 Support account for peacekeeping operations: report of the ACABQ (24 May 1995)
- A/50/897 Support account for peacekeeping operations: report of the ACABQ (22 March 1996)
- Discussion of the pro-rated financing scheme for the support account, including letter from the Controller reproduced in Annex II
- A/72/814 Comprehensive review of the support account for peacekeeping operations: report of the Secretary-General (2 April 2018)
- Overview of the history and trends in the support account.