UN General Assembly Defers Guterres’ Report on Shifting Entebbe Centre to Kenya

The United Nations (UN) Regional Service Centre (RSC) in Entebbe.

The United Nations General Assembly has defered the report containing a proposal to have the Entebbe based United Nations (UN) Regional Service Centre (RSC) to Nairobi.

According to a document shared by Adonia Ayebare, the Permanent Representative of Uganda to the United Nations, the matter was deferred by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) until the seventy fourth session of the General Assembly due for September this year.

The matter was under item 135 on the review of the efficiency of the Administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations.

The report had been prepared by the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres and it is the second time it has been rejected.

“UN Global Service Delivery Model  report deferred , Entebbe Regional service center remains intact . Thank you team UG mission to UNNY, MOFA for hard work and Member States for your support,” Ambassador Adonia Ayebare tweeted on Friday.

The representative of Uganda said her delegation welcomes the Secretary-General’s initiative and is convinced of the benefits this reform will bring.  However, the process of negotiations has not been transparent, she said.

Owing to the development, the Entebbe Centre will continue to operate normally and its budget will be approved, until the General Assembly approves the report.

The government of Uganda is strongly opposed to the contents of the report which propose relocation of the USD 33m Entebbe based United Nations (UN) Regional Service Centre (RSC) to Nairobi.

The UN Secretary General argues the relocation of the Centre is part of the reformist move to implement a Global Service Delivery Model which according to the report released December last year seeks to “consolidate fragmented administrative structures into Global Shared Service Centres with the goal of improving service delivery”.

The Secretary General holds that this model will enable services to be delivered with greater consistency and scalability, achieving economies of scale and a reduction of the UN’s footprint in higher-cost and higher-risk duty stations.

Under the proposed changes in the delivery of services, the GSD model will consolidate location-independent hub functions into Global Shared Service Centres that will be established in Nairobi (Kenya), Shenzhen (China), Budapest (Hungary) and Montreal (Canada).

In January this year, while interfacing with the Parliamentary committee on Foreign Affairs, Uganda’s Foreign Minister, Sam Kutesa said the same recommendations contained in the initial report have been revived in the latest report and that Uganda is prepared to launch another protest.

“There was a restructuring at the United Nations with the purpose of reducing expenditure,” Kutesa told legislators.

He said that Guterres then appointed consultant who recommended that there should be repositioning of the base with Nairobi (Kenya), Budapest and Mexico as the alternative hosts.

“We protested, we said Uganda had been serving for these ten years, capacities have been built and savings have been made to the UN. And there was absolutely no reason why this Centre should be taken elsewhere. We went back to the Fifth committee of the UN to discuss its budget and the Secretary General’s report was thrown out”.

“He [Secretary General] was told to do it [report] again. Now, he has done it again but he appointed the same consultant who had been discredited,” said Kutesa.“We are protesting again. He came back with the same recommendation about Nairobi. We are campaigning. I was talking to some members of Parliament. We want your support in this campaign, it is for our country,” Kutesa told Parliament.

The issue (proposed relocation of the Centre to Nairobi) which caused diplomatic friction between Uganda and Kenya had drawn in President Yoweri Museveni who wrote to Gueterres saying the decision was unfair.

In February, Museveni met with Guterres on the sidelines of the 32nd Ordinary Summit of the African Union Heads of State in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the issue of the  UN Centre was part of the discussion.

President Museveni said the UN Secretary General had assured him that the UN base in Entebbe will remain vibrant even as the organization undertakes reforms.

Initially, when Uganda pushed back against the relocation of the RSC in Entebbe, the UN argued it was only moving a small portion of the facility but that Uganda would retain the base, also stationed at Entebbe.

The base acts as the Support Base logistics hub for MONUSCO, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in DRC. The UN assured officials in Uganda that as such, a total of 554 jobs would be maintained in Uganda.

However, sources disclosed to SoftPower News that Uganda risks losing significantly given the contribution of the RSC to the economy, jobs, skill set (especially for the professionals) and the entire local economy value chain, should the centre be moved to Nairobi.

A total of 747 posts in Entebbe, will be impacted as a result of the implementation of the proposed repositioning.

This is comprised of 204 international civil staff and 341 contractors and national staff and contractors.

“The global service delivery model will affect existing staff to varying degrees. Once the Shared Service Centres are established, some existing administrative capacity may become redundant, some functions may change and there may also be new opportunities for staff,” indicates the report.

The annual funding for the Entebbe Centre oscillates between USD 31m to USD 36m, depending on the requirements of the budget, SoftPower News recently established.

Since its establishment nine years ago, the Entebbe centre has been offering field finance, human resources (including the payroll), field travel, financial reporting to all peacekeeping missions in Africa, and has improved tremendously in its performance of its key indicators.

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