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STATUS OF THE UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL SERVICE CENTER IN ENTEBBE (RSCE)

STATEMENT BY HON. OKELLO HENRY ORYEM
MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

TO PARLIAMENT

ON THE

STATUS OF THE UNITED NATIONS REGIONAL SERVICE CENTER IN ENTEBBE (RSCE)

PARLIAMENTARY BUILDINGS

KAMPALA
9 MAY 2018

[Please check against delivery]
Rt Hon Speaker

I am pleased to appraise this August House on the status of the UN Regional Service Centre in Entebbe (RSCE).

At the outset, I wish to express appreciation to you personally and the Honorable members for the interest that has been demonstrated in this matter. As the members will find, the Government of Uganda was at the fore front of the establishment of the Center and has continued to engage relevant actors to support its continued location but also expansion in Entebbe.

Rt Hon Speaker,
In the beginning of 2010, Uganda began its engagement with the United Nations Secretariat and UN member states on a proposal by the UN Secretary General for a Global Field Support Strategy (GFSS). The GFSS outlined a new global approach to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations, in service delivery to field missions and the better use of resources, as well as the timely start-up and deployment of operations.
In July 2010, following a spirited campaign by Uganda, the UN General Assembly authorized the UN to start working on a global and regional approach to delivering services, establishing the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe (RSCE). The RSCE was established by a resolution of the UN General Assembly as one of the main pillars of the Global Field Support Strategy. The Government proceeded and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UN establishing the Center in Uganda on 20 July 2010.

Since that time the RSCE has provided a full range of administrative, logistics and information and communications technology services to twelve client missions in Africa, representing over 63% of all United Nations peacekeeping and special political missions worldwide.

The missions served include the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region, the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group, the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Burundi. In addition, from November 2016, the RSCE provides payroll services to eight additional field missions throughout Africa.

Last month, the UN Secretary-General prepared a report on the Global Service Delivery Model (GSDM) as required by the General Assembly presenting a business case for a model, to provide administrative support services that effectively enable the fulfillment of the mandates of the UN. The GSDM seeks to compress shared services of 98 UN Secretariat entities in 45 Locations worldwide into a few Shared Service Centers. The report compresses the shared services of 98 UN Secretariat entities in 45 Locations worldwide including ten in Africa into four Shared Service Centers. It initially recommended four (4) locations, namely;

Africa Nairobi, Kenya
Europe Budapest, Romania
Americas New Mexico City
Asia Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malaysia later declined to be one of the locations.

According to the report, the location assessment was built on the following criteria;
Security and Stability
A family Duty Station
Health, education and access issues, including reliable medical facilities, educational facilities and a nearby international airport
Infrastructure, including reliable modern information and communication technology and capacity to expand the location quickly to accommodate staff without significant new infrastructure investment by the UN
Availability of qualified local workforce with requisite skills profile
Strong host government relations to ensure recognition of UN privileges and immunities and access to visas for UN staff, including their staff and dependents
Staff and operational costs.

Rt Hon Speaker,

Uganda has supported the UN Secretary Generals proposal to make the UN Secretariat more efficient and responsive to better serve the Member States. The RSCE has proved over the years that it provides the efficiency gains and cost-saving that the Secretary-General and the UN membership is calling for.

Since its establishment the RSCE has provided efficient, scalable and client-oriented services for United Nations field Missions. Over the years, the RSCE has grown and expanded with the active support of the Government.

For example, the RSCE started with 39 staff in the 2011/12 period, consisting of 62% international staff. The number of approved posts has steadily increased, and in the current period the RSCE is supported by 427 approved staff, including 146 international staff, 267 national staff and 8 United Nations Volunteers. Over the past four financial periods, the RSCE has undergone a nationalization programme which has resulted in the current balance of 32% international staff to 68% national staff.

The UN General Assembly during its 69th session under the Ugandan presidency, for the first time gave the RSCE operational and managerial independence and requested the Secretary General to submit a budget proposal for the 2016/2017 period to be charged against missions that the Centre supports. Subsequently, in the 70th session, in another first, the General Assembly approved a budget of US$39,203,600 for the maintenance of the RSCE for the period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017.

Rt Hon Speaker,

The Government is convinced that Entebbe is a solid location and we contest the fairness of the assessment. For example;
On Security and Stability
Not many places the in the world let alone Africa can match Uganda as a peaceful and secure location. Since its inception Entebbe and the recent of the country has remained secure location for UN Personnel and premises.

As a family Duty Station
Uganda is currently a UN Family Duty Station. Housing, extra-curricular activities, education and health facilities and several health Insurance services are all readily available.

On Health, education and access issues, including reliable medical facilities, educational facilities and a nearby international airport.
The RSCE is in direct proximity to Entebbe International airport and plans for expansion of existing health, education facilities are underway. Kampala and Entebbe have over 20 International Schools. Hospital upgrades like the Mulago National Referral Hospital, Lubowa International Hospital, are either underway or are already completed. Testimony to this, last December, His Excellency the President visited four Tanzanian MONUSCO soldiers who were admitted in Nakasero Hospital a private medical facility following injuries sustained from ADF.

On Infrastructure, including reliable modern information and communication technology and capacity to expand the location quickly to accommodate staff without significant new infrastructure investment by the UN.
Existing Road and communication and ICT infrastructure exists and major Highways like the Entebbe-Kampala Expressway will be open by end of 2018.
Capacity to expand exists given the generous offer of 20 acres of land more than was asked for by the United Nations..

On the availability of qualified local workforce with requisite skills profile
Qualified local work force exists. This will eliminate the training costs of new staff. Trained at a cost of approximately US$9 million dollars.

On strong host government relations to ensure recognition of UN privileges and immunities and access to visas for UN staff, including their staff and dependents
Relations with UN have remained strong with regular and access by UN staff to Government officials

On Staff and operational costs.
Uganda has relatively low cost of living within the East African Region with readily available qualified competent staff.

Rt Hon Speaker,

In addition to the support extended by the Government mentioned above, the local community has also provided;
Plenty of highly educated talent
A range goods and services
Real estate investments to support the Center

The United Nations too has also invested over the ten years;
From originally pre-fabricated offices to purpose built permanent buildings valued at over US$6 million
Trained staff currently carrying out shared services at a cost of US$9 million

Rt Hon Speaker,

The Policy Objectives that Government has pursued by hosting the Regional Service Centre Entebbe (RSCE) are;

Support implementation of Ugandas transformation agenda in line with the National Development Programme (NDPII)

Support an external environment that is peaceful, thus enabling us to concentrate on our growth and development. 

To contribute to regional efforts for peace and security

Attract significant investment to support sustainable development.

Rt Hon Speaker,

Hosting the Regional Service Centre Entebbe (RSCE) has contributed to the achievement of the following outputs and out comes;

Increased investments in the real estate sector e.g hotels, apartments etc
Increased air connectivity at the airport,
Increased tourists/visitors especially the relatives of international staff,
Increased investment in social infrastructure e.g schools and hospitals
opportunities for procurement for Ugandan goods and services (banking etc)
Increased foreign exchange inflows
Increased job opportunities directly as the national staff component rises but also indirectly for related services.

Rt Hon Speaker,

I wish to underline that decision making process on the future of the Center is as follows, now that the UN Secretary-General has presented his report;

The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), a technical committee composed of sixteen (16) members is now considering the report.

The UN Fifth Committee on Finance Matters, composed of all UN member states including Uganda will then consider the report of ACABQ. This Committee can either accept the recommendations or reject them. This Committee will make the final decision in June 2018.

Rt Hon Speaker,

Going forward, my Ministry is working closely with our Mission at the United Nations in New York to demonstrate that Entebbe is the right location. The potential cost savings and efficiency gains that the RSCE has demonstrated over the years are clear and are being amplified.

Uganda has made a significant contribution to international peace and security sacrificing for UN causes in Somalia, Liberia, Burundi, South Sudan, South Africa and many others. The country to date is the single largest recipient of refugees in Africa with almost 1.5million. The Regional Service Center in Entebbe (RSCE), is the only significant UN entity hosted in Uganda unlike other locations.

The Government has deliberately made substantial investments to support the Center and many more are upcoming including in infrastructure. The local community has also invested extensively to support the Center. The UN too has made significant investments in human and physical capital in the last few years.

Our message is that, the UN should demonstrate fairness. It is an intergovernmental body and the benefits of being a member state should trickle down across its broad membership and not to just to a few.

Rt Hon Speaker,

As part of the strategy to support the RSCE, specific actions have been taken as follows;

The Minister of Foreign Minister, Hon Sam Kutesa has been in contact and written to all Foreign Ministers of 16 countries represented on the ACABQ.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has through a number of multilateral fora such as recent Commonwealth of Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), engaged with a number of countries. These include; United Kingdom, South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, Singapore among others.
I have also attended the recent meeting of Non Aligned Movement (NAM) in Baku, Azerbaijan where I met with a number of delegations on this matter. These include; South Africa, Vietnam, Maldives, Cuba, Ecuador among others.
Support for RSCE has been a substantive Talking Point for Senior Officials in the Ministry, for all bilateral and multilateral engagements.
The Permanent Secretary in early April 2018 met in Entebbe with members of the 5th Committee who visited the country on a field visit in the region including the RSCE.
Our Mission in New York with support from the Ministry Headquarters is actively engaging with all ACABQ and UN member states.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has spoken to the UN Secretary-General.
His Excellency the President has written to the UN Secretary-General bringing this important matter to his notice and seeking action.

Rt Hon Speaker,

In conclusion, I would like to state the following;

In 2010, following a spirited campaign by Uganda, the UN General Assembly authorized the establishment of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe (RSCE).
Since its establishment the RSCE has provided efficient, scalable and client-oriented services for United Nations field Missions. It has demonstrated the cost savings and efficiency gains over the last few years.
The UN Secretary-General has prepared a report on the Global Service Delivery Model (GSDM) seeking to compress shared services of 98 UN Secretariat entities in 45 Locations worldwide, into four Shared Service Centers. Entebbe is not among the four recommended locations.
The report only has recommendations pending a decision in June of the UN Fifth Committee on Finance Matters, composed of all UN member states including Uganda.
The RSCE was established, has grown and expanded with the active and deliberate support of the Government.
A strategy is being implemented by Government to engage the UN membership to support Entebbe as the right location.
Government has also shared the concern with the UN Secretary-General that if Entebbe is not selected, the impact will be enormous on the local community in particular, that has done a lot to support the Regional Service Center in Entebbe (RSCE), the only significant UN entity in Uganda.
The UN must demonstrate the principles of fairness and equity in the benefits that accrue across the entire UN membership. It must also ensure that no one is left behind. It cannot and should not disenfranchise communities and countries that support and sacrifice in upholding to its universal and cherished principles.
If Entebbe is not selected, it will be a sign of bad faith. It will be an insult to the people and the sacrifices that Uganda has continued to make.

I Thank You