Press Releases

     
    For information only - not an official document.
      UNIS/DSG/51
        9 November 2000
     Deputy Secretary-General Says Independent Internal and External 
    Oversight Mechanisms Have Central Place in Today’s UN
     

    NEW YORK, 8 November (UN Headquarters) --  Following is the text of Deputy Secretary- General Louise Frechette’s remarks yesterday at Headquarters to a tripartite meeting of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, the Joint Inspection Unit and the Board of Auditors:

     It is a pleasure to join you today.  To the average staff member, your behind-the-scenes work may seem somewhat remote from their daily tasks, veiled in secrecy or obscurity, even tinged at times with hostility.  But each of you plays an indispensable role in the work of the United Nations, and it is good to know that these tripartite meetings are becoming a regular feature of the calendar.  Your eagerness to communicate with, and learn from, each other -- sharing expertise, best practices and lessons learned -- is the very spirit of openness and reform that the Secretary-General has tried to instil throughout the Secretariat.

     The reform process is now more than three years young.  It is fair to say that we have achieved a great deal -- structurally, procedurally, substantively and politically -- though, of course, major challenges lie ahead, and there is no room for complacency.  The Millennium Summit has given us added impetus -- a new sense of purpose and direction, if you will.

     The Secretary-General attaches great significance to the pledges, delivered at the highest political level, to improve United Nations peace operations, to meet a range of specific targets in the fight against poverty, to do more to protect the environment and so on across our agenda.  The Millennium Declaration also contains a strong commitment to strengthen the United Nations itself:  to "spare no effort to make the United Nations a more effective instrument" and to "adopt the best management practices and technologies available".  No longer are we hearing only the language of cuts in programmes and personnel as the preferred path to a stronger United Nations.  There is a growing appreciation for what the United Nations, fully aware of its built-in limitations, can do if fully equipped for the job.

     This is both an opportunity and a responsibility.  And that is where your work fits in.  Let me mention how pleased we are to have Mr. Dileep Nair in our ranks; the Office of Internal Oversight Services is now well established and serving an invaluable function in the Secretariat.  You have collectively already helped the Secretariat make better use of the resources placed at our disposal by the Member States.  You have helped in the crucial task of creating a culture of accountability for all staff, no matter where they might be stationed or where they are in the hierarchy.  But you are not just describing what is wrong -- ferreting out financial losses, uncovering inefficiencies and pointing out other problems common to organizations as large and as diverse as ours.  You are doing these things, and they are vitally important.  But you are also prescribing -- offering suggestions for new ways of doing things and identifying new skills needed by the Secretariat.  In short, your work is very relevant to the Secretary-General's reform programme.

     As we move ahead, the reform of human resources management will be particularly important.  Our ambitious goals and deeply held hopes for the United Nations in the new century will remain mere words unless each and every staff member understands what is expected of him or her, possesses the tools, skills and mechanisms to achieve those goals, and can then be judged fairly for his or her performance.  That is the essence of professionalism and accountability, and it is the central management challenge we face. 

     The Secretary-General has just submitted reports on these subjects to the General Assembly calling for significant changes, including new systems of recruitment, new incentives for staff mobility and, above all, a new culture of responsibility.  One innovation I should mention is the creation of an Accountability Panel, which I will chair and which will, among other things, review the reports of the three bodies represented here, to examine how far and how well their recommendations have been implemented by managers. 

     Reform in the area of peacekeeping is also very high on the agenda this fall.  The so-called Brahimi report offers a number of very practical suggestions for strengthening the United Nations capacity to conduct peacekeeping operations, and we are anxious to receive the General Assembly’s guidance and decision.

     Independent internal and external oversight have a central place in today's United Nations.  Together -- as partners amongst yourselves, and each of you as partners with United Nations management -- you have a great deal to contribute to the Organization's global mission.  Your efforts to work in concert and to avoid overlapping audits, inspections and investigations are much appreciated.  I wish you a very fruitful meeting.

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