Press Releases

    GA/AB/3604
    11 March 2004

    Opening Resumed Session, Budget Committee Considers Joint Inspection Unit, Geneva Common Service Financing of Tribunals, Support of Extrabudgetary Activities

    NEW YORK, 10 March (UN Headquarters) -- At the opening of its first resumed session this morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) focused on the United Nations common services in Geneva, financing of the two international Tribunals, support costs related to extrabudgetary activities within the system, and a review of the statute and working methods of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU). As the Committee took up what many speakers characterized as the main item of the two-week session, the review of the statute and working methods of the Joint Inspection Unit, delegates stressed the importance of acting during the current session to make the Unit a more effective body. The Committee had considered the report on the preliminary review of the JIU last October. In December, the JIU had presented an addendum to that report, highlighting areas that required the General Assembly’s approval.

    The representative of Ireland, on behalf of the European Union and associated States, noted that the Unit had done excellent work in implementing internal reforms that did not require the Assembly’s legislative approval. It was time, however, for the Assembly to “shoulder its responsibility” and initiate the necessary changes in the Unit’s working methods and some crucial amendments of its Statute. The Unit’s main problems could be addressed by reforming the mode of selection of new inspectors, by strengthening the Chairman and by establishing a collective responsibility for the Unit’s work.

    Among specific suggestions put forward by the representative of Canada, also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, were proposals to tighten qualification of inspectors; make the selection process less politicized; and reduce the number of inspectors. Also, the system of 11 inspectors working more or less on their own should be replaced with greater collective responsibility led by the Chair and improved mechanisms for quality control.

    The representative of the Russian Federation, on the other hand, cautioned against changing the statute of the Unit, saying that improvements could be introduced within the framework of the existing mandate, possibly through a General Assembly resolution. In a certain period of time, the Assembly could return to the issue reviewing the implementation of the changes.

    Introducing the report of the JIU, its Chairman, Ion Gorita, said the Unit was very conscious of the importance of the outcome of the session for its future work. In the last three months, the Unit had pursued its internal reform process with a view to advancing those areas in which legislative approval was not necessarily required. A series of measures had been taken to improve the Unit’s work, as well as its choice of themes and the quality of its reports. The Unit had also moved forward on the implementation of the JIU Strategic Framework. A number of other measures to improve efficiency had also been implemented.

    Also this morning, as the Committee considered the management review of the Office of the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia, several speakers, including representatives of South Africa (on behalf of the African Group), Rwanda and the United States, addressed the high vacancy rates in the Rwanda Tribunal and the failure to appoint a Deputy Prosecutor and Chief of Prosecutions for two years. Another cause of concern was the need to strictly implement the two Courts’ completion strategies.

    Rwanda’s representative said that the transfer of cases to Rwanda would contribute significantly to the reconciliation process by giving the country’s people the opportunity to witness the trials. Unfortunately, many of the genocide survivors and victims felt disconnected from the process. He looked forward, therefore, to the Secretary-General’s proposals on the rules of procedure for the transfers.

    The representative of South Africa, on behalf of the African Group, said the Group trusted that the Secretariat and Tribunal would act on the Assembly’s call for greater delegation of authority regarding recruitment and the extension of contracts of core staff for longer periods. The Group also hoped that the completion strategy would continue to focus on the overall mandate of contributing to the process of reconciliation in Rwanda and maintenance of peace in the region.

    In other business today, the Committee considered measures to enhance United Nations system common services at Geneva, hearing a presentation by the Director of the Division of Administration at the United Nations Office in Geneva Bertrand Juppin de Fondaumière via videoconferencing.

    Approving its programme of work for the session, which is scheduled to conclude on 19 March, the Committee also agreed to address such important issues on its agenda as human resources management, audit of the Investment Management Service of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, and the Capital Master Plan for the refurbishment of the United Nations complex. The programme was approved on the understanding that it would be adjusted, as necessary, during the session.

    Addressing the Committee for the first time, the new Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), Vladimir Kuznetsov introduced that body’s related report.

    Also speaking today were the representatives of Qatar, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, Iran, Brazil, Austria, Japan, Turkey China, Syria, Pakistan and Egypt.

    The Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, Dileep Nair, introduced that body’s report on the management review of the Prosecutor’s Office. Warren Sach, the Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, also addressed the Committee.

    The Committee will continue its work at 10 a.m. on Monday, 15 March, when it is expected to take up human resources management and strengthening investigation functions.

    Background

    As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) opened its first resumed session this morning, it was expected to consider a number of items, including the United Nations common services at Geneva; support costs related to extrabudgetary activities in the United Nations system; the in-depth review of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) statute and working methods, and the financing of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

    Common Services at Geneva

    The Committee had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations system common services at Geneva (document A/58/439), which reviews the measures taken to enhance existing structures further to the case studies carried out by the Joint Inspection Unit in 2000, namely, the International Computing Centre, the Joint Medical Service, the Staff Development and Learning Section (the former Training and Examinations Section), the Diplomatic Pouch Service, and the Joint Purchase Service.

    The report also describes in detail the most salient job initiatives that have been carried out in Geneva towards the development of an action plan for common services since the JIU issued its report three years ago. Participating organizations tend to favour a pragmatic approach geared towards completing specific projects within the existing common services framework, rather than the establishment of additional structures to define and implement the plan of action, the report notes.

    The “three-tier mechanism”, which comprises the Management Ownership Committee, the Task Force on Common Services, and various ad hoc working groups, is being reviewed so as to further enhance its efficiency, the report continues. Possible improvement measures include expanding the mandate of the Task Force on Common Services to incorporate the tasks assigned to the Management Ownership Committee and redefining the role of the Joint Purchase Service.

    Financing of Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda, Former Yugoslavia

    Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General’s note transmitting the report, conveyed by the Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, on the review of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the former Yugoslavia (document A/58/677), which was conducted in June and July 2003.

    The review concluded that the Prosecutor (prior to the Security Council’s decision to create a separate post of Prosecutor for the Rwanda Tribunal last August, a single Prosecutor handled both Tribunals) had undertaken to improve the performance of the Office through the use of information technology and changes in working methods. However, best practices were not always shared between the two Tribunals; and arrangements for planning and monitoring needed to be strengthened. Overall, there was insufficient information to confirm the Tribunals’ contention to the Security Council that investigation and prosecution mandates would be completed by 2004 and 2008, respectively.

    The review also found that delays in recruiting the Rwanda Deputy Prosecutor and the Chief of Prosecutions were mainly attributable to inappropriate recruitment procedures. The Office of the Prosecutor construed the appointment of the Deputy Prosecutor as a political appointment not requiring a formal vacancy announcement, whereas the Registrar felt that he alone was to select the candidate to be appointed. To prevent such problems in the future, the Registry and Prosecutor should agree on their respective roles in human resources management and ensure appropriate training for the staff involved in recruitment.

    The report presents eight recommendations to improve the management of the two offices, which address such issues as the need to elaborate on the completion strategy; ensure effective and efficient utilization of information technology; improve accountability of the special funding for investigators; ensure cost-effective document translation; improve arrangements for the utilization of temporary staff; and ensure that voluntary contributions earmarked for the Rwanda Prosecutor are used in accordance with donor agreements. The document also contains comments of the Yugoslavia Prosecutor’s Office, listing the court’s efforts to draft its completion strategy.

    Joint Inspection Unit

    The Secretary-General’s note contained in document A/58/343/Add.2 transmits an addendum to the report of the Joint Inspection Unit on the in-depth review of its statute and working methods, which presents the progress made since the end of the main part of the fifty-eighth session, when the subject was last addressed.

    The Unit indicates that in recent months it has finalized and adopted new internal working procedures to complement the standards and guidelines adopted in 1996. Those procedures include a set of principles, parameters, criteria and benchmarks for the preparation and adoption of the programme of work, which needs to be balanced and aimed at clearly identified risk areas. It also needs to be subjected to thorough screening and analysis.

    New mechanisms have been developed to implement the strategic framework adopted by the Unit in 2003, in particular as concerns conducting risk assessment, improving the quality of reports and selecting their topics, the report continues. On the basis of the pilot risk assessment exercises, which were conducted over the last few weeks in five participating organizations, in the coming months the Unit is expected to adopt a common methodology to extend the exercise to other organizations.

    The Unit’s 2004 programme of work, composed of 10 new items, is clearly focused on concrete topics where potential savings can be identified, or that are of relevance to Member States’ pressing concerns. Some of its subjects relate to issues of governance, as well as efficiency in the use of technical cooperation resources. Two of the 10 new items respond to specific mandates received from legislative organs, and five stem from suggestions made by participating organizations. The first and final draft reports or notes will be discussed in official meetings, which will focus on verifying that the Unit’s recommendations are realistic, cost-effective and directed at correcting clear deficiencies with practical, action-oriented measures.

    Among other efficiency measures, the report lists a number of information technology-related projects, including expected launch at the end of March of a redesigned JIU Web site (www.unsystem.org/JIU), development of an Intranet and finalization of several databases.

    Programme Budget for 2002-2003

    Also before the Committee was the JIU’s note (document A/58/714) providing clarification to the recommendations contained in its earlier report on support costs related to extrabudgetary activities in organizations of the United Nations system (document A/57/442 and Add.1). The clarifications were requested by the General Assembly in its decision 58/560.

    In the light of frozen or falling core resources, effective use of extrabudgetary resources in support of mandated programmes has become increasingly important. The original report reviewed formulation and application of extrabudgetary support-cost policies within the United Nations system and proposed measures to harmonize a wide range of arrangements in various programmes and financial management structures of the Organization.

    Most approved rates of reimbursement are now lower than the full costs incurred in supporting extrabudgetary activities. Such calculations are based on the original United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) “partnership formula” -- later approved by the General Assembly -- providing 13 per cent reimbursement of actual project costs, with United Nations system organizations and Member States sharing the rest of support costs.

    The JIU recommends integrating extrabudgetary and core resources in budget presentations and subjecting them to legislative approval. It also addresses the need to precisely define the role of extrabudgetary financing in the overall structure of the United Nations, to refine approval and control mechanisms, and explain the role of extrabudgetary financing in relation to core programme activities. The Inspectors insist that acceptance of extrabudgetary resources should be in line with approved programmatic priorities of various bodies. Also advocated by the Unit is consistent application of rules, clear justification of exceptional support-cost rates and improved efficiency of administrative services. The Inspectors conclude that the practice of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and, to a certain extent, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) of retaining interest earned on supplementary resources and of using this income to offset support costs is worthy of further study.

    While generally accepting the findings and recommendations of the JIU and acknowledging the need to monitor, on a system-wide basis, emerging policy questions and procedures, and to keep under review the overall management of extrabudgetary resources, the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination had some concerns regarding the report. For example, an opinion was expressed that recommended recovery of a larger proportion of support costs as direct and internal project costs might eventually lead to lowering of the programme support-cost rate. On the other hand, potential benefits of such a change include improvement of the donors’ perception of transparency and justification of support cost charges and the legitimacy of applied indirect support-cost rates.

    Organization of Work

    MARGARET STANLEY (Ireland), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the reform of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) was among the foremost issues for the Union during the current session. Regrettably, during the last session, the Committee had had insufficient time to consider JIU and Member States proposals. The Committee now had a good opportunity to agree on meaningful changes that would strengthen the Unit in its functioning as an effective system-wide external oversight body. The implementation of the Capital Master Plan was also of crucial importance and the Union expected that the Committee’s discussion would facilitate a decision on the next steps. The Union also looked forward to renewing discussion on closed peacekeeping mission accounts. The Committee was entrusted with the oversight of efficient functioning of the Organization and it should set the example of optimum use of available resources.

    MISHAL MOHAMMED ALI AHMED AL-ANSARI (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, stressed the importance of JIU reform, human resources management, the Capital Master Plan, support costs related to extrabudgetary activities, closed peacekeeping missions and various reports of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). Regarding the status of documentation, he noted with deep concern the late issuance of reports. If not corrected, the recurring problem would lead to a waste of time and effort. The Group regretted that the Committee would not be able to consider the administration of justice. He urged the Secretariat to strictly comply with the six-week and 10-week rule, as well as relevant General Assembly resolutions and rules of procedure, in particular, abstaining from publishing any document on the United Nations Web site before being published simultaneously in all official languages in hard copy.

    ALIREZA TOOTOONCHIAN (Iran) looked forward to successful conclusion of all the items before the Committee during the current session.

    GILDA MOTTA SANTOS-NEVES (Brazil) assured the Committee of her delegation’s willingness to conclude items during the current session.

    Introduction of Report

    Introducing the report of the Secretary-General on United Nations system common services at Geneva via videoconferencing, BERTRAND JUPPIN DE FONDAUMIERE, Director, Division of Administration, United Nations Office at Geneva, said the report took stock of measures which have been taken to enhance the existing common services structures initially reviewed by the Joint Inspection Unit in 2000 and further detailed initiatives launched towards the implementation of a plan of action at the Geneva level for 2010. The approach adopted by common services participating organizations differed from the one initially recommended by the JIU, which was based on predetermined, fixed centres pooling participating organizations.

    He said the three-tier mechanism had been in place for several years to investigate, promote, champion and implement specific common services initiatives, when it was deemed to be in the interest of participants to pool resources. The pragmatic, flexible approach had resulted in the implementation of various specific projects in the past few years, most notably for the provision of electricity, travel and mail services. The special discount negotiated with the electricity provider had resulted in an estimated saving of some 1 million Swiss francs ($769,200) for the period 1 July 2002 to 31 December 2003 for the participating organizations. The United Nations Office at Geneva’s estimated saving of CHF 500,000, or $384,600, had accounted for more than half of the overall amount.

    Geneva-participating organizations were committed to promoting further common services initiatives and had embarked in an overall review of the existing framework with a view to improve its efficiency further, he added. Possible avenues led in the expansion of the Task Force’s mandate and in strengthening the de facto monitoring role assumed by the Joint Purchase Service over technical working groups.

    Addressing the Committee for the first time, VLADIMIR KUZNETSOV, the new Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), said the report described measures to enhance existing common services. The Advisory Committee recommended that the General Assembly take note of the report. Future progress reports on the matter should be submitted in the context of the proposed programme budget.

    MELANIE ATTWOOLL (United States) said that her delegation had followed the developments in Geneva for a while, and it was gratifying that progress was being made. That said, she noted a certain lack of perspective in the report as to how common services were contributing to the savings and efficiency. Among the questions she had in connection with the report was one connected to the JIU recommendation for a plan of action. Since then, it had been determined that a structured approach was not so beneficial as a flexible one. Still, a plan of action seemed to be going forward, and she wanted to know what the time-frame was in that connection. As for the International Computing Centre, she wanted to know what efforts were being made to follow through on the recommendations. What were the recommendations of the management review of the medical service? What proposals had been made regarding the central purchase service?

    ENNO DROFENIK (Austria), speaking on behalf of the Irish Presidency of the European Union, said that the Union welcomed the measures to enhance the common services structure in Geneva. Without any doubt, they would lead to substantial efficiency measures. However, he wanted to know more about recent developments. The need for a more pragmatic approach had led to a deviation from the action plan proposed by the JIU, and he wanted to know if the plan would be launched at the anticipated date. Also, he had just learned about the cost savings achieved, particularly in the field of electricity. Had there been any response in respect of customer satisfaction?

    Responding to the questions raised, Mr. FONDAUMIERE said Geneva-based organizations expected not only to meet the date set by the JIU as far as the plan of action was concerned, but also exceed it. Without waiting for 2010, work was already being carried out in Geneva. Priorities were determined every year. For example, last year the focus had been on travel services and, at the end of the exercise, a joint request for proposals had resulted in a selection of a single travel agency and a single management mechanism.

    While not prepared to provide exact figures of the savings achieved, he said that a progress report would be submitted at a later date. As a result of negotiations with air companies, cheaper rates for travel had been achieved. On office furniture, a joint request for proposals had been made, which, he hoped, would lead to progress. Measures were also being taken as far as harmonization of the purchase of office supplies was concerned.

    Regarding the medical services, he said that a more detailed report would be provided at the next session. An overall policy would follow the medical guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO). The services needed to evolve from a system characterized by the lack of accountability to a series of autonomous, but federated medical service hubs.

    Turning to the question about customer satisfaction, he said that a survey had been launched, and results would be provided as soon as they became available. There was good feedback from clients regarding travel services, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) had recently expressed willingness to join other organizations in the use of their providers.

    Financing of Tribunals

    The report on the management review of the Prosecutor’s Office (document A/58/677) was introduced by the Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, DILEEP NAIR, who said that, while providing additional support for the creation of a separate Prosecutor for the Rwandan Tribunal, the document highlighted areas, where the Prosecutor of both Tribunals could benefit from sharing best practices. There was a need for both Prosecutors to keep in regular contact to build synergies, where appropriate.

    With respect to the recruitment of the Deputy Prosecutor and Chief of Prosecutions for the Rwandan Tribunal, he said that the posts had fallen vacant in May and July 2001 and had been filled in January and February 2003, respectively. The delay had been due mainly to inappropriate recruitment procedures followed by both Office of the Prosecutor and the Registry.

    Information technology sections in the Registries for the Tribunals were meant to serve all the organs of the Tribunals, including the Prosecutor’s Office. However, the Prosecutor’s Office had established its own information technology units, comprising 22 staff in the Yugoslavia Tribunal and three staff members in the Rwanda Tribunal, at an annual staff cost of approximately $1 million. That arrangement duplicated functions. For the Yugoslavia Tribunal, the additional costs arising from that duplication were estimated at about $100,000 in 2003.

    He was pleased to note that the management had begun to take action on the recommendations contained in the report, and the OIOS would continue to monitor their implementation.

    KAREN LOCK (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the African Group, welcomed the efforts that the Office of the Prosecutor had made to address concerns that pivotal management positions at the Tribunal had been vacant for nearly two years. The OIOS had conducted its review in June and July 2003, which was prior to the appointment of a separate Prosecutor for the Rwanda Tribunal, the establishment t of an independent Appeals Unit in Arusha, and the strengthening of the Tribunal’s

    judicial capacity from four to nine ad litem judges. As a result, the Secretary-General’s report could not fully reflect the comments of the new Prosecutor to the OIOS recommendations.

    The Oversight Office had made eight recommendations focusing, among other things, on the overall management of the Office of the Prosecutor, she said. The General Assembly had pronounced itself on many of those aspects when it approved the budgets of the Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals for 2004-2005. The Group trusted that the Tribunals would take those assertions into account when they implemented the appropriate OIOS recommendations.

    She said the Group had repeatedly expressed its concern with the prevailing high vacancy rates at duty stations in Africa and had urged the Tribunal to take further measures to increase recruitment and improve the vacancy situation, she continued. The Group trusted that the Secretariat and Tribunal would act on the Assembly’s call for greater delegation of authority regarding recruitment and the extension of contracts of core staff for longer periods. She trusted that the completion strategy would continue to focus on the overall mandate of contributing to the process of reconciliation in Rwanda and maintenance of peace in that country and the region. Enhanced cooperation between the organs of the Tribunal was required for an effective implementation of the completion strategy.

    The Group welcomed efforts to improve coordination of activities of its three organs, such as the creation of the Coordination Council and the Management Committee. It also welcomed the Prosecutor’s initiatives to improve the Office’s performance. She noted the OIOS recommendation to the Rwanda Tribunal to consider following the Yugoslavia Tribunal practice of using uncertified translations and trusted that those changes, if made, would be in support of the completion strategy. While the Tribunals would benefit from a healthy interchange, they had different mandates and unique requirements.

    NICHOLAS SHALITA (Rwanda) welcomed the establishment of a separate post of Prosecutor for the Rwanda Tribunal. A Prosecutor for the Rwanda Tribunal based thousands of miles away from Arusha and spending on average some 36 days a year or less than one tenth of her time, there was in itself a recipe for ineffectiveness. The failure to appoint a Deputy Prosecutor and Chief of Prosecutions for two years had also aggravated the problem. The completion strategy proposed by the Tribunal was realistic and attainable. The completion of several high profile cases in the last few months provided reason for optimism. His delegation looked forward to reducing the burden of cases on the shoulders of the Tribunal by taking on those cases that had been set aside for the transfer to national jurisdictions.

    He said the transfer of cases to Rwanda would contribute significantly to the reconciliation process by giving the Rwandan people the opportunity to witness the trials. Many of the genocide survivors and victims felt disconnected from the process. He looked forward, therefore, to the Secretary-General’s proposals later this year on the rules of procedure for the transfers, and preparations for a conference at which the international community would be invited to commit resources to support the exercise.

    Regarding concerns on the death penalty, he said the Rwandan Government had formally communicated to the Rwanda Tribunal its intention not to impose the death penalty in any of the cases transferred from the Tribunal. The question of seeking “alternative national jurisdictions” should not, therefore, arise.

    Rwanda’s Government appreciated the recommendation that the Rwanda Tribunal Registry seek the assistance of the UNDP in identifying a suitable agency to conduct an assessment of the impact of the closure of the Tribunal on the economies of Arusha and Kigali. However, the priority would remain the implementation of the completion strategy and transfer of cases to national courts. Whatever real or perceived economic impact there might be on Kigali would be offset by what would be a well funded and well organized transfer of cases to national courts. The Government also supported the recommendation that there should be better communication and clearly defined roles between the Office of the Prosecutor and the Registry in recruitment.

    He also supported the recommendation that voluntary contributions must always be used in accordance with donor agreements and found it odd that the Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts had not provided copies of the agreements to the Office of the Prosecutor and Registry. He advised caution when considering the practice of hiring uncertified translators for the Rwanda Tribunal, as it had done for the Yugoslavia Tribunal. While people with those skills might be readily available in a European city, one could not say the same for Arusha.

    HITOSHI KOZAKI (Japan) said the Prosecutor’s Office of each court needed to implement recommendations on the Tribunals’ completion strategies as expeditiously as possible. Those responsible for management and budget of the Tribunals always needed to bear in mind that Member States were paying their assessed contributions to the Tribunals, despite their difficult fiscal situations. Member States could not be fully accountable to their taxpayers for the payment if both Tribunals did not do their utmost to rationalize their budgets and pursue efficient management. The amount Japan could pay was not unlimited.

    One should also understand, he continued, that the increase in assessed contributions to the Tribunals was a factor that led to lesser amounts that his Government could allocate to voluntary contributions to development and humanitarian international organizations. The costs for delays in rationalizing efforts and insufficient implementation of completion strategies in the Rwanda and Yugoslavia Tribunals and other organizations were high. He strongly urged the Prosecutors of the Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals to keep that in mind and accelerate their efforts to implement the recommendations contained in the report, while being fully mindful of completion dates for their mandates.

    THOMAS A. REPASCH (United States) said his overall assessment was that the document before the Committee was a good report, which contained much useful information. Many management issues were covered, and he was pleased that the Secretary-General had taken note of the findings and had concurred with the recommendations. He hoped those recommendations would be expeditiously implemented.

    Regarding recruitment and vacancy rates, he noted the miscommunications that surrounded the recruitment of some high-level posts in the Rwanda Tribunal and high vacancy rates, particularly in the Rwanda Tribunal. The recruitment problems were similar throughout the Organization, however. For example, a report had just come out regarding recruitment in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which also showed delays and misunderstandings. With a computer system in place to improve the process and reduce the time of recruitment, he had expected significant progress. While there were some improvements, overall, so far the results had not proven as effective as he had hoped. He did not believe there were no qualified candidates for the positions involved. There were many Americans, who would be interested, for example, and he believed that there were many candidates in other countries, as well. He wanted to understand what the systemic problem was.

    Response by OIOS

    Responding to comments, Mr. NAIR said it was common knowledge that the issue of recruitment at the United Nations was not easy. The requirements to be met were quite different from the private sector, for example. They included such issues as gender balance and equitable geographical distribution. Announcement requirements alone demanded that the vacancy announcements should be up for 60 days -- that was a two months’ delay already. Another problem was that the number of candidates who responded through the Galaxy system was often too high. After whittling them down, however, there were often not enough candidates to choose from.

    As for the Tribunals, there was certainly no need to wait for one or two years, as in the case of the Rwanda Tribunal. In addressing some of the systemic issues, he hoped it would be possible to shorten the period of time needed to fill vacancies, bringing it down to some 180 days.

    One of the general recommendations in the report concerned the exit implementation strategy, taking into account its economic and financial impact on the region, he continued. The auditors’ analysis had focused on whether the completion strategy had been looked at comprehensively. It would be prudent if that issue was highlighted. He was aware that the Tribunal by itself could not evaluate the situation in that regard.

    WARREN SACH, the Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, addressed the issue of voluntary contributions, in particular the remark that the Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts (OPPBA) had not provided copies of donor agreements to the Tribunal. That remark had been made regarding paragraph 30 of the Secretary-General’s report. Given the high level of summarization, one could have the impression that the OPPBA had not shared donor agreements with the Registry. That was not the case. Standard procedures required that signed agreements would be made available to the Tribunal.

    Regarding a contribution of some $3 million to the Tribunal in 1995, he said the Government of the Netherlands had contributed that amount for the Tribunal’s work, and an agreement had been signed with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The OPPBA had not become aware of that agreement until the Government of the Netherlands had requested a report on the use of the funds. The agreement had not involved the OPPBA.

    Joint Inspection Unit

    ION GORITA, Chairman of the Joint Inspection Unit, introduced the note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the JIU on the in-depth review of its statute and working methods. Last October, the then Chairman of the JIU had expressed the strong belief and hope of the JIU members that the report on the preliminary review would lead to far-reaching changes. The first report on the JIU reform had stemmed from the Unit’s conclusion that if it was to fulfil its mandate, changes had to be enacted, some requiring amendments to its statute. In the following months, the Unit had continued the process of reform aimed at identifying impediments to the effective discharge of its functions.

    In the last three months, the Unit had pursued its internal process of reflection and reform with a view to advance in those areas in which legislative approval was not necessarily required, he said. A series of measures had been taken to improve the Unit’s work, as well as its choice of themes and the quality of its reports. The Unit was already using Internal Working Procedures, which complemented the Unit’s Standards and Guidelines. They were designed to, among other things, ensure that the JIU reports met the priorities of Member States and were relevant o major United Nations system initiatives and the process of selection of themes for the work programme.

    He said the Unit had also moved forward on the implementation of the JIU Strategic Framework. During the last few months of 2003 and the first quarter of 2004, the Unit had carried out pilot risk assessments for four organizations. A number of other measures to improve efficiency had also been implemented. The JIU was very conscious of the importance of the outcome of the session for its future work.

    Ms. STANLEY (Ireland), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the Unit had done an excellent job in providing serious analysis of the areas of potential reform and a list of proposed actions. The inspectors were already in the process of implementing a number of reform measures that did not require legislative approval, including the adoption of internal working procedures, the development of new mechanisms to implement the strategic framework for 2003, and some measures to strengthen the role of the Chairman. While the Union welcomed the Unit’s excellent work in that regard, those measures were not enough. Now was the time for the General Assembly to shoulder its responsibility and initiate the necessary changes in the Unit’s working methods and some crucial amendments of its statute.

    The main problems of the JIU could be addressed by reforming the mode of selection of new inspectors, by strengthening the Chairman and by establishing a collective responsibility for the Unit’s work. The reform of the JIU was one of the most important items before the Committee.

    JERRY KRAMER (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, recalled that last October, the delegations he represented had expressed deep concern about the limited effectiveness and impact of the work of the JIU, which they attributed in large measure to a deeply flawed model. Today, he wanted to thank the JIU for its open and constructive reflections on how to become more relevant and effective. Among his specific suggestions, he mentioned the need to tighten the qualifications of the inspectors, who should have direct experience in audit, evaluation or inspection. The selection process should be less politicized. Candidates should be screened by a neutral, technically relevant body. The number of inspectors should be reduced. Also, the system of 11 inspectors working more or less on their own should be replaced with greater collective responsibility led by the Chair, and improved mechanisms for quality control.

    Given the programmatic priority attached to African issues across the United Nations system, why would one not consider housing the JIU in Nairobi or at the Economic Commission for Africa? he asked. In making provisions for only one year of the JIU budget, the Assembly had conveyed the urgency of the reform, and the proposal at the ILO that it withdraw from the JIU had sent a reinforcing message. It was imperative to make major change now to overcome the underlying concerns and to position the JIU to contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations system.

    VLADIMIR A. IOSIFOV (Russian Federation) said his delegation had frequently stressed the importance it attached to perfecting and improving the activities of the JIU and enhancing its efficiency. Taking into account the unique mandate of the Unit, which allowed it to implement a system-wide approach to the management of resources sent by Member States to finance the Organization, every effort should be made to ensure full use of the JIU’s potential. That purpose could be achieved without introducing changes to the Statute of the Unit. Its possibilities were far from being exhausted. Even in the terms of the changes that were being proposed, he felt that they could complicate the work of the Unit and would require confirmation of the new statute by all the organizations of the system. Such a process might be very complex and painful, taking a great deal of time and paralyzing the work of the Unit.

    The most effective and rational approach, he continued, would be ensuring improvements in the work of the Unit -- possibly through a General Assembly resolution -- without changing its Statute. The report, which listed the proposals and the steps taken towards improving the working methods of the Unit and enhancing its effectiveness, deserved approval as a whole. On the other hand, those measures did give an impression about the possibility of improving the work of the Unit remaining within the framework of the Statute. After a certain period of time, the Assembly could return to the question of the Unit’s effectiveness and evaluate the new working methods and how its decision was being implemented.

    CIHAN TERZI (Turkey) said that the structure and scope of organizations and the nature of United Nations system activities was becoming increasingly complex. Activities and operations were spread across the world, often away from top management. In that kind of an environment, accountability was the cornerstone of all financial reporting. Inspectors and auditors should have professional and organizational knowledge and competence and know the best practices in every area of organization. The complexity of today’s environment demanded that auditors be fully versed in technical accounting and auditing pronouncements. Also required were a sound conceptual understanding of the basic elements underlying financial reporting and high standards of professional conduct.

    As an independent system-wide external oversight body, the JIU was in a unique and advantageous position from which it could see the whole picture from above and provide advice on the efficient use of resources, management improvements and greater coordination within the system. The Unit could have a strategic role in carrying out high-profile auditing, consulting and investigations. Identifying and addressing risks and evaluating alternative solutions from a broad perspective, it was engaged in a value-added activity. Therefore, building the Unit’s capacity would increase its value to the Organization. He welcomed such measures as the development of internal working procedures to complement the standards and guidelines and the development of criteria and benchmarks for the preparation of the work programme. Those were good steps to create accountability and improve the quality and relevance of the reports.

    The JIU was in a strong position to integrate management consulting and operational and performance auditing in its work, he said, advocating its close cooperation and knowledge sharing with other oversight bodies. In some high-profile cases, a joint team could be created for the benefit of the Organization.

    Mr. REPASCH (United States) said he was glad to hear so many Member States speak on the topic. The United States had had an abiding interest in the matter for many years. He agreed that the current session was the time to work to make the Unit an effective oversight unit in the United Nations system. He was pleased that the Unit had engaged on the issue by providing three reports. He was also pleased to see all the improvements and initiatives taken to improve internal working operations. However, those initiatives were not in themselves sufficient. The Committee also had its work to do.

    SUN XUDONG (China) attached great importance to the Unit’s work. The Unit should be more active in assuring the better use of Member States resources. Over the years, the JIU had made many observations and recommendations worthy of study. The Unit’s work had room for further improvement. Some of its reports were academic, lacked concision, and took too long to produce. The topics addressed by the Unit also needed to be more aligned with Member States’ concerns. The role of the Chairman must be further strengthened. He agreed that the Unit should undergo gradual reforms so that is work could become more effective. The Chairman could be given more overall coordination power. He hoped that the JIU would study the reform proposals from Member States and implement them in order of priority. The Unit should also further cooperate with OIOS and the Board of Auditors.

    MHD. NAJIB ELJI (Syria), noting that the JIU was the only external oversight mechanism in the United Nations system, said its reform must aim at promoting its competence and developing its method of work. He stressed the role of the General Assembly in selecting inspectors. The role of the chief of the Unit would be within the organizational competencies to coordinate the work among inspectors. He noted the actual improvement in the quality of reports presented to the General Assembly. He also pointed to the development of the JIU’s Web site. The Unit’s reform would be the beginning of improving monitoring services within the Organization.

    AIZAZ AHMAD CHAUDHRY (Pakistan) said that he had given his views on the matter during the fall session, but wanted to add some comments. He welcomed the new report before the Committee, saying that some of its points had proven that, with political will, reform was possible. Among other proposals, peer review and a system of collective responsibility deserved attention. Among the positive elements, he also mentioned the efforts to improve the Unit’s reporting.

    Commenting on the European Union position, he agreed that many measures were being incorporated in the work of the JIU, but further work was needed. Some creative proposals had emanated from the statement by Canada, also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, and he would like to discuss them in informal consultations. He agreed that the selection process needed to be less politicized as the JIU was a technical body. However, it was necessary to bear in mind how the wider political representation should be ensured. As for the number of inspectors and the proposed relocation of the Unit to Africa, it was necessary to discuss those issues further. In general, he wanted to place on record his appreciation of the internal reform carried out by the Unit.

    YASSER ELNAGGAR (Egypt) said his delegation attached great importance to the inspection, control and evaluation of the work of the United Nations, in particular, the role of the Member States and the General Assembly regarding that matter. That was the role that was reflected by the mandate of the JIU. The report before the Committee was a good basis for further discussion aimed at bringing improvements to the Unit’s work, but a matter of principle was that the reform and improvements must not be the only objective. The main purpose was not only to bring about economic savings, but to make full use of the body and emphasize good performance.

    Mr. KOZAKI (Japan) said his delegation attached great importance to the special role of the Unit in reviewing efficiency and providing recommendations on ways to improve management and enhance coordination. He commended the efforts to produce the latest report. The reform of the JIU should aim at enhancing its ability to produce high quality, practical, action-oriented and timely reports. The statute needed to be amended carefully from a medium- to long-term perspective, with full attention to the original intentions of the statute, while improving the work methods of the Unit.

    2002-2003 Programme Budget

    Introducing the JIU’s note on support costs related to extrabudgetary activities in organizations of the United Nations system, Mr. GORITA said the JIU’s report was the product of extensive consultations with concerned United Nations agencies, funds and programmes during the process of its preparation. The consultations had revealed a heightened interest in the topic by the concerned United Nations system organizations in view of the increased levels of extrabudgetary resources relative to the core resources made available to the organizations. It was gratifying to note that the members of the Chief Executives Board had generally accepted the findings and recommendations of the report and had, in fact, decided to use it as the basis for harmonizing policies concerning support costs.

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