|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-second General Assembly
Thematic Debate on Management Reform
AM & PM Meetings
MANDATE IMPLEMENTATION, BUDGET PROCESS, HUMAN RESOURCES AMONG KEY ISSUES,
AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY OPENS TWO-DAY THEMATIC DEBATE ON MANAGEMENT REFORM
Assembly President Says Reform Must ‘Move Beyond Piecemeal Approaches’;
Secretary-General Says UN Must Be ‘More Modern, More Flexible and More Efficient’
“A more effective United Nations is an essential part of bridging the gap between the global public’s high expectations and our ability to deliver,” said General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim today, urging Member States to step up efforts to make the world body more flexible and efficient by overhauling its cumbersome, outdated management systems.
“Member States should now agree to give greater coherence to all past management reform initiatives, and reach a common understanding of the future role that they envisage for the Organization,” Mr. Kerim said, opening a thematic debate on management reform, during which United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also called on the Assembly to “embrace that future” by supporting proposals to bolster the Organization, particularly in the areas of procurement, human resources and accountability.
Having convened the two-day informal gathering -- which wraps up tomorrow with a panel discussion led by senior Secretariat officials -- President Kerim highlighted three important issues delegations could consider when tackling organizational effectiveness: the way mandates are formulated, implemented and evaluated; planning and budgetary process; and the management of human resources. In this effort, there was a need to “move beyond piecemeal approaches and look at the big picture to ensure that our reform efforts keep pace with the changing international landscape.”
Those aspects of management reform were important because: full and proper implementation of mandates lay at the heart of the credibility of the Assembly’s decision-making process and the outcomes delivered by the Organization; Member States would be more informed on the Organization’s spending priorities, budgetary discipline and requests for additional resources if a more complete and timely analysis of spending were available; and modern human resources management was essential to unleash the untapped potential of the Secretariat.
In his remarks, Secretary-General Ban noted that the Organization was being called on, as never before, to do much more with fewer and fewer resources. “All the critical activities that the United Nations carries out around the world, all of the groundbreaking studies and initiatives, all of the intensive diplomacy -- just about everything we do -- hinges on sound management of the limited resources entrusted to us,” he asserted.
Stressing the need to go further and “take on more difficult challenges in better managing our United Nations”, he outlined a series of measures to make the Organization “more modern, more flexible and more efficient” and “in a word, to be better managed”. He emphasized that the Organization needed an integrated, multi-skilled and mobile global workforce, and, to achieve it, must streamline its contractual arrangements and improve conditions of service. It must also be able to recruit staff more quickly than at present.
His other proposals included improvements in the selection of top managers and in promoting mobility for staff, as well as setting up a Learning Advisory Board to ensure relevant staff training. Mr. Ban added the Secretariat has developed a comprehensive information and communications technology strategy which it will present to the Assembly next month.
The Secretary-General also stressed the need for accountability, which he said is the “heart of effective management”, and he said the key to enhancing accountability is a strong commitment to transparency. “The image we wish to project is of an organization that has nothing to hide, that actively welcomes the scrutiny of its members, staff and the public.”
Receiving broad support among the nearly 35 delegations taking the floor during the debate was Chile’s representative, who spoke on behalf of the countries included in the “Four Nations Initiative” -- Chile, South Africa, Sweden and Thailand. He said the recommendations in the group’s report, “Managing Change at the United Nations”, highlighted the need for increased trust between Member States and the Secretariat in approaching management reform. They also called for a better understanding of the respective roles of Member States as governors and the Secretariat as managers, as well as the need for improved accountability and transparency in the management of the Organization.
Implementing the recommendations would improve the United Nations mandate-generation cycle, the planning and budgetary process, human resources management, and the need for improved dialogue, he continued. Overall, the recommendations constituted a “compact for change” that required both Member States and the Secretariat to work together to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Organization. An inclusive and transparent dialogue and continued cross-regional cooperation were important elements for making progress, he added, encouraging Member States to build and improve on the Initiative’s experience and recommendations to advance management reform and strengthen multilateralism.
India’s representative noted that the efforts of the Four Nations Initiative to improve on management reform was yet another example of Member States being forced to take on responsibilities that should be part of the regular management function of the Secretariat. Clear accountability across the Secretariat and at all levels was of paramount importance, he added, stressing that the bedrock of a future accountability framework would be built by holding senior management accountable.
Also speaking at the thematic debate were the representatives of Antigua and Barbuda (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Slovenia (on behalf of the European Union and associated countries), Mexico (on behalf of the Rio Group), New Zealand (on behalf of Australia and Canada (CANZ)) and Iceland (on behalf of the Nordic countries).
The representative of Cuba spoke, as well as the representative of Argentina (on behalf of Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and Associated States), Japan, United States, Egypt, Philippines, Belarus, China, Algeria, Pakistan, Singapore, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Sudan, Israel, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Morocco, France, Iran and Brazil.
The Assembly will hold an interactive debate on Secretariat and management reform at 3 p.m. Wednesday, 9 April.
The General Assembly met this morning to begin its two-day thematic debate on the theme: “Toward a common understanding on management reform”, convened by Assembly President Srgjan Kerim of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, to provide Member States the opportunity to discuss, in an informal setting, central concepts of such reform and to relate them to a strategic vision of the future of the United Nations.
President Kerim called the meeting in connection with the Assembly’s ongoing effort to address the global priorities set by Heads of State and Government at the United Nations 2005 World Summit. At that meeting, world leaders requested a number of reform measures and cited revamping the Organization’s management structure as vital to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability of the Secretariat in all areas its work. The reforms were also seen as necessary to improve human resource functions, governance and oversight, information and communication technology, procurement and the administration of justice.
In a late February letter to Member States, President Kerim said the debate would be divided into two parts. Today, delegations will be given the opportunity to present their positions on relevant issues on management reform. Tomorrow, 9 April, an interactive dialogue with the Secretariat and among Member States will take place with the participation of the senior management of the Organization.
He asked the Assembly to focus especially on three interrelated issues of crucial importance to the process of transforming decisions of Member States into delivered activities: the way mandates are formulated, implemented and evaluated; the planning and budgetary process of the Organization; and the management of human resources.
Since Member States widely expressed the view that they should be the driving force behind management reform, he strongly encouraged delegations and all interested groups to have a proactive approach to this debate and to present their views on how to improve the management of the Organization. The outcome will be an informal chair’s summary to be distributed to Member States, which is traditionally the outcome of informal thematic debates.
Opening Remarks by President of General Assembly
Opening the debate on United Nations management reform, the President of the General Assembly, SRGJAN KERIM, said there was no doubt that management reform was of crucial importance to the overall reform agenda of the United Nations. Over the last 60 years, the world had changed considerably and that, in turn, had a huge impact on the role of the Organization. “We now need to renew and retool this Organization so that it can rise to the evolving challenge and needs of the twenty-first century.” Reform efforts were fundamentally about improving the image, authority and relevance of the United Nations. Whereas the Capital Master Plan would renovate and transform the “hardware” of the United Nations -- the windows, offices and conference rooms -- management reform would transform the “software” of the Organization, rebooting minds and human processes.
The entire Organization needed to become more effective, transparent and accountable to Member States, he continued. Member States needed to demonstrate leadership by reaching agreement and fulfilling their broader responsibility to the effectiveness of the Organization. He drew an analogy from the business world and suggested that Member States should act more like shareholders in the business of the United Nations, ensuring effective governance and management as a prerequisite for promoting national interests and multilateral relations.
The General Assembly had already agreed on a variety of management reform initiatives, he said. In the 2005 World Summit Outcome document, Member States reiterated their commitment to comprehensive management reform and, since then, a number of resolutions had been adopted establishing the Ethics Office, the Independent Audit Advisory Committee, and the post of Chief Information Technology Officer, among others. In many areas, the implementation phase of those reforms had already begun, though more could be done by the Secretariat to speed up implementation and to keep Member States better informed.
“While we have made progress”, he continued, “much still needs to be done.” In particular, he said more needed to be done in the areas of human resources, procurement, accountability and oversight to improve efficiency and effectiveness. “We should not only match up to, but set the lead for others to follow in international management practice.” Member States should now agree to give greater coherence to all past management reform initiatives and reach a common understanding of the future role of the Organization.
The current meeting had been convened to allow Member States to express their views on three areas of critical interest to the effectiveness of the Organization, he said. Those areas were: the way mandates were formulated, implemented and evaluated; the planning and budgetary processes; and human resources management. By reaching a common understanding on those important topics, it was possible to prepare the ground for intergovernmental agreement in the future.
“It is the responsibility of every Member State to ensure that we move ahead with comprehensive Secretariat and management reform,” he continued. Doing so would be in everyone’s interest, as it would improve multilateral cooperation and bolster the authority and international standing of the Assembly. The work of the Four Nations Initiative was a good example of Member States driving forward the reform agenda and such proposals had stimulated debate and raised the overall profile of the issue. It was now time to move beyond the piecemeal approach to reform and to look at the wider picture, to ensure that reform efforts kept pace with the changing international landscape.
Remarks by Secretary-General
Stressing again that management was one of his top priorities, United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said that the outside world saw the United Nations undertaking peacekeeping operations around the world, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Timor-Leste. They saw the Organization trying to mount the largest peacekeeping effort in history in the Sudan’s western Darfur region, and they saw it conducting relief operations in Somalia, in Gaza and countries hit by natural disasters, from Bangladesh to Tajikistan to Madagascar.
“What they don’t see -- but what defines us as an Organization -- is how well we accomplish our mission. How well we use our resources. How we perform,” he continued, stressing that that was a question of management. Never before had the United Nations been called on to do so much with proportionately fewer and fewer resources. The only way the Organization could embrace the future and continue to do good works, was to make itself more modern, more flexible and more efficient.
Every day he was reminded of what a huge job the United Nations did. “It is our responsibility to tackle these challenges in the best way possible. That is what Member States expect, and what the peoples of the world deserve,” he said, stressing that all the critical activities the United Nations carried out around the world, just about everything it did, hinged on sound management of the limited resources entrusted to it. Management reform was essential to enabling the United Nations to keep pace with growing demands. “We have to be open to scrutiny. We have to hold each and every person accountable to you, the Member States, the global taxpayers,” he asserted.
Recalling that his reform proposals rested on three pillars -- transparency, efficiency, and accountability -- he noted that progress had been made in a number of areas, including splitting peacekeeping into two departments, and overhauling procurement practices. Appointing a Chief Information Technology Officer and laying the foundation for more proactive preventive diplomacy were among the other improvements. “Now we need to take on more difficult challenges in better managing our United Nations,” adding that, to keep up with the changing times, the Secretariat had to update its own systems and practices. Too many had been designed for a different era. “We live in the here and now,” he declared.
He went on to say that the Organization’s human resources machinery was “exhibit A”. In order for the United Nations to be modern, transparent and performance-driven, it needed an integrated, multi-skilled and mobile global workforce. To achieve that, it must absolutely streamline its contractual arrangements and improve conditions of service. “We need this in the name of fairness,” he said. “Our staff deserves to be treated equally. Anything short of equal treatment is unjust, and it will only breed resentment.”
More importantly, such reform should be carried out in the name of efficiency, he continued. Right now, the Organization had 15 different types of contracts, all with their own specific rules and conditions. That was a complicated and cumbersome system, which got in the way of smooth and effective management. As it stood, the Organization was in danger of losing its competitive edge in attracting qualified staff. It was getting harder and harder to hang on to its best people. “We just cannot allow this to continue,” he said, recalling his proposals to introduce one United Nations contract under one set of Staff Rules, and to harmonize the conditions of service. Those would make for a stronger and more flexible Secretariat, and they would help the United Nations deliver better where it counted.
He said that equal conditions of service would also improve staff morale, which would boost morale immeasurably. At the same time, he was disappointed that Member States had been unable to approve those comprehensive proposals last month during the Fifth Committee’s (Administrative and Budgetary) resumed session. He hoped the wider General Assembly would act on them as soon as possible. Meanwhile, he was continuing to look at other ways to improve human resources management. The Deputy Secretary-General had led an internal task force on the issue looking at areas like workforce planning, vacancy management, career development and training, mobility and managers’ responsibilities and performance.
Also, he said, too much time was wasted in the arduous process of filling vacancies. Unless the United Nations hired faster, it would continue to lose qualified people and he pledged to do his best to cut the recruiting period of staff by half. If approved by the General Assembly, he also intended to expand the use of roster-based recruitment and placement. With a pre-screened list of qualified candidates for most jobs, the Organization should be able to fill vacancies faster while ensuring a proper geographical and gender balance. Where no suitable candidates could be identified in rosters with pre-screened candidates, vacancies should be advertised for 30 days instead of 60 days.
In the next five years, the United Nations expect a sizeable number of retirements, he added. That was a natural process of attrition, but it presented the Organization with an opportunity to plan for the future. Each department must begin now to map out upcoming vacancies. By early next year, he would have a consolidated Secretariat-wide strategic workforce plan.
He went on to say that more needed to be done in selecting our top managers, and to that end, he planned to introduce an independent assessment of managerial skills for candidates to the highest positions within the Secretariat, beginning with Director. Further, much more needed to be done to encourage mobility across occupational groups, departments, duty stations and organizations within the United Nations system. Cooperative arrangements needed to be developed with specialized agencies, funds and programmes. To this end, he planned to propose some ideas to the Chief Executives Board in October, and would institute a programme to publicly recognize and reward service in the field.
“I will undertake some of these proposals on my own authority. Others will require approval by the General Assembly and, after consultation with staff during the upcoming session of the Staff Management Coordination Committee, will be presented to you in due course,” he said.
Continuing, he said that to become a truly efficient and modern Organization, the United Nations must enter the twenty-first century in terms of information and communications technology. Given the growing demands, in all corners of the world, it must have a comprehensive information and communications technology strategy. It needed systems that were up to date and could handle a global organization with tens of thousands of staff posted around the world. “We need systems that can communicate with Kinshasa as easily as with Geneva,” he said, adding that: “Right now, we don’t have a system where everyone is connected.”
As it stood, if the Secretariat wanted to know the number of P-3 level staff working in statistics, management could not “just push a button” and retrieve that information; it had to almost manually collect the data from different duty stations and collate it. “It’s disconnected, not integrated. And it’s utterly inefficient,” Mr. Ban declared. But, with the appointment of the new Chief Information Technology Officer, the Secretariat had now developed such a strategy and would present it to the Assembly in May. He hoped with this to get the Secretariat “out of the information Stone Age and into a modern one”.
The heart of effective management was accountability, he continued. Results mattered. Performance must be measurable and he had, therefore, signed compacts with each of his senior managers that were available for all staff to see on the United Nations Intranet. They set clear objectives for every senior manager and department head, for which they are responsible and for which they will be held accountable.
Accountability was not just a management word, he continued. It meant taking responsibility. That’s why in the new system for the administration of justice, to be introduced in January 2009, all contested decisions would first be reviewed as part of a management evaluation, before any case proceeded to litigation. If it was found that an improper decision has been made, the individual manager should be held accountable.
Member States should be accountable, as well -- both to the Organization and to one another. In part, he said, that meant suiting words to action. The political, financial and human resources contributed to the Organization must be commensurate with the missions that Member States assign under United Nations mandates. The United Nations could not be set up for failure.
He included in that responsibility the necessity of assuring United Nations security. United Nations personnel served bravely and often selflessly in hazardous and important posts. Increasingly, the United Nations itself -- the very symbol of our core values of peace, solidarity, justice and equality -- had been a target for extremist groups. “We must ensure that every provision is made for the safety and security of the UN and its staff,” he said.
When he took his oath of office, he had promised to breathe new life into the Secretariat. In his address to the General Assembly last September, he had spoken of building a stronger United Nations for a better world. “I am counting on you to work with me to transform these ideas into action,” he concluded.
JOHN W. ASHE (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said reform should not be seen as an aim in it itself, but rather as a crucial tool to ensure the efficient functioning of the Organization. Effective reform hinged on three important elements: a holistic approach to reform; clear and strong lines of accountability to evaluate and monitor reform; and the adequacy of resources to undertake reform. Overall, the reform process should lead to a more democratic, effective and representative United Nations.
In regard to human resources management reform, he said the Secretariat should strive to be more representative and should address the current decentralized system of recruitment, which did not hold programme managers accountable for various failures in meeting recruitment targets. It should also address the continued failure of the Organization to meet targets for equitable geographic and gender distribution in the Secretariat.
Regarding planning and budgetary processes, he said “the United Nations cannot be expected to perform effectively if it is requested to undertake more tasks within stagnant budget levels”. Member States were dissatisfied with the lack of implementation of mandate formulation, implementation and evaluation reforms. A monitoring system should be elaborated and periodic reports on the status of implementation could be a useful monitoring tool. The procurement process should be more efficient, transparent and cost-effective and should include more opportunities for vendors from developing countries. Finally, he said there was an imbalance in budget allocations, to the detriment of the development pillar of the United Nations and Member States needed to focus on a reform that would increase the efficiency of development-related programmes.
SANJA ŠTIGLIC ( Slovenia), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, welcomed the Four Nations Initiative on management reform with its emphasis on improved accountability and transparency. Turning to the questions of mandate, budget and human resource management under focus in the current debate, she said Member States bore the responsibility for thoroughly considering the mandates being defined. Expected results, time frames, criteria for completion and resource implications needed to be fully taken into account when formulating new mandates or revising existing ones. Every effort should be made to avoid duplication and overlap. The review of mandates older than five years was long overdue.
Moving on to the budget, she said the Organization’s rules and procedures and the relevant General Assembly resolutions already contained many elements for the budgetary process to be efficient and transparent. A proper application of the rules could improve the shortcomings that had developed. Results-based management would also contribute to improvements, including by providing information on the use of resources and programme achievements. Planning was a crucial first step. And, while it was regrettable that only limited progress had been made on human resources management reform, it was hoped that tangible results would be achieved during discussions in the fall.
Continuing, she said management reform extended beyond those three issues. Much had been achieved in the area of governance and oversight, but debate had not yet concluded on restructuring of the Secretariat. The topic of Information and communications technology was of notable interest. System-wide coherence and “delivering as one” were important elements in the functioning of management, particularly for the purpose of ensuring coordination and avoiding duplication of activities. And, while management reform was a long-term process, there was a perception among Member States that a partial or limited approach to management reform was being employed. Resource constraints could account for some measure of that approach being taken, but it was also possible that a vision of where the Organization should be headed was lacking. The 2005 World Summit Outcome had shown the way.
CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said the 15 resolutions related to management reform already adopted by the General Assembly reflected the great importance that Member States attached to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Organization. However, without additional efforts to make reform a reality, “UN Reform” ran the risk of becoming a simple advertising slogan. In terms of accountability, the Rio Group was concerned about the lack of information and updates on the implementation of mandates and the lack of transparency in certain areas of the planning and budgetary processes. The United Nations required an efficient system to manage the large amount of intergovernmental mandates and decisions and to more clearly define the objectives of each mandate.
Turning to budget and financing issues, he stressed the need for a balanced treatment of the three pillars of the United Nations and greater consideration for proposals suggesting the allocation of more resources for development. In turn, the Secretariat should make more efficient use of such resources and should carry out its mandates with better accountability. It was of utmost importance for the Secretariat to correct the imbalances in the geographic and gender distribution of posts within the Organization, especially at the senior level. The Secretariat should also intensify efforts to reform the procurement process and find innovative ways to promote procurement from developing countries. In conclusion, he said that all Member States shared the responsibility for management reform and should move forward with a holistic approach to ensure progress.
ROSEMARY BANKS (New Zealand), also speaking on behalf of Australia and Canada (CANZ), said that in management terms, she would like to see an organization that: could show clearly and in accessible language what results it was trying to achieve, and then properly evaluate its success; could present its budget in a succinct format; and could attract and retain the best people, across geographical and gender diversity, and offer transparent appointment and promotion procedures at all levels. One priority was to finds ways to improve mandate formation. Currently, there were overlapping mandates, multiple requests for similar reports, unclear centres of responsibility, and vagueness about desired results. Member States should consider better procedures and disciplines in setting mandates. That was complementary to ongoing work on mandate review.
She said that the planning and budgetary process needed to be strengthened. Results-based budgeting should not be just a paper exercise, but an effective tool for Member States and the Secretariat in assessing the resourcing needs of the Organization. Results-based budgeting should be integrated into results-based management, to effectively manage the limited resources available. She shared others’ concerns about a piecemeal approach to budgeting. The management reform proposals, however, were outside of the regular budget cycle.
Human resources management reform was long overdue, she said. The current system failed the United Nations employees working in the most challenging conditions, resulting in both the inequitable treatments of staff and an inability to deliver on essential mandates. There was an inconsistent and non-transparent system that the Assembly had failed to correct, due largely to short-term considerations. She urged Member States to take early decisions on the Secretary-General’s outstanding reform proposals.
HJALMAR W. HANNESSON ( Iceland), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, said that his delegation agreed that it was the right time to take stock of the management reform process and to evaluate the challenges ahead. The Nordic countries believed that management reform was necessary for the Secretariat to effectively manage the Organization’s rapidly expanding duties and changing global realities. At the same time, reform should not be regarded as a goal in itself -- an exercise just to see how much money could be saved -- but rather as necessary to strengthening the United Nations capability to comply with its principles, objectives and mandates. In short, reforms should enable the Organization to do more and do it better, he added.
He went on to say that accountability and transparency should be at the centre of the management reform process. Just as Member States needed to be transparent and accountable to their own constituencies, the senior management needed to be accountable to the Member States, both when it came to the implementation of mandates and management of resources. Such transparency and accountability was also necessary to build trust with and among Member States, management and staff. And while considerable measures had been taken to improve accountability, much remained to be done, he added, looking forward to the Secretary-General’s relevant recommendations.
Turning to a few issues at the heart of today’s discussion, he said that Member States must be better custodians of their mandates, while at the same time being more informed about the context of proposed duties, including financial implications. Gaps, overlaps and duplications needed to be dealt with and reporting requirements reviewed. On human resource management -- among the areas most in need of “urgent reform” -- the Nordic countries had been disappointed that, despite the number of recommendations on the table and the considerable efforts of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) last month, no decision on that important matter had been taken. The delegation hoped discussions could be brought to a fruitful conclusion this fall. He also stressed that the planning and budgetary process was another “crucially important” area where reform was required. Efforts should be guided by the principles of results-based management.
HERALDO MUÑOZ ( Chile), speaking on behalf of the countries of the Four Nations Initiative -- Chile, South Africa, Sweden and Thailand -- said the 32 recommendations in the final report of the Initiative were presented in September 2007. It highlighted the need for increased trust between Member States and the Secretariat in approaching management reform. It also highlighted the need for a better understanding of the respective roles of Member States as governors and the Secretariat as managers, as well as the need for improved accountability and transparency in the management of the Organization.
Implementation of the 32 recommendations made in the report would improve the United Nations mandate-generation cycle, the planning and budgetary process, human resources management, and the need for improved dialogue, he continued. Overall, the recommendations constituted a “compact for change” that required both Member States and the Secretariat to work together to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Organization. An inclusive and transparent dialogue and continued cross-regional cooperation were important elements for making progress and he encouraged Member States to build and improve on the experience and recommendations of the Four Nations Initiative to advance management reform and strengthen multilateralism.
RODRIGO MALMIERCA DÍAZ ( Cuba) said that the Fifth Committee was the only body in charge of the analysis of administrative and budgetary matters. There were plenty of examples of problems arising the moment that principle was distorted. Stressing that the efficiency in mandate implementation was of the utmost importance, one of the main points to consider was how to enhance accountability of the Secretariat and especially of high-ranking officials towards Member States. Currently, the Fifth Committee had an outstanding assessment of a proposal of the Secretary-General on an accountability framework, and he hoped that discussions on that issue would yield the required results. Member States should also allocate the necessary resources for implementation of all mandates.
He said that reform in administrative and budgetary matters was a long-term and continuous process that must not be an end in itself and should seek to improve the Organization’s functioning, not only reduce costs. He expressed disappointment with the Secretariat’s strategies to achieve more equitable geographical representation. Contrary to agreed resolutions, some of the high-level positions still remained in the hands of nationals of the same countries. Achieving a geographical and gender balance should be a priority of the Organization. As for mandate-review, he did not want to revisit the discussions on the proposals in the Secretary-General’s report, which had not received the approval of the majority of Member States. Rather, one should focus on mandate implementation.
JORGE ARGÜELLO ( Argentina), on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and Associated States, said it was necessary to speed up the implementation of recommendations and resolutions adopted regarding management reform. New international challenges required an urgent and efficient response by the United Nations and, currently, the lack of coherence, bureaucracy and inefficiencies of the Organization prevented that from happening. Management reform should respect the various opinions of Member States, recognize that the United Nations could not be treated as a private corporation, and should require the Secretariat to implement the mandates given by Member States with the necessary resources.
Overall, management reform should be undertaken in a comprehensive manner to ensure an efficient, transparent and accountable United Nations, he continued. Member States needed to intensify efforts to clarify the objectives and terms of its mandates, while the Secretariat should improve upon its abilities to effectively implement them. Regarding the budget cycle, a comprehensive report on the achievements and failures of the results-based budget should be considered by the Fifth Committee during the sixty-third session of the General Assembly to complement progress made in the field. In conclusion, he stressed the need to improve the conditions of service of United Nations personnel and the primary responsibility of the Fifth Committee to address the administrative and budgetary issues of the Organization.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) began his statement focusing on the mandate review cycle, which he said should include a comprehensive examination and analysis that covered generation of policy directives; authorization of resources to implement mandated activities; implementation; evaluation; and feedback of the evaluation’s findings in the formulation of new mandates. Throughout that review cycle, all Member States, as well as the Secretariat and oversight mechanisms, had the responsibility to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the Organization’s activities. Among other things, he suggested that Member States should consider, as they adopted a new mandate, including time-limited objectives of, for example, five years. At the end of that period, the relevance and urgency of the mandate must be re-established, before it was continued further.
Turning to budgetary matters, he said that last December the Assembly had approved a budget of some $4.17 billion for 2008-2009. But it had approved another $33 million last month and it was expected that there would be substantial additional requests emanating from programme budget implications and revised estimates from the Secretary-General. This “piecemeal submission” of additional requests was not conducive to the consensus approval of the budget, he said, stressing that, when all was said and done, the regular budget for 2008-2009 now looked as if it would rise by another billion dollars -- and that was on top of the approved budget for the Capital Master Plan and expected peacekeeping expenditures. “This is excessive and difficult for my delegation to accept,” he asserted.
To address the “unprecedented increase” in budgetary add-ons, he urged following the established General Assembly procedures. In addition, the Secretary-General and all Member States must ensure that additional expenditures were absorbed within existing resources. If that were not possible, such additions must be contained within the level of the contingency fund. Otherwise, such additions should be deferred until late in the respective biennium.
He went on to note that his delegation was concerned by the “incessant and haphazard” late submission of programme budgetary implications, such as those of the Human Rights Council and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, as well as the rapid increase in the costs of special political missions over the past four years from $188 million to $420 million. To that end, he said the Secretariat should make every effort to submit proper estimation of respective political and security situations to the Security Council and then submit the most prudent and realistic requirements to the Assembly. Finally, on human resources management, he said the Organization must vigorously apply the principle of equitable geographical distribution and reinforce the national competitive recruitment examination (NCE).
ZALMAY KHALILZAD ( United States) said his Government was particularly concerned with issues regarding the reform of budget processes. He described the recent and significant increases in the United Nations budget and said many Member States had expressed their concern regarding the piecemeal way in which those budget proposals had been made. Member States would be asked to consider budget proposals totalling roughly $1 billion in additional costs during the sixty-third session of the General Assembly. Currently, there were few rules in place to guide those discussions and to help establish priorities when discussing those proposals. More needed to be done to provide the framework for those discussions and to correct the current lack of discipline in establishing the United Nations budget.
“Like any fiscally responsible public or private entity, unrestrained budget growth is not possible,” he continued. Improving mandate evaluation and accountability mechanisms would help Member States decide when mandates should be extended or terminated and would, as well, have a positive effect on budget reform. He welcomed the recommendations made in the report of the Four Nations Initiative and said more support should be given to other initiatives that would help improve United Nations management and transparency. A comprehensive mandate review would help to make the Organization more effective and accountable and, in the future, efforts to implement a comprehensive review should be encouraged. In conclusion, he said his Government had consistently recognized the need for human resources management reform, in particular the streamlining of contractual arrangements and the harmonization of conditions of service.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said that management and Secretariat reform was an ongoing exercise and a crucial tool to ensure the effective functioning of the Organization. For reform to be meaningful, it should be aimed at strengthening the Organization’s ability to effectively implement its mandates and to serve the interests of the collective membership. At the same time, he stressed that, while dealing with reform proposals, the Organization’s intergovernmental nature and principles must be upheld. As the United Nations was being called on to take on more and more duties, it was critical to take the views of all Member States into account when considering reform measures and objectives.
Moreover, while respecting the role of the Fifth Committee as the main body entrusted with such matters, reform proposals related to political aspects needed to be considered carefully at the political level before the financial requirements were examined. In addition, overall budget documents should present a comprehensive picture of all the Organization’s mandated activities, and all required resources, including total number of post and non-post requirements. To ensure the smooth functioning of the budgetary process, there was a need to avoid the piecemeal approach, which might undermine fiscal discipline and make it difficult for Member States to determine resource requirements for priority activities.
On human resources management, he was among the many speakers noting the “helpful” proposals in that regard put forward by the Four Nations Initiative on aspects related to enhancing accountability of the Secretariat to Member States and on reforming procurement activities. He added that still more needed to be done to increase the Secretariat’s transparency in procurement in the context of peacekeeping, especially as that was an area where concern over the lack of a well-defined accountability framework and clear guidelines for holding programme managers accountable had been repeatedly indicated. Without accountable, cost-effective, efficient and transparent United Nations procurement practices, the provision of essential goods and services to the Organization could be hampered, billions of dollars in assessed contributions could be wasted and the overall legitimacy of the Organization’s peacekeeping operations could be jeopardized.
HILARIO G. DAVIDE ( Philippines) said that, while some reforms might be difficult to achieve, others could be implemented in a timely manner if there was the political will to do so. The primary role of the General Assembly to review, revise, change or terminate its legislative mandates should be reaffirmed. The establishment, review, amendment or termination of any mandate should be done in a transparent, open and all-inclusive manner. Such a process would ensure accountability, transparency and fairness in the formulation of all mandates.
The United Nations should put a premium on sound programme planning and budget preparation, he continued. Doing so would help Member States better determine the resource requirements for priority activities. Human resources management should also be given top priority and efforts to address the concerns of personnel, particularly the staff, should likewise be encouraged. The end goal of all reforms should be effective and good governance, accountability, transparency and a responsiveness that ensured the principle of equality among Member States. The membership should endeavour to reach agreement on reform issues without further delay. “As they say, if you want change, there is no time like the present.”
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS ( Belarus) said that his delegation believed that true reform of the Organization would not be successful unless solid restructuring plans and policies were designed and unless all Member States and senior management observed the principles of transparency and respect for sound management. Much of the effort should be based on improved, equitable and transparent hiring policies, while keeping in mind the need to ensure equitable geographical distribution.
Here, he stressed that in some Secretariat departments, such as the Department of Political Affairs for instance, the three top posts seemed to be traditionally handed out to officials who hailed from one or two geographic regions. Such policies needed to be addressed squarely. The overall reform effort should take into account General Assembly mechanisms already in place. Finally, he said that Belarus believed that the United Nations was not outmoded, but that its management structures needed to be overhauled, so that it could more effectively carry out is mandated responsibilities.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said the United Nations was facing a growing need for more resources and better management in the areas of authorization, planning, budget procedures and human resources. The Organization should lay out explicit goals for management reform and should ensure the openness and transparency of the reform process. Reform measures should have the endorsement of the entire membership, to reflect fully the intergovernmental nature of the United Nations. Success could not be achieved without an increase in dialogue and cooperation by all Member States and steps forward should be made incrementally, in a prudent and proactive manner.
The formulation of new mandates should be based on real needs, avoid duplication, and ensure the availability of both financial and human resources, he continued. The budgeting process should follow the principle of consensus, while the methodology of results-based budgeting should be further improved. The Secretariat should also provide more detailed data in its budgetary and performance reports, to help Member States make informed decisions. In regard to human resources management, it was imperative to address the inadequacies in equitable geographical representation and the harmonization of the terms of service of personnel. In conclusion, he expressed support for the recommendations made by the Four Nations Initiative and encouraged all Member States to enhance dialogue and cooperation to advance the management reform process.
YOUCEF YOUSFI ( Algeria) said his delegation had long favoured management reform efforts that benefited the entire Organization. The exercise should be transparent and take into account the views of all Member States. It should, above all, positively impact on the Organization’s ability to carry out its duties in the areas of security, development and human rights. A smooth-functioning, competent and rational Secretariat was the backbone of the Organization, and any misstep would surely negatively impact on the world body’s image. He underscored that management reform should be understood as an exercise aimed at rationalizing the United Nations’ various activities. At the same time, such rationalization did not mean imposing limitations or certain agendas on others. “Trust, then, is the order of the day, and without trust, hidden agendas will always be suspected,” he said.
He said that reform also meant “following a logical pattern of behaviour”, and for Algeria, that meant, among other things, that it was imperative that the mandates decided by the Security Council be appropriately financed. An agreement on that simple principle would avoid lengthy discussions and help the department of conferences save resources. He also drew attention to the growing trend of politicizing the work of the Fifth Committee, an essentially technical body. Budgetary or non-budgetary positions should not be used to evade political and democratic debate.
On human resources management, Algeria believed that the core of the issue concerned discretionary appointments at the level of Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General. Further, the question of equitable geographical distribution still needed to be effectively addressed. That was why the Galaxy system needed to be totally overhauled to give assurances that qualifications and merits were being taken into consideration. As for top management posts, a formula should be devised to ensure that the best and most qualified staff were retained and that equitable geographical distribution was respected.
MUNIR AKRAM ( Pakistan) said Member States, when drafting mandates, should make an effort to clarify and define the objectives of the mandate. However, as such definition and clarity was not always possible, it was necessary for the Secretariat to improve mandate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, as well. Responsibility for the implementation of those mandates should be assigned to a particular part of the Secretariat and an accountability mechanism should be established to ensure effective implementation. Regarding budget processes, he said it was important for the Secretariat to propose budgets that were commensurate with the mandates approved by Member States. Though the budget had increased sharply in recent years and greater financial prudence should be exercised in the future, it was essential to prevent an “artificial cap” on the budget from sidelining the implementation of much-needed mandates. The timely payment by Member States of all assessed contributions would help the budget to be submitted on time and in a holistic manner.
Implementation of mandates should be linked to the performance reports and appraisals of Secretariat officials, he continued. Evaluation and feedback processes should be strengthened and the quality of reporting should be improved. It would also be useful to benchmark expected accomplishments, results, timelines, and the allocation of resources to ensure greater accountability. Turning to the trust funds issue covered in the report of the Four Nations Initiative, he said it was important to consider financing those funds as much as possible from the regular budget. In regard to human resources reform, he said senior management should be recruited and hired in a fully transparent and accountable manner and should reflect an equitable geographical distribution.
VANU GOPALA MENON ( Singapore) said management of the United Nations could be reformed in a number of ways. First, the integrity of the budgetary process should be maintained without the add-ons that currently were considered every few months. Proposals arising from unpredictable events or those proposed by Member States should be presented off-cycle, but those were exceptional cases by definition and the rest should follow the budget cycle. What was the point of making projections? “There needs to be better discipline,” he said. Also, the integrity of budget requests should be maintained without “padding” in anticipation of cuts by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) or the General Assembly.
Continuing, he said human resource policies should be reviewed for possible cross-deployment of resources to meet new mandate needs, rather than simply making request for new posts. The Organization should reflect the character of Members, with no departments over-represented by nationals from a few countries. Staff who did not perform should be taken to task. And Member States should take responsibility for Secretariat mandates: much of the growth of the current budget was attributable to special political missions. If Members were not prepared to fund those, then why authorize them to begin with? It was a question of “mandate generation discipline”. Members should consider how mandates added value and how long they needed to exist. Perhaps a compulsory review period should be implemented, to ensure that mandates continued to be relevant to needs. In any event, the current debate was useful and the next steps should include follow-up.
KAREN PIERCE ( United Kingdom) recognized the challenges the United Nations faced in ensuring that management reforms did not have unintended negative consequences and genuinely contributed to the overall goals of the Organization. It was often difficult to judge the long-term benefits of reform against short-term costs and to balance the ongoing reform agenda against the need for clarity and transparency on the budget. In order to make progress on reform, it was necessary to address Member States’ concerns about the costs of reform and the increasingly unpredictable level of their contributions.
The piecemeal approach to budgeting had been identified as a problem by many Member States, she continued. It was necessary to address that issue, while ensuring that the reform process was not stalled. Perhaps, she suggested, it would be possible to give Member States greater clarity and predictability on biennial contributions, while still considering reform proposals in a coherent fashion. That was just one of many important reform issues that needed careful consideration.
PETER MAURER ( Switzerland) said the Organization needed a “New Deal” with regard to the budget to accommodate aspirations for sufficient funding and concerns about unrestrained budget growth. It was a worrying fact that the regular United Nations budget and the peacekeeping budget would continue to grow substantially in the short- to medium-term. Each Member State had a responsibility to help restore budgetary discipline. However, such discipline should not be synonymous with sweeping linear budget cuts and Member States should increase their rigour in identifying and reducing unproductive expenditures.
Member States and the Secretariat should strike a new balance between the guidance and control provided by the membership and the managerial freedom needed by the Secretariat to achieve set targets, he continued. The mandate cycle was one of the core responsibilities of Member States and the limited resources should be used for mandates that reflected the priorities of the Organization and showed a positive cost-benefit ratio. He stressed the need to improve the quality of reporting to better provide Member States with the kind of information they needed to assume their role as governors of the Organization. In conclusion, he expressed his regret that the Fifth Committee was not able to agree on certain elements of human resources management last month, but expressed his hope that such reforms would be taken up and advanced in the near future.
CHOI YOUNG-JIN ( Republic of Korea) said long-lasting reform could only be accomplished if there was a cultural shift throughout the Organization. Structural and institutional change, not followed by a cultural shift with the membership itself, would result in wasted efforts and a failure to implement full management reform. Full accountability, including within the Secretariat and between the Secretariat and Member States, was of the utmost importance and all efforts to achieve such accountability should be encouraged. In regard to the formulation of new mandates and mandate review, he stressed the need for every new mandate to include an expiration date, after which the mandate would be deemed obsolete. If it was impossible to put an expiration date on a particular mandate, a review date should be included. Such a review would allow Member States to assess the implementation of the mandate and make an informed decision on the extension or termination of the mandate.
The availability of financial resources was necessary for the effective implementation of any mandate, he continued. A piecemeal approach to the budget could result in astonishing budget increases and negatively affect the predictability of financial resources for various mandates. Those budgetary issues should be more properly addressed to ensure better budgetary management, overall. In regard to human resource management reform, he said there should be more attention paid to the correlation between performance and pay scale and an incentive system for high performers should be considered. Management reform required a substantial dedication of time and attention by Member States and all efforts should be made to maintain the current momentum moving forward.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said that even as United Nations reform efforts became the “talk of the town” over the past few years, some Member States were losing hope that any new ground would be broken on the matter. She noted that the members of the Four Nations Initiative had provided a possible way forward by proposing, among other things, a consultation process and practical strategies aimed at integrating management reform processes in the overall working methods of the Organization.
Turning to some of the key management reform issues before the Assembly, she said that, in the area of human resources, Kazakhstan supported the procedures of holding hearings on filling senior management posts at the Assistant Secretary-General and Under-Secretary-General levels. At the same time, she proposed that Member States play a more active role in the process. She also stressed that underrepresentation of some countries and regions in the Secretariat created mistrust between Member States and the Secretariat. That was a matter that must be addressed as soon as possible. Finally, she said that her delegation supported the call made by others for time-bound reform processes and hoped that, with this debate, the reform process got a boost and would show tangible results in the near future.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER ( Liechtenstein) said the World Summit Outcome document of 2005 had led to significant improvements to the management reform process but, in many areas, progress had been slow and now required a renewed commitment. Improving the mandate-generation cycle was one of the prime challenges facing the Organization. Both Member States and the Secretariat lacked the required diligence and cooperation needed to properly formulate and implement mandates. Both should make a stronger and collaborative effort in the future, while the sponsors of the various resolutions should play a more proactive role in linking those two parts of the United Nations system.
In regard to planning and budgetary processes, he said results-based budgeting and management was still more of an aspiration than a reality, due to the complexity and number of mandates. The implementation of some of the recommendations of the Four Nations Initiative would help Member States get better strategic guidance from the Secretariat, as well as better programme and budget information. Overall, the strategic quality of the planning and budgetary processes of the Organization would be improved if there was better coordination within the respective delegations at United Nations Headquarters and the respective parts of the Secretariat. He encouraged the Secretariat, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and the Fifth Committee to improve coordination and to issue relevant reports in a timely manner, to ensure that management reform proposals were thoroughly discussed and decisions made in due course.
ABDALMAHMOOD ABDELHALEEM MOHAMAD ( Sudan) said that management reform should aim at enhancing the Organization in a way that would help the people of the world attain noble objectives in the areas of development and human security. The Sudan supported all such reform efforts and believed that management initiatives fell under the ambit of the General Assembly, as the Organization’s sole body to deliberate legislative matters. There was also a need to stress the separation of authority between the main organs of the Organization and its Secretariat.
At the same time, the will of the Assembly must be respected, and at various times it had expressed its disappointment that several proposed reform measures had not been carried out, he continued. In such instances, it was necessary for the Secretariat to report to and update the Assembly on the state of the overall reform process. He added that the Secretariat, which should be transparent in such matters, had begun to be more selective in its reform processes, choosing to focus on political aspects, rather than on overall organizational reform. The Sudan believed that the Organization’s procurement systems and human resources mechanisms must be overhauled. To that end, the Secretariat must put in place transparent hiring methods, as well as clear procedures for rewards and punishments. In all cases, it must adhere to the principle of equitable geographical distribution.
ILAN FLUSS ( Israel) said efforts in the area of mandate review should focus on avoiding duplication and eliminating mandates that had already been fulfilled. New mandates and programme proposals should be considered carefully and given a specific cycle that would include the evaluation of goals, budgetary implications and implementation. Budgetary restraint and discipline were important goals to work towards. However, it was also important to acknowledge the budgetary implications of the reform process, new peacekeeping missions and other mandates. Member States should give the Secretariat direction and help prioritize expenditures and identify offsets, without disrupting the work of the Organization. It was important to avoid piecemeal consideration of the budget and instead consider a budget only after it had been completely formulated and presented to the Fifth Committee, as a whole.
The General Assembly had tried to tackle detailed reforms in human resources management aimed at bringing the United Nations in line with best practices, he continued. His Government supported those initiatives, which would improve the current staffing situation and help save time and resources. He added that the language of the Fifth Committee’s reports and resolutions was often confusing and, to achieve greater transparency, the United Nations should make those documents more understandable and accessible. Despite the progress achieved on management reform, more needed to be done and more efforts, such as that of the Four Nations Initiative, should be encouraged in the future.
HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia) said management reforms were multifaceted and needed to be tackled holistically, in a transparent, inclusive and open-ended manner. Member States should have a clear understanding of what reforms would realistically accomplish and future reform-related mandates should be formulated in a coherent manner, which reflected the current needs of the Organization and ensured effective and efficient delivery. In the future, greater transparency and accountability in the work of the Organization would be necessary. However, more oversight structures to strengthen the accountability system of the United Nations should not be created. Instead, a workable mechanism to monitor the implementation of mandates should be developed and coordination between the existing oversight bodies should be enhanced.
In addition to promoting sound management and strict budgetary discipline, it was vital to ensure adequate funding for all mandated programmes on a continuous and predictable basis, he said. For the effective implementation of mandates, it was necessary to establish clear and objective priorities, with a realistic idea of timelines, and resource and capacity availability. Regrettably, concrete action had not yet been taken on human resource management reform. Current discussions on contractual arrangements and the harmonization of the conditions of services would hopefully yield positive results in the future. Without the political will and commitment to tackle reform issues, delays would continue and problems would remain unresolved. It was now necessary to forge a common agreement that would allow the Organization to reach the ultimate objective of management reform.
ISMAT JAHAN ( Bangladesh) said that, despite some progress in ongoing management reform, much remained to be done, including in the area of human resources management. That was a vital issue not only in terms of transparency and accountability on the part of the Secretariat, but also important to ensure trust among Member States and between the membership and the Secretariat. To that end, Bangladesh was concerned that goals for equitable geographical distribution were far from being met in the hiring of Secretariat staff. Moreover, contrary to the letter and spirit of numerous Assembly resolutions, serious gender gaps remained, especially at senior management levels.
Such inconsistencies negatively impacted the overall level of confidence among all the actors of the United Nations, and, by extension, on all phases of its work, including implementation, monitoring and evaluation. “This dismal situation must be improved and the appointment and recruitment process should be transparent and legitimate and fully respect the desires of the large membership, in light of the decisions taken by the Assembly,” she said, noting, among other things, that her delegation strongly believed that the current pool of 2,700 posts earmarked for equitable geographical distribution must be expanded, taking into account new realities regarding the Organization’s expanding role and workforce.
She also suggested that, along with the three weighted factors currently considered -- contribution, membership and population -- a fourth element, “level of posts or positions”, should be incorporated into the methodology. That might help fix the imbalances between the number and level of posts meant for such distribution. As for resources, she went on to reiterate Bangladesh’s position that sustainable reform could not be achieved without allocation of adequate resources aligned to the mandates created by Member States. Bangladesh stressed that the so-called “zero nominal growth” budget being used by the Secretariat for the past few budget periods had not been endorsed by the General Assembly and did not reflect the preferences of the larger membership. The Secretariat’s selective approach could be counterproductive to implementing mandates, especially in priority areas like development.
MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) said that, in order to deliver on the aspirations of Member States, the United Nations needed to realign its leadership and management structures. Indonesia recognized the Fifth Committee as the body authorized to deal with management reform issues and where the final decision rested on approval of such measures. The Fifth Committee was also a “Committee of the Whole” where all Member States were entitled to representation and where they could comment on reports and proposals put forward by the Secretariat.
Indonesia supported the centrality of the Fifth Committee’s role in that regard, while also acknowledging the need for that body to take into account inputs such as today’s thematic debate and the proposals put forward by the Four Nations Initiatives. He went on to say it was desirable to reach consensus on a comprehensive mechanism to regularly review mandates in order to ensure the Organization’s work was not duplicative or out of tune with current realities and priorities. On planning and budgetary processes, he reaffirmed the need for the United Nations to enjoy full and predictable financial support from all its Members. On human resources management, he said that it was vital to ensure that the Secretariat respected the Charter-mandated principle of equitable geographical distribution.
VITALY I. CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that his delegation supported the view of the Secretary-General that United Nations reform must be based on three pillars: transparency; effectiveness; and accountability. The purpose of the overall reform process should be aimed at enhancing the performance of the Secretariat to carry out its duties and the objectives of the wider Organization. He stressed that any reform proposals must be submitted to the General Assembly, in accordance with established procedures.
His country was concerned at the recent resort to a piecemeal approach to budgetary matters, which could, among other things, undermine long-established budget-setting norms, or lead to unwarranted expenditures. Efforts should be made to ensure that annual budgets were presented in a comprehensive manner and additional allocations should be considered in light of the relevant contingency fund procedures. He stressed that that substance of the overall management reform issue was inefficiency of the Secretariat.
To that end, there was a need to enhance accountability measures, as well as to ensure the implementation of the decisions taken by Member States. There was also a problem regarding inefficient information on management reform submitted to the Fifth Committee, which hampered its work. Finally, he reaffirmed that the Russian Federation was keen to follow-up on the informal discussion held today in the appropriate intergovernmental body and hoped that today’s meeting would enhance the understanding of all States in the reform process.
NIRUPAM SEN ( India) said the Secretariat should be more responsive to the concerns of developing countries. Management reforms should be considered in a comprehensive manner, with due consideration given to other pending reforms within the United Nations. For example, Security Council mandates had a direct impact on the General Assembly’s work raising resources and the Secretariat’s efforts to implement those mandates. It was the Secretariat’s responsibility to ensure a balanced allocation of resources by giving Member States resource proposals based on strategic planning and in-depth analysis. The fragmented nature of the regular budget proposals for the 2008-2009 biennium was partly a result of the Secretariat’s inability to present a holistic picture of its budgetary requirements to Member States in a timely manner. Such a situation should be avoided in the future.
“One cannot have reform on the cheap,” he added. It was necessary to provide the necessary resources for reform and to ensure that those resources were used in the most effective and efficient manner. Clear accountability across the Secretariat and at all levels was of paramount importance, and the bedrock of a future accountability framework would be built by holding senior management accountable. The review of mandates would ensure the effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation of mandates and would help balance the allocation of resources among the three pillars of the United Nations. In the previous 10 years, the development pillar had been sidelined in terms of budgetary allocations and that trend should be reversed. In conclusion, he said the efforts of the countries of the Four Nations Initiative to improve on management reform was yet another example of Member States being forced to take on responsibilities that should be part of the regular management function of the Secretariat.
HAMID CHABAR ( Morocco) said management reform would be unsuccessful if it was not based on a strong partnership based on the cooperation and participation of all Member States and if it did not reflect the various opinions and views of Member States in a transparent and inclusive manner. Moving forward, Member States should focus on building consensus and cohesion, as opposed to exacerbating tensions and divisions. There had already been significant progress made towards management reform and it was now time for world leaders to step up to ensure adequate resources for reform in the future. Without extra resources, management reform risked becoming a superficial band-aid that would fail to resolve the fundamental problems within the United Nations.
Turning to human resource management reform, he said more efforts needed to be made to ensure the equitable geographical representation of personnel. Considering the international character of the Organization, it was necessary for the Secretariat to make that a priority and enforce the multiple General Assembly resolutions on the issue. In regard to budgetary processes, he said results-based budget methodologies needed improvement. Member States should be fully included in the budgetary process from the very beginning to the very end and the Fifth Committee’s primary role in dealing with budgetary and administrative issues should be reinforced.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX ( France) said that his delegation believed that management reform was crucial, particularly at a time when the organization was facing increasing challenges in the area of peace, security and human rights. With that in mind, France was disappointed that the Fifth Committee had not been able to reach any relevant decisions on management reform during its resumed session, especially since the acknowledged expansion of the Organization’s duties required quick, decisive decision-making on such matters.
On budgetary matters, he said the annual resource needs of the Organization needed to be presented to the Assembly in a comprehensive manner, and France, therefore, regretted the fragmentary approach to the budget that had been taken over the past few years. He stressed that, among other things, France was willing to consider adapting the biennium framework to implement reform of the budget matters right away.
France also believed that recurring delays in payments hampered the work of the Organization and, in the case of peacekeeping arrears, could lead to delays in the payment of troops or troop contributors. France, therefore, called for discussions on a framework to pursue thinking on simplifying peacekeeping financial management procedures. Finally, while reiterating France’s support for reforms under way on harmonizing conditions of service and streamlining contracts, he urged the senior management to ensure that every effort was made to establish measures and structures that would preserve its competitive edge in attracting qualified staff.
JAVAD ZARIF ( Iran) said renewal and reform was an ongoing exercise that should help to make the United Nations more relevant, effective, efficient and more credible. It should also provide the Organization with the necessary resources to fully implement its various mandates. A genuine reform process should lead to a more participatory and representative United Nations, dedicated to multilateralism. Maximal accountability and transparency in its operations would help build trust within the Organization, a trust that had been lacking in certain areas in the past.
For example, he continued, Member States could not fully trust the Organization as long as there continued to be an unequal geographical representation among personnel. Imbalances in the budget, specifically an imbalance in the allocation of resources for United Nations development programmes, also gave rise to mistrust among Member States, especially developing nations. The Secretariat should also work towards the accurate interpretation of legislative mandates into programmes and sub-programmes to help build trust among the membership. In conclusion, he reaffirmed the exclusive responsibility of the Fifth Committee to undertake intergovernmental negotiations regarding budgetary and administrative matters.
PAULO ROBERTO CAMPOS TARRISSE DA FONTOURA (Brazil) expressed concern over the increasing dependence of various departments and organs of the Secretariat on extrabudgetary resources. In the biennium 2006-2007, extrabudgetary funding for the Secretariat reached $5.6 billion, much higher than the regular budget itself. Extrabudgetary resources should not replace regular and predictable funding of the United Nations and all core activities of the Organization should be financed by the regular budget. Voluntary contributions to the United Nations should complement regular budget funding for the three pillars of the Organization and the management of those contributions should be undertaken with a higher degree and transparency and accountability.
Turning to procurement reform, he said internal controls should be strengthened and there should be greater transparency in procedures and policies. The participation of vendors from developing countries in the United Nations procurement process should also be increased. In conclusion, she said proposals to truly foster an equitable geographical distribution of posts were necessary to ensure the equitable participation of nationals of all countries in the management of the Organization, with due regard given to the need to ensure the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity.
* *** *For information media • not an official record