External audit refers to audits carried out by a body that is external to, and independent of, the organization being audited and has direct reporting responsibility to the relevant Governing Body.
External Auditors are extremely relevant to the UN because their work must support the UN in its development of strategic thinking, improved governance, accountability and transparency, and in the delivery of its services on the ground.
The External Auditors of the UN follow the International Standards of Auditing (ISA) and their reports are submitted to the legislative/governing bodies of the organization concerned with an opinion and report on the organization’s accounts and financial statements, and a long form report on the Organisation’s overall management and performance in accordance with the applicable financial regulations and rules and other administrative instructions, and the legality and regularity of the Organisation’s operations.
External auditors play a fundamental role in boosting public confidence in the overall management, internal control system of the organization and reliability of financial presentation and reporting.
At the United Nations organizations, external auditors are elected on a rotational basis from the Auditors-General of Member States who are also the Heads of their Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI).
The Board of Auditors was established by General Assembly resolution 74(1) 1946 to audit the accounts of the UN and its funds and programmes. By UN Financial Regulations and Rules, the Board is completely independent and solely responsible for the conduct of the audit and also makes, in general, observations on the administration and management of the organisation.
The Panel was established by General Assembly resolution 1438 (XIV) (1959). The main objectives of the Panel of External Auditors of the UN, the UN’s specialised agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are to further the coordination of the audits for which its members are responsible, and to exchange information on audit methods and findings.
The Panel established its Technical Group at its 26th session in 1984. The Group comprises the Directors of External Audit, or equivalent, and the Executive Secretary of the Panel. Much of the Panel’s work is undertaken by the Technical Group which is mandated to research and review specific topics of interest to the Panel. The Technical Group reports to the Panel at its regular meeting on the topics reviewed with its recommendations.
The General Assembly appoints a new Board member every two years at its regular session. At least six months before this regular session, the General Assembly issues an announcement of the impending vacancy of a Board member effective 1 July of the following year.
Appointments or confirmation of appointments to the following subsidiary bodies and committees takes place in the Fifth Committee. Vacancies are usually announced in early March. Announcements are contained in notes issued by the Secretary-General under the agenda item Appointments to fill vacancies m subsidiary organs and other appointments.
Member States then propose candidates and inform the Secretary-General. The bureau of the incoming session will propose a date for the elections to be held (usually the first Friday in November) and a deadline for submission of candidatures.
Details of candidatures and other information on elections are available on CandiWeb. Instructions to access the Web page can be obtained by emailing Missions-Support@un.int or firstname.lastname@example.org or faxing (212) 963-0952.
By resolution 55/248 of 12 April 2001, the General Assembly approved a term of office of members of the Board to a non-consecutive term of six years' duration commencing 1 July 2002. Appointments are staggered in such a way that the term of office of one of the members expires every two years. The General Assembly therefore appoints a new Board member every two years.
If a member of the Board ceases to hold office as Auditor-General (or equivalent title) in her/his country, the tenure of office is terminated and the person who succeeds her/him as Auditor-General becomes the new Board member. A Board member may not otherwise be removed during her/his tenure except by the General Assembly.
- The Board meets twice a year. It meets in July for a 1½ day Regular Board Session and in December for a half day Special Board session following the Panel session.
- The Panel meets once a year for 1½ days in December.
- The Technical Group meets once a year for two days in December immediately preceding the Panel Session.
The Regular Session of the Board is held each year at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
The location of the Panel session and Technical Group meeting is decided by the members of the Panel of External Auditors and is normally held every alternate year in NY and a UN duty station outside NY. The location of the Special Board Session is always the location picked by the Panel members for their next Panel and Technical Group meeting.
See the Technical Group on the Panel of External Auditors website.