Secretariat Accountability, Emergency Support Team, Joint Inspection Unit, Special Political Missions among Issues Addressed, as Budget Committee Approves 6 Texts

19 March 2010
GA/AB/3944

Secretariat Accountability, Emergency Support Team, Joint Inspection Unit, Special Political Missions among Issues Addressed, as Budget Committee Approves 6 Texts

19 March 2010
General Assembly
GA/AB/3944
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly                              

Fifth Committee                                            

27th Meeting (PM)

Secretariat Accountability, Emergency Support Team, Joint Inspection Unit, Special

Political Missions among Issues Addressed, as Budget Committee Approves 6 Texts

Concludes First Part of Resumed Session; Will Meet Again 3-28 May;

Other Drafts Concern Ad Litem Judges; Internal Oversight Office, UNITAR Financing

Concluding the first part of its resumed session this afternoon, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today approved six draft texts, including a multipart draft resolution urging movementtowards an accountability system in the United Nations Secretariat and a draft resolution that would fund a new Emergency Preparedness and Support Team.

Other issues addressed by the texts approved today dealt with additional resources needed for three special political missions; the Secretary-General’s limited budgetary discretion; financing of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR); pension rights of ad litem judges to the Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda; the extension of tenure for ad litem judges to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal; the report of the Joint Inspection Unit; and a review of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).

Saying it was aware of “significant flaws” in internal monitoring, inspection and accountability ‑‑ regarding, for example, the management of the United Nations oil-for-food programme ‑‑ the text on accountability would have the Assembly stress the importance of promoting a culture of accountability, results-based management, enterprise risk management and internal controls at all levels of the Secretariat.

That draft, approved without a vote, would have the Assembly define accountability as “the obligation of the Secretariat and its staff […] to be answerable for all decisions made and actions taken by them, and to be responsible for honouring their commitments, without qualification or exception”.

The definition would further state that accountability included “achieving objectives and high quality results in a timely and cost-effective manner”, as well as conducting “truthful, objective, accurate and timely reporting on performance results”.  Staff were to exercise “responsible stewardship of funds and resources” with “due recognition to the important role of the oversight bodies and in full compliance with accepted recommendations.”

The text would have the Assembly also request the Secretary-General propose measures to strengthen personal accountability at all levels within the Secretariat, based on the suggested definition.  The Joint Inspection Unit ‑‑ an independent external oversight body of the United Nations ‑‑ would be requested to submit to the Assembly, at its sixty-seventh session, a comparative analysis on various accountability frameworks in the United Nations System.

In a separate resolution, also approved without a vote, the Committee paved the way for approval of $2.75 million towards an Emergency Preparedness and Support Team, to be charged against the contingency fund.  The Secretary-General would be requested to develop a comprehensive emergency management framework, including victim support components, which would draw upon international best practices and be submitted in the context of the Organization’s next two-year operational budget.

That draft resolution contained four topics grouped under “special subjects relating to the 2010-2011 programme budget”, and aside from funding for Emergency Preparedness, also made provisions for three special political missions ‑‑ the United Nations Representative on the International Advisory and Monitoring Board of the Development Fund for Iraq, the Security Council’s Sanctions Monitoring Team concerning Al-Qaida and the Taliban and the Monitoring Group on Somalia for 2010.  By its terms, the Assembly would approve $1.02 million for their use, to be accommodated from a provision of $569.53 million already approved in December 2009.  Assistant-Secretary-General Jun Yamazaki, United Nations Controller, said, should the General Assembly approve the draft, the mandates would be delivered as approved.

Speaking after the resolution’s approval, the representative of Singapore said he had proposed language stressing the need for resource estimates to be presented in a more comprehensive and holistic manner.  While heartened that many delegations had expressed appreciation for the principles behind the Singapore proposal, he said it was unfortunate that a few countries thought that Singapore was “asking the Secretariat to do the impossible”.

The Committee, whose Members congratulated one another on the successful completion of all its work within the agreed three weeks, will meet again from 3 to 28 May 2010 for the second part of its resumed session.

Background

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this afternoon to conclude its first resumed session, by considering draft resolutions and decisions relating to special political missions; conditions and terms of service for ad litem judges of the International Criminal Tribunals and United Nations Dispute Tribunal; report of the Joint Inspection Unit; review of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS); and staff accountability.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Committee first took up a multi-part draft resolution, towards an accountability system in the United Nations Secretariat (document A/C.5/64/L.35), whose negotiations were coordinated by the representative of Argentina.

The draft is divided into the following parts:  definition of accountability and roles and responsibilities; performance reporting; implementation of the recommendations of oversight bodies; and personal and institutional accountability; selection and appointment of senior managers.  Other sections were on:  reform of the performance appraisal system; delegation of authority; implementation of the results-based management framework; results-based management information system; enterprise risk management and internal control framework; how the current and proposed accountability mechanisms in the Secretariat would have addressed the flaws in the management of the United Nations oil-for-food programme; and reporting.

Announcing its awareness of “significant flaws” in internal monitoring, inspection and accountability regarding, for example, the management of the United Nations oil-for-food programme, the text would have the Assembly stress the importance of promoting a culture of accountability, results-based management, enterprise risk management and internal controls at all levels of the Secretariat.

The draft would have the Assembly define “accountability” as:

“the obligation of the Secretariat and its staff members to be answerable for all decisions made and actions taken by them, and to be responsible for honouring their commitments, without qualification or exception.”

The definition would further state that accountability included:

“achieving objectives and high quality results in a timely and cost-effective manner, in fully implementing and delivering on all mandates to the Secretariat approved by the United Nations intergovernmental bodies and other subsidiary organs established by them in compliance with all resolutions, regulations, rules and ethical standards; truthful, objective, accurate and timely reporting on performance results; responsible stewardship of funds and resources; all aspects of performance, including a clearly defined system of rewards; and with due recognition to the important role of the oversight bodies and in full compliance with accepted recommendations.”

By the text, the Joint Inspection Unit would be requested to submit to the Assembly, at its sixty-seventh session, a comparative analysis on various accountability frameworks in the United Nations System.

Under personal and institutional accountability, the text would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to propose measures to strengthen personal accountability at all levels within the Secretariat, based on the suggested definition and its link with institutional accountability towards States on the results achieved and resources used.  It would emphasize that risk management was the “inherent responsibility of staff at all levels” and that each department was accountable for risk assessment in the delivery of their respective mandates.

On the selection and appointment of senior managers, the Assembly would request the Joint Inspection Unit to present a report on possible measures to further enhance transparency in the selection and appointment process of senior managers at the main part of its sixty-sixth session.

Regarding the performance appraisal system, it would note with concern the delay in implementation of Inspira and its impact on the Secretary-General’s ability to provide a comprehensive reform effort, and would emphasize the need for its timely implementation.

The resolution was approved without a vote.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution on special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 (document A/C.5/64/L.32).  Negotiations on that text were coordinated by the representative of Pakistan, Muhammad Irfan Soomro; the representative of Norway, Trine Heimerback; and the representative of Bulgaria, Yuliana Zhivkova Georgieva, who is also the Committee’s rapporteur.

By the terms of Part I of the draft, on financing of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the Assembly would welcome the Institute’s 2010-2012 strategic plan and the priority assigned to mobilize self-generated income through the implementation of the Institute’s new business model and, in that context, the Institute’s initiative to create a fellowship fund.

By the terms of Part II of the draft, on revised estimates relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 under sections 28C, Office of Human Resources Management, 28D, Office of Central Support Services, and 36, Staff Assessment:  Emergency Preparedness and Support Unit, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to address, as a matter of priority, the needs of the families of United Nations personnel victims of malicious acts, natural disasters and other emergency incidents.  It would also request the Secretary-General to address as a matter of priority needs specific to United Nations staff directly affected by malicious acts, natural disasters and other emergency situations in the immediate aftermath of such incidents.

In addition, the Assembly would decide to approve two P-5, one P-4, one P-2, and one General Service (other level) positions for the Emergency Preparedness and Support Team to be funded from general temporary assistance.  It would also further decide to approve an additional amount of $2.75 million for the biennium 2010-2011 under section 28C, Office of Human Resources Management ($2.25 million) section 28D, Office of Central Support Services ($261,900) and section 36, Staff assessment ($233,300) to be offset by a corresponding amount under income section 1, Income from staff assessment, of the programme budget of the 2010-2011.

The Assembly would also decide that the additional amount of $2.75 million would represent a charge against the contingency fund.

In addition, the Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to develop a comprehensive emergency management framework, including, inter alia, emergency preparedness and victim support components, which would draw upon international best practices and to submit a proposal in the context of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.

By the terms of Part III of the draft, on limited budgetary discretion, the Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations contained in the reports of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).

In its report on limited budgetary discretion (document A/64/7/Add.18), the ACABQ expresses regret about the late issuance of the Secretary-General’s report on the topic (document A/64/562), as well as regret that only one of the four criteria requested by the General Assembly, namely information on the utilization of the experiment to date, was fully addressed in the Secretary-General’s report.

The ACABQ also states that, while the annex to the Secretary-General’s report sets out questions to be examined when considering the possible use of the limited discretionary authority, it does not clarify how these questions would affect a decision to employ it.  The ACABQ also recalls that the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to report on the criteria used to define the evolving needs of the Organization.

In addition, the ACABQ includes in its report an opinion that the limited budgetary authority to the Secretary-General has been authorized by the General Assembly on an experimental basis and that its formal establishment as a mechanism, as requested by the Secretary-General, is a policy decision to be made by Member States.  In that context, but bearing in mind the shortcomings of the Secretary-General’s report, the ACABQ states that it does not object to the continuation of the current arrangements for the exercising of the limited discretionary authority by the Secretary-General for the biennium 2010-2011.  The ACABQ also recommends that the Secretary-General be requested to submit a comprehensive report to the Assembly at its sixty-sixth session that fully addresses all of the requests made by the Assembly.

By the terms of Part IV of the draft, on estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council, the Assembly would approve the additional requirements for the United Nations Representative on the International Advisory and Monitoring Board of the Development Fund for Iraq, the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team established under Security Council resolution 1526 (2004) concerning Al-Qaida and the Taliban and associated individuals and entities and the Monitoring Group on Somalia for 2010, totalling $1.02 million.  The Assembly would also decide that the additional requirements be accommodated from the provision of $569.53 million approved by the General Assembly in its resolution 64/245 for the biennium 2010-2011.

Speaking before the resolution’s approval, Assistant-Secretary-General, Controller, JUN YAMAZAKI, said that, should the General Assembly approve the draft resolution, it was the understanding of the Secretariat that special political mission mandates would be delivered as approved.

The Committee then approved the resolution without a vote.

Speaking after the resolution’s approval, the representative of Singapore said he supported better flow of information between the Security Council and the Fifth Committee, which had to consider and approve the resource requirements for special political missions.  In view of that, Singapore had proposed language stressing the need for resource estimates for those missions to be presented in a more comprehensive and holistic manner.  The Secretary-General should take steps to ensure that the Fifth Committee was provided with the fullest possible picture of resource requirements for such missions in a timely manner, allowing it to make better informed decisions when considering that item.

While heartened that many delegations had expressed appreciation for the principles behind the Singapore proposal, he said it was unfortunate that a few countries thought that Singapore was “asking the Secretariat to do the impossible” and that the resolution was not the right place or time to address the issue.  It was time to move away from the paradigm that insisted that things could and must be done only in specific ways, even if there are opportunities to speed the implementation of improvements that were in the interest of the Organization’s primary stakeholders.  States had often called for the United Nations to be nimble, but sometimes they failed to see that need for themselves.

Next, the Committee took up the draft on conditions of service for the ad litem judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document A/C.5/64/L.33), coordinated on behalf of the Chair by the representative of New Zealand.

The draft would have the Assembly decide that the matter of differences of pension rights between ad litem judges and permanent judges of the two Tribunals should be resolved as a priority for the Assembly at the main part of its sixty-fifth session.  It would further decide that, in future, where an extension of mandates for ad litem judges with budgetary implications was being sought, matters relating to the conditions of service should be brought to the attention of the Fifth Committee, as the appropriate main committee of the General Assembly with authority for determining the conditions of service.

The text would have the Assembly decide that decisions to be taken with respect to such pension rights should apply to all ad litem judges who had served for an uninterrupted period of service of three years or more.  The Secretary-General would be requested to include in his report the results of comprehensive, actuarial study of the cost of that decision, which the Assembly would consider at the main part of its sixty-fifth session.

That text was approved without a vote.

The Committee then took up a two-part draft text on the report of the Joint Inspection Unit for 2009 and programme of work for 2010 (document A/C.5/64/L.29), coordinated on the Chair’s behalf by the representative of the United Kingdom.

The proposed text would have the Assembly welcome continued progress in the Unit’s reform process, particularly its results-based management approach, and its efforts to improve collaboration with participating organizations and other oversight bodies.  The Unit would be invited to report on further progress in the reform process, including the web-based follow-up system, and request the Secretary-General to report, in the context of the proposed programme budget 2012-2013, on any related resource implications and funding options.

Among other things, the text would have the Assembly note that the Unit’s 2010 programme of work was adjusted in line with existing resources and would have it request the Secretary-General to reflect relevant resource requests in the context of future proposed programme budgets.  The Secretary-General would also be requested to ensure the Unit’s appropriate involvement in ongoing relevant consultations, taking account of its role and mandate.

Noting with concern that some States did not abide by Assembly resolutions on the issuance of visas for the official travel of some Inspectors and Unit staff, the Assembly would, by the text, request States to extend the requisite facilitation to enable those individuals to undertake their tasks, without any conditions.  The Unit was requested to keep the Assembly informed about difficulties or delays in obtaining visas.

The second part of the text has the Assembly taking note of a note by the President of the General Assembly on the implementation of procedures for the appointment of inspectors of the Joint Inspection Unit.

The draft was approved without a vote.

Also approved without a vote was a draft on the review of the implementation of General Assembly resolutions 48/218 B, 54/244 and 59/272 (document A/C.5/64/L.31), dealing with the five-year review of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).  Negotiations were coordinated by the representative of South Africa.

By the text, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to entrust the OIOS to define and compile key oversight terms in close consultation with relevant departments and offices, including the Department of Management and the Office of Legal Affairs, bearing in mind existing definitions used by the Board of Auditors and the Joint Inspection Unit, and taking into account the views of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee (IAAC).  The Secretary-General would be requested to submit to the Assembly, no later than the main part of the sixty-sixth session, terms whose definitions would require the Assembly’s guidance.

Further by the text, it would decide to revert to the issues and on the recommendations by the IAAC on the effectiveness, efficiency and impact of the OIOS (document A/64/288), no later than the main part of its sixty-sixth session.

The text would also have the Assembly recall, as decided in an earlier resolution, that OIOS reports were only available to Member States upon request.  It would decide to evaluate and review, at its sixty-ninth session, the functions and reporting procedures of the OIOS, and to that end, would include in the provisional agenda of that session an item on “review of the implementation of General Assembly resolutions 48/218 B, 54/244, 59/272 and 64/___”.  (The Secretary explained that the blank would be filled upon the resolution’s adoption by the Assembly.)

Speaking after its approval, the representative of Yemen, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, recalled the importance of the OIOS and the need to strengthen accountability and oversight throughout the United Nations.  The Group would like to encourage further engagement between relevant stakeholders to ensure the OIOS achieved its purpose of assisting the Secretary-General in fulfilling his internal oversight responsibilities.  Noting that the five-year term of the OIOS chief was set to expire in July 2010, he reiterated the need for the Secretary-General to undertake the appointment of the next Under-Secretary-General.

The Committee then turned to a draft decision on the administration of justice at the United Nations (document A/C.5/64/L.30), which was submitted by the representative of Thailand and Vice-Chair of the Committee, Sirithon Wairatpanij.

By the draft, the Assembly would decide to extend the tenure of three ad litem judges of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal for an additional one year beginning on 1 July 2010, subject to the decision that the Assembly might take in the context of a review of the statutes of the Tribunals as set out in its resolution 63/253.

The Committee then approved the draft decision without a vote.

Speaking to thank each other for the constructive and flexible spirit shown during negotiations were the representatives of Yemen (speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Spain (speaking on behalf of the European Union), Chile (speaking on behalf of the Rio Group), Cuba, Japan, United Kingdom, Côte d’Ivoire, United States, Brazil and South Africa.

Several Members also paid tribute to the representative of Singapore in advance of his imminent departure, and were told, in return, to “keep building bridges in the spirit of good faith and mutual respect”.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.