Fifty-seventh General Assembly
6th Meeting (AM)
SPEAKERS IN FIFTH COMMITTEE URGE GREATER COORDINATION BETWEEN JOINT INSPECTION
UNIT, PARTICIPATING ORGANS IN FOLLOW-UP TO IMPLEMENTATION OF RECOMMENDATIONS
Speakers in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning made a number of suggestions aimed at improving coordination between the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), participating organizations and Member States in following up on the implementation of the Unit’s recommendations.
[The JIU is an external oversight body which makes recommendations on improving management and coordination within the United Nations system. Among the organizations that have accepted the statute of the Unit – so-called participating organizations -- is a large number of United Nations agencies, programmes and funds, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).]
Encouraging the Unit to continue its discussions with the organizations concerned, the representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said the true value of the JIU reports depended on effective follow-up, which required that appropriate action be taken by executive heads of various participating organizations. He welcomed the intention of the JIU to include in its reports the comments of those organizations on its findings. However, that should not prevent the United Nations system Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) from issuing separate comments when it found it necessary.
A representative of the Russian Federation stressed the need to preserve the Unit as a unique tool of independent evaluation and inspection, saying that “narrowing to a minimum” potential discrepancies with participating organizations, as suggested in the Unit’s report, would, in fact, be counterproductive, for “truth is borne out of argument”. While encouraging “a constructive exchange of views with participating organizations” throughout the reports’ preparation, he said that preliminary coordination of the Unit’s conclusions was out of the question, for that would undermine its independence.
Japan’s representative expressed the hope that the JIU reports would be utilized more by participating organizations, and that its reports would be issued in a more timely fashion. He also emphasized the need to increase coordination between various oversight bodies.
Also advocating better implementation of the Unit’s recommendations, the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said that it would be interesting if the JIU came up with a table to provide information regarding specific recommendations, the status of their implementation, how many recommendations had been implemented, how many had not, and why. That would provide the Fifth Committee with a clear position as to what recommendations were being implemented.
Responding to comments and questions from the floor, the Chairman of the JIU, Sumihiro Kuyama, said that the Unit intended to continue talks with the organizations concerned regarding the inclusion of their comments in the JIU reports. Also, several tables had been distributed among the participating organizations in conjunction with the follow-up system, which would allow the Unit to present to Member States a summary of the implementation of its recommendations.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Syria, Libya and Poland. Also this morning, Keith Walton, Director of the Management Policy Office of the Department of Management, introduced the statistical report of the CEB on the budgetary and financial situation of the organizations of the United Nations system.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Monday, 7 October, to be briefed on the activities of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC).
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to continue its consideration of the reports of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU). See Press Release GA/AB/3518 for further details.
Under the agenda item on administrative and budgetary coordination of the United Nations with specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Committee was also expected to hear an introduction of a statistical report of the Chief Executives Board on Coordination (CEB) on the budgetary and financial situation of organizations of the United Nations system (document A/57/265), which is the only system-wide source of such information. Until 1991, the report, in a slightly modified format, was produced by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and was included in its annual reports on administrative and budgetary coordination of the United Nations with the specialized agencies and the IAEA. Since 1991, six biennial reports have been produced under the auspices of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC).
The seventh of its kind, this year’s report is the first to be presented by the CEB. The document contains such statistical information as approved regular budgets of the organizations of the United Nations system and assessments payable under them, the status of collection of dues, the level of working capital funds for each organization, and voluntary contributions.
VLADIMIR A. IOSSIFOV (Russian Federation) said his delegation attached great importance to the activities of the JIU. The day-to-day operation of the United Nations called for the effective and comprehensive work of oversight organs. His delegation advocated strengthening internal and external oversight organizations and the strict division of labour to avoid duplication. The JIU must also have increased cooperation with other oversight organizations. With regard to the Unit's reports, he said that while encouraging a constructive exchange of views was important, narrowing potential discrepancies to a minimum was out of the question. Truth was borne out of argument, he continued, and JIU reports must be open to questioning, as they could not be suited to one and all.
He was glad the JIU had paid due attention to surveying the financial activities of the specialized agencies, and believed the Unit should also shed light on the problem of the implementation of management observations and human resources management recommendations. The JIU should now also deal with such timely problems as the security of United Nations premises, coordination in peacekeeping missions and the retraining of United Nations personnel.
JERRY KRAMER (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand (CANZ), welcomed the fact that the JIU had taken action to reduce the number of reports it produces in order to deal with its backlog of reports. He encouraged the Unit to ensure greater focus in its reporting.
Regarding the Unit’s programme of work for 2003 and beyond, he said it promised to address some important issues, including the role of the United Nations in disaster reduction and response, cooperation with multilateral financial institutions, and programme issues concerning the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). A report on UNCTAD could be particularly timely in view of the priority the Secretary-General had attached to the analytic capacity of the Organization in such areas as globalization and development. He was also interested in the contribution that the JIU could make to assessing the issues associated with the implementation of results-based budgeting. In that context, he noted that a number of projects about which CANZ and other delegations had expressed concern last year had resurfaced in the 2003 work programme.
The true value of JIU reports depended on effective follow-up, he continued, which required that appropriate action be taken by executive heads of the Unit’s various participating organizations. He encouraged the Unit to continue its discussions with participating organizations to ensure more effective follow-up and welcomed the JIU’s intention to include in its reports the comments of those organizations on its findings. However, that should not prevent the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) from issuing separate comments when it found it necessary.
As for the report on enhancing governance oversight role, he believed that there should be a more systematic linking of the consideration of programme matters to the consideration of administrative, financial and budgetary matters. The ACABQ made useful observations about the application of the recommendations. He also found very interesting the report on field service personnel in peacekeeping operations, which shed light on a complicated set of issues.
SHINICHI YAMANAKA (Japan) said that his delegation believed oversight mechanisms to be very important, and that coordination between the various oversight organizations should be increased. He hoped that the JIU reports would be utilized more by participating organizations, and also hoped that the reports would be issued in a more timely fashion. With regard to the programme of work, his delegation attached importance to interaction between JIU and participating organizations. More emphasis, he continued, should be placed on evaluation activities in the JIU, and he asked what progress had been made with regard to the evaluation aspects of the JIU’s activities.
HUSSEIN SABBAGH (Syria) said that, in general, his delegation was satisfied with the work of the JIU. He would like the Unit’s recommendations to focus more on action to be taken, however.
He added that in the Arabic translation of the report before the Committee, the wrong word had been used for “oversight”
Remarks by JIU Chairman
Responding to comments from the floor, SUMIHIRO KUYAMA, Chairman of the JIU, thanked the members of the Committee for their contribution to the discussion. While more detailed responses to many questions would be provided in informal consultations, he wanted to respond to the question by the representative of Japan regarding the evaluation aspect of JIU activities. As an example of the Unit’s recent evaluation activities, he cited a typical and important report on evaluation of technical cooperation activities within the system, which would be presented shortly to the Second Committee.
Turning to the inclusion of the agencies’ comments in the JIU reports, he said that such arrangements should not be contradictory to the provision in article 11.4 of the Unit’s statute, and the JIU intended to continue talks with the organizations concerned. Instead of presenting two separate reports on the implementation of the Unit’s recommendations, the JIU was moving -- on an experimental basis --towards a new reporting format. For example, such an approach had been taken in preparing a report on support costs, which would be distributed shortly. Close contact had been maintained with participating organizations from the earliest stages of drafting, and dissenting views and reservations had been included in the annex to the report. Further work with participating organizations was envisioned, and the matter was subject to continued review.
KHALIF EL ATRASH (Libya) reiterated the importance of the role of the JIU. His delegation was satisfied with the positive reports prepared by the Unit and encouraged it to make more efforts to improve its administrative and financial performance and enhance its coordination with other organizations. He hoped that future reports would have more specific and applicable recommendations. One more issue that the Unit should tackle was the late issuance of reports and documents. The great delays in that area could negatively affect the work that should be performed during this session.
MUHAMMAD YUSSUF MSHAMBA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that his interest had always lain in the effective implementation of JIU recommendations, and he was glad to say that the JIU was doing its level best to ensure that recommendations were being implemented. The one comment that he wished to make was with regard to the tables being distributed. It would be interesting if the JIU would come up with a table to provide specific recommendations, the status of their implementation, how many recommendations had been implemented, how many had not, and why. That would provide the Fifth Committee with a clear position as to what recommendations were being implemented.
DARIUSZ MANCZYK (Poland) commented on the Secretary-General’s note in document A/57/321. It was with great interest that his delegation had seen the list of potential reports for 2003 and beyond. The proposed themes referred to very important areas. They reflected the weightiest problems and priorities that had arisen from the Millennium Declaration and deserved full support. An evaluation of mechanisms and arrangements, implemented or planned, would be of special significance, he said. It seemed that the examination of potential interdisciplinary approaches could also be useful. He wondered if the JIU could examine the possibility of merging some of the activities and programmes in its economic and social field.
Mr. KUYAMA said that a series of tables had been developed in conjunction with the follow-up system, which would allow the Unit to present to Member States a summary of the implementation of its recommendations. Among those was a table tracking consideration of JIU reports by legislative organs, as well as one on actions taken in implementation of recommendations accepted by the organizations concerned. The tables had been distributed among the participating organizations for their comments, and the JIU hoped to receive full follow-up on the reaction to its reports.
Introduction of Report
KEITH WALTON, Director of the Management Policy Office of the Department of Management, then introduced the statistical report of the CEB on the budgetary and financial situation of the organizations of the United Nations system. The document covered in detail 2000-2001 -– the latest period for which audited financial data for all agencies were available. There were also overview tables covering a 10-year-period, including the current biennium. The tables in the report were grouped under three main subject headings: regular budgets and assessed contributions; working capital funds; and expenditure and receipts of voluntary contributions.
The Committee’s Chairman, MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal), proposed that the Secretariat prepare a draft decision, whereby the Committee would recommend that the Assembly take note of the statistical report contained in document A/57/265. It was so decided.
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