11 March 2003


Press Release

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Fifth Committee (Resumed)

44th Meeting (AM)                   



Results-Based Budgeting ‘A Work in Progress’, Committee Told

Before concluding consideration of several Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) reports on its agenda this morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) welcomed the recently appointed Under-Secretary-General for Management, Catherine Bertini, as she made her first statement to the Committee since joining the United Nations Secretariat in its top management position.  Ms. Bertini, formerly the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), assumed her new functions on 1 January 2003.

Welcoming her to the Fifth Committee, its Chairman, Murari Raj Sharma of Nepal, said that as WFP Executive Director for 10 years, Ms. Bertini had been credited for efforts to modernize the Programme’s administration and assist hundreds of millions of victims of war and natural disasters all over the world.  She was one of the few women leaders in the United Nations system to have made such a distinctive mark.  In appointing her, the Secretary-General had recognized her distinct qualifications for the job, as well as her eminent experience.  Her stellar performance at WFP was an indication of what to expect in her new duties.  Mr. Sharma added that Ms. Bertini brought an exceptional blend of management skills, personal integrity and unwavering commitment to the United Nations. 

The new Under-Secretary-General for Management, Ms. Bertini, said that while she was not new to the system, she was new to several bodies, including the Fifth Committee.  The Committee dealt with a vast array of issues with direct impact on the day-to-day operations of the Organization, as well as its longer-term strategies.  She especially looked forward to working on the implementation the Secretary-General’s reform agenda, and hoped to engage in frequent and open dialogue with Committee members.  As the Committee was faced with many significant items this year, including the financing of over 20 peacekeeping operations and the 2004-2005 proposed programme budget, working together would be critical.  She pledged her assistance, as well as that of her staff, in helping the Committee address its many agenda items.

As the Committee joined in welcoming Ms. Bertini, members pledged their assistance to the new Under-Secretary-General, saying that the assumption of her new post came at a critical time in the Organization’s history.  Among those commending Ms. Bertini were the representatives of Morocco (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Canada (on behalf of Australia and

New Zealand), Botswana (on behalf of the African States), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (on behalf of the Asian States), Bosnia and Herzegovina (on behalf of the Eastern European States), Bahamas (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States) and Japan, as well as the representative of the United States, who noted that welcoming Ms. Bertini to the Fifth Committee might be the equivalent of “welcoming Daniel to the lion’s den”. 

Greece’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the Union would support Ms. Bertini in her duties with a view to creating a modern organization that was fully able to meet the world’s needs today.  He noted the Union’s support for the Secretary-General’s reform process, including the reform of human resources management, which would result in a more efficient Organization.  The United Nations must rely on a financially sound basis and budgetary discipline was critical in that regard.  He looked forward to Ms. Bertini’s presentation on the Organization’s financial situation in the near future. 

As the Committee concluded its consideration of several JIUreports, Cuba’s representative said the report on a results-based approach in implementing the United Nations Millennium Declaration, which had been introduced through videoconferencing from Geneva yesterday, was a valuable and serious study.  While recognizing the broad expertise of the JIU, however, she wondered about the concrete objectives of the document before the Committee and the relevance of its introduction at this point. 

Before proceeding to changes in rules and regulations, it was important to acquire broad experience in implementing the new budgeting format, she stressed.  Any new experiment had shortcomings, and it was not relevant to change the system before the fruits of the new budgeting became clear.  The Organization should be able to effectively evaluate its performance, and better training of staff was needed in implementing the results-based budgeting.  Greater involvement of programme managers was also required.  Even more than additional changes to the budgeting and programming system, the political will of all Member States was needed in implementing the Millennium Declaration objectives.

In a brief discussion, the representatives of the United States and Algeria suggested ways to consider the report in its entirety before intergovernmental bodies.  (Only the first part of the report falls under the Committee’s purview.)  The representative of the United States agreed with the inspectors’ suggestion yesterday that the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) take up the report, as it had done a great deal to advance results-based management.  He also expressed disappointment that his question regarding the estimated costs of the two JIU reports before the Committee had not been answered yesterday, when videoconferencing had been available with Geneva.  While he had received a general indication of possible costs of the inspectors’ work, it was necessary to have full disclosure in the interest of budget transparency.

Algeria’s representative, noting that the General Assembly had an agenda item devoted to follow-up to the Millennium Declaration, suggested that the Plenary consider the second part of the report under that agenda item. 

Responding to comments from the floor, Inspector DORIS BERTRAND agreed with the Cuban delegate’s statement that results-based budgeting was work in progress and that it needed to be encouraged both by Member States and the bodies of the United Nations system.  Training, indeed, was very important, as was the interest of programme management.  The goal was to make the results-based budgeting exercise useful to the Organization.  It was important to do what mattered.  The results-based budgeting approach should allow Member States to focus on that.  It was important to evaluate and assess the new budgeting format.  She also agreed that it would be beneficial for both the CPC and the Plenary to consider the report in its entirety.  However, the decision on how to consider the report belonged to Member States, she said. 

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For information media. Not an official record.