Secretary-General Spells Out Priorities for 2010-2011 Biennium in Remarks to Administrative and Budgetary Committee

7 December 2009

Secretary-General Spells Out Priorities for 2010-2011 Biennium in Remarks to Administrative and Budgetary Committee

7 December 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General Spells Out Priorities for 2010-2011 Biennium in Remarks


to Administrative and Budgetary Committee


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) in New York, today, 7 December:

I thank the distinguished delegates for the fruitful discussions we have had on the programme budget for the 2010-2011 biennium.  Such dialogue promotes better understanding of the issues and facilitates the decision-making process.  I have closely followed the ongoing review of the budget.  I hope my remarks today will answer the questions raised by the Committee and alleviate your concerns.

Let me stress at the outset how keenly aware we are that our discussions about resources are taking place amid a severe and ongoing global economic and financial crisis.  Many Member States face acute budget constraints.  Moreover, we see such elements as inflation and currency fluctuations that are beyond our control.  For these and other reasons, the proposals now before you call for only modest increases, based on rigorous scrutiny of priorities.

Let me start with the unprecedented security challenges that United Nations staff and operations are facing in many regions of the world.  This new reality has tremendous implications for our work.  We have been adapting to new security threats for many years now, but the latest threats compel us to go further still.  My proposal calls for $247.1 million under section 34, and $43.6 million for strengthened security and a more unified security management system.  The Advisory Committee remains seized of this matter.

I would also like to underscore the importance of meeting emergency needs, particularly in light of recent attacks.  I remain deeply concerned about the security situation in Afghanistan.  There will be no additional reports during the Committee's current session.

From a budget perspective, the issues will be addressed early next year to allow for an in-depth analysis of the United Nations position and requirements, which will be the basis for future formal proposals.  In the interim, we will explore a variety of creative and pragmatic options to address immediate needs.  The Deputy Secretary-General and my senior advisers have been and will be engaged with Member States on the options, and we will make a written proposal soon.

Let me turn now to the Special Adviser on Africa.  As you are aware, I appointed Mr. Cheick Diarra to the post in January 2008, with concurrent responsibility as the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Land Locked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

This decision was meant to build stronger links between the two programmes, to consolidate resources and to improve clarity and coherence among programmes that share important synergies.  In strengthening the delivery of Secretariat services for countries with special needs, I remain fully committed to the consistent implementation of the decisions of the General Assembly.

A review of this arrangement is being finalized.   I will then revert to you, through the normal process for review and approval, with proposed options on the structure of the programmes and on any gaps or constraints that we identify.  I appreciated the willingness of Member States, particularly from Africa, on this proposal.

I will now say a few words about concerns that have been raised about the level of resources in the development account.  When the account was established, the Secretariat was optimistic about funding it throughsavings achieved through efficiency measures.

While the Secretariat continues to find better ways to implement its mandates, this remains a challenging process.  At the same time, the continuing expansion of mandates given to the Secretariat has limited the level of resources that can be reallocated.  I remain fully committed to improving efficiency in order to yield dividends for development.

Let me turn now to the question of limited budgetary discretion.  As you know, this discretion is expected to end this year.  I will shortly submit a comprehensive report on this experiment.  Based on the lessons learned, I propose to continue limited discretionary provision as an established procedure with an increase in the amount from $20 million to $30 million.  I also propose amending two principles set out in paragraph 8 of the resolution 60/283, as follows:

First, the use of such authorization shall be exercised with the prior concurrence of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) when the total amount utilized exceeds 10 million dollars per biennium; second, the limited discretion shall not be implemented in pursuance of General Assembly resolutions calling for the implementation of decisions “within existing resources”, except in cases where activities are of a cross-cutting nature, affecting the majority of budget sections.

We all recognize the need to constantly modernize our infrastructure, stay abreast of technological developments, and strengthen performance.  This is true even of static enterprises; for dynamic organizations such as the United Nations, it can be the difference between progress and poverty, and even a matter of life and death.

Modernization encompasses many areas, from human resources to information technology.  Again with the global economic downturn very much in mind, we have included in our proposals only the highest priority projects.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is one such system.  The progress report on ERP that is now before you addresses your requests and advocates for substantial change in the administrative and support services of the Organization.  We have made every attempt to provide you with a more refined strategy.  The planning, budgeting and benefit projections are based on considerable analysis drawn from the Umoja Team’s consultations with staff of all offices at Headquarters, away from Headquarters, regional commissions and peacekeeping missions.

The recommended option of “Pilot First” has the lowest risk since it has a gradual and not sudden operational impact.  This means that Umoja would be deployed to a group of pilot sites first, and then to the rest of the Organization.  This is not the lowest-cost option for 2010-2011, but it is the lowest in the medium-term, with measurable benefits to the Organization.

Three ICT projects are also essential parts of the picture:  enterprise content management, customer relationship management and disaster recovery and business continuity.  ECM, CRM and DRBC are the main elements of the ICT Strategy for the Secretariat endorsed by the General Assembly.  Deployed together, they will significantly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our global operations.  I believe in the positive effects of ICT, and firmly support these important projects.

On business continuity, my report includes revised estimates.  It also outlines the vulnerability of our global operations and the impact on the millions of lives that depend on our ability to discharge mandates effectively.

We must be able to ensure the continuity of critical operations when faced with pandemic, disaster, technological failures, terrorism or other such incidents.  Departments and offices are in the process of developing strategies aimed at mitigating the impact of different risks.  Despite the major efforts that have been undertaken to date, much more needs to be done.

Let me also say a brief word on training related to International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).  The second progress report offers proposals synchronized with those of the ERP/Umoja Project, and sets forth an adjusted IPSAS implementation timetable.

I am aware that there are concerns about the balance between regular budget and extrabudgetary resources.  As you know, we operate in a multifaceted and dynamic environment, in which United Nations system organizations work with and complement each other.  My budget proposals try to capture the different financing sources in order to prevent duplication.

Extrabudgetary resources, particularly voluntary contributions, are accepted as long as the purposes for which such contributions are made are consistent with the policies, aims and activities of the Organization, and as long as the acceptance of such contributions does not involve additional financial liabilities for the Organization.

Let me also say a word about recosting.  You are aware of my commitment to strict budgetary discipline.  Having said that, certain requirements are not in our control, such as recosting.  Yet recosting is necessary for us to pursue our mandated activities.  I strongly urge incorporating this factor, as you have done in the past, when you decide on the final budget level.

Finally, let me share my thoughts on the timeframe for the recruitment of the next Under-Secretary-General for the Office of Internal Oversight Services.  The delegate from CANZ (Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) has asked why this process will begin in January and not this year.

In determining the optimum time for soliciting nominations from Member States, I am mindful of the careful balance that must be maintained between starting the selection process early enough for a successful conclusion, and ensuring that precedent and consistency are maintained.

The practice has been to initiate a call for nominations four to six months before the known departure date of the incumbent.  Such timing enables the serving official to continue to perform his or her functions without any disruption, and avoid being placed in a sensitive position should the anticipated opening be circulated 9 to 12 months in advance.  In keeping with past practice, I would wish to maintain this well established process.  As you know, Ms. [Inga-Britt] Ahlenius’s term ends in mid-July 2010.  Therefore, I welcome receiving nominations from Member States starting in January.

As Chief Administrative Officer, I am committed to management reform and to greater transparency, accountability and efficiency.  We have been and will continue to be as transparent as possible in providing you with the information you need for your deliberations.

We welcome specific guidance on how to modify or develop our ideas further so as to advance our joint progress.  We look forward to working with the Committee to successfully conclude the budget process for the next biennium.  Most of all, we are eager to implement what we have set out for you, for the benefit of you and your people.

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