29 March 2010

General Assembly Stresses Importance of Results-Based Management, Internal Controls, as It Adopts Resolution on Accountability

29 March 2010
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly


81st Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Stresses Importance of Results-Based Management,


Internal Controls, as it Adopts Resolution on Accountability


Taking Action on Fifth Committee Reports, Delegates

Also Approve Drafts on Judicial Appointments, Emergency Preparedness

Saying it was aware of “significant flaws” in the United Nations Secretariat’s internal monitoring, inspection and accountability mechanisms, the General Assembly stressed, in a resolution it adopted today, the importance of promoting a culture of accountability, results-based management, enterprise risk management and internal controls at all levels.

Citing the United Nations “oil-for-food” programme as an example of such flaws, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, the 11-part draft titled “Towards an accountability system in the United Nations Secretariat”, one of five texts recommended for action by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) following its three-week resumed session earlier this month.

By the terms of the text, the General Assembly defined 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”.  It further defined accountability as “achieving objectives and high-quality results in a timely and cost-effective manner [as approved] by United Nations intergovernmental bodies”, as well as conducting “truthful, objective, accurate and timely reporting on performance results”.

Under that definition, staff members were expected 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”, according to the text.  The Assembly requested the Secretary-General to propose measures for strengthening personal accountability at all levels within the Secretariat, based on the suggested definition.

Further by the text, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to use the senior managers’ compact to reinforce the link between personal accountability and institutional accountability, and to improve the system for appraising the performance of all staff below the rank of Assistant Secretary-General.  Concerned that “Inspira”, the Secretariat’s new performance appraisal system, had been beset by delays, the Assembly stressed the need for its timely implementation.

By other provisions in the text, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General urgently to address “continued deficiencies” in the current delegation of authority.  It also requested him to promulgate well-defined roles and responsibilities for individuals to whom authority was delegated; “systemic reporting mechanisms” for monitoring and exercising delegated authority; and actions to be taken in cases of mismanagement or abuse of authority.

Further by the text, the Assembly requested the Joint Inspection Unit ‑‑ an independent external oversight body of the United Nations ‑‑ to submit a comparative analysis on various accountability frameworks in the United Nations system.  To ensure implementation of recommendations by oversight bodies, the Assembly emphasized the role of the Management Committee as the appropriate monitoring body, and emphasized the need for transparency in its work.

The Assembly adopted a separate resolution, titled “Joint Inspection Unit”, without a vote, expressing concern about the failure by some Member States to abide by earlier resolutions on the issuance of visas for some of the Unit’s inspectors and staff.  It asked that the Secretary-General and other executive heads of participating organizations assist the Unit by providing it with information, as requested.

Acting again without a vote, the Assembly adopted a resolution titled “Review of the implementation of General Assembly resolutions 48/218B, 54/244 and 59/272”, by which it requested the Secretary-General to trust the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) to define and compile key oversight terms, in consultation with relevant departments and offices.  It asked that the definitions be submitted for consideration no later than the main part of its sixty-sixth session, at which time it would also evaluate the functions and reporting procedures of OIOS.

In a consensus action on funding matters, the Assembly approved $2.75 million towards an Emergency Preparedness and Support Team, with the funds going to the Office of Human Resources Management and the Office of Central Support Services, as charged against the United Nations contingency fund.  By the text, titled “Special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011”, the Assembly stressed the Organization’s duty to care for personnel ‑‑ and their families ‑‑ affected by malicious acts, natural disasters and other emergency situations.  It requested the Secretary-General to develop a comprehensive emergency management framework, to be submitted in the context of the Organization’s next two-year operational budget.

Besides emergency preparedness, the text 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.

In other actions recommended by the Fifth Committee, the Assembly:

‑‑ Extended the tenure of three ad litem judges of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal ‑‑ Michael Adams (Australia), Jean-François Cousin (France) and Nkemdilim Amelia Izuako (Nigeria) ‑‑ for one additional year, beginning on 1 July 2010, subject to future General Assembly decisions taken after reviewing the Tribunal’s statuteat its sixty-fifth session;

‑‑ Settled the difference in pension rights between ad litem and permanent judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, at the main part of its sixty-fifth session, requesting the Secretary-General to produce a comprehensive actuarial study of the cost of extending pensions to those judges;

‑‑ Appealed to Member States, private institutions and other entities to give financial support to the fellowship fund of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), while welcoming the priority assigned by the Institute to collecting self-generated income to defray its costs; and

‑‑ Endorsed the conclusions and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on the Secretary-General’s limited budgetary discretion, whereby the Committee expressed regret about shortcomings in the Secretary-General’s report on the continued and expanded use of that arrangement, but did not object to its continuation in 2010-2011.  However , ACABQ recommended that the Secretary-General submit a comprehensive report to the Assembly at its sixty-sixth session.

Yuliana Zhivkova Georgieva (Bulgaria), Rapporteur of the Fifth Committee, presented the draft resolutions.

In a separate action, the Assembly decided that the total number of ad litem judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia could exceed the maximum of 12 originally provided for, to a maximum of 13, which would allow Judge Kimberly Prost (Canada) and Judge Ole Bjørn Støle (Norway), to continue serving until the end of May 2010 in order to complete judgement in the ongoing Popović case.  The Security Council, the Tribunal’s parent body, had already approved such a move, as explained in a letter from the Council President.

In light of the resignation by a judge of the International Court of Justice, the Assembly also decided to add to its agenda an item titled “Election of a member of the International Court of Justice”.

The General Assembly will meet again at a date and time to be announced.

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