7 October 2004
Budget Committee Debates Reform of Joint Inspection Unit
NEW YORK, 6 October (UN Headquarters) -- Emphasizing the great importance of the Joint Inspection Unit as the sole external system-wide oversight body of the Organization, many speakers in the Administrative and Budgetary Committee (Fifth) this morning said it was time to take a decision on the review of the statute and working methods of the Unit.
The Committee was addressing the issue for the third time in 12 months with opinion divided on the type of reform needed.
The representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, advocated introducing changes to the Units statute, saying that, fundamentally, reform was needed to ensure that its work was relevant to participating organizations. To achieve that, it was necessary to appoint the right people to serve as inspectors in Geneva, optimize the work of the Unit, ensure high-quality output and maximum cost-effectiveness, and improve interaction with participating organizations and other entities. That position was also supported by the representative of the United States.
Other delegations said that proposing change to the statute was premature and, instead, the Unit be encouraged to continue its internal efforts to reform its working methods. The representative of Qatar, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said it was important for the Unit to fully implement all the provisions of its current statute, empowering the Chairman to exercise overall managerial responsibility of the Unit and improving the quality of its reports.
In that connection, the Russia Federations representative insisted that the most effective and rational approach was to ensure, possibly though a General Assembly resolution and without introducing changes to the current statute, full utilization of the current mandate of the Unit, by improving the quality of its reports and streamlining its working methods and procedures. It was also important to ensure proper assessment of the effectiveness of the Unit by Member States. The Assembly could later revisit the issue of effectiveness of the Unit and, if need be, take up the possibility of reviewing the statute at that point.
Trinidad and Tobago was among the countries that favoured a resolution to address areas where consensus was already emerging. In that connection, that countrys representative highlighted such important areas as the qualifications of inspectors and the selection process; the role of the Chairman; and collective responsibility principles.
Several delegations objected to any linkage between the Unit reform and approval of the budget of the Unit for 2005, which could only complicate the process of decision-making. There was also no agreement on the proposal to reduce the number of inspectors, as advocated by Canada (also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), who said that the number of reports did not support the number of inspectors. The Unit itself had identified that option in one of its reports last year. The representative of Senegal, however, insisted that the number of inspectors should be kept at 11, and said that it could even be increased.
Japans representative said that, apart from the current discussion on the improvement of the Units working methods and procedures, the Assembly should identify the proper place and role of the Unit in the management mechanisms, taking into account its unique independent and system-wide mandate to provide impartial reviews of the organizations. The Unit had submitted 112 reports from 1990 to 2003, with 7.5 reports on average -- or 4 to 13 reports -- per year. Out of that total, only 42 reports had addressed system-wide or inter-agency issues. That meant that the Unit had largely duplicated internal evaluation bodies of individual organizations and had failed to implement its unique mandate.
Also participating in the debate were representatives of Cuba, India, Gabon, Pakistan, United Republic of Tanzania and Syria. Documents before the Committee were introduced by the Chairman of the Joint Inspection Unit, Ion Gorita, and the Director of the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management, Jessie Rose Mabutas, who also responded to comments and questions from the floor.
The Committee will continue its work at 10 a.m., Thursday, 7 October, when it will take up the financing of United Nations missions in Haiti and East Timor, to be followed by informal consultations on a report by the Office of Internal Oversight Services on strengthening the Organizations investigation function.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning was expected to start its consideration of the reports of the Organizations sole external oversight body, the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU).
During its fifty-eighth session, the Committee took up the review of the statute and working methods of the Joint Inspection Unit twice, considering proposals to reform the mode of selection of new inspectors, strengthen the role of the Chairman and establish collective responsibility for the Units work. In the meanwhile, the JIU embarked on a series of internal reforms that did not require the Assemblys legislative approval, including procedures designed to improve the quality and timeliness of the reports. To this effect, the Unit approved a new strategic follow-up framework and tied to it a new methodology and analytical instruments for the determination of its annual programme of work.
The latest annual report of the Joint Inspection Unit (document A/59/34) covers the period 1 January to 31 December 2003. Among events of significance for the Unit, its Chairman reports initiatives to reform and streamline the work of the JIU; recruitment of a new Executive Secretary; acceptance of the Units statute by the World Tourism Organization; and release of an updated web site.
According to the report, the discussion of the JIU statute and working methods highlighted the Units highly valuable potential, given its unique position, with its cumulative experience of agency operations, strategic perspective and knowledge of best practices, to provide not only evaluation and oversight but also management advice across the whole system. The role of the Unit in cross-fertilization among organizations of the United Nations system was also stressed.
Among numerous innovations introduced by the Unit is the redesign of its annual report to make it more substantive and informative. As of next year, the Unit intends to merge its annual report with the report on its programme of work. The Unit is also reporting that its efforts to establish a follow-up system for systematic tracking of the status of implementation of its recommendations have begun to bear fruit. Several participating organizations have issued reports on the implementation of the Units recommendations, which include specific measures undertaken, units responsible and the timetable for the implementation of the recommendations, as well as their expected impact.
In 2003, the Unit completed seven reports, but as a consequence of the efforts put into the reform, some system-wide reports scheduled for completion by December 2003 will be completed only in the first half of 2004. Among these are reports on procurement practices, results-based management and human resources management within the United Nations system, a report on headquarters agreements, and one on standards of accommodation and travel time.
In the document on the programme of work for 2004 (document A/59/75), the Unit reports that it has chosen themes that are high on the agenda of the United Nations, that are system-wide in scope, and that can lead to improved efficiency or potential savings. It identified as a top priority a study on the administration of justice within the Organization, with a view towards harmonizing the statutes of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal and the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and consideration of feasibility of a single administrative tribunal for the entire common system.
The Unit proposed a review of inter-agency coordinating mechanisms, as well as a study of possible measures to improve collaboration and coordination among the Organizations agencies in Africa, which would also examine the role of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Union, the African Development Bank, and other organizations at the subregional level. Also planned are studies on developing a common payroll service for the United Nations system, management of the laissez-passer arrangements, and the use of open source software (OSS), as well as management reviews for the Americas Regional Office (AMRO)/Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and the United Nations Office at Geneva. Additionally, the Unit is currently undertaking a report on knowledge management for the ILO.
Additional reform measures undertaken by the JIU were detailed in a conference paper reviewing the statute and working methods of the Unit (document A/C.5/59/CRP.1), which was also before the Committee. Among the steps taken by the Unit were efforts to proactively and systematically identify the cross-organizational priority issues where the Units involvement might add maximum value; to establish clusters of participating organizations and designating focal point teams for each to be headed by an Inspector, in order to help the Unit acquire deeper knowledge of the specific challenges and opportunities met by each organization in the discharge of its mandate; and to ensure a common methodological approach to the collection and analysis of information.
Another Secretary-Generals report (document A/59/349) provides updates on the implementation of the recommendations contained in four reports of the JIU, on: Administration of justice at the United Nations (A/55/57); delegation of authority for management of human and financial resources in the United Nations Secretariat (A/55/857); results-based budgeting: the experience of the United Nations system organizations (A/54/287); and young professionals in selected organizations of the United Nations system: recruitment, management and retention (A/55/798).
However, expressing concern over possible duplication with other reporting instruments, including the Units follow-up mechanism as endorsed by the General Assembly, the Secretary-General recommends discontinuing production of this particular annual report. In considering the matter, he recommends considering the costs involved: over $1,000 per page to publish a document in six official languages.
Introduction of Reports
Introducing the annual report of the JIU, its programme of work and the conference room paper on further measures to improve the Units working methods, ION GORITA, Chairman of the Unit, said that even the best reports had an impact only if their recommendations were implemented, and for that reason, particular attention was given in the documents to actions to assure full implementation of the Units follow-up system. Examples were also provided of the potential impact of Unit reports as perceived by certain agencies and bodies.
Regarding the programme of work for 2004, he said that a new and innovative approach had been taken in its preparation. The Unit had used clear pre-defined criteria, as well as a selection methodology designed to ensure that all reports and notes were relevant to the Organizations agenda, fully consistent with the mandate of the Unit, reviewed to ensure coordination with the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and the Board of Auditors, and met clear quality standards. Six of the nine reports were system-wide in scope, aiming to review possible efficiency improvements in the delivery of programmes, economies of scale that could lead to cost reductions and improvements in safety and security.
Among the actions described in conference room paper A/C.5/59/CRP.1, he highlighted the fact that the JIU was now in the process of implementing a methodology for management/risk assessments of various participating organizations, which would improve common review mechanisms across participating organizations, yield coherent analysis and identify the main risk areas common to the system. Various secretariats had been asked to provide the Unit with anticipated agendas of various legislative bodies. That information, in conjunction with the management assessments, would be used to ascertain issues of relevance to Member States, where the JIU could indeed made a significant and timely contribution.
While the full effect of the reforms would only be felt in 2005, the Unit had been encouraged by the positive comments of Member States and participating organizations, which had noticed improvements in the quality and relevance of its work. He looked forward to the decisions of the Fifth Committee on the reform issues within its purview.
JESSIE ROSE MABUTAS, Director, Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management, introduced the report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Inspection Unit, saying that, overall, substantial progress had been achieved. For instance, the recommendations accepted in respect of the administration of justice, which fell within the Secretary-Generals purview, had all been either implemented or were close to implementation.
She also reminded the Committee of the reservations contained in a similar report last year, which concerned the issue of whether the document duplicated the reporting system endorsed by the Assembly in its resolution 54/16. Given the excessive documentation submitted for the Committees consideration, the General Assembly was invited to consider whether the report on the implementation of the recommendations could be discontinued.
RONALD ELKHUIZEN (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, stressed the great importance of inspection activities as a fundamental tool to enhance the efficiency of the United Nations, noting that the JIU had an important role to play as the only independent, external oversight body with a system-wide mandate.
However, the Unit had not lived up to expectations, which was why the Committee had for years raised critical points concerning the Units work and why members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) last year called for an in-depth review of the statute and working methods of the Unit. Fundamentally, reform was needed to ensure that the work of the Unit was relevant to participating organizations. To achieve that, there was a need to ensure that the right people were appointed to serve as inspectors in Geneva, that the work of the Unit was carried out in an optimal way, ensuring high-quality output and maximum cost-effectiveness, and that there was the right interaction with participating organizations and other entities. The European Union believed that that necessitated changes to the Units statute.
The time had come to make a decision, he said. Issues had been clarified and debated, yet no consensus had emerged. It was because of their commitment to the success of the Unit that they would not let the opportunity for meaningful reform slip away. There had been no action on reform of the Unit by the Committee so far. Discussions in the Committee in the coming months should be focused and lead to concrete results in the main session.
The European Union welcomed report A/59/349 on implementation of the approved recommendations of the Unit, and took note of report A/59/34, detailing the Units activities in 2003. They welcomed the improved format of the annual report and the planned merger of the annual report and the report on the programme of work.
MISHAL MOHAMMED AL-ANSARI (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the strategic framework adopted by the Unit will go a long way towards improving both the choice of topics on which studies are conducted, in which results are already apparent, and in the quality of reports. The Group welcomed the further measures suggested by the Unit to improve its mode of operation, outlined by the Unit in a conference paper. The Units extensive and systematic consultations with participating organizations from the early stages of the preparation of reports have resulted in several reports having been well received and generated considerable interest.
The Group called on the delegations to actively involve themselves in the framing of the Units work programme, so that that the General Assembly would be able to task the Unit with reports on subjects it considers most pertinent. Noting that reform was a continuous process, the Group encouraged the Unit to continue its efforts at reforming its working methods, including through fully implementing all the provisions of the statute, empowering the Chairman to exercise overall managerial responsibility of the Unit, and in improving the quality of its reports. The Group reiterated the importance it attached to the Unit as the sole system-wide, independent, external oversight body of the United Nations system.
VLADIMIR A. IOSIFOV (Russian Federation) said that his country attached great importance to improving the work of the JIU, enhancing its effectiveness and making it more productive for Member States. The Unit had a unique mandate and every effort should be made to fully realize its potential as a system-wide oversight body. The most effective and rational approach, in that respect, was to make sure, possibly though a General Assembly resolution and without introducing changes to the current statute, to ensure full utilization of the current mandate of the Unit, by improving the quality of its reports and streamlining its working methods and procedures. It was also important to ensure proper assessment of the effectiveness of the Unit by Member States.
He went on to say that the message sent by Member States in previous discussions on the matter had been heeded by the Inspectors. The Unit had prepared a number of documents on crucial management problems. In his view, after a certain amount of time, the General Assembly should revisit the issue of effectiveness of the JIU, see how its decisions on improving its work had been implemented, and chart possible future action. If need be, the possibility of reviewing the statute could be addressed at that point. He could not accept, however, any linkage between that and approval of the budget of the Unit for 2005, which could only complicate the process of decision-making.
CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal) said the steps taken by the Unit in the context of its internal reform were perfectly in keeping with efforts at reforming and strengthening the United Nations system. The desire for efficiency was reflected in the evident strong desire to improve the quality of reports. Senegal hoped that the utilization of those assessment methods would strengthen the approach for analysing information. Concerning the status of inspectors, it was crucial to maintain the rules and procedures already approved, without trying to transform the Unit inspectors into auditors. Technical skills could be strengthened, however.
Maintaining the current number of 11 inspectors was necessary, as that had meant that some geographical balance was kept in the selection process. Increasing the number of inspectors could be a positive thing, as it could strengthen the inspection team. Senegal would support any useful reform, but the Assembly should avoid taking any rash action.
PABLO BERTI OLIVA (Cuba) fully endorsed the position of the Group of 77 and China and supported the efforts of the Unit to improve its working methods. In particular, he welcomed the Units proposal to merge its annual report with the programme of work in a single document. In continuing the process of reform, it was important to ensure higher quality reports. He believed that it was also necessary to promote the Units collective responsibility for every report, avoiding the situation where a report would be the sole responsibility of its author. The sole system-wide external oversight body should give its recommendations on the basis of collective opinion, rather than opinions of its individual Inspectors.
The Unit should also provide more information on the impact of its recommendations to ensure proper follow-up, he continued. Noting that in Chapter III of the Units annual report, mention was made only of measures taken by some organizations in implementation of the follow-up system, he wanted to know if others had failed to implement the recommendations. He also welcomed the measures taken to improve the Units coordination with OIOS and the Board of Auditors, as well as the fact that the proposed work programme involved a real process of consultations with organizations. He noted with interest the methodology used to select the topics of reports.
Turning to document A/59/349, he questioned the content of that document, saying that it included information on reports dating to previous sessions, on which action had already been taken. On the delegation of authority for management of human and financial resources, the wording of paragraph 20 of the report, which referred to the fact that many of the general findings and recommendations contained in the JIU report had been overtaken by events, and a number of reform initiatives had been overlooked, appeared to make the recommendations of the Unit irrelevant. That seemed inappropriate.
Regarding the proposal to discontinue the report, he requested further explanations from the Chairman of the JIU on whether the document was really a duplication. While the cost benefit considerations should be taken into account, such an approach should not be exaggerated. All necessary resources should be allocated to implement all the mandates of the Assembly. Also, the question of the reform of the Unit should be addressed on its merit, and he opposed any links with other items on the agenda.
V.K. MADHAVAN KUTTY (India) associated his delegation with the statement made by the delegate of Qatar, on behalf of the Group of 77. Following the observations of the CPC and the General Assembly last year, the Unit had made commendable progress in developing a series of processes and new tools to ensure that themes high on the agenda of the United Nations system were taken up by the Unit for study and reporting. The five criteria identified for that purpose would significantly improve the focus of the Units activity. Similarly, the strategic framework and a validation checklist have been introduced and a set of clear, objective criteria adopted.
India welcomed the choice of subjects included in the Units programme of work for 2004, which included not only items requested by the General Assembly, but also by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the International Labour Organization (ILO), among others. Review of inter-agency coordination mechanisms and enhancing collaboration among United Nations agencies in Africa were particularly worthy of study.
He observed that as many as 17 of 22 items reviewed for inclusion in the JIUs programme of work were those originating from secretariats of participating organizations, indicating that the secretariats of participating organizations found value in the Units work. Second, as much as 68 per cent of the Units budget was financed by participating organizations. Also, several of the participating organizations had initiated mechanisms for effective follow-up of the Units recommendations. Finally, document A/59/349 stated that most of the Units recommendations on the four reports in question had been found actionable, and indeed the Secretary-General had taken steps to implement them.
While not all of the Units reports had been of consistent quality, the Unit had initiated steps to improve the situation. India believed acceptance of the proposal forwarded by the Group of 77 in the previous session would go a long way towards addressing those issues. India looked forward to discussing that further and arriving at constructive solutions during the current session.
JEAN CHRISTIAN OBAME (Gabon) associated himself with the statement by Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and said that, being in favour of strengthening the internal and external oversight bodies of the Organization, he welcomed the discussion on the reform of the JIU, which had already started to bear fruit. The drafting of internal procedures to supplement the norms and guidelines adopted in 1996 was a step in the right direction, for example. It was also important that the programme of work for 2004 had been prepared, taking into account the proposals by Member States and participating organizations. He also welcomed the introduction in the working programme the question of strengthening coordination of United Nations bodies in Africa, following a request from ECA. That was a good way to avoid overlap and wasting limited resources.
Strengthening the JIU to meet the expectations of Member States was an ongoing process, which required exploration of all possibilities to have an in-depth assessment of proposed measures, he continued. It was time to pay tribute to the work already completed, so that next year the Committee could understand the full impact of the reforms already introduced.
SHOZAB ABBAS (Pakistan) also supported the position of the Group of 77 and China and stressed the importance of the Unit as the only system-wide external oversight body. He appreciated the efforts of the Unit to put into effect the strategic framework adopted in 2003 and improve the quality of reports. The reforms would be felt in the coming days. He hoped that such measures as the new management-assessment exercise and compilation of a manual that would incorporate the main documents of reference for the work of the Unit would strengthen its performance, ultimately improving the whole oversight system of the Organization.
Continuing, he expressed appreciation for the efforts to improve internal working procedures and hoped that more would be achieved through internal restructuring of the Unit. Among important issues that needed to be addressed, he mentioned the need to improve the selection process, enhance the role of the Chairman and introduce collective responsibility. The Unit should further increase its performance and working methods. There was no need to reformulate its statute, but Member States should provide the needed guidance to the leadership of the Unit to implement its proposed reforms. It was important to identify problem areas for future improvement.
He added that there was an urgent need to formulate the objective criteria for the selection of topics, making the Units programme more relevant to Member States. The Unit should provide relevant and action-oriented recommendations. It was also important to prevent overlapping and duplication, strengthen the follow-up mechanisms, and intensify the dialogue with Member States and participating organizations.
JERRY KRAMER (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, expressed appreciation for the efforts to improve the working methods and product of the JIU. The most recent conference room paper veritably brimmed with enthusiasm, and the Units recent efforts to express a collective view on report quality had also not gone unnoticed
He said that in paragraph 9 of document A/59/349, the Secretary-General responded to the suggestion that the United Nations Administrative Tribunal be given the same authority as the ILO Tribunal to order rescission of contested decisions and award compensation. He repeated the view he had expressed at the fifty-sixth session that the issue could be considered if the statutes and practices of the two Tribunals were fully harmonized. He noted, however, that the JIU had recently published a report on that very issue, which made the argument that one could, and should, harmonize the statutes on some issues, without harmonizing everything. He, therefore, wondered what the Secretary-General thought of an approach that was somewhere in-between the all-or-nothing harmonization.
Paragraph 11 of the same document said that the recommendation to add a post to the Administrative Tribunal to reduce processing delay had not been accepted by the Secretary-General, he continued. In fact, the Secretary-General had not rejected the recommendation. Paragraph 17 of the Secretary-Generals comments on the Units report (document A/55/57/Add.1) stated that any staff increase would have to be based on quantitative data showing an increase in the number of cases dealt with by United Nations Administrative Tribunal. So, what was the result of that quantitative analysis?
Turning to the Secretary-Generals comments on the delegation of authority consequent to Action 32 of his Agenda for Further Change, he said that Action 32 undertook to empower managers more fully and redefine the relevant roles of the Department of Management and executive offices. In last years report, contained in document A/58/351, the Secretary-General had said that a comprehensive review of the delegation of authority would be completed by the end of 2003 and that, after agreement on a generic accountability framework, the staffing and redefinition of the respective roles of the Department of Management and the executive offices would be addressed. Since those were key elements of the administrative reform process, the delegations he represented were keen to learn more about the measures taken and envisaged in that respect, as well as their impact.
Continuing, he said he was a bit puzzled why the Committee was considering the Units programme of work for 2004 when so little of the year was left. Some of the subjects identified were of real interest, but he wanted to know which of those subjects had actually been chosen. In the future, it would be more useful to examine forward-looking work programmes, rather than retrospective ones.
On Unit reform, he said that the doubts of the delegations he represented about the Units model of oversight had been made clear last year. As the Committee was debating the reform for the third time in 12 months, it was now time to reach a reform agreement. An agreed outcome, as he saw it, would contain improved qualifications for members; a selection process that would screen candidates to confirm qualifications; and enhanced leadership and quality control role for the chair. Finally, the number of inspectors should be reduced. The number of reports did not support the number of inspectors. The JIU itself had identified that option in its report 58/343 last year.
THOMAS A. REPASCH (United States) said the important thing was to move to the informal discussions and complete the work that was started on the Units reform, which was the highest priority. He noted changes in the format of the Units annual report, and was encouraged that the first chapter was on the Units reform. That was a far more productive approach, signalling that a culture of reform was clearly sinking in.
He supported the efforts to reform the Unit, and associated the United States with the comments made by the European Union. While noting the delay in considering the work programme so late in the year, he was not sure it could be corrected, because of timing differences with other organizations. He would like to see the Unit keep the Committee informed of the reviews they were doing in a timely way, whether through this report or something else. He singled out two particular reports as examples of the need for further reform of the Unit -- one, on achieving universal primary education, which apparently did not meet the Units own standards, and another (document A/59/349) which was duplicative and unnecessary.
JOHN JUMA NGONGOLO (United Republic of Tanzania) associated his remarks with the statement made by Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77. Agreeing with some of the points made by the representative of the Netherlands and others, he said there was a need to ensure that the Units work was relevant to participating organizations and a need to ensure that the right people were appointed as inspectors in Geneva. All along, the members of the United Nations had not been implementing fully all the provisions of the statute. So, while there was a need for the Unit to improve its performance, such reforms should not include its statute, which had not been fully implemented.
NAJIB ELJY (Syria) supported the statement made by the delegate of Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77. He commended the revised format of the reports, but believed that further details would be useful, particularly on the implementations of recommendations. The Committee was doing its work most aptly, and had increased its effectiveness, leading to better quality reports. Syria was prepared, however, to look into proposals to increase the effectiveness of the Units mandate and working methods. But there was no logical reason for amending the Units statute. The Units budget of 2005 required discussion of the need to increase the budget, as well as the number of inspectors at the appropriate administrative level. Syria, which regretted that the budget of last year was not adopted, attached great importance to the work of the Unit and was prepared to enter consultations in an effective and frank manner.
RAJIV RAMLAL (Trinidad and Tobago) said that effective oversight was of paramount importance, in particular, in view of the growing peacekeeping budgets and the size of the regular budget of the Organization. Supporting the position of the Group of 77, he attached great importance to the reform to strengthen and enhance the role of the Unit as an effective and efficient oversight body. He wanted to place on record his appreciation for the efforts to improve the working methods and procedures of the Unit. Significant progress had been made in the past year, in particular, in the areas of internal reform, adoption of new procedures and efforts to improve responsiveness of the Unit to the concerns of Member States, making its reports more practical and action-oriented.
More needed to be done, however. He urged the Committee to reject an unhealthy practice of linking consideration of an item with other items. His delegation favoured a resolution to address the areas where consensus was emerging. In that connection, he highlighted such important areas as qualification of inspectors and selection process; the role of the Chairman; and collective responsibility principles.
HITOSHI KOZAKI (Japan) said that the original purpose of the JIU -- to ensure system-wide coherence of various bodies -- had never been outmoded. On the contrary, it had even become more relevant to the current requirements of the United Nations system, in particular, in view of increases in both peacekeeping and regular budget of the Organization. Apart from the current discussion on the improvement of the Units working methods and procedures, the Assembly should identify the proper place and role of the Unit in the management mechanisms, taking into account its unique independent and system-wide mandate to provide impartial reviews of the organizations. He noted that neither the Chief Executives Board for Coordination nor the JIU had developed common management principles and criteria for the United Nations system.
The Unit had submitted 112 reports from 1990 to 2003, with 7.5 reports on average -- or 4 to 13 reports -- per year, he said. Out of that total, only 42 reports had addressed system-wide or inter-agency issues. That meant that the Unit had largely duplicated internal evaluation bodies of individual organizations and had failed to demonstrate its unique mandate of being the only independent external oversight body of the system.
Regarding proposals for reform, he pointed out that mere production of reports was not enough. Action-oriented determination by Inspectors should be brought to legislative bodies. It was important to ensure the independence and authority of the Unit by strengthening the collective wisdom and collegiality of decision-making. It should undertake expanded inspection once a year involving all inspectors. Such inspections should take place where a significant increase in resource requirements was observed, against output and efficiency that appeared relatively low. An organization in each situation should be examined from the system-wide point of view. Inspection should also deal with such cross-sectoral issues as mobilization and integral management of resources of all stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations and agencies in peacekeeping, complex emergencies and humanitarian assistance operations. Such expanded inspections should be additional to one or two individual inspections a year.
ION GORITA, Chairman of the Joint Inspection Unit, addressed the concern expressed by many delegations about the utility of document A/59/349, on implementation of the recommendations of the Unit. He supported the statement made by his colleague, Ms. Mabutas, Director, Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management, who noted in her presentation the concern that the report duplicated the reporting system endorsed by the General Assembly in resolution 54/16. If the Secretariat provided the necessary information, there would be no need for such an additional report and details would be included in the annual report, he said.
Responding to Cubas question about why, in the reports chapter, on the potential impact of the Units recommendations, only selected examples were provided, he said it was a matter of follow-up mechanisms. Under the provisions of resolution 54/16, the Unit was mandated to work with participating organizations on developing follow-up mechanisms. The Unit had better mechanisms with some organizations, which provided the relevant information, than with others. The Unit was continuing efforts to contact participating agencies to make sure that the Memorandum of Understanding on the implementation of Unit recommendations was fully followed. That was an ongoing process. He hoped that, in the future, the annual report would present information about as many organizations as possible.
Ms. MABUTAS, Director, Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management, said that additional details regarding Canadas question on the harmonization of the statutes of the international tribunals may be provided in a forthcoming document. And the same was true for Pakistans question regarding human resources. She would prefer to take up those matters when the substantive issues were under discussion.
On the question about the Units review of the delegation of authority, she said that, generally, programme managers were satisfied with the level of authority they had. However, further review was necessary. As far as streamlining, the Unit had reviewed the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services and was about to create task forces to pilot selected improvements recommended by the study. A new report on the status of implementation of reform might have more information.
Mr. KRAMER (Canada) said that, while he was not aware that a report on the status of overall reform had been requested by the Committee, it was a big issue, in which delegations were still interested.
Mr. ELJY (Syria) stressed the importance of the JIUs recommendations. However, some of them still awaited implementation, although the Secretariat believed they had been implemented. For example, that was the case with the reports on the administration of justice and accountability. There was no clearly defined system of accountability, and that was extremely important. He also addressed the comments of the Units Chair that Secretariat did not always provide information on the implementation of recommendations, saying that the need for a report on that issue should be considered in the light of transparency of Unit in the future.
Ms. MABUTAS assured Syria that once agreement had been reached in terms of modalities of giving information to the Unit in a more timely manner, the questions of more systematic submission of comments and implementation time frames would be addressed. She had worked with the JIU in the past in making sure reporting on the implementation was provided in a much more timely manner.
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