Thank you, Mr Chairman,
It is good to see you and Ambassador Akram/Rock back in the chair. We have full confidence in your ability to guide us successfully through this process.
Norway wishes to express its sincere thanks to the Secretary-General and staff members of the Secretariat for all the hard and skilful work that has been put into this report and the establishment of the registry of mandates. Although we are aware that what we have before us is an initial analysis and that we have a long way to go before our mission is completed, we believe we have a good basis for fruitful discussions between Member States.
As this review will require some more in-depth study and discussion before decisions can be made, I will not comment in detail on all the aspects of the report, but just sketch the broader lines of Norway’s positions.
The credibility of the United Nations has suffered severe blows over the last few years. This process, involving review of the organisation’s mandates,together with other ongoing reform processes, has provided us with an opportunity to revamp the organisation and, where necessary, realign its mandates with today’s challenges. The Norwegian Government supports all measures that will lead to a stronger organisation – a United Nations that makes and coordinates collective responses to global challenges and acts as the principal arena for international lawmaking and policy formulation.
The Secretary-General’s point that there is a gap between what Member States want the organisation to do and the resources made available, is well taken by Norway, and we should not embark on this process looking for savings and cuts. Nor should we protect the established order at any cost. Member States have collectively set the objectives for the organisation, and we need an open and frank discussion on what the different bodies and entities of the UN need to do in order to achieve them. We should make our review more than a one-off clean-up exercise and also develop tools for improving Member States’ custodianship of their mandates in the future.
It has been pointed out that about two thirds of the mandates in the inventory are requests for reports. Indeed, the number of reports and amount of information are overwhelming. Producing these reports unquestionably puts an enormous burden on the secretariat and ties up resources that could be put to better use. In general we support the ideas presented on streamlining and consolidating reports, but perhaps we should have a clearer understanding of the nature and content of future consolidated reports before we take action.
In addition to providing an analytical basis and data for discussions between Member States, reports from the Secretary-General also serve to a large extent as a tool for holding the Secretary-General accountable for carrying out mandates. If the UN is to have full credibility, it must have a transparent and effective accountability system for resource management and programme performance. The issue of accountability will be addressed in the management reform discussions, but it is important that we also address the issue of accountability in the context of the review of mandates.
We have read the observations in the report on mandate monitoring and evaluation with great interest. We agree that evaluative information is crucial in order to understand how a mandate fits into the overall programme of work of the organisation, and that performance reporting needs to improve. Bearing in mind that performance measurement is also an integral part of the organisation’s budget and planning process, we should discuss how the evaluation functions of the UN can best be organised and carried out.
We recognise that many of the problems identified in the report could be solved through better organisation of our work. Both fragmentation and overlap between governance organs and within the secretariat functions are well known problems, and we hope that we will have managed at the end of this exercise both to rationalise the number of intergovernmental bodies and to establish an implementing architecture that has a clear division of labour and is better coordinated.
The Secretary-General has put forward an analysis of the organisation’s mandates by programme priorities. We recognise that newly established organs such as the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council could and should play an important role in a review of mandates falling under their purview.
I would also like to make a few comments on some of the other priority areas.
Sustained growth and sustainable development
We realise that the mandates established in the area of sustained growth and sustainable development are wide ranging and complex. We would probably need some time – and help from the Secretariat – to develop a full analysis of the mandates in this area.
The Secretary-General refers in his report to the High-level Panel on System-Wide Coherence. The panel’s mandate is to propose measures aimed at strengthening management and coordination of the UN’s operational activities, including considering more tightly managed entities in the field of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment.
The Norwegian Prime Minister is, together with the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and Mozambique, co-chairing the panel. In carrying out this work, we place great emphasis on outreach and consultation to ensure that all actors have the possibility of providing input to the process. Our point of departure is that it is important to create a more unified UN at the country level and that this will require greater coherence at the headquarters level, including a more coherent governance structure and more predictable funding.
Although the Secretary-General rightly points out that the High-level Panel on System-Wide Coherence has a vital role to play in considering how the mandates of the UN can best be carried out and how its delivery system can be improved. this must not impede the discussions in the General Assembly on how to address the mandates and improved governance in this important area.
Development of Africa
When it comes to the issues pertaining to Africa, we commend the Secretary-General for his leadership in ensuring that the General Assembly is now dealing with these important issues in a much more coherent and focused way than it did just a few years ago. We agree with the Secretary-General that it would be appropriate to review all pre-NEPAD mandates in order to streamline them in the context of NEPAD, and to ensure full support for the priorities identified by the African Union. Norway is firmly of the view that we need to keep a focus on the development of Africa and ensure predictable and sufficient funding for activities in this area.
Norway supports the the Secretary-General’s view that the principal organs of the UN often have a fragmentary approach to humanitarian assistance, and we agree that we need to rectify this. We further agree that Member States should strengthen the UN’s leadership in all phases of disaster management. It would also be prudent for Member States to re-examine the mandates concerning internally displaced persons and returnees with a view to clearly determining responsibility for assistance to these populations.
Norway also concurs with the Secretary-General’s analysis in the area of disarmament. The main problem is the prevailing lack of political will to achieve results, as was so clearly demonstrated by the failure of the September Summit to address the grave threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. The mandates relating to disarmament should be streamlined as this would help us focus our attention on the issues that matter the most and enable us to carry out our work in a more efficient manner. In our view, all of the proposals and suggestions in this area merit the support of Member States. We commend the Secretary-General for having presented some very concrete ideas that can be easily implemented.
We agree that we in this exercise also need to look at what the UN is doing to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women. Gender mainstreaming is truly a crosscutting issue both for governance bodies and for secretariat functions. Over the past few decades, different approaches have been sought as to how to secure women’s rights and interests. We are far from achieving agreed goals and obligations in this area. We fully support the proposal for a comprehensive review of institutional resources for gender equality and an independent evaluation of successes and failures in mainstreaming gender perspectives in the work of the United Nations.
Many have described the task ahead of us as daunting, complex and politically sensitive. It may be all of these things, but we are certain that, under you able leadership, we will approach this matter step by step, seeking sensible solutions that will serve us all.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.