At the outset I wish to thank the Controller, Warren Sach for his presentation of the detailed report on “Investing in the United Nations for a stronger Organization world wide” and the chairman of ACABQ, Rajat Saha, for his presentation of the Committee’s report on this matter.
Good management is to make effective use of resources to achieve your goals. Norway agrees with the Secretary- General that a radical overhaul of the rules, structure, system and culture of the Secretariat is necessary. It is necessary both because the tasks and challenges of this organisation have changed over the years and we need to adapt it to present realities and because a series of incidents and reports have uncovered intolerable weaknesses in the organization and its management.
Almost a year has passed since the world leaders initiated management reform measures. We acknowledge that some progress has been made and that we are moving in the right direction, but more has to be done if we are to restore the organization’s credibility and enhance its effectiveness. We encourage the Secretary-General to continue to carry out reform measures such as strengthen the leadership and managerial accountability within the Secretariat.
World leaders requested last year recommendations on how to improve the conditions for the Secretary-General to carry out his responsibilities and how to improve the current rules and policies in human and financial management to enable a more efficient and effective organization. We have the first set of detailed proposals before us. We are looking forward to receiving reports on accountability and procurement later this month.
Of the management reform proposals put forward for action by the General Assembly in the detailed report addendum 1 - 4, we find the proposals on financial and budgetary management to be of particularly strategic importance. If implemented, these proposals could make a real difference and facilitate better financial management practices in the organization.
The Secretary-General points out in his first “Investing in the UN” - report that: ‘its [the report’s] primary financial message is that there has been massive underinvestment in people, systems and information technology’. We agree that there is a gap between what Member States mandate the organization to do and the collective resources made available to do the job, and we should keep this message in mind when discussing the various proposals.
We hope that we can reach an agreement on proposals such as establishment of a reserve fund, increase of the commitment authority and Working Capital Fund and consolidation of the peacekeeping accounts as well as the adoption of international accounting standards.
However, a prerequisite for sound financial management of the organization is that Member States pay their contributions in full and on time. This is unfortunately not the case and the volatile cash situation of the organisation is regrettable. We would therefore also look favourably at the proposal on charging interest on Member States’ arrears. Any measure to improve the cash situation as compensation for lack of payments should be coupled with measures to encourage payments of arrears.
Norway has over the years taken care in trying not to undermine the Secretary-General’s authority with too detailed resolutions on budget and administrative issues. The extent of the Secretary-General’s flexibility, and therefore his ability to manage the organization efficiently, is dependent not only on the tools Member States provide him to redeploy resources within a budget period, but also on the content of the budget resolutions and the budget level itself. We think that the tendency to go into detail and micro manage is present even in current budget negotiations.
Norway has been promoting a stronger executive leadership for the UN for a long time and has advocated that the Member States should give the Secretary-General greater authority in budget implementation. The UN is a multibillion enterprise. How can you manage this organisation efficiently when the full powers granted to the Chief Administrative Officer to redeploy resources are so narrow?
All Member States do recognize that there is a need for the Secretary-General to have ‘limited discretion in budget implementation’. There is also agreement among all Member States that there has to be clear accountability mechanisms on how this discretion would be exercised. Let us now define the parameters!
In addition to our support for various proposals on financial and budgetary management, we also wish to pronounce that we agree that a prerequisite for good management is an updated and integrated information and communications technology available. We do also believe that the organization would benefit having guidelines for public access to UN documentation.
It will take some time to change the culture and management practices of the organization, and our reform discussions do not end in June. For example, the human resource reform proposals expected in September are potentially of great importance for a sound and efficient management. Other reform tracks are also important and we anticipate constructive debates on the many proposals that have, and that will, come before the General Assembly.
We do, however, acknowledge that there are different views among Member States on the various reform issues. In the discussions to come we will listen carefully to the views of our partners and strive for solutions that we all can stand behind and which will ensure that necessary reforms are agreed and implemented.
I thank you Mr. Chairman.