Speakers Oppose Proposed Changes to Formula for Dividing Peacekeeping Bill among Member States, as Fifth Committee Concludes Debate on Scale of Assessments

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) resumed its consideration of the scale of assessments for the United Nations regular and peacekeeping budgets, with the representatives of the United States and the European Union proposing significant changes to the way in which each Member State’s share of peacekeeping financing is tallied up.

Several speakers, notably from developing and middle-income countries, opposed that proposal, affirming that the current methodology for calculating assessments, as well as core principles including the capacity of each Member State to pay, must remain intact.

Setting out her Government’s position, the representative of the United States � which accounts for 28.47 per cent of the $6.7 billion peacekeeping budget for 2018/19 � said no other international organization depends on one country for more than one quarter of its assessed resources.

As President [Donald J.] Trump noted in his recent address to the General Assembly, the United States is calling for a 25 per cent ceiling on the peacekeeping scale of assessments, she said, stating that such a ceiling would be in the Organization’s best interests while reducing its reliance on any single Member State. She said her delegation looks forward to working with all Member States to negotiate an equitable share of the burden. We recognize this will not be easy, but we believe there is a way if there is a will, she added.

The European Union’s representation, emphasizing that the bloc’s member States are the largest collective financial contributors to the United Nations, said that � like the regular budget � peacekeeping rates of assessment should reflect Member States’ capacity to pay while taking into account the special responsibility of the five permanent Security Council members.

Specific additional peacekeeping discounts should be based on justifiable, objective and comparable criteria that would provide relief to countries with low per capita income, she said. In that regard, the European Union sees no merit in continuing the Level C discount, which distorts the capacity-to-pay principle, she said. Noting that several Member States have pledged to voluntarily reduce their discount rates or agreed to be classified at higher levels of assessment, she invited all Member States with the capacity to do so to follow suit.

[General Assembly resolution 70/246 titled Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of United Nations peacekeeping operations sets out 10 levels of contribution and parameters. They range from Level A, comprising the five permanent Security Council members, through Level J, which allows a 90 per cent discount on assessments for least developed countries. The same resolution provides Level C countries � Brunei Darussalam, Kuwait, Qatar, Singapore and United Arab Emirates � with a 7.5 per cent discount.]

Singapore’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said ASEAN’s 10 member States will not support proposals aimed at distorting the capacity-to-pay principle or increasing the contributions of developing countries. He added that the special responsibility borne by the Security Council’s permanent members � each with the power to veto Council decisions � must be considered in connection with their financial contributions to peacekeeping. In other words, special privileges must be paid for by every permanent member of the Security Council, he said, adding that peacekeeping financing must also recognize the circumstances of developing countries.

Qatar’s representative, in the same vein, agreed that financing must clearly reflect the special responsibility of the permanent Security Council members, bearing in mind that less developed countries have limited resources to contribute to the peacekeeping budget. No Member States belonging to the Group of 77 should be classified above Level C, he said, adding that Qatar rejects any political pressure aimed at moving those Member States up to Level B.

The representative of China, the second-largest contributor to the peacekeeping budget at 10.25 per cent, acknowledged that his country’s economy has grown rapidly over the past four decades. However, it remains a developing country with more than 30 million people still living in poverty and a per capita gross national income of $8,000. With its share of the peacekeeping assessment projected to rise to 15.1236 per cent, China will fulfil its obligations under the United Nations Charter and pay its assessments so long as the underlying methodology is fair, just and reasonable, he said.

The representative of India, the largest cumulative contributor of troops and police to United Nations peacekeeping operations, said the failure to honour financial obligations in full has over the years resulted in financial deficits for some closed peacekeeping operations. Troop- and police-contributing countries are forced to wait endlessly for payments, he said, adding that India is due large amounts from both closed and ongoing missions.

Japan’s delegate said the changes in the scale of assessments shown in the Committee on Contribution’s latest report reflect changes in the economic realities of each Member State. Methodology should better reflect each Member State’s capacity to pay in a more equitable fashion. Agreeing that permanent Security Council members have a special responsibility, he said Japan � which favours long-overdue Council reform � stands ready to shoulder that responsibility should it become a permanent member.

In other business today, David Kanja, Assistant-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), introduced that Office’s report for the period from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018. Among other things, he said that during the reporting period, the Investigations Division � at the Secretary-General’s request � assumed responsibility for investigating all complaints of sexual harassment. During the period, he added, the Office received 31 reports of sexual harassment, up from two the previous year.

Maria Gracia M. Pulido Tan, Chair of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee, introduced its annual report for the period from 1 August 2017 to 31 August 2018. She said the quality of recommendations, the level of follow-up and the rate at which management implements oversight body recommendations are critical elements of an effective internal control system. If weaknesses identified in the internal control systems and program performance are properly addressed by management, the Organization should become more accountable, effective and responsive, she stated.

Lionelito Berridge, Officer in Charge of the Department of Management’s Programme Planning and Budget Division, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations programme performance for the biennium 2016-2017. Presented to the Committee for Programme and Coordination in June this year, the report provides an overall account of the results achieved by the Organization for a total of 862 expected accomplishments under 36 sections of the programme budget, including the implementation of 33,954 outputs.

Robert Skinner, Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Partnerships � which comprises the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships and the United Nations Democracy Fund � introduced the Secretary-General’s report on its 2017 activities. The Committee postponed an oral decision recommending that the General Assembly take note of the report after the Russian Federation’s representative asked for more time for delegations to consider its contents and to consult their capitals.

Without a vote, delegates endorsed a draft resolution by which the General Assembly would permit three countries in arrears on their assessments � the Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia � to vote in the 193-nation body until the end of its seventy-third session, recognizing that their failure to pay the minimum amount was due to conditions beyond their control. Gillian Bird (Australia), Committee Chair, said the Assembly would take up the draft resolution on 12 October.

Also speaking today were the representatives of South Africa (also on behalf of Brazil, Russian Federation, India and China), Mexico, Brazil, Philippines, Kuwait, Russian Federation, Egypt (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) and Switzerland (also on behalf of Liechtenstein).

The Fifth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., on Friday, 12 October to discuss human resources management and the review of mechanisms and policies addressing conflict of interest in the United Nations system.

Scale of Assessments � Expenses of United Nations, Peacekeeping Operations

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) resumed its consideration of the agenda items titled Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations and Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of United Nations peacekeeping operations. (For background, see Press Release GA/AB/4289).

BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that all Member States must fulfil their obligations to bear the expenses of the Organization, in full, on time and without conditions. He reaffirmed that capacity to pay must remain the main criterion in the apportionment of United Nations expenses. Economies that have grown faster will see increases in their share of assessments. Meanwhile, economies that have grown more slowly have seen decreases in their scales. He said that the Association will not support proposals aimed at distorting the capacity-to-pay principle or increasing the contributions of developing countries.

He reaffirmed the position expressed by the Group of 77 that the 22 per cent maximum ceiling is the only element of the scale methodology which contradicts the capacity-to-pay principle. The ceiling is a fundamental source of distortion in the scale, benefits only one Member State, and must be addressed, he added. Observer intergovernmental organizations that enjoy rights and privileges of observer States must assume greater responsibility. They cannot seek to maintain their privileges while avoiding financial obligations. Permanent members of the Security Council also have a special responsibility in the maintenance of peace and security and this must be considered in connection with their contributions to peacekeeping financing. Special privileges cannot be divorced from special financial responsibilities. In other words, special privileges must be paid for by every permanent member of the Security Council, he said. Peacekeeping financing must also recognize the circumstances of developing countries.

LYLE PATRICK DAVIDSON (South Africa), speaking also on behalf of Brazil, the Russian Federation, India and China, attached the utmost importance to the United Nations scale of assessments and the provision of adequate resources for the Secretariat to fulfil its mandates. Elements of the existing methodology for preparing the scale of assessments are not negotiable, with the exception of the current maximum assessment rate, which runs contrary to the principle of the capacity to pay and is a fundamental source of distortion in the scale of assessments, he stated.

JOANNE ADAMSON, European Union, emphasized that the bloc’s member States are the largest collective financial contributors to the United Nations. Maintaining the Organization’s financial sustainability should be the collective priority of all Member States, with the General Assembly striving towards an equitable and balanced distribution of financial responsibilities in accordance with every country’s capacity to pay. There is still room to improve the current methodology, she said, proposing for instance technical changes to the low per capita income adjustment, which should be based on reliable data. She added that the current methodology cannot deviate from the principles set out in the United Nations Charter, particularly Article 17.

Like the regular budget, peacekeeping rates of assessment should reflect Member States’ capacity to pay while taking into account the special responsibility of permanent Security Council members, she said. Specific additional peacekeeping discounts should be based on justifiable, objective and comparable criteria that would provide relief to countries with low per capita income. In that regard, the European Union sees no merit in continuing the Level C discount, which constitutes an obvious distortion of the capacity-to-pay principle. Noting that several Member States have pledged to voluntarily reduce their discount rates or agreed to be classified at higher levels of assessment, she invited all Member States with the capacity to do so to follow suit so that peacekeeping rates of assessment better reflect the actual capacity to pay. She went on to endorse the recommendations of the Committee on Contributions regarding countries that requested Article 19 exemptions until the end of the Assembly’s current session.

CHERITH NORMAN-CHALET (United States) said her country is a staunch supporter of the United Nations and its contributions to peace and security, human rights and development. The sizable contribution of the United States to the Organization is but a portion of the support it gives to those causes around the world. Besides being the largest financial contributor to United Nations peacekeeping, contributing $1.8 billion for the 2017/2018 peacekeeping financial year, the United States also contributed $400 million in direct support to train and equip troops and police to participate in peacekeeping operations and to countries involved in multinational peacekeeping operations.

Emphasizing that peacekeeping has the largest concentration of assessed funding of any United Nations entity, she said no other international organization depended on one country for more than one-quarter of its assessed resources. Depending on a limited number of donors runs contrary to the overall health and sustainability of the United Nations, she said. As President Trump noted in his recent address to the General Assembly, the United States is calling for a 25 per cent ceiling on the peacekeeping scale of assessments, she said, stating that such a ceiling would be in the Organization’s best interest while reducing its reliance on any single Member State. Her delegation looks forward to working with all Member States to negotiate an equitable share of the burden. We recognize this will not be easy, but we believe there is a way if there is a will, she added.

WATARU OTSUKA (Japan) said that without assessed contributions, the Organization would not be able to function. All Member States have a responsibility of financially supporting the United Nations according to their respective capacities to pay. For decades, Japan has shouldered and continues to shoulder very significant rates of assessment. Each Member State should be able to pay its assessed contribution according to its capacity to pay. Changes in the scale of assessments shown in the latest report of the Committee on Contributions reflect the recent changes in the economic realities of each Member State. Methodology should better reflect each Member State’s capacity to pay in a more equitable manner, based on the most current, comprehensive and comparable data available. The peacekeeping scale of assessments takes into consideration the special responsibility of the permanent Security Council members, and this general principle underlying the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations should be taken into account and maintained in connection with those members’ contributions. Japan seeks long-overdue reform of the Council and reiterates its readiness to shoulder special responsibility should it become a permanent Council member.

FU DAOPENG (China), associating himself with the Group of 77 and with South Africa on behalf also of Brazil, Russian Federation, India and China, said the capacity to pay must be upheld as the basis for assessing contributions. A Member States’ real capacity to pay is ultimately determined by its per capita income, he said, adding that gross national income (GNI) and per capita income data should be current, comprehensive and comparable. Citing the Committee on Contributions report, he said Member States belonging to the Group of 77 are now collectively paying three times more into the United Nations than they did in 2009, or 25.477 per cent of the overall budget. Developed countries’ capacity to pay is higher than developing countries and they should therefore assume a larger share of the Organization’s expenses. Debt burden adjustment and low per capita income adjustment derive logically from the principle of capacity to pay and should be strengthened. He acknowledged that China’s economy has grown rapidly after 40 years of reform and openness, but China remains a developing country with more than 30 million people still living in poverty and a per capita GNI of $8,000. According to the Committee on Contributions and the Secretariat’s calculations, from 2000 to 2018, China’s share of the United Nations budget will grow from 7.921 per cent in 2016 to 12.005 per cent in 2018 � a 12-fold increase from 2000 � making it the second-largest contributor to the regular budget. Its share of peacekeeping assessment would meanwhile rise 49 per cent to 15.1236 per cent from 2000 to 2018. Significantly increased assessments are not a small burden, but so long as the methodology is fair, just and reasonable, China � as a responsible major developing country � will actively fulfil its Charter obligations and pay its assessments in full and on time in support of the Organization and multilateralism, he said.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said the scale of assessments must be fair and reflect the realities of the international system, with contributions based on each Member States’ capacity to pay. All Member States must disburse their contributions in full, on time and without conditions. Emphasizing the special responsibility of permanent members of the Security Council, he said their current role in financing peacekeeping operations must remain intact.

JASSIM SAYAR A. J. AL-MAAWDA (Qatar), emphasizing the complexity of peacekeeping operations, said their funding is a collective responsibility incumbent on all Member States. Such financing must clearly reflect the special responsibility of the permanent members of the Security Council, bearing in mind that less developed countries have limited resources to contribute to the peacekeeping budget. No Member States belonging to the Group of 77 should be classified above Level C, he said, adding that Qatar rejects any political pressure aimed at moving those Member States up to Level B.

MAHESH KUMAR (India), associating himself with the Group of 77 and Brazil, the Russian Federation, India and China, said that as of 9 October, more than $3.3 billion of assessments remained outstanding, or roughly one-third of the Organization’s overall annual assessment. Noting that under the current methodology, contributions from several developing countries, including India, will go up significantly. The principles of capacity to pay and low per capita income adjustment are not negotiable, he said, adding that other core elements of the scale methodology must be kept intact. Expressing concern about efforts by some delegations to establish a maximum ceiling in the peacekeeping scale of assessments, he said that scale must continue to reflect the special responsibility of the Security Council’s permanent members. Developing countries should not be arbitrarily targeted to move to higher levels or to accept reductions in their discounts for peacekeeping contributions. Noting that India is the largest cumulative contributor of troops and police to peacekeeping operations, he said the failure to honour financial obligations in full has over the years resulted in financial deficits for some closed peacekeeping operations. Troop- and police-contributing countries are forced to wait endlessly for payments, he said, adding that India is due large amounts from both closed and ongoing missions. Organizations with enhanced status akin to observer States must assume the same financial obligations as observer States, he said.

FREDERICO SALOMA�O DUQUE ESTRADA MEYER (Brazil) associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and CELAC, said Brazil has long affirmed that the principle of capacity to pay should not be obscured by arbitrary and political considerations. Developing countries, including least developed countries, should not be overburdened by contributions. In this regard, Brazil unwaveringly supports the adoption of the recommendations made by the Committee on Contributions and the implementation of Assembly resolutions 55/235 and 55/236. The United Nations rests on a multilateral process and the Fifth Committee is the sole main committee of the Assembly entrusted with responsibilities for administrative, financial and budgetary matters.

TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR. (Philippines), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said his country rejects any changes to the elements of the current methodology for preparing the scales of assessments that would increase the contributions of developing countries. Core elements such as gross national income, conversion rates, low per capita income adjustment, gradient, floor, ceiling for least developed countries and debt stock adjustment must be kept intact. The Philippines looks forward to the Secretariat’s briefing on the issue to understand more about the proposed changes to the scales of assessment. He added that the submission of multi-year payment plans should remain voluntary and not exert pressure on those Member States in difficult circumstances.

ALI ABDULLAHTIF ALI ALYAHYA (Kuwait), aligned himself with the statement delivered by Egypt on behalf of the Group of 77 on the scale of assessments, and said his country would support the Fifth Committee’s work. Kuwait believes in the important role of United Nations peacekeeping operations and maintains that the peaceful settlement of conflict through mediation and dialogue was the best option. He noted the positive developments that have made peacekeeping missions more efficient. Assembly resolution 55/235 provided the foundation for the scale of assessments and the funding of these missions. No developing country should be placed in a group above Level C. When discussing the funding needs of the peacekeeping missions all Member States must make their contributions in full and as soon as possible.

DMITRY S. CHUMAKOV (Russian Federation), associating himself with Brazil, India and China, said all elements of the scale methodology for the regular budget, as well as the structure of the scale of assessments to the peacekeeping budget, should be based on reliable, verifiable and comparable data. He urged all Member States to adopt the Committee on Contributions’ recommendations and save the current methodology which reflects Member States’ capacity to pay.

Programme Planning

LIONELITO BERRIDGE, Officer in Charge of the Programme Planning and Budget Division of the Department of Management, introduced the Report of the Secretary-General on the programme performance of the United Nations for the biennium 2016-2017 (document A/73/77), which was presented to the Committee for Programme and Coordination at its fifty-eighth session held at Headquarters from 4 to 29 June this year. The report provides an overall account of the results achieved by the Organization for a total of 862 expected accomplishments under 36 sections of the programme budget, including the implementation of 33,954 outputs.

The report is comprised of four sections, he said. Section III refers to output implementation and resource use. The rate of implementation for mandated outputs was 93 per cent during 2016-2017, one per cent lower than in the biennium 2014-2015. Five budget sections reported lower than 90 per cent implementation rates for mandated outputs. The fourth and last section of the report provides qualitative statements of performance under the different budget sections and the information on the challenges and obstacles faced by the Secretariat while implementing the programme of work.

MOHAMED FOUAD AHMED (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, emphasized the important work of the Committee for Programme and Coordination as the main subsidiary organ of the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council for planning, programming and coordination. The Group gives great importance to the programme performance report as it is an important accountability and management tool for Member States and the Secretariat, particularly the sections on lessons learned where department and offices should make better uses of those experiences to improve their future work. This basic tool should be used now more than ever as the Organization is poised to shift to an annual programme and budget. Under the new annual format being used on a trial basis, additional outputs during the yearly programme plan should mainly come from intergovernmental mandates, as is the case under the current biennial format.

He welcomed the information provided on the proposed strategic framework for 2020 and reiterated that setting priorities of the United Nations remained the sole prerogative of Member States. The Group will be examining several other issues under the agenda item. The Group also gives great importance to the United Nations system support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and continues to support the Office of the Special Advisor on Africa. The United Nations system and intergovernmental bodies should continue to take into consideration views, comments and inputs of regional and subregional organizations, particularly the African Union. He noted the work of the Joint Inspection Unit as the sole independent, external oversight body of the United Nations system. The Group encourages the Unit’s efforts to introduce relevant and substantial reports for the benefit of the Committee for Programme and Coordination. It also encourages the Secretariat to make better use of in-house expertise in carrying out evaluations in different entities and take advantage of the expertise offered by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the Board of Auditors and the Joint Inspection Unit.

Programme Budget for the Biennium 2018-2019

ROBERT SKINNER, Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Partnerships, introduced the Secretary-General’s report of the Office’s activities for 2017 (document A/73/222). Established in 2006, the Office is comprised primarily of the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships and the United Nations Democracy Fund, he said, adding that the Office also provides partnership advisory and outreach services to the United Nations system, Member States and non-State actors in facilitating partnership initiatives and advocacy events in support of the Sustainable Development Goals.

As outlined in the report, he said, by the end of 2017, the cumulative grant allocations provided by the United Nations Foundation through the Fund for International Partnerships since 1998 amounted to $1.47 billion, with the total number of projects totalling 641 since inception. Collectively, the portfolio of projects has been implemented by 48 United Nations entities in 128 countries. He added that in 2017, the Democracy Fund selected 48 new projects for its eleventh round of funding at a total cost of $9.3 million. When its call for a twelfth closed on 20 December 2017, the Fund had received 2,429 project proposals, he said, adding that by the end of 2017, the Fund had supported a total of almost 750 projects in more than 130 countries since its inception.

MARIA V. FROLOVA (Russian Federation) requested that a draft decision by the Committee recommending that the General Assembly take note of the report be postponed to enable delegations to study the report and to consult their capitals.

The Committee then postponed action on a draft decision until a later date.

Report on Office of Internal Oversight Services Activities

DAVID KANJA, Assistant-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), introduced the Report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services for the period from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018 (documents A/73/324 (Part I) and Add. 1). During the reporting period, OIOS issued 365 oversight reports, including 11 reports to the Assembly. The reports included 1,123 recommendations, of which 25 were classified as critical. Regarding staffing matters, efforts to address vacancy rates throughout OIOS continued and the vacancy rate at the end of August 2018 was 11.6 per cent overall. The Internal Audit Division issued 79 non-peacekeeping audit reports during the period and ensures that its risk-based planning process was fully aligned with the Organization’s enterprise risk management strategy. The Investigations Division issued 57 non-peacekeeping investigation and closure reports, representing a 54 per cent increase over the previous year. In 31 of these reports, allegations were substantiated. During the reporting period, the Division took responsibility for investigating all complaints of sexual harassment, following a request by the Secretary-General and has since implemented a streamlined procedure for receiving, processing and addressing such complaints. This included the creation of a specialized team to focus on the investigation of sexual harassment complaints. In the reporting period, the Office received 31 reports of sexual harassment, up from two the previous year. In addition, the Inspection and Evaluation Division issued six non-peacekeeping evaluations.

MARIA GRACIA M. PULIDO TAN, Chair of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee, introduced the annual report of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee for the period from 1 August 2017 to 31 August 2018 (document A/73/304). She said the quality of recommendations, the level of follow-up of the same recommendations and the rate at which management implements oversight body recommendations are critical elements of an effective internal control system. The Audit Committee continues to believe that if the weaknesses identified in the internal control systems and program performance are properly addressed by management, the Organization should become more accountable, effective and responsive.

The Audit Committee looked at the implementation rates of the recommendations of the Organization’s three oversight bodies, she said. While there has been improvement with the Board of Auditors and the OIOS, there has been a downward trend in the acceptance and implementation of recommendations by the Joint Inspection Unit. During this period, the Audit Committee urged management to continue to improve, especially regarding the timeliness of implementation.

Regarding the second aspect of the Audit Committee’s mandate on risk management and internal control framework, the Audit Committee believes that enterprise risk management is an important management tool and should be expanded to all offices, beyond Headquarters. The Audit Committee agrees with the sentiments of managers that the organization needs a mature culture of prudent risk appetite.

Regarding strategic planning and OIOS effectiveness, the Audit Committee believes that for OIOS to establish itself as a trusted advisor, it needs to understand the concerns of its clients, she said. Reaching a mutual understanding on performance audits and achieving a balance between compliance and performance audits would be consistent with the Unit’s findings that stakeholders believe performance and compliance audits are the most important type of audit services.

Regarding the strengthening of the investigation function, the Audit Committee has consistently expressed its concern about the high number of vacancies in OIOS. While commending the Office for reducing the vacancy rate to 10.5 per cent at the end of 30 June 2018, the challenge is to continue the progress. Concerning investigation of retaliation cases, the Audit Committee believes retaliation cases should be a priority given the high risk such cases present and recommends the Office works to reduce the length of time being taken to investigate these cases.

KARIM ISMAIL (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, said the Group is pleased that the Office’s recommendations are aimed at cost savings, overpayment recovery, efficiency gains and other improvements with financial implications, with $1.4 million in savings and recoveries already realized. The Group encourages greater coordination between the Office and other oversight entities, including the Board of Auditors and the Joint Inspection Unit, he said, expressing concern however that a lack of budgetary support from one United Nations entity is affecting the Office’s ability to fulfil other planned activities in a timely manner. The Group encourages the Secretary-General to report on any future impediments to the Office’s work and to take steps to prevent their recurrence.

He went on to say that the Group urges the Organization’s management to keep up its efforts to fully implement all of the Office’s accepted recommendations, particularly those classified as critical, in a timely manner. Emphasizing the role of the Office in the context of the United Nations ongoing reform efforts, he welcomed its important work in addressing a marked increase in reports of sexual harassment, including the creation of a specialized investigative team. He also commended the Office’s efforts to overcome its long-standing staffing challenges. On the report of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee, he underscored the Group’s appreciation of its work, adding that it looks forward to discussing its comments and recommendations during informal consultations.

FELIX WANNER (Switzerland), speaking also on behalf of Liechtenstein, said for OIOS to perform its role it needs an appropriate degree of real and perceived independence from the management of the Organization and its funds and programmes. The OIOS has to be able to perform its mandated activities in an unbiased and objective manner. Enterprise risk management must be an integral management tool of the United Nations and expanded to all offices. The OIOS must serve as a central instrument to strengthen accountability at the United Nations at all levels, as the Secretary-General proposed in his vision for a new management paradigm. He agreed with the Audit Committee that management should ensure the recommendations of the Investigation Division are implemented in a timely manner to foster accountability. The OIOS plays a crucial role in the Organization’s efforts to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse as well as sexual harassment, and it should strengthen investigations by ensuring a victim-centred approach and specialist response. He strongly welcomed the creation of a specialized team of an additional six staff to focus on the investigation of sexual harassment complaints and concurred with the Audit Committee that the investigation of retaliation cases should be a priority.

Ms. NORMAN-CHALET (United States) said the United States thanks the OIOS for its ongoing efforts to capture emerging risks through a work plan focused on potential fraud and concerning organizational culture. The trend in the number of pending audit recommendations is concerning as its recommendations are developed to protect the Organization from risk and ensure internal controls are in place. She encouraged the Secretary-General to redouble efforts to implement recommendations within the agreed timeframe. Regarding the Investigations Division, the OIOS reports a significant increase in reporting on sexual harassment. The United States shares the Secretary-General’s commitment to zero tolerance and is pleased that the OIOS has created a specialized team to focus on these investigations. The United States also encourages the Office to investigate matters related to retaliation in a more timely manner. The Audit Committee notes that the average time to complete an investigation pertaining to retaliation is 200 days, whereas the revised whistle-blower policy stipulates a 120-day timeframe. The United States hopes the reduction in vacancy rates will allow for more timely completion of investigations writ large.

Mr. LOCSIN JR. (Philippines), associating with Egypt’s statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said his country gives importance to the OIOS work and acknowledges its efforts to maintain high professional standards and efficiency as it strengthens the Organization’s work. He noted the Office’s initiatives to bolster its functioning and effectively deliver its mandates and agreed that the Audit Committee has provided significant comments and inputs on how the Office can make itself a trusted advisor to its clients. He agreed that creating a balance between compliance and performance audits would be useful in meeting their respective mandates. He also commended the cooperation between the Audit Committee and OIOS and other senior management in the Secretariat, especially in accessing documents and other information needed for the Committee’s work without breaching autonomy.

Source: United Nations