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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2010

United Nations General Assembly, Sixty-Fourth Session, Item 130: Review of efficiency: Accountability

Statement by Mr Paul Ballantyne on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, 5 March 2010 

Mr. Chairman,

I have the honour to speak today on behalf of Australia, New Zealand and Canada on United Nations accountability.

I thank the Under Secretary-General for Management, Ms Angela Kane, for introducing the report of the Secretary General, Ms Susan McLurg, Chair of the ACABQ for introducing the corresponding report of the Advisory Committee, and Under Secretary-General for OIOS, Ms Inga-Britt Ahlenius for introducing the report of the OIOS.

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset I would like to reiterate the importance that CANZ attaches to the principles of accountability, a focus on results, transparency and efficiency throughout the United Nations system. We believe the Secretary-General and his senior team have a critical role to play in strengthening the accountability framework of the organisation to ensure that all stakeholders can be assured that the limited resources of the Organisation are used in an effective and efficient manner, for the purposes they were provided.

At this juncture, we must not lose sight of where the current process started. As the Committee will recall, our consideration of this agenda item stemmed originally from the 2005 World Summit Outcome document, and subsequently from GA resolution 61/245, which requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the Secretariat’s accountability framework and imparted momentum to more systematic management of risks and internal controls. CANZ is cognizant of the efforts made to date, including the report submitted to the GA at its 63rd session and the subsequent report of the Secretary-General before us today. We are hopeful that at this session, five years down the track, we can build on the conceptual work done to date in an effort to make tangible improvements to the Accountability framework of the Organisation.

Mr Chairman,

Among other things, the report before us outlines the instruments available to support personal, as well institutional accountability. We would observe that while the legal and regulatory framework may be well developed, its rigorous application through sustained senior leadership will always be a critical factor in efforts to improve the performance of the Secretariat. The report is candid in identifying weaknesses and gaps in key areas, such as performance reporting, applying the results-based approach, and in the administration of delegations of authority. Like the ACABQ, we believe that possible solutions could have been more fully developed.

In his report, the Secretary-General has proposed to supplement the comprehensive biennial Programme Performance Report with an interim report on the progress made towards the achievement of expected results. While we will consider this proposal in more detail, we are concerned that the existing performance report does not provide the information necessary to demonstrate how resources are used to achieve results. We think it critical that any amendments to the current Performance Reporting apparatus include improvements to ensure that the performance report clearly articulates the true performance of the Organisation, so as to add value to both management and the oversight bodies.

With regard to the definition of accountability outlined in the report, CANZ delegations regret that it does not contain any reference to efficiency, effectiveness or the role of the oversight bodies. To this end, CANZ sees merit in the ACABQ’s observation that the definitions used by the ICSC and UNFPA provide a good basis for a definition of accountability for the United Nations Secretariat. Similarly, we can also see advantages in the ACABQ recommendation that benchmark one of the Joint Inspection Unit framework be used as a starting point for a clear conceptual framework for results based management. We look forward to discussing these and other issues in more detail during our informal consultations on this item.

Mr Chairman,

While we recognise that the report before us in not perfect, we believe the proposals of the Secretary-General as well as the suggestions of the ACABQ, provide us with a good basis to progress this issue. We look forward to engaging constructively with all delegations to ensure that our consideration of this item is as productive as possible.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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