H.E. Ambassador Cho Hyun, Deputy Permanent Representative, at at Fifth Committee of the General Assembly
1. I would first like to thank the Controller, Mr. Warren Sach, for presenting the detailed report on “Investing in the UN” last Friday. I also want to express my delegation’s appreciation to the Chairman of the ACABQ, Mr. Saha, for his introduction of the Committee’s report.
2. At the outset, let me recall the basis of our discussion. I believe that when our negotiations in the UN face difficulties, it is worthwhile to return to a spirit of consensus and compromise. At the World Summit last September, our leaders requested the Secretary-General to make proposals to the General Assembly for its consideration on the conditions and measures necessary for him to carry out his managerial responsibilities effectively. They also called on the Secretary-General to submit proposals for implementing management reforms to the General Assembly for consideration and decision in the first quarter of 2006.
3. In response to these requests, the Secretary-General presented his report last March. We now have detailed addenda on four areas: information and communications technology (ICT), budget implementation, finance management practices and the consolidation of reports. These four addenda fall short of the initial proposals, but my delegation believes that they still provide a good basis for making the UN more effective and efficient and are rich in valid suggestions for enhancing the UN Secretariat and management.
4. I would like to offer some comments on the issues before us.
5. Regarding ICT, my delegation supports the creation of a position of Chief Information Technology Officer (CITO). The portfolio of the CITO described by the addendum seems reasonable and acceptable. We concur with the ACABQ that if a position of CITO is established, it should be held by a qualified expert with extensive professional experience, in-depth knowledge and proven managerial ability. While we acknowledge the pressing need to move rapidly towards overcoming deficiencies in ICT in the UN system, we should proceed prudently in order to avoid repeating past mistakes and to ensure that we gain the best possible benefits by eliminating duplications, streamlining processes, increasing efficiency and productivity, and improving financial controls. In our view, the proposed CITO must play an instrumental role in these processes from the beginning.
6. We note the high cost estimate of $120 million and the linkage of ICT strategy with the adoption of a next-generation Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and with the introduction of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) to the Secretariat. We expect that a more detailed, accurate and comprehensive analysis and plan, including cost parameters, will be presented at the 61st session of the General Assembly.
7. Concerning budget implementation, as the Controller explained last Friday, the Secretary-General modified his initial proposals and submitted two proposals for limited discretion, namely, transfers between budget sections within parts of the budget and redeployment, reclassification and conversion of posts. My delegation supports the strengthened flexibility of the Secretary-General in managing the Secretariat and resources. It is in nobody’s interest for the Organization to be operated under rigid regulations that are no longer suitable for the current mandates and activities of the Secretariat.
8. We believe that flexibility should be coupled with accountability. In return for the increased discretion, Member States should be provided with enhanced accountability mechanisms. It is our understanding that a detailed addendum on accountability is forthcoming. I hope it will give us a clearer understanding and greater assurances regarding accountability, which will facilitate our progress in related areas. But we should keep in mind that putting accountability ahead of flexibility is putting the cart before the horse: greater accountability without increased flexibility would make it even harder for the Secretary-General to manage effectively. As such, we must be sure to move flexibility and accountability forward in tandem.
9. Our discussion of Addendum 3 requires both technical clarifications and political decisions from the Member States. Concerning the consolidation of peacekeeping accounts into a single account, my delegation recognizes the benefits of allowing greater flexibility in the use of peacekeeping resources, including more consistent and timely reimbursements to troop- and police-contributing countries. As such, this proposal merits favourable consideration. My delegation also appreciates that the ACABQ and the Secretariat worked together to find an approach that maintains the link between peacekeeping assessments and the specific mandates set by the Security Council.
10. On the proposals to enhance the current reporting system, my delegation supports the intention of the Secretary-General to submit a single, comprehensive annual report with both financial and programme information. The comments by the ACABQ on the need to define more clearly the purpose and target audience of the report are valid and should be taken into account in preparing the report. We concur with the ACABQ that at this stage, the report should target the Member States as its audience.
11. My delegation’s notes paragraph 8 of Addendum 4, which points out that the planned report would not require action by Member States, while recognizing the importance of feedback from Member States in validating and refining the report.
12. As we all know, our time is short. My delegation is ready and willing to engage constructively in order to fulfil the mandates given by our leaders. I sincerely hope that other delegations will also show the necessary flexibility and eagerness to do our homework and to reach consensus, which is this Committee’s long standing tradition.