Statement by Mr. Toshiro Ozawa, Ambassador of Japan
at the Informal Consultation of the Plenary of the UN General Assembly
on Secretariat and Management Reform
25 January 2006
We thank you for your letter dated 11 January and the progress report attached to it. My delegation supports the work plan in your report, which envisages our work to be concluded by mid-June. We thank Mr. Orr for his detailed explanations, and we wish to pay tribute to the Secretariat for its genuine efforts to facilitate the Member States' consideration of mandate review.
In order for the United Nations to tackle new priorities in an effective manner, the Member States do need to streamline existing activities through a comprehensive mandate review. In our view, a successful mandate review will revitalize the United Nations after 60 years of its existence.
In more specific terms, we believe that mandate review has three significant aspects: First, by facilitating reallocation of resources tied to low-priority or duplicative activities, mandate review can enhance the United Nations' capacity to tackle new activities. Second, mandate review will provide us opportunities to divert additional resources towards existing activities that deserve greater attention. Third, through mandate review, we can enhance the policy relevance of the activities of the United Nations.
Mandate review will benefit the Secretariat, as well. Let us reduce the excessive demands on the Secretariat for reports that are often unread. Let us try to have better preparation for fewer meetings. If we succeed, this will be a win-win situation for the Secretariat and the Member States.
Collectively, the Member States have created a labyrinth of mandates, many of which are outdated or no longer as useful as they once were. These mandates now hinder our ability to move on and tackle new challenges that confront us, since we are often compelled to embark on additional activities within existing resources. If we fail to utilize those limited resources which are currently tied to duplicative, obsolete or ineffective activities, we may be deterred from agreeing on new activities. As my delegation has said many times, the focus of mandate review is therefore neither solely cost-cutting per se nor the elimination of activities. The more important priority should be the reallocation of resources. Focusing on the area of development, we believe that a successful mandate review will lead to a reallocation of resources that will benefit developing countries by increasing the resources for programmes that are implemented on the ground, especially for capacity building.
The Government of Japan wishes to express its priorities on mandate review and also some comments on Mr. Orr's explanations:
First and foremost, mandate review must entail programmatic-shifts, i.e., reallocation of resources from lower to higher priority areas and enhanced cost-effectiveness.
In order to enable the Member States to decide on such programmatic shifts, the Secretariat will play a key role in compiling the Secretary-General's report to be issued in February. Looking at the sample template, we would like to see as much information as possible on the outputs required to fulfill the mandates. Description can be qualitative, rather than quantitative for the outputs. The Secretariat's assessments or analysis of these outputs will also be helpful. On cost-related information, we now understand that the Secretariat is facing difficulties owing to technical reasons because it does not follow the accrual accounting system. We understand that our Foreign Ministry does not do so, either. However, it should be possible to indicate, for example, the number of "work man days" that are necessary to prepare for meetings and reports.
The necessity of the information that my delegation is requesting should be obvious. The Summit Outcome Document states clearly that the Secretary-General is requested to "facilitate the review with analysis and recommendations, including on the opportunities for programmatic shifts." My delegation therefore requests the Secretariat to prepare the Secretary-General's report in such a way that the UN's activities are quantified in one way or another so that an analysis for possible programmatic shifts can actually be made.
Japan's second priority is cleaning up the duplications. Member States should be able to agree readily on areas of overlap and redundancies. Sorting out duplication can be viewed as an exercise that is useful in enhancing "value for money."
In this connection, the Secretary-General's report should identify areas of duplication and provide analysis on such overlap. The draft template is unclear on this point, so, my delegation requests the Secretariat to address this problem and provide relevant analysis in the February report.
Japan's third priority is to reflect the results of mandate review in the 2006/2007 regular budget. In this regard, both the Member States and the Secretariat should act with a sense of urgency and determination. At the same time, we should proceed in a practical and constructive manner, avoiding unnecessary politicization of certain issues. We should do our best to achieve early and tangible results.
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