Statement by Ambassador Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At the Thematic Debate of the General Assembly:
Towards a Common Understanding on Management Reform

8 April 2008

Mr. President,

Japan attaches great importance to transparent, effective and efficient management of the United Nations, and fully supports the Secretary-General's efforts towards this end.

I would like to share some of our thoughts on the mandate cycle, focusing on how to manage financial and human resources to meet mandated activities.

[Mandate Cycle]

In reviewing the mandate cycle, we should conduct a comprehensive examination and analysis that covers the following five phases, namely:

  • (1) Generation of policy directives (mandates);
  • (2) authorization of resources to implement mandated activities;
  • (3) implementation (and management) of mandated activities;
  • (4) evaluation of mandated activities; and
  • (5) feedback of the evaluation findings into the formulation of future mandates.

Throughout this cycle, it is the collective responsibility of Member States, the Secretariat and oversight mechanisms of the Organization to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of UN activities. All should endeavour to fulfil their respective responsibilities to the maximum extent possible in good coordination among themselves.

<Generation of policy directives (mandates)>

To make enlightened decisions for generating a mandate in legislative organs such as the General Assembly, the Security Council and the ECOSOC, Member States need relevant programmatic as well as financial information. In this regard, it is incumbent upon the Secretariat to apply the maximum discipline and to submit programmatic information that represents the indispensable minimum in scope and size, eschewing all unnecessary duplications with existing mandates. As to programme budget implications (PBI), it must fully comply with PPBME Rule 105.8. It should provide Member States with information on (1) overlaps, (2) effectiveness and (3) past activities of a similar nature, if any, including implementation and evaluation findings on the extent to which they contributed to programme objectives.

Each mandate should have time-limited objectives to ensure opportunities for legislative oversight. Provisions of PPBME such as its Rules 107(a) and 107(b) refer to "time-limited objectives." Member States should seriously consider, as they adopt a new mandate, to include time-limited objectives for example five years. At the end of the period, relevance and urgency of the mandate must be re-established before continuing further.

In order for Member States to be better custodians of mandates, they should ensure that not only new mandates but also all existing mandates reflect current need, and be implemented effectively and efficiently. In this connection, we must advance the ongoing mandate review as vigorously as possible. I sincerely thank the co-chairs of the review process, Ambassador Banks and Ambassador Mbuende, in this regard.

<Authorizing resources to implement mandated activities>

In order to maintain the long-term strength and viability of the Organization, we must be prudent in aligning mandate generation and resource authorization. To that end, the overall budget level and its allocation among programmes should be predictable and politically acceptable to the Member States. The Secretary-General is expected, in submitting initial programme budget proposals, to present all the anticipated needs of the Organization for the next two years and exercise prudent financial discipline to implement the existing and expected new activities in the most cost-efficient manner.

The General Assembly approved 4.171 billion dollars for the 2008-2009 regular budget last December. It also approved additional 33 million dollars this March. Moreover, it is expected that there will be substantial additional requests emanating from programme budget implications from the Member States and revised estimates from the Secretary-General. The piecemeal submission of additional requests is not conducive to consensus approval of the budget. Additional regular budget for 2008/09 may amount to nearly $1 billion, on the top of the approved budget for CMP and expected PKO budgets. This is excessive and difficult to accept for my delegation.

To address the unprecedented increase of add-ons to the regular budget, we should follow the well-established budgetary procedures and methodology, based on GA resolutions 41/213 and 42/211. It is the collective responsibility of the Secretary-General as well as Member States to ensure that additional expenditures shall, first of all, be absorbed within the existing resources. And if not possible, those additions must be contained within the level of the contingency fund. Exceeds in the contingency fund can only be included in the budget through redeployment of resources or modifications of existing activities. Otherwise, such additional activities will have to be deferred until the late biennium. These mechanisms bring dynamism in the budgetary process.

In this regard, advance planning is required, especially for Human Rights Council and CEDAW so that their further programme budget implications can be included in the proposed strategic framework and proposed budget outline for 2010-2011. Incessant and haphazard submission of PBIs such as those of the Human Rights Council and CEDAW seriously undermines the budgetary discipline of the Organization.

My delegation is concerned with rapid increase of cost of the special political missions in the past four years, from $188 million to $420 million this year and even higher next year. The Secretariat should make every effort to submit proper estimation of the political and security situation to the Security Council and then should submit most prudent and realistic requirements of resources to the General Assembly.

Moreover, we would like to encourage the Secretary-General to take full advantage of the flexibility with which he is provided by the General Assembly resolution 60/283 to reallocate up to $20 million to meet the evolving needs of the Organization, before requesting additional resources during the biennium. We are ready to continue to cooperate with the Secretary-General if he makes every effort to bear fruits by utilizing the existing resources through redeployment and flexibility clause before coming up to us with new budgetary request.

<Implementation>

Results-based budgeting and management require further development. Instruments that exist at present for informing Member States about performance are weak. As the ACABQ has pointed out and the General Assembly has endorsed on numerous occasions, there is a need for further adjustment and deliberations for an effective implementation of the results-based management and the tools to relate resources to results. To improve the system of accountability and responsibility, each programme manager should have periodical dialogue with appropriate legislative bodies to explain to what extent intended objective of mandates are fulfilled and problems encountered. Also, the Secretariat should respond positively to the General Assembly's request to report on the options for applying cost-accounting techniques drawing on best international practices, and ensure that the techniques would be applied under the new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. More generally, relevant financial information (related to mandates as well as the financial implications of changes that are made after their initial formulation) should be made readily available. The ERP system must meet this requirement.

<Evaluation>

Without conducting appropriate evaluation of mandated activities, the Secretariat cannot be held accountable to Member States. The mainstay in this regard is "self-evaluation" by programme managers. At the same time, the evaluation capacities of oversight mechanisms such as JIU and OIOS are equally important.

Existing guidelines for evaluation (as stipulated in Regulations and Rules in Article VII of the PPBME) must be complied with consistently by all programme managers. While the central evaluation function of the Secretariat is assigned to the OIOS, as reaffirmed last year in the context of the current biennium budget with relevant resources being provided, each Department and the OIOS must cooperate.

<Feedback>

It is critical to ensure the use of evaluation findings in improving future mandates and programme content. This requires an effective feedback process. Pursuant to the principle contained in PPBME, Rule 107.4, expert intergovernmental bodies directly concerned with each programme should review evaluation findings and formulate recommendations and they should be sent to the relevant main committee(s) of the General Assembly for appropriate consideration and decisions, with a view to ensuring effective feedback.

[Human Resources Management]

Mr. President,

For the Organization to meet the challenges emanating from on-going and new mandates, robust human resources management is the key issue to be tackled. Here are the factors that deem indispensable to such management.

In the Secretariat, every professional post is geared to specific activities. So, when new mandates are given by legislative bodies, new posts are often created with new job description. In new management culture, such rigid thinking should be drastically changed. In order for the Organization to keep adopting itself to the evolving mandates, young, multi-skilled, versatile, competent and mobile staff must be recruited and retained. They should respond to emerging, variable and complex mandates effectively, fostering flexible capacity throughout their career. That is why my delegation has been emphasizing the importance of strengthening career development and nurturing leadership among staff.

Second, we must foster the international character intrinsic to the Organization. While we remain fully subscribed to the idea of ensuring the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity of the staff, it must be recognized that the United Nations cannot maintain its legitimacy and strength without vigorously applying the principle of equitable geographical distribution of staff.

In this context, we firmly believe that the Organization must vigorously apply the principle of equitable geographical distribution of staff and further reinforce the National Competitive Recruitment Examination. It is an indispensable means to recruit qualified core staff providing long-term career positions. Considering the large number of departure due to the retirement during the next few years, it is the opportune timing to strengthen the recruitment and career development policies of the Examination.

We deplore the situation that many successful candidates of the Examination have been waiting for years to be recruited and sometimes for a decade for their placement. One of the reasons of this delay is related to the fact that appropriate P2 posts are not reserved for accommodating those candidates. The ratio of the number of P-2 and P-3 posts should be increased. Otherwise, we cannot expect young prospective career international staff from underrepresented Member States to join the Organization.

At present, candidates from the National Competitive Examination are recruited on probationary contracts, which are, subject to satisfactory performance, converted to permanent contracts after two years. We strongly oppose to the idea of prolonging the probationary period for candidates for these examinations, as it would seriously undermine the value and effects of the NCE.

Although P-2 staff recruited from NCE are given precedence when he/she applies to a P-3 position, the same does not apply when they apply to P-4 or above. As they should be treated core international staff who can respond the variety of mandates, we have to assure their appropriate career progress throughout their service.

Last but not least, the management of human resource in the Secretariat should not be left entirely to the discretion of respective programme managers concerned. Under the current system of delegating authority, it is extremely difficult for the Secretariat as a whole to comply with key organizational policies relating to recruitment, which include ensuring geographical and gender balance. The mobility policy also faces an inherent conflict of interest between line managers, who focus on immediate tasks, and the Organization as a whole, which is expected to envisage long-term interests.

In this context, consideration should be given to steps such as

  • strengthening OHRM's function in achieving overall Organizational goals under the strong leadership of the Secretary-General,
  • the direct participation of OHRM in the interview process of the recruitment of staff,
  • strengthening the function of the Central Review Bodies, and
  • improving measures for gauging the performance of senior managers.

These measures should help hold the Secretariat accountable and responsible to Member States.

Thank you.

Related Information (United Nations Reform)
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