Statement by Hon. Joseph H. Melrose, Ambassador, on Report of the Joint Inspection Unit for 2010 and Programme of Work for 2011 (A/65/34), Before the Fifth Committee

Ambassador Joseph H. Melrose, Jr.
Senior Advisor for Management 
New York, NY
March 7, 2011


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The United States would like to thank the Chairman of the Joint Inspection Unit, Mr. Mohamed Mounir Zahran for his introduction of the annual report of the JIU for 2010 and program of work for 2011, as well as Mr. Kenneth Herman for presentation of the note from the Secretary-General and Chief Evaluation Board for Coordination. Oversight bodies, such as the JIU, have an important role in enhancing the effectiveness of UN programs and specialized agencies throughout the UN system.

In 2010, the Unit produced a significant output, issuing 10 reports and one management letter. This culminated in 122 recommendations geared towards improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the participating organizations. Of the reports, nine were of a system wide nature, and one report and one management letter concerned a single agency.

While there will be an opportunity to discuss these reports in the informal meetings of the Committee, my delegation would like to make a few general comments at this time. The JIU’s reports on ethics, enterprise risk management (ERM), internal audit, and international public sector accounting standards represent important contributions to these subjects, and respond to the repeated requests from this Committee that the Unit should focus on issues of system-wide interest and relevance. While my delegation does not wish the JIU to cease its single-agency reports, we encourage the Unit to focus such reports on more pragmatic and implementable recommendations and conclusions.

Mr. Chairman, my delegation welcomes the efforts of the Unit to provide fuller and more detailed information on the status of recommendations. This has been a priority of the General Assembly for some time, and the information provided enables Member States to have a better understanding of the challenges facing the Unit. In this regard, we welcome the completion of the feasibility study for a web based system to monitor the status of recommendations and receive updates from participating organizations. We look forward to the development and implementation of that system, and trust that Chairman Zahran will comment further on this matter during informal session as my delegation has several questions.

Follow-up to JIU recommendations has a direct bearing on the effectiveness of the Unit. We remain concerned by the low overall rate of approval and acceptance of the Unit’s recommendations. While noting the explanation offered by the Unit, we also wonder whether such recommendations are sufficiently concrete to facilitate follow-up. We note that the CEB has expressed concerns about the analysis and recommendations contained in some JIU reports lacking clarity or being impractical to implement. In the CEB’s general comments on the JIU report on travel arrangements (A/65/338/Add.1), for example, the Secretary-General notes, “Agencies suggested that some of the recommendations could have been improved through a more in-depth and supportive financial analysis, which would have permitted a fuller understanding of the basis for any proposed improved efficiency or cost savings.”

We commend the JIU for its efforts to improve collaboration with the secretariats of its participating organizations and with other oversight and coordinating bodies including the CEB. We welcome other efforts to foster communication and coordination such as the annual tripartite meetings with the Board of Auditors and OIOS as well as the regular contact between the Unit and the IAAC and the UN Management Coordination Committee (MCC). We are also encouraged by the efforts of the JIU to engage in longer range planning through the introduction of a framework for 2010-2019.

Mr. Chairman, my delegation looks forward to a discussion of the Unit’s proposed workplan for 2011. At this time, we would only comment briefly on a few of the proposed projects. My delegation wonders whether the two proposed evaluations of HR issues – sick leave and staff management relations – are the best use of JIU resources. The International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) is better positioned to undertake this work and referring these matters back to the ICSC would avoid duplication of effort. My delegation also has some questions about the system-wide review of the investigations function that we intend to raise during informals.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, my delegation notes the Unit’s interest in the issue of a system wide evaluation mechanism and on the evaluation of “Delivering as One” pilot. As the discussion in the General Assembly on this subject revealed, the proposal for a system wide evaluation mechanism raises important and complex issues not only for the General Assembly, but also for the Unit.

An integral issue is whether and to what extent the Unit could and should perform such a function. As the Chair acknowledged in his report, if the Unit were to assume that function, the Unit would need to be strengthened, referring to the Unit’s own earlier proposals for reforming itself.

Mr. Chairman, while my delegation looks forward to the discussion more generally of a system wide evaluation mechanism following the evaluation of “Delivering as One” pilot, we would welcome the focus of the JIU Chairman on previous and ongoing proposals to reform and make the Unit, more effective. We believe that it may be time to review once again the proposals to which the JIU Chairman referenced, and examine others, with a view to enhancing the work of the Unit.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


PRN: 2011/076