UN system collaboration on accountability and transparency
At its ninth session, the Committee considered follow-up to the General Assembly Resolution A57/278, which had, inter alia, requested “the Secretary General and the Executive Heads of the Funds and Programmes of the UN examine governance structures, principles and accountability throughout the UN system”. It decided to create a multi-disciplinary working group to examine current accountability mechanisms in organizations, raise awareness of such tools and identify best practices.
At its tenth session, during its consideration of a draft terms of reference for this working group of HLCM, the Committee’s attention was drawn to the draft terms of reference prepared by the United Nations in response to a request by the World Summit Outcome document for “the Secretary-General to submit an independent external evaluation of the United Nations, including the specialized agencies’, auditing and oversight system, including the roles and responsibilities of management … This evaluation [should] take place within the context of the comprehensive review of the governance arrangements”.
In follow-up feedbacks on the draft terms of reference prepared by the UN, some organizations expressed concerns about combining the examination of governance structures with an external evaluation of auditing and oversight, as it was believed that a review of governance should be an internal review, especially with respect to the specialized agencies. Also, organizations requested clarifications on the mechanisms through which they – within HLCM – could exercise some guiding role in framing the objectives and monitoring the development of such an independent evaluation.
On 28 November 2005 the Secretary General submitted a report to the GA (A/60/568), which included the proposed terms of reference for a comprehensive review of governance arrangements, including an independent external evaluation of the auditing and oversight system.
At its eleventh session the Committee, introducing the discussion on this item, considered it necessary to carry out separate consultations within an ad-hoc working group to review the Terms of Reference submitted by the Secretary-General. The ad-hoc group met and produced a statement, as follows:
The General Assembly, in Resolutions A/57/278 A and A/59/264 A, requested an examination of governance structures, principles and accountability of the UN Secretariat and its Funds and Programmes.
Resolution A/60/1, paragraph 164(b), provided the mandate for “… an evaluation of the auditing and oversight system of the United Nations, including the specialized agencies, including the roles and responsibilities of management, with due regard to the nature of the auditing and oversight bodies in question. This evaluation will take place within the context of the comprehensive review of the governance arrangements”.
Draft terms of reference for a study covering both the governance review and the auditing, investigatory and other related oversight functions were proposed by the Secretary General in his Report A/60/568. The General Assembly at its sixtieth session approved funding for the study as well as the proposed terms of reference.
The Committee, having considered the proposals contained in Annex II of A/60/568, agreed that the study should separate its outputs into two reports, one focusing on governance, and the other on auditing, investigatory and other related oversight functions.
Bearing in mind the original mandates included in Resolutions A/57/278 and A/59/264, the scope of the governance review would cover the operations of the UN Secretariat and its Funds and Programmes. The Specialized Agencies and other inter-governmental bodies may participate in this process to ensure that the best practices in the various organizations are taken into account.
In light of the above, HLCM agreed that the draft terms of reference for the study contained in Annex II of A/60/568 should be modified to reflect the following:
The evaluation of auditing, investigatory and other related oversight functions would include the UN Secretariat, its Funds and Programmes, and the Specialized Agencies;
The governance review would cover the UN Secretariat and its Funds and Programmes.
Each organization will nominate a focal point for the purpose of coordinating with the ongoing study.
The HLCM will designate an ad-hoc group to consult with the Steering Committee, to ensure that HLCM’s views are fully represented to the Steering Committee and to the Consultants. The UN Secretariat will ensure that the HLCM is kept up to date on all developments in the progress of the study.
HLCM also notes that the Steering Committee will submit the reports on governance and oversight to the Secretary-General, who would share them with the Executive Heads.
The Committee adopted the statement and:
Requested the CEB secretariat to consult with members to constitute an ad hoc group of HLCM to serve as focal point for the Steering Committee, to ensure that HLCM’s views are fully represented to the Steering Committee and to the consultants doing the study;
Noted that the UN Secretariat would ensure that the HLCM was kept advised of all developments in the progress of the study;
Noted that the Steering Committee would submit its reports on governance and oversight to the Secretary General who would share them with the Executive Heads of all UN system organizations.