UNITAR Closes Orientation For Fifth Committee Delegates for 73rd UNGA
5 September 2018, New York, USA - The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) New York Office hosted the second session of its Orientation Course for New Delegates on the 5th Committee in the United Nations Headquarter. The Oversight Mechanisms of the United Nations and an overview of UN International Civil Service were the discussion topics of the session.
UNITAR New York Head of Office, Mr. Marco Suazo began the session with opening remarks. He handed the floor over to the first speaker of the day, Inspector of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) Mr. Achamkulangare Gopinathan, who talked via Skype from Geneva. In his opening, he said his aim was to increase the knowledge of the new delegates about the JIU and its relationship with the 5th Committee. Mr. Gopinathan discussed the creation of JIU, being one of the earliest oversight bodies of the UN, as well as its function. He believed that because of JIU is based in Switzerland, people within the organization feel member states don’t utilize JIU enough and don’t recognize its significance. In response to delegate questions, he discussed how JIU operates in coordination with the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and Board of Auditors (BOA), their formal mechanisms being annual tripartite meetings as well as ad hoc meetings, to discuss short and long-term work plans and topics of concern. Mr. Suazo then requested Mr. Gopinathan share some exemplar JIU reports that the new delegates should be familiar with for debates on reform during the upcoming 73rd Session of the General Assembly. Mr. Gopinathan replied, sharing JIU reports on “whistleblower policies and protection against retaliation” and “mainstreaming disaster risk-reduction from 2017”.
Next to speak was Mr. David Kanja, Assistant Secretary General of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). Mr. Kanja started by talking about the functions of the OIOS, which range from assisting the Secretary General in fulfilling their internal oversight duties, such as conducting audits, to providing services to the Secretariat and other selected entities. He discussed the three divisions of OIOS, and what their functions are within the agency, and how the agency is split between peacekeeping and non-peacekeeping issues. Another talking point was the relationship OIOS has with JIU and the Board of Auditors (BOA), and how the three agencies coordinate to minimize duplication and optimize oversight coverage. Asked about the major areas of focus of OIOS outside its relationship with JIU, Mr. Kanja talked about how OIOS investigated the Secretariat and select entities, whereas JIU looks across the system, but both agencies do consult each other and exchange reports to avoid duplication. He added that OIOS does more investigations compared to JIU, which has a small investigations division.
Closing the session on Oversight Mechanisms was the Executive Secretary of the Board of Auditors (BOA) Ms. Anjana Das. Ms. Das started by talking about the origins and composition of the BOA, an external audit body that doesn’t have to report to UN management, and interacts with the 5th Committee and Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budget Questions (ACABQ). She also discussed the mandate of BOA to conduct financial, managerial and performance audits, as well as procedural processes such as appointment of members and allocation of entities.
Ms. Regina Pawlik, Executive Secretary of the United Nations International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), was the final speaker of the day, giving an overview of ICSC. Ms. Pawlik talked about how ICSC has relationship agreements with specialized agencies, not only within the United Nations Common System but also with other related agencies outside it, to develop common personnel arrangements in order to facilitate personnel interchange, control efficiency and cost. She discussed the composition of UN staff system-wide, as well as how the majority of UN personnel work in the field on peacekeeping missions and projects away from headquarters. She remarked on the function of the Commission, noting that the members are appointed by the General Assembly based on their experience of executive responsibility in Public Administration or related fields, and how they are selected with due regard for equitable geographical distribution. The last talking point was the mandate and powers of ICSC, such as giving recommendations to the General Assembly in terms of salary, leave and staff assessment.
The course of September also included talks on Implementation of the Reforms by Mr. Christian Saunders, Assistant Secretary General for the Office of Central Support-Services in the Department of Management, Human Resources management, Human Resources Management, Human Resources Strategy and HRM resolution by Ms. Aruna Thanabalasingam, Director of Strategic Planning and staffing Division at the United Nations Office of Human Resources Management, and Scale of Assessment by Mr. Lionelito Berridge, Secretary of the Committee on Contributions.
Photo 1: The new delegates listening to the speech by Inspector of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) Mr. Achamkulangare Gopinathan.
Photo 2: Assistant Secretary General of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) Mr. David Kanja, responding to questions from delegates.
Photo 3: UNITAR New York Head of Office Mr. Marco Suazo, Assistant Secretary General of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) Mr. David Kanja and Executive Secretary of the Board of Auditors (BOA) Ms. Anjana Das.