NINTH ITEM ON THE AGENDA
Reports of the Programme, Financial and
First report: Financial and general questions
Financial arrangements for a Commission of Inquiry concerning the non-observance by Colombia of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98)
1. The Programme, Financial and Administrative Committee of the Governing Body met on 9 November 1999, chaired by Mr. J.-J. Elmiger, Chairperson of the Governing Body. Mr. M. Blondel (Worker spokesperson) was the Reporter.
and Budget for 1998-99
(First item on the agenda)
2. The Committee had before it a paper(1) containing information on the 1998-99 regular budget account and the position of the Working Capital Fund as at 31 October 1999.
3. The representative of the Director-General (the Treasurer and Financial Comptroller) reported that, since the preparation of the Office paper, contributions had been received from the following member States:
Papua New Guinea
The amounts received from Mexico and Papua New Guinea were payments against current year contributions. The amounts received from Bangladesh and Mauritius were payments in advance for the year 2000, which meant that 19 member States had now made payments against contributions due for the year 2000.
4. Mr. Marshall, speaking on behalf of the Employer members, was gratified to see the Office in such a healthy cash position and expressed particular appreciation for those member States which had already made payments towards contributions due for the year 2000. The number of member States which had lost the right to vote was a matter of some concern, and they should be given the fullest support to bring their payments up to date. However, even without these contributions, there was likely to be a substantial cash surplus at the end of the year. The Employers had long advocated a special reserve fund for improvements to financial management systems, and the Governing Body should give serious consideration to using some of the cash surplus for this purpose.
5. Speaking on behalf of the Worker members, Mr. Blondel welcomed the slight improvement seen in the situation vis-à-vis the previous year. With respect to paragraph 6, he noted that the majority of countries that had paid their contributions for the year 2000 were developing ones, and that most of the industrialized countries paid their contributions before the due date.
6. As regards paragraph 7, he observed that solutions had been found to enable certain countries to regain their right to vote. Given that under the impetus and leadership of Mr. Somavia the Office had been seeking a more modern, effective and hands-on management style, Mr. Blondel wondered how best to help countries in arrears to solve their problem. With the loss of their voting rights, the links between these countries and the Organization become more tenuous. The Workers' group would like a brief analysis to be carried out to examine ways of strengthening ties between these countries and the Organization once again.
7. Lastly, with reference to paragraph 3 of the document, Mr. Blondel remarked that the ILO was experiencing a period of relative affluence. As there was at least a certain amount of money available, a proposal made some years earlier concerning the investment fund could be reconsidered. In view of equipment needs, particularly in the computer sphere, the Workers' group had suggested establishing a fund which would allow these expenses to be absorbed rather than incorporating them into a biennial budget, or even two successive budgets. Mr. Blondel suggested to the Director-General and the Treasurer that a short document on this point be put before the Committee at its next meeting. He noted that this suggestion partially corresponded to one of the concerns of the Employers' group.
8. The representative of the Government of Canada also commended the member States that had already made payments towards contributions due for the year 2000. Although the Office paper provided details of expenditure up to 31 October, it would be useful to have some indication of total expenditure to the end of the year, if this information was available. In principle, the IMEC group would be willing to consider proposals to establish a special reserve fund to upgrade information systems, but no decision could be taken until the next session of the Governing Body in March 2000, when precise figures would be available.
9. The representative of the Government of Switzerland expressed support for the point for decision and for the views expressed by the previous speaker.
10. The Treasurer, replying to the question by the representative of the Government of Canada, said it was difficult to give precise figures at this stage, but expenditure at the end of the biennium was expected to be in line with the budget or perhaps slightly less. The Office had noted the expressions of support for a special reserve fund, and the Director-General would make full proposals for the use of the cash surplus at the March 2000 session of the Governing Body.
11. The Committee recommends that the Governing Body authorize the Director-General to submit proposals for any necessary transfers within the 1998-99 expenditure budget to the Chairperson for approval, in accordance with the usual practice, prior to the closing of the 1998-99 accounts in January 2000, subject to confirmation of such approval by the Governing Body at its 277th Session (March 2000).
contributions and gifts
(Second item on the agenda)
12. The Committee had before it a paper(2) giving details of voluntary contributions and gifts accepted by the Director-General since November 1997.
13. Mr. Marshall said that the Employers acknowledged with thanks the generosity of the donors.
14. Mr. Blondel thanked the governments and organizations that had given gifts to the Organization. One of the Workers' concerns was that the activities financed by such donations should correspond to the ILO's objectives and standards. Mr. Blondel thanked the JTUC-RENGO and the JILAF for their contributions to workers' activities. His thanks also went to Mrs. Jane Jenks for having made a gift to the Organization of the personal papers of Mr. Jenks, former Director-General of the ILO, and he expressed the wish that these documents be placed in a special room in the Archives where they would be available for consultation as from the following year.
15. The Committee took note of the Office paper.
questions relating to
the International Institute for Labour Studies
(Third item on the agenda)
16. The Committee had before it a paper(3) outlining the Programme and Budget proposals of the International Institute for Labour Studies for 2000-01, and a paper(4) describing the contributions and gifts received by the Institute.
17. The Chairperson stated that these papers were for the information of the Committee at this stage, and would be discussed once a paper was available from the Board of the Institute containing its recommendations on these matters.
International Training Centre of the ILO, Turin
Fourth item on the agenda)
18. The Committee had before it the documents submitted to the 61st Session of the Board of the Centre.(5)
19. The Treasurer explained that two documents were normally submitted to this Committee for consideration: first, the documents considered by the Turin Centre Board; and second, the report of the Board meeting. Unfortunately, the second document was not yet available. The Committee could either discuss the documents submitted to the Board now and the report of the Board at the Committee's meeting next week, or delay the entire discussion until the following week.
20. Mr. Blondel declared that the Workers were somewhat unhappy about the way in which the previous meeting had been conducted, and wished to bring this point to the attention of both the Committee and the Director-General. That meeting had been held concurrently with another meeting; because of that fact and of the need for the presence of the Director-General, it had not been held in Turin. The Workers would not like the same thing to happen again, particularly given the interpretation problems that had forced the meeting to finish its work in a rush. The Workers understood that exceptional circumstances could arise and attached great importance to the Director-General's presence, but they did not wish to repeat the experience and hoped they could continue to work in good conditions.
21. Mr. Blondel went on to say that he wished to raise two questions to which he did not expect immediate answers. The first concerned the future of the Centre. Were the rumours that sooner or later monitoring might be carried out by the United Nations to be believed? Could we be sure that the Centre would remain the ILO Centre with its spirit of tripartism? This indirectly raised the question of the management of the Centre.
22. The second question was why the programme for workers, as proposed by the Centre, appeared to be less extensive than that for employers. The Workers were not opposed to employers obtaining more, as long as they received equal treatment.
23. Mr. Marshall said that the Employers would prefer to see the report of the Board before discussing the documents submitted to it.
24. The Director-General acknowledged the concerns expressed by Mr. Blondel and explained that on this occasion the Turin Centre Board meeting had run out of time because it was linked to other activities. For the next meeting the programme of work would be organized with sufficient time for a full discussion of all business.
25. The Chairperson noted that discussion of this agenda item would be taken up again when the Committee met to adopt the report of this meeting.
2000-01 budgets for extra-budgetary
(Fifth item on the agenda)
Health Information Centre (CIS)
26. The Committee had before it a paper(6) containing a proposed budget for 2000-01 for this extra-budgetary account.
27. Mr. Marshall expressed the Employers' support for the point for decision but wondered whether the $423,000 shown on the summarized income and expenditure budget to be carried forward to the following biennium was rather high when compared with the contribution from the ILO regular budget. The Employers also asked when the last pricing review had been carried out for the Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety in view of the demand for this publication and the fact that it was quite expensive to produce.
28. Mr. Blondel recalled first of all that the document contained the proposed budget for the extra-budgetary accounts of the International Occupational Safety and Health Information Centre (CIS) for 2000-01. Those accounts showed a deficit, which would be made up by carrying over surpluses from the 1998-99 financial year. The Workers were pleased to see the importance the Centre attached to the InFocus Programme on SafeWork, but nevertheless wished to make a few observations.
29. Firstly, while glad that the Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety would be translated into French, they wondered whether translations into Spanish, and perhaps German, were planned. The Encyclopaedia was a very important document that should be translated into all the languages used by the Organization.
30. Secondly, the Workers felt that the Centre's publications were rather expensive and that not all trade union organizations could afford to buy those they needed. Only trade union organizations with relatively stable and extensive resources were in a position to do so. The Workers asked for a short analysis to be made of the real cost and sale price of CIS publications.
31. Lastly, the Workers, while continuing to attach considerable importance to safety, health and risk-free work, were also interested in environmental issues, and most particularly the working environment. Although the present meeting was not the appropriate occasion to examine the issue, they asked the Office to look into the kind of initiatives that it could take in that area. It was not a case of neglecting the traditional problems associated with safety and health, but rather of focusing more closely on those associated with the working environment. Despite the above observations, the Workers had no objections to the adoption of paragraph 6.
32. The Treasurer, in reply to Mr. Marshall's question on whether the ILO regular budget contribution to CIS could be reduced in view of the projected carry over of $423,000 at the end of the 2000-01 biennium, explained that in the ILO 2000-01 budget there had already been a reduction in nominal terms of $328,000 to CIS compared with the contribution for 1998-99. In any case the figure was merely an estimate resulting from certain assumptions about the sales of services and the collection of copyright payments which might not materialize, so it would perhaps not be prudent to make further cuts in the CIS budget.
33. A representative of the Director-General (Director, InFocus Programme on SafeWork) acknowledged the statements by the Employers and Workers and said that the Office would investigate possible ways of making the Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety more affordable to buyers. In developing countries, for example, it might be possible to subsidize the price by a contribution from technical cooperation funds. The Spanish version of the Encyclopaedia had been published by the Ministry of Labour of Spain and was already available, but there had been some changes in organizing publication of a German version. A Russian version was already partially on the Internet, the first volume of the Chinese version was being printed, and publication was going ahead on a Japanese version. In reply to a question from the floor he confirmed that the Encyclopaedia was not available at present in Arabic, but the Office was exploring the possibility of attracting outside resources to fund its publication. In reply to earlier comments he explained that the InFocus Programme on SafeWork included an allocation for environmental issues, and these activities would be coordinated with the environmental aspects of other ILO programmes.
34. The Committee recommends that the Governing Body approve the proposed 2000-01 income and expenditure budget for the International Occupational Safety and Health Information Centre extra-budgetary account.
Research and Documentation Centre
on Vocational Training (CINTERFOR)
35. The Committee had before it a paper(7) containing a proposed 2000-01 budget for this extra-budgetary account.
36. Mr. Marshall said that the Employers supported the point for decision but sought clarification of the meaning of the words "social and productive players" as used in paragraph 7 of the Office paper.
37. Mr. Blondel noted that, while the Centre's budget was a bit smaller ($200,000 less than in 1998-99), the ILO contribution, on the contrary, had increased slightly. He was pleased to see that Uruguay had contributed $100,000 and provided the Centre with rent-free premises. The countries of the region would pay $450,000 in 2000-01. Mr. Blondel concluded from this that the Centre continued to depend on the ILO's financial support. The Workers' group hoped that efforts would be made to obtain funds for the Centre in order to reduce its financial dependence on the ILO. The speaker ended his statement by declaring that the Workers' group accepted the proposals made in paragraph 23 of the document.
38. The representative of the Government of Brazil said that CINTERFOR performed excellent work in the region, and she expressed full support for the point for decision.
39. A representative of the Director-General (the Regional Director for the Americas), in reply to the query from Mr. Marshall, explained that the relevance and effectiveness of training programmes referred to in paragraph 7 was traditionally achieved through consultation with the social partners. Recently, however, geographical decentralization and changes to delivery systems had taken place. There had also been an increase in enterprise participation and in the number of training providers and programmes offered, particularly in Latin America. The description "social and productive" referred to the social partners as well as these new suppliers. The paragraph as a whole was intended to refer to all the innovations taking place in training activities and which the Centre was trying to promote.
40. Mr. Marshall expressed appreciation for the explanation and reiterated the Employers' support for the point for decision.
41. The Committee recommends that the Governing Body approve the income and expenditure estimates for 2000-01 of the Inter-American Research and Documentation Centre on Vocational Training (CINTERFOR) extra-budgetary account.
arrangements for a Commission of
Inquiry concerning the non-observance by Colombia
of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the
Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87),
and the Right to Organise and Collective
Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98)
(Sixth item on the agenda)
42. The Committee had before it a paper(8) proposing financial arrangements for this Commission of Inquiry.
43. Mr. Marshall, speaking on behalf of the Employer members, observed that the paper under discussion was simply a recosting of a previous decision and supported the point for decision.
44. Preferring not to enter into a discussion about the Commission of Inquiry and preferring to concentrate on the budgetary problem, Mr. Blondel recalled that the Committee had released budgetary credits in March to permit the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry. It followed that the earlier decision should be renewed and the Workers therefore agreed that it should be so.
45. The representative of the Government of Japan requested further information regarding the size of the Commission of Inquiry as well as the number of days the Commission would be working.
46. The representative of the Government of the United States stated that he would agree with a consensus on the item before the Committee. He emphasized however that any necessary reprogramming should be contained within Part I of the budget and should not result in any increase in the overall budget for the Organization.
47. The representative of the Government of Namibia requested clarification as to why it had not been possible to include budgetary provisions for the Commission of Inquiry and where the savings referred to in the paper would be coming from.
48. The representative of the Director-General (the Treasurer and Financial Comptroller), in response to questions raised, stated that the Commission of Inquiry consisted of three members and that the required meetings had been estimated as five days in Geneva in January 2000, five days in Geneva in March and April 2000, 12 days in Colombia in May or July 2000 and five days in Geneva in September 2000. On the question of financing, since the Commission of Inquiry had still not been set up by the Governing Body, the inclusion of a provision in the Programme and Budget for 2000-01 would have prejudged any decision that the Governing Body might take on that issue. Similar situations had arisen in the past where there had been a possibility of setting up a Commission of Inquiry during the formulation of the budget proposals. The financing proposal before the Committee corresponded to past practice under similar circumstances.
49. As far as savings were concerned, it was premature to give any indications as to the possible source of such savings. As the biennium progressed and patterns of expenditure became available, possible savings would be identified to absorb the Commission's costs as far as possible within Part I of the budget.
50. The Committee recommends to the Governing Body that it rescind its decision taken at the 274th Session concerning financing arrangements and that, should it decide to establish a Commission of Inquiry concerning Colombia --
(a) an honorarium at the rate of $300 per day be paid to each member of the Commission of Inquiry;
(b) the cost of the Commission in 2000-01, estimated at $528,000, be financed in the first instance from savings in Part I of the budget on the understanding that, should it subsequently prove impossible, the Director-General would propose alternative methods of financing at a later stage in the biennium.
Review of the procedures for the appointment
of the External Auditor
(Seventh item on the agenda)
51. The Committee had before it a paper(9) describing procedures for the appointment of the External Auditor.
52. Mr. Marshall, speaking on behalf of the Employer members, appreciated the opportunity the paper offered for comments to be made for further consideration by the Office. Since the External Auditors had recently been appointed for a period of four years, there was sufficient time available for the issue to be thoroughly studied. The External Auditor should have the opportunity to develop his knowledge of the Organization, since a certain degree of continuous involvement was important. However, it was probably equally important that the term of office should not be too long, as this could result in loss of objectivity and therefore the aim should be to find a working balance between these two considerations.
53. A four-year term, with the possibility of a further four years subject to performance, could be considered. At the end of the eight-year period it would then be appropriate for all governments, including that of the incumbent, to nominate candidates as they saw fit, and their nominations could be evaluated against established criteria. The concept of rotation was not appropriate, since the External Auditor's appointment should be based solely on competence. Once the nominations had been evaluated by the Office, they should be put before the Governing Body for its consideration and selection. Since the ILO's regulations did not require the External Auditor to be a holder of national office, consideration should also be given to private auditing firms.
54. Mr. Blondel first stated that it was a question of deciding on an arrangement which, if agreed, would not take effect until 31 March 2004. Appendix III of the document gave an overview of the various arrangements made in some other international organizations: the United Nations, WHO, FAO, UNESCO. The procedure varied from one organization to another. The position of the Workers' group was that the decision should relate rather to the length of the mandate than to the country and the geographical region. It was quality and competence that were important. The speaker was of the view that an end could be put to a mandate, but someone who had rendered the ILO service should be given the opportunity -- in the framework of an invitation to bid -- to tender once again. He did not see why services that had been judged to be efficient and of good quality should be ended. The speaker added that the Committee still had time to discuss the matter further.
55. The representative of the Government of India thanked the Office for preparing a very informative paper; in the light of the information provided in the document it should be possible to review the procedure for the appointment of the ILO External Auditor. The Office document clearly confirmed that since 1937 the Auditors of only three member States had held the office, and appreciation for their work should be a matter of record. Because the ILO was an international organization, however, the principle of rotation should be accepted in all positions without compromising quality, and there should be transparency as well as an agreed procedure for the selection and appointment of the External Auditor.
56. The information provided in the Office paper on the practice of other international organizations indicated that the existing practice of the ILO did not support the principle of rotation practised elsewhere. Like other international organizations in the United Nations system the ILO should adhere to the principle of rotation in the appointment of its External Auditor, and there was a need to impose a limit on the period of the appointment. It was necessary that the whole process of selection and appointment should be transparent, especially in view of the importance of the external audit function in assisting the Governing Body to evaluate critically the functioning of the Organization. It was also necessary for each member country to be given the opportunity to apply for the position. The attention of the Committee was drawn to the procedure being adopted by the United Nations and other international organizations where member States were invited to nominate candidates and the decision was taken through a secret ballot, either at the Governing Body or at the Conference, with the principle of rotation achieved by imposing a limit on the terms of office. The Office should prepare a proposal on the basis of the consensus reached during the discussion, and revised procedures should be submitted for approval to the Governing Body in November 2000.
57. The representative of the Government of the Russian Federation stated that the possibility of rotation for the appointment of External Auditor should certainly be considered, although limiting the term of office should not be necessary. The practice of appointing the External Auditor for two consecutive biennia was fully justified, but the right to present a candidate, as in all other organizations, should be given to all countries. The information to be provided when a national candidate was being presented, as set out in paragraph 10, was perfectly appropriate.
58. The representative of the Government of Germany pointed out that, of the organizations mentioned in the paper under discussion, there was only one -- the World Food Programme -- which applied a limit to the period of appointment of the External Auditor. The majority of the organizations must have therefore considered that the post of External Auditor should be filled on a long-term basis and not with pre-programmed change deriving from fixed time limits. Although a possible advantage of the change of tenure would be the introduction of new methods, they could equally well be introduced at the beginning of a new term.
59. The representative of the Government of Canada considered that a four-year appointment for the External Auditor seemed appropriate, for the reasons outlined in paragraph 8 and the possibility of limiting the term to one renewal for a total of eight years should also be considered. After four years, or the initial term of the External Auditor, an open process of appointment or reappointment should be developed whereby all member States would be invited to submit candidates, including the incumbent. However, the establishment of a principle of rotation should not apply if it implied some kind of geographical rotation. The selection process should be such that candidates were assessed solely on the basis of their qualifications and their evaluation against the terms of reference for the appointment.
60. In calling for nominations the Office should outline the terms of reference, drawing on the criteria set out in paragraph 12 and clearly stating the scope of the services expected, including such areas as management reviews, value-for-money audits and the specialized services set forth in that paragraph. Candidates should provide information according to those terms of reference and be screened by the Office on this basis, and a shortlist could be considered for review by the Committee. As the External Auditor was the oversight instrument for member States, the appointment should be made by the Governing Body by secret ballot. Another document, perhaps issued nearer the reappointment of the External Auditor, would be welcome. The issue could then be discussed further, including any need for changes in the Financial Regulations.
61. The representative of the Government of New Zealand believed the issue rested on two key principles, first that the ILO should have the best auditor available, and second that there should be clear criteria available to determine who the best auditor might be. Neither a policy of automatic renewal of an External Auditor's term nor a policy that would result in the automatic rotation of auditors was appropriate. The suggestion made by the Employers and the Government of Canada to invite expressions of interest from other potential auditors after two consecutive terms was appropriate, and in terms of the identification of suitable candidates arrangements should be introduced that would allow any member State to nominate a potential auditor.
62. The representative of the Government of the United Kingdom thanked the Office for the paper. It was not at all clear that the current system was not working, but the United Kingdom was not opposed to the concept of change and was happy to examine any alternatives put forward before the Committee. The current system did allow for a change of External Auditor and some of the options put forward did seem rather rigid and over-prescriptive. However, the Employers had a valid point concerning the need for balance between longevity in terms of experience and knowledge of the Organization and the introduction of new ideas.
63. The question of geographical rotation was not relevant because the primary consideration for selecting the External Auditor should be competence. Applicants for the position should be assessed solely on the basis of their qualifications and the criteria in the job description.
64. The representative of the Government of the United States supported the position put forward by Canada, except as regards the role of the Office in the selection of the External Auditor. The body to be audited should only be involved in the collation of information on potential candidates, which should then be submitted to the responsible bodies for decision. On the subject of rotation, he agreed that the position of External Auditor should be determined solely on the basis of technical criteria such as competence, rather than country of origin.
65. The representative of the Government of Switzerland supported the statements made by the representative of the Government of Canada, with the same reservation as that expressed by the representative of the United States Government.
66. The Committee took note of the Office paper.
to the Investments Committee
of the International Labour Organization
(Eighth item on the agenda)
67. The Committee had before it a paper(10) concerning the extension of the terms of appointment of the present members of the Investments Committee of the ILO.
68. Mr. Marshall, speaking on behalf of the Employer members, expressed his support for the decision contained in paragraph 4 and thanked the present members for their valuable service to the Organization.
69. Mr. Blondel said he regretted, for different reasons to Mr. Marshall, that workers of this type were not paid, as all work deserved remuneration. Observing in passing that Mr. Oltramare had been a member of the Committee since 1967, he said that the Workers were in favour of Committee members having their appointments renewed and supported the proposal made in paragraph 4. The Workers' group wished to know whether the investments made by the Office were in keeping with the ILO's ethics, in other words whether they were directed towards places and enterprises which were consistent with international labour standards. The Workers would not feel particularly proud if the banks with which the ILO worked invested its money in multinationals associated with child labour, for example. Such a problem had arisen in the past. The older members of the Governing Body would remember the problem with a Swiss bank resulting from its investments in South Africa in the apartheid era.
70. The representative of the Director-General (the Treasurer and Financial Comptroller) thanked the Workers' group for bringing up this matter. The Investments Committee met to give guidance to the fund managers, the New York- based Fiduciary Trust Company, which was also the primary manager of the United Nations Pension Fund's investments. The Investments Committee would be meeting in December 1999, and the Workers' remarks would be communicated to the Committee so that the ILO's investment portfolio could be reviewed to ensure that there was no investment in any company which indulged in abusive labour practices.
71. The Committee recommends to the Governing Body that it renew the appointments of Mr. Yves Oltramare, Baron Sirtema van Grovestins and Mr. Jean Pierre Cuoni as members of the Investments Committee of the International Labour Organization for a further period of three years, expiring on 31 December 2002.
financial and general questions
(Tenth item on the agenda)
Report of the
Joint Inspection Unit of the
United Nations on its activities for the period
from 1 July 1997 to 31 December 1998
Reports of the Joint Inspection
of the United Nations
72. The Committee had before it a paper(11) covering the activities of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) for the period 1 July 1997 to 31 December 1998, and also a paper(12) covering five separate JIU reports.
73. The representative of the Joint Inspection Unit stated that the level of total staff resources of the JIU had remained unchanged since 1968. Persistent efforts had nevertheless been made to enhance the function of the JIU in relation to the relevance of its reports, questions of leadership and interaction with member States, participating agencies and other oversight bodies and he drew particular attention to paragraphs 15 and 16 of document GB.276/PFA/10/2, where a number of recommendations concerning the challenge of outsourcing for the United Nations system had been made. He emphasized the importance of interaction between member States, participating organizations and other legislative bodies with the Board of Auditors of the JIU.
74. The system of follow-up on JIU reports proposed in its annual report had just been endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly. The follow-up system did not imply an amendment to the JIU Statute, since it was merely a procedural mechanism on the basis of the Statute, and there was no reason for the ILO not to resume consideration of the matter.
75. The JIU was in the process of issuing a series of notes addressed to the executive heads of most of the organizations, including the ILO, highlighting how JIU reports were being dealt with in each organization together with recommendations on improvements that were considered necessary. Five key elements had been targeted: (1) organizational practices relating to the distribution of JIU reports; (2) the criteria used to determine which JIU reports would be examined by the legislative organs; (3) the agenda items under which JIU reports were considered; (4) decisions by the legislative organs on JIU recommendations and (5) the degree of implementation of the JIU recommendations. The JIU had tried not only to define clearly its own responsibility, which was one of the conditions necessary for enhancing the effectiveness and impact of its activities, but also to ensure that these responsibilities were fulfilled to the greatest extent possible. The ILO Governing Body and the Office might now wish to review their current practices in respect of JIU reports, particularly in regard to decision-making and follow-up on JIU recommendations.
76. The JIU report on peace building (JIU/REP/97/4) had originally been requested by the UNESCO Executive Board. Detailed and specific information on how the ILO had acted on issues raised in that report were provided in document GB.276/PFA/10/2. A number of other organizations had also considered the report, including the UNESCO Executive Board, which had adopted a decision at its June 1999 session to invite the Director-General "to foster improvement of the mechanisms of cooperation and coordination with relevant bodies with a view to further enhancing its contribution to peace building".
77. The report on outsourcing (JIU/REP/97/5) had also been examined by the United Nations General Assembly, as well as by a number of other legislative organs including those of the FAO, UNESCO, WHO and UNDP. The United Nations General Assembly had requested that the Secretary-General present a comprehensive report on outsourcing practices, taking into account this JIU report.
78. The report on training institutions in the United Nations system (JIU/REP/97/6) had been requested by the United Nations General Assembly. Its purpose was to assess the United Nations system training institutions and to propose concrete and practical measures to coordinate their activities. The United Nations General Assembly had noted the recommendations contained in this report and stressed, inter alia, "the need for effective division of labour among the main training and research institutions of the United Nations system, taking into account the distinct and complementary mandates of the United Nations University, UNITAR and the United Nations Staff College". This report had also been taken up by a number of legislative organs, in addition to the United Nations General Assembly.
79. Most of the JIU recommendations contained in report JIU/REP/98/1 dealt with fellowships in the United Nations system and had been endorsed by the ACC and by the Director-General of the ILO. The importance of proper management of fellowship programmes needed to be emphasized, as quite often managers continued to do business as usual without any assessment of the real impact of fellowship programmes on capacity building. Coordination between the specialized agencies in the United Nations system was a recurring theme, but there was a need to maintain the existing inter-agency coordination mechanism on fellowships and to ensure that agencies with training activities in the same fields found a way to harmonize their programmes for better impact and to avoid duplication.
80. The report on more coherence for enhanced oversight in the United Nations system (JIU/REP/98/2) was based on the concept of shared responsibility for oversight and included recommendations intended to give meaning to that concept. Oversight could not be effective without the personal commitment of the executive head of an organization and the solid support and understanding of member States. With a new Director-General there was now a unique opportunity for the ILO to join member States in a review of how oversight was conducted in the ILO as part of a new strategic approach. Admittedly, there had been a number of positive developments on strengthening and reporting on internal oversight in the ILO, but a better coordination of all elements of internal oversight was needed; to this end the Governing Body should be provided with a consolidated report on all internal oversight activities. The Office, however, had questioned the recommendation for the JIU to issue an analysis of the consolidated annual summary reports on internal oversight activities from the different organizations. It could rest assured that the system-wide perspective of the JIU would assist member States to identify system-wide problems and good practices, and all organizations would benefit.
81. The JIU had recently produced a report entitled "Review of management and administration in the International Labour Office". This report was the result of close consultations with a number of ILO officials and included a visit to a field office. Some of the JIU recommendations would be of immediate benefit to the ILO in its efforts to improve the management and administration of the Organization. The Office had, however, expressed the opinion that a more rigorous examination of the complex issues raised in the report would be needed which would involve units both at headquarters and in the field. This would be a time-consuming exercise and the next session of the Governing Body to be held in March 2000 would be a more appropriate time for discussion of this report.
82. The representative of the Government of the United States expressed her support for the comments made by the previous speaker on the issue of increasing the effectiveness of oversight in the United Nations system. Oversight was a critical management tool and was used effectively in the ILO, but the Office should take the opportunity to examine fully its oversight programme in order to ensure that it continued to reflect best practice and that its mandate was clearly described in the appropriate rules and regulations. The United States strongly supported the idea of the ILO's developing a comprehensive plan for coordinating its oversight activities. The programme and budget document showed a well defined and well laid-out plan of action which would lead to greater accountability and transparency for substantive programmes, and this would doubtless be true for oversight as well. She looked forward to continuing the dialogue on a subject of mutual interest and shared responsibility.
83. The representative of the Government of Japan observed that JIU activities were as important as internal audit activities in respect of system-wide issues and could provide the means for more effective integration of ILO activities within the United Nations system. Similarly, close cooperation in training activities could improve efficiency in the specialized agencies. He endorsed the comments made by the JIU that its various reports should be actively discussed in the organizations; in principle their recommendations should be fully implemented in the ILO.
84. The recent JIU report on the ILO was scheduled to be discussed at the next Governing Body session in March 2000. He urged members to take advantage of the next few months to read the report carefully so that an informed discussion could take place at that time.
85. The representative of the Russian Federation expressed his appreciation for the document on the report of the JIU, which was one of the most important supervisory bodies of the United Nations system. Unfortunately, the documents presented by the Office were issued and distributed just prior to their discussion in the Committee, which meant that there was too little time for a full analysis or consideration of the recommendations. He urged that in future the reports be made available well in advance to allow time for proper analysis.
86. The comments by the organizations of the United Nations system in response to the JIU reports had to be finalized by the ACC within six months of publication of the JIU report. They were then submitted to the executive bodies of the organizations and subsequently presented at their regular sessions. It was surprising therefore that the Committee was only now examining a JIU report for 1997, and he requested the Director-General to ensure that in future the reports and comments on them were distributed early enough for proper evaluation.
87. In respect of the Office's comments on these reports it would be useful to have information as to which of the recommendations had been implemented by the ILO before consideration of the Unit's report by the Governing Body, and as regards the other JIU recommendations, what the Director-General's proposals were with respect to measures still to be adopted. The approval by the United Nations General Assembly of a system of measures for the consideration of JIU reports was a positive step forward and would allow agencies of the United Nations system to make better use of the supervisory machinery of the Joint Inspection Unit.
88. Mr. Marshall, speaking on behalf of the Employer members, said that JIU reports were helpful in providing a base from which further system development was possible, and it was useful to have the ILO's recommendations and responses to these reports. Many of the issues were being addressed in the programme and budget documentation and the new strategic approach adopted by the Director-General, and this would ultimately lead to synergy gains within the wider United Nations system. In respect of the report on the challenge of outsourcing for the United Nations system, it would be useful to know at some stage how much outsourcing the ILO was doing and whether it was yielding significant benefits. The JIU report on training institutions in the United Nations was most welcome and highlighted the fact that the positive results from cooperation and coordination between training institutions in the United Nations system should not be underestimated. However, the most valuable JIU report was probably the one on oversight scheduled for discussion in March 2000. The Employer members had already had an opportunity to review it briefly, and commended it to other Committee members for careful consideration before it was taken up at the next session of the Governing Body.
89. Mr. Blondel recalled that the Report of the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations contained a summary of five studies of interest to the ILO, as well as recommendations. He noted with satisfaction paragraph 36 of the document which described the implementation of the recommendation concerning the submission of the report of the Chief Internal Auditor to the Governing Body. The speaker recalled that at a previous meeting the Governing Body had undertaken to apply this recommendation, and he was pleased that that had been done. Mr. Blondel also welcomed paragraph 32 which stated that the subject of oversight was the focus of continuous dialogue between the secretariat and representatives of member States.
90. Concerning the matter of outsourcing, Mr. Blondel wondered about the relevance of this proposal given the specific nature of the role of ILO officials. They were international civil servants, subject to the obligation of reserve and impartiality. None of the missions they carried out could be outsourced, nor conducted according to the views of consultancies. He was of the opinion that the ILO performed noble functions that could only be assigned to officials bound by the obligation of reserve.
91. The Committee took note of the Office papers.
Geneva, 15 November 1999.
Points for decision:
Updated by SA. Approved by NdW. Last update: 6 March 2000.