Programme, Financial and Administrative Committee
TENTH ITEM ON THE AGENDA
Other financial and general questions
Reports of the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations
1. In accordance with established procedures, the system-wide reports of the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations (JIU) are submitted to the Governing Body when the comments of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) on the reports are available. The Office has contributed to the preparation of the following JIU reports:
1. Coordination at headquarters and field level
between the United Nations agencies involved
in peace-building: An assessment of possibilities
(JIU/REP/97/4 and A/52/430/Add.1)
2. This report focuses on a subject that is undergoing review and reform in the area of post-conflict reconstruction. Discussions on a UN system-wide strategic framework for coordinated response to post-conflict reconstruction were held in March and April of 1997 by the UNCCPOQ and the ACC. Furthermore, in April 1997 a UNDP-DHA high-level seminar was held, also attended by all the agencies, on building bridges between relief and development. This latter seminar thoroughly examined the issue of coordination (at headquarters and at national levels) between UN bodies in the post-conflict context. A number of recommendations emanated from this seminar and from the ACC decisions, and these are currently being followed up. The comments of the ACC fully reflect the ILO's views on the report and provide additional evidence that the report's analysis should have given sufficient recognition to the follow-up actions taken in developing a system-wide strategic framework for response to and recovery from crisis. These actions are the results of an evolution in thinking in the UN system towards mutually reinforcing responses to crisis situations.
3. There are six recommendations included in the report forwarding the following proposals:
The coordination framework for post-conflict peace-building must be, inter alia, overarching and coherent, yet sufficiently flexible to adjust to the unique aspects of each peace-building situation -- the preferred method of coordination will therefore be ad hoc, based on certain generally agreed principles.
In order to facilitate all actors working together on one strategic plan for recovery, a framework for coordination must be established during the initial reconstruction planning phases. Member States, as represented in the components of the United Nations system, may consider the agreement ending the conflict a suitable platform for outlining and reinforcing a series of measures and actions to consolidate peace, establish linkages between peacekeeping and peace-building operations, and outline the framework for coordination.
The Administrative Committee on Coordination should prepare a declaration on the coordination of peace-building activities for acceptance by the General Assembly and the legislative bodies of specialized agencies, which should recognize the need for United Nations system organizations to maintain their independence, yet articulate the primacy of the United Nations leadership and reinforce the need for coordination to ensure the maximum utilization of resources and the achievement of objectives ...
As one element of enhancing coordination, member States may wish to consider the possibility of carrying out peace-building activities as a separate and distinct operation -- "a peace-building operation" -- albeit closely linked as a follow-on to the peacekeeping phase.
Headquarters level (b): The secretariats of other United Nations system organizations should also follow the example set by the Secretary-General and establish a lead department for the coordination of policy and strategic decisions among system organizations involved in peace-building.
Given the increasing role played by the Bretton Woods institutions in post-conflict peace-building activities, United Nations system organizations should formally establish coordination linkages, between themselves and these financial institutions, to ensure both participation in the planning phases of post-conflict recovery and a sustainable, coordinated relationship throughout reconstruction. These linkages should be developed without the creation of new structures.
4. A general comment and specific information are set out below highlighting how the ILO has acted on these issues in the recent past. In peace-building it is essential that development agencies be involved from the beginning. Peace agreements often describe in detail the means, beneficiaries and timetable for the reintegration of ex-combatants and other reconstruction programmes needed. The advice of development agencies during the formulation of this framework is therefore important. Furthermore, it is essential to ensure that the agreement reflects international standards on fundamental human rights. The ILO was present at the negotiation table in Guatemala for this purpose.
5. The ILO project on vocational training for self-employment, implemented in Liberia during 1997-99, established collaboration on an ad hoc basis with other UN operational programmes in the country. For example, the project's trainees were transferred to programmes of reconstruction of public infrastructure under the aegis of UNHCR and UNOPS. The trainees were employed to do the reconstruction work. Building materials were bought from the small enterprises which were started by the beneficiaries of the ILO's project. Successful entrepreneurs were integrated into the UNDP's credit scheme pilot project. The ILO's project developed a manual for business training which was then also used by UNHCR. The ILO also trained the UNHCR staff on this subject. Currently, the World Bank, UNICEF and ILO are designing a coherent demobilization and reintegration programme for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. An ILO mission in August 1999 was aimed at establishing the partnerships and formulating the division of work between ILO, UNICEF and WHO according to the actual situation on the ground and the mandate of the different agencies.
6. In Kosovo the international community, under the leadership of UNMIK (United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo), started its operations at the end of the war. UNMIK coordinates activities of not only the UN family but also of other international institutions, which is a new challenge for the international community.
7. The ILO participates in coordinating activities on Kosovo (UNHCR briefings) and donor's conference organized by the EU and the World Bank. Most of the coordination with the UN family and other bilateral and multilateral actors takes place however in Pristina, where the ILO has recently set up an operational support unit within UNDP. A special Balkan Task Force has been created within the European Regional Office to coordinate ILO's interventions within headquarters.
8. After the signature of the Dayton/Paris Peace Agreement (December 1995) the International Community assured its presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) by opening field offices and deploying human resources to assist in the reconstruction and recovery process of the country. All the UN agencies, the Bretton Woods institutions, the EU and the donor countries, as well as more than 500 NGOs, took an active part in the reconstruction process.
9. After the UN inter-agency assessment mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, an ILO Project Support Unit was opened in April 1996 to provide logistical and administrative support to technical assistance missions fielded by technical departments at headquarters and the CEET (Budapest) multidisciplinary team. The Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia ensures the coordination of the several technical departments currently involved in the implementation of technical assistance projects (US$6.1 million), while a national correspondent was appointed in January 1998 to maintain and strengthen dialogue with ILO constituents and represent the Office in the country.
10. The ILO is also coordinating with the Legal and Economic Affairs Departments of the Office of the High Representatives on common issues pertaining to the ILO mandate (enactment and implementation of labour law, regulatory economic framework, etc.).
11. In the field, the EU, together with the World Bank established 12 sectoral task forces in 1996. During the period 1996-97, the ILO organized and chaired the sectoral task force on employment and training. Monthly meetings were organized with the involvement of key international and national actors in the employment and training field and discussed issues related to policy setting; needs assessment and programme/project development; identifying funding gaps; monitoring project implementation; and providing information and reports on progress and problems. Under the same task force two working groups were established to discuss and exchange information related to technical assistance in the areas of the return of refugees and labour market information systems. In order to ensure coordination of the sectoral task forces dealing with related issues, the ILO was also a member of the Industry and Finance and Health and Social Safety Net Task Forces. Two clearing houses, respectively dealing with privatization (US-AID) and social policy issues (CARE International), have recently been established. The ILO is a member of these two task forces.
12. The ILO has also launched an InFocus programme on crisis response and reconstruction, which will develop a coherent and comprehensive ILO capacity to respond in a timely and effective manner to different crises, such as armed conflicts, to facilitate the socio-economic reintegration of the crisis-affected groups. The specific activities will entail the promotion of employment-intensive reconstruction and rehabilitation works, skills and entrepreneurship training, vocational rehabilitation of the disabled, small enterprise development, institutional capacity-building, local economic development, gender concerns, social dialogue, reconciliation and social protection.
13. It may be noted that a considerable number of inter-agency training activities are conducted by the ILO Turin Centre/UN Staff College in the areas of peace-building and reconstruction.
2. The challenge of outsourcing for the United Nations system
(JIU/REP/97/5 and A/52/338/Add.1)
14. The report offers an overview of outsourcing in the United Nations system. Its conclusions and recommendations are supported by summary data included in the table annexed to the report. The data are outdated since they refer to 1995 activities. Furthermore, they are not fully consistent, and therefore do not lend themselves to comparisons between organizations. The comments of the ACC fully reflect the ILO's position on the JIU report.
15. There are seven recommendations included in the report forwarding the following proposals:
The legislative organs of each participating organization should request their Executive Heads to prepare, for approval at the appropriate level, before their next session, a policy statement committing their organizations to the use of the challenge of outsourcing as a means for achieving cost-effectiveness ...
The Executive Heads of participating organizations should prepare, for approval at appropriate level, administrative rules and/or procedures for implementation of the planned policy on the use of the challenge of outsourcing for their organizations ...
The Executive Heads of participating organizations should prepare, for approval at appropriate level, changes in the structure and/or operating procedures of their secretariats to facilitate and encourage the best use of the challenge of outsourcing, including the possible designation of an official to serve as a facilitator for this purpose.
The Executive Heads of participating organizations should ensure that information on the use of outsourcing is comprehensive and transparent in the regular programme budget submissions and performance reports for their organizations.
The Executive Heads of participating organizations should make every effort to avoid negative impact on staff affected by decisions to outsource specific activities or services and, when negative impact is unavoidable, prepare, for approval at the appropriate level, measures to assure appropriate protection for affected staff members.
[This recommendation refers to the General Assembly and the ACC.]
Legislative organs of participating organizations should decide to review and evaluate the implementation of the approved policy on outsourcing three years after it has been initiated and, for this purpose, request Executive Heads to submit a report on the implementation of the approved outsourcing policy that would indicate, inter alia, savings and/or benefits achieved, special problems encountered, solutions attempted and proposals for appropriate improvements.
16. The current financial rules, management structures and procedures have proved adequate to the use of outsourcing once that option has been considered viable by the manager. The Office is ready to continue to share experience in the use of outsourcing within the ACC machinery, such as the Consultative Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (Financial and Budgetary Questions). Any common approach to outsourcing, however, should give due account to the mandates, operational environment and work modalities of each agency.
3. Training institutions in the United Nations system: Programmes
and activities (JIU/REP/97/6 and A/52/559/Add.1)
17. Problem areas identified in the report include: the widespread absence of coherent training strategies, policies, guidelines and standards at both the agency and the system level; the lack of transparency and visibility of the activities of training institutions; the proliferation of training institutions, programmes and activities; inadequate interaction or coordination among training institutions; the absence of clear and well-defined procedures for the training institutions to report to executive organs; and the lack of any clear identification of training and research functions.
18. The executive summary of the report explains that it focuses on the training institutions of the United Nations system and not on the internal staff training programmes of the agencies. However, the ACC comments as follows: "there is a fundamental confusion throughout the report between the activities of the independent training institutions of the United Nations system ... and the training activities of the organizations ..., which are an integral part of the human resources function of each organization." The report would have been more useful if it had been more analytical and the problems stated in the executive summary as hindering the effective functioning of common system training institutions, on which the recommendations are based, had been analysed and substantiated by evidence.
19. The essential points of each of the recommendations are extracted below:
An effective and flexible division of labour should be established ... between the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the United Nations University (UNU) and the United Nations Staff College Project (UNSCP). Furthermore, ... member States' personnel should be trained by UNITAR; and United Nations system staff and NGOs should be trained by the UNSCP. The specialized agencies would retain responsibility for specialized training in their respective areas.
... the General Assembly and the other legislative organs should establish a coordinating consultative mechanism, composed of UNITAR, UNU and UNSCP acting jointly and duly networked.
20. There would be merit in examining further the issues outlined in recommendations 1 and 2, which seek a clearer demarcation of functional responsibility between the principal training institutions and better coordination and cooperation in areas of potential mutual benefit, for example, in relation to training policy and strategies, and, possibly, in relation to some specific activities. However, if any changes are subsequently made in these areas, they should not hamper the development of training strategies and activities which respond to clients' demands and delivered closer to where the identified needs are. The Office considers the suggested division of work too rigid and formal. It should rather be based on proven records of high-quality training capacity and demonstrated ability to deliver effective skills and knowledge of the subject-matter demanded by the target group. More cooperation and joint organization of training programmes without formal consultative mechanisms are encouraged.
21. The issues raised by the JIU report regarding the UNSCP have been addressed in the 1998-99 review by the Director of UNSCP, and their implementation is under way. The future of UNSCP will be discussed during the 1999 session of the General Assembly on the basis of a progress report prepared by the Director in response to ECOSOC decision E/1999/L43 of 22 July 1999.
[This recommendation is addressed to the General Assembly and the ACC.]
The General Assembly and the legislative organs of the other JIU participating organizations should decide to consider all major training issues under a single item of their respective agendas with a view to enhancing the transparency and visibility of the activities of the training institutions and, at the same time, stimulating cooperation and coordination among the training institutions in the planning and execution of their activities.
22. For the ILO, this recommendation may be impractical given the committee structure of the Governing Body.
4. Fellowships in the United Nations system
(JIU/REP/98/1 and A/53/154/Add.1)
23. In the organization and implementation of fellowship programmes, transparency, effective communication and cooperation are of utmost importance. Selection policies on fellowships should incorporate specific guidelines to ensure that more women and young people benefit and take good advantage of fellowship programmes. Formalities for evaluation, validation and follow-up on fellowship programmes at the national level must be specifically recommended in order to ensure gains from transfers of learning.
24. A total of 23 recommendations are structured into six groups. They are abbreviated below to their essentials:
(a) Definition of fellowships: A fellowship in the United Nations system is a specially tailored or selected training activity that provides a monetary grant to a qualified individual or group of qualified individuals for the purpose of fulfilling special learning objectives; such training, which may be of short or long duration and may take place in an appropriate training institution or in the field inside or outside the fellow's country, should be in response to nationally approved human resources policies and plans and should aim at impact and relevance for all stakeholders involved.
25. There is no objection to this definition, although it is based essentially on the administrative criteria governing fellowships.
Recommendations 1(b);(c);(d) and (e)
(b) when, for reporting purposes, a participant should be classified as a "fellow"; (c) an improved and uniform format of reporting on fellowships be adopted by the United Nations system organizations and the Inter-Agency Procurement Services Office (IAPSO); (d) an inter-agency coordination mechanism on fellowships be established to bring forward common standards; and (e) the local or regional expertise be included in databanks, which reflect the contribution made by the fellowship programmes and made accessible by everyone.
26. Recommendation (d) is not entirely clear, since extending certificates of excellence to training institutions and to meritorious trainees are two different matters.
27. Regarding recommendation (e), it has to be pointed out that in a time of scarce resources, the UN training institutions should concentrate on organizing specific joint activities rather than on collecting more administrative information. Information that relates to the actual learning and institutional development efforts of training is useful, as it contributes to higher effectiveness and helps in obtaining financial support for the training institution.
[This recommendation refers to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, UNDP, the General Assembly and INSTRAW.]
(a) The organizations should establish databanks of training institutions and make them accessible to national administrations, with a view to supporting national execution (NEX);
(b) fellowship fees should be considered as "UN rates" and applied consistently irrespective of modality of execution;
(c) fellows under NEX should be insured under collective insurance contracts;
(d) disparities in allowances to trainees placed in the same institution should not exist or kept to a minimum;
(e) the Resident Coordinator system should guarantee the payment of fees to host institutions and allowances to fellows;
(f) full advantage of the experience and network of contacts of the United Nations system organizations should be taken by the nominating countries involved in the national execution of fellowship programmes.
28. Regarding recommendation (c) above, in the context of national execution national authorities fully retain their prerogative to apply to UN agencies for placements and administration of fellowships if they so wish. This service, however, has a cost that should be recognized. Regarding recommendation (d), the Office agrees on the standardization of allowances, but this is much easier when the fellowship is granted by a third-party agency than when it is negotiated direct with national authorities.
[This recommendation refers to the host governments, the meetings of Senior Fellowship Officers (SFO) and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, UNDP and the United Nations Educational and Training Programme for Southern Africa (UNTEPSA).]
(a) The organizations should evaluate their fellowship programme and submit the report to their legislative organs; (b) refers to the recipient countries; and (c) to inter-agency coordination on fellowships should provide a framework to share experiences and best practices on evaluation issues and methodologies.
29. The Office agrees with these recommendations. However, it should be borne in mind that the impact of training programmes can usually be identified in the medium term only, and depends on a number of factors that are beyond the control of the training process.
(a) Inter-agency coordination on fellowships should be maintained and hosted by a designated United Nations organization; (b) refers to the SFO meetings; (c) agencies that have training activities in the same fields should designate a lead agency and harmonize their programmes for better impact and to avoid duplication.
30. There is no objection to these recommendations.
5. More coherence for enhanced oversight in the United Nations system
(JIU/REP/98/2 and A/53/171/Add.1)
31. The report addresses the concept of shared responsibility for oversight, analyses the current infrastructure of its mechanisms and describes measures for more coherence in oversight in the UN system. The annex to the report includes useful information regarding the structure of oversight mechanisms of the individual agencies. Although the comments of the ACC on the report reflect the Office's position, it would be appropriate to add some further observations.
32. It should be pointed out that in the ILO there has been an open and continuous dialogue between the secretariat and representatives of those member States that have expressed a special interest in the subject of oversight.
33. The oversight functions consist of audit, evaluation, inspection, monitoring and investigation. These elements are described by the report in a somewhat fragmented manner, which may give the impression that they function side by side without any interaction or coordination between them. In the ILO the elements of oversight are not only integrated in the same organizational structure -- within the Bureau of Programming and Management -- but established procedures provide for their interaction. For example, the oversight elements of evaluation and monitoring are closely related management functions. In this regard one of the internal auditor's responsibilities is to ensure that oversight elements function effectively as defined by the established procedures.
Recommendation 1: Agreed plans for conducting
34. At its 267th Session (November 1996), the Governing Body approved amendments to the Financial Rules requiring the Chief Internal Auditor to submit a report to the Governing Body on significant findings resulting from internal audit and investigation assignments undertaken in each year. The amendments also allow the Chief Internal Auditor to submit additional reports, should he deem this to be necessary, to any other session of the Governing Body. This provision in the Financial Rules covers the audit, investigation and inspection elements of internal oversight. As for monitoring and evaluation, the Programme and Budget proposals for 2000-01, as submitted to the present session of the Governing Body,(1) contain specific proposals to the Governing Body to strengthen these two elements of oversight (paragraphs 155-164). For the next biennium, it is proposed that a report be submitted to the Governing Body on programme implementation in March 2001, covering the year 2000; and a report covering the whole biennium would be presented in March 2002. In order to strengthen the evaluation function, it is proposed to draw up a biennial evaluation plan with defined objectives and methodology; this plan would be presented to the Governing Body, as would the results of major evaluations.
Recommendation 2: Reporting on internal
35. As mentioned above, a mechanism already exists for a report of the Chief Internal Auditor to be submitted to the Governing Body. It is also the established procedure that the Director-General submit an annual report to the Governing Body to inform it of the action taken on the recommendations of the previous year. Should any recommendations require action by the legislative organ, appropriate action would of course be taken by the Director-General.
36. In the ILO, the Governing Body has already decided that the report of the Chief Internal Auditor be submitted directly to the Governing Body while allowing the Director-General to make any separate comments that he deems appropriate.
37. Any reports of the Chief Internal Auditor, or separate reports submitted to the Governing Body on monitoring or evaluation, will identify any action required either by the Governing Body or the International Labour Conference.
Recommendation 3: Highlighting good practices
38. The Office agrees with this recommendation. The ACC machinery comprised of the Consultative Committee on Administrative Questions (CCAQ) and the meetings of the internal auditors and the Inter-Agency Working Group on Evaluation should continue to be used to disseminate good practices and exchange experience.
Recommendation 4: JIU analyses of consolidated annual
summary reports on internal oversight practices
39. The internal oversight machinery should respond to the specific needs and concerns of the executive heads and the executive bodies of each individual organization. The major oversight issues are highlighted and discussed at regular meetings of internal auditors. It is hence unclear what added value the periodic analysis of the proposed consolidated annual summaries by the JIU would represent.
Recommendation 5: Fostering a stronger professional
Recommendation 6: More dialogue among oversight partners
40. These recommendations are supported. The existing arrangements, mentioned under recommendation 3 above, already contribute to this process. In the ILO both the External Auditor and the Internal Auditor report at regular intervals to the Governing Body.
* * *
41. Copies of the JIU reports and the ACC comments are available for consultation.
Geneva, 27 October 1999.