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Board Luncheon Speech by Chairman Board of Auditors 24 July 2019

Good afternoon, dear Mr. Secretary-General, dear colleagues, Mr. Rajiv Mehrishi and Mr. Jorge Bermúdez, I welcome you all to the Board’s 73rd session lunch.

Dear Mr. Secretary–General, we are greatly honored to have you with us.

We highly appreciate that you have taken the time. This shows the importance you place on accountability.

We are also delighted to welcome the committee and client representatives. You all work very closely with us throughout the year.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Chairs of the ACABQ and the Fifth Committee for their continued engagement and interest in our work.

And I would like to thank the Administration for their support and their cooperation in the timely completion of our work and in implementing our recommendations.

Today, the Board of Auditors has approved 24 reports at this session and the Peacekeeping Report in January this year. All of our clients have received an unqualified opinion – which is a good signal to all stakeholders.

I do not wish to go into the details of our audit reports. You will find them on our website. I would rather elaborate a little bit on our role within the UN family.

Ladies and gentlemen, our work is to audit and give advice. Our mission is to support your mission.

Our expertise and audit standards are at your service. The idea is to help strengthen the good governance of funds and to support SDG 16 ”strong institutions”.

It is a great honor for three supreme audit institutions to work for the mission, objectives and programmes of the UN.

The United Nations are financed by the tax-payers of the world. We all have a high interest that the UN work is successful and funds are used to best effect.

The Board of Auditors has three members from different parts of the world: India, Chile and Germany. We have joined our forces to work towards a common goal. We serve as the financial watchdog mandated by the General Assembly.

To deliver public services to the world´s citizens is the core task in our capacity as civil servants – nationally and internationally. We work in or we review systems of regulation and implementation, of reporting and evaluation, of checks and balances. We seek to deliver best value for money, to meet objectives and reach good outcomes, and to prevent the misuse of funds.

Our roles may be different, but we are all in the same boat – those of us who implement programmes and projects and those of us who exercise control and audit functions. Our objectives are the same – the effective and efficient use of funds and a satisfying outcome for the public good.

We work professionally and trustfully with our clients. At the same time we still maintain our role as independent auditors. This is how we see our role.

Part of our job is to listen. Not only to the responses that our clients give to our questions. We also listen to all other matters of concern to them.  

Before we can step in with our advice, we see our role in raising awareness among our clients for how things should be and help them find a way to accomplish this. We consider information and communication a highly valuable tool.

Only those that have evidence-based facts and figures at hand, can make informed decisions and withstand fake news and hate speech. Only if people know how things work, they are able to understand how things actually are and how they should be. It is only then that they can focus their thinking and commitment on working actually towards improvements.

Our advice eventually takes the forms of recommendations. We work together with our clients to jointly develop and suggest ways of making things better. The solutions developed need to be tailor-made, measurable and achievable for people in the field to experience progress and change.

Mr. Secretary-General, you recently stated: We all need to do better at looking out for each other. The Board of Auditors is committed to making a contribution as best as we can.

Under your leadership the UN has taken a reform path. You stressed the importance of confidence.  

You found a loss of confidence between Member States and the UN Secretariat. This confidence needs to be restored. The Board’s work can help to rebuild that trust.

You also identified a lack of transparency and accountability. Both are key to ensuring an environment of on-going improvements as regards financial management and mission performance. Transparency and accountability are also crucial to enhancing public trust in the UN.

I am convinced that we all can support these objectives set by the Secretary-General. They are vital to the future development of the UN. And our audit findings highlight that improvements are needed.

We will not rest in our efforts. The Board of Auditors is highly committed to helping strengthen the governance of the organizations we are auditing.

Dear Mr. Secretary-General, dear colleagues, I am delighted that you have all come together here to attend this lunch. I hope you will enjoy being together.

Thank you!

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