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UN Board of Auditors meets António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

At the occasion of the seventy-first regular session of the UN Board of Auditors, the members of the UN Board of Auditors met with António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations. António Guterres provided Kay Scheller, President of the German SAI, Shashi Kant Sharma, Auditor General of India and Board chair, and Mussa Juma Assad, Auditor General of the Republic of Tanzania, with insights into his UN agenda.

>Treffen des Board mit dem Generalsekretär der Vereinten Nationen, António Guterres
Board meeting with António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

(from left to right: Kay Scheller, President of the German SAI; Mussa Juma Assad, Controller and Auditor-General of the Republic of Tanzania; Shashi Kant Sharma, Comptroller and Auditor General of India; António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, head of cabinet, Executive Office of the Secretary-General)

António Guterres who has held the office of the Secretary-General since 1 January 2017 focused his speech to the Board on the administrative reform of the United Nations that he launched immediately after taking office. António Guterres stated that the reform would also extend to the UN development system, peacekeeping and security issues. He stated that the focus was placed on management architecture. He explained that he had set up an internal audit team for this purpose because nobody knew the UN better than the people who worked at the UN. In an initial analysis, six areas had been identified that needed improvement:

  1. Services need to be expedited and client friendliness need to enhanced.  The UN needs to become more agile, faster and to ensure better internal coordination.
  2. Administrative structures are fragmented. Rather than using a separate pillar approach it is vital to seek system-wide coherence. Core tasks need to be centralised and delegated to the local decision makers.
  3. The administrative culture is underdeveloped and needs to be (re)aligned to the goals set forth in the UN Charter and the General Declaration of Human Rights. All staff needs to show decisiveness, humility and bravery in mission performance.
  4. There is a loss of confidence between the member states on the one hand and the UN Secretariat on the other hand. This confidence needs to be restored. The Board can provide a major impetus in this field. The Board’s work helps to build trust of the Member States in the UN.
  5. To perform missions effectively, adequate and sufficient budget funds are needed. This is (no longer) the case. The UN need reliability for budgetary planning. Reliability cannot be ensured by means of voluntary contributions or donations but only by means of compulsory contributions.
  6. There is a lack of transparency and accountability. The diverse UN actors need to be held fully accountable for substantive results and not for formal compliance with regulations and signature chains.

Kay Scheller offered the Secretary-General his full support in accomplishing these goals. In his function as member of the Board, he highly appreciated the reform path the Secretary-General had taken. Kay Scheller reiterated that the key elements needed to make the reform a success were the following: a well-working and effective administration, accountability of all staff for their action and confidence of the contributing member states.


Other meetings on reports recommendations and upcoming field visits

Kay Scheller also met with Jan Beagle, the new UN Under-Secretary-General for Management, and Atul Khare, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Field Support. These discussions focused on the reform agenda, topical audit findings and the field visits of the German audit teams scheduled for the months to come.

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