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United Nations Daily Highlights, 07-01-22

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MICHELE MONTAS

SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Monday, January 22, 2007

FIRST REVIEW OF U.N. AGENCIES TO FOCUS ON NORTH KOREA

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met this morning with the representatives of UN funds and programmes to follow up on his announcement last Friday to call for an extensive review of their operations.

As Chairman of the Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), he has decided to propose that the first review should focus on operations in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

The Board of Auditors will be requested, through the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, to undertake an overall risk assessment and audit of operations of the United Nations and its Funds and Programmes in countries where issues of hard currency transactions, independence of staff hiring and access to reviewing local projects, are pertinent.

Should the CEB and the Board of Auditors accept this proposal, action would be undertaken in stages with the first report, which would focus on the operations in the Democratic Republic of Korea, to be completed by the Board of Auditors within a three-month time-frame. The report would be submitted to the second resumed 61st session of the General Assembly.

As the issues concern not only the United Nations, its Funds and Programmes, but also the specialized agencies, the Secretary-General intends, as Chairman of the CEB, to also seek the cooperation of the Panel of External Auditors, to provide their inputs to the CEB on system-wide aspects of the same set of issues to be reviewed by the Board of Auditors. It is anticipated that the resulting report from the Panel of Auditors would be available to the General Assembly at its 62nd session. The terms of reference for the system-wide inquiry would be framed along the following lines:

Areas to be reviewed as part of risk assessment and to be audited: hard currency transactions; independence of staff hiring; and access to reviewing local projects.

These issues will be examined in light of relevant Security Council resolutions, including, but not limited to, Security Council resolution 1718 (2006), as well as compliance with regulations and rules, economy, effectiveness and efficiency of the use of resources and funding, including in the context of the National Execution modality.

The inquiry would be conducted in compliance with international standards of auditing and within the provisions of Article VII of the United Nations Financial Regulations governing activities of the Board of Auditors.

To provide the system-wide inquiry around the globe, the same external audits will be simultaneously carried out in select cases of countries with similar conditions to be identified by the relevant Funds and Programmes in consultation with the Board of Auditors and the Panel of External Auditors.

The Secretary-General has also requested the Administrator of UNDP to provide information in detail concerning the corrective actions taken in response to the internal audit findings of 1999, 2001 and 2004 carried out by UNDP internal audit (OAPR), in particular regarding hard currencies and cash management, absence of independent hiring of local staff and restrictions to audit the ongoing local projects.

Asked what countries will be covered by the audit process, the Spokeswoman said that remains to be determined. She said that cases will focus on countries where there are issues of hard currencies and cash management, the absence of independent hiring of local staff and restrictions to audit ongoing local projects.

Asked about what entity has been picked to perform the audits, the Spokeswoman said that the responsibility falls to the External Board of Auditors. In the case of UNDP, she said, the lead auditor is South Africa, and the Board of Auditors is chaired by the French Supreme Audit Institution and includes the South African and Philippine auditors general. The panel of external auditors, she said, is chaired by Canada, and includes eight members: Canada, South Africa, Germany, France, India, Philippines, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Asked which agencies, funds or programmes would allow the audit, Montas said that the agencies have different procedures, although there would be an agreement among them to permit this type of inquiry.

Asked about funding, the Spokeswoman said that the specifics on funding the audits are still being discussed.

Asked whether the audit would affect participation in the talks concerning the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, the Spokeswoman said that the audit and the six-party talks are different issues, and do not affect each other.

In response to a reporter who said that todays announcement was more narrow than one made last week, the Spokeswoman said that todays announcement was just a first step. She later added that the Board of Auditors reports to the General Assembly every two years for funds and programmes on the regular budget, and every year for peacekeeping operations.

BAN KI-MOON TAKES STEPS TO ENSURE U.N. STAFF MOBILITY

The Secretary-General met today with Heads of Funds and Programmes to discuss the need to ensure staff mobility between the Funds and Programmes and the Secretariat, as a way to give real meaning to the concept of a truly mobile, multi-functional staff, serving one UN family, system-wide.

The Secretary-General told the Executive Heads he has decided to open a number of positions in his own office to expressions of interest from staff in all Funds and Programmes, in addition to Secretariat staff. He hoped the Funds and Programmes would respond with reciprocity to this initiative. The Executive Heads welcomed the Secretary-Generals initiative, and promised to respond in a reciprocal manner by examining ways to open positions in Funds and Programmes to Secretariat staff.

The meeting followed Secretary-Generals announcement on Friday that he would lead by example on staff mobility with a new practice of circulating positions in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General on iSeek, the intranet site for Secretariat staff. He invited all qualified Secretariat staff, in both headquarters and the field, to submit expressions of interest. And he asked all Secretariat senior managers to follow suit and promote mobility among their staff in the same manner.

The Secretary-General thanks the Executive Heads for their support and cooperation in the work to transform the UN family so it can deliver as one.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals position on UN reform, the Spokeswoman noted that the Secretary-General had emphasized changing the culture at the United Nations and putting in place a more mobile staff hat could adapt to different tasks.

She noted that the restructuring of UN departments is still being discussed with Member States, with no final decisions reached.

Asked whether the United Nations is open to job applicants from outside, the Spokeswoman said that the idea is to have posts filled by the most qualified people.

BAN KI-MOON CONCERNED BY EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE IN GUINEA

The Secretary-General is gravely concerned at the excessive use of force resulting in the loss of life in clashes in Guinea. He expresses his condolences to the aggrieved families and to the people of Guinea as a whole. He strongly urges the Government to carry out investigations into the killings with a view to bringing those responsible to justice, including members of the security forces, and to take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of all citizens throughout the country.

The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Guinea to exercise maximum restraint on its security forces, and urges the parties to engage in dialogue in order to find a peaceful resolution to the dispute.

The Secretary-General hopes that the planned Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders visit to Guinea will take place as a matter of urgency.

U.N. INVESTIGATING ARREST AND POOR TREATMENT

OF U.N. STAFF BY SUDANESE POLICE

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reports that it is investigating an incident that occurred last Friday, during which local Sudanese police and security officials raided an international non-governmental organizations compound in South Darfur. Twenty people, including five UN staff members, were arrested.

The UN Mission expressed deep concern at the treatment of the detained staff, noting that they and others were subjected to physical assault and verbal abuse by the police. The staff members have been released, but the UN will officially protest the assault to the Government of Sudan.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO CONSIDER SENDING U.N. MISSION TO NEPAL

The Security Council has scheduled consultations at 4:00 this afternoon on Nepal.

Council members will discuss the text of a draft resolution on Nepal, which they have been working on since receiving the Secretary-Generals report earlier this month which recommends that a UN Mission in Nepal should be established for a 12-month period.

ADVANCE GROUP FOR FIRST-EVER ALL-WOMEN U.N. POLICE UNIT

ARRIVES IN LIBERIA

A 15-member advance team of the Indian Female Formed Police Unit has arrived in Monrovia. That advance team is not comprised entirely of women, although it is led by the woman who will command the Indian police unit in Liberia. The full contingent, which has just completed an extensive training programme, is expected the join the advance group early next month.

These women will make up the first all-female unit ever deployed with a United Nations peacekeeping operation.

At the end of 2006, there were some 8,040 UN police serving worldwide, but only about 450 were women, or roughly four percent.

We heartily welcome Indias contribution of an all-female Formed Police Unit and hope that other member States put forward more qualified women to serve in UN peacekeeping operations worldwide.

BAN KI-MOON RECEIVES IRANIAN LETTER ON TREATMENT

OF IRANIAN OFFICIALS IN IRAQ

Asked about an Iranian letter to the Secretary-General concerning the treatment of Iranian officials in the Iraqi city of Erbil, the Spokeswoman confirmed that the Secretary-General had received the letter and is circulating it to the members of the General Assembly.

Asked for a reaction to the letter, Montas said that the Secretary-General would await the response from Member States first.

Asked about Iranian missile tests, the Spokeswoman said that the United Nations had not received advance notice of those tests.

Asked about the Secretary-Generals views on a UN role regarding Iran, Montas said that he has underlined that he wants an inclusive political solution including the other countries in the region.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

MILITARY SPENDING COULD BE DIRECTED TOWARDS DEVELOPMENT: The Conference on Disarmament is starting its 2007 session in Geneva today. In a message to the Conference, the Secretary-General says that we must prevent any expansion of nuclear arsenals, and accelerate the reduction of existing weapons stockpiles. He also notes that world military spending has now risen to over $1.2 trillion. He says that even if one percent of that sum were redirected towards development, the world would be much closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

DO NOT LET GUARD DOWN ON BIRD FLU: The World Health Organizations 120th Executive Board session starts today in Geneva and will last until 30 January. In an

address to the Board this morning, WHO head Margaret Chan said that, with respect to bird flu, we must not let down our guard. As long as the virus continues to circulate in birds, the threat of a pandemic will persist, she added.

UNITED NATIONS HELPS BOLIVIAN FLOOD SURVIVORS: The UN is

helping the Government of Bolivia to respond to recent floods and landslides in that country. The World Food Programme has already distributed food aid to survivors in parts of southern and central Bolivia. According to UN agencies, some 8,000 families have been affected.

BAN KI-MOON TO MEET WITH KOSOVO STATUS ENVOY: Asked about the weekend elections in Serbia, the Spokeswoman declined to comment beyond noting that the Secretary-General would meet with his Special Envoy dealing with the final status issue in Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, in Paris this week.

BAN KI-MOON FOLLOWING ISSUE OF ISRAELI OVERFLIGHTS: Asked which adviser the Secretary-General will have accompany him to the donors conference for Lebanon in Paris, the Spokeswoman said he would be accompanied by his Personal Representative for Lebanon, Geir Pedersen. Asked about Israeli overflights of Lebanon, she noted that the Secretary-General is following that matter closely.

MIDDLE EAST QUARTET MEETING COMING UP: Asked about a recent meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, the Spokeswoman noted that the matter was certain to be discussed at the upcoming meeting of the Middle East Quartet.

Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055


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