STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MR. RICHARD TUR, SECOND SECRETARY, PERMANENT MISSION OF CUBA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, ON AGENDA ITEM 135(B): FINANCIAL REPORTS AND AUDITED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS, AND REPORTS OF THE BOARD OF AUDITORS ON THE UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, DURING THE SECOND PART OF THE RESUMED SEVENTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE FIFTH COMMITTEE OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New York, 1 May 2023)
1. I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on agenda item 135(b): Financial reports and Audited Financial Statements and Report of the Board of Auditors on the United Nations Peace Keeping Operations.
2. At the outset, our Group would like to thank the representatives of the Board of Auditors, including the Chair of the Audit Operations Committee for introducing the BoA report on UN peacekeeping operations for the 12-month period from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022. We also wish to thank the representatives of the Secretariat and Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions for introducing the respective reports related to these agenda item.
3. The Group of 77 and China reiterates its recognition to the role the Board of Auditors plays in discharging external oversight of the Organization and, on this note, expresses appreciation for the high quality of the Board`s reports and its recommendations. This role contributes to ensuring compliance with the Financial Regulations and Rules, the Staff Regulations and Rules and other policies of the United Nations as a valuable tool to improve the management, efficiency and effectiveness of the peacekeeping operations.
4. The Group notes that the implementation rate of the BoA`s recommendations has decreased from 60% in financial year 2020/2021 to 46% in 2021/2022. We further note that nine recommendations have remained under implementation for more than three years.
5. Our Group is concerned at the delay towards implementation of some of the previous recommendations as well as those contained in the present report. We reiterate our request to the Secretariat to enhance its efforts to effectively implement the endorsed recommendations of the Board for better transparency, efficiency and smooth functioning of operations.
6. The Group stresses the need for all entities to undertake prompt actions to ensure that the accepted recommendations of the Board of Auditors are implemented as a matter of priority. In this spirit, we call upon the Secretary-General to put in place robust accountability mechanisms for unjustified delays in the implementation of audit recommendations and to provide full explanation on root causes of the recurring issues and the measures to be taken.
7. Our Group notes the recurrence of similar or related recommendations from previous audits, as well as the emergence of new goals with respect to peacekeeping operations. The present report highlights significant shortcomings in different areas. These include but are not limited to supply chain activities such as deficiencies in quality check of data entered into the digital Supply Chain Planning Tool and key performance indicators for demand planning. We look forward to our discussions in the upcoming consultations to examine the corrective actions carried out by the Secretariat in this regard.
8. We also note with concern that the United Nations peacekeeping operations had a cash ratio of just 0.48 in 2022, mainly due to nonpayment of assessed contributions by Member States. In this regard, the Group reiterates its call on all Member States to pay their assessed contributions in full, on time and without conditions.
9. The Group also underscores the need for a greater emphasis on fraud awareness and prevention involving peacekeeping missions. We look forward to receiving further information on this matter during the informal consultations.
10. The Group will carefully review the reports and financial statements, to identify specific concerns and potential systemic issues. We will build on the findings contained in these statements in the discussions ahead, in particular with respect to risk management and its articulation with the UN accountability system and key internal controls mechanisms, the delegation of authority, Umoja, the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, ICT, assets management, procurement, among others.
11. We will be keen to hear from the Secretariat about the reasons that have given ground for an accumulated surplus of 115 million dollars, as at 30 June 2022, related to the peacekeeping operations 'cost-recovery arrangements. While we acknowledge the necessity of having a buffer for the purpose of this mechanism, we would like to have clarity on why this amount is so elevated. Our questions arise also taking into account that during the consideration of volume I, it was identified a surplus of more than 400 million dollars in the cost-recovery fund. It is the interest of the Group to understand how this accumulation of resources has been possible.
12. To conclude, on behalf of the Group, I would like to assure you of our readiness to engage constructively during the informal consultations to conclude these agenda item in a timely manner.
I thank you.