STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MR. RICHARD TUR DE LA CONCEPCIóN, SECOND SECRETARY OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF CUBA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, ON AGENDA ITEM 140: REPORT ON THE ACTIVITIES OF THE ETHICS OFFICE, AT THE MAIN PART OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE FIFTH COMMITTEE OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New York, 3 October 2023)
1. I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
2. Our Group wishes to thank Ms. Elia Yi Armstrong, Director of UN Ethics Office, for this first presentation of the annual report by the Ethics Office to General Assembly, in accordance with resolution 77/278.
3. We will follow the discussions on the findings raised in the report, with a view to ensure that the Ethics Office continues its outstanding work in fostering a culture of ethics, integrity, transparency and accountability in the Organization. In this regard, the Group welcomes the efforts of the Office to increase awareness of ethics-related issues through outreach, training and education.
4 Ethics is critical for the functioning as well as the credibility and reputation of United Nations system organizations. Having a dedicated and effective ethics function is thus a prerequisite for accountability and integrity of UN system organizations.
5 The Group believes that a culture of ethics must contribute to ensure that staff members observe and perform their functions in a manner consistent with the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, as required in article 101 of the Charter of the United Nations. This also includes the observation of the principle of the equitable geographical representation while considerating the employment of the staff and the determination of the conditions of service.
6 The Group notes that in 2022, the Ethics Office responded to 1 822 requests. 395 of them were related to the financial disclosure programme, an increase of 152 compared to 2021. In this regard, we note that OIOS will be implementing a planned internal audit of the UN financial disclosure programme, the findings of which will be reported upon its conclusion this year. We look forward to receiving further information on this issue.
7 On another note, we recognize the potential of an enhanced work of the Ethics Office in the field, given the risk environments that field-based operations face. In this respect, we note that the Secretary-General will be presenting a more detailed resource requests in the forthcoming budget proposals for the Ethics Office. By that time, we will look forward to receiving detailed justifications and information on this matter.
8 Furthermore, we believe that the Ethics Office should start also looking at the issue of the occupancy level at the UN headquarters and other UN Secretariat offices. In this regard, we note that despite the efforts and actions taken by the management structures there is still a significant number of offices that remain empty because the staff chose to continue working from home. We reiterate that physical presence of the secretariat staff is fundamental for the work of the organization and meeting the requirements of member states as per the UN rules and regulations.
9 The Group reiterates its strong support towards an effective and efficient culture of ethics that is embedded in the working habits of the United Nations. In this spirit, we remain ready to engage constructively during the consideration of this agenda item.
I thank you.