I have the pleasure to deliver this joint Nordic Statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden – covering agenda points 4b and 5.
Let me start by thanking [the Deputy High Commissioner] for the introductory remarks and UNHCR for providing us with such comprehensive background material on budget, management and financial issues, administrative oversight and evaluation. Also, let us congratulate UNHCR for receiving an unqualified audit report by the Board of Auditors for 2015. We are pleased to note the progress in implementing outstanding audit recommendations from previous years and encourage UNHCR to continue this work.
The Nordic countries are among the largest donors of un-earmarked funding to the UNHCR. We are sometimes asked how we persuade our Parliaments to keep approving un-earmarked funding. It is a matter of trust, based on the confidence that UNHCR has the ability to prioritize and decide where resources are needed and how. We welcome and encourage all efforts by UNHCR to demonstrate the advantages and impact of un-earmarked funding, as well as efforts to increase visibility for donors of un-earmarked funding. And we therefore appreciate the report from July this year on UNHCR’s use of un-earmarked funding during 2015, as well as the fact that a substantial part of our unrestricted donor support goes to underfunded operations on the African continent. In the spirit of the Grand Bargain we encourage more donors to follow suit.
Early, predictable and unrestricted funding can provide crucial uninterrupted protection and assistance to populations of concern to UNHCR. This is even more important as UNHCR’s gap between needs and available funding and resources widens further. Multiyear funding gives operational flexibility to UNHCR - especially in protracted situations. We all recognize the importance of solving protracted situations and finding sustainable solutions, and such efforts also often rely on flexible funding. We urge other donors to consider this.
But, Mr Chair,
With large sums of un-earmarked money comes the responsibility to demonstrate that our money is spent effectively, in a transparent and accountable way. Therefore, we reiterate the need for strong financial management and internal control systems, as well as solid audit and oversight functions within UNHCR. Above all, strong and continuous engagement by the senior management of UNHCR is needed.
We are therefore pleased to note efforts to enhance cooperation and coordination among UNHCR’s different audit and oversight functions. This would include joint planning activities for the coming year between OIOS, Inspector General’s Office and the Policy Development and Evaluation Service. We also look forward to learning more about the external review made in the spring of 2016 of all of UNHCR’s oversight functions, and to dialogue on necessary reforms.
Sound prioritization and re-prioritization procedures are also crucial in order to maintain our full trust. The Nordic countries would welcome further communication around this, as well as on findings from crucial population verification exercises.
Finally, the Enterprise Risk Management system – once in place – has the potential to improve auditing, accountability, effectiveness and risk awareness. It is positive to have one system responsible for crucial risk assessments, rather than having assessments being made in parallel by various auditing and oversight functions within the UNHCR. We encourage UNHCR to roll out and operationalize this system as soon as possible, and continue efforts to integrate a risk management culture throughout the organization, not least since it can improve donor trust (and increase un-earmarking).
The Nordic countries are pleased to learn that the Inspector General’s Office has been given some increased capacity to carry out the important work of inspections, investigations and enquiries. IGO has an important role to play in fostering an environment of personal and collective integrity and accountability in UNHCR, including combatting fraud. We also welcome The First Annual Report of the activities of the Investigation Service.
We have taken positive note of the ACABQ having no objection to the approval of the proposed 2016-2017 programme budget. Considering the unprecedented amount of displaced people in the world today, it comes as no surprise that the proposed budget, as well as the current funding gap, are even greater this year. We applaud UNHCR’s efforts to balance protection and solutions in today’s difficult humanitarian contexts, and hope that funding gap and additional emergency budgets will amount to less next year.