Proposed programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005

Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
58th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

Proposed programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005.

Mr. Chairman
The Icelandic delegation thanks the Secretary-General for his presentation of the Programme Budget of the United Nations for the next two years. We have aligned ourselves with the statement given previously by the representative of Italy on behalf of the European Union. My delegation wishes to address a few items in specific.

The size of the budget, over three billion dollars, is in itself a milestone, reflecting the growth of the UN system, but also a reminder of the necessity to take a careful look at the tasks facing the organization and the reality of its capacity to deal with them.

The Secretary-General has succeeded in conveying to us his vision of a thoroughly modern and reformed system of the United Nations. A culture of reform is developing and must be nurtured. This was confirmed by world leaders in their statements at the general debate here last month.

Every member state of the United Nations is a contributor to the programme budget to the best of its capacity. It is in the interests of all that budgets are clear and strategic; that funds are allocated according to the criteria of results rather than intentions. The planning must be guided by obtainable goals rather than mere wishes.

We need to implement results based budgeting and management. We must enhance transparency, both by presenting a more clear and concise budget -and by reporting on its implementation in a comprehensive way, with clear benchmarks.

The system must be run with vigorous internal oversight and effective inspection mechanisms. We need to eliminate duplication of activities and functions. We must guarantee to all contributing nations that every penny given produces intended results. We appreciate the work of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, its thorough auditing and consulting work. We encourage heads of all departments to fully cooperate with the recommendations given by the IOIS.

Mr. Chairman.
This highest organ of the family of nations is nearing the honourable age of 60 years. It has recently been mandated with pressing assignments for the nearest future, outlined in the Millennium Declaration. If the UN is to fullfill this mandate, we need a system encouraged by a new vision of reform, nurtured by a culture of change and equipped with the best in information technology available.

We already live in the age of information. The efficiency and the effectiveness of our work depends in many ways on secure and speedy information systems. This is one of the vital tools of reform and should be given priority in future budgets.

The information society grows by the day - but yet does not incorporate every citizen of the world. Iceland hopes that the World Summit on the Information Society, to be held in Geneva this December, will make a significant contribution to extending the information society to more states. The private sector should be called upon to become a part of the solution.

The information divide in this world will not be bridged by the budget of the United Nations. But the bridge can start here.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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