(Ce discours est en anglais; il n'existe pas de version française de ce discours)


17 April 2008: Speech by H.E. Mr. S. Kondo, Permanent Delegate of Japan to UNESCO (179 EX Plenary)


"Thank you Mr. Chairman,


Leaving to other speakers, the words of gratitude to all the people who made this session so successful, including yourself and the interpreters who handled my poor French very well, I want to take this opportunity to raise an important issue to further improve the next movements of our “Unfinished Symphony.”.


Mr. Chairman,

This was my fourth Executive Board meeting to attend. I must say I love UNESCO. Therefore, I want this Organization to be successful and to be the best international organization in the world.


For UNESCO to be successful, it needs to develop and maintain five cultures. Where are we? After a year and a half with UNESCO, I have a mixed feeling. I tell you why.


1. Consensus culture – we already have it, and we managed to maintain it at this session, again. We have to congratulate ourselves.


2. Transparency culture – we have made a great progress in the last several years.

Therefore, I am happy with these two cultures: consensus and transparency cultures..


3. Communication culture – much has been said but the progress has been slow both in the Secretariat and Member States.

4. Mobility culture – For us ambassadors, this is not a problem. But for the
Secretariat, this is a relatively new area – therefore there is a long way to go.

I am not totally happy about the current state of cultures 3. and 4., namely communication and mobility cultures, but at least we – Member States and the Secretariat - all know what the goals are, which way to go, and what to do.


But I have a bit of problem with the fifth culture – RBM (result-based management) culture.


5. The concept of RBM was introduced to UN in 1997, and to UESCO around 2000. But few people seem to know what RBM is all about.


You may recall the metaphor of apple pie that I used to explain about RBM at the last session of the Board. Having carefully listened to the debates in SP, FX, FA, and PX, at this session, I must conclude that not many of you have understood my message. Maybe because you don’t like an apple pie.


So I will use another metaphor, which is car manufacturing. What Member States are supposed to do is to tell the manufacturer (namely the Secretariat) only what kind of cars you want as final products. For example, we tell them we want a 4 door, red color, automatic sedan which is energy efficient and eco-friendly. Not more.


But we tend to micro-manage the process by telling the Secretariat what materials to use, what type of engine to install, how much play steering wheel should have, etc. Some of us even say that the production line should be repaired, and assembly line workers should not be replaced by temporary workers even when some take a sick/maternal/paternal leave. And yet we want more and more cars to be produced.

Mr. Chairman,


I am not alone being concerned about the old-fashioned, input-driven micro-management by Member States.


Let me quote some relevant paragraphs from a report written in 2004 by the Joint Inspection Unit of the UN, titled “Implementation of Result-Based Management in the United Nations Organizations”.

It says as follows:



22. RBM is a management approach focused on achieving results. This implies that for an effective implementation of an RBM system, this shift of focus should extend to the operational model of all the main parties involved in the organization’s governance, namely its Member States, the secretariat, and the oversight bodies.


23. In their view, the inspectors note that despite the fact that the shift to a result-based approach was generally sanctioned through the legislative bodies of the United Nations system organizations, Member States in many instances found it hard to shift their focus towards results and outcome-driven programming and budgeting, from the previous input-driven process, making it harder sometimes for the secretariats, and even for oversight bodies, to adapt their methods of work to a result-based approach in an efficient manner.


25. […] the Member States have the primary responsibility in setting the strategic goals and objectives for the organizations. It is also the primary responsibility of each secretariat to satisfy the Member States that those goals and objectives are translated into effective programmes and activities which contribute to or ensure their achievement, and that resources are used efficiently. Similarly, it is the primary responsibility of the oversight bodies to satisfy the Member States that the secretariat’s efforts are deployed in the most effective and efficient manner, and to guide the secretariat’s efforts towards more efficiency, as appropriate. […]


28. […] In many instances, the Inspectors noticed that micromanagement has been exercised by some of the same Member States advocating RBM. In a climate of trust, supported by a clear division of labour, the Member States would refrain from interfering in the internal management of the organizations whether collectively, through the legislative organs or their groupings, or individually.



Mr. Chairman,

Yesterday, the Bulgarian Ambassador lamented that we had had no time to discuss important substance, such as dialogue among civilizations at this session of the Board. I agree. We spent too much time in micro-management and drafting of DRs.


Many of the DRs are asking the Secretariat to spend time and money to repair the assembly lines, to clean the windows, to fix the lights, and to make progress reports on these repairs, leaving the Secretariat less and less time and money to design and manufacture a good car, on the one hand, and increasing the number of agenda items of the Board, on the other. And we complain about the declining quality of work, the delay of the documents, and too many agenda items. Micromanagement comes back to us, the Member States. We find ourselves in a vicious circle, going against RBM culture.


I am not suggesting that we should ask the Inspectors to look into our work in the Executive Board. Because I believe that we can make things right. We have the necessary will and capacity to do it ourselves.


So, dear colleagues, please reflect on what I said, and join me in introducing a true RBM culture to this Organization. Member States should refrain from micromanagement, the Secretariat should help us establish a stronger climate of trust, and we both should focus on results, not inputs.


UNESCO will, then, have a bright future.


Thank you."


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