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UN officials discuss accountability at public forum

UN officials discuss accountability at public forum

Accountability for enhancing the effectiveness of the United Nations was discussed by key officials from across the system today at a forum in New York organized by the UN University (UNU).

The Director of the UN Ethics Office, Robert Benson, said accountability must not be only considered “after-the-fact” but rather should be taken into account from the outset of any incident, according to the text of his speech, entitled “Managerial Accountability in the UN System – Reverse 20/20.”

“For accountability to truly work, the individuals who make the decisions need to exercise that authority as if they now had to explain, to the public, why they have exercised their authority in that way,” he said.

He called on managers to consider the impact of their actions in advance, asking themselves: “If I were asked to publicly justify this, how would I explain it?”

Mr. Benson called for foresight rather than hindsight. “For a public sector organization, any initiatives that address these issues at the front end rather than the back end can only improve the overall accountability of the organization as a whole.”

In the text of his message to the event, Konrad Osterwalder, the UNU Rector, emphasized the need for both political and managerial accountability. “Accountability ultimately must also mean ensuring that the United Nations is able to carry out its work for the benefit of the peoples” it serves.