United Nations: The Great Spirit of Multilateralism

Multilateral organizations came on stream for specific purposes but as it appears today, they represent an assortment of inter-governmental structures and institutions, comprising the United Nations (UN) and its system, financial institutions, including the Bretton Woods establishments- World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), regional organizations and a host of others. While they are not all universal in terms of membership, they could be global in their interests, outreach, and general actions.

The United Nations, though of specialized organizations and agencies, including the World Bank and IMF, represents the core of multilateral arrangements. By the UN mandate and engagements, resolutions are multi-dimensional, proliferated, unheeded and unimplemented; a situation that undermines the authority, effectiveness, and impact of the various organizations and agencies. Added to the fact that they lack supranational powers, they are unable to enforce their decisions.

The highpoint of the UN mission are fostering international cooperation, preventing new wars, and stimulating of economic development and well-being. Generally, it was to ensure peace and security through a small collegial group of allies but the cold war then was a distortion as the UN, the Security Council in particular was unable to function as planned. But all that changed as the cold war ended and it became easier possibly realize its potential.

On the whole, the state or performance of the international organizations and the UN, in particular, has always been a direct reflection of the political and psychological mood and the constellation of the international community. Overall, the UN has been lackluster and is unable to meet the needs of most of its members, perhaps because it was conceived at a different time for a slightly different purpose and is now serving the world in a changed situation and environment.

While many governments and politicians pay lip service to the central role of the United Nations, decisions and multilateral actions on an increasing number of issues are shifted to fora outside the United Nations. With the Cold War is a thing of the past, the world is more faced with issues of menace to mankind, ranging from environmental degradation and biospheric depletion, climate change, the emission of greenhouse gases, the demographic explosion, and trans-border population movements, jobless growth, rampant poverty, AIDS, drug trafficking to international corruption known to be compromising development efforts and promoting ethnic and regional conflicts, callous disregard for human rights, the specter of proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and destabilization of global financial markets.

Spin-offs of Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs)

Worldwide, there are over 18,000 non-governmental organizations ((NGOs) today and many more national and local, ethnic, racial, religious, professional, and other groups, operating each with specific know-how and competence, extending over the entire range of human concerns. The flow of finance currently from NGOs in the North to NGOs in the South alone amounts to over US$11 billion. While official development assistance (ODA) has stagnated or declining in real terms for many years, the NGO flow has been expanding for several years at a rate of 5-8% per year in real terms. The private sector and multinational corporations are a major force in the field of investment flows and they wield considerable financial and political power.

Consolidating the Global Market Economy

The collapse of the centrally planned economies, the global embrace of the market economy, and the freedom of capital flows have brought about a truly global economy. There seems to be broad agreement as to the future direction of the world economy. With the whole world moving away from managed and planned economies, any notion that the world economy would lend itself to collective economic leadership is antithetical. However, there remains scope for institutional multilateralism to support the rules-based multilateral framework determined by the principles of the market economy, non-discrimination, free trade and payments, and optimal competition. As the market economy does not exist in a vacuum, it can only have beneficial results if internationally the rule of law and an open system prevail. Treaties have designated international organizations with independent secretariats as custodians of the multilateral system to ensure observance of the rules of the game and, thus, manage the interdependence of national economies.

At the national level, it is the responsibility of the government to provide the right institutional framework and environment to enable the market economy to operate.

The disappearance of the cold war also makes itself felt in the economic arena. One of the prime reasons for the cooperation pursued by the Western countries was the existence of a common enemy. This no longer being the case, the habit of co-operation weakens, coinciding with a period where the interests of states in the economic and trade fields are becoming more and more egoistic. This presages new types of conflicts.

As a result, both the economic and institutional sides of the multilateral system are being eroded. The economic side is under duress owing to a growing tendency, particularly by the big countries toward bilateralism, regionalism and regional trade blocs. These countries try to escape from the discipline of the rules-based global cooperation by seeking to address problems within a more limited framework, ignoring the external trade-diverting effects on the world as a whole and thus running counter to the principle of multilateral non-discrimination.

Notwithstanding any positive effects regional trade blocs might yield, the countries involved leave the multilateral fold. Protectionist pressures are growing in different parts of the world. As it has never been possible to organize international economic cooperation without the whole-hearted involvement of the United States – either in a leadership or in a strong supportive role – much will depend on the attitude of the United States, where protectionist sentiments are on the rise. It is troubling also that the European Union is heavily preoccupied with protecting its frontiers by tariff or quasi tariff barriers. And Japan always had a strong protectionist tendency, particularly in the agricultural field.

With the world’s open trading system under serious threat, despite the conclusion of the Uruguay Round, international institutions must now redouble their efforts to reinvigorate and nurture a continuation of the cooperative habit of past decades.

The tremendous development of the international economy in recent years was due in large measure to the way in which the multilateral system had developed and performed. The leading institutions in the economic field include the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), now replaced by the new World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Group of Seven (G-The G-7, however, a most confusing term because it really refers to two different groups: the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the G-7 countries, which has largely lost its economic orientation, and the G-7 finance ministers, which also includes the central bank governors.

The Funding Quagmire of Multilateral Organisations

The failure of many international development efforts over the past years might well be linked to mismanagement, corruption, lack of capacity and institutions – lack of political will. But, most importantly, it may well have been due to the absence of a critical mass of finance to jumpstart development and finance peace-keeping activities. This problem and its symptoms cannot be resolved by organizing or reorganizing the United Nations and its economic and social sectors.

Paradoxically, the United Nations and its agencies struggle with a seemingly permanent financial crisis at a time when more and increasingly complex tasks are being thrust on them, entailing substantially growing resource needs. Ad hoc improvements to the existing funding mechanisms, such as charging interest on overdue contributions, may no longer do the trick. The recurrent financial crisis of the United Nations and of many of its agencies is the main cause of the failure of a number of governments to pay their assessed and obligatory contributions in full and on time.

Unfortunately, everybody agrees with the principle, but in reality, the arrears worsen. Under the present financing structure of the United Nations, it has paid off not to pay, being that if a country does not pay up its contributions, it finds itself in a better negotiation situation. Financing cannot be viewed as a contest, as it fosters morale, which no national system would tolerate.

To overcome the present predicament, Governments must begin to see themselves not merely as members with certain rights only, but rather as clients taking on both rights and obligations. This might help impart a sense of ownership and would secure the timely payment of assessed contributions for the regular budget of the organization, which in any case serves to finance only the institutional backbone of the United Nations. In that context, the present rules regarding ceilings and floors for maximum and minimum contributions may also have to be adjusted.

The financial fortunes of the organizations are likely to become even more precarious as governments begin to look hard at their budget deficits. This will affect the ability of expenditures for multilateral purposes to compete with domestic expenditure.

Beyond the obligatory costs for maintaining the institutional infrastructure, activities promoting sustainable human development – most of the developmental and humanitarian work (operational activities) by the United Nations system (UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP, and programs by the specialized agencies) – are at present financed from voluntary contributions by Governments, pledged on an annual basis without legal obligations, but driven by the concept of burden-sharing, especially among the major donors. Efforts over several decades to bring about a system on a broader, more stable, and more predictable basis have yet to be successful. The Nordic countries have suggested the adoption of a financing system combining assessed, negotiated, and voluntary contributions. Altogether, there is a chronic lack of sufficient resources and the present state of burden-sharing is considered inadequate. Also, the focus on peace-keeping operations has in many countries diverted resources from international development.

Multilateral Institutions and Donor Agencies

Foreign Assistance and Grants provided by international organizations still play an important role in the economic and social development of developing countries, especially post-war fragile countries. Financial constraints in many of the donor countries have made their taxpayers demand more accountability, transparency, and value for money. Taxpayers in recipient countries are also demanding the same.

Lowering fiduciary risks, therefore, is critical both for the recipient countries and donor institutions.

The Multilateral Market and International tenders

The Multilateral market is an excellent source of business opportunities for any company, regardless of size, sector of activity, or area of expertise to offer their services and products in countries around the world and diversify and expand their international process. In other words, the Multilateral Market provides many business opportunities for Projects Execution in other International Markets beneficiaries of Multilateral Financing.

Although there are companies and organizations such as the SSAC Advisory and Professionals that have been working in the Multilateral Market for years until relatively recently when the COVID-19 and global economic consequences pervaded.

Programs and projects financed by multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, United Nations, and the Multilateral Development Banks (MDB) as well as the European Union and non-profit organizations provide interesting business opportunities for participation. Constantly, the multilateral financial institutions, as well as other international organizations and different public administrations of different countries, call from time to time for Bids and Tenders.

The International tenders are called for project Implementation, which can be specified in three types- services, Technical Assistance, and Consulting- the supply of goods and equipment or the execution of infrastructure works. SSAC Advisory and Professionals, a Consulting wing of S.S.Afemikhe & Co, a famed Nigerian Chartered Accounting and Auditing firm, has been deeply involved in the provision of services to multilateral organizations, donor institutions, and agencies for years, appreciative of the Safety Collection by the tenderer, transparent bidding and awarding processes.

Multilaterals, Donor Agencies, and SSAC Advisory

SSAC Advisory and Professionals, a jewel of service, has had some momentary working and consulting relationships with a good number of multilateral and donor agencies worldwide and has in the process developed a network of contacts and relationships with a number of external state audit agencies in Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean, combining its knowledge of the local environment and access to important local functionaries to improve quality of information obtained, analysis conducted and make reasonable recommendations as they come.

Guided by the belief that foreign Assistance and Grants provided by international organizations play important roles in the economic and social development of developing countries, the company believes that absolute accountability, transparency, and value for money should always be taken seriously in projects and programs execution.

AS it develops strong relationships among some of these agencies, working and consulting for them, so it has taken to engaging the best financial experts and accountants and imbibing them with the expertise and grand knowledge of working with multilateral agencies on donor-funded projects.

It supports donor beneficiaries on their strategic plans, business plans, and feasibility studies, just as it does in the implementation of their mandate, complementing all of that with program monitoring and evaluation, audit of external aid programs, and projects for development financed by foreign governments and multilateral institutions.

The growing confidence in SSAC is being aided by its Peer Review Consulting Service. It carries that out to ensure that outsourced audits to local firms and supreme audit institutions are of mechanism to perform regular Peer Review to assure donor agencies and multilateral institutions that audits and investigations are done to standard.

SSAC is specifically into financial and system audits, dealing categorically with Financial Statement Audits of programs and projects. Also under here, it handles Internal Control Audits of administrative and financial structures and procedures.

Other audit assignments and related ones it handles include Operational Audits, which involve examining the management of programs and projects for efficiency and effectiveness compliance, assessment of standards applied by a Recipient to meet internationally accepted standards, verification of managed projects by international organizations, analysis of the national budgetary system, such as the workings of public sector accounting and checking the expenditure trail, as part of budgetary support. Others are Follow-Up Audits, Recovery Audits, Agreed-Upon Procedures, and Information System Audits.

SSAC is also well into forensic accounting and anti-corruption services, dealing in forensic audits in cases of fraud or suspected fraud in the quest to find evidence that can be used in subsequent proceedings and financial crime litigation support, including evidence gathering and analysis, testifying in court, and documentation of analysis.

Aside from financial accounting consulting, including International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), SSAC provides Consultancy Services for company assistance, public and private institutions, governments, and non-profit organizations for a successful bid for international tenders, relating to development projects by multilateral institutions and provides international technical assistance to companies for successful implementation of projects.

It also assists in designing and building comprehensive approaches to achieving and maintaining operational excellence based on unique goals. Its training services are of class. It prepares, adapts, and updates information or teaches materials on audit-related matters, just as it organizes and delivers training courses on audit-related matters to governments and staff and employees of multilateral institutions and donor agencies.

It’s also involved in capacity building, strengthening of local governments, transparency, anti-corruption efforts, and leveraging of best-in-class processes. Giving meaningful and actionable insights at all times in its training and governance, SSAC optimizes the effectiveness of operational teams, maximizing Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and Customer Service.

It ensures that clients stay ahead of the competition with the expertise and capabilities it provides across customer operations, embracing customer strategy, talent enablement, operational excellence, and digital transformation.

The expertise of SSAC consulting in the sectors it operates in allows it to offer clients tailor-made solutions, being always business development-oriented, goal setting, and delivery.

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