Technical Articles

International Journal of Government Auditing – January 2012


UN General Assembly Adopts Resolution Strengthening SAI Independence

On December 22, 2011, the 66th United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted Resolution A/66/209, “Promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration by strengthening Supreme Audit Institutions.” The adoption of this resolution is the crowning achievement of the united efforts of all SAIs to strengthen their independence and secure recognition of the Lima and Mexico declarations. This success was possible only because the members of the INTOSAI community have established the necessary prerequisites in their fields of competence and have thereby given content and credibility to the INTOSAI motto, Mutual Experience Benefits All.

UN Resolution

The UN resolution represents a milestone in the nearly 60-year history of INTOSAI. In it, the General Assembly expressly recognizes for the first time that SAIs

  • can accomplish their tasks objectively and effectively only if they are independent of the audited entity and are protected against outside influence and
  • have an important role in promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness, and transparency of public administration that is conducive to achieving national development objectives and priorities as well as internationally agreed-upon development goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals.

In the resolution, the UN Member States note their appreciation of INTOSAI’s work in promoting greater efficiency, accountability, effectiveness, transparency, and the efficient and effective receipt and use of public resources for the benefit of citizens. The resolution also expresses appreciation for the Mexico and Lima declarations and encourages member states to apply, in a manner consistent with their national institutional structures, the principles set out in those declarations. Finally, the resolution encourages member states and relevant UN institutions to intensify their cooperation with INTOSAI in capacity building and other areas to promote good governance by ensuring efficiency, accountability, effectiveness, and transparency through strengthened SAIs.

All SAIs now have at their disposal a UN resolution that allows them to insist that the basic principles of independence be applied. The General Assembly’s encouragement to all UN member states to apply the principles set out in the Lima and Mexico declarations will undoubtedly increase the determination of all SAIs, in particular those still struggling to achieve the basic elements of their independence.

Future Steps

To underscore the importance of this resolution and assist all INTOSAI members in achieving the principles of independence, the INTOSAI Secretariat will draft a communication to all its members explaining the resolution’s content, advantages, and achievements. This communication will be signed by the INTOSAI Chairman of the Board and Secretary General as well as the Chairman and Secretary General of each INTOSAI Regional Working Group to underline the global importance and acceptance of the resolution. The Secretary General will be contacting all seven regional working groups in this regard in the near future.

Furthermore, a sample letter will be drafted that SAIs can send to their respective legislative bodies to raise awareness of this resolution. The INTOSAI folder “Acting Jointly for Independent Supreme Audit Institutions” will be modified to include the full text of the resolution.

Buoyed by a UN Resolution underlining the importance of applying the basic principles of SAI independence, member SAIs around the world should thus be in a position to advocate for that independence with their Parliaments or legislative bodies.

For additional information, contact the INTOSAI Secretariat, intosai@rechnungshof.gv.at.


Text of UN Resolution A/66/209 concerning the independence of SAIs.

Promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration by strengthening Supreme Audit Institutions

The General Assembly,

Recalling Economic and Social Council Resolution 2011/2 of 26 April 2011,

Recalling also its Resolutions 59/55 of 2 December 2004 and 60/34 of 30 November 2005 and its previous Resolutions on public administration and development,

Recalling further the United Nations Millennium Declaration,

Emphasizing the need to improve the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration,

Emphasizing also that efficient, accountable, effective and transparent public administration has a key role to play in the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals,

Stressing the need for capacity-building as a tool to promote development and welcoming the cooperation of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions with the United Nations in this regard,

  1. Recognizes that Supreme Audit Institutions can accomplish their tasks objectively and effectively only if they are independent of the audited entity and are protected against outside influence;
  2. Also recognizes the important role of Supreme Audit Institutions in promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration, which is conducive to the achievement of national development objectives and priorities as well as the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals;
  3. Takes note with appreciation of the work of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions in promoting greater efficiency, accountability, effectiveness, transparency and efficient and effective receipt and use of public resources for the benefit of citizens;
  4. Also takes note with appreciation of the Lima Declaration of Guidelines on Auditing Precepts of 1977 and the Mexico Declaration on Supreme Audit Institutions Independence of 2007, and encourages Member States to apply, in a manner consistent with their national institutional structures, the principles set out in those Declarations;
  5. Encourages Member States and relevant United Nations institutions to continue and to intensify their cooperation, including in capacity-building, with the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions in order to promote good governance by ensuring efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency through strengthened Supreme Audit Institutions.