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The Cour des comptes (Court of Accounts) has a longstanding experience of being appointed as External Auditor of International Organisations. Its yearly audits of the financial statements of Organisations comply with relevant accounting and auditing international standards and deliver an opinion regarding the fair view the External Auditor gives over the financial position of the Organisation. Besides, the Cour des comptes mandate frequently include compliant and performance audits at the Headquarters or in the country offices of the Organisation to determine whether operations and support functions are managed in a compliant, economical, effective and efficient manner through.

The mandates

The First President of the Court currently exercises the duties of External Auditor of the following international organisations:

  • ICC (International Criminal Court, 2012-2019)
  • WFP (World Food Programme, 2016-2022)
  • CoE (Council of Europe, 2019-2023)
  • OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, 2020-2023)
  • WTO (World Trade Organization, 2020-2025)

The United Nations General Assembly appointed the Cour des comptes as one of the three members of its Board of auditors on November 9th, 2021. The mandate will last for 6 years (2022-2028) and should start with Peace Keeping Operations (PKO), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Human Rights, Refugees and Climate dedicated entities.

The Court has continually provided external auditing of at least one organization linked to the United Nations for almost 35 years. The list includes:

  • World Meteorological Organisation (WMO; 1984-2003)
  • United Nations Organisation itself with its almost 30 related entities (UN; 1986-1989 and 2001-2009)
  • United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO; 1994-2001)
  • United Nations Education Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO; 2006-2011, 2012-2017)
  • World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO; 2008-2009)
  • International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO; 2008-2013)
  • World Trade Organisation (WTO; 2008-2013 and 2020-2025)
  • Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO; 2009-2017)

The Cour des comptes has also been or is currently the external auditor of the following International Organisations:

  • Interpol (2005-2010),
  • International Organisation of la Francophonie (OIF; 2007-2013),
  • European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat; 2008- 2012),
  • Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD; 2008-2018),

The audit planning and reports

The generally twofold role of the External Auditor is specified in the Financial Regulations of International Organisations as well as in the call for candidatures. It consists of auditing the Organisation’s annual financial statements and examining the compliance and performance of its management and administration.

Financial audit aims at providing an independent opinion, indicating whether, in all of their significant aspects, the financial statements present a fair view of the Organisation’s financial position, in accordance with the relevant accounting standards, generally the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (Ipsas).

Performance audits also assist the Governing Bodies of the Organisations to assess systems and practices likely to provide a reasonable level of assurance that :

  • the Organisation’s financial, human and material resources are maintained and protected,
  • operations are conducted in an compliant, economical and efficient manner,
  • the Organisation fulfils its duties in an effective manner.

Such audits are conducted in accordance with the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (Issai), the Guidelines for Good Governance issued by the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions ( Intosai GOV) and the International Standards on Auditing (ISA) developed by the International Auditing and Assurance Standard Body (IAASB). The Cour des comptes has a representative in the Ipsas Board.

Every year, the Cour des comptes takes part in the Intosai Professional Standards Committee and in the Joint Panel and Technical Group of External Auditors of the United Nations System, in order to harmonize any possible divergences with regard to the application of standards between External Auditors from different countries and to share good practices.

The Cour des comptes bases all its financial and performance audits and their planning on a strategic approach with three essential objectives:

  • deep understanding of the Organisation
  • assessment of its internal control system
  • identification of major risks.

The External Audit Manager presents the annual audit workplan embodying this approach to the Organisations’ Governing bodies and their Audit Committees.

At the end of each audit, the management enjoys enough time to raise objections, in a justified manner, with regard to the facts and data presented in the Cour des comptes draft reports. After every corrections and incorporation of the management’s formal comments, the External Auditor presents his final reports to the Organisation’s Governing bodies. He also provides them with an annual follow up of his recommendations.