The Cour des comptes (Court of Accounts) has a longstanding experience of being appointed as External Auditor of International Organisations. Its yearly audit of the financial statements of organisations is drawn up in accordance with relevant accounting standards and lead to issue an opinion regarding the fair view they give over the financial position of the organisation. Besides, as it is specialized in performance and compliance audits, the Court is frequently asked to determine whether operations and support functions are managed in a compliant, economical, effective and efficient manner.
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).
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),
- Unesco (2006-2011, 2012-2017),
- World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO; 2008-2009),
- International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO; 2008-2013),
- World Trade Organisation (WTO; 2008-2013),
- Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO; 2009-2017),
- International Criminal Court (ICC; 2012-2019),
- World Food Programme (WFP; 1994-2001 and 2016-2021).
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),
- Council of Europe (CoE; 2009-2013 and 2019-2023).
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. They consist of auditing the Organisation’s annual financial statements and examining the performance of its management and administration.
With respect to financial audit, the audit is intended to provide 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).
The External Auditor’s role is also to assist the Governing Bodies of the international organisations, by means of its performance audits, in order to determine whether the managers have put systems and practices in place likely to provide a reasonable level of assurance that the organisation’s financial, human and material resources are maintained and protected, that operations are conducted in an compliant, economical and efficient manner and that 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 Court is also represented 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 divergences that may arise with regard to the application of standards between external auditors.
The Cour des comptes bases all its financial or performance audits and their planning, on a strategic approach with three essential objectives: deep understanding of the entity, assessment of its internal control system and identification of major risks. The External Audit Manager presents the annual audit plans summarising this approach and plans of work to the international organisations Governing bodies and their Audit Committees.
At the end of each audit, the organisation management is always given an acceptable period of time in order to raise objections, in a justified manner, with regard to the facts and data presented in the Cour draft reports. After any corrections and incorporation of the management’s formal comments, the External Auditor presents final reports to the Governing bodies. He also provides them with an annual follow up of his recommendations.