Interview of Inspector Carolina Fernández Opazo

Date: 20 January 2022

Please say a few words about "who you were" in your professional life before joining the JIU?

Before joining the Joint Inspection Unit, I held various positions within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of my country, Mexico, all in the multilateral arena for around 25 years. Here, I served the Ministry in its administrative and budgetary affairs especially in the United Nations division. In the past 15 years, I assumed the functions of Director and then Coordinator for the planning and financial affairs in the Directorate General for the United Nations. I administered the budgetary, administrative and financial issues in the UN system, including Mexico’s membership to 246 other international organizations. In this function, I was responsible for the national position regarding financial and budgetary issues of at least 54 of such international organizations.

By joining the JIU, I look forward to a change in the nature of my work and the pace, as well as a positive change for me and my family.

What about the JIU do you find most attractive in terms of its role in the UN system and the value it can add?

The most attractive in terms of its role in the UN system is JIU’s capacity to oversee, not as an external or internal auditor but as an external oversight body with a mandate on the overall United Nations system. With a perspective to help its participating organizations to better fulfill their mandates and to deliver their mission in the most efficient, effective and productive way, with full adherence and regard to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Furthermore, the inspections, evaluations, investigations, and reviews as conducted by the Unit allow an opportunity to provide a comprehensive overview of the participating organizations to the member states, helping them in channeling their emphasis on the most critical matters.

When the opportunity arises, what subjects would you like to work on during your tenure at JIU?

Given my extensive background in finance, planning and budgeting, I am currently drawn more towards the management and administrative reviews with a focus on a single participating organization. Further down the lane, I am also interested in other subjects like human resource management and financial resource management, when the opportunity arises.

Additionally, I am also looking ahead to put forward my previous work experience and knowledge to help my colleagues.

What are you looking forward to in your first JIU report?

This year, I am undertaking a management and administration review of the United Nations Populations Fund. The most important aspect of my first JIU report would be its usefulness to the participating organization. Through my report I want to enrich everybody’s knowledge on the participating organization’s governance, accountability and the framework. In my career, I have written many reports, but never of this kind. In my previous reports, there was a merger of different point of views of my colleagues leading to a single combined final product. Hence, here the procedure is a very important aspect, which will also be a useful and enriching experience with my colleagues and their inputs. I am also greatly interested in the working procedures of the Unit.

How have you settled into the JIU and Geneva, so far – especially considering the extraordinary circumstance due to COVID?

It has been a unique experience so far. Due to Covid it is a quiet working environment, but I am gradually finding my way around with the help of kind and friendly colleagues, who stop by to have a little chat as I settle in my new work. Covid rules and regulations have been challenging, which is a completely different experience from my previous workplace. But, hopefully, the Covid situation will improve enabling me to explore both the UNOG and Geneva.