12 July 2004
Development Strategies Should Respond to National Objectives, Priorities, Economic and Social Council Told
In Day-Long Discussion of UN Development Activities, Participants Focus on Ways to Harmonize Procedures, Achieve Greater Policy Coherence, Ensure Adequate Funding
NEW YORK, 9 July (UN Headquarters) -- One of the most effective contributions that the United Nations system could provide to development was to enhance local capacities to formulate and implement home-grown policies, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) was told today.
Presenting the position of the Group of 77 developing countries and China on the measures to improve operational activities of the Organization, the representative of Qatar further stressed that development strategies should respond to national objectives and priorities. It was equally important to ensure that country assistance was based on a comprehensive approach.
As the ECOSOC continued its policy review of the efforts to improve coordination of the Organizations operational activities related to international development assistance in two meetings today, participants in the debate focused on measures to simplify and harmonize procedures, achieve greater coherence of policies and ensure predictable and adequate funding in that respect.
Many speakers emphasized special significance of the fact that the current review was taking place a year ahead of the time when the General Assembly was scheduled to take stock of the progress in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, insisting that effectiveness of operational activities should be measured by the systems ability to meet those challenges. It was said that the reform should lead to better channelling of resources and more effective assistance to developing countries. In that respect, most speakers stressed the importance of programme coherence and quality.
There was general recognition of progress achieved since the last policy review three years ago, but it was also noted that further efforts were needed to enhance cooperation and harmonization towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and other international development objectives, said Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, José Antonio Ocampo, summarizing the main points made during the first two days of the Councils operational segment. Joint programming, introduction of resource-based planning, establishment of common premises and services for various agencies, and strengthening of the resident coordinator system had been identified among the most significant achievements.
Evaluating such diagnostic and programming tools as the common country assessment and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), quite a few speakers commented on their potential, especially in terms of increased coherence, and highlighted the importance of a more integrated approach to national poverty reduction frameworks. While differing in their evaluation of the effectiveness of those tools, most speakers agreed that more needed to be done. Among possible measures to be considered in that regard, participants in the debate suggested greater alignment of such instruments and evolution of development assistance frameworks into a common programming and accountability instrument.
It was also suggested that the links between the CCA/UNDAF and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) should be more clearly articulated, and that Bretton Woods Institutions should be more involved in operations coordinated by the United Nations. The representative of Bangladesh, for example, said that, with few exceptions, the policies of the United Nations and its Bretton Woods counterparts ran on separate tracks. International financial institutions still treated peace-building as a marginal concern, increasingly giving priority to developing countries with relatively sound socio-economic policies, while leaving the least developed countries further behind. There were still no integrated strategies linking international trade, investment, debt and development assistance to enable those countries to overcome the trap of poverty.
The representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, stressed the role of the donor community in poverty eradication, saying that all members of the Union had reaffirmed their commitment to achieve the United Nations official development assistance (ODA) goal of 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP). In addition to increasing resources, all development partners should also improve their cooperation through enhancing joint planning between donors in a process led by the governments and aligned with nationally owned development strategies such as Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. Joint evaluations from the country perspective, on the impact of United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks should be conducted with participation of United Nations agencies.
Also on PRSPs, the representative of the Russian Federation said that, while there should be more active involvement of the United Nations in their preparation, the Organizations assistance should not be dependent on the availability of such a strategy paper, since that tool was meant exclusively for low-income countries. United Nations assistance should be universal in nature and relevant to middle-income countries, as well.
Several delegates supported the position of the Group of 77 and China regarding to need to further integrate South-South cooperation in the Organizations activities, saying that so far, such interaction had not materialized on a large scale, mainly due to inadequacy of financial and human resources. It was, therefore, essential to address the need to revitalize and consolidate the South-South platform.
Also considered today was the need for stable, predictable funding for development activities and efforts to limit fragmentation, inconsistencies and unnecessary competition for scarce resources within the system. In this connection, the representative of the Republic of Korea was among the speakers who welcomed the recent increase in core resources in United Nations development agencies, but noted with concern that overall funding was still below the required level. The new multi-year funding modality needed to be further developed as a new approach to stabilize regular financing, he said.
Statements were also made by representatives of Switzerland, Japan, China, Viet Nam, El Salvador, Ukraine, Nigeria, Ecuador, Norway, Australia, India, Brazil, Kenya, Iran, Peru, Jamaica, Belarus, Indonesia, Guatemala, Canada, Bhutan, United States, Armenia, Tunisia, Azerbaijan and Chile, as well as representatives of the World Bank and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Also participating in the discussion was Sarbuland Khan, Director of Division for ECOSOC Support and Coordination of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
The Council will continue its work at 10 a.m. Monday, 12 July.
The Economic and Social Council today continued its consideration of operational activities of the United Nations for international development cooperation.
[For further information, see Press Release ECOSOC/6124 of 7 July.]
In his introductory statement, JOSÉ ANTONIO OCAMPO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that important issues had been raised in the first two days of the operational segment. There was general recognition of progress in reform since the last policy review, but it was also noted that further efforts were needed to enhance cooperation and harmonization towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and other international development goals. Joint programming, introduction of resource-based planning, establishment of common premises and services and strengthening of the resident coordinator system had been identified among the most significant achievements.
It was also recognized that progress so far did not involve the system as a whole and that some daunting challenges remained, he continued. Bretton Woods Institutions, autonomous agencies of the United Nations and the departments that did not have country presence needed to be more fully integrated into the current system. Another issue of critical importance was related to the need to translate the Millennium Development Goals into national programmes and targets. It was necessary to maintain the momentum of recent international conferences and summits.
The current policy review was taking place a year ahead of the review of progress in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, he said. The effectiveness of operational activities should be measured by the systems ability to meet those challenges. The reform should lead to better channelling of resources and more effective assistance to developing countries. In that respect, he stressed the importance of programme coherence and quality, as well as the need to ensure that technical expertise was indeed delivered to developing countries. Among the fundamental issues, he noted effective governance of the United Nations efforts at the country level, as well as more flexible funding and support mechanisms to help developing countries to be in the drivers seat and achieve the Millennium Goals.
It was necessary to focus on existing country-level instruments and promotion of effective participation and ownership by developing countries, he continued. The role of the United Nations was to build national capacities of countries to help them achieve sustainable development. Yesterdays panel on the role of common country assessments and United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs) had addressed the interaction between those instruments and efforts to achieve better effectiveness of the United Nations system. It was suggested that ECOSOC could play an important role in improving the existing financial architecture for the improvement of development efforts. Among other things, speakers had noted that it was imperative for the development community to deal with the transition phase from conflict to peace, bridging the gap between humanitarian and development assistance. The issue of adequate and predictable funding remained critical. Also raised in the debate was the question of security and continued dialogue on that issue.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the report provided a balanced and objective assessment of the capacity of the United Nations system at the country level. The process of evaluation should be conducted by those parts of the system that had a global perspective on development issues and were not directly involved in operational work, and the task of evaluation and assessment should always remain within the United Nations system. How to strengthen the effectiveness and the system-wide participation of all United Nations system entities should form the basis of deliberations on improving country-level programme delivery.
From the host government point of view, a development strategy should respond to national objectives and priorities, he said. The links between the CCA/UNDAF process of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) should be more clearly articulated and implemented in a systematic way, and the Bretton Woods Institutions should not be separated from the United Nations coordinated operations. While appreciating measures introduced by the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) to enhance efficiency and coherence of operational activities at the country level, he was concerned that many of those measures might actually increase the transaction costs instead of simplifying processes.
He said one of the most effective contributions the United Nations system could provide to development was the enhancement of local capacities to formulate and to implement home-grown policies. There was a need to enhance national ownership of country processes, including the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers where they existed. Equally important was to ensure that country assistance was shaped and based on a comprehensive approach. The contribution of United Nations entities that did not have country presence was important. The next report should come up with concrete proposals to maximize their role. He also attached great importance to the transfer of knowledge and technology to developing countries and called for a systematic approach in that respect.
He emphasized that the stronger interaction of South-South Cooperation with the United Nations system had not materialized on a large scale, mainly due to inadequacy of financial and human resources. It was, therefore, essential to address the need to revitalize and consolidate the South-South platform. Equally important was the quality of the resources, in terms of untied aid, priority needs, and predictability and sustainability of funding. The disparity between the resources available to the Bretton Woods Institutions as compared to the resources of United Nations agencies and entities was an important element that had to be considered.
DIRK JAN VAN DEN BERG (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said that, if the United Nations was to be ready to play its part and break the back of global poverty, certain reforms in the operational system could not be postponed. The contribution of the Organization at the country level remained marred by fragmented structures, institutions and decision-making, and Member States had a responsibility to ensure a coherent and coordinated United Nations response.
He said that reforms launched by the Secretary-General in 1997 and 2002 had created crucial instruments at the national level to improve the impact of United Nations system operations, notably the common country assessment and United Nations Development Assistance Framework. However, more needed to be done in that regard, including greater alignment of such instruments and, in particular, evolution of the UNDAF into a common programming instrument and accountability framework. Harmonization should be deepened and shared support services should be introduced by 2007. The role of the Resident Coordinator should be strengthened and, in countries where coordination was a large undertaking, a clear division of labour between the Resident Coordinator and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative should be considered.
The donor community played an important part in poverty eradication, he said, and all European Union member States had reaffirmed their commitment to achieve the United Nations official development assistance (ODA) goal of 0.7 per cent. In addition to increasing resources, it was essential that all development partners work together more effectively, translating the Rome Declaration on Harmonization into practice by enhancing joint planning between donors in a process led by the governments and aligned with nationally owned development strategies such as PRSPs. Joint evaluations from the country perspective, on the impact of the UNDAF, should be conducted with participation of United Nations agencies.
He said that accountability for gender mainstreaming must be strengthened throughout the United Nations system, and a common approach should be developed to assist countries in transition from crisis to development. For the latter purpose, the European Union proposed to include a section on how the United Nations system could be better coordinated to support countries in transition, for the resolution on the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review.
WALTER HOFER (Switzerland) said the United Nations operational system continued to have an essential role to play in the development architecture, but the system might not have the strength to keep up with a rapidly evolving environment. Due to the size and complexity of the United Nations operational system, some weaknesses in the strategic leadership and other human factors, change and adjustment were still rather slow. The pace of reform had to be kept, even accelerated, and the new instruments must be applied as systematically as possible. The evaluation function must be strengthened across the entire system and must be used much more strategically.
He said a careful analysis of the entire multilateral development architecture was urgently needed, and the Economic and Social Council should play a much more active part in that. Cooperation with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Developments Development Assistance Committee should be encouraged. The United Nations comparative advantages, such as its neutrality and universal field presence, should be valued more actively, especially by the donor community. The broadening of the United Nations donor base, and especially the support of countries with emerging economies, could be of double help -- in providing additional resources but, more importantly, in demonstrating the political support granted by the developing countries to their United Nations partners.
KAZUO SUNAGA (Japan), stressing the importance of a people-centred and comprehensive approach to development, said his country had established the Human Security Fund in the United Nations and had contributed $227 million. The Funds main objective was to realize a seamless transition from emergency assistance to development in post-conflict areas. Turning to simplification and harmonization, he said donors and aid agencies needed to respect the ownership of partner countries and needed to examine the most suitable aid modalities, taking into account specific country circumstances. Harmonization should not be pursued in such a way as to impose certain modalities on donors, other agencies or partner countries.
His country supported South-South cooperation, he said, as such cooperation was very effective in the transfer of appropriate technology and in promoting ownership of the recipient countries. Japan had supported projects involving small- and medium-sized enterprises in Asia and Africa that were implemented through the UNDP. It was also preparing for a number of events, including the Investment Facilitation Initiative in 2005, that would promote South-South cooperation in trade and investment. He hoped that South-South cooperation would be promoted by other United Nations agencies as well.
YURI FEDOTOV (Russian Federation) said that in recent years, United Nations operational programmes had achieved considerable progress in reform, but it was still urgent to pursue greater coherence and coordination at the country level. Further simplification and harmonization of rules and procedures should be pursued, and the quality of the common programming instruments should be further improved, with the participation of all United Nations entities.
He supported work being done to strengthen the resident coordinator system and the provision of adequate support to the coordination function of that system, including strengthening the financial base through contributions from the core budget of not only the UNDP, but other United Nations agencies as well. Joint programming should be further pursued, with implementation modalities determined by the recipient governments.
While saying there should be more active involvement of the United Nations in preparation of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, he stressed that United Nations assistance should not be dependent on the availability of such a strategy paper, since that tool was meant exclusively for low-income countries. United Nations assistance should be universal in nature and relevant to middle income countries as well. Finally, he said, post-conflict recovery and development should be a priority, and the joint meetings of the executive boards of agencies should not be formalized with decision-making power.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) welcomed the fact that over the past year, funds and programmes of the development system had witnessed progress in financial resources, national capacity-building and field-level coordination. Thanks to their efforts, all the core resources had increased in 2003 to varying degrees. In spite of such an increase, each agency was still far from meeting its financial goals, however. Continued efforts were required to mobilize more financing, especially the core resources, to help developing countries realize the Millennium Development Goals. In view of the approaching benchmark of 2015, it was important to accelerate the pace of implementation of those goals.
Turning to the issue of official development assistance, he said that in 2003 it had only increased by 3.9 per cent. With such growth rate, there was concern whether the Millennium Goals would be fulfilled in time. He called on developed countries to show political will to fulfil their responsibilities in that respect. The United Nations development system also played an important role in that respect. In the final analysis, realization of the Goals depended on the strength of each developing country. Capacity-building was, therefore, at the core of development, and it was a long-term process, involving all the different areas. He encouraged development funds and programmes to embody capacity-building into the mainstream of their activities and adopt effective measures, including more policy guidance and specific pilot projects.
There had been marked progress as far as reforms of the United Nations system were concerned, he said, especially in simplification and harmonization. The field-level system had been further strengthened, and he believed that better field-level coordination was conducive to effective follow-up to the major United Nations conferences and summits. It was also important for responding to priority requests from programme countries. Simplification and harmonization could also help the international community to avoid duplication and increase the efficiency and mutual complementarity of agencies.
KANG SEOK-HEE (Republic of Korea) said that the timing of the 2004 Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review was particularly relevant because it came one year before the review of implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. His delegation acknowledged the Secretary-Generals efforts to enhance development coordination and improve management. While significant progress had been achieved, more remained to be done. Among the main issues that needed to be addressed, were harmonization between United Nations and national strategies, funding, simplification and harmonization, and technical cooperation.
The United Nations system should adopt a people-centred and comprehensive approach to development, he continued. Each developing country should base its development strategy on its own strengths and needs and its particular stage of development. That approach should be implemented on a flexible country-by-country basis. In that regard, the common country assessments and United Nations Development Assistance Framework required further integration into national development frameworks and poverty reduction strategies. It was also important to take into account the special needs of least developed countries and countries in transition from relief to development.
He welcomed the recent increase in core resources in some United Nations agencies, but noted with concern that overall funding was still below the required level. The new multi-year funding modality needed to be further developed as a new approach to stabilize regular financing. Simplification and harmonization of the rules and procedures of United Nations development cooperation were essential for enhancing efficiency, and he hoped to see further progress through common utilization of common country assessment and UNDAF, joint programming and inclusion of the specialized agencies. Information and communication technologies should be used to further enhance the simplification process. Also of great importance was technical cooperation among developing countries within the framework of South-South cooperation.
NGO DUC THANG (Viet Nam), associating himself with the statement made by Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said his country was fully committed to implementing the Millennium Development Goals and had made considerable progress in that regard. His Government had been collaborating with various United Nations agencies to accelerate simplification and harmonization of development endeavours within the country.
In order to meet further challenges, he welcomed initiatives that would bring increased cohesion of United Nations efforts at the country level. He expressed hope that the United Nations system would play a major role in mobilizing international potential and would comprehensively explore the best means to achieve the goals laid out in the Millennium Declaration.
VANESSA EUGENIA INTERIANO (El Salvador) highlighted the importance of the resident coordinator system in streamlining United Nations system operations at the country level. In her country, much progress had been achieved by the United Nations system, led by the UNDP, and El Salvador was willing to share its experiences with other countries emerging from conflict.
She said that many countries in her region, even those now considered middle-income, still required international assistance in strengthening their economies and their democracies. It was particularly important, in those efforts, to realize the link between development and peace and security, and to utilize best practices derived from United Nations experience around the world.
SVITLANA HOMANOVSKA (Ukraine) noted recent progress in operations reform but said that simpler procedures should be sought. The focus should be on the improvement of services to recipient countries and the enhancement of their capacity to manage development programmes and projects. Toward that end, tools such as common country assessment and the UNDAF were useful; however, more attention should be paid to their economic aspects and more collaboration should be secured from the Bretton Woods Institutions in their preparation. In addition, stable, core funding for development was essential.
She commended the United Nations operational agencies for their work in tracking progress toward the Millennium Development Goals in Ukraine, and for mobilizing global and national partners around the Millennium Goals agenda. In Ukraine, however, she said that more emphasis should be placed on such programmatic areas as HIV/AIDS and the effects of the Chernobyl catastrophe. The recent transfer of coordination functions for Chernobyl-related activities, from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to the UNDP was welcomed in that regard. A Ukraine country programme for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) should also be developed.
N. U. O. WADIBIA-ANYANWU (Nigeria) said that enhanced coordination at both field and headquarters levels was invaluable for the resident coordination system to work to the benefit of Member States. The result was already evident concerning gender sensitivity, an area in which the Nigerian Government had demonstrated its commitment by mainstreaming the gender perspective into its national socio-economic planning and development.
The priorities for programme implementation should remain country-driven, she continued. Only in that way would coordination bodies avoid the temptation of seeking to impose their priorities on national governments. Developing countries should continue to be encouraged to formulate their own policies and implement them, in partnership with relevant stakeholders, including the agencies of the United Nations system. In accordance with General Assembly resolution 56/201, the nationals of recipient countries should be involved in the development infrastructure. Regrettably, the experience in the field demonstrated wide gaps in the implementation of that decision.
She added that the current reform process should ensure more effective coordination between common country assessments and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework at the country level. While much had been achieved in promoting simplification and harmonization of process and procedure of the United Nations, obviously much more remained to be done in the areas related to documenting outcomes. That would not only increase efficiency, but also reduce the burden on recipient countries. There should be no relapse in the political commitment to achieve the development goals collectively agreed at the United Nations conferences and summits. Given the commitment of the recipient countries to implement those goals to the letter, their development partners should complement those efforts through an increase in overall resources, especially in non-earmarked resources for development.
LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said developing countries must have their development priorities recognized during the assessment and decisions-making process in 2005, when progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals would be evaluated. The year 2005 was also a time for donor countries to analyse specific global and national objectives and the contributions they could make to the United Nations system.
He said one of the main problems pointed out by the triennial review was the shortfall of funding. He appealed to donor countries to improve their level of contributions, expressing concern that six of the seven main donors had reduced their level of contributions. The process to internalize the goals of development had to be carried out at the levels of the agencies, the international community and the countries. Developing countries were exposed to external factors, and the common country assessments should take those external factors into consideration. He supported the joint meetings of the executive board of the United Nations Development Group agencies, but it was up to the States to give guidelines to the boards. The resident coordinator system should become an effective link between headquarters and the field.
JOHAN L. LØVALD (Norway) said the strength of the United Nations lay in its capacity to build global consensus and its legitimacy at the country level as a neutral adviser and trusted partner for both developing countries and donor countries. The greatest challenge faced by the United Nations system was to demonstrate that its organizations could move from goals to results at the ground level. The United Nations country presence should be unified rather than fragmented, and be characterized by coherence rather than competition. An important way of promoting a coherent country entity would be to increase the sharing of premises and services, thereby reducing overhead cost and encouraging agencies to work together.
He encouraged increased involvement in the UNDAF process by the Bretton Woods Institutions, as well as by agencies without a country presence. A cultural change was needed to establish a dedicated and coherent country team, and the resident coordinator system needed to be strengthened in terms of resources and authority. The Joint Meeting of Funds and Programmes would be continued and strengthened as well. The top five donors accounted for almost two thirds of total contribution to United Nations operational activities. Ways must be found to create more equitable burden-sharing. Non-core contributions continued to rise, while core contributions had not followed suit. There was a need for incentives to redirect official development assistance towards core funding.
JOHN DAUTH (Australia) welcomed progress that had been made in increasing the effectiveness of United Nations operations and applauded efforts to strengthen field-level coordination and support. Among areas that were critical in that regard, he mentioned the fostering of a unity of purpose and action, further development of joint programming initiatives, strengthening of results-based management, strengthening of evaluation functions, increased focus on post-conflict situations and intensification of gender-mainstreaming efforts.
The comparative advantage of the United Nations should be strengthened, while the important role of bilateral donors and other actors should be recognized, he said. Also, the complementary nature of all such partnerships should be improved. Australia would continue to support United Nations development efforts with funding and other kinds of participation. He stressed, however, that the United Nations could not trade on its name alone. It needed to continue to respond to the international context, to further pursue the reform process and to show it could deliver concrete accomplishments, in order to maintain and strengthen its position as a critical development partner.
A. GOPINATHAN (India), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the operational activities of the United Nations system had been characterized by objectivity, neutrality and impartiality. It was imperative to ensure that nothing was done that might affect those characteristics adversely. Funds and programmes would generally do well if they kept national priorities and ownership at the forefront of their planning process. The United Nations system must also be able to respond with flexibility and in conformity with national plans and priorities in the area of developing national capacities. Simplification and harmonization were useful to the extent that they would lead to reduction of transaction costs for recipient governments. However, the most important objective for developing countries would be to harmonize the programming cycles with the budgetary and planning cycles of recipient governments.
He said coordination of external assistance should be undertaken only by the recipient government. There was a need for adequate, stable and predictable funding for supporting developing countries efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. He was, therefore, concerned about the increasing imbalance between core and non-core contributions to United Nations agencies, and the proliferation of earmarked resources. The United Nations system should be able to implement country programmes with much lower administrative/management and support costs. In that regard, it would be useful to have an analysis, separately for each fund and agency, of the proportion spent on advocacy and sensitization activities, on which several developing countries had expressed reservations, and those spent for actual programmes and projects.
TATIANA ROSITO (Brazil) stressed the need to strengthen the role of ECOSOC in providing coordination and guidance to the United Nations operational activities for development. The debate of the past two days had invariably indicated the need for a comprehensive approach capable of unifying the policy conception, monitoring and assessment of the impact of the system, with a view to magnifying its impact at the country level. Recent harmonization and simplification efforts represented important steps forward, but some critical questions remained to be solved. They were related to the need to ensure an effective role for the Economic and Social Council in transmitting policy guidance to the boards of the agencies and promote better coordination among United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies at the strategic level.
She highlighted the need for better utilization of existing mechanisms, such as the Chief Executives Board for Coordination and the United Nations Development Group to identify new policy and administrative issues. Also important was increased cooperation at the country level. Brazil viewed with interest the idea of trying to enhance the role of resident coordinators by liberating them from UNDP-related daily tasks.
Turning to South-South cooperation, she said that by no means should it be judged as a substitute for North-South cooperation. Rather, it was a way of stimulating a repository of valuable links and experiences. In that context, India, Brazil and South Africa had launched a fund, which aimed to identify small-scale projects and best practices that could be replicated in the least developed countries. The fund had received contributions from the three Governments and the private sector in the amount of over $1.6 million.
GEORGE OLAGO OWUOR (Kenya) stressed the importance of strengthening the multilateralism, universality and neutrality of the United Nations to ensure the Organizations reliability and flexibility in response to the needs of developing countries. He also noted a turn-around as far as resources available for operational activities were concerned and urged more efforts in overall resource mobilization for that purpose with emphasis on core resources.
Regarding the efforts to improve coordination and coherence in United Nations operational activities, he said Kenya was honoured to be among the first countries to participate in the simplification and harmonization exercise. It was necessary to reduce the number of policy documents at the country level, as well as reporting requirements from programme countries. Such instruments as common country assessments and United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, as well as bilateral programmes should be dovetailed with each other, taking into account the priorities of developing countries, the Millennium Development Goals and other commitments emanating from recent conferences and summits.
At the regional level, he added, such instruments as the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD) should serve as the framework for development cooperation. It was also necessary to lower transaction costs and time. It was common knowledge that a large proportion of resources and time was spent on seminars, workshops, studies and other overhead. That needed to be streamlined. It was necessary to focus on tangible, targeted, focused and specific projects, which could have a direct impact on the beneficiaries.
MEHDI MIRAFZAL (Iran) said that poverty eradication in its broad interpretation should continue to be the major pillar of operational activities of the United Nations. Among the main priorities, it was necessary to consider capacity-building and transfer of knowledge and technology. Moreover, it was important to ensure country ownership of the programmes and projects. Recipient countries should be fully participating in all phases of designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating development programmes and projects. United Nations funds and programmes should provide technical assistance to recipient countries according to their national needs and priorities.
Turning to the question of gender perspective in operational activities, he noted with satisfaction the general trend towards gender mainstreaming in that area. Iran also appreciated the trend for increased gender balance in appointments at the headquarters and field levels, taking into account the North-South balance and geographical distribution.
Regarding South-South cooperation, he said that his delegation had always underlined the role of United Nations bodies in mainstreaming South-South modalities as a supplement to North-South cooperation. Promotion of such modalities could help disseminate best practices and contribute to the promotion of indigenous knowledge, know-how and technology in the South.
He welcomed most elements of the Secretary-Generals considerations regarding the approaches for United Nations response to current challenges to globalization. However, in view of current discussions in other forums, he thought that such notions as comprehensive and people-centred approaches to development should be analysed in detail before they could be addressed in the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review. He also objected to the proposal to give formal authority to the Joint Meeting of UNDP/UNFPA, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
CLARE FLEMING, Deputy Representative to the United Nations, World Bank, said progress in reducing poverty and meeting other Millennium Development Goals was uneven. The biggest gains occurred where growth and trade coincided with sustained efforts to develop human capital and foster a sound investment climate. Growth by itself was no guarantee that poverty would be reduced quickly. Compelling power must be added to the package of comprehensive development policies and actions, and an effective operational level in that regard was key. Challenges faced were related to implementation of the global and national commitments. A first challenge was building a coherent, results-based, measurable approach, including measuring and evaluation. A second challenge was scaling up the results.
She said the key challenge had been, and would continue to be, translating the growing interest, support and plans for results-based, harmonized development into real changes on the ground in full support of country- owned development. The Bank had worked to develop a more effective operational base with which to support countries and to create better bridges with partners of the United Nations family at the country level, the global level and the institutional level.
MARSHA EVANS, representing the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that her organization was a global humanitarian network that worked in partnership with the United Nations family for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Its work in reducing vulnerability to diseases directly contributed to at least four of those Goals, and brought it into fruitful partnership with national governments, United Nations agencies, and other regional, global and local partners.
She said governments should proactively recognize the value of the broader engagement of civil society and non-governmental organizations as partners. In the health fields, partnerships with the private sector were also crucial, along with the participation of volunteers. It was only through the cooperation of all such actors that the health of the most vulnerable populations could be improved and tangible progress toward the Millennium Goals could be made. She also expressed hope that ECOSOC would bring the values of the Agenda for Humanitarian Action, adopted in 2003, into the operational processes of the United Nations.
MARCO BALAREZO (Peru), associating his statement with that of Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that development cooperation must be continuously strengthened, and core budgets must be increased. Recent reforms had improved cooperation at the country level, but much remained to be done. Future United Nations reports should include the major objectives in that regard, along with a critical look at activities and tools that had been implemented thus far. There must also be much better assessment of tools such as the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), in the interest of better serving recipient countries and avoiding framework fatigue.
He supported the bureaus suggestions for further improvements in the reform process, and the creation of new financial modalities. Simplifying procedures had allowed progress, and he recognized that further simplification would be difficult. It was particularly important to review partnership with the governments of middle-income countries such as Peru, and also to develop specific measures to incorporate South-South cooperation, which had not been addressed concretely enough in existing reports.
ONEIL FRANCIS (Jamaica), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said analytical focus on the United Nations operational activities should not be restricted to assessing progress in coherence and coordination. The Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review should assess the extent to which the United Nations system was actually implementing programmes and delivering assistance. It should give priority to addressing continued complexity, overlap and duplication at the field level. Operational activities must be guided by the priorities and development strategies of national governments. Greater focus should be placed on improving the common country assessments and United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks. They should be cost effective and efficient and should minimize transaction costs.
He said strengthening of the resident coordinator system must be able to attract the full range of resources and expertise to implement the Millennium Development Goals, and active involvement of non-resident United Nations agencies should be encouraged. He urged the relevant agencies to make more positive efforts to develop United Nations houses and strengthen common services to improve coordination. A better balance between core and non-core contributions must be ensured, and a system of assessed contributions to fund United Nations development cooperation could be given more thought. Finally, public/private partnerships could not be seen as a substitute for official development assistance (ODA).
ALEG N. IVANOU (Belarus) recognized the important role of United Nations operational activities in ensuring achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, as well as meeting the goals of developing countries and countries with economies in transitions. There was a need to reform the system of operational activities to better take into account the interest of recipient countries. Mobilizing resources was one of the key problems in that regard. He, therefore, called on the international community to ensure enough core resources.
He was concerned about the imbalance between core and non-core resources. He hoped that strengthening the financial basis would be enhanced by the CCA/UNDAF processes and emphasized in that regard that a broader use of common country assessments and the United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks directly hinged on the quality of the instruments and the necessity to draft them in close cooperation with governments. Development should reflect the needs and priorities of a country. There was also a need to ensure balanced appointments for resident coordinators between donor and recipient countries.
DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia) said that, while recognizing the link between development and peace and the increasing attention of the United Nations to crisis prevention and recovery, such activities should not undermine the activities of the development programmes. Further simplification and harmonization was required for United Nations operational activities at the field level. Procedures must be adapted to the development needs of countries.
He said that, while the Multi-Year Funding Framework had, to some extent, enhanced the programming focus of the system, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals would require continuous, predictable and assured funding. Funding from the donor community must always be made available without conditions. Technical assistance in United Nations operational activities should be enhanced by promoting capacity-building programmes within the framework of South-South cooperation. However, South-South cooperation should not serve as a substitute for the North-South cooperation of the United Nations system.
JOSÉ ALBERTO BRIZ GUTIÉRREZ (Guatemala), associating his views with the statement of Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, expressed concern over the inadequacy of basic resources for development and the resulting low level of reliability of multi-annual forecasts. The recent positive news of an increase in some resources was due no doubt to the reform process and the unique advantages of the United Nations over other sources of official cooperation, among them reliability as a partner for Member States. In that regard, UNICEF provided a model in the field.
He noted with satisfaction the increased cooperation between the UNDP and the World Bank, but there was still a need for further cooperation between all United Nations entities in the reform process. Finally, he expressed support for the work of United Nations Volunteers, and for strengthening the activities of the United Nations Capital Development Fund in the area of local development, microcredit and support for small- and medium-sized enterprises.
GILBERT LAURIN (Canada) said that a strong multilateral system was required to underpin programme countries as they tackled the Millennium Development Goals. The resident coordinator system required continued strengthening, and country teams needed to be reinforced. As a result, United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks would have a clear accountability trail and properly delegated authority, which would allow United Nations-wide decision-making at the country level in the interests of improved alignment with the countrys own poverty reduction strategies and national plans. Resident coordinators should also be accountable for gender mainstreaming in country-level analysis, advocacy programmes and operational activities.
Continuous improvement should be expected in the process of harmonization and simplification, he continued. He was encouraged that the funds and programmes now produced an UNDAF with a shared results matrix, but they should move beyond joint programming to joint programmes. Opportunities were also offered by shared housing and common services. His delegation also saw a role for larger organizations, such as the UNDP or UNICEF, which could represent or host smaller ones at the country level.
On Monday, for the first time, there would be a joint operational-humanitarian session on the transition from relief to development, he said. That was a step to a more coherent approach in post-conflict countries. He also welcomed efforts to clarify comparative advantages and improve working relations among various funds and agencies, Bretton Woods Institutions and regional development banks. It was essential that their programming at the country level was both complementary and aligned with country priorities. They must also deliver coherent policy messages, particularly regarding medium-term expenditure frameworks and the balance between financing the Millennium Development Goals, including pro-poor growth, and maintaining macroeconomic stability.
He added that Canada recognized the need to increase global development assistance flows and had committed to double its international assistance budget by 2010.
DAW PENJO (Bhutan), associating himself with the statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the operational activities of the United Nations system must be responsive to the needs of the developing countries and geared towards the timely implementation of the development agenda, particularly the Millennium Development Goals. He encouraged United Nations system organizations to continue their efforts to foster and achieve the critical level of coordination, coherence and integration and uphold the principle of country-ownership.
He said a key issue to be addressed was the lack of adequate financial resources for development on a timely and predictable basis. Concerned by the decline in official development assistance (ODA), he urged the international community to channel part of the Monterrey committed increases in ODA to strengthen the core resource base for United Nations operational activities. He also stressed the need to achieve the targets for resource mobilization that had been identified by the various programme agencies of the United Nations. Given the linkages between peace and development in a rapidly globalizing world, it was imperative that the United Nations system was equipped with the necessary resources, mandate and guidance to assist developing countries in meeting the Millennium Goals.
DAVID SHAPIRO (United States) said that work in preparation for the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review should reflect the concerns of the Monterey Consensus and its implementation. It should also assess the effectiveness of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). He supported efforts to strengthen field cooperation among United Nations funds and programmes, to promote strategic coherence in work, to use common assessment and assistance tools where possible and to achieve economies in service delivery.
However, he expressed concerns over what had been called joint programmes, in the absence of sufficient oversight mechanisms. In order to maintain sufficient core funding, it was important for the funds and programmes to retain donor confidence. Instead of the creation of a single entity, he supported a system of distinct, but interlocking, mandates for United Nations agencies. He remained ready to discuss such issues with the funds and programmes and with interested Member States in the spirit of enhancing the effectiveness of United Nations operational activities and addressing Member States concerns.
ARMEN MARTIROSYAN (Armenia) said the United Nations played a crucial role in international development and could build a global consensus around development goals. The 2004 policy review was of particular importance in light of the review in 2005 of the goals set in the Millennium Declaration. While recognizing the need for further improvement, he appreciated progress achieved in current reform. The resident coordinator system and United Nations houses helped in achieving better cohesion at the field level. However, the frequent change of resident coordinators, as had been the case in Armenia, undermined the effectiveness of those efforts.
He said there was a need for further coordination and cooperation at the country level between the United Nations system and Bretton Woods Institutions. Lack of regional cooperation was also a matter of concern. Closer cooperation with regional committees was necessary. He was encouraged by efforts of United Nations funds and agencies to cooperate on a regional level. National ownership of development strategies was a precondition for development activities, which could not succeed without an active participation of civil society.
MOHAMED FADHEL AYARI (Tunisia), endorsing the statement made by Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, underlined the importance of periodic reviews of the United Nations system and its guidelines. He supported development strategies that put the population of recipient countries in the centre of focus, and welcomed the Secretary-Generals advocacy for a comprehensive approach that took into account all development sectors.
He further supported strengthening the resident coordinator system, as well as fostering further South-South cooperation and gender mainstreaming. Also, in accordance with the Monterey consensus, he urged adequate development funding be provided. He hoped that the first meeting of the new fund would result in the creation of new methods to mobilize financing for development.
A. SHIKHALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said the review indicated that the United Nations continued to pursue a people-centred approach. He was concerned, however, that the current level of development in the majority of developing countries remained low and that the Millennium Development Goals would not be achieved by 2015. The reality had, therefore, to be reassessed and rectified. He underlined the importance of strengthening the role of the resident coordinator system and encouraged harmonization of the United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks with Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. He pointed out that increased coherence of United Nations development activities could also be achieved at regional headquarters. Results should be regularly evaluated and lessons learned should be disseminated.
If all United Nations agencies would join the CCA/UNDAF process, the United Nations development capacities would be enhanced, he continued. The level of core funding was still not sufficient to enable the United Nations country teams to assist developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The question of what part of core resources actually reached developing countries should also be addressed. Core expertise of one agency could be utilized by several United Nations agencies in specific countries and even in neighbouring countries, thereby increasing efficiency.
CHRISTIAN REHREN (Chile), endorsing the views of Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, encouraged the continuation of efforts to improve cooperation between United Nations agencies. He noted that, because of Chiles economic position, it was excluded from much international development assistance. As such assistance would accelerate the eradication of the poverty that existed in his country, he urged that funding be increased so that adequate aid could be given to both the least developed and the medium-income countries.
In concluding remarks, SARBULAND KHAN, Director, Division for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the discussion had been rich and valuable, and he was pleased with the overall positive comments. It had become clear that the Council had a role to play in providing overall guidance to the development system of the United Nations. The debate today had been valuable as it conveyed in a comprehensive way the guidance sought from the Secretariat in developing recommendations for the policy review to be undertaken at the end of the year.
There had been broad recognition that the United Nations development system was moving forward in a positive way, that coordination was being enhanced and that coherence had become a clear goal. He said there had also been recognition of a clear link between further progress and the need to address the issue of resource mobilization. The debate had also addressed issues such as country-ownership of coordination processes and the role of the resident coordinators. The simplification and harmonization process was moving forward, it was generally recognized, although it could be accelerated. Emphasis had been placed on South-South cooperation. The importance of gender mainstreaming had also been emphasized, as had the issue of governance.
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