The possibility of redirecting resources provided to non-governmental organizations to experienced agencies as a more productive way of financing development activities was raised by the representative of Djibouti this afternoon as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) continued consideration of the triennial policy review of United Nations operational activities for development.
Estimates indicated that 15,000 of the non-governmental organizations that had appeared in the last five years had headquarters in donor countries, he said, adding that in several cases "we really don't know what they do, nevertheless their chests are filled". In view of the Organization's financial crisis, he wondered whether it would be more productive to make those resources available to agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
The representative of Sudan said the report before the Committee on the triennial review contained misleading data which mixed humanitarian relief with development activities. It presented the humanitarian assistance provided by the World Food Programme and UNICEF within Operation Lifeline Sudan as being development grants, thus placing the Sudan wrongly among the most privileged recipients of development assistance. He requested that the necessary correction be made.
The representative of Jamaica said the programming of operational activities should be based on the national development plans and priorities of the recipient countries with national governments having the paramount role in the planning, coordination, monitoring and review of all United Nations development assistance. The country strategy note required a preparatory period to ensure broad participation with the full involvement and leadership of the government, effective information sharing and adequate support to country teams.
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The representative of Indonesia said United Nations operational activities should primarily focus on approaches proven for their importance and success, such as the client-oriented concept, which should be facilitated by the country strategic note to bring all the operational activities of the United Nations under a unified one-roof system. Resident coordinators should assist governments to achieve their development goals.
Statements were also made by the representatives of the Republic of Moldova, Guyana, Iran and Kenya.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 10 November, to continue consideration of the triennial review of United Nations operational activities for development.
Committee Work Programme
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this afternoon to continue the triennial policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system. (For background information, see Press Release GA/EF/2698, of 7 November.)
TUDOR PANTIRU (Republic of Moldova) expressed appreciation for the assistance the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had provided his country in national capacity-building in management, governance and democratization, private sector development and economic reforms as well as the development of human resources and energy. He commended the adoption of important decisions by the UNDP/United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Board, including those relating to the consolidation of UNDP national offices. An important step in supporting countries with economies in transition was also taken in the decision to transform the Division for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) into a regional bureau. The successful implementation of those decisions would be a step forward towards strengthening and improving UNDP activities and United Nations operational activities for development in general.
He said the United Nations system should play an important role in assisting countries to strengthen their key national institutions and their capacities for aid coordination. His delegation was satisfied with progress achieved in improving collaboration in programming operational activities. It supported the recommendations contained in the documents before the Committee. It agreed that mutual actions of governments, UNDP and the specialized agencies could increase the effectiveness of the national execution of technical cooperation projects financed by UNDP.
GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana) reiterated his Government's appreciation of the assistance provided to Guyana by the United Nations system. Also expressing appreciation to donors, he called for future funding of operational activities to be placed on a more reliable and predictable basis.
While accepting without reservation the need for rules and procedures, he would consider it most helpful if they were harmonized and simplified. Besides reducing a considerable and unnecessary burden on countries covered, that would also help to strengthen confidence in, and enhance the image of the United Nations system. He stressed the need for flexibility and responsiveness to national conditions and competencies and welcomed the opening up of the United Nations system to a more broad-based approach to capacity-building. That was a positive development and should be encouraged.
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DAVID PRENDERGAST (Jamaica) underscored the critical role of recipient countries and national governments in the management of their own development processes. The programming of operational activities should be based on the national development plans and priorities of the recipient countries. National governments should have the paramount role in the planning, coordination, monitoring and review of all United Nations development assistance. The resident coordinator system must continue to operate within important institutional restrictions so as not to compromise the relationships between individual organizations of the United Nations system and governments.
Jamaica agreed that the country strategy note, which it was seeking to elaborate, was a major step towards achieving conceptual and operational coherence at the country level, he said. The process required a preparatory period to ensure broad participation which included the full involvement and leadership of the government, effective information sharing and adequate support to country teams. He supported the recommendation that governments should decide, in consultation with resident coordinators, on the process of formulating the country strategy note.
He said the question of relationship between the organizations in the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions would have to be examined, bearing in mind that such cooperation should not lead to new conditionalities and make the United Nations system more vulnerable to the restrictive policies normally attached to loans. It was important to ensure funding on a predictable and assured basis in order to support operational activities at the required level.
MEHDI DANESH-YAZDI (Iran) said the operational activities of the United Nations, due to their neutral and apolitical nature and world-wide presence at the field level played a most valuable role in promoting the self-reliance of developing countries. The enhancement of the efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations system for development assistance depended mainly on compliance by the developed countries with internationally agreed targets of official development assistance (ODA) as well as with their commitments for new and additional resources. An increase in their pledges to finance United Nations operational activities on a continuous, predictable and assured basis was imperative.
Operational activities should be carried out in accordance with Assembly mandates and within the framework of national priorities of the developing countries, he said. New tasks entrusted to United Nations funds and programmes must remain consistent with their original mandates and areas of expertise. National programmes and priorities constituted the only viable frames of reference for United Nations operational activities and thus for the formulation of the country strategy note.
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GEOFFREY K. MURIITHI (Kenya) said there was need for new approaches and improved funding system to ensure that the commitments agreed at the various international conferences were fulfilled. He appealed to the international community for substantial increase in resources for operational activities. The effectiveness and efficiency of the resident coordinator system was a necessary part of the United Nations system at the country level. It required a coordinated multi-disciplinary approach to the needs of the recipient countries under the resident coordinator.
Kenya was currently considering the country strategy note, he stated, and added that the Secretary-General's recommendations on the need to increase the level of resources to implement programmes or projects contained in the note was timely. Targets outlined in the note should be quantifiable to facilitate effective follow-up. The weaknesses in national execution of projects outlined in the report would, if addressed effectively, lead to a coherent expansion of the programme.
DYSANE ABDALLAH DORANI (Djibouti) said national execution and the programme approach were noble ideas but should not be imposed on recipient countries. The two partners, the United Nations system and the government concerned, must find a modus vivendi in their relationship. The resident coordinator was in a sense an ambassador of the United Nations system, a type of politician, and should not be considered only as an expert. The two partners should fully cooperate and achieve the objective sought.
The political dimension acquired by UNDP was well deserved and had started a new era, he said. He welcomed the fact that resident representatives and coordinators were also recruited from other bodies. There was a proliferation of non-governmental organizations in the last five years. Estimates indicated that 15,000 of those organizations had headquarters in donor countries. Several of those organizations "we really don't know what they do", nevertheless their chests were filled. It would maybe be more productive to reorient resources given to some non-governmental organizations and direct them to bodies with experience such as UNDP, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and UNFPA. Djibouti would propose that a paragraph be included in the draft resolution on triennial review to pay tribute to all those who for 10 or more years had performed noble tasks with high risks in the field.
HAMID ALI ELTINAY (Sudan) said the efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations operational activities could only be enhanced by the availability of resources that would enable the Organization to play its role as envisaged in the United Nations Charter. There was a need for major donors to honour their obligations in that regard. He paid tribute to the objective role the resident coordinator continued to play in assisting governments to
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draw national strategy notes and in coordinating the United Nations system at the country level. He commended in particular the role of UNDP in that regard.
He regretted that the report before the Committee on the triennial review contained misleading data which mixed humanitarian relief with development activities. It presented the humanitarian assistance provided by the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF within Operation Lifeline Sudan as being development grants, thus placing the Sudan wrongly among the most privileged recipients of development assistance. He requested that the necessary corrections be made.
MAKARIM WIBISONO (Indonesia) said United Nations operational activities should primarily focus on approaches proven for their importance and success, such as the client-oriented concept. That concept should be facilitated by the country strategic note to bring all the operational activities of the United Nations within a unified one-roof system that fully supported the development priorities of the recipient country. The capacity of the recipient country should be strengthened. The concept of national execution contained many difficulties including that of the reporting requirement. That should not, however, lull countries into believing that no amount of effort could improve national execution.
He said the resident coordinator should assist the government in achieving its development goals through, among others, the country strategy note. Three years of evaluation might not be enough to conclude that the mandate and the role of the resident coordinator should be strengthened. The implementation of the country strategy note should help harmonize all programmes of the United Nations operational activities. Indonesia attached great importance to the efforts of resident coordinators to collaborate with the Bretton Woods institutions on the operational activities for development of the United Nations system especially at the field level.
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