UN agencies report improved cooperation thanks to reform efforts

12 July 2006 –

The United Nations has improved its field operations to help countries pursue their development goals as a result of better interagency cooperation, the heads of UN agencies told the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today, but still more reforms are necessary.

The effectiveness and efficiency of the United Nations development system at the country level has taken on a new sense of urgency since last year’s World Summit, Jose Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, told the Council, which meets in Geneva. “This is one of the main dimensions of the wider United Nations reform.”

One of the lessons learned over recent years and that is now being applied, said Ann Veneman, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is that during times of transition from humanitarian to relief to development, a mixture of approaches was required with clear priorities and responsibilities in order to ensure results. “There is now a strong consensus that early recovery actions should begin at the same time as humanitarian assistance,” she said.

UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Kemal Dervis said it was important that UN bodies work in a concerted manner as one coherent group in order to put measures in place that help countries achieve their development goals. To avoid duplication of efforts, he suggested that the agencies by physically located in a common office.

“A streamlined country presence should be placed in the context of how this contributed to a more coherent, coordinated, and a more effective UN presence” aimed at helping States to achieve the internationally agreed development goals,” said Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). The purpose of management reform, she added, was to ensure that the UN system was more efficient in delivering its aid, while upholding universally agreed human rights.

“There is nothing more important than working in partnership to achieve concrete results from the programmes in order to touch the lives of people, and provide them with hope for the future,” said James T, Morris, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

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