13 March 2007 The United Nations system would be far more effective at boosting development in poor countries if its operations were better streamlined and coordinated, the Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said today, calling for closer consultation with Member States to determine ways to achieve global anti-poverty targets.
Speaking to a meeting of European Union (EU) development ministers in Bonn, Ms. Migiro said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would release a note to UN Member States in the coming weeks outlining his views on how to implement the recommendations contained in last year’s report by the High-Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence.
“The Secretary-General and I strongly support the broad thrust of the Panel report,” she said. “We believe it has the potential to fundamentally improve the functioning of the UN system in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment.”
Ms. Migiro said many of the report’s recommendations coincide with existing plans for UN reform and are already likely to be implemented quickly.
But she added that “there is broad consensus that the UN is not optimally configured to face these challenges” of lifting development in the world’s poorer countries and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“Much of our development resources and know-how are spread across various organizations spanning the entire UN system. At times this results in duplicative country-level work by various parts of our system. It also prompts fragmentation at the national, regional and global levels.”
Ms. Migiro said it would be her responsibility as Deputy Secretary-General “to ensure that the wide constellation of agencies and entities” within the UN system work together better.
She also cited several existing initiatives, including the voluntary “One UN” pilot programmes currently planned by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to unify UN operations in eight nations, as ways forward for the Organization.
Yet the UN country-level presence “needs more coherent governance, funding and management arrangements at Headquarters” in New York, and Ms. Migiro observed that the Panel report called for a strengthened role for the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The Deputy Secretary-General also backed the call for merging the UN’s agencies dealing with issues into one unit, saying such an entity “should mobilize forces of change at the global level, and inspire enhanced results at the country level.”
Ms. Migiro said it was vital for Member States to add their contributions to the debates on the gender architecture and on reforming the country-level presence.
“Implementing these measures will be a big challenge. Individual UN agencies, funds and programmes may have to sacrifice some of their interests for the larger UN system.”
During her speech Ms. Migiro also thanked the EU for its long record of commitment to providing development assistance to less affluent States.
She also met with UN staff working in Bonn, as well as the city’s mayor, and will head next to Strasbourg in France, where she will visit the European Parliament.