24 May 1999
Substantive session of 1999
Geneva, 530 July 1999
Item 3 of the provisional agenda*
Operational activities of the United Nations for international development cooperation
Poverty eradication, capacity-building, resources and funding, and the executive boards of the United Nations funds and programmes
Report of the Secretary-General
|II. Poverty eradication||679||3|
|A. Initial follow-up to resolution 53/192||98100||31|
|IV. Resources and funding||105124||32|
|V. United Nations funds and programmes: oversight role of the Council||125150||37|
|A. General issues||125127||37|
|B. Annual reports of the heads of the United Nations funds and programmes to the Council||128129||38|
|C. Concise consolidated list of issues||130||38|
|D. Joint and concurrent meetings of the executive boards||131||39|
|E. Joint meetings of the bureaux of the Council and the executive boards||132134||39|
|F. Timing of the annual sessions of the executive boards||135||40|
|H. Overview of decisions taken, main agenda items of the executive boards since the 1998 regular session of the Council, and agendas for annual sessions||142||41|
|1. Some of the principal decisions adopted by the executive boards of the United Nations funds and programmes since the substantive session of 1997 of the Council||42|
|2. Some of the principal items on the agendas of the executive boards of the United Nations funds and programmes since the 1997 substantive session of the Council||43|
|3. Main items of the provisional agendas for the 1999 annual sessions of the executive boards of the United Nations funds and programmes||44|
|1. Poverty eradication as a priority for a selection of United Nations system organizations||9|
|2. The 20/20 Initiative||14|
|3. Basic social services for all||16|
1. The operational activities for development of the United Nations system are continuing to undergo significant reforms. In this task, the policy directives of General Assembly resolution 53/192 on the triennial comprehensive policy review of 15 December 1998 are playing a central role. They endorsed a number of initiatives launched as part of the Secretary-Generals reform process, and as part of the implementation of previous policy directives of the Assembly (notably resolutions 44/211, 47/199 and 50/120). To capture in an integrated and comprehensive manner the principal changes within the United Nations system is the intent of the present report and its addendum 1.
2. The process of organizational change within the system is taking place in a context of significant global and strategic challenges for operational activities for development, which were reviewed in the introduction of the report of the Secretary-General for the triennial review (A/53/226). These challenges and the country-specific orientations of operational activities require continued flexibility and adaptability, as well as a large degree of delegated authority. They also require a judicious balance between the requirements of change and reform emanating from central directives, and the need to "get on with the job" at the country level. Preliminary indications are that while many reforms can be incorporated into country-level responsibilities within existing resources, in a number of cases the introduction of new initiatives and new ways of conducting activities and increasing their coordination represent a significant additional workload. Moreover, they take place in a context of declining or stagnant resources, with unfortunate consequences for projects and programmes. To redress this situation must be one of the principal concerns.
3. Sections II and III of the present report review in some detail the two issues of poverty eradication and capacity-building, selected in paragraph 62 of General Assembly resolution 53/192 and Economic and Social Council decision 1998/299 as themes for the operational activities segment of the substantive session of 1999 of the Council. As concerns poverty eradication, section II reviews the current situation, with a focus on country-level activities, and recommends practical steps to help achieve the goal of poverty eradication as agreed at the World Summit for Social Development and in General Assembly resolution 51/178 on the First United Nations Decade on the Eradication of Poverty.
4. The capacity-building part of the report (section III) describes how the issue has evolved over the last 30 years and the actions taken or proposed to be taken in the implementation of the relevant decisions of General Assembly resolution 53/192. Concrete decisions of the Council on these important themes will help in their coherent and coordinated implementation by the United Nations system.
5. Sections IV and V deal with resources and funding and the oversight
role of the Council in relation to the funds and programmes and their executive boards.
The reforms of the United Nations development cooperation place emphasis on the oversight
role and responsibility of the Council.
II. Poverty eradication
6. This chapter provides an assessment of the country-level role of operational activities for development in poverty eradication. Questions of global poverty trends and general policy are not covered here, since they are dealt with in the Secretary-Generals report for the high-level segment of the Council on "The role of employment and work in poverty eradication: the empowerment and advancement of women".1
7. When in February 1997, the General Assembly launched the First United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (19972006), it stated that "eradicating poverty is an ethical, social, political and economic imperative of humankind".2 The objective of the Decade is "to achieve the goal of eradicating absolute poverty and reducing overall poverty substantially in the world".3 Over the past few years, the United Nations has undertaken several initiatives in the area of poverty eradication at the global level4 with the aim of increasing the attention of Governments to commitments, recommendations and measures agreed to alleviate poverty and highlighting policies, which pursue a more equitable distribution of income and wealth, generate increased opportunities for the poor and expand support to a longer-term, sustained effort for poverty eradication. Moreover, it was clearly anticipated that the development arm of the United Nations system would play a key role in translating these normative decisions into practical programmes in support of national poverty eradication programmes.
8. To place the operational activities for development into their current context, it should be recalled that poverty affects over 1.3 billion people. There is a largely shared concern for the implications of globalization processes and the widespread introduction of economic reforms on the social conditions of the poor. Poverty eradication is, thus, the principal challenge of the international community at the dawn of the twenty-first century. It is a global objective of the United Nations system.5 The General Assembly has stressed the central role of the United Nations system in supporting developing countries in their efforts to achieve the objectives set forth at the World Summit for Social Development.6 In addition, other United Nations conferences and summits have called on the system to focus on poverty eradication.7
9. In May 1996, the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), recognizing the urgency of translating the commitment of the Summit into facts, reiterated a few objectives indicated by international conferences and identified specific goals to reduce poverty by the year 2015:
(a) A reduction by one-half in the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015;
(b) Universal primary education in all countries by 2015;
(c) Demonstrated progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of women by eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005;
(d) A reduction by two thirds in the mortality rates for infants and children under the age of five and a reduction by three fourths in maternal mortality, all by 2015;
(e) Access, through the primary health-care system, to reproductive health services for all individuals of appropriate ages no later than the year 2015;
(f) Implementation of national strategies for sustainable development in all countries by 2005, so as to ensure that current trends in the loss of environmental resources are effectively reversed at both global and national level by 2015.
10. In its resolution 1998/44, the Council noted the target of reducing by one half, by 2015, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, and reaffirmed the urgent need for the timely and full implementation of the commitments agreed upon at the major conferences. It also reiterated that poverty eradication is a key development objective for the Councils efforts to ensure integrated and coordinated follow-up to conferences.8 It stressed the need of mobilizing new and additional resources from all sources for implementing conference outcomes, including through progress of the 20/20 Initiative in interested countries.9
11. At the end of the twentieth century, while encouraging results have been recorded in the last 50 years in terms of declining income poverty and increases of life expectancy, nutrition, health and education10 and a certain degree of optimism for achieving the 2015 goals was anticipated until 1998,11 expectations have recently become more cautious due to the economic slowdown in many developing countries.12 Doubts have been raised by the President of the World Bank, in his foreword to World Development Indicators, 1999, whether or not those 2015 targets are achievable in prevailing circumstances, both globally and at the country level. This justifies a renewed attention on the role of the United Nations systems operational activities for development in poverty eradication.
12. A starting point of the review conducted in the present section are
the agreed conclusions13 of the Councils coordination segment of 199614
and the statement of commitment for action to eradicate poverty adopted by ACC in May
Agreed conclusions 1996/1 of the Council
13. Agreed conclusions 1996/1 of the Council were closely aligned with the policy directions of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and the Programme of Action adopted at the World Summit for Social Development in 1995 at Copenhagen, since poverty eradication is one of the commitments made therein.
14. While confirming the international commitment for poverty eradication and reiterating its concern for the declining resources for development cooperation, the Council focused its 1996 agreed conclusions on the coordination of the United Nations support for poverty eradication. The Council requested the United Nations to help implement the Programme of Action and the Copenhagen Declaration, calling on the organizations of the system, including the Bretton Woods institutions, to coordinate more fully the support that they provide to Governments in their national efforts to eradicate poverty.
15. As stressed by the Summit, the resident coordinator system is
expected to play an important role in promoting coordination at the country level, and the
Council highlighted, within that system, coordination mechanisms, such as thematic groups,
the common country assessment, the country strategy note and the field-level committee.15
The Council also stressed the need to build national analytical capacities on poverty and
integrate a gender perspective into poverty-related policies and programmes. It recognized
the country specificity of poverty eradication strategies, the key roles of the Government
and civil society, the empowerment of local communities, the complementary role of the
United Nations system and the need to ensure the participation of all system
ACC statement of commitment for action to eradicate poverty
16. In May 1998, following the work of its inter-agency task forces, ACC adopted a statement of commitment for action to eradicate poverty,16 in which ACC emphasized that poverty is a denial of choices and opportunity, a violation of human dignity. It recognized that the world has the resources and the capacity, if it chooses, to eradicate absolute poverty, and reiterated the supporting and catalytic role of the United Nations system in mobilizing the energies and resources of all development actors in the campaign against poverty. It recognized that education and capacity-building are major driving forces in development and highlighted gender equality and the empowerment of women as major cross-cutting themes in poverty eradication.
17. The statement also outlined the elements for a shared strategy for
poverty eradication, identifying the need for: (a) full involvement of the Government and
all other development actors; (b) transparency and accountability, good governance,
protection of human rights, peoples empowerment; (c) accelerated and sustained
economic growth; (d) economic growth to be equitable, employment-intensive and pro-poor;
(e) sustainable development, taking into account the links among population pressures,
natural resources, food security, ill-health and poverty; (f) human development, improving
access to shelter and basic social services; (g) empowerment, participation,
capacity-building and targeted assistance; (h) favourable micro-level environment; and (i)
involvement of the poor in designing anti-poverty strategies.
18. A fundamental precept of operational activities is that the primary responsibility for the articulation and implementation of national strategies for poverty eradication rests with the country concerned, and practical action must take place with the support of local communities. Operational activities must, therefore, be in a position to adapt themselves to specific national and local situations in a well-coordinated and mutually supportive manner. Therefore, United Nations system activities in support to poverty eradication, while taking into account broad common objectives, are expected to be based on country-specific circumstances and decisions made by national authorities. This approach is consistent with agreed conclusions 1996/1 of the Council.
19. The role of the United Nations system often consists of assisting Governments in translating global goals into national development policies and programmes, according poverty eradication a top priority. In so doing, the system constantly stresses the special needs of the most vulnerable groups, the underprivileged, the marginalized, the excluded, the discriminated, the absolute poor, which calls for targeted actions and policies aimed at particular groups, such as women, children, the elderly, indigenous people, refugees, rural population, urban slum dwellers, unemployed or underemployed.
20. This type of upstream support also includes the formulation of specific strategies for social development, which have a direct bearing on poverty eradication. Support in the policy area may also involve a review of the implications of a wide range of policies on the most vulnerable segments of the population, thus making them sensitive to the needs of the poor.
21. Most importantly, the United Nations system supports activities in direct assistance to the poor, covering a wide range of areas. One of the values of these activities is often their "demonstration effect" for the wider application and lessons they can yield for this purpose.17
22. Joint multi-purpose programmes of integrated rural or urban
development and poverty eradication are sometimes promoted as umbrella initiatives, which
are then implemented through more specific subprogrammes or projects.
Enhancing national capacities
23. The translation of global mandates of the system in poverty eradication into operational action at the country level is carried out in a variety of ways at the request of Governments (see box 1). The activities of organizations, according to their respective statutory mandates and operational programmes, assist recipient countries in their national efforts to eradicate poverty by strengthening national capacity to define policies, giving a pro-poor orientation to development policies and enhancing the capacities of the poor through direct assistance initiatives. A diversified series of activities materialize the United Nations systems support to poverty eradication, ranging from advocacy initiatives, policy dialogue, information activities, support to formulation of national policies or programmes, analytical activities (poverty assessments or other similar studies, information systems and data banks on poverty) and several measures of direct support to the poor. They include also support to national capacity to analyse and measure poverty, as recommended by the Council in 1996.
Box No. 1
Poverty eradication as a priority for a selection of United Nations
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. A rights-based approach to poverty eradication is highlighted, inter alia, by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which stresses that poverty and inequality are considered violation of human rights according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and extreme poverty and social exclusion are a violation of human dignity. Poverty-focused actions, thus, should stem from the fundamental right to development of each human being.
United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat). The
contribution of better human settlements to poverty eradication are highlighted by
Habitat, which aims at assisting developing countries in reducing urban poverty in the
slums and squatter settlements through improved access to housing, water supply,
sanitation, land and security of tenure and other infrastructures and social services.
United Nations programmes and funds
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In 1995, UNDPs Executive Board, while emphasizing that national development priorities shall be the primary determinant of UNDP-supported programmes, made poverty eradication the organizations central priority.a To pursue this objective, UNDP has identified a series of corporate goals for poverty reduction: (a) fostering an enabling environment for pro-poor economic growth; (b) securing sustainable livelihoods for the poor through access to productive assets; (c) advancing gender equality and the status of women; (d) ensuring sustainable food security for the poor, including regeneration of the environmental resources on which the poor depend; and (e) supporting pro-poor governance, including empowerment of the poor. UNDP launched several initiatives to make these goals operational, in collaboration with other organizations of the system, including the World Bank, in the attempt to measure and monitor poverty, integrating anti-poverty efforts, implementing participatory approaches and working with the private sector for poverty reduction. A major activity is the Poverty Strategies Initiative, aimed at assisting countries in formulating strategies and plans to fight poverty. In addition to the Human Development Report, prepared annually, UNDP has intensified its analytical activity focused on poverty at the country level, supporting the preparation of national human development reports. A special UNDP Social Development and Poverty Elimination Division poverty Web site is available.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Since the environmental sustainability and resource use in developing countries are closely linked to social development, poverty reduction and demographic pressure, UNEPs role in promoting poverty eradication stems from its mandate in the environmental area and its links with other areas in the context of sustainable development.
United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF). A poverty focus derives as a top priority from the Convention on the Rights of the Child, since every child has the fundamental right to an adequate standard of living and children are disproportionately represented among the poor. Since UNICEFs mandate is to ensure the survival and protection of women and children and the improvement in their position, its operational focus is basic services in such areas as health, education, nutrition, family planning, water and sanitation, which are key areas to alleviate poverty. Geographical coverage of UNICEFs normative work also includes child poverty in industrialized countries. Special emphasis, together with the ILO, is on activities to combat child labour.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Its mandate aims at widening choices and opportunities in the various population and reproductive health programmes, encouraging Governments to invest in human capital. UNFPA recognizes that poverty has a significant influence on, and is influenced by demographic parameters: this is why highest priority is given to allocation of resources to, and programming activities in, the poorest countries and the poorest segments of the population. UNFPA advocates for priority attention to the allocation of domestic resources for poverty alleviation and the provision of basic social services.
World Food Programme (WFP). WFP addresses a key constraint to the eradication of poverty, assisting the poor in emerging from the hunger trap, providing differentiated means to prevent and combat food shortages, often integrated with other organizations interventions focused on the most vulnerable populations.
United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP). Its
activities in the area of alternative development, i.e., the provision of alternative
sources of livelihood for those currently dependent on income from the illicit cultivation
of opium or coca bush, can be considered also as poverty alleviation measures, since such
illicit cultivation occurs in remote rural areas often afflicted by long-term poverty
Specialized agencies and related organizations
International Labour Organization (ILO). One of the three major objectives of the ILO is to promote employment and combat poverty, and is translated into the promotion of anti-poverty strategies based on job creation, in collaboration with other agencies of the system and the Bretton Woods institutions.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The link of food security with poverty eradication was highlighted by the World Food Summit (Rome, 1996) and is one of the highest priorities for FAO, which also stresses the link of agricultural development and poverty of rural population.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Its General Conference, with resolution 29 C/53, called upon UNESCO to accord high priority to the issue of extreme poverty in the execution of programmes, ensuring that population in situation of extreme poverty and social exclusion are effectively reached.
World Health Organization (WHO). Its specific approach to poverty eradication, both through country-level and global initiatives, reflects the resolution of the World Health Assembly, adopted in 1992, which requested the Director General to ensure that all WHO programmes identify highly vulnerable economic groups and provide the means to improve and evaluate their health status. In 1994 the Task Force on Health in Development stressed the need to improve access to basic social services, protecting the health rights of the vulnerable groups.
World Bank. The World Banks fundamental objective is to help client countries reduce poverty and improve living standards through a strategy of inclusive development.b The three elements of its strategy are: (a) to promote broad-based, labour-demanding growth and increase the productivity and economic opportunities of the poor; (b) to improve the access to basic social services; and (c) to promote safety nets and poverty-targeted programmes for those who cannot take advantage of income-earning opportunities or who are heavily risk-prone.c The Bank has recently intensified two major shifts as regards poverty reduction in its global strategy, focusing on formulating poverty-oriented strategies and assessing the impact of Bank projects on the poor. The Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network was formed in 1997 to ensure that the Bank makes the greatest contribution to poverty reduction. Following the World Development Report of 1980 and 1990, which were devoted to poverty, the Bank has launched a participatory and collaborative process for the preparation of the World Development Report 2000/2001, which will be focused on poverty and will be issued in the autumn of 2000. A special Web site (PovertyNet) is dedicated to that task.
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The original mandate of IFAD is based on the tripartite strategy of increasing food production, reducing undernutrition and alleviating rural poverty. More recently, the organization confirmed its commitment to help eradicate rural poverty and hunger, focusing on the promotion of the productive capacity of the rural poor, with special focus on peoples participation, grass-roots organizations, environment, gender and ethnic minorities.
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). It contributes to poverty eradication within its mandate of promoting sustainable industrial development in developing countries and countries in transition. Targeted actions address areas such as micro, small and medium enterprises, agro-based and agro-related industries, integration of women in industrial development and rural industrial development. Industrial development is also seen in the context of sustainable development, productive employment creation and economic growth, which are the basis for an enabling environment to combat poverty.
Poverty eradication is a guiding theme for a number of organizations technical cooperation programmes, influencing the design of their operations, in the attempt of making them sensitive to the poorer sectors of the society. This is case for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (especially in the agricultural sector, at the small-farmer level). In some organizations, poverty cannot be addressed directly for the technical nature of their mandates. Poverty becomes relevant, in those cases, through the relative allocation of resources to poorer countries (e.g., the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)), or for the indirect benefit that some infrastructures bring to the economic growth of the poor countries (the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)). The development of specific services may produce job-creation effects that benefit the poor (UPU). UNU contributes to poverty eradication through a number of selected activities focused on African development, food and nutrition, and environment.
aSee UNDP Executive Board decision DP/1995/23, para. 4; see also UNDP, Overcoming Human Poverty (New York, 1998).
b See World Bank, Poverty Reduction and the World Bank: Progress in Fiscal 1996 and 1997 (Washington, D.C.).
c See ibid., 1998 edition.
24. The United Nations system has always considered that a key element of a pro-poor strategy is a widespread awareness of the relevance and dimension of the poverty problem. This is why it is very active, often through joint initiatives, in promoting advocacy and information activities on poverty. In collaboration with national authorities and other development partners, United Nations system organizations, including the World Bank, promote conferences, workshops, public forums, networks and information campaigns, such as the Poverty Eradication Day or Week.18 These initiatives also include the preparation of discussion papers and publications, and support to the Government in establishing relations with other development partners (civil society, local communities, private sector and other donors).
25. Many countries have sought assistance in formulating national poverty eradication policies. The 1998 resident coordinator annual reports bring abundant evidence of the support provided to Governments in the formulation of national policies.19 Sometimes these policies are part of more general social development policy frameworks, as in the case of Bangladeshs national action plan, Cambodias socio-economic development plan, Ethiopias social plan of action, Côte dIvoires human development strategy, Moroccos social development strategy, Paraguays social development strategic plan, the Philippines social reform agenda, and Swazilands national development strategy and economic and social reform agenda. They may also be spelled out in strategic or long-term vision statements , such as Vision 2022 in Swaziland, Vision 2010 in Nigeria, and Vision 2020 in Mozambique.
26. The Poverty Strategies Initiative, launched by UNDP in 1996 as a multidonor programme, aimed at supporting national Governments in formulating strategies and plans to fight poverty.20 This type of upstream support includes also the formulation of specific strategies for social development, which have a direct bearing on poverty eradication, such as employment, informal sector, basic social services (e.g., education, health, water and sanitation), food security, rural and community-based development.
27. The creation of a favourable policy environment for poverty eradication at the national level is deemed essential to effective operational activities. The system is working with national authorities to achieve balanced macroeconomic policies, which include appropriate allocation of resources to support a poverty-oriented strategy. One guiding element in this regard is the 20/20 Initiative (see box 2).
28. That Initiative, in which the United Nations system organizations, including the World Bank, have been particularly active, involves a number of interested countries and is intended to reach the universal access to basic social services by establishing clear-cut targets in the resource allocation of both national fiscal expenditures and development cooperation budgets.
29. The United Nations system, including the World Bank, consistently encourages Governments (and other donors) to maintain or increase resource allocations to basic social services (including reproductive health services, basic education, nutrition programmes and low-cost water and sanitation) and use those resources more effectively and equitably. By 1998, expenditure reviews of the social sector had been promoted by UNICEF and UNDP in about 30 countries, facilitating the organization of seven regional workshops in East and South-East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
30. Support to national poverty analysis continues to be a top priority, as demonstrated by the sharp increase in the number of country-specific poverty studies promoted by the United Nations system, including the World Bank, since the late 1980s.
31. National human development reports were prepared in more than 100 countries by national authorities themselves, with the support of UNDP and the collaboration of other organizations of the system. The World Bank, for its part, working in close consultation with national Governments and often in collaboration with the United Nations system and bilateral donors, has conducted approximately 100 poverty assessments in 86 countries.
32. The enhancement of domestic institutional capacity to assess poverty conditions, which was recommended by the Council in 1996, was a positive result of most of these initiatives. To date, 75 out of 130 countries, have officially endorsed definitions of "extreme poverty", and 69 have endorsed definitions of "overall poverty".20 Information systems and basic data banks on poverty and related issues have been created in many countries.21 Examples are reported by resident coordinators on research activities and studies focused on related themes such as food security (e.g., Bangladesh, Chad, Eritrea, Sudan and Togo), health, including maternal health (e.g., Nepal), and basic education and employment (e.g., Nepal, Nigeria and Peru).
Box No. 2
The 20/20 Initiative
The 20/20 Initiativea consists on an attempt to reach a commitment between interested developed and developing country partners to allocate, on average, 20 per cent of the fiscal budget in developing countries, and 20 per cent of the foreign aid budget in the donor countries to the promotion of basic social services.
The Initiative was originally proposed by a few United Nations system organizations, and was endorsed by the World Summit for Social Development in 1995,b responding to the ambitious and time-bound goals for social development and poverty eradication set by a series of global conferences. It provides a framework for translating the needs for increased investment in basic social services basic health, including reproductive health services, basic education, nutrition programmes and low-cost water and sanitation, in order to reach goals such as those summarized by the Development Assistance Committee for the year 2015 in the report Shaping the Twenty-first Century. The 20/20 Initiative highlights the fact that current allocations of resources fall short by about one third of the financial requirements to achieve universal coverage of basic social services.
As a result of a meeting promoted by the Governments of the Netherlands and Norway at Oslo in April 1996, with a number of interested countries, multilateral organizations and NGOs, a review of the implementation of the 20/20 Initiative led to the adoption of the Oslo consensus, which included an agreement on the elements of basic social services, requiring better monitoring of expenditures on these services in order to conduct meaningful policy dialogues with interested governments before establishing 20/20 compacts.
The policy dialogue required to implement the 20/20 Initiative demands a full commitment of the Government, full participation of the general public in the developing countries and the support from the international community.
The Initiative requires better data on resource allocation to basic social services. Therefore, several organizations of the United Nations system, in particular UNDP and UNICEF, in close collaboration with the World Bank, often in association with UNFPA and WHO, have undertaken preliminary country studies, in close collaboration and consultation with national Governments, in order to conduct public expenditure reviews and monitor budget allocations to basic social services. Country studies confirm that most developing and donor countries fall short of the 20 per cent benchmark and that the utilization of resources among countries and within each country is uneven.
The Hanoi consensus, adopted in October 1998, reiterated the objectives of the 20/20 Initiative and stressed that the goal of universal access to basic social services is based on ethical, legal and economic grounds. Ensuring access to basic social services for the unreached, the vulnerable and the most disadvantaged members of human society is not only morally imperative but also economically rational, eradicating the worst manifestations of poverty and laying the foundations for sustainable economic growth and productivity gains in the future. As the Hanoi consensus underlined, developing countries are the main actors in expanding the coverage and improve the quality of basic social services, although donors have a great responsibility in ensuring that more resources are allocated to basic social services in their official development assistance (ODA) programmes.
Concern was also expressed for the possible consequences of the current economic and financial crisis in Asia, while recognizing that the main obstacles are found in the lack of political priority and limited absorptive capacity, which result in inadequate level and use of resources allocated to basic social services. The Hanoi consensus recognizes that the objective of achieving universal access to basic social services should be presented and promoted at the special session of the General Assembly expected to review the implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and Programme of Action.
aSee Implementing the 20/20 Initiative: Achieving universal Access to Basic Social Services (UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank, New York, 1998). See also draft report of the second international meeting on the 20/20 Initiative (Hanoi, 2729 October 1998).
b See Report of the World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen, 612 March 1995, (United Nations publication, Sales No. 96.IV.8), chap. I, resolution 1, annex II, chap. V, para. 88.
33. Despite these initiatives, analytical capacity remains inadequate in some countries. Moreover, monitoring and evaluation functions are often neglected.22 Therefore, increasing attention is devoted to strengthening national capacity in these areas by United Nations system, including the World Bank,23 frequently through joint activities. It is also anticipated that the wider application of common country assessments, in collaboration with the Government and other national and international partners, will further contribute to this goal.
34. Poverty-focused initiatives, such as those examined in the present section, have frequently been associated with institution-building components, so that managerial, organizational and technical capacities of national institutions devoted to poverty reduction or active in producing basic social services are developed. This institution-building effect is normally associated with other aspects of the individual projects.24 The focus is on the enhancement of capacities in local institutions, or sometimes, the creation of new institutions. However, as emphasized in the evaluation conducted in the 1998 triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development, capacity-building should not be limited to institution-building dimensions but should encompass the broader concept of capacity development, to be identified as a specific objective.
35. The capacities of the poor are enhanced also through the great variety of direct support initiatives undertaken by the United Nations system organizations. They either focus on pursuing income-generation for the poor through better access to or better use of productive resources (land, labour, physical capital and infrastructures, finance, technology, environmental resources), or aim at increasing access to basic social services, also through safety net programmes. They include employment generation programmes, establishment of micro-enterprises, village-based development initiatives25 and the promotion of basic social services through public expenditure programmes (including public works).
services for all
The Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development adopted in March 1995 includes quantitative targets for meeting basic needs, specifically on basic education, illiteracy, life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality, health and health care, food security and malnutrition, safe drinking water and proper sanitation, and affordable and adequate shelter, calling for efforts to reach universal coverage for all by, and access by all to, basic social services. These may be grouped under three main categories:
(a) services that meet the essential needs of the entire population;
(b) services that respond to needs at different stages of an individual lifespan;
(c) services that are tailored to the requirements of groups with specific needs, including persons with disabilities, migrants and refugees, indigenous people, groups experiencing discrimination, victims of crime or violence, and others.
The ACC Task Force on Basic Social Services for All produced guidelines on basic education, a common approach to national capacity-building in tracking child and maternal mortality, primary health care, reproductive health and womens empowerment and a guidance note on international migration and development.
The United Nations Secretariat recently drew the attention of the Commission for Social Development on two interrelated areas: (a) innovation in the delivery and financing of social services, and (b) ensuring access to social services of under-served population, taking into account the variety of country situations as regards the availability and coverage of these services.a
The Commission for Social Development, at its thirty-seventh session of February 1999, reached agreed conclusions, which identify general principles and goals for the Governments involved on the following issues:
(a) The delivery and provision of social services to promote social development (States responsibility, links with the human rights, need to introduce an innovative approach in delivery systems in order to ensure universal coverage);
(b) The need to strengthen partnership between the State and civil society, while recognizing the primary responsibility of Governments for providing and ensuring the universal availability of basic services;
(c) Need to improve information about available social services;
(d) Need to synchronize economic and social policy with the provision of better social services;
(e) Need for new approaches in mobilizing resources for social services, if budgetary constraints prevail, requiring resources also from private sector and not-for-profit and voluntary sector;
(f) In all cases, a strong commitment of the international community is needed to support national efforts.
The Commission highlighted the importance of agreeing on a mutual commitment between interested developed and developing country partners to implement the goals of the 20/20 Initiative. It stressed that the international community should assist developing countries to ensure the provision of basic social services during periods of economic difficulty, including those adversely affected by globalization processes, recommending more socially sensitive approaches to structural adjustment. The international community was also invited to continue to assist countries with economies in transition in their efforts to provide social services for all.b
b See agreed conclusions of the Commission for Social Development at its thirty-seventh session entitled "Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development: social services for all".
36. By stressing basic education as a means to empower the poor and improve their quality of life, the system has expanded peoples opportunities.26 The close link between ill health and poverty motivates several interventions of the United Nations system, aimed at improving the access to clean drinking water, sanitation and basic health facilities.27
37. The vulnerability of certain groups to structural adjustment
measures, reductions and restructuring of public employment or public expenditure,
liberalization or gradual adjustment of prices and exchange rates, and other similar
economic reforms has justified the focus of several initiatives on the support to social
protection measures. The World Bank, in collaboration with UNDP and other organizations,
has often provided temporary relief to population affected by structural adjustment
processes, establishing social funds or other programmes defined as safety nets.
Social funds have been used to finance a wide variety of activities, from job creation to
infrastructure, small and medium-sized enterprises, and provision of social services. Born
as temporary safety nets, these funds have rapidly turned into more permanent instruments
for economic and social development. While their value as temporary relief seems to be
confirmed in many cases, their effectiveness as vehicles to produce poverty reduction,
i.e. their capacity to reach the poorest population, is uneven.28
Variety of approaches
38. In its 1996 agreed conclusions, the Council highlighted that there is no single best strategy for poverty eradication and that poverty eradication strategies should be country specific.29 Country evidence shows a remarkable ability of the United Nations system to adjust its support to different conditions, confirming that a key feature of the system is its adaptability.
39. The United Nations system has been able to evolve its response to poverty alleviation in different countries, adjusting to the variety of conditions of the poor population,30 using a country-driven approach. A different mix of poverty-focused measures are launched in developing countries in recession, countries with short-term accelerated growth but long-term structural constraints, countries which are affected by the short-term impact of structural adjustment and economic reforms, countries dominated by a strong polarization of productive sectors and accentuated social dualism, countries in transition, countries that are facing the social consequences of recent financial crisis, countries in or emerging from war and social turmoil, and countries hit by natural calamities. Poverty occurs in all these cases, but in different forms. The capacity of the United Nations system to face sudden changes in prevailing country conditions when it deals with poverty reduction requires decentralization and flexibility.
40. The United Nations system has supported national efforts to eradicate poverty in Latin America focusing on inequality of social conditions and income distribution, emphasizing employment creation for the low skilled, and targeting programmes of interventions towards the poorer segments of the population, particularly the absolute poor in rural regions and indigenous population.
41. In countries in transition,31 which started from situations in which the initial income distribution was relatively even and falling incomes were associated with difficult conditions through which economic transition took place, have often been accompanied by rising inequality. There is a poverty induced by some of the effects of the transition process.32 The role of the United Nations system has focused on the difficult balance between economic reforms and the need for a "credible State", where the latter, while performing important functions in support of market development, should also face the challenge of ensuring the protection of human development through a new welfare system, with selective actions in health and education.
42. The ongoing globalization of the world economy has produced social effects which are not uniform and may pose the risk of leaving large segments of the worlds population in poverty. In October 1998,33 ACC underscored its commitment to common action to tackle development challenges arising from globalization and the adverse effects of the financial crisis, addressing the structural and institutional reforms, strengthening or building basic social services, livelihood opportunities and safety nets for the least fortunate. ACC also emphasized that equity and social justice, beyond their inherent value, are also necessary for political and financial stability. ACC expressed also its concern for the further marginalization of the poorest countries. Many developing countries have difficulty in integrating into a worldwide system of economic interdependence, due, inter alia, to their structural weaknesses and the burden of external indebtedness, accumulated during the course of the past decades.34
43. This problem is very acute for many sub-Saharan African countries. Globalization, however, has produced new victims in countries, which in the past had been singled out for their rapid economic growth and have been recently penalized by sudden capital outflows, when facing financial instability. This applies in particular to the East and South East Asian countries, where the achievements of social progress of the last decades are now in jeopardy. The intensity of the current economic crisis has produced unfortunate consequences by creating new poverty, causing an explosion of unemployment rates, draconian reductions of public spending, sharp increases of prices of primary necessities, fall of real wages, affecting also millions of migrant workers coming from other countries of the region. Signs of rising malnutrition are seen in some cases. Basic social services have seriously deteriorated and school drop-outs have suddenly increased. The social fabric of all these countries has faced severe threats for erosion. The lack or inadequacy of social safety nets generated a new category of poor, while the conditions of the older poor had worsened, as a consequence of higher food prices and reduced social spending.
44. How to address the social consequences of the Asian financial crisis is being considered in many international forums, including the Council. It is important to reflect their implications for sustainable poverty eradication strategies and the role that the United Nations system can play therein. Greater cooperation with the World Bank has been seen.35
45. In countries where economic recession has been persistent, as in large parts of sub-Saharan Africa,36 income stagnation has been accompanied by a significant increase in poverty. In many of those countries, the economy is polarized and poverty eradication requires strong and well-targeted national agendas, with national programmes which may ensure coordination. Reorientation of fiscal resource allocations, such as those suggested by the 20/20 Initiative, may produce useful results, giving the highest priority to the development of basic social services, although budget constraints are major obstacles. Empowerment, social mobility, capacity-building, microfinancing and employment creation appear to be effective ways to facilitate poverty reduction.
46. The system was able to adjust its poverty eradication approach to special circumstances when emergency situations prevail. Emergencies may be linked to natural calamities (such as floods, hurricanes, drought) or man-made disasters, as in the cases of wars and civil strife. In these cases, unforeseen needs hinder the pursuit of a poverty eradication strategy.
47. Where natural disasters occur as in the 1998 floods in Bangladesh, which affected 30 mission people and covered 70 per cent of the country for two months, or the hurricanes Georges and Mitch, which affected many countries in Central America and the Caribbean the first operation undertaken by the system is a damage assessment, often entrusted to the resident coordinator system, which includes the estimation of crop losses, and most importantly the assessment of needs of the affected population (food, health, shelter, clothing, water and sanitation, medical facilities, child protection and family reunification, education).
48. Where civil unrest or war conditions prevail, all economic activities become precarious, the budget for social services is substantially cut, and an extremely high proportion of the population remains below the poverty line, deprived of their homes and their traditional sources of subsistence. All social indicators deteriorate. Risks of infection for epidemic disease substantially rise, and so does the education deficit. The explosion of massive flows of displaced people and refugees raise new and difficult challenges to poverty eradication.
49. In all these cases, a strategy for poverty eradication requires that the United Nations system focus on three major challenges: resettlement of refugees, rehabilitation of the economy and the society as a whole and its most affected members, and reintegration of formerly displaced and other affected population into the productive functioning of the country.
50. In these cases, the role of the United Nations system usually is to
provide humanitarian assistance, focusing on coordination, while planning for medium-term
rehabilitation and recovery, looking for new opportunities to resettle the returned
refugees and promote community development. Quick impact projects are often introduced.
Participatory initiatives of community-based development may be an instrument for
peace-building at the local level. Interaction with the Government, including local
authorities, is crucial, and requires the involvement of the civil society, especially at
local community level.
51. There is a widespread concern within the United Nations system, including the World Bank, that poverty eradication initiatives may not always reach the poorest. In response to this concern, there is a trend towards more participatory and community-based approaches.37
52. Most initiatives pursue social mobilization of the target population, such as by promoting community organizations and community development.38 Social mobilization requires an expanded access to resources, such as through micro-financing and overcoming the lack of access of the poor to commercial lending.39 Some initiatives deal with problems of social exclusion and other obstacles which may reduce the participation of the target population. Innovative initiatives, such as network programmes,40 have targeted most vulnerable groups, encouraging a bottom-up approach and direct involvement of interested population.41
53. United Nations system organizations, including the World Bank, increasingly make use of an empowerment approach in their poverty-focused operations. This approach emphasizes the principle of self-determination and self-respect as the foundation for human development and stresses both the need to promote awareness-raising among the marginalized groups, and the need to build social and political capital through collective organization and mobilization. Education for all has often been highlighted as an important source of empowerment.
54. A review of the World Banks investment operations shows a
steady progress in the use of participatory approaches. The introduction of more
participatory approaches also shows the need to expand the variety of interlocutors of
poverty-focused initiatives, which increasingly involve non-traditional partners, such as
civil society organizations, NGOs, the private sector, community-based organizations and,
most of all the targeted population itself, the poor, which participates both in the
design and implementation of those initiatives. There is an increasing awareness, at the
country level, that poverty alleviation requires the full participation of all components
of the national society, suggesting the need to establish some kind of "compact"
between civil society, government and the private sector in their fight against poverty.
55. The significant role of gender inequalities must be acknowledged in order to fully understand poverty.42 In 1998, the Council adopted a resolution on mainstreaming the gender perspective into the policies and programmes of the United Nations system, and decided to pay particular attention to the feminization of poverty, its causes and remedies.43 The relationship between employment, poverty eradication and empowerment and advancement of women will be addressed by the Council at its high-level segment.44
56. United Nations system organizations, in particular the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), have supported Governments in promoting policies and projects aiming at gender equality and the empowerment of women. Initial interventions focused on income-generation through micro-credit schemes, based on an income-poverty approach of gender inequality, which will increasingly need to address often neglected underlying factors which hinder their access to those assets and resources.
57. Recent trends show that the systems activities are more
sensitive to promoting womens human rights, capacities and opportunities,
establishing better relations with macro-, meso- and micro-phenomena which affect gender
balance. Individual capabilities may be conditioned by factors, such as health and
education, and sociological, cultural and political constraints, which determine the
differentiation of the "entitlements" by gender, thereby affecting womens
access to assets and resources. The new approach includes gender-sensitive analysis in all
poverty-focused interventions. The United Nations system assists Governments in
formulating gender-sensitive policies, encouraging the establishment of specific
58. Poverty eradication represents an important programming component, and in many cases a key priority for a number of organizations of the United Nations system, including the World Bank.46 There is a general awareness within the system that since poverty eradication is neither the province of any one agency nor can it be addressed by individual actions of organizations only, it requires a system-wide, well-coordinated approach.
59. At the inter-agency level, while aiming at broadening system-wide collaboration, the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) has promoted a number of initiatives on poverty eradication, trying to establish a link between the intergovernmental decisions emanating from the international global conferences and the need to ensure an integrated and coordinated follow-up also at the country level.47
60. These initiatives include also the establishment of a working group on poverty (1993), a Consultative Committee on Programme and Operational Questions (CCPOQ) brainstorming workshop (Turin, September 1995), the establishment of three inter-agency task forces in 1995, with a strong country-focused mandate, the adoption of the Statement of Commitment for Action to Eradicate Poverty48 and the draft framework prepared by CCPOQ, entitled "Freedom from poverty: actions and partnerships", which followed the discussion in 1998 of a note entitled "Combating poverty towards a common response".
61. The inter-agency task forces had a major role, identifying, as final outputs, common principles and practical guidelines to facilitate programming at the country level. The Task Force on Basic Social Services for All, in particular, has produced guidelines for the resident coordinator system and a compendium49 of international commitments on poverty and social integration, and other information tools.
62. A framework entitled "Freedom from poverty: actions and partnerships" was drafted in September 1998, building on the work of ACC task forces for the integrated follow-up to global conferences. The draft framework, currently under revision, contains a matrix, which identifies 10 groups of policy measures required to promote poverty eradication, the corresponding elements (activities, criteria, modalities and other aspects) for a system-wide approach against poverty, and potential areas for collaboration.
63. Given the variety of poverty-focused activities of the United Nations system and the variety of mandates of the organizations in the area of poverty eradication, the Council already focused, in 1996,50 on the need to enhance harmonization and coordination among all those who intervene to eradicate poverty, requiring effective collaboration by all relevant partners, both within the United Nations system, including the Bretton Woods institutions, and with other external partners and, most importantly, with national partners.
64. In the agreed conclusions adopted in 1996, the Council requested the United Nations system organizations to pursue actively a coordinated and integrated approach to the implementation of the outcome of the global conferences, which have all given priority to the goal of poverty eradication. The Council urged all organizations of the United Nations system to ensure that their country-level representatives are fully committed to poverty eradication activities, promoting joint action by the United Nations system.
65. The Council, in particular, urged the organizations of the United Nations system to assist the Governments, upon request, through collective efforts made within the resident coordinator system, in preparing an assessment of the poverty situation in the countries as the basis for country-specific poverty eradication strategies. The Council reiterated that poverty eradication activities are a high priority of the United Nations system and, as mentioned earlier (see sect. II.A above), should be supported and coordinated through the resident coordinator system, taking into account the complementarities and strengths of each organization and recognizing that the ultimate responsibility of coordination in the country is that of the Government. In accordance with national plans and priorities, United Nations system organizations should actively work towards expanding and improving coordination and promote joint activities related, as appropriate, to the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of poverty eradication activities.51
66. The resident coordinator system operates on the basis of a number of strengthened mechanisms which were reviewed by the 1998 triennial comprehensive policy review and on which the present report provides further information in subsequent chapters. These mechanisms support coordination of poverty eradication activities. Among them, the most relevant are thematic groups and strategic and programming frameworks (such as the country strategy note, common country assessment and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF)). In addition, round tables and consultative group meetings, in particular those which focused on poverty reduction, should be mentioned as they help mobilize and coordinate support from the donor community to poverty eradication strategies. The experience of specific round tables on poverty eradication acquired in Mali, Niger and Zimbabwe is a useful example.
67. Thematic groups have become frequent mechanisms of consultation within the United Nations system and policy dialogue with national counterparts on poverty eradication. These groups focus on poverty eradication as a central theme or other related cross-cutting issues (e.g., community development, education, health, HIV/AIDS, rural development, foods security, gender and development) in some countries.52 At times, poverty eradication groups have only recently been established, so it is premature to assess their effectiveness. These groups may become important instruments for feedback, monitoring, reviewing, evaluating and reorienting pro-poor actions. In some cases, such as Costa Rica, Malawi and Mali, thematic groups are used for practical consultation in collaborative programming exercises (joint or parallel programming), which are relevant for poverty-focused initiatives, especially if referred to specific geographical areas.
68. The United Nations systems response to national priorities needs to take into account global conferences. This was done in many country strategy notes, especially those formulated since 1994, and is more explicit both in the common country assessments and UNDAF. This is why these two mechanisms are expected to play an increasing role in coordinating the activities of the United Nations system in support of poverty eradication. This applies particularly to the common country assessments, for their potential as an analytic and advocacy tool in support of a coordinated poverty-oriented programme. This corresponds to the indications made by the Council in 1996.53
69. The way in which the country strategy notes have reflected poverty eradication as a priority area varies from one country to another. To date, 33 country strategy notes have been adopted; poverty eradication is explicitly indicated as a priority area of intervention for the United Nations system in at least 14 of them.54 In another 10 countries, poverty is subsumed by some other concept, such as social development, income distribution or equity, sustainable human development or priority of basic social services.55 In some cases, the reference to poverty eradication includes the explicit mention of specific targets, although in most cases it is indicated only as an overall objective.56
70. The common country assessment is an important potential tool in supporting a coordinated poverty-focused strategy. It complements efforts already undertaken at the country level by various organizations to assess the poverty situation through national human development reports (UNDP), poverty assessments (World Bank), situation analyses of UNICEF, food security assessment (WFP), population analyses (UNFPA) and other relevant analytical studies, with the advantage of attempting an integrated and harmonized approach within the system.57
71. As regards UNDAF, so far experimented in 18 countries, the
planned assessment of its effectiveness, expected by the year 2001, will allow the
evaluation of its capacity to affect the performance of the United Nations system, also as
a tool to harmonize and integrate efforts and promote poverty eradication in the framework
of people-centred development.58 In all countries in which a UNDAF was
completed, poverty eradication figures as a central priority of the United Nations system.
72. Individual organizations have conducted evaluation of projects or cluster of poverty-focused projects in order to assess their effectiveness. Country poverty assessments, national human development reports and other country-level poverty analyses that UNDP, the World Bank and other organizations have conducted in several countries focus their analysis on the conditions of the poor, defining or assessing a poverty-reduction strategy. In so doing, they also include an assessment of the most suitable policy measures required to implement those strategies.
73. Studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of specific instruments and measures in terms of poverty reduction. UNICEF has completed studies on issues, such as the effectiveness of social funds in developing countries, mechanisms to involve users in financing basic social services, options for financing primary education in Africa. The World Bank has conducted an extensive series of studies on the effectiveness of the various forms of safety nets and related instruments, at the global, regional and country level.59
74. UNDP, in 1994, requested an external evaluation of the UNDPs poverty reduction activities in order to find lessons useful to define the strategy of the organization.60 Most importantly, the evaluation concluded that UNDP had no systematic way to evaluate the costs or the impact of those activities in terms of peoples well-being. That evaluation also emphasized that it was difficult to move from the evaluation of a set of local-level initiatives to a more integrated programme approach for UNDP activities.
75. More comprehensive assessments of the poverty reduction activity were promoted by UNDP and the World Bank. The UNDP report Overcoming Human Poverty represents a major endeavour to produce a comprehensive review of the poverty eradication efforts conducted by UNDP, and covers a wide range of themes. In addition, an internal in-depth study of the poverty-focused projects for 19921996 has recently been attempted by UNDP, focusing on the distribution of resources over the fifth programming cycle of UNDP, and appraising the extent to which that distribution matched the new legislative mandates that UNDP had established for itself in 1994.61 Combined with the Human Development Report, the various regional human development reports,62 the national long-term prospective strategies and several national human development reports, these activities represent an intensive effort to progress on assessing UNDP operations in terms of poverty eradication.
76. The World Bank has conducted an assessment of its own activities focused on poverty reduction in a systematic way, publishing almost annually a report entitled Poverty Reduction and the World Bank. The effectiveness of the Banks operations in terms of poverty reduction is estimated, both in global terms and with reference to specific instruments, comparing results with the poverty assessments conducted by the Bank in many countries. In view of the preparation of the World Development Report 2000/2001, the Bank has announced the need to change its way of assessing pro-poor activities, moving from an approach based on counting poverty-focused projects to a new approach based on the actual assessment of their impact on the poor, a more strategic and output-oriented approach.
77. The effectiveness of the initiatives promoted by the United Nations system to support poverty eradication cannot be easily measured. An assessment of poverty-focused activities should go beyond the distribution of financial resources. As shown by one approach chosen by the World Bank for the World Development Report 2000/2001, one way of assessing the real impact of the various pro-poor activities could be in terms of household welfare. Even though the country studies undertaken for the national human development reports and similar studies may contain useful information on the effectiveness of the United Nations system in terms of poverty reduction, their focus is normally on the assessment of poverty situations or poverty strategies. In particular, the following relevant questions should find an answer:
· To what extent has the support provided by the United Nations system organizations to the formulation of poverty reduction policies at the country level been effective?
· What are the projects/activities that are more likely to affect positively the living conditions of the poor?
· How is a target group defined in the course of designing operational strategies?
· How is the gender dimension addressed in pro-poor initiatives promoted by the United Nations system?
· How effective is the United Nations system in mobilizing financial support (from both domestic and external sources) to poverty-related initiatives?
· Do poverty-related initiatives address the needs of the poorest or
do they still marginalize them as the most vulnerable population?
78. The Council may wish to recall General Assembly resolution 51/178 on the First United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, in particular paragraph 8, and to:
(a) Call on the funds and programmes and agencies of the system to continue to provide support to developing countries in their efforts to eradicate poverty, assisting them in coordinating action in this area;
(b) Call on the United Nations development system organizations to support national efforts to formulate, coordinate, implement, monitor and assess integrated poverty strategies, including through capacity-building initiatives and, where requested, supporting reviews of public expenditures in developing countries to increase the allocation and enhance the effective use of resources for poverty eradication purposes;
(c) Undertake activities in support of policy analysis, in accordance with appropriate mandates, including by providing advisory services to Governments on national trends in poverty and conditions of the most vulnerable groups, strengthening the capacity of the Governments to establish effective data banks and to carry out appropriate poverty assessments at the country level;
(d) Request the United Nations system organizations to continue to support, in a coherent and coordinated manner, national efforts to empower people living in poverty, and to suggest appropriate measures to correct inequities in accordance with established norms and mandates of the United Nations system;
(e) Make further progress in harmonizing United Nations systems support to national poverty eradication programmes through such programme frameworks as the country strategy notes, common country assessments and UNDAF, and to make full use of thematic groups and other coordination mechanisms within the resident coordinator system in order to provide a coordinated and collaborative response by the United Nations system to national priorities for poverty eradication;
(f) Call on the system further to increase its collaboration with all development partners in supporting national priorities and policies, reflecting the cross-cutting nature of poverty eradication, including by increased collaboration with multilateral financial institutions, particularly the World Bank as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), regional banks, other external donors and civil society organizations, as appropriate.
79. The Council may also wish to encourage the system to take steps to
enhance the effectiveness and impact of poverty-oriented support provided by the United
Nations system, including by undertaking collaborative evaluations by ensuring that the
results of these evaluations are applied through improved programmes. Moreover, the
Council may wish to reaffirm the importance of focusing the evaluations of United Nations
system organizations foreseen in paragraph 53 of General Assembly resolution 53/192 on
poverty eradication, intensifying collaborative evaluations in this area.
80. The present section builds on the report of the Secretary-General for the triennial comprehensive policy report, and provides initial information on the implementation of paragraph 32 of General Assembly resolution 53/192. It is supplemented by a study on capacity-building issued recently by the United Nations under the title "Building national capacities: some lessons from impact evaluations by the United Nations". Moreover, a panel of capacity-building specialists will speak at the operational activities segment of the substantive session of 1999 of the Council to report on progress to change current programme policies in the United Nations system to reflect the outcome of the impact evaluation of 1998 and other evaluations of capacity-building.
81. The concept of capacity-building within the United Nations system has evolved as a result of several decades of experience. Until the mid1980s, capacity-building through the operational activities for development of the United Nations system focused primarily on institution building or strengthening of individual organizations, which involved techniques and concepts that involved what can be described as "organizational engineering". This meant that particular attention was paid to strengthening specific technical and administrative capacity of individual organizations through training, fellowships, expert services and equipment. By the end of the 1980s, this approach began to give way, based on learned experiences, to a broader concept of capacity-building which placed it in a broader national context and included increased attention to such areas as policy and programme formulation, budgeting and financial management, development planning, programme implementation, coordination and performance monitoring and evaluation. Programme and project design tended to take more fully account of external factors to reflect the context in which the building of capacity took place. This could include institutional and social patterns of a country, its legal systems, its political dynamics and centres of political power, its governance, the rule of law, its ethics and attention to human rights and other societal rules under which organizations functioned.
82. Greater efforts were also made to include such areas as partnerships, linkages, networks, stakeholder involvement, integrated planning and inter-organizational coordination. Capacity-building thus began to deal with changes on a larger scale, involving complex issues such as urban development, HIV/AIDS, poverty and environmental management. These complicated and often multisectoral issues posed new challenges for a United Nations system whose technical capacity is for the most part organized on a sectoral basis.
83. Capacity-building was also increasingly seen as a dynamic process in which individual and organizational learning and innovation became more widely accepted by the United Nations system. Support for capacity-building by the United Nations system thus needed to be conceived more flexibly, taking account of experimental and risk-embracing ideas, identifying and supplying additional resources, and introducing facilitation and access to outside learning.
84. The specific requirements of effective capacity-building through technical cooperation should be viewed from the perspective of this evolution. Moreover, while capacity-building continues to be seen by some as a means to achieving such development ends as better maternal child health or higher agricultural productivity, capacity-building should be increasingly an explicit objective of all technical cooperation as provided by General Assembly resolution 53/192. Efforts are now under way within CCPOQ to develop a shared understanding of capacity building with the aim of combining effectively specific technical goals of cooperation with capacity-building objectives.
85. The results of six impact evaluations prepared within the context of the 1998 triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development were reported to the Council in 1998, and some key points were included in the report of the Secretary-General to the Assembly (A/53/226). These evaluations confirmed that policies pursued by the system, such as independence, impartiality and balance in its handling of issues, enable the system to have an impact in capacity-building. Moreover, as a result of continuity of its presence at the country level, the United Nations system has an understanding of evolving local circumstances that permit it to adapt its approaches rapidly to changing requirements. The United Nations system is often acting locally as a convenor of various development partners, in full accord with the host country, to help address capacity-building issues, reflecting, whenever appropriate, follow-up to global conferences.
86. The evaluations of capacity-building also confirmed that the degree of coherence and collaboration within the United Nations system can be a crucial factor for positive impact in capacity-building whenever several organizations are involved on such issues as health or human resource development. Single-sector high quality technical support from smaller technical agencies can also have a very positive impact on the development of a countrys technical capacity.
87. Among the concerns identified by the evaluations were the administrative burden imposed on Governments by the large number of projects supported by the United Nations system and the consequent proliferation of effort. Weaknesses of the institutional memory in many country teams and the resulting difficulties in drawing country level lessons were also mentioned. The greater rigour that is being promoted via the UNDAF process, notably the preparations of the common country assessments, should help the system to make improvements here.
88. In general, the evaluations suggested that operational activities are effective in handling cross-cutting issues, such as capacity-building, in which the organizations of the United Nations system work with the Government on a common set of goals, mutual expectations and limits, which gives their technical competence and advocacy roles an opportunity to be most effective.
89. Among the other factors which were identified by the evaluations as having a significant bearing on varying levels of impact of the United Nations system are (a) civil and political stability; (b) appropriate degrees of decentralization or centralization of national capacity; (c) technological specificity in the capacity required and degree of competition affecting the institutions or entities concerned; (d) ability of countries to deal overall with the effects of policy reform; (e) national ownership; and (f) an effective analysis of the requirements to develop fully operational capacity. Of these factors, (a) and (e) were identified as being of particular relevance in this respect.
90. The evaluations also identified proliferation of effort over too many projects; pressure to undertake projects recommended by individual entities with the United Nations system, with the number and diversity of proposals going beyond the countrys managerial capacity; and failure to build sustainability into project design and transfer ownership and accountability as causes for lack of impact in some cases.
91. The evaluations showed that there was an evolution from direct support to institutions to capacity-building through policy advocacy. Although the latter is more difficult to evaluate in terms of specific outcomes, it nevertheless exemplified an important area of assistance by the United Nations system. They also showed that United Nations system support helped to translate internationally agreed concepts into national policy and helped to readjust capacity-building to meet new and changing policy environments. In one case, institutional capacity developed with United Nations system support was eventually bypassed as new approaches to health programmes were being introduced. However, the United Nations system was able to adjust its operational activities to help empower local initiatives to manage community-based health services The evaluation exercise identified concern about the administrative burden placed on Government by the varying rules and procedures and a large number of projects supported by the United Nations system.
92. Thus, the evaluation in Mali showed that capacity was created, including the capacity of Malians to change and rebuild their own institutions, especially in health. But in both the education and health sectors, some institutional capacity was lost partly because donors bypassed. The main result of the capacity-building effort supported by the United Nations system was found to be the increased confidence the nationals had in themselves. The evaluators recommended against the use of parallel administration by Malis international partners and help in developing ability for capacity retention.
93. The evaluations show that United Nations system activities were able to prepare conditions for larger programmes to be implemented, highlighting the role of the United Nations system in innovation, testing and demonstration, which illustrates the multiplier effect of operational activities. They also show that a major factor for achieving positive and sustainable results in capacity-building is the availability of a critical mass of financial resources. The evaluation noted that national capacity created successfully with United Nations system support remained nonetheless vulnerable to resource uncertainties. This holds regardless of whether these resources come from within the United Nations system, or from national or other external sources.
94. The evaluations confirm that building effective and sustainable capacity is indeed difficult and demanding work in any country and at any time. The best ways to build capacity are not always clear even to the most experienced advisers.
95. It is clear from the evaluations that the notion of sustainability which, when and how capacity needs to be maintained needs a fresh look. This is certainly an inference that can be drawn from the impact evaluation of United Nations system support to building telecommunications capacity in Brazil. In that case, the telecommunications capacity, which the United Nations system supported, was created and grew in the public sector and then was done away with once it was no longer needed. The capacity remained and was used in different forms within the society.
96. The United Nations systems approach may need to move towards codifying a body of sound basic principles and reflecting them in solid practical guidance. One of the lessons suggested by the impact evaluations is that capacity-building may be too broad a term to have sufficient operational significance. This suggests that more attention be paid to analysing specific kinds of capacity building and codifying best practices for each kind. Practices that have been found to work when dealing with poverty eradication may well involve significantly different factors than those associated with governance.
97. Even the limited range of experience examined by these evaluations
suggests that it is important for all relevant entities within the United Nations system,
as well as interested member States, to monitor their support to capacity-building much
more closely to detect required changes and to take appropriate measures. This means that
more attention needs to be given to examining experience and current approaches with a
view to extracting the lessons learnt and best practices and feeding them back into
current operations. The Council, for its part, should maintain its interest in and monitor
the development of a systematic and system-wide approach.
A. Initial follow-up to General Assembly resolution 53/192
98. A seminar is being planned by CCPOQ, just prior to the substantive session of 1999 of the Council, to bring together specialists with extensive operational experience and sensitivity to both strategic operational aspect of capacity building. The evaluations will be used as the basis for developing a draft guidance note to the United Nations system, both at headquarters and the country levels, to ensure that capacity-building and its sustainability are explicitly articulated as a goal of the operational activities of the United Nations system at the country level. It will be followed up through training and country-level missions as determined at the seminar. A new series of impact evaluations, focused, inter alia, on capacity-building and poverty eradication is foreseen. The results are to be presented to the next triennial review in 2001.
99. In the short run, as part of its specific follow up of paragraph 37 of General Assembly resolution 53/192, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs is disseminating the six pilot impact evaluations of capacity-building, carried out as part of the 1998 triennial review in a publication, which also contains introductory chapters about the capacity-building lessons learned and evaluation issues raised.
100. Seminars are being organized jointly by UNDP and UNICEF, building
on their respective experiences and intended to give practical guidance to their staff. A
new policy paper on capacity building has been issued by UNDP updating its position. The
reports, which were recently submitted to the Council by UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF63
on progress made in implementing the resolution, do not treat the topic extensively. This
is largely due to the relatively brief period between the passing of the resolution and
the date when the reports have to be prepared. The reports of the organizations concerned
are expected to be able to go into greater depth on this topic in their submission to the
substantive session of 2000 of the Council, but it would be premature to say that there is
as yet a concerted process under way to make capacity-building and its sustainability
explicitly articulated as a goal of technical cooperation provided via the United Nations
system at the country level, but the first steps in that direction are being taken.
101. The Council may wish to take note of the steps being taken to implement General Assembly resolution 53/192, paragraph 37, dealing with capacity-building, particularly the development of United Nations system guidance on capacity-building with a view to making capacity-building an explicit objective of programme and projects supported by the system, including by revising relevant programming guidelines, by taking fully into account the results of recent impact evaluation studies on the subject, prepared within the context of the 1998 triennial comprehensive policy review and the results of a joint CCPOQ/Department of Economic and Social Affairs seminar on the formulation of suggested guidelines for the system.
102. The Council may wish to call on the United Nations system to undertake to ensure that all programmes have a capacity-building objective and have simple explicit indicators of performance as well as baseline data built into such programmes before they are approved.
103. The Council may also want to encourage the United Nations to take further steps to assemble and disseminate all relevant information on capacity-building.
104. The Council may wish to address the subject of the sustainability
and adaptability of capacity-building in a variety of development contexts and in response
to a range of sectoral, cross-sectoral and technical requirements of recipient countries.
In particular, it may want to draw the attention of donors and recipients to the necessity
of taking appropriate steps to ensure the financial viability of capacity created in
IV. Resources and funding
105. The General Assembly, in its resolution 48/162, defined the oversight role to be exercised by the Council in relation to the work of funds and programmes. By its resolution 50/227, adopted in June 1996, the Assembly further decided (para. 11) that the Council should consider, on an annual basis in the operational activities segment, the overall financial picture of the funds and programmes, including the availability of resources, the priorities and programmes agreed upon in the funds and programmes, the adopted targets and further guidance on priorities, and make recommendations thereon to the General Assembly and the funds and programmes. The Council is scheduled to discuss the subject of funding at its substantive session of 2000. Such a high level of consideration will be timely.
106. In its decision 98/23, the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board adopted an annual funding target for UNDP core resources of $1.1 billion, and stressed the urgent need to achieve annual increases until the target is met (the preliminary data shows that contributions to UNDP core resources in 1998 did not exceed $751 million). The Board reaffirmed the need to reverse the downward trend in core resources and to establish a mechanism to place UNDP core funding on a predictable basis. UNDP was requested to develop a multi-year funding framework that integrates programme objectives, resources, budget and outcomes with objective of increasing core resources. In addition to reaffirming these elements, the Board, in its decision 99/1, also reaffirmed the importance of the development of the multi-year funding framework as an integral element of the funding strategy approved by the Board in its decision 98/23. The first funding session was held, in accordance with paragraph 12 (b) of decision 98/23, at the second regular session of 1999. In order to enhance predictability, and as outlined in decision 98/23, member States were encouraged to provide multi-year pledges as follows: a firm funding commitment for the current year (1999); for those in a position to do so, a firm contribution or indication of the contribution for the following year (in this case 2000); and firm or tentative contribution for the third year (2001) if possible. The interim report on the implementation of the funding strategy for the funds and programmes associated with UNDP, as requested in paragraph 8 of decision 99/1, will be submitted to the Executive Board at its annual session 1999, and a report to the Board at its annual session 2000 on the proposed timing, format and content of the multi-year funding framework, including a clear indication of how the lessons learned in one multi-year funding framework cycle will be fed into the next cycle.
107. As to UNFPAs multi-year planning, management and funding framework, the Executive Board, in its decision 99/5, requested the Executive Director to submit to the Board at its first regular session of 2000 the multi-year funding framework, 20002003, and decided to hold the first funding session as outlined in paragraph 11 (b) of decision 98/24 at the second regular session of 2000 (preliminary data on 1998 contributions to UNFPA core resources shows a decline of about 20 per cent compared with 1997, to a level of $269 million).
108. The UNICEF Executive Board, in its decision 99/8, endorsed the funding target of annual growth in income of 7 per cent, to reach $1.5 billion by 2005, as a challenge for the mobilization of general resources and supplementary funds from Governments and from the private sector and all other donors (preliminary data show that 1998 contributions to UNICEF core resources did not exceed $571 million). The Board also decided that UNICEF should adopt and develop a multi-year funding framework that conceptually integrates UNICEF organizational priorities and major areas of action, resources, budget and outcomes. The Board also requested the Executive Director to propose, at the first regular session of 2000, a plan on the timing of presentation to the Board of the various elements of the multi-year funding framework, with a view to enhancing their interlinkages.
109. The financial stability of the United Nations development system continues to be of serious concern (see E/1999/55/Add.2 for details) while clearly UNDP requires priority attention, in relation to inherent policy and programme implications, the issue should be addressed in the broader framework of the United Nations systems presence, profile and programming at the country level. The system, particularly the funds and programmes, have built an elaborate infrastructure over forty years, which many countries have come to accept and view as an integral to their development effort. Many bilateral donors and Bretton Woods institutions have also been extensively using these facilities. Any dismantling or any serious scaling down for finical reasons would be extremely injurious both to the United Nations system and to the recipient countries. This is an aspect that needs to be borne in mind while considering the future and financial position of United Nations development system. The sweep of globalization, the force and velocity of economic reforms that many countries are implementing are germinating new demands and challenges, and many countries are looking to the United Nations to help cope with them.
110. The steady decline in the core contributions of UNDP carries important policy implications that need careful consideration by the Council in 2000, when resources will be the focus area. There is a need for a strategic decision on this. These extend beyond the future of UNDP itself and embrace the gamut of the United Nations system, including the specialized agencies. Perhaps far more significant, they impinge on the current paradigm of development in which UNDP, along with other funds and programmes, still play a significant albeit diminished role.
111. For an informed consideration of the subject of funding and resource situation of the United Nations development system, it will be necessary to review how the stagnation and decline of resources at the country level is impacting development work. Have any programmes or projects been shelved, scaled down or sidelined? Has it affected the ability of the United Nations to fill critical gaps in mobilizing the critical mass of external resources? What effect is there on implementing goals of global conferences and in achieving the targets of poverty eradication? How is it affecting its credibility and image of the United Nations system as credible and reliable partner? What is the impact in its leverage in relation to other external partners? What can the system collectively do in the field to optimize the cost of programme delivery and administrative expenses? What should be done by the broader membership of the United Nations at the political level to arrest and reverse the situation? And what kind of policy options exist to ensure that the functions assigned to UNDP are carried out at the country level?
112. Besides the issue of and impact on field level, the overall delivery capacity of United Nations funds and programmes has to be considered. For example, with its existing delivery capacity, UNFPA can backstop programmes worth much more than current average of $250 million per annum. Although UNICEF is more comfortably and securely placed than UNDP, there is still a significant gap between the projected demands and expected availability. The adverse impact of enfeebled United Nations programming at the country level on United Nations specialized agencies, particularly smaller ones without field presence, should not be forgotten.
113. Concessionary resource flows to developing countries, instead of moving towards the globally agreed target of 0.7 per cent, are in a state of steady decline at a time of increasing needs and demands. In nominal terms, the members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)/Development Assistance Committee (DAC) as a group (and a number of large donors among them) have not been able to stem the decline in ODA. Net ODA had been rising until 1992, when it reached a record amount of $61 billion. Since then it has declined by one fifth to reach $48 billion in 1997. The Group of Seven Major Industrialized Countries have accounted for practically all of the real fall in ODA in recent years, which fell by 29 per cent in real terms between 1992 and 1997, while real ODA from countries outside this group was practically unchanged. Non-Group of Seven countries now provide 28 per cent of DAC ODA, which is double their share in total DAC gross national product (GNP). In terms of combined aid effort, the overall percentage of ODA in terms of GNP for DAC member countries is 0.25 per cent.
114. The funding and resources situation of the United Nations development system and of the funds and programmes continues to be a matter of grave concern, particularly at a time of growing consensus and convergence on global priorities centered around the time- bound eradication of poverty. In response to Assembly resolutions 50/227, 52/12 B, and 52/203, the executive boards of United Nations funds and programmes have developed new funding strategies articulated in decisions 98/23, 98/24, and 99/1 of the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board and 99/8 of the UNICEF Executive Board. In particular, the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board, in its decision 98/23, stressed the urgent need to achieve annual increases in the mobilization of UNDP core resources until the target of $1.1 billion has been met and the UNICEF Executive Board, in its decision 99/8, endorsed the funding target of an annual growth in income of 7 per cent, to reach $1.5 billion by 2005.
115. A review of resource trends in operational activities for development within the United Nations system up to 1997 is provided in the addendum to the present report (E/1999/55/Add.2). Addendum table A-1 on contributions shows a steady decline from US$ 5,489.3 million in 1994 to US$ 5,431.3 million in 1997 in total resources channelled for operational activities through the United Nations system. The fluctuation of contributions within the system should be noted, with obvious consequences in programme and project planning and implementation.
116. Contributions to UNDP core resources has steadily declined from its peak of $942.8 million in 1994. In 1995, the decline was almost 4 per cent, in 1996 7 per cent and in 1997 11 per cent (or almost 20 per cent, if compared to the 1994 level). Based on preliminary data for 1998 and estimates for 1999, this negative tendency will continue ($750.9 million in 1998, and $738.1 million in 1999). Not only did this fall short of the $1.1 billion set out in decision 98/23, but the trend continues to be moving farther away from the target rather than towards it. The contributions to UNICEF have also steadily declined in both core and supplementary resources, from its peak of $679.0 million in 1994 to $529.3 million in 1997 (or 22 per cent) to core resources, and from $464.7 million in 1995 to $357.7 million in 1997 (or 23 per cent) to supplementary resources; meanwhile, preliminary data for 1998 shows an increase to core resources to $570 million which is nevertheless 16 per cent less than in 1994. The contributions to UNFPA (its non-core component is traditionally small) shows relative stability and reached its highest level of $369.5 million in 1997 ($305.0 million in 1995). While clearly UNDP is most affected, the fall-out is by no means confined to it. For example, UNICEF and UNFPA face a growing gap between the resource requirements in terms of their mandates and demands from developing countries and their resource availability on a stable, secure and predictable basis. If viewed in the context of the targets and goals set at the International Conference on Population and Development and the World Summit for Children, the paucity of resources available to UNFPA and UNICEF become even starker. Their vulnerability should also be seen in the context of the increasing importance of social issues and of women and children in development.
117. Despite the steady decline in the core resources of UNDP, it remains central to the United Nations development system. It was designed to be the principal development arm of the United Nations, and its financial fragility has serious implications for the United Nations system as a whole given UNDPs special role and, even more importantly, for the developing countries. UNDPs non-core resources have been stable and have shown some increase, but this is due to a large extent to special situation in a few countries. It is the core funds that conform to the traditional character of United Nations development funding and provide the programme flexibility that is needed.
118. While there is as yet no hard empirical evidence, there are indications that the fall of core resources is adversely affecting the capacity of the United Nations system to effectively contribute to national development and its responsiveness to emerging needs. As shown in table B-1 of the statistical addendum, the United Nations system development grants dropped in nominal terms from $4.9 billion in 1993 to $4.8 billion in 1997. However, during the same period, UNDP expenditures financed from government cost-sharing contributions rose from $0.4 billion in 1993 to almost $1 billion in 1997 (60 per cent rise). UNFPA expenditures have been declining since 1995, from $231.1 million to $214.4 million in 1997 (almost 8 per cent). UNICEF expenditures, after relative stability for several years, also began declining from $803.3 million in 1995 to $672.6 million in 1997 (or 16 per cent). As shown in the same table B-1, the share of the United Nations specialized and technical agencies within total United Nations system grant assistance dropped from 26 per cent ($1.3 billion) in 1993 to about 20 per cent ($1.0 billion) in 1997.
119. The first funding session, for UNDP only, was held at the second regular session of the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board (15 April 1999), in accordance with Board decision 98/23, in which the Board also endorsed the funding target of $1.1 billion. In order to enhance predictability, member States were encouraged to provide multi-year pledges, as follows: a firm funding commitment for the current year (1999); for those in a position to do so, a firm contribution or indication of the contribution for the following year (in this case 2000); and firm or tentative contribution for the third year (2001), if possible.
120. So far, the first funding session for UNDP showed mixed results. With respect to volume of resources, UNDP estimates that the total volume of core resources for 1999 would be around $738 million, while the final core resource figure for 1998 was $751 million (both are lower than $766.6 million in 1997). At the same time, there are some indications that a new funding strategy based on the multi-year funding framework, which received the overwhelming support of member States, may work in the future and help to stop the declining trend in the core resources situation. Even now, if one could apply, for instance, exchange rates as they were on 1 April 1997 to the estimated contributions for 1999, their US dollar equivalent would be almost $786 million, or almost 3 per cent increase over 1997. It is encouraging to note that for the first time in seven years, 12 OECD/DAC donors are set to increase their contribution in local currency in 1999 over the previous year. Eight recipient countries have also indicated increased contributions. Another six OECD/DAC members have confirmed that they will maintain their 1998 level of core pledges, and 23 recipient countries have indicated the same.
121. A number of countries made an initial commitment to the new funding strategy of UNDP by announcing their pledges at that time. As concerns all funds and programmes, the new mechanism will be introduced more fully early in 2000, and the Council will receive the results at its substantive session for the year 2000. A total of 13 contributing countries have made indicative contributions for 2000 and all but one of these for 2001. In most of these cases, the amount indicatively pledged for 2000 and 2001 is at least at the same level as that of 1999, if not higher (subject to government or parliamentary approval). While many member countries were unable to provide a multi-year pledge in 1999, some indicated that they were making concerted efforts to revise domestic legislation so that they would be in a position to commit to multi-year pledges in 2000.
122. It was agreed that the interim report on the implementation of the funding strategy for the funds and programmes associated with UNDP will be submitted to the Executive Board at its annual session in 1999, as well as a report to the Board at its annual session in 2000 on the proposed timing, format and content of the multi-year funding framework, including a clear indication of how the lessons learned in one multi-year funding framework cycle will be introduced into the next cycle. As to UNFPAs multi-year planning, management and funding framework, the Executive Board, in its decision 99/5 adopted at that session, requested the Executive Director to submit to the Board at its first regular session in 2000 the multi-year funding framework, 20002003, and decided to hold the first funding session at the second regular session in 2000.
123. The UNICEF Executive Board, in its decision 99/8, endorsed the
funding target of an annual growth in income of 7 per cent, to reach $1.5 billion by 2005,
as a challenge for the mobilization of general resources and supplementary funds, and
decided that voluntary contributions should be announced at the first regular session each
year, together with the payment schedules. Governments which are not able to make such
announcements at the first regular session should communicate their contribution once
their budgetary processes are complete, if possible no later than April. With the aim of
strengthening the multi-year funding framework, UNICEF was requested to develop a separate
part of the annual report of the Executive Director with analysis of the payments received
against payment schedules, the availability of resources, their predictability, as well as
obstacles, constraints and future potential introduced by the multi-year funding
framework. This analysis would be discussed by the Executive Board at its annual session.
The UNICEF Executive Director was also requested to propose at its first regular session
in 2000 a plan on the timing of the presentation to the Executive Board of the various
elements of the multi-year funding framework with a view to enhancing their interlinkages.
124. The Council may wish to indicate the issues on which it wishes the
Secretary-General to focus in preparing the documentation for its substantive session of
V. United Nations funds and programmes: oversight role of the
A. General issues
125. This section aims to summarize and draw the attention of the Council to current issues arising from the executive boards of the United Nations funds and programmes which require its attention and in relation to which the Council may wish to provide the necessary policy guidance. In taking action on the decisions of the boards of UNDP/UNFPA, UNICEF and WFP, as well as on the annual reports of their executive heads, the Council is fulfilling the mandate given to it by General Assembly resolution 50/227, in which, inter alia, the Assembly calls on the Council to consider on an annual basis the overall financial picture and availability of resources, the priorities and programmes agreed upon, the adopted targets and further guidance on priorities and to make recommendations to the Assembly, and the funds and programmes. The presentation and section IV on resources and funding provide an overview in this respect.
126. While the Council has endeavoured to discharge its responsibilities as spelled out by Assembly resolutions 50/227 and 48/162,64 the Council may wish to assess whether the division of responsibilities between it and the boards is functioning as mandated, particularly on issues in which both have roles to play such as funding and programming. As spelled out in its resolutions 1994/33, 1995/51, 1996/42 and 1998/27, the Council has dealt at various times with the reporting relationship to the boards and funds and programmes, and expects them to raise and bring to its attention issues that they consider requiring the attention of the Council. The Council has, thus, largely left the initiative to the boards and the funds and programmes, and they have responded with some useful suggestions. Nonetheless, it might be useful if the Council were to indicate the kinds of issues that it wishes the boards and funds and programmes to consider for eventual transmission to the Council for appropriate action. They may include such issues as funding, target setting, resource mobilization and allocation which have important policy, programmatic and development implications that extend beyond a single organization.
127. There are such areas which are currently under active
consideration by the boards, with implications for future programming centered on a
resource strategy and the introduction of new programming arrangements and allocation of
resources that carry system-wide implications. The recent decision of the boards to move
towards multi-year funding is relevant in this respect on account of its potential for
increased predictability and levels of funding. Given the interrelatedness of issues and
the converging mandates of funds and programmes, the Council may wish to consider the
issue of collective coherence. It may also wish to consider how to reverse stagnant or
shrinking core funding, and identify measures to ensure coordinated and cost-effective
programming at the country level. That, in turn, may even require greater and more focused
conclusions of the reports of executive boards to identify areas of convergence,
complementarity and contradictions and bring specific issues before the Council.
B. Annual reports of the heads of the United Nations funds and programmes to the
128. In its resolution 1998/27 (para. 1), the Council called on the executive boards of the United Nations funds and programmes to ensure that the heads of these funds and programmes include in their annual reports to the Economic and Social Council, prepared in accordance with Council resolution 1994/33, a thorough analysis of problems encountered and lessons learned, with emphasis on issues arising from the implementation of the Secretary-Generals reform programmes, the triennial policy review and the follow-up to conferences so as to allow the Council to fulfil its coordinating role.65 Both the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board and UNICEF Board requested that these reports be submitted to the present session of the Council, together with comments made by delegations and statements and answers given by the Administrator of UNDP and the Executive Director of UNFPA (information is contained in relevant executive boards reports).
129. Detailed information on the results of considerations of the
annual reports of the executive heads of the United Nations funds and programmes can be
found in the relevant reports of the executive boards (E/1998/31/Rev.1 and DP/1999/13).
C. Concise consolidated list of issues
130. In its resolution 50/227 referred to above, the General Assembly
indicated that the guidance functions of the Council should be reinforced by giving
attention to the objectives, priorities and strategies in the implementation of the
policies formulated by the General Assembly, as well as concentrating on cross-cutting and
coordination issues. In its resolution 1998/27, the Council invited the Secretary-General
to arrange for submission to the Council by the executive heads of the United Nations
funds and programmes, in consultation with the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), of
a concise consolidated list of issues which are central to the improved coordination of
operational activities and on which the funds and programmes seek consideration by and
guidance from the Council.66 The requested consolidated list of issues is
provided in conference room paper 1.
D. Joint and concurrent meetings of the executive boards
131. An important initiative (called for by the Council in its
resolution 1995/51, para. 6), which was also included in the Secretary-Generals
reform proposals, was the holding of joint and concurrent meetings of the boards of
UNDP/UNFPA and UNICEF. In 1999, the joint meetings of the boards of UNDP/UNFPA and UNICEF
addressed the following major areas of concerted action for 1999: resource flows,
follow-up to international conferences, the resident coordinator system, monitoring and
evaluation, use of common indicators, harmonization of programme cycles, common premises
and services, UNDAF and the common country assessments, link between development and
humanitarian operations. No decisions or conclusions were adopted as a result of joint
meetings of the Boards.
E. Joint meetings of the bureaux of the Council and executive boards
132. In April 1999, the bureaux of the Council and the UNDP/UNFPA and UNICEF Executive Boards for the first time held their joint meetings in pursuance of the Councils charter role as the coordinator of activities of its subsidiary bodies. The results of the meeting, along with the outcomes of a series of similar meetings with other subsidiary bodies, will provide an important element in laying the groundwork for the substantive session of the Council. The aim of the first round of meetings was to exchange ideas on how the Council can better discharge its coordinating role and to encourage the boards to increase their cooperation with functional commissions. Based on the experience of this first round of meetings, future meetings will be prepared by taking account of the decisions of the Council at its current session which are of direct relevance to the Boards.
133. The meetings reviewed how the executive boards take into account the work of functional commissions as regards the integrated and coordinated follow-up to global conferences and on cross-cutting issues. It was agreed that one possible tool for facilitating future collaboration could be joint meetings of the bureaux, in particular the bureaux of the Commission on Sustainable Development and the Commission for Social Development with those of the funds and programmes.
134. It was noted at these meetings that the Council should identify cross-cutting areas not adequately addressed and provide feedback to funds and programmes. In particular, the contents of the humanitarian activities segment of the Council, as well as issues of the relationship between emergency humanitarian assistance and development activities, was mentioned in relation to paragraph 40 of Assembly resolution 53/192.
F. Timing of the annual sessions of the executive boards
135. An issue which has preoccupied the Council previously is the
timing of the annual sessions of the Executive Boards in relation to the Councils
calendar.67 Scheduling such sessions too close to the substantive session of
the Council continues to create difficulties for the timely review of issues to be brought
to the Council and for it to discharge its responsibility, vis-à-vis the Executive
136. In its decision 98/23, the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board adopted an annual funding target for UNDP core resources of $1.1 billion, and stressed the urgent need to achieve annual increases until the target is met. The Board reaffirmed the need to reverse the downward trend in core resources and to establish a mechanism to place UNDP core funding on a predictable basis. UNDP was requested to develop a multi-year funding framework that integrates programme objectives, resources, budget and outcomes with the objective of increasing core resources. The Board, in its decision 99/1, also reaffirmed the importance of the development of the multi-year funding framework as an integral element of the funding strategy approved by the Board in its decision 98/23.
137. As to UNFPAs multi-year planning, management and funding framework, the Executive Board, in its decision 99/5, requested the Executive Director to submit to the Board, at its first regular session of 2000, the multi-year funding framework, 20002003, and decided to hold the first funding session as outlined in paragraph 11 (b) of its decision 98/24 at its second regular session of 2000.
138. The UNICEF Executive Board, in its decision 99/8, endorsed the funding target of annual growth in income of 7 per cent, to reach $1.5 billion by 2005, and decided that UNICEF should adopt and develop a multi-year funding framework that conceptually integrates UNICEF organizational priorities and major areas of action, resources, budget and outcomes.
139. WFP has also placed an increased emphasis on resource mobilization in order to strengthen and broaden its financial and resource base, as well as to improve the predictability and reliability of funding. A concerted effort was made throughout 1998 to enhance coordination between headquarters and the field offices in fund-raising. To facilitate this process, new guidelines were prepared in 1998 to strengthen resource mobilization at the field.
140. With all these developments the time has come to decide on the future of the United Nations Pledging Conference for Development Activities, as requested in paragraph 16 of annex I to General Assembly resolution 50/227.
141. The Council may wish to review the resource situation currently
facing the funds and programmes, as requested in paragraph 16 of General Assembly
resolution 53/192, as well as funding strategies and progress achieved in development of
the multi-year funding frameworks, with the aim of reversing the declining trend in core
resources and putting funding for United Nations development activities on a predictable,
continuous and assured basis, commensurate with the needs of the developing countries. The
Council also may wish to make a recommendation to the General Assembly on the future of
the United Nations Pledging Conference for Development Activities.
H. Overview of decisions taken, main agenda items of the Executive Board since the
1998 regular session of the Council, and agendas for annual sessions
142. Tables 1, 2, and 3 provide the Council with a quick overview of decisions and main agenda items of the Boards since its last session, as well as the items currently placed on the agendas of the annual sessions of the boards scheduled prior to the substantive session of the Council of 1999.
Some of the principal decisions adopted by the executive boards of the United Nations funds and programmes since the substantive session of 1997 of the Council
|Subjects of the principal decisions||
UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board
3rd of 1998
1st of 1999
2nd of 1999
2nd of 1998
1st of 1999
3rd of 1998
|Annual report to the Council||
|Financial and budgetary matters||
|Revisions to the financial regulations and rules||
2, 15, 1, 8, 19
|Programme cooperation (allocation of resources)||
Successor programming arrangements
The environment issues
Support for reproduction health in emergency situation
Partnership with NGOs
b UNFPA segment.
c Reference numbers of the relevant decisions.
Some of the principal items on the agendas of the
executive boards of the United Nations funds and programmes since the 1997 substantive
session of the Council
|Main agenda items||
UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board
3rd of 1998
1st of 1999
2nd of 1999
2nd of 1998
1st of 1999
3rd of 1998
|Policy issues, including follow-up to United Nations global conferences, partnership with NGOs, sector-wide approach, organizational changes etc.||
|Financial, budgetary and adm. matters||
|Annual report to the Council||
|Joint meetings of the Executive Boards||
|CCF, country programmes and related matters||
|The medium-term reviews and evaluation rep.||
|Organizational and procedural matters||
|Information and procedural strategy||
b PA-UNFPA segment.
Main items of the provisional agendas for the 1999
annual sessions of the executive boards of the United Nations funds and programmes
|UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board
(1423 June 1999)
|UNICEF Executive Board
(711 June 1999)
|WFP Executive Board
(1720 May 1999)
Annual report of the Administrator
United Nations reform
Country cooperation frameworks and related matters
Information and communication strategy
Technical cooperation among developing countries
United Nations Office for Project Services
Item 14 (Financial, budgetary and administrative matters)
Internal audit and oversight
Report of the Executive Director for 1998
Work plan and request for programme expenditure authorities
Information and communication strategy
|Report of the Executive Director (part II)
Positioning UNICEF to meet the needs of children and women in the twenty-first century
Ensuring childrens rights in Africa
Progress, challenges and future strategies in basic education
Progress report on the UNICEF strategy and investments in information technology
Progress report on mainstreaming gender in UNICEF
Oral report on implementation of the health strategy for UNICEF
Reports on field visits of Executive Board members
(a) Annual report of the Executive Director for 1998
(b) 1998 annual report of the Executive Board to the Council and FAO Council
(a) Food aid and development
(b) WFP commitments to women
Financial and budgetary matters
(a) Strategic and financial plan (20002003)
(b) Budgetary performance report for 1998
(c) Financial management improvement programme
Evaluation work plan, 19992000
Organizational and procedural matters
Administrative and managerial matters
(a) Report on post-delivery losses
(b) Composition of WFP international staff
(c) Report on common premises
143. On the basis of the experience gained so far, the Council may wish to assess its approach to exercising oversight responsibilities in the area of operational activities for development as mandated by the General Assembly in its resolutions 48/162 and 50/227 over the work of the executive boards of United Nations funds and programmes. In particular, the Council may wish to strengthen its role in providing necessary policy guidance and assisting in implementing the policy decisions of the Assembly, particularly in the implementation of all provisions of Assembly resolution 53/192 on the triennial comprehensive policy review.
144. To this end, the following are the types of issues and questions that the Council may wish to consider and raise:
· What steps can be taken to ensure that the funding strategies and targets established by the Boards are actually implemented by all Member States in a consistent and equitable manner?
· How can the funding targets be placed in the larger context of resource mobilization efforts relating to the implementation of agreed international targets?
145. The Council may also wish to request that the funds and programmes submit to it through the executive boards analysis of the extent to which the cross-cutting themes and goals emerging from global conferences (on enabling environment, financing, gender, employment, health, nutrition, education, governance and human rights etc.) have been integrated into their programme priorities in a coherent manner. The Council may wish to seek information on specific steps taken by the funds and programmes to develop complementary and collaborative approaches with other United Nations organizations in promoting the implementation of global targets.
146. The Council may wish to take appropriate action on the consolidated list. It also may wish to consider how the reports of the Secretary-General can better contribute to the Councils capacity for monitoring the coherence and impact of the United Nations operational activities. The Council may wish to bear in mind that reports of the Secretary-General take fully into account the work of UNDP and the system as a whole.
147. The Council may wish to take appropriate action on recommendations contained in the reports of the executive heads of the United Nations funds and programmes, as well as on relevant forms and contents of their future annual reports to the Council.
148. The Council may wish to take note of the joint and concurrent meetings of the Boards of UNDP/UNFPA and UNICEF, and to provide guidance on how they can facilitate the preparation of the Councils exercise of providing overall guidance.
149. The Council may wish to address once more the timing of future annual sessions of the boards in relation to its requirements.
150. The Council may wish to recommend to continue the practice of
holding joint meetings of the bureaux of the Council and the UNDP/UNFPA and UNICEF
Executive Boards, and to recommend that this practice be extended to the bureaux of
relevant functional commissions of the Council.
1.That report has been prepared under the leadership of the International Labour Organization (ILO) (E/1999/_).
2. See General Assembly resolution 51/178, para. 3.
3. Ibid., para. 7.
4. There is an abundant literature on these initiatives and the
present report will make only reference to the documentation
available. See, for instance, E/1996/61, in particular sect. III on a harmonized and integrated approach to intergovernmental
consideration of poverty eradication. For more updated information, see A/53/329; E/CN.5/1999/3; and E/CN.5/1999/4.
5. See para. 5 of agreed conclusions 1996/1 of the Council.
6. See, for example, General Assembly resolution 50/107, preamble, and
Report of the World Summit for Social Development,
Copenhagen, 612 March 1995 (United Nations publication, Sales No. 96.IV.8), chap. I, resolution 1, annex I; for the Programme of
Action, see ibid., annex II. The Summit was a fundamental step to define an international strategy for poverty eradication as one of
the three overarching objectives of the international community (the others being the achievement of full employment and the
promotion of secure, stable and just societies).
7. The following global conferences should be mentioned, inter
alia, in addition to the World Summit for Social Development, as
relevant for the role of the United Nations system in poverty eradication: World Conference on Education for All (Jomtien, Thailand,
59 March 1990), World Summit for Children (New York, 2930 September 1990), United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development (Rio de Janeiro, 314 June 1992), World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna, 1425 June 1993), International
Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 513 September 1994), Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 415
September 1995), United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) (Istanbul, 314 June 1996), World Food Summit
(Rome, 1317 November 1996).
8. See Council resolution 1998/44, paras. 1 and 2.
9. See box 2 on the 20/20 Initiative.
10. See the report of the Secretary-General on the role of employment
and work in poverty eradication: the empowerment and
advancement of women for the high-level segment (E/1999/_).
11. See, for example, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),
Overcoming Human Poverty (New York, 1998); and Lionel
Demery and Michael Walton, Are Poverty and Social Goals for the Twenty-first Century Attainable? (World Bank, 1998).
12. See World Bank, Poverty Reduction and the World Bank: Progress in Fiscal 1998 (Washington, D.C., 1999).
13. See agreed conclusions 1996/1 of the Council.
14. The Council has contributed to the intergovernmental dialogue on
poverty eradication also through its subsidiary machinery, in
particular its functional commissions. The Commission for Social Development, the Commission on the Status of Women and the
Commission on Sustainable Development, and other functional commissions, have addressed poverty issues in several occasions,
reaching relevant deliberations. The Commission for Social Development, in particular, focused on social services for all, the need to
improve access to productive resources and infrastructure and the need to expand productive employment. It also addressed the
vulnerability and social integration and participation of the poor. See, for example, Official Records of the Economic and Social
Council, 1996, Supplement No. 9 (E/1996/29).
15. As defined in paragraph 40 of General Assembly resolution 47/199 and paragraph 41 of Assembly resolution 50/120.
16. The statement was submitted to the Council at its substantive
session of 1998 under the item Integrated and coordinated
implementation of and follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits (see E/1998/73).
17. See the following section for a few examples. For a more detailed
review of these types of poverty-focused interventions, see the
background paper prepared by the Division for Social Policy and Development, Poverty reduction strategies: a review
(ST/ESA/260), sect. III.2; that paper was prepared following a training seminar on poverty reduction strategies held on 9 January
18. A few examples are the poverty eradication month initiative in
Mozambique; the workshop on the theme Right, poverty and social
policy and the workshop on the theme Triangle of solidarity in Costa Rica; the public forum on eradication of poverty and the
Poverty run in Ethiopia; the poverty reduction forum in Zimbabwe; the United Nations regional forum on poverty eradication in
southern Africa, organized in Namibia. Many other cases are reported, for example, by the resident coordinators in Botswana, Cape
Verde, the Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Jamaica and Morocco.
19. Explicit initiatives of this type have been confirmed at least in
these countries: Algeria, Barbados, Bolivia, Burundi, Cape Verde,
Central African Republic, Cameroon, Chile, China, Côte dIvoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan,
Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Niger, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, United Republic of
Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Viet Nam and Zimbabwe.
20. See UNDP, Overcoming Human Poverty (New York, 1998). In a survey conducted by UNDP over 130 countries, 78 of them (i.e., 60
per cent) have either a specific plan or strategy for poverty reduction (43) or included a specific component of their development
plans or strategies explicitly devoted to poverty reduction (35).
21. For example, in Brazil, Costa Rica, Côte dIvoire, the
Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Egypt, El Salvador, Gabon, Gambia,
Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
22. See UNDP, Overcoming Human Poverty (New York, 1998).
23. See World Bank, Poverty Reduction and the World Bank: Progress in Fiscal 1996 and 1997 (Washington, D.C.).
24. Specialized Government structures are being developed to carry out
poverty eradication policies. This is the case of the
Commissariat on poverty and human rights attached to the Presidency in Mauritania; the Leading Group for Poverty Reduction of
the State Council in China; the special responsibility of the Cabinet, in the case of Mali, for the formulation of a national strategy
against poverty; the Office of the Prime Minister in Jamaica for the national poverty eradication programme; and the Poverty
Alleviation and Job Creation Unit in Botswana.
25. Some of these interventions more directly pursue enhancing
organizational and business capacities through training in order to
establish new micro-enterprises (e.g., in Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Romania) or promote community development by
enhancing capacity to manage village-level infrastructure projects.
26. UNESCOs interventions in this area are developed on the basis
of a framework of action on the role of education in poverty
alleviation, and has generated innovative modes of educational delivery, as in the case of the guidance, counselling and youth
development programme in Africa, which addresses the poor communities and has been implemented in more than 22 countries.
27. Examples are: (a) assistance by WHO and UNICEF to the formulation
of plans for district-level health delivery systems, or adoption
of essential clinical and public health strategies for the poorest; (b) UNFPAs assistance in developing reproductive health services
and planning the implementation of national health strategies; (c) the initiatives promoted under the human immunodeficiency
virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) umbrella (in the framework of the Joint and Co-sponsored United Nations
Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) programme, which has established a network of inter-agency thematic groups and coordinating
initiatives in a large number of countries).
28. Social funds have been effective in several countries to make a
case for social equity in national development and introduced
successful innovations in emergency and development work, showing the ability of reaching the poor, delivering jobs, services and
infrastructure (see Social Funds and Reaching the Poor: Experiences and Future Direction (World Bank, 1998). However, their
budgets are small percentages of overall public spending. Their impact on the permanent level of income of the beneficiaries is
difficult to assess, and at times they do not reach the poorest of the poor. In countries where decentralization of government has
made substantial progress, the centralized management of resources to be invested locally may be in open contrast with the
autonomy of municipalities and rural districts (see ibid.).
29. See agreed conclusions 1996/1 of the Council, para. 6.
30 See the results of the UNDP study conducted in 19961997 by the
Knowledge Network for Poverty Reduction, reported in UNDP,
Overcoming Human Poverty (New York, 1998).
31. See UNDP, Poverty in Transition? (New York, 1998).
32. It is estimated that the number of poor in the former USSR and
Eastern Europe has increased in the 1990s by over 150 million as a
consequence of worsening income distribution, declining output, the privatization process, wage and price liberalization, inflation
and the collapse of the transfer system of the former administrative-command systems.
33. See press release on the ACC meeting of 31 October 1998, entitled
United Nations Leaders join forces to meet challenges of
globalization issued on 2 November 1998.
34. External debt of low-income countries rose from $55 billion to $215 billion between 1980 and 1995, representing more than twice the level of their export earnings. The amount of resources that external debt absorbs subtract precious resources from poverty eradication.
35. See, for example, the framework drafted by the United Nations
system in Thailand in May 1998, entitled A people-centred
development strategy for rapid recovery in Thailand. In those countries, the issue of the newly poor has led to immediate action by
the United Nations system, including the World Bank, through advocacy initiatives, impact studies, public debates and joint
operational action, especially through well-targeted national programmes of safety nets, job retraining, alternative employment
initiatives (e.g., in environmental projects) and new strategies to support smaller enterprises.
36. See UNDP, Progress Against Poverty in Africa (New York, 1998); for
a series of examples of poverty eradication interventions in
different countries of Africa, see Poverty Eradication in Africa: Selected Country Experiences, produced by the Office of the Special
Coordinator for Africa and the Least Developed Countries and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
37. See, for example, United Nations, Participatory approaches to
poverty alleviation in rural community development (ST/ESA/262);
see also useful examples in United Nations, Poverty eradication in Africa: selected country experiences.
38. See UNDP, Overcoming Human Poverty (New York, 1998), chap. 3. This
dimension is dominant in the approach being adopted by
the World Bank in the World Development Report 2000/2001 under preparation (see the World Banks PovertyNet Web site for
39. The MicroStart pilot programme launched by UNDP in February 1997 at
the Microcredit Summit has reached, by the end of 1998, 20
countries. Positive experience is reported by resident coordinators in Benin, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
40. See initiatives which establish a new alliance between Government
and civil society (network) to reach the most vulnerable in
UNDP, Overcoming Human Poverty, op. cit. p. 33.
41. The concept of social mobilization was used in significant
initiatives of UNDP, such as the area development schemes launched in
Sudan and the South Asian Poverty Alleviation Programme, promoted in 1996 in six countries (Bangladesh, India, the Maldives,
Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka).
42. Conceptual linkages between gender and poverty were already
addressed since 1993 by the Commission on the Status of Women
43. See Council resolution 1998/43, para. 7; gender mainstreaming
represented one of the key conclusions of the Beijing Platform for
Action adopted in 1995.
44. See report of the Secretary-General on this topic for the high-level segment of the Council (E/1999/__).
45. See UNDP, Overcoming Human Poverty (New York, 1998), chap. 7.
46. See Box 1 for a brief indication of the role of poverty eradication
as an agency objective for a selection of United Nations system
organizations, including the World Bank.
47. For a review of these initiatives, see also E/1998/19.
48. The statement, adopted by ACC in May 1998, was submitted to the
Council at its substantive session of 1998 (see E/1998/73); see
sect. II.A above for a synthesis of the statement.
49. See compendium of major issues addressed by the United Nations
global conferences in the 1990s, in End-products of the ACC
Task Force on Basic Social Services for All (October 1997). The compendium contains the official documents and indicators
addressing the following areas: (1) primary health care, (2) basic education, (3) reproductive health, (4) womens empowerment, (5)
international migration and (6) national capacity-building in tracking child and maternal mortality.
50. See agreed conclusions 1996/1 of the Council, para. 5.
51. See agreed conclusions 1996/1 of the Council, para. 17.
52. Examples can be found in Barbados, Benin, Cambodia, China, Egypt,
Equatorial Guinea, Malawi, Morocco and Zimbabwe.
According to the 1998 annual report of the resident coordinators, more than 50 countries have established thematic groups focused
on poverty eradication.
53. See agreed conclusions 1996/1 of the Council, para. 9.
54. Bolivia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Lao
Peoples Democratic Republic, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Republic
of Moldova, Sudan, Turkey, Zambia.
55. Eritrea, Guatemala, Mozambique, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Senegal, Thailand, Ukraine, Viet Nam.
56. The inadequate specification of targets in most country strategy
notes and the omission of specific indicators in most cases
suggests that existing country strategy notes may benefit from the current impulse to formulate common country assessments in
the course of future revisions.
57. According to the 1998 resident coordinator annual reports, 58
countries are planning to initiate or have already undertaken common
country assessments leading to the formulation of UNDAFs.
58. See Addendum 1 of the report for more details on the common country assessment and UNDAF.
59. See references in the PovertyNet Web site of the World Bank.
60. See UNDP, Overcoming Human Poverty (New York, 1998).
61. The final results of that in-depth study are not yet available.
62. See also the following regional reports published by UNDP:
Preventing and eradicating poverty in the Arab States, Progress
against poverty in Africa and for the Eastern European countries and Commonwealth of Independent States, Poverty in
63. See DP/FPA/1999/5, DP/1999/10 and E/ICEF/1999/4 (Part 1).
64. Paragraph 16 (c) of General Assembly resolution 48/162 defines the
function of the Council in this respect as: to review and evaluate
the reports on the work of the development funds and programmes, including the assessment of their overall impact, with a view to
enhancing the operation activities of the United Nations on a system-wide basis.
65. In paragraph 2 of its resolution 1998/27, the Council also
requested the executive boards, when considering the annual reports of
the executive heads of the United Nations funds and programmes to the Council, to identify specific problems, opportunities and
areas in which the Council could provide cross-sectoral coordination and overall guidance on a system-wide basis and to make
appropriate proposals in line with Council resolution 1995/51.
66. In paragraph 4 of its resolution 1998/27, the Council invited the
Secretary-General to arrange for the submission to the Council at its
annual substantive session by the executive heads of the United Nations funds and programmes, in consultation with the United
Nations Development Group, of a concise consolidated list of issues which are central to the improved coordination of operational
activities and on which the funds and programmes seek consideration by and guidance from the Council, particularly in regard to
the triennial policy review, and to include in the list recommendations, whenever possible.
67. The annual session of 2000 of the UNDP/UNFPA Board is scheduled for Geneva from 12 to 23 June 1999.
68. See Council resolution 1995/50, para. 5, in which the Council called for more realistic scheduling.
69. For more details, see chap. III.