United Nations

A/51/324


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

11 September 1996

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                        A/51/324
                                                              

General Assembly
Fifty-first session
Item 101 (b) of the provisional agenda*

      *  A/51/150.


               TRAINING AND RESEARCH:  UNITED NATIONS UNIVERSITY

                        Report of the Secretary-General


                                   CONTENTS

                                                              Paragraphs Page

 I.   INTRODUCTION .........................................    1 - 4      3

II.   GLOBAL UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCES ....................    5 - 12     3

III.  UNITED NATIONS STANDING PROCESSES AND THE UNITED
      NATIONS UNIVERSITY ...................................   13 - 16     5

      A. General Assembly .................................    13 - 14     5

      B. The Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary
         machinery ........................................    15 - 16     5

IV.   UNITED NATIONS UNIVERSITY RESEARCH PROGRAMMES ........   17 - 24     6

 V.   COORDINATION AND INTERACTION WITHIN THE UNITED NATIONS
      SYSTEM ...............................................   25 - 35     7

      A. Interaction with the United Nations Secretariat ..    25 - 26     5

      B. Meetings of United Nations senior officials in the
         economic and social fields .......................    27 - 28     8

      C. Interaction with the United Nations Educational,
         Scientific and Cultural Organization .............    29 - 31     8

      D. Participation of the United Nations University in 
         the machinery of the Administrative Committee on
         Coordination .....................................    32 - 35     9

VI.   OTHER ISSUES .........................................   36 - 37    10

VII.  CONCLUSION ...........................................      38      10


                               I.  INTRODUCTION


1.   The General Assembly, in its resolution 49/124 on the United Nations
University (UNU), inter alia, requested the Secretary-General to report on
innovative measures to improve communication and interaction between the
University and other bodies in the United Nations system and to ensure the
integration of the work of the University into all relevant activities of the
United Nations system.

2.   The present report should be considered in conjunction with the report
of the Council of the United Nations University on the work of the University
in 1995 (A/51/31), which contains a comprehensive section on the interaction
between the United Nations and the University (paras. 183-211).  The various
examples of increasing interaction between the University and the United
Nations system provided in the present report are not an exhaustive listing
but illustrative examples that indicate the broad trends in closer
communication and interaction between the work of the University and the
United Nations system.

3.   The two most important principles that underlie the development of
substantive interactions between the University and the United Nations are
contained in the first two articles of the UNU Charter.  UNU, including its
Council, have stressed enhanced relations with the United Nations as a key
policy objective, while preserving the autonomy of the University within the
framework of the United Nations.

4.   At the intergovernmental level, UNU has helped provide inputs for the
decision-making process in different forms, including submitting research
results; providing substantive material for reports; and organizing special
events to coincide with or provide inputs for policy meetings.  At the
inter-agency level, UNU has participated in meetings of United Nations senior
officials in the economic and social fields, in meetings of a number of
subsidiary bodies of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) and in
consultations for joint activities development, including in the preparation
of the UNU Medium-Term Perspective and programme budget.  The Secretary-
General has taken recent initiatives to ensure a more systematic participation
of UNU in ACC machinery, thereby promoting a better integration of work
between UNU and the United Nations system.


                    II.  GLOBAL UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCES

5.   In recent years, major United Nations conferences have played an
important role in defining policy frameworks for United Nations work in the
economic, social, environmental and humanitarian fields.  The
intergovernmental preparatory phases of those conferences have been provided
with inputs from a wide range of sources.

6.   UNU has been closely involved in substantive work in support of major
United Nations conferences.  As part of its programmed activities, the
University has undertaken special policy studies and research that were made
available to the preparatory processes of United Nations conferences and/or
made available to the conferences themselves.  The University has also
organized a number of special events related to the themes addressed by each
United Nations conference.

7.   In preparation for the International Conference on Population and
Development and in collaboration with the Government of Japan and the United
Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UNU hosted a meeting of eminent persons on
population and development in Tokyo in January 1994.

8.   The UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU/WIDER)
was designated the focal point of UNU for the World Summit for Social
Development and it organized a conference on global employment questions, the
outcome of which was a two-volume study entitled Global Employment:  An
International Investigation into the Future of Work that was made available to
the Preparatory Committee of the Summit.

9.   UNU research activities in the area of women and development, especially
the UNU/WIDER project entitled "Global restructuring and women workers in
industrializing and transitional economies" and a UNU Institute for New
Technologies (UNU/INTECH) project entitled "Monitoring the impact of new
technologies and women's industrial work in Asia", were brought to the
attention of the Fourth World Conference on Women.  The UNU/INTECH project
culminated in the publication Women Encounter Technology:  Changing Patterns
of Employment in the Third World, which was launched at the Conference.

10.  The University has been studying the problems of mega-cities since the
early 1990s, a long-term effort that is still in progress and will include the
publication of a four-volume series on the changing functions of mega-cities -
including mega-cities in Africa, Latin America and Asia - in the context of
the globalization process.  Mega-cities were the focus of a panel discussion
at the recently concluded second United Nations Conference on Human
Settlements (Habitat II).  Two related books, Mega-City Growth and the Future
and Emerging World Cities in Pacific Asia, were launched at Habitat II.

11.  Information on UNU work in food and nutrition will be made available to
the World Food Summit by means of an expert panel discussion.

12.  In the fall of 1994, the University commissioned, jointly with the
Department of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, a study
on mine-clearance technology.  The study was widely disseminated to policy
makers, academic and research institutions and non-governmental organizations,
and was made available to the International Meeting on Mine Clearance (Geneva,
5-7 July 1995).


            III.  UNITED NATIONS STANDING PROCESSES AND THE UNITED
                  NATIONS UNIVERSITY                              

                             A.  General Assembly

13.  Since 1994, the annual reports of the Secretary-General on the work of
the Organization have briefly described the activities of the University.

14.  UNU is actively planning its participation in the 1997 special session
of the General Assembly, which will review progress in the implementation of
Agenda 21. 1/  UNU is collaborating closely with the Department for Policy
Coordination and Sustainable Development of the United Nations Secretariat and
the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in the sponsorship of a global
modelling forum for sustainable development.  Activities being initiated
include reviewing the current state of interpreting modelling work for
sustainable development; formulating recommendations for improving existing
integrated modelling work for sustainable development; developing a linked set
of models for integrated global and regional assessments of sustainable
development; stimulating the development and use of integrated models in
developing countries; and providing support to relevant activities of
different bodies.  As part of those activities, UNU will be participating in a
workshop on integrated modelling of sustainable development.  Drawing on the
work it initiated in 1991 on global change and modelling and the sustainable
future of the global economy, UNU will mobilize its network of
eco-restructuring for sustainable development to provide technical inputs in
terms of future scenarios and modelling work that will be reported to the
Commission on Sustainable Development.  UNU will also participate at the
Global Educational Associates International Conference on Global Environment
Action (to be held in Tokyo from 12 to 24 March 1997) in preparation for the
1997 special session of the General Assembly.


                  B.  The Economic and Social Council and its
                      subsidiary machinery                   

15.  UNU co-sponsored, with the Department for Policy Coordination and
Sustainable Development, a high-level panel discussion on the future of
development in the course of the substantive session of 1995 of the Economic
and Social Council.  The special event was held in connection with the
Council's fiftieth anniversary and it brought together eminent thinkers and
practitioners on development cooperation.  Its objective was to take stock of
past development cooperation efforts and to provoke a wide-ranging, open and
forward-looking discussion of the conceptual, institutional and operational
challenges lying ahead in the development field.

16.  The summary of a UNU/INTECH study entitled "Environmentally sound
technologies and the relevance of enforced environmental legislation:  the
case of Mexico" was submitted to the Commission on Sustainable Development in
April 1995.


              IV.  UNITED NATIONS UNIVERSITY RESEARCH PROGRAMMES

17.  UNU initiated a series of research programmes related to the questions
posed by Agenda 21, as well as by the Agenda for Peace and an agenda for
development, and African economic recovery and development.

18.  UNU launched a major research initiative on the United Nations in the
twenty-first century at a symposium held at UNU headquarters on 21 and
22 November 1996.  The objective of the five-year research project is to
explore and suggest models for international organizations, especially the
United Nations, that would best serve human needs in the twenty-first century.

The project will lead to the formulation of recommendations and policy
suggestions.  Specific topics selected for study include States and
sovereignty; global citizenship; regionalism and international organizations;
and the international civil service.

19.  The project is a follow-up to the recently concluded five-year project
entitled "Multilateralism and the United Nations system", which sought to
elucidate the interaction between the changing structure of world order and
the process of international organization.  A summary of the outcome of the
project will be published in a forthcoming issue of Global Governance, a
policy-oriented periodical that was co-sponsored by UNU and the Academic
Council of the United Nations system for the purpose of serving as a forum for
practitioners and academics to discuss the role and impact of international
institutions and multilateral processes in the interrelated fields of
international peace and security; economic development and human rights; and
the preservation of the environment.  Another outgrowth of the project was a
publication entitled The United Nations System, a comparative study of the
historical development of international organizations, recent proposals for
United Nations reform and case studies of national policies towards the United
Nations.

20.  In the follow-up to the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development, the University prepared its own contribution to Agenda 21,
entitled "Programme on environmentally sustainable development", which was
approved by its Governing Council.  As part of the programme, the University
is continuing its long-term effort in the area of mountain ecology and
sustainable development.  In that context, the University has been an active
participant in the work of the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable
Development, particularly concerning chapter 13 of Agenda 21 (Managing fragile
ecosystems:  sustainable mountain development).

21.  With Canadian support, the University is establishing an international
network on water, environment and health that will address critical issues
that link water to development and human health, a concern that is of
particular relevance to developing countries.  As a capacity-building
initiative, the network will draw on the expertise of Canadian universities
and research centres; its initial priorities will be educational and targeted
training programmes.

22.  Within the framework of chapter 14 of Agenda 21 (and arts. 8 and 10 of
the Convention on Biological Diversity) the UNU project entitled "People, land
management and environment change" addresses the question of the
interrelationships between population dynamics and environmental change.  In
particular, the project examines the processes of adaptation of indigenous
resource management systems and land use through a series of field-based
research projects in key agro-ecological zones of tropical and subtropical
environments.  Currently, five research clusters are in operation.  The short-
term objective of the project is to develop models for conservationist,
sustainable and participatory ecosystem and land management in priority
ecosystems occupied by small farmers, stressing the value of farmers' skills
and knowledge in a context of agro-diversity.  Its longer-term objective is to
contribute to policy-making, project design and capacity-building in relevant
areas, yielding replicable results that can feed into rural development
strategies that combine ecological, economical, culturally and socially
sustainable small farmer agriculture and land management with the conservation
of biodiversity.

23.  A workshop on decision support systems for environmentally sustainable
development was held in February-March 1996 at the UNU International Institute
for Software Technology.  Sustainable agriculture and rural development was
the subject of a symposium held in Tokyo from 27 to 29 November 1995, as well
as of a conference on the sustainable future of the global system held in
Tokyo in October 1995.  In 1994, the University launched the Zero Emissions
Research Initiative, which aims to restructure industrial processes so that
they produce no wastes or emissions.  To date, two world congresses have been
held in Tokyo (1995) and in Chattanooga, United States of America (1996), and
some sessions have been held on the Internet.

24.  A high-level symposium on peace and development in Africa that addressed
the cultural, political and socio-economic causes of conflict in that
continent, as well as policy options for strengthening the prevention,
management and resolution of conflict, was held in Tokyo on 11 and
12 October 1995.  A workshop on changing patterns of employment and the
structure of unemployment in the Africa region was held at the UNU Institute
for Natural Resources in Africa in Accra on 28 and 29 July 1995.


                    V.  COORDINATION AND INTERACTION WITHIN
                        THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM                 
                                       
              A.  Interaction with the United Nations Secretariat

25.  Informal substantive consultations between the Rector and the senior
academic staff of the University and United Nations senior officials have been
intensified especially in the context of the preparations for the third UNU
six-year Medium-Term Perspective and biennial budgets.  Such consultations
have had a significant impact on the structure and objectives of University
programmes.  In addition, officials of the United Nations at both the senior
and working levels have been increasingly involved in the programmatic
planning of the University; this has been especially the case for the
programmes developed for the University by two advisory teams set up by the
University to suggest the general direction and focus of a long-term programme
of research and training in the areas of Agenda 21 and an Agenda for Peace,
which were both approved by the Council of the University.  Increasing
attention is thus being devoted by the University to matters of immediate
concern to the United Nations.  In so doing, the University has endeavoured to
enhance the policy contents and relevance of its studies, while seeking to
maintain academic excellence.

26.  Concurrently, a special effort has been made to disseminate the findings
of the University's research work more broadly at United Nations Headquarters.
Beginning in February 1995, 10 public forums were organized by the University,
whose purpose was to disseminate the results of the research undertaken by UNU
as part of an effort to stimulate discussion on policy alternatives and to
provide the opportunity for the exchange of views between practitioners and
scholars.  Those events were open to staff of the United Nations Secretariat
and other agencies, the permanent missions, non-governmental organizations and
academic institutions, and each drew 60 to 100 participants; summaries of
their discussions were widely circulated.


            B.  Meetings of United Nations senior officials in the
                economic and social fields                        

27.  Guided by the objective of improving overall programme coordination and
policy coherence within the Organization, the Secretary-General, with the
support of his special Coordinator for Economic Social Development, has
convened regular meetings of the senior officials in the economic and social
sectors.  UNU has been represented at those meetings, normally by the Rector;
such meetings provide an opportunity to discuss a wide range of policy issues
and major developments within the Organization as a whole, including its
programmes and funds as well as the regional commissions, and serve as a
useful means for planning coordinated efforts in development cooperation
areas.  Some of the subjects discussed at recent meetings include preparations
for follow-up to global conferences; restructuring in the economic and social
sectors; resource flows for development; cooperation and division of labour
with the Bretton Woods institutions; African economic recovery and
development; United Nations- non-governmental organizations relations; gender
equality issues; an agenda for development; the fiftieth anniversary of the
United Nations; public administration and governance; and the financial
situation of the United Nations.

28.  The establishment of the Senior Officials Information Network, to which
the Rector of UNU is linked, has provided a basis for regular information-
sharing.  UNU's regular presence at a high level at senior officials meetings
has helped promote improved understanding and a better integration of work in
relation to a wide range of activities of organization-wide concern.


             C.  Interaction with the United Nations Educational,
                 Scientific and Cultural Organization            

29.  Cooperation between the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UNU was also significantly reinforced in
the 1990s.  During the third Medium-Term Plan of UNESCO, the major objective
was to promote an interdisciplinary approach to programme conception and
implementation.  A number of initiatives, such as the Management of Social
Transformations, the Culture of Peace, the Interdisciplinary Programme in
Environmental Population and Preventive Education, and the UNITWIN/UNESCO
Chairs Programme, were launched, while others, including the established Man
and the Biosphere programme, consolidated their interdisciplinary focus still
further.  The links between such initiatives and those included in the UNU
second Medium-Term Perspective were numerous.

30.  Special mention should be made in the context of UNESCO/UNU cooperation
in relation  to the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme, which aims to optimize
the contribution of high-level academic research and training to the solution
of development problems.  Excellent support has been provided to the Programme
by UNU, drawing on its special expertise in interdisciplinary research and
training.  The protocol signed in February 1994 for that collaboration has
ensured that all projects launched under the auspices of UNITWIN have
immediately benefited from access to UNU experience in related fields of
study.

31.  Several joint UNU and UNESCO activities have been undertaken in recent
years, in the areas of education, science, social studies, culture and
communication.  The Director-General's comments on the work of the University
and on cooperation between UNESCO and the University during 1994-1995, which
were presented to the Executive Board at its one hundred and forty-ninth
session, contain a detailed listing of areas of cooperation.


             D.  Participation of the United Nations University in
                 the machinery of the Administrative Committee on 
                 Coordination                                     

32.  The Secretary-General attaches great importance to ensuring that UNU is
effectively integrated in the work of the United Nations system.  A more
systematic participation by UNU in ACC machinery would contribute
significantly to that objective.

33.  With those objectives in mind, the Secretary-General has recommended
that UNU be invited to be represented in all consultative committees that
constitute the subsidiary machinery of ACC.  In particular, the systematic
participation of UNU in the ACC Consultative Committee on Programme and
Operational Questions and the ACC Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable
Development would serve to promote closer interaction on both policy and
programme questions.

34.  As to ACC itself, arrangements for UNU participation will need to take
into account the particular status of the University.  UNU will be kept
systematically informed of the ACC work programme, which will enable the
University to indicate whether the agenda of any given session includes an
item to which the University, in view of its work programme, would have an
especially important contribution to make.  The Secretary-General will then
recommend to ACC the participation of the Rector in the relevant ACC
discussion.

35.  In addition, it is intended that periodic consultations between the
Rector of the University and ACC members will be arranged, at a suitable time
in the UNU planning cycle, to identify research topics for inclusion in the
UNU programme that could serve to maximize the UNU contribution to the work of
the system.  At its second regular session of 1996 (scheduled for late
October), ACC is expected to endorse those arrangements.


                               VI.  OTHER ISSUES

36.  Since 1995, UNU has participated in the United Nations Sabbatical Leave
Programme, which provides opportunities for United Nations staff members to
build close contacts between the global academic community and international
civil servants in the United Nations system and to expose them to state-of-
the-art research.

37.  The objective of the recently launched United Nations Staff College
project is to promote and strengthen, through a series of training actions,
better cross-programme linkages, intersectoral cooperation and coordination in
the major areas of activities of the United Nations, and at the same time to
promote and strengthen management capacities and a more cohesive system-wide
management culture.  Efforts are currently being made to identify and adapt
existing relevant training programmes and develop new ones in line with the
main objectives of the Staff College project.  In line with the mandates of
its Charter, UNU can provide support to the United Nations Staff College
project in curriculum development.


                               VII.  CONCLUSION

38.  The involvement of UNU at various levels of United Nations activity -
intergovernmental and inter-agency - is close and is becoming more clearly
defined and institutionalized.  Further efforts will be made through ACC and
its subsidiary machinery, as well as through the meetings of senior officials
in the economic and social fields, to strengthen the structures and modalities
for communication, interaction and integration that already exist.  It is
expected that mechanisms in place and existing cooperation will be further
enhanced and strengthened in the future.


                                     Notes

     1/  Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development, Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992, vol. I, Resolutions Adopted by
the Conference (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.93.I.8 and
corrigendum), resolution 1, annex II.


                                     -----

 

This document has been posted online by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Reproduction and dissemination of the document - in electronic and/or printed format - is encouraged, provided acknowledgement is made of the role of the United Nations in making it available.

Date last posted: 28 December 1999 17:35:10
Comments and suggestions: esa@un.org