United Nations

A/52/114


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

10 April 1997

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                     A/52/114
                                                     E/1997/46
                                                     


GENERAL ASSEMBLY                               ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL
Fifty-second session                           Substantive session of 1997
Items 101 and 120 of the                       Item 6 of the provisional
  preliminary list*                              agenda**
OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES                         COORDINATION, PROGRAMME
  FOR DEVELOPMENT                                AND OTHER QUESTIONS
JOINT INSPECTION UNIT

     * A/52/50.                                     ** E/1997/100.


         Review of financial resources allocated by the United Nations
            system to activities by non-governmental organizations

                         Note by the Secretary-General


     The Secretary-General has the honour to submit to the General
Assembly and the Economic and Social Council the comments of the
Administrative Committee on Coordination on the report of the Joint
Inspection Unit entitled "Review of financial resources allocated by
the United Nations system to activities by non-governmental
organizations" (A/51/655-E/1996/105, annex).


                                     ANNEX

            Comments of the Administrative Committee on Coordination on
            the report of the Joint Inspection Unit entitled "Review of
            financial resources allocated by the United Nations system
               to activities by non-governmental organizations"


                             I.  GENERAL COMMENTS

1.   The Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) has found the
report to be a useful contribution to the policy-level discussions
taking place within the Economic and Social Council and the General
Assembly on relations between the United Nations and non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), as well as on the role of national NGOs in the
country's economic and social development.  The Committee has noted
that the present report represents the continuation of dialogue on the
issue of NGOs started in the previous report of the Joint Inspection
Unit (JIU) entitled "Working with non-governmental organizations: 
operational activities for development of the United Nations system
with non-governmental organizations and Governments at the grass-roots
and national levels" (A/49/122-E/1994/44).  It also expressed its
appreciation that JIU undertook the study which contains a financial
analysis and a comparison of costs involved in United
Nations/Government/NGO activities, as requested by ACC in its comments
on the earlier JIU report (A/49/122/Add.1-E/1994/44/Add.1).

2.   The main purpose of the latest report was to examine the rules and
procedures related to the allocation of funds from both regular budget
and extrabudgetary sources for activities carried out by NGOs on
behalf of the organizations of the United Nations system that provide
funds to NGOs as implementing partners.  Therefore, the scope of the
study was limited to the allocation of resources by organizations and
agencies of the United Nations system, as well as the United Nations
funds and programmes that are financed by voluntary contributions.

3.   ACC agrees that it is important and timely to analyse the changes
in the institutional environment within which the United Nations
system operates, and in particular to take account of the more active
role being played by certain elements of "civil society" in the areas
of development and humanitarian assistance.  The Committee, therefore,
supports the general thrust of the report in favour of enhanced
operational cooperation of the United Nations system with NGOs, and
believes that the study provides useful information on the current
status of NGO cooperation with the organizations of the United Nations
system.  That information may serve as the basis for an inter-agency
assessment of programme and operational issues to be undertaken by the
Consultative Committee on Programme and Operational Questions.

4.   In general, ACC members found the report informative, well-
conceived, comprehensive and balanced.  They concur, in principle,
with the conclusions and recommendations of the JIU, particularly in
view of the fact that many of the proposals contained in the report
are already being progressively implemented by organizations and
agencies under their NGO policy guidelines.  However, in some
instances the report was found to contain a number of shortcomings
which, to some extent, diminished the value of the study.

5.   First of all, in the view of ACC members, the report does not take
sufficient account of the broad variety of NGOs, whose roles,
operational procedures and financial requirements are quite different,
ranging from large international organizations to national support
NGOs and representative peoples' organizations.

6.   It is also unfortunate that the scope of the report is restricted
to the narrow situation in which a transfer of funds between the
organizations of the United Nations system and NGOs is involved.  And
even while the study alludes to some broader issues of NGO
cooperation, such as the need for focal points or capacity-building,
it tends to view this cooperation solely from a funding perspective. 
In this regard, some agencies would like to mention that in their
cases, activities involving a transfer of financial resources
represent only a minor part of collaboration with NGOs, and therefore
such differences within the United Nations system should be taken into
account in a future review of operational cooperation.

7.   Some ACC members believe that even within the narrow perspective
of assessing flows of resources, it would be opportune to distinguish
among several quite different types of interactions with NGOs.  First,
NGOs may be contracted to carry out, on behalf of United Nations
system organizations, activities they have not been involved in
formulating.  In those cases, NGOs play the same role as that of any
contractor or subcontractor and should therefore compete with others
for the awarding of contracts, and the same procedures regarding
accountability for funds received should apply.  Second, an NGO may be
allocated funds by or through a United Nations system organization to
carry out activities that provide support to the its own programmes or
those formulated jointly, where the role of the NGO is that of
beneficiary or partner.  In that case the criteria for selection of
partners and the accounting procedures would be different than in the
first case.  Finally, NGOs may coordinate their programmes with those
of United Nations system organizations and plan and implement parallel
and mutually supportive activities without any transfer of financial
resources.  In that case no issues of financial accountability are
involved.  This is a form of NGO operational cooperation, which, in
the view of ACC members, is likely to increase considerably in the
future.

8.   With regard to the financial management of resources devoted to
NGOs, ACC members agree with the need for a better accounting and
reporting procedure, however they are not convinced that the resulting
ability to produce comparative statistics will be particularly useful,
since the operating budgets of organizations and agencies are very
different and their individual needs in terms of cooperation with NGOs
are fully adapted to their respective roles and mandates.  Moreover,
some ACC members are of the opinion that better procedures for the
selection, efficiency and accountability of NGOs do not necessarily
require criteria distinct from those generally applicable to any
partnership with external bodies involving funding.  It is in the
selection of those NGOs with which official relations are established
that there is still a need for more precise criteria in many United
Nations bodies.  The careful selection and screening of NGO partners
will guarantee the sought-after improvement in efficiency and
accountability regarding the use of financial resources allocated to
them.

9.   Some ACC members draw attention to the report's assumption that
NGOs are pivotal in building equitable and stable societies.  It is
indisputable that in many countries NGOs have played an important role
in providing basic services to remote and marginalized communities,
denouncing violations of human rights, fighting for the establishment
of democratic regimes, etc.  However, the growing financial
opportunities offered to NGOs by the funding agencies have resulted in
the appearance of NGOs that often lack social commitment and technical
competence, as well as a clearly identified clientele.  In such a
situation, the pertinence and usefulness of the above assumption is
obviously weakened.

10.  Some United Nations entities expressed reservations relating to
the comment of the JIU that "the United Nations Secretariat, which
usually does not finance NGO activities, is not concerned with all the
recommendations".  That statement is not entirely accurate, as
demonstrated below.

11.  The United Nations Secretariat does deal increasingly with NGOs. 
Thus, for instance, the Department for Policy Coordination and
Sustainable Development has an NGO unit, and so does the Department of
Public Information, both of which are financed from the United Nations
regular budget.  Also under the budget of the Department for Policy
Coordination and Sustainable Development for the biennium 1996-1997, a
grant was approved by the General Assembly for financing the
Non-Governmental Liaison Service.  In 1995, recognizing the need to
enhance cooperation between the United Nations and NGOs, the
Secretary-General designated his Special Adviser as the focal point in
the Executive Office on all the matters pertaining to NGOs.

12.  Furthermore, the United Nations Secretariat did finance the
participation of a number of NGOs in the major United Nations
conferences, in particular those from the developing and least
developed countries, through various trust funds established for those
conferences.  Seminars, workshops and other activities involving NGOs
in the preparation of and follow-up to those conferences were also
financed by the United Nations Secretariat.  It should also be
mentioned that the initiatives taken by the Department for Policy
Coordination and Sustainable Development to establish a common NGO
database and to develop better outreach and arrangements for NGO
participation in intergovernmental processes do involve financial
implications as well.  The above facts on increasing involvement by
the United Nations Secretariat in supporting NGO activities should not
have been overlooked by the JIU.

13.  Similar comments were made by the regional commissions.  In the
case of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific,
for instance, although there is no direct provision of funds to NGOs
as implementing partners, there is close collaboration between the
Commission and the NGOs in the implementation of its technical
cooperation projects financed from extrabudgetary resources,
especially in areas that have an impact on poverty alleviation, such
as reproductive health and family planning, population ageing,
urbanization, environment, social development, including women in
development, the disabled, etc.  The cooperation of the Economic and
Social Commission for Western Asia with NGOs involves the direct and
indirect participation of NGOs, volunteers and local communities by
means of formal agreements and mechanisms for the implementation of
projects.  There is a continuous dialogue with the NGO community,
which facilitates the exchange of information on major issues of
concern.  The Commission also provides technical and substantive
advisory services to the NGO community and invites it to assume a
partnership development role in mobilizing operational activities at
the country level.  In the European region, cooperation between the
Economic Commission for Europe and NGOs does not include financing
activities carried out by NGOs, but, on the contrary, NGOs, by their
in-kind contributions, provide support to many activities carried out
by the Commission.  The regional commissions would be willing, if the
study on NGO relations with the United Nations is supplemented in the
future, to contribute information based on their rich experience.

14.  Some ACC members have commented that while JIU devotes almost 20
pages of its study to describing how different agencies and programmes
of the United Nations system allocate resources to NGOs and select the
recipients, it does not clearly identify those practices considered
best and worthy of adoption by other agencies.

15.  Several agencies found it contradictory that, on the one hand, the
report states that the accountability for funds going to NGO
activities is insufficient and, on the other hand, it appeals for a
better reporting on the resources allocated to NGOs.

16.  Some ACC members mentioned that the report repeats the initiatives
already taken by the Consultative Committee on Programme and
Operational Questions and therefore does not break new ground.

17.  The representative of the World Bank commented that while the text
regarding its activities in the area under consideration was accurate
and complete, the phrase in paragraph 131, "the Bank can play a
mediating role" should be continued to include "... but still would
need government agreement", thus reinforcing the message that the
borrower determines the use of NGOs, not the Bank.

18.  Finally, ACC members are of the view that one of the most
important aspects of working with NGOs is the need for flexibility. 
This should, however, be balanced with the need for accurate
information relating to financial resource expenditures vis-a`-vis
non-State partners.  In the attempt to achieve accuracy through
databases, policy guidelines and reporting procedures, flexibility may
become more difficult to achieve.  In turn, NGO partners may in fact
become increasingly bureaucratized and less flexible in meeting the
needs of the poorer segments of society.  It should also be remembered
that many NGOs have limited organizational and financial capacities
and may not be able to meet established standards.  There are
instances in which financial accountability is matched with
operational effectiveness; in particular, the small-grants programmes
of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are an excellent
example of this synergistic potential.  The tripartite institutional
arrangements of those programmes facilitate an environment in which
each actor (NGO/Government/UNDP) has a vested interest in programme
quality and therefore allocates financial resources in a
cost-effective and efficient manner.  It is this type of arrangement
that can ensure accountability and transparency.

                       II.  COMMENTS ON RECOMMENDATIONS

Recommendation 1

     All United Nations system organizations collaborating with NGOs in
carrying out their tasks should establish a transparent financial
management procedure by compiling and maintaining a database on their
activities with NGOs.  Such a database will also be useful as a way of
measuring trends and recording experience as well as any other
relevant information in cooperation with NGOs.  This database should
include, among others:

     (a)  All projects with NGO partnership, the project title and
duration, beneficiaries, total budget and source of funds, the
affiliated NGO and its type collaborating in the execution and/or
implementation of projects;

     (b) The percentage of the total project budget which goes to
direct programme execution/implementation and that allocated to
administrative support costs when applicable.

19.  With regard to this recommendation, many ACC members comment that
they have for a number of years maintained a computerized database on
their activities with NGOs, covering both project agreements and
budgetary and financial information.  These systems are maintained, as
a rule, by a special unit established within the respective
secretariat for NGO matters.  In the case of the Office of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), for instance, the
database is supplemented by a second database, maintained by the
Office of the NGO Coordinator, which contains information on all the
NGOs that have an interest in refugees, whether they are UNHCR
implementing partners or not.  Updated information from the latter
database is published regularly as an NGO directory.

20.  Other organizations and agencies are in the process of
systematizing data on their activities with NGOs, which will include
NGOs involved in their work, those in consultative status, NGOs and
other organizations of civil society at the country level that could
be potential partners in implementing development projects, as well as
specific information on the type of cooperation provided and resource
allocation.  Within the UNDP structure, for example, the Civil Society
Organizations Programme is currently working towards developing a
series of guidelines that will enable UNDP country offices to start
gathering data on NGOs and other organizations of the civil society
(membership groups, trade unions, advocacy groups, etc.) so as to form
country-level databases, as well as to appoint full-time focal points
for civil society within those offices, as suggested in recommendation
2.  At the same time, it should be kept in mind that UNDP programmes
are often executed jointly by United Nations system agencies and
national government ministries.  In that case, NGOs can be
subcontracted at any time for specific activities (training,
evaluation, etc.).  The resources required for those activities are
provided in a lump sum to an NGO, blurring the administrative and
operational costs.  One possible solution to this problem is to allow
for NGO execution that would provide exact figures.  Unfortunately,
this has yet to become an operational reality.  In this context,
establishing a database may offer insight into NGO functions,
capacities and legitimacy, but may not provide the needed data.  The
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is in
the process of establishing a database on its activities with NGOs,
which is not viewed primarily as a tool for financial management.  It
will include references to projects carried out in partnership with
NGOs, but not to minor NGO subcontracts.

21.  Several ACC members had some difficulty in agreeing with the JIU
proposal that all the United Nations system organizations should
establish and maintain a database on NGOs, which, they believe, needs
to be considered in the context of financial and staff constraints
facing the United Nations.  Their main argument is that the limited
number of projects involving NGOs and the small amount of funds
allocated for such projects would not justify the costs of
establishing the requested database.  They also stress that the
present administrative framework of the United Nations system is
complicated enough without compounding it with additional reporting
formats.  In their view, it would have been preferable if the
Inspectors, who had the opportunity to examine the existing procedures
of various United Nations organizations, had provided recommendations
for introducing simpler and more meaningful programmatic and financial
reporting.  Such recommendations should fully take into account the
ongoing process of streamlining United Nations administrative
procedures and the introduction of the Integrated Management
Information System.

22.  Some ACC members, while agreeing in general with the proposals
contained in this recommendation, note that the report does not
include the cost of a project on establishing and maintaining a
database for transparency in financial management.  They stress that
such projects require not only upgraded technology, but also skilled
human resources.  They refer to the recent efforts by some United
Nations entities, such as the Department for Policy Coordination and
Sustainable Development, the Department of Public Information, the
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Non-Governmental
Liaison Service, to avoid duplication by building a shared database of
records about NGOs that are involved in the work of more than one
entity, thus improving the dissemination and collection of information
and the maintenance of records and facilitating access to a wide
number of NGOs by sector, gender and geographic location.  This type
of common database could be used at Headquarters as well as in the
field.

23.  One ACC member proposed that, as a first step towards improving
the access to information on NGOs being held by various agencies,
programmes, funds, departments, divisions and other entities, an
inventory of various NGO databases in the United Nations system should
be established.  That member believed that such an exercise, already
undertaken by the Advisory Committee for the Coordination of
Information Systems in 1988, would help to assess the situation and to
find the best way for establishing an integrated database on NGOs, as
requested by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution
1996/31, part XI, of 25 July 1996.

Recommendation 2

     United Nations system organizations recognize that the tasks of
both "operational" and "advocacy" NGOs at the international and
national levels are essential if the system is to achieve its
objectives.  In response to a recent decision of the Consultative
Committee on Programme and Operational Questions, an inter-agency
assessment of whether there is a need for establishing an inter-agency
mechanism which would bring together NGO focal points on programme and
operational issues is currently under way.  The increasing
responsibilities require and merit full-time NGO liaison officers to
follow and coordinate the activities of NGOs.

     (a) At the headquarters level, operational organizations which
have not already appointed an NGO liaison officer should do so in
order for him/her to consult, on behalf of the organization, with NGO
umbrella organizations, bilateral and multilateral donors, other
United Nations agencies and different NGOs.  The person in question
should be informed regularly by the Budget Division on the status of
allocation and expenditure of resources to NGO activities, as well as
be involved in and provide inputs to the preparation of the budget
dealing with NGO activities (see recommendation 3).

     (b) At the country level, coordination with the Government, other
national institutions and local NGO umbrella organizations should be
assigned by each organization/agency to a national United Nations
officer who has an understanding and appreciation of the local
culture.  He should carry out this function under the direct
supervision of the Chief Technical Adviser (CTA) and, where there is
no CTA, one of the agency staff members with similar functions who
should be accountable and responsible for the management of the
organization's resources devoted to NGOs activities.

     (c) A mechanism should be established whereby headquarters and
country level NGO liaison officers would share their experiences. 
This way both officials are informed of each other's activities.

24.  The Unit's idea of following and coordinating the activities of
NGOs through various mechanisms at the headquarters and country levels
is supported in principle by ACC.  According to ACC members' comments,
the coordination of activities with NGOs is mainly carried out by
external relations offices or special coordinators established
specifically for those purposes.  In the field, those functions are
assigned to the agencies' country directors, representatives or focal
points.  In the case of UNHCR, for instance, the setting up of
inter-NGO committees as well as government/UNHCR/NGO coordinating
committees in all country programmes is in process.  FAO has
established at its headquarters a special office responsible for
liaison with NGOs:  the Unit for Cooperation with the Private Sector
and NGOs, which has access to financial information regarding FAO/NGO
cooperation and reviews proposals for projects to be carried out in
partnership with NGOs.

25.  ACC reaffirms the decision of the Consultative Committee on
Programme and Operational Questions, concerning the assessment of the
need to establish an inter-agency mechanism to bring together NGO
focal points on programme and operational issues.

26.  At the same time, several ACC members have expressed doubts
similar to those related to recommendation 1, namely, whether it would
be financially justified for all the organizations and agencies of the
United Nations system to establish full-time NGO liaison officers at
the headquarters and country levels.  They also strongly believe that
there cannot be a blanket job description for the headquarters NGO
liaison officer, but his or her functions should rather be determined
in line with other responsibilities within the organization.  They
also do not share the view contained in subparagraph (b) of
recommendation 2 that national officers should necessarily be
responsible for coordination with the Government, other national
institutions and local NGO umbrella organizations.  While national
officers do indeed have a useful role to play, one of the most
important considerations should be the objectivity of the officer in
determining which organizations should be selected as partners.  In
this regard, they have some doubts whether national officers will
always be completely impartial.  They also strongly believe that
national officers should not report to a Chief Technical Adviser
unless it is related to a specific project, but rather to country and
regional directors, who are responsible for the overall programme in
the area covered.

27.  Some ACC members expressed their regret that their activities and
positive experience in the area considered in recommendation 2 had not
been reflected in the study.  Thus, for instance, with regard to the
Unit's appeal to develop better knowledge of national and local
organizations, the Department of Public Information, both at
Headquarters and in the field (United Nations Information Centres and
United Nations International Schools), has maintained the longest
relationship (since 1946) with operational and advocacy NGOs
interested in the priorities of the United Nations, and this
experience and knowledge should necessarily be included in any future
inter-agency coordinating initiatives.  At the country level, United
Nations Information Centres and United Nations International Schools
have very rich experience in working with government agencies, other
national institutions and local NGOs, including NGO umbrella
organizations, and can provide qualified advice to any agency's staff
members involved in activities in a given country.  Similar experience
has been accumulated by many other organizations and agencies, which
should have been taken into account by JIU.

Recommendation 3

     All United Nations operational organizations should evaluate the
advantages and disadvantages of establishing a budget line for NGO
activities without prejudice for technical cooperation programmes to
benefit from additional sources of funds.

Recommendation 4

     The Economic and Social Council in its proposal to the General
Assembly on the updating of its resolution 1296 (XIV) of 1968
(E/1996/L.25, para. 6) specified that "Greater participation of
non-governmental organizations from developing countries in
international conferences convened by the United Nations should be
encouraged".  The Inspector agrees fully with this proposal and makes
the following suggestions:

     Organizations not involved in operational activities, such as
those mostly at the headquarters level, should envisage a budget line
with limited resources to enable them to provide administrative
assistance to NGOs in general and particularly those coming from
developing countries and from countries with economies in transition
to attend meetings, seminars, conferences and workshops.  An
appropriate procedure should be developed for providing funds.

28.  Many ACC members agree in general with the proposals contained in
recommendations 3 and 4.  Their main argument for such a view is that,
since it is an established policy, the United Nations should cooperate
more closely with NGOs.  More resources, including a clear budget
line, will be needed to meet the needs of NGOs.  With regard to
recommendation 4, the adoption by the Economic and Social Council of
its resolution 1996/31 on consultative arrangements with NGOs, as well
as the follow-up to various world conferences, will result in bringing
more national NGOs to the United Nations.  For NGOs to make a useful
contribution to United Nations activities, they will need particular
assistance, and the proposal of establishing a budget line can be
supported.  That budget line should include such items as staffing,
meetings and consultations, equipment and travel.

29.  Other ACC members comment that they currently have no regular
budget funds to be allocated directly to NGO activities.  However,
their programmes and projects with NGOs are financed from
extrabudgetary resources and are implemented on a cost-sharing basis
or are financed from third-party contributions.  Innovative types of
financial cooperation between the public and private sectors are also
being fostered.  In the case of UNDP, its new programming cycle will
rely upon three major categories for funding programmes and projects,
namely:  (a) global programme funds that go towards supporting
cross-cutting issues related to sustainable human development; (b)
regional programme funds to be used by the regional bureaux for
supporting the main thematic areas of UNDP (e.g., poverty eradication,
environmental protection, women in development); and (c) country-level
resources used for activities at the national level.  In this context,
UNDP support to NGOs will come from a combination of the above
resources, and UNDP is still in the process of determining how the
allocation of those funds will be monitored.

30.  Several organizations and agencies have some reservations
concerning recommendations 3 and 4.  They believe that the most
important thing is to involve relevant and credible NGOs in the
implementation of programmes and projects of the United Nations
operational organizations.  If so, such involvement could be effective
without the need to establish a separate budget line for NGO
activities within a specific project.  With regard to recommendation
4, they feel that resources should be devoted to financing the
participation of NGOs from developing countries and economies in
transition in world conferences, meetings, seminars and workshops,
rather than to administrative assistance to facilitate the attendance
of NGOs at such forums.  This could be effected through closer
collaboration among organizations and agencies, with or without
operational activities.

31.  For some ACC members the concept of establishing a budget line,
mentioned in both recommendations, is not clear, nor does it seem very
realistic.  They argue that it would be difficult to establish such a
budget line, since the vast majority of an agency's contributions are
earmarked for specific technical cooperation projects.  In many
agencies, funds to support NGO activities in the field are mobilized
from extrabudgetary sources on the basis of specific programme
proposals.  Limited regular programme funds could be available to
facilitate the participation of NGOs in international conferences,
meetings, seminars and other forums, as suggested in recommendation 4,
if so endorsed by the respective governing bodies, but extrabudgetary
funds are more often sought for those purposes.

32.  The representative of one agency commented that, given its
specific structure and the role of workers' and employers'
organizations in its activities, the current scope of involvement of
other NGOs in its work does not justify the establishment of a
specific budget line for them.  It also questioned the meaning of
"administrative assistance" to be provided to NGOs to facilitate their
participation in the above-mentioned international forums.  The agency
argued that if it refers to hotel accommodations or ticket
reservations, then it is the job of a travel agency.  If the intention
is to provide NGOs with information about meetings and seminars, there
is no need to allocate extra resources, since every United Nations
agency has staff who are specifically responsible for providing this
kind of information.

Recommendation 5

     There is a need for policy guidelines which satisfy the current
requirements for collaboration with NGOs.  In addition to the Economic
and Social Council framework for collaboration with NGOs, the
operational organizations should establish their own policy guidelines
in accordance with their mandates.  Some organizations have already
taken this initiative and have established such guidelines.

     Therefore, those organizations which are collaborating with NGOs
and which have not yet established policy guidelines for cooperating
with NGOs in project implementation should proceed to formulate them. 
The policy guidelines should include, among other things, basic NGO
selection criteria such as the NGO's credibility and accountability;
administration and budgetary standards; lower cost compared to other
implementing partners; familiarity with the local population;
flexibility in responding to development needs; and long-term
commitment to development.

33.  ACC had no difficulty in supporting this recommendation, since
most of the organizations and agencies have established their own
policy guidelines in accordance with their mandates, and others are in
the process of elaborating such guidelines or reviewing the existing
ones to ensure that there is maximum accountability and maintenance of
acceptable standards by NGO partners.  They also try to ensure that
the guidelines include the main criteria to be fulfilled by NGOs
applying for consultative status, such as being of a representative
character and having a recognized standing, as well as having an
established record in areas falling within the competence of a given
agency.  As far as NGO selection is concerned, there is a view that
international NGOs, Governments or UNDP regional offices and agencies'
country directors will eventually be able to recommend suitable
national or local NGOs.

34.  In the process of developing its policy guidelines for
collaboration with NGOs, UNDP has found it to be a rather complicated
exercise, and has expressed some views that could be of interest to
other organizations and agencies.  UNDP officially decided to expand
its cooperation to a broader range of civil society organizations,
including traditional service delivery NGOs, trade unions, membership
organizations, the media, church-based groups and the like.  Lessons
learned from this process have been an explicit recognition that the
voluntary sector is extremely diverse in its functions and forms, and
therefore a blueprint may not be appropriate, given the fact that
civil society organizations are accountable to a number of
stakeholders, including the United Nations system agencies with whom
they cooperate, the organization's own constituency and government
bodies providing financial support to its activities.  In this regard,
UNDP wonders if it might be more effective to develop country-specific
guidelines for funding while providing a broader policy framework that
outlines both the constraints and the benefits of working with civil
society organizations in the context of sustainable human development.

Recommendation 6

     The current climate of intense donor government interest in the
proper use of funds in all areas of activities, including the
non-governmental sector, highlights the need for the United Nations
organizations to identify easily the resources they receive and be
able to account for them, regardless of the size and the nature of the
funds.  In order to respond to this concern and in line with the
intention of the Consultative Committee on Programme and Operational
Questions to address the same issue, the following steps should be
taken:

     (a) Since the primary accountability and responsibility for funds
it receives from donors lies with the organization, it should be in a
position to identify the resources it spends or allocates for NGO
activities and know how these funds are disbursed;

     (b) Organizations which have not yet established a control system
should do so within the framework of the letter of understanding or
other suitable instruments.  They should pay attention to
accountability when reporting to their governing bodies on cooperation
with NGOs and on the use by them of extrabudgetary and/or
supplementary financial resources including funds received from NGOs.

35.  A majority of ACC members support this recommendation, since
accountability is an intrinsic prerequisite in agencies' technical
cooperation programmes and projects.  The steps taken by organizations
and agencies in the area under consideration in this recommendation
include, inter alia, the establishment of trust fund accounts for all
resources received for the implementation of technical cooperation
programmes, consultations with the donors to review the implementation
of project activities and the utilization of funds allocated for the
purpose as provided in individual project documents and the submission
of audited accounts to the respective governing bodies.  These and
other steps serve as the basis not only for improving accountability
of NGOs, but also for ensuring higher standards of delivery and
improved operational practices.

36.  Several ACC members, however, have different views with regard to
this recommendation.  Judging from their own practices, they state
that there is no need for the proposed control system.  They believe
that the current procedures for monitoring implementation and
evaluation provide an adequate framework for accountable and
transparent operations, since they adopt with NGOs the same
instruments governing transfer of financial resources as they employ
for other categories of external partners and apply the same control
systems.

Recommendation 7

     United Nations system organizations are increasingly aware of the
advantage of working with national NGOs in certain areas of their
activities, because of their knowledge of and roots in the local
situation and the contribution they can make to building equitable and
stable societies.  In addition, by working with national NGOs the
system could contribute more effectively to the country's economic and
social development.  To achieve this objective, in addition to the
support for the Government, the following concrete comprehensive
measures should be taken:

     (a) United Nations system organizations, in particular the
operational organizations, should establish, possibly at Headquarters
or at least at the country level, a list of national NGOs and other
organizations of civil society that could be potential partners of the
United Nations system and the international NGOs.  This information
should be included in the database proposed in recommendation 1;

     (b) Greater consideration should also be given to strengthening
government capacities to maintain effective records of national
registered organizations;

     (c) The Consultative Committee on Programme and Operational
Questions may examine the possibility of using the database collected
by the organizations to prepare a compendium of national NGOs for the
use of the system taking into account the work that is already done in
this area by the Non-Governmental Liaison Service.  Sharing and
exchange of information on national NGOs among the United Nations
system organizations is recommended, especially at the country level;

     (d) United Nations system organizations should give active
consideration to the involvement of national NGOs in the entire
project cycle from identification, formulation and implementation
partners.  In the programme agreement between the Government and the
organization, cooperation with national NGOs should be referred to
when such cooperation is considered beneficial to the overall
programme.  United Nations system organizations should, as
appropriate, assist national NGOs to formulate, mobilize resources for
and implement programmes in support of their activities, in the
context of capacity-building;

     (e) All United Nations organizations, in particular UNDP, UNICEF
and the United Nations Population Fund, should establish a system for
training the staff of national NGOs, inter alia, on accounting,
preparation and management of projects and reporting, as well as on
how to coordinate and collaborate with the United Nations system and
the international NGOs and on what is expected of national NGOs in
order to become a partner of the international community supporting
development;

     (f) In view of the fact that the national NGOs, in particular in
developing countries, do not have the same administrative, managerial
and legal capacity as the international NGOs, flexible selection
criteria should be established which take into account credibility,
representativeness and competence;

     (g) In the light of the foreseen significant advantages of closer
cooperation with national NGOs to enhance the effectiveness and impact
of United Nations activities, organizations should make the requisite
efforts to give appropriate attention to the improvement of the mutual
confidence between NGOs and Member States.

37.  The general thrust of this recommendation, namely, the need for
more active involvement of national NGOs in the country's economic and
social development, is strongly supported by ACC members, since all
the organizations and agencies of the United Nations system,
especially those with operational activities, are well aware of all
the benefits of NGO contributions to building equitable and stable
societies.  They also agree with the views of the JIU concerning the
need to involve NGOs in the entire project cycle, from formulation to
implementation; the establishment of a system for training staff of
national NGOs, in particular by the United Nations funds and
programmes; developing a flexible NGO selection criteria; and so on.

38.  With regard to the proposal contained in subparagraph (a) of this
recommendation, ACC members' comments are similar to those related to
recommendation 1.

39.  The proposal in subparagraph (c) is arguable, since a given agency
is not interested in all the NGOs, but only in those involved in
activities of a specific area of competence of that agency.  In this
regard, ACC members are warning against the assumption of the JIU that
United Nations system cooperation with NGOs is entirely
development-oriented, which is not the case.  There is another view
related to this proposal, namely, that instead of asking each
organization and agency of the United Nations system to prepare a list
of national NGOs that could be potential partners of the system, UNDP
should be requested to develop and update periodically, in
collaboration with other agencies concerned, a list of NGOs that have
the experience of working with different organizations and agencies. 
That view, if accepted, should be further considered in detail.


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Date last posted: 10 January 2000 10:05:30
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