Volume 14, No.11 - November 2010

Global dialogue on development

Advancing economic growth and development

General Assembly’s Second Committee held its general debate focusing on the MDG Summit implementation and on the preparations for Rio+20, debated its methods of work and discussed operational activities for development

During the Second Committee’s general debate, which took place from 4-6 October, a total of 72 delegations took the floor. Delegations expressed their views on various issues pertaining to the Committee’s work, including the world’s economic situation, global economic governance, MDG Summit implementation and sustainable development, in particular for the preparation of Rio+20. Delegates also highlighted the links between poverty, security, peace and development and focused on countries in special situation (i.e. LDC, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States), Africa and the UN Reform.

At the opening session, statements were made by the Chairperson of the Second Committee, H.E. Ms. Enkhtsetseg Ochir, and the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Sha Zukang, followed by a keynote address by Professor Robert J. Shiller of Yale University.

Methods of work

The Second Committee held a debate on its methods of work on 8 October. Delegations welcomed the Bureau’s initiative to consider this topic and the non-paper which had been circulated as a background paper for the discussions. The debate was concentrated around the following main conceptual issues, including the procedural aspects of the Committee’s work with implications for its substantive outcome and the established tradition of adoption of decisions by consensus.

The debate also focused on the inter-connectedness of the agenda items dealt with by the Committee and their importance for the UN’s development agenda, and the requirement for consultations among a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including line ministries in capitals, with a view to garnering the necessary technical and other inputs for effective discussions and decisions.

As a result, maintaining discipline in established timelines as well as streamlining the work of the Committee was felt by all as being of considerable importance. The Chairperson and the Bureau will convey specific proposals for short and longer-term actions on the ways forward, after distilling the main elements of the debate.

Agenda item on Operational activities for development

On 13 October, the Second Committee held a debate on operational activities for development. Delegates acknowledged the on-going reform efforts that have improved the impact of the United Nations development system at country-level. They however felt there is significant scope for improving effectiveness and efficiency. Speakers underscored the continued importance of the General Assembly’s Comprehensive Policy Review of operational activities (TCPR/QCPR) to guide UN system’s work in the countries.

Delegations were unanimous in saluting the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 64/289 on system-wide coherence. They welcomed in particular the establishment of UN Women, and the appointment of Ms. Michelle Bachelet as its helm. Importance was attached to the speedy follow-up to the resolution.

Several delegations said that the “Delivering as One” (DaO) approach represents a major advancement towards improving the United Nations support at country-level. Speakers looked forward to the independent evaluation of the DaO initiative. G-77 and China said that any saving accrued through increased coherence should be re-invested into the development cluster of the UN.

The report of the Secretary-General on the analysis of the funding of operational activities for development of the United Nations system for 2008 was very well received. On the positive side, many speakers welcomed that contributions received by the United Nations system reached the highest level ever in 2008. However, delegations expressed concern at the continued imbalance between core and non-core (extrabudgetary) resources. They felt this imbalance erodes the priorities set by Member states. It also contributes to complexity and fragmentation within the system, leading to high transaction costs and heavy administrative burdens.

Committee’s work in November

The agenda items that will be considered by the Committee in November include sustainable development, UN Habitat, the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people, International trade and development. The Committee will also have a dialogue with the Executive Heads of the Regional Commissions.

The Committee aims to conclude its work on 23 November 2010.

For more information:

Young people highlighted the International Year of Youth at the General Assembly

At the 65th session of the General Assembly, twenty United Nations Member States included one or more youth delegates in their official delegations

Youth delegates took part in the deliberations of the Third Committee of the General Assembly and addressed issues under the agenda item of social development. While in New York, 14 of the youth delegates delivered statements to the Third Committee on behalf of their Member States and represented the view of young people in their countries.

A majority of the youth delegates highlighted the International Year of Youth, which began in August 2010, and the importance of engaging young people both when it comes to young people’s inclusion in decision-making processes, and also to see young people as important partners in the work of Member States and the United Nations work for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Some of the main concerns addressed by the youth delegates were the alarming rise of youth unemployment, the need for universal access to both formal and non-formal education, young people’s participation in the work of achieving the MDGs and sexual and reproductive rights. The youth delegates highlighted the fact that young people need to be included in developing strategies for curbing the high unemployment levels among young people, and should also be key partners in designing poverty reduction strategies to ensure their effectiveness.

Additionally, youth delegates participated in the general work of their Missions by attending a range of meetings and informal consultations on various resolutions. They also organized many side events on a variety of issues related to the International Year of Youth. The topics of the side events varied from youth employment in times of crises, global initiatives on cultural dialogue, youth participation in environmental policies, dialogue and mutual understanding and the role and participation of youth in sustainable development. Youth delegates also met with the President of the General Assembly to discuss young people’s role in the UN and to gain deeper knowledge of the Member States work in decision-making processes.

The work of the youth delegates is, however, not only limited to their time in New York during the General Assembly. Most of them have been selected for a term of one year, which includes traveling their own countries to interact with young people from different parts of society to gather opinions and concerns on the issues highlighted at the General Assembly. With the International Year of Youth, the youth delegates have an important role to play in the success of the Year, which includes raising awareness in their countries and encouraging young people, Governments and other stakeholders to take advantage of the Year and to increase their commitment and investment in young people.

The youth delegate programme is coordinated by the UN Programme on Youth (UNPY), with the aim to strengthen young peoples participation in decision-making processes at all levels in order to increase their contribution to national and international development. The UNPY provides youth delegates with information and advice to the youth delegates and Member States before, during and after their stay in New York.

For more information:

Further including persons with disabilities in development

There are 650 million persons, 10 per cent of the world’s population, with disabilities; disability could be associated with 20 per cent of the global population living in poverty. Moreover one household in every four include a person with disability which indicates that 2 billion people are directly and indirectly affected by disability worldwide

The United Nations has been working to promote disability inclusive development for the past quarter of a century. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has provided a legal framework, an impetus and unique platform for advancement of the international disability rights agenda in development. There is growing recognition that disability is a cross-cutting issue and that the international commitment to development for all the peoples of the world hinges on making the Internationally Agreed Development Goals including the Millennium Development Goals inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities.

There was a rise in the number of countries ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) that was adopted by the General Assembly in 2006 and came into force in May 2008. As of 15 September, there are 91 ratifications and 146 signatories of the Convention and there is increasing demand from stakeholders, including UN country teams, governments and civil society organizations for guidance to support the implementation of the CRPD at the country level.

Recognizing these demands, the General Assembly through its resolutions 64/131 and 64/154 urged the United Nations system to make a concerted effort to integrate disability into its work. In 2009 a United Nations Development Group task team was established to develop guidelines and a toolkit to support United Nations country engagement in the implementation of the CRPD. The guidance note and accompanying appendices is now complete and was officially endorsed by the UNDG on 6 October 2010.

Below are a few examples of how the United Nations country offices’ engage at the country level to promote the rights of persons with disabilities in line with the goals and objectives of the Convention.

The 2006 Common Country Assessment for Moldova illustrates the level of exclusion faced by persons with disabilities particularly children with disabilities. For example, an estimated 16,000 children of school age have disabilities. The majority of these children do not attend school whilst an estimated 5,000 are enrolled in institutionalized care centers. Also in Moldova in 2004, there were 146,000 adults with disabilities — and of these only 14 % were employed.

As a result of UNICEF’s engagement with civil society and the government of Moldova, the situation of children with disabilities is now more visible on the national agenda.

Another example from Uganda highlights the leadership of UNDP in assisting landmine survivors. In 2008, a baseline study was conducted to establish the needs of landmine survivors. There are over 2,000 estimated victims of antipersonnel mines living in Uganda. UNDP’s project on Return and Resettlement of Landmine Victims from Internally Displaced Camps in Uganda has been effective in supporting the successful return of internally displaced landmine victims to reintegrate into their communities.

The guidance note should meet the need of Country Offices to be able to advocate for a shift from a medical to a social rights based approach to disability to ensure that disability issues and persons with disabilities be included in all aspects of their work.

For more information:

Guidance note:—Guidance-note-for-UN-Country-Teams.pdf

Guidance note annexes:—GN-Annexes.pdf