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About the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review (TCPR)

About the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review (TCPR)

  • The main purpose of the TCPR is to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the United Nations development system's support to national efforts of developing countries to pursue their priorities and meet their needs in the context of the UN development agenda that emerged from the Millennium Declaration and other global conferences and summits.  Those events highlighted the challenges that the world faces in the new development context influenced by a set of complex factors including globalization and the need for integration of national economies. They called for a renewed commitment of the international community to international development cooperation. The time-bound nature of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) like halving global poverty by the year 2015 imparts urgency and requires concerted action.
  • Member States have assigned an important role to the operational activities for development of the UN system in helping countries to achieve the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs in accordance with their national priorities and needs.  The UN system with its far-flung field offices and its historic credibility can provide invaluable support.  The TCPR reviews the UN system policies and mechanisms that enable its operational activities to play their assigned role, and assesses how the system at the country level is positioned. It assesses changes, if any, that might be needed to make it a more cohesive and effective development partner, in collaboration with other partners.
  • More directly, the TCPR responds to the mandate defined by: (i) the General Assembly which establishes key system-wide policy orientations for the development cooperation and country-level modalities of the United Nations system; and (ii) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) provides coordination and guidance to the UN system to ensure that those policy orientations are implemented.

The content of TCPR 2007 

  • The 2007 TCPR will review the full implementation of the General Assembly resolution 59/250 of December 2004. It will also be guided by ECOSOC resolution 2006/14. The focus of the Secretariat support to the review was to assess to what extent and in what ways the United Nations development system provide efficient and effective support to developing countries to realize their national development priorities and achieve internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs. Also examined was the unique contribution of the United Nations system in an increasingly complex and competitive environment at country-level resulting from globalization.
  • The analytical framework for the analysis for the 2007 TCPR is organized under three main sub-headings: (i) enhanced development impact of the United Nations development system – national ownership and leadership, building national capacities to eradicate poverty, pursue sustained economic growth and sustainable development, and achieve the internationally agreed development goals including the MDGs; (ii) improved functioning of United Nations development system; and (iii) increased supply and improved management of resources (funding and human resources).
  • Among the particular issues reviewed, as requested by ECOSOC at its session in 2006, are: funding for operational activities; capacity-building; transaction costs and efficiency; coherence, efficiency and relevance; CCA and UNDAF; Resident Coordinator and UN Country Teams; country-level capacity of the UN; evaluation of operational activities; regional dimensions; South-South cooperation; gender; and transition from relief to development.
  • The TCPR will be conducted by the GA at its 62nd session. The review will be discussed at the 2007 Substantive ECOSOC session. This discussion will help in devising draft recommendations to be considered by the GA.

Results TCPR 2007

On 18 December 2007, the General Assembly successfully adopted resolution 62/208 on the TCPR. This resolution represents a solid political consensus and brings many advances in the area of operational activities for development. It underscores the fundamental principles of operational activities of the United Nations development system, national ownership and leadership, flexibility in responding to national development requirements, the centrality of developing national capacities and the importance of predictable and stable funding as well as stressing the need for efficiency, accountability, results and transparency in United Nations work at country-level.

The resolution offers overall framework with guiding principles to orient country-level functioning of the United Nations development system. It underscores that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to development and, the United Nations development assistance should be aligned with national development plans and strategies in accordance with the mandates of the United Nations development system.

The resolution has a strong focus on implementation and it gives the United Nations development system detailed guidance in the areas of: (i) funding; (ii) contribution of the United Nations operational activities to national capacity development and development effectiveness – capacity building and development, South-South Cooperation and development of national capacity, gender equality and women's empowerment, and transition from relief to development; and (iii) improved functioning of the United Nations development system – coherence, effectiveness and relevance, regional dimensions, transaction costs and efficiency, country-level capacity of the United Nations development system, and evaluation of operational activities for development.

The resolution reiterates the importance of core resources as the bedrock of operational activities for development. It recognizes that non-core resources represent an important supplement to these resources albeit one that reduces the influence of the governing bodies. It calls upon the Secretary-General to undertake measures to improve the quality and quantity of funding for operational activities for development.

The resolution recognizes that, development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing. It also notes that the private sector and civil society, including non-government organizations can positively contribute to the achievement of the Internationally Agreed Development Goals (IADGs), including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The efforts, through the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) and the United Nations System Chief Executive Board for Coordination (CEB), to enhance the country-level coherence, effectiveness and efficiency of the UN development system are generally welcomed. The resolution calls for a more inclusive system-wide inter-agency collaboration both at country-level and headquarters for an efficient and effective functioning of the United Nations development system through further alignment of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) cycle with national processes.

While most recommendations are in the area of programmes, several refer to management issues. The resolution encourages the continued development of harmonized approaches such as International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), the harmonized approach to cash transfer, and calls for further harmonization of business practices and human resources management.

The resolution reiterated basic principles and policies endorsed by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since 1989, especially (a) the fundamental characteristics of the UN development cooperation; (b) national ownership of UN system's development support; and (c) the need of the UN system to rely on an adequate resource base for its development cooperation activities.

The following requirements were emphasized: (a) continuation of the reform process; (b) need for an inclusive approach to the UN operational work, requiring the involvement of the entire UN development system; (c) recognition that UN development cooperation should ensure support to national development efforts, particularly in relation to their needs for economic growth, social progress and sustainable development; and (d) a regular oversight role of ECOSOC on the full implementation of the resolution.

Background documentation:

a) A/62/253 - TCPR Recommendations and Conclusions
b) A/62/73-E/2007/52
c) A/62/74-E/2007/54 Statistical analysis
d) Statistical analysis 2006 update
e) E/2007/CRP.3
f) E/2007/CRP.1

The content of TCPR 2004

  • TCPR undertook an evaluation of the capacity of the UN development system to assist national efforts of developing countries to pursue their priorities and meet their needs in the new development context that follows the series of major global conferences of the1990s and, in particular, the Millennium Summit and the Monterrey Conference.
  • Examined the changing context and conditions in the design and delivery of UN operational activities for development, identified elements and areas where the General Assembly and ECOSOC may provide additional policy guidance. 
  • Among the particular issues that were reviewed, as requested by the ECOSOC at its session in 2003, was the subject of financing UN development system and how to ensure stability, predictability and substantially inversed flow of core funds. Given the new tasks and challenges, the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and the growing role of multilateral development banks in grant financing, Member States suggested that this was an opportune to take a new look at the gamut of issues involved in financing of the operational activities of the UN development system.
  • A related issue was the adequacy of the UN capacities and skills at the country level in relation with the changing profile of UN development cooperation and its ability to respond quickly to national requests. The TCPR reviewed progress in the greater coordination and coherence within the UN system and more effective integration of UN development action into national processes, twin objectives reiterated in previous General Assembly resolutions.  In this context, attention was also given to the issue of how to ensure programmatic involvement without field presence for those non-resident agencies.
  • Relevant to this exercise is how to encourage and induce greater complementarity and coherence in the work of the UN development system and the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) at the country level in the backdrop of the convergence of development agendas, progress made at the global level and the decentralized systems.
  • The review also assessed the evidence gathered on the implementation of CCA and UNDAF (E/2004/CRP.10), their inclusiveness of the entire UN system, their responsiveness to national priorities and contribution to Millennium Development Goals.  The issue of consistency and integration of UNDAF processes with Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and national ownership and leadership was examined.
  • The TCPR 2004 revisited some of the basic policy directives launched by the General Assembly, followed by ECOSOC as well as the Executive Boards of the UN Funds and Programmes and other UN entities, including through the UN system Chief Executive Board for Coordination (CEB) mechanisms and initiatives promoted by the United Nations Development Group.  Reform actions promoted by the Secretary-General, and endorsed by the General Assembly, were analyzed since many of them have a major bearing on the implementation of resolution 56/201.

Results TCPR 2004

On 17 December 2004, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the TCPR (59/250). The Review provided an opportunity to reiterate the fundamental principle that country-level programmes and activities of the United Nations development system should be increasingly integrated with national plans and priorities and be undertaken with the full participation of national governments and under their leadership and coordination, at the same time, it highlighted the country-level relevance of the international commitments of the Millennium Declaration and other global conferences and summits.

The efforts, though the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) and the CEB, to enhance the country-level coherence, effectiveness and efficiency of the UN development system were generally welcomed. While the progress made in relation to the quality of Common Country Assessments (CCAs) and UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs) and simplification and harmonization measures was acknowledged, further steps were called for to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of UN development cooperation.

Fuller involvement of all parts of the UN system in coordination process, including collaboration between CEB and UNDG, was advocated, especially in respect of CCAs and UNDAFs, the Resident Coordinator (RC) system and the functioning of the UN country teams. The resolution urged the UN development system to foster a more inclusive approach in inter-agency collaboration, both at the country and headquarter level, including the regional commissions and UN agencies with no country representation or limited country-level presence.

The resolution reiterated basic principles and policies endorsed by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since 1989, especially (a) the fundamental characteristics of the UN development cooperation; (b) national ownership of UN system's development support; and (c) the need of the UN system to rely on an adequate resource base for its development cooperation activities.

Gender mainstreaming and the pursuit of gender equality, development of national capacities, evaluation of the effectiveness of the operational activities for development, regional dimensions, South-South cooperation and the situation of transition from relief to development, are other key areas addressed in the resolution.

The following requirements were emphasized: (a) continuation of the reform process; (b) need for an inclusive approach to the UN reforms, requiring the involvement of the entire UN development system; (c) recognition that UN development cooperation should ensure support to national development efforts, particularly in relation to their needs for economic growth, social progress and sustainable development; and (d) a regular oversight role of ECOSOC on the funding of UN development cooperation, including the establishment of a 3-year review mechanism of trends and perspectives in the financing of funding for development cooperation as a whole.

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Programme of work for the Operational Activities segment of the substantive session of ECOSOC - 7 to 9 July 2004

Background documentation:

1. Triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the UN system: conclusions and recommendations -- Report of the Secretary-General (A/59/387)

2. Triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system -- Report of the Secretary-General (A/59/85-E/2004/68)

3. Assessment of the value added of the joint meetings of the Executive Boards of UNDP/UNFPA, UNICEF and WFP -- Report of the Secretary-General (E/2004/60)

4. Operational activities for development: triennial policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system - Comprehensive statistical data on operational activities for development 2003 -- Report of the Secretary-General (A/59/386)

5. Comprehensive statistical data on operational activities for development for 2002 -- Report of the Secretary-General (A/59/84 - E/2004/53)

Additional background information

4. Effectiveness of the UN development system and its operational activities: capacity of the system to provide country level support and develop national capacities (E/2004/CRP.9)

5. Consolidated list of issues related to the coordination of operational activities for development, 2004. (E/2004/CRP.7)

6. Evaluation of the Common Country Assessment and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (E/2004/CRP.10)

Reports to the General Assembly and ECOSOC

General Assembly and ECOSOC Resolutions

  • General Assembly

A/RES/62/208; 59/250; 56/201; 53/192; 50/120; 47/199; 44/211; 38/171; 35/81; 33/201

  • ECOSOC

2009/1; 2008/2; 2006/14; 2005/7; 2004/5; 2001/1; 1998/42; 1995/50;

Reports to the General Assembly and ECOSOC

  • General Assembly reports (2008-2000)

A/63/201; A/63/207

A/62/253; A/61/77-E/2006/59; A/60/83-E/2005/72; A/60/74-E/2005/57; A/59/85-E/2004/68; A/59/387;

A/59/386; A/59/84-E/2004/53; A/57/332; A/56/320; A/56/320/Add.1;

A/56/70-E/2001/58; A/56/70/Add.1-E/2001/58/Add.1;

A/56/70/Add.2-E/2001/58/Add.2

  • ECOSOC reports (2009-2000)

E/2009/61; E/2009/68; E/2009/75; E/2009/76; E/2009/85;

E/2008/49; E/2008/60; A/63/71-E/2008/46; E/2008/CRP.4;

E/2007/CRP.1; E/2007/CRP.3;

E/2006/58
; E/2006/60; E/2006/CRP1; E/2005/58;

E/2005/CRP.1; E/2004/60; E/2004/CRP.7; E/2004/CRP.9;

E/2004/CRP.10; E/2003/61; E/2003/64; E/2003/89; E/2003/57; E/2003/CRP.1;

E/2002/47; E/2002/47/Add.1; E/2002/47/Add.2; E/2002/58;

E/2002/59; E/2002/60; E/2002/CRP.1; E/2001/66; E/2001/10; E/2000/46;

E/2000/46/Add.1; E/2000/46/Add.2; E/2000.CRP.1

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