7 Th Session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration, 60th Anniversary Commemoration of the UN Programme on Public Administration and Development

Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the 7 Th Session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration, 60th Anniversary Commemoration of the UN Programme on Public Administration and Development New York, 16 April 2008

I am delighted to address the UN Committee of Experts on
Public Administration for the first time as United Nations
Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. It is a
particular pleasure to join you to celebrate a programme that is almost
as old as I am.

Today, we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the United
Nations Programme in Public Administration and Development. The
Programme has come a long way since 1948, when it was created by the
General Assembly. Allow me to share with you some reflections on the
origins and achievements of the Programme.

From its very inception, the United Nations put a strong
emphasis on international cooperation to promote economic and social
development – as an end in itself and as a foundation for
international peace and security.

In the early years of the Organization, public administration
was identified as a major factor in promoting economic and social
development. From its first session, in 1946, the General Assembly
mandated the Organization to provide technical assistance in various
economic and social fields, as an important form of support to its
Member States.

The General Assembly, following on its Resolution 200 (III) of
1948, decided to build activities for strengthening public
administration into all development programmes of the United Nations.
This led to its approval, the next year, of the Expanded Programme of
Technical Assistance, including all the public administration
activities that were originally authorized in the 1948 Resolution. (See
GA Resolution304 (IV) 16 November 1949.)

In the six decades since then, the role of the Programme has
evolved significantly, as the Organization and its Membership have
grown and changed.

During this period, we have witnessed sea changes in the
world, from East-West confrontation to international partnerships and
cooperation. We have also seen rapid economic development, science and
technology development, innovation and their application, globalization
and so on. And the use of ICT as a tool for development and for
improvement of governance and public administration has become a common

Changing realities have shaped the public debate on public
administration, and vice versa. This is the context in which the
contribution of the UN Programme in Public Administration and
Development can best be understood.

To highlight a few of its achievements, in the 1960s and
1970s, the Programme set up at least 14 national public administration
institutions in newly independent states: Brazil (1952), United Arab
Republic (1954), Argentina (1955), Ethiopia (1956), Libya (1957), Laos
(1959), Colombia (1960), Sudan (1960), Ghana (1961), Somalia (1964),
Yemen (1964), Libya (1967) and Niger (1968). And it assisted in the
establishment of eight such institutions at the regional and
sub-regional levels: in Turkey and the Middle East, EASAPAC, CAFRAD,
CLAD, ACDA, ARADO, East African Community Management Development
Institute, and ICPE. Some of these institutions are still active and
working in partnership with the Programme.

Throughout the 1980s, the Group of Experts in Public
Administration and Finance, the predecessor to this Committee, grappled
with the questions surrounding the public sector fiscal crises and debt
defaults. The Group sought to advise on ways that public administration
could diminish the negative impact of austerity measures on
people-centred development. The Group stressed that public
administrations should work more in partnership with the private sector
and civil society, within a larger framework of public governance.

During the 1990s, as a series of UN world conferences and
summits emerged on the interconnected dimensions of development, the
General Assembly dedicated its 50th Resumed Session, in 1996, to Public
Administration and Development. At the session, for which the Programme
provided the substantive support, Member States reaffirmed that the
promotion of social justice, equity and equal access to quality
services and productive assets, participatory mechanisms, and
strengthened public administration and financial management capacities
are all essential for sustainable development.

The Millennium Summit served to crystallize the set of
internationally agreed development goals that has emerged from the
conferences and summits, with governance and civic engagement among the
key cross-cutting issues. Since then, the Programme has intensified its
focus on the public administration and governance components of the
United Nations Development Agenda.

The Programme pools and facilitates access to information,
promotes research and training, facilitates advocacy and exchange of
experiences, and provides technical advisory and capacity-building
services, in support of national development strategies. To facilitate
these efforts, the General Assembly, in 2002, endorsed UNPAN, the
United Nations Online Network in Public Administration and Finance. It
also, in 2003, mandated the UN Public Service Day and Awards, and UN
support to the Global Forum on Reinventing Government.

The contributions of the Programme cannot be fully separated
from the contributions of this Committee, which provides us with
valuable expertise and advice on strengthening governance and public
administration for development. Although established in 2002, the
Committee has its roots in the Group of Experts created in 1967. On
behalf of the United Nations Secretariat, and the Member States that we
serve, I would like to acknowledge and express appreciation for the
dedication of all the Experts who have advised this Programme over the

I would also like to recognize the Secretariat staff who have
worked to implement the Programme. I take this occasion to recognize
Mr. Guido Bertucci, who has been leading the Programme since 1993. Mr.
Bertucci will retire, this year, after 36 years of service to the
United Nations. His creativity and experience will be missed.

I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of Mr. Adil
Khan, Chief of the Socio-Economic Governance and Management Branch, who
will likewise retire this year. Mr. Khan has been very essential in
bringing into our Programme the concepts of participatory governance
and “pro-poor” policy. Our thanks and best wishes
go to both gentlemen.

During this 7th session, the Committee will focus especially
on state capacity-development. With spiralling costs of
life’s necessities, such as food and energy, and projected
downturns of many economies, the strengthening of state capacity to
deal with development is as relevant today as ever. We look forward to
the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations on this

Thank you.