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Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review-QCPR


The quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR) is the primary policy instrument of the General Assembly to define the way the UN development system operates to support programme countries in their development efforts.

In the fall of 2012, the General Assembly will give new policy directions to improve UN system support to developing countries as a result of its first quadrennial review (QCPR) of UN operational activities for development.


The quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR) deals with issues of funding UN operational activities for development, the functioning of the UN development system and the development effectiveness of the work of the UN system for development.  

Since 1980, the comprehensive policy review has been conducted every three years. In 2008, Member States decided to change the comprehensive policy review to a quadrennial cycle, notably to ensure that the review guides the development of strategic plans of UN system organizations.

Implementing the QCPR is binding for UN entities that report to GA, including 11 Funds and Programmes, 6 research & training institutions (UNICRI, UNIDIR, UNITAR, UNRISD, UNSSC, UNU) and 3 other entities (UNAIDS, UNISDR, UNOPS). The QCPR resolution also provides guidance to the specialized agencies. Some specialized agencies have decided to report to their governing bodies on the implementation of the GA guidance, as requested by the QCPR.

Issues and process

The QCPR process also provides an important opportunity to Member States to engage in a dialogue on how to adapt UN operational activities to the changing global development cooperation context.

The Secretary-General facilitates the QCPR process by providing Member States with impartial, balanced and forward-looking analysis on the implementation of existing policies.  Advanced, unedited versions of the two Secretary-General reports for the 2012 QCPR were issued in beginning of June to inform the 2012 substantive session of the Economic and Social Council:

  1. Analytical report on the implementation of the 2007 triennial comprehensive policy review (TCPR)
  2. Analytical report on funding of operational activities for development of the United Nations system for 2010

The two SG reports synthesize a substantial amount of analytical/evaluative evidence to support the assessment of the current state of operational activities for development of the UN system.  These analytical preparations comprised nine background studies and reports, four global online surveys, seven programme country visits, a detailed analysis of the UN development system’s funding architecture and extensive consultations with key stakeholders, all initiated by DESA and its partners as part of the QCPR preparatory process.

The nine background studies for the QCPR provide in-depth analysis in areas such as the Resident Coordinator system, the UNDAF process, the harmonization of business practices, results-based strategic planning and management, gender equality and women’s empowerment, transition countries, as well as examining emerging policy issues likely to impact the work of the UN development system in the 2013-2016 QCPR cycle.  These studies are supported by four surveys of programme countries, UN Resident Coordinators and country teams, UN Operational Management Teams and civil society organizations working closely with UN entities at the country level.

The SG’s funding report, in addition to providing a detailed breakdown of funding contributions and expenditures of the UN development system, broadens the analysis with more disaggregated reporting on issues such as predictability of funding flows, breakdown of non-core contributions by funding streams and cost recovery of non-core resources to the UN development system.

Other key analytical inputs to the 2012 QCPR will be the report of the independent evaluation of ‘delivering-as-one’ and a report commissioned by the SG on a comprehensive review of the existing institutional framework for system-wide evaluation of UN operational activities for development.

Building on the deliberations of the Operational Activities Segment of ECOSOC in July 2012, the Secretary-General will submit two follow-up reports for the QCPR to the General Assembly in mid-August and mid-September respectively, with recommendations to strengthen the coherence, effectiveness and efficiency of UN operational activities for development. The SG reports and the substantive materials of the QCPR preparatory process will serve as key reference points to the General Assembly in adopting a QCPR resolution that will establish policy directives for the UN development system covering the 2013-2016 QCPR cycle.

Further reading

GA resolution 62/208: Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review
GA resolution 64/289: System-wide coherence
ECOSOC resolution 2011/7: progress in the implementation of TCPR
Highlight of the QCPR Report 2012