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In the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document (General Assembly resolution A/60/1), Member States recognized the importance of the unique experience and resources that the UN system brings to global issues and recommended implementation of current reforms of operational activities for development aimed at a more effective, efficient, coherent, coordinated and better performing United Nations country presence with a strengthened role of the senior resident official and a common management, programming and monitoring framework.

The General Assembly invited the Secretary-General to launch work to further strengthen the management and coordination of the United Nations operational activities and to make proposals for consideration of Member States for more tightly managed entities in the field of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment. In response to this request, the Secretary General appointed the High-Level Panel on UN System-Wide Coherence in the Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and the Environment, which finalized its report in November 2006. One of the key recommendations of the Panel was that the UN system should “Deliver as One” at country level, with one leader, one programme, one budget and, where appropriate, one office.

At the end of 2006, eight countries informed the Secretary-General of their intention to pilot the "Delivering as One" approach: Albania, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uruguay and Viet Nam. At the same time, the Secretary General requested the Chair of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) to lead an effort with the Executive Heads of the UNDG to move forward with the “One United Nations” initiative based on the interest expressed by programme countries and with the support by Millennium Development Goals strategy support funds.

The purpose of the pilots as expressed in these documents was to allow the UN system, in cooperation with pilot country governments, to develop approaches that would enhance the coherence, efficiency and effectiveness of the UN at country level and reduce transaction costs for host countries. It was also emphasized that the basic concept of the One UN pilots broadly reflected guidance from Member States provided through the 2001 and 2004 triennial comprehensive policy review (TCPR) resolutions of the General Assembly on operational activities for development of the UN system (A/RES/56/201 and A/RES/59/250) as well as the 2005 World Summit.

In the 2007 TCPR resolution (A/RES/62/208), Member States emphasized the need for an independent evaluation of lessons learned from (voluntary efforts to improve coherence, coordination and harmonization in the United Nations development system, including at the request of some “programme country pilot” countries) (Operative Paragraph 139). The request was reiterated in the 2010 General Assembly resolution on system-wide coherence (A/64/289), in which Member States encouraged the Secretary-General to proceed with the modality for the independent evaluation of lessons learned from the “Delivering as one” pilots, as outlined by the Secretariat, after consultation, covering all aspects of the initiative (Operative paragraph 21).