DESA News Vol. 12, No. 01 January 2008

Technical cooperation

Different countries, different needs

Triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities underscores need for stable funding, national capacity-building and aid effectiveness

The General Assembly adopted a landmark text on the United Nations development system in December after two and a half weeks of intense debate in the Second Committee. Stressing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to development, the Assembly reiterated that assistance provided by UN organizations should respond to countries’ varying needs and be in line with national development plans. The resolution, on the triennial comprehensive policy review, is intended to shape United Nations development activities over the next three years, specifically in the areas of funding, national capacity building and aid effectiveness.

The Assembly also noted with concern the overall decline in official development assistance in 2006, and called on developed countries to devote the targeted 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product to aid by 2015, at least 0.5 per cent by 2010 and between 0.15 per cent and 0.2 per cent to least developed countries. There has been a decline in recent years of the share of core contributions – the bedrock of United Nations operational activities for development – to the Organization’s funds and programmes. Donor countries and others were urged to increase their voluntary contributions to core or regular budgets substantially, and to contribute on a multi-year basis in a sustained and predictable way.

For more information:

Peace-building and good governance for African professionals

Italy funds international training programme on conflict transformation

The Government of Italy has committed $1 million for continuation of an international training programme on peace-building and good governance administered by DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management. DESA has been working with the Legon Centre for International Affairs at the University of Ghana and the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa since 2002 to train African professionals from government and civil society on the fundamentals of conflict transformation.

Since its inception, around 400 individuals have learned about election observation, election management, human rights, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and negotiations, skills that will enable participants to find employment with national, regional and international institutions active in these areas. The Italian donation will enable the project partners to provide a fourth round of training, with technical assistance from DESA in project formulation, monitoring and evaluation.

Alliances with other institutions are actively encouraged. A number of participants have been deployed in the international peace-building activities of the Department of Peace Operations as well as United Nations Volunteers, and there has been mutually-beneficial cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations in Africa such as the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre located in Accra, and the Economic Community of West African States based in Abuja.

For more information:

Launch of the Arab-Africa civic engagement network

Arab States aim to advance participatory governance through networking at Mauritania workshop

Civic engagement in policy development is an important aspect of public accountability. In order to facilitate the exchange of information, and enhance the capacity of Arab States to advance participatory governance, the Government of Mauritania has offered to host an Arab-Africa citizen engagement network. From 29 to 31 January, some seventy representatives of government, regional organizations, civil society, the media, and the private sector will gather in Nouakchott to work out an action plan for establishing the prospective network while promoting dialogue among Arab and African stakeholders on governance issues.

A discussion will be held on the benefits and challenges of networking, along with the impact that similar international, regional and sub-regional associations have had on national policy-making. The initiative follows from the so-called Amman declaration adopted at a related workshop held in March 2007. The main conclusion emanating from the Amman meeting was that civic engagement in socio-economic policies is essential for effective and efficient implementation of national and regional development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals.

The Nouakchott event is being organized by the Mauritanian Ministry in Charge of Relations with the Parliament and Civil Society, along with DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management, and UNDP Mauritania. Participants from seventeen Arab countries are expected to attend.

Towards a social charter for the Middle East

DESA helping Middle East Citizens’ Assembly with concepts and methodology at Amman meeting

Recognizing that promoting citizen participation may be a way to enhance cooperation and security, the Middle East Citizens’ Assembly has initiated discussion of a social charter for Western Asia and Northern Africa. Such a charter might address, for example, civil and political rights, employment, shelter, education, health, poverty alleviation, and social protection. The Assembly, whose member organizations bring together concerned citizens from Afghanistan to Morocco, aims to develop civic awareness through positive communication between people, and active participation of citizens in creating a future for the region.

A two-day meeting supported by DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management will be held in Amman on 8 and 9 January to consider the conceptual and methodological aspects of the proposed instrument. DESA will provide information on best practices, and advise participants on methodologies appropriate for such initiatives. His Majesty Prince El-Hassan of Jordan, primary sponsor of the initiative, will open the session. DESA provided similar support for a social charter and agenda for civic action for South Asia adopted by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in 2004.