ECOSOC CALLS ON FUNCTIONAL COMMISSIONS TO TAKE ADDITIONAL STEPS TO INTEGRATE GENDER PERSPECTIVES INTO THEIR WORK

7 July 2004
ECOSOC/6124

ECOSOC CALLS ON FUNCTIONAL COMMISSIONS TO TAKE ADDITIONAL STEPS TO INTEGRATE GENDER PERSPECTIVES INTO THEIR WORK

07/07/2004
Press ReleaseECOSOC/6124

Economic and Social Council

2004 Substantive Session

27th & 28th Meetings (AM & PM)

ECOSOC CALLS ON FUNCTIONAL COMMISSIONS TO TAKE ADDITIONAL STEPS

TO INTEGRATE GENDER PERSPECTIVES INTO THEIR WORK

Coordination Segment Suspended Pending Negotiations on Rural

Development Draft; Operational Activities Segment Begins with Panel Discussion

Reaffirming that gender mainstreaming was an important strategy for women’s empowerment, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today called upon its functional commissions to take further measures to fully integrate gender perspectives into their work, requesting that all entities of the United Nations system reinforce their efforts towards that end.

The Council took that action through a resolution on the implementation of its 1997 conclusions on the topic (document E/2004/L.14), adopted unanimously before the Council suspended its coordination segment on gender mainstreaming and rural development.  Through the text, the Council requested that all United Nations entities enhance the effectiveness of gender specialists, gender focal points and gender theme groups, and that they develop action plans with timelines for implementing the 1997 conclusions.

Introducing the draft, the Acting President of the Council, Yashar Aliyev of Azerbaijan, said that the progress made so far in gender mainstreaming had fallen short of international expectations.  The draft contained significant steps towards further progress, particularly the request for timelines that would address the gap between policy and practice.  He said it also contained measures to strengthen commitment and accountability at the highest levels within the United Nations and to ensure comprehensive monitoring and effective reporting.

Before the vote on the draft, the representative of the United States said he was pleased that the text confirmed the commitment of all ECOSOC members to gender mainstreaming.  The representative of the Russian Federation stressed that gender mainstreaming should be implemented in the context of the Millennium Development Goals and similar objectives, and within existing resources.  While joining the consensus, Cuba’s representative expressed concern that the text did not pay enough attention to human rights and international humanitarian law in the context of the struggle against terrorism.  Geographical equity in recruitment, training, and economic issues had also not received sufficient attention, he said.

The coordination segment was suspended this morning pending negotiations on the multi-year programme for the segment and a draft resolution on rural development, according to Mr. Aliyev.  The segment would reconvene at a time to be announced in the Journal.  Mr. Aliyev added that the session’s discussions on an integrated United Nations system approach to rural development had already helped participants to understand how relevant actors were implementing the Ministerial Declaration adopted at the conclusion of last year’s high-level segment.

This afternoon, the Council began its operational activities segment.  Stafford O. Neil of Jamaica, Vice-President of ECOSOC, introduced the segment by saying it represented the only occasion to discuss and monitor issues related to international development assistance as a whole and for Member States to provide system-wide guidance.  Such consideration was particularly important at a time when the whole role of multilateral cooperation was being debated.

The segment commenced with a panel discussion on the role and effectiveness of the Organization’s operational activities at the country level.  The discussion was moderated by Jose Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, who also introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the Triennial Policy Review (document E/2004/68).  The panellists included Isaak Isanga Musumba, Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Uganda; Walter Hofer, Head of the United Nations and Bretton Woods Section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland; and Abdul Aziz Jalloh, an international expert on political economy and governance from Sierra Leone.

The Economic and Social Council will continue its 2004 substantive session at 10 a.m. tomorrow with a dialogue with the executive heads of United Nations development agencies.

Background

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) was expected to finish its “Coordination Segment”, which started on 1 July, this morning and to begin its segment on “Operational activities of the UN for international development cooperation”, which will run through 9 July, this afternoon with a panel discussion on the international development agenda and the improvements of the operational activities of the United Nations system at the country level:  effectiveness and challenges.

On 8 July, the Council is expected to have a dialogue with heads of funds and programmes on key policy issues for the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, including a presentation by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the operationalization of the World Solidarity fund, and to hear a panel on the role of common country assessments and United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks in country-level coherence and coordination.

On 9 July, the Council will debate on the Secretary-General’s report on the Triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United nations system (document A/59/85-E/2004/68).  The report reviews implementation of General Assembly resolution 56/201, with a focus on the assessment of the capacity of the United Nations development system to assist efforts of developing countries in relation to poverty eradication, economic growth and sustainable development within the framework of the follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits.  The report also takes into account the reform measures undertaken by thee Secretary-General in 1997 and 2002.  Following the Council’s consideration of the report, the Secretary-General will submit policy recommendations to the Assembly.

The report indicates that substantial progress has been made in bringing cohesion to the functioning of the system at the country level and in aligning its operations with the development agenda emerging from major United Nations conferences and summits and, in particular, to the Millennium Development Goals.  The system is increasingly serving as a catalyst for national dialogue among all stakeholders for implementing the Goals, including within the framework of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs).  The United Nations is helping to build partnerships for action and has devised instruments of accountability and monitoring, such as the Millennium Development Goal country reports.

The evaluation of diagnostic and programming tools such as the common country assessment and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) shows their potential, especially in terms of increased coherence, and highlights the importance of a more integrated approach to national poverty reduction strategy frameworks.  The report adds that the resident coordinator system is increasingly functioning in many countries as a vibrant instrument with a common set of goals.  Clear guidelines have been issued on joint programming, and actual joint programmes have been developed in such areas as HIV/AIDS, protection of children and advancement of women.

The adoption of results-based programming and management by a majority of organizations is helping to create a new culture of efficiency, effectiveness and accountability based on benchmarking linked to overall development goals and targets.

According to the report, one critical area where United Nations development cooperation is being examined and made more coherent is in situations of transition from crisis to development.  Crucial in this area is the ability to integrate reconstruction, rehabilitation and long-term development within a single strategic framework for peace-building and development.  Significant progress has been made in this direction, as evidenced in the system-wide response to recent crisis situations, such as in Afghanistan and Liberia.

Yet, the pace at which changes are taking place is slower than what would be desired, the report states.  Efforts to simplify and harmonize processes between organizations have yielded limited efficiencies thus far.  Also, the lack of real incentives and institutional reward systems to encourage the various entities to make their knowledge and expertise available to the resident coordinator system is a real constraint.  As a response, the United Nations Development Group has formulated a new work programme for accelerating simplification and harmonization efforts, the implementation of which will greatly depend on further institutional changes and on the funding environment.

The need for stable, predictable funding for development activities cannot be overstated, the report continues.  Efforts to improve internal coherence, simplification and efficiency within the United Nations system will not succeed without Member States reforming their funding practices to limit fragmentation, inconsistency and unnecessary competition for scarce resources.  A reflection on new approaches to funding while preserving some of the progress that has been registered in the recent period should be an important part of the triennial comprehensive policy review.

The mechanism of the Pledging Conference seems to have outlived its validity, the report states.  Its modalities are considered to be too rigid and its timing skewed.  The resources raised through pledging conferences before 1999 accounted for between 20 and 30 per cent of total funding, but for 2000 and 2001 that portion declined to 0.71 and 0.9 per cent, respectively.  The current mismatch between funding levels and mechanisms and the sustained efforts required in supporting countries to implement the Millennium Development Goals need to be addressed.

Despite clear and recognizable progress in recent years, the system is still at the beginning of a long march towards the “unity of purpose and action” that Member States seek from it.  The report concludes that their full and tangible support will be critical to success in realizing this shared objective.  What is needed is a “compact of mutual accountability” between organizations of the United Nations system and Member States that will ensure long-term commitments and sustainability of results.  The present report is the first step in the preparation of the triennial comprehensive policy review which the General Assembly will undertake at its fifty-ninth session.

The report was complemented by a report of the Secretary-General giving comprehensive statistical data on operational activities for development for 2002 (document A/59/84-E/2004/53).

The Council also had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the joint meetings of the Executive Boards of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) (document E/2004/60), which reviews the value of such meetings and their impact on the operational activities segment of ECOSOC.  Flowing from General Assembly resolution 52/12B, the meetings were initiated seven years ago, taking place annually in New York.  Upon evaluation of the lessons learned from the experience so far, the report presents several suggestions for the future, pointing out that system-wide coherence in support of countries’ development priorities and agreed development goals should remain a key priority.

According to the report, the members of the Executive Committee of the United Nations Development Group, which consists of the heads of the UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA and the WFP, stressed the importance of joint meetings for effective governance and operation of relevant funds and programmes.  Those meetings have provided a useful addition to the ongoing operational dialogue on the issues facing all four agencies and addressed a gap between policy discussions in individual Boards and a more general global policy dialogue that takes place in ECOSOC and the General Assembly.

It is the view of the four members of the Executive Committee that Member States may wish to build on the current system of joint meetings, with submission of a summary of discussions to the Assembly and ECOSOC and periodic reviews to determine effectiveness and the way forward.  Also suggested were several additional issues for consideration, such as the agencies’ annual reports to ECOSOC, individual Development Assistance Frameworks (bearing in mind that these frameworks are owned by national authorities) and the integrated and coordinated follow-up to international conferences and the Millennium Development Goals.

Members of the Executive Committee also suggest in the report that it would be useful to consider a more formal approach to the joint meetings, including a formal decision-making authority.  One issue to consider in that regard would be the meetings’ relationship with ECOSOC and the need to avoid establishing yet another layer of governance.  The assessment by the Economic and Social Council should not be made in isolation, however.  It is necessary to approach the issue as an integral part of the overall effort to rationalize and strengthen existing governance arrangements for operational activities to avoid duplication, exploit comparative advantages and maximize overall capacity to advance the basic policy objectives.

The Council also had before it a number of reports from the agencies involved in international development cooperation, including:  the reports of the Executive Board of the UNDP) and of the UNFPA on its second regular session of 2003 and on its first regular session, 2004 (E/2003/35, Sup.15 and DP/2004/14); the annual report of the Executive Director of the UNFPA (E/2004/5); the annual report of the Administrator of the UNDP (E/2004/4); reports of the Executive Board of UNICEF (E/2004/3 and E/2004/34 Part I and II); the report of the Executive Board of the WFP on the first, second and third regular sessions and annual session of 2003 (E/2004/36, sup.16); and the annual report of the Executive Director of the WFP (E/2004/14).  It further had an Update on Human Development Report updates from the Executive Board of the UNDP and of the UNFPA (DP/2004/22).

Coordination Segment

SICHAN SIV (United States), recognizing that the United Nations had made considerable progress since 1997 on the integration of gender issues, said he was encouraged that gender perspectives were increasingly part of the United Nations’ work on peace and security and welcomed recent efforts by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to focus on the problem of trafficking in persons.  Trafficking had security implications apart from its importance as a human rights and health issue.  Women in post-conflict countries were particularly vulnerable to that growing scourge.  He supported, among other things, integrating gender analysis into needs assessment activities and incorporating gender in reports by the Secretary-General.

He said his country was pleased that the resolution to be adopted showed the commitment of all ECOSOC members to gender mainstreaming.  In reaffirming the validity of the 1997 Agreed Conclusions, it would send a clear signal to all parts of the United Nations system.  He hoped that when ECOSOC would return to the issue, one could speak of the full implementation of the Agreed Conclusions.

VLADIMIR Y. ZHEGLOV (Russian Federation) said that, on the whole, his delegation welcomed the Secretary-General’s report before the Council and shared the methodological approach according to which the goal of gender mainstreaming was not considered a goal in itself.  It should be implemented within the context of tackling specific challenges in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and other development objectives. 

The United Nations agencies were actively working on promoting gender mainstreaming, he continued, and progress had been reported in such areas as peace and security, humanitarian issues and peace-building.  However, some further improvements were needed.  It was important to implement gender mainstreaming within existing resources.  Towards that end, it was necessary to strengthen inter-agency cooperation.  Rational division of labour and elimination of duplication among various bodies would improve their effectiveness.

The leading role in analysing the situation and ensuring policy coordination belonged to the functional bodies directly mandated to deal with gender issues, including the Commission on Human Rights, Commission on the Status of Women and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.  Such specialized bodies as the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, UNDP and others should also be involved.  The efforts to overcome the gap between policy and implementation would be successful only with clear-cut and coordinated functioning of the Organization’s mechanisms under which each body would contribute within its capacity.

In his concluding statement, Acting President of the Council YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said that the deliberations during the coordination segment had been very illuminating and productive.  The discussions on the theme of a coordinated and integrated United Nations system approach to promote rural development had helped participants to understand how the United Nations system and other relevant actors were implementing the Ministerial Declaration adopted at the conclusion of last year’s high-level segment of the Council.  The panel discussion held last Thursday had been particularly informative, having generated a number of useful ideas for further action.  A related draft resolution was under consideration, and he hoped that it would be finalized soon.

Turning to the theme of gender mainstreaming, he expressed hope that a number of panels and round-table discussions on the matter had been useful for the members of the Council and civil society actors.  It was evident that the progress made so far in gender mainstreaming fell relatively short of the international community’s expectations.  There was, hence, a need for further action in that area.  The draft resolution the Council was about to adopt contained some significant steps for gender mainstreaming.

Introducing the draft (document E/2004/L.14), he added that it contained a request to the Secretary-General to ensure that all United Nations entities developed action plans with timelines for implementing the agreed conclusions 1997/2, to address the gap between policy and practice.  It also contained measures to strengthen commitment and accountability at the highest levels within the United Nations and to ensure accountability, monitoring and reporting on progress in implementation.

He said the text also addressed the need to develop tools and effective processes for monitoring and evaluation and bridging the gap between policies and practice.  All entities of the United Nations system were being requested to enhance the effectiveness of gender specialist resources, gender focal points and theme groups by ensuring adequate training, access to information and provision of adequate and stable resources.

RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba), speaking before the adoption of the resolution, said he would join the consensus on the draft, but had some reservations.  He said that the text lacked adequate attention to the Beijing Platform and the outcome of Beijing Plus Five.  In particular, it lacked discussion of coercive unilateral measures that result from the pursuit of doctrines of preventive aggression, and it also lacked adequate attention to human rights and international humanitarian law in the context of conflicts and actions that were part of the struggle against terrorism.  Also missing was the need for geographical distribution, that is, the recruitment of staff -- women in particular -- from developing countries.  Issues of training and women in the economy had also not received sufficient attention.

HELENE BAKKER (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the reaffirmation of the Agreed Conclusion 1997/2.  She said the present resolution would take the conclusions an important step forward.  She expected it would contribute to acceleration of the implementation of the Conclusions, as all United Nations entities had to develop action plans with a view to strengthen commitment and accountability within the highest levels of the United Nations, including through systematic monitoring.

Action on Draft Resolution

The ECOSOC then adopted by acclamation draft resolution E/2004/L.14 on “Review of the Economic and Social Council agreed conclusions 1997/2 on mainstreaming the gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system”.

Introduction of Segment on Operational Activities

STAFFORD O. NEIL (Jamaica), Vice-President of ECOSOC, introduced the Council’s operational activities segment by saying it represented the only occasion to discuss and monitor issues related to international development assistance as a whole and for Member States to provide system-wide guidance.  It was also a chance to reflect on the effectiveness of development aid and the extent to which it was capable of adjusting to changing circumstances, in order to maximize operational results.  Such consideration was particularly important at a time when the whole nature of multilateral cooperation was being debated.

While considering the working of individual instruments, he said that delegates should always consider, above all, the effectiveness of the entire system in delivering technical assistance.  The future of multilateral assistance, financial mechanisms, and other elements needed to be reconsidered in depth, in order to chart the way for a more effective response of the United Nations system to all development challenges.  Recommendations developed during the segment would feed into the Secretary-General’s report, which would be presented to the General Assembly in September.

JOSE ANTONIO OCAMPO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the related Triennial Policy Review (document E/2004/68), before introducing the afternoon’s panel discussion.  He said the timing of the policy review was particularly significant as it was being held some four years after the adoption of the Millennium Declaration and one year before the first comprehensive review of its implementation, at a time when the debate on the role of the United Nations system had intensified.

The analysis in the report focused, he said, on the capacity of the United Nations system to assist recipient countries in their development efforts, while translating the global development agenda to terms that were relevant at the country level.  Three years ago, he recalled, the Triennial Policy Review identified global interdependence, social disparities, economic volatility, environmental stress, and governance as priority challenges.  Those priorities were even more urgent today in a situation in which security concerns had grown, and the United Nations system was called to respond with increasing coherence to the demands posed by globalization.

In their considerations of how to better meet those challenges, he urged delegates not to “over-sectoralize” or “over-package” issues, but to reflect on the broad directions in which the United Nations system should move, in terms that were realistic.  He then introduced panel members.

Panel Discussion on Role and Effectiveness of Organization’s Operational Activities at Country Level

The discussion was moderated by Mr. Ocampo, and the panellists included Isaak Isanga Musumba, Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Uganda; Walter Hofer, Head of the United Nations and Bretton Woods Section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland; and Abdul Aziz Jalloh, an international expert on political economy and governance from Sierra Leone.

Mr. MUSUMBA said that the main issue of today’s discussion was how the United Nations could work better for the developing countries and make more impact there.  It was also important to consider how the United Nations could re-examine its structures, funding and general direction to achieve that impact.  For their part, the developing countries needed to reflect on their goals, taking into account their means and limitations.  The role of the United Nations was to assist them in achieving their goals.

Development assistance in recent years, with advice from Bretton Woods, had been marginalized, he continued, increasingly based on just PRSPs.  With the current funding cycle, there was no sufficient investment in wealth creation.  There was also no concise statement on such issues as what investments were required in each particular country’s case, the levels of anticipated assistance and human resource requirements.  Those needed to be clearly defined.  It was also necessary to be clear and precise about planning.  It was necessary to facilitate the drawing of long-term plans, invest in quality performance and explore best practices.  The United Nations should help countries to develop independent planning institutions, which should be empowered to do their work.  In Uganda, a national planning authority was one-year old, and by July next year, it was expected to come up with its first report.

Countries received more benefits from trade than aid, he continued, and aid should be used only to improve countries’ capacity for trade and development.  Aid should not come with conditionalities.  The United Nations should take a more aggressive approach to advocating market access, value addition and creation of fair trade conditions.  Those issues required a higher profile.

He added that it was disheartening that the agencies most relevant to development had no representation in United Nations country teams.  The United Nations should not spread its resources too thinly.  Besides health and education, the bulk of resources should go towards creation of wealth and added value in developing countries.  The Organization should use its unique position as developing countries’ partner to promote the achievement of their aspirations and implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.  So far, the United Nations should be saluted for its role in conflict resolution, the fight against HIV/AIDS and creation of the common country assessment and UNDAF structures.

Mr. HOFER said the concept of effectiveness was concrete and elusive at the same time.  Different institutions working in the area of development might have a different understanding of effectiveness.  However, a certain number of elements to achieve effectiveness were known:  poverty reduction analysis; strong, capable institutions and human resources; good governance and institutions responsive to the needs of people; an enabling environment conducive to investments; and coordinated tools to review transaction costs.  Little could be achieved in their absence.

The major conferences and summits had laid the basis for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, but there were a number of challenges ahead, he continued.  Some of them concerned systemic and global issues; others were linked to some institutions and the effectiveness of the United Nations development system.  There was a need to continue to interpret the outcomes of the conferences.

The multilateral development system lacked global governance, he said.  There was no clear coherence in mandates and roles, and there was a lack of accountability and representation.  Also, the system did not produce enough funding to international development institutions.  An analysis of the entire multilateral architecture was, therefore, needed.  The ECOSOC could play an active part in that through examining major trends in development.  Such a review should also assess the complementarity of roles, mandates and instruments.  It was a chance to bring improved order and rationale into the international aid architecture.

Evaluation and results orientation should be strengthened across the entire system to allow for learning, he said.  The United Nations needed to assess country outcomes and contribute in data collection.  He encouraged the United Nations institutions to continue in the process of international knowledge sharing.

Mr. JALLOH said that the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review should contribute to a comprehensive review of progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals next year.  It was important to assess the capacity of official development assistance (ODA) in helping developing countries to achieve their development goals, the role of the United Nations in that respect and the impact of the multilateral system as a whole.  Answering those questions, he said the United Nations was making a positive contribution towards achieving development in many countries, and it was fully engaged in translating the Millennium Development Goals into reality and assisting developing countries in achieving their goals.

Among the remaining challenges, however, he drew attention to the limited progress towards achieving the Millennium Goals and deteriorating security situations in many parts of the world.  The World Economic Forum in its 2004 economic report had concluded that efforts in 2003 had been less than half of what was needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  On a score from 0 to 10, the scores achieved by the global community ranged from 3 to 4.  Similarly, the World Bank in a report this year had concluded that the goal of reducing the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day was moving forward mostly due to the development of India and China.  The situation was particularly serious in Africa, where the growth rates were remarkably low.

In several cases, the commitment to those goals was fragile, at best, as was consensus on the policies and strategies for achieving them, he said.  To address that problem, it was important to build partnerships and coalitions among all the players involved.  It was important to develop the Organization’s role in that respect.  When confronted with difficulties, it was vital to guard against the temptation of lowering expectations.  Instead, it was necessary to develop the sense of ownership and engage both international and national stakeholders.

There was a need for more genuine and comprehensive consultations among all the players involved.  It was also essential to strengthen existing institutions and mechanisms in that respect.  The role of civil society should not be underestimated.  Another important aspect of the problem was the relationship between peace and development, he said.  The international community should not wait for crises to develop.  It should be proactive and pre-emptive in conflict prevention.

Regarding cooperation between the United Nations system and Bretton Woods institutions, he said that they were not the sole actors in that area.  There were many other players, including regional development banks, which should be involved in cooperation with the United Nations.  Currently, such cooperation was being carried out on an ad hoc basis, without proper coordination of efforts.

Interactive Debate

Several speakers stressed the role that the operational activities of the United Nations could play, especially in view of the limited resources that developing countries had at their disposal.  In that connection, the importance of capacity-building at the national level was emphasized, as well as the importance of providing sustainable and predictable assistance to countries.  Coordination and coherence of international efforts were indispensable in that respect.  Ongoing monitoring and evaluation of efforts in the field were of great importance, and ECOSOC had an important role to play in that regard.

Most participants in the debate recognized the importance of such initiatives as the common country assessment and UNDAF, which allowed the Organization to better align its development strategies with countries’ national priorities.  Quite a few speakers addressed the issue of the PRSPs, raising questions about conditionalities involved in the use of that instrument.

A speaker suggested that instead of establishing new frameworks and standards, it would make sense for each country to establish a single national programme for reduction of poverty and economic development, which could reduce costs and prevent confusion.  Another participant highlighted the importance of freeing poverty reduction strategies from negative connotations, stressing the Organization’s role in contributing to the process of policy formulation.  It was essential to capture the full economic and social scope of a country’s needs and make useful suggestions as to its development within the framework of ODA.

In that connection, Mr. OCAMPO said what was at stake was how to coordinate operational activities at country level with the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, where they existed.  One of the aspects of the issue was also how to enter into country-driven dynamics of poverty-reduction operations.  That was a challenge for the United Nations system, Bretton Woods institutions and donors.  There was now a transition period when it was important to determine how alignment could be reached with the strong principle of country ownership -- the countries should write the policies.

A panellist suggested that implementation of the Millennium Development Goals should be incorporated into countries’ long-term plans, with which such strategies as PRSPs could be interwoven.  It was important to target all sectors of society, including the informal sector, and keep in mind that development had to be broad-based, including all groups of the population as stakeholders in that process.  A long-term comprehensive framework had to be developed that, apart from development, had to take into account issues such as security, human rights and environment.  The State had an important role to play in development along with the private sector.

Further action was needed to make the United Nations more effective at the field level, however.  Several speakers stressed the importance of country representation, saying that United Nations bodies involved in development, including the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), did not have presences in the field.  That issue needed to be addressed.  The structure and operations of the United Nations should lead the partnership for strategic planning for the eradication of poverty, development of trade and market access, a panelist stressed. 

Harmonization of various agencies’ efforts needed further attention in the discussion, participants said.  An ongoing dialogue among all the bodies of the United Nations was of great importance in that respect, as well as continued consultations with the countries, regional organizations and other multilateral institutions involved.  Among the essential steps, speakers listed further alignment of United Nations instruments to national development strategies, simplification and harmonization of procedures, and development of a common programming instrument.  A suggestion was also made that cost efficiency of United Nations at the field level could be improved by sharing services at all levels. 

Concluding the discussion, Mr. OCAMPO noted that many speakers had mentioned the significant improvement in coordination among United Nations agencies and the Bretton Woods institutions.  The question was what came next.  Should the United Nations move towards a more unified presence at the country level?  How could the principle of ownership of country-driven strategies be materialized?

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For information media. Not an official record.