SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO CONSIDER HIGH-LEVEL PANEL’S PROPOSALS TO MAKE ORGANIZATION MORE COHERENT, EFFICIENT, ACCOUNTABLE

16 April 2007
GA/10586

SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO CONSIDER HIGH-LEVEL PANEL’S PROPOSALS TO MAKE ORGANIZATION MORE COHERENT, EFFICIENT, ACCOUNTABLE

16 April 2007
General Assembly
GA/10586
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-first General Assembly

Plenary

94th Meeting (PM)

SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO CONSIDER HIGH-LEVEL PANEL’S PROPOSALS

TO MAKE ORGANIZATION MORE COHERENT, EFFICIENT, ACCOUNTABLE

 

Pledging to work closely with Member States in “putting our house in …order”, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the General Assembly to begin deliberations on the recommendations of a blue-ribbon panel to better harmonize the world body’s diverse development, humanitarian and environmental activities to produce a more efficient and responsive Organization.

“Improving the ability of the UN to deliver in development, humanitarian assistance and the environment is …a matter of life and death to millions of men, women and children around the world who depend on us to meet their basic human needs,” Mr. Ban said, introducing the report of the High-Level Panel on United Nations System-Wide Coherence, which presents an ambitious vision of a better coordinated and a more efficient and accountable United Nations system.

Mr. Ban said that the Organization was seen as “fragmented and weak” at the country level, where more than one third of United Nations country teams now included 10 or more United Nations agencies, funds and programmes working on the ground at any one time.  “[The United Nations] is seen as lacking in synergy at the global level, where, in some sectors, up to 20 United Nations entities can compete for limited resources without a clear, collaborative framework,” he added.

The report, entitled Delivering as One, recommends, among other things, a country-level consolidation of United Nations agencies –- tagged the “One UN” approach; the strengthening of leadership on humanitarian and environmental activities; the establishment of a “leadership forum” within the Economic and Social Council to upgrade that body’s policy coordinating functions; and the creation of both a new funding system and a new women’s organization.

“I believe that the report …has produced thought-provoking and far-reaching proposals to address these shortcomings.  These recommendations merit our full engagement”, Mr. Ban said, expressing his broad support for the principle of a “stronger, more coherent United Nations”, and adding that in exploring a way forward for inter-governmental review, he was convinced that the Assembly needed to place the Panel's recommendations firmly within the context of the wider United Nations reform agenda.

Moving forward on system-wide coherence, he said in closing, was not in the interests of any one group of countries, nor against those of another.  Rather, it was a “triple win” solution and vision.  It was a “win” for the United Nations, because it would lead to a more effective Organization; a “win” for developing countries, who stood to gain more coherent assistance and better service delivery; and a “win” for developed countries, who would be able to explain and justify to their constituents why it was right to channel resources through the United Nations and demonstrate real results.

Before Mr. Ban presented his report, General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa ( Bahrain) stressed that the promise of achieving the Millennium Development Goals was central to delivering the broader development agenda, saying that it was the international community’s duty to ensure global economic stability and prosperity.  The Panel’s report presented an important opportunity to do just that.  Donors and developing countries had agreed that the United Nations system could play a critical role in development; that the Organization should remain at the heart of the multilateral development system; that its development activities needed to be strengthened; and that the United Nations could deliver more and better development assistance.

When delegations took the floor, most speakers generally agreed with the broad thrust of the Panel’s recommendations and applauded the Secretary-General’s call for an open and transparent intergovernmental review on ways to implement them.

But, a speaker representing the Organization’s largest negotiating bloc of developing countries cautioned against diving into this new exercise without giving due consideration to the impact on countries already struggling to meet the demands of achieving a host of other development objectives.  Development cooperation should be demand-driven and pursued on the basis of national strategies and plans of developing countries, stated Pakistan’s representative.  Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” and China, as well as the Non-Aligned Movement, he added that it should be voluntary and grant-based in nature, and that there should be no “one-size-fits-all” approach.  Also, he would not support the introduction of new conditionalities through the reform process.

In response, a speaker from a donor country said that the Panel’s recommendations were an opportunity to match the vision contained in the Millennium Declaration with a world class United Nations delivery system.  That was an opportunity that all Member States needed to seize, stated the United Kingdom representative.  He urged the Assembly not to waste time debating whether change was needed, but to use the Panel’s findings and agree on “how and when” change would be delivered.  The “One UN” approach was about putting good Governments in the driver’s seat in deciding how external assistance could best support national priorities with better accountability for results.  It was not a backdoor to more conditionality.  Rather, it was an open door to new partnership and trust.

Also participating in the discussion today were the Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (speaking on behalf of the European Union) and the Minister for Development Cooperation and Francophonie of France.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Rwanda (speaking also on behalf of Belgium, Cape Verde, Denmark, Eritrea, Sweden and United Republic of Tanzania), Canada (speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), Japan, Indonesia, Russian Federation and India.

The Assembly will reconvene tomorrow, 17 April, at 10 a.m., to continue its consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on the High-Level Panel’s recommendations.

Background

The General Assembly met this afternoon to consider the Secretary-General’s report (document A/61/836), entitled “Recommendations contained in the report of the High-level Panel on United Nations System-Wide Coherence in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment”, to be presented by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

In its report, Delivering as One, the Panel puts forth a vision of a significantly more effective and coherent world body, very much in line with the demands and concerns of Member States.  That vision was predicated on overcoming fragmentation and bringing together the system’s many assets to “deliver as one” at all levels, particularly the country level, in line with country ownership.  That initiative was vital as the true measure of success for the United Nations was not in how much was promised but in how much was delivered to those most in need, the Secretary-General says.

The Delivering as One report should be considered within the context of ongoing reform processes, the report says, including the triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system. Noting that the United Nations Development Group had initiated eight pilot projects in which the “One United Nations” approach would be tested, the Secretary-General endorsed those pilots, as they would provide an essential test of the application of principles advocated by the Panel in different countries, and results analysis would be presented to relevant governing bodies at year-end.

On strengthening the Organization’s gender architecture, the Secretary-General agreed fully with the Panel’s assessment of the need to consolidate and strengthen several current structures in a dynamic entity focused on gender equality and women’s empowerment, and he would continue to recruit competent women to be part of his senior team.  Regarding the proposal on gender equality and women’s empowerment, including the establishment of an Under-Secretary General for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women, the Secretary-General also says he would await the outcome of substantive discussions of Member States in order to be further guided by the inter-governmental process.

In the Delivering as One report, the Panel puts forth its vision for overcoming systemic fragmentation and develops recommendations based on five strategic directions:  ensuring coherence of activities at all levels (country, regional and Headquarters); establishing appropriate governance, managerial and funding mechanisms to empower consolidation; overhauling business practices of the system to ensure a focus on outcomes, responsiveness to needs and delivery of results; ensuring significant opportunities for consolidation through an in-depth review; and undertaking implementation urgently but not in a manner that could compromise permanent change.

Among its recommendations, the Panel suggests the establishment of one United Nations at the country level, with one leader, one programme, one budget, and one office, where appropriate.  That “One UN” programme must be developed and owned by the country, and managed by an empowered Resident Coordinator.  A Millennium Development Goals funding mechanism should be established to provide multi-year funding for the One UN country programmes and for agencies that are performing well.  On humanitarian assistance, the Panel says the Organization’s lead role in addressing humanitarian disasters and the transition from relief to development should be enhanced, with coordination carried out through a “cluster approach” to deliver on specific needs.  Regarding the environment, the Panel calls for strengthening international environmental governance to improve effectiveness, and the Secretary-General should commission an independent assessment to that end. 

A dynamic United Nations entity on gender equality and women’s empowerment should be developed, with the three existing entities consolidated into one independent gender entity that would have a stronger normative and advocacy role, and be ambitiously funded.  To further streamline United Nations activities, the Secretary-General also should establish an independent task force to eliminate duplication within the system.

Statement by General Assembly President

The President of the General Assembly, SHEIKHA HAYA RASHED AL KHALIFA ( Bahrain), noting that the promise of achieving the Millennium Development Goals was central to delivering the broader development agenda, said it was the international community’s duty to ensure global economic stability and prosperity.  In the approach to the halfway point to 2015, urgent action was needed.  The United Nations was uniquely placed to take a leading role in achieving those goals but must ensure it was equipped to respond to new global challenges.

The report of the High-Level Panel presented an important opportunity to do just that, she said.  Donor countries and developing countries had agreed that the United Nations system could play a critical role in development; that the Organization should remain at the heart of the multilateral development system; that its development activities needed to be strengthened; and that the United Nations could deliver more and better development assistance.

Noting the Secretary-General’s emphasis on the need to take urgent steps to enhance overall coherence of operational activities, she said nationally owned pilot schemes were already under way to test the “One UN” approach.

The recent informal thematic debate on gender equality and the empowerment of women highlighted the importance of that issue to the development agenda, she said.  She hoped that through the consultation process on the Secretary-General’s report that the desire for action could be translated into concrete results that had a positive impact on women.  The collective effort of the United Nations system would be necessary.

Being strong on development was a strategic objective of the United Nations, and was a common goal of all States, funds, programmes and agencies involved in operational activities.  Looking forward to in-depth intergovernmental consultations on issues including finance and the governance of United Nations activities, she called on Member States to offer suggestions.  Based on those views, she hoped to outline a process for considering all issues that required collective support.  She urged States not to shy away from dealing with the issues at hand and to work together to build broad consensus on how to address them.

Statement by Secretary-General

BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General, said that the Panel on System-Wide Coherence had been commissioned by former United Nations Chief Kofi Annan, in response to the mandate stemming from the 2005 World Summit.  It was widely agreed that the Organization could perform far better in delivering on its vision and mission.  It was seen as “fragmented and weak”, at the country level, where more than one third of United Nations country teams now included 10 or more United Nations agencies, funds and programmes working on the ground at any one time.  “[The Organization] is seen as lacking in synergy at the global level, where in some sectors, up to 20 United Nations entities can compete for limited resources without a clear collaborative framework,” he added.

“I believe that the report of the Panel has produced thought-provoking and far-reaching proposals to address these shortcomings.  These recommendations merit our full engagement,” Mr. Ban said, adding that his assessment of the report had been significantly informed by his extensive consultations with Member States. Those talks had strengthened his determination, along with that of the Member States to bring the Organization’s many assets together “to deliver as one”.  The consultations had also driven home the duty to become more responsive to the needs of countries, communities and people everywhere.  “It has helped build an understanding of the need to build on common ground, balancing the interests of all Member States,” he added.

In exploring a way forward for intergovernmental review of the report, Mr. Ban said that he was convinced of the need to place the Panel’s recommendations firmly within the context of the wider United Nations reform agenda, which would allow Member States and the Secretariat to take full advantage of the existing process.  As the Assembly embarked upon its formal consideration of the recommendations, he had expressed his broad support for the principle of a stronger, more coherent United Nations and for the Panel’s findings.  He added that he profoundly agreed with the Panel’s emphasis on efficiency, transparency and accountability.

Briefly highlighting a few of the elements addressed in his report, he said that on the recommendations for coherence, effectiveness and efficiency at the country level, he had outlined steps taken to initiate voluntary pilots in eight countries testing the “One UN” approach.  The Panel had initially suggested five pilots, but as a result of the interest expressed by recipient countries, there were now eight.  “To ensure the success of this process, we need to work together, all parts of the UN system as well as the Member States, so that any lessons learnt can be incorporated into further efforts,” he said.

He said he had also described progress on the recommendation that the Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) review its functions.  The aim would be to transform the Board into a more effective and transparent mechanism for high-level coordination and consultation.  He added that, when he chaired his first CEB session this weekend, the members would consider a preliminary set of proposals to strengthen that body’s work.  Turning to gender, he said his report made clear his support for replacing several current structures with “one dynamic UN entity”, focused on gender equality and women’s empowerment.  Such an entity should mobilize forces of change at the global level and inspire enhanced results at the country level.

On governance, he said he believed the Panel’s recommendations warranted in-depth intergovernmental review and that the proposals constituted an important starting point, but required further deliberation and discussion to develop “full ownership of a common vision”.  That applied particularly to the proposals for strengthening the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).  “We should bear in mind the reform process ECOSOC has already undergone, and the need to follow it through,” he added.

He said that he had asked Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro to manage and oversee the system-wide coherence agenda and that she would ensure that the United Nations system’s initiatives to act on the Panel’s recommendations were guided by, respectful of and coordinated with the intergovernmental consideration of the Panel’s report.

“Let us agree: moving forward on system-wide coherence is not in the interests of any one group of countries, nor against those of another.  It is a win-win-win vision,” he said, stressing that it was a “win” for developing countries who stood to gain more coherent assistance and better service delivery, and a “win” for developed countries, who would be able to explain and further justify to their constituents why it was right to channel resources through the United Nations, and demonstrate real results.

“It is a win for the United Nations, for all [those] reasons, and because we will be putting our house in better and enduring order,” he said, urging the Assembly not to forget that improving the Organization to deliver in development, humanitarian assistance and the environment was something in which all Member States had a wider stake.  “It is a matter of life and death to millions of men, women and children around the world who depend on us to meet their basic needs – today and for generations to come,” he said.

Statements

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Joint Coordinating Committee of the “Group of 77” and China and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the preliminary view of both groups on the report had been conveyed in a letter addressed to the Secretary-General on 19 March, and that their views would be presented in greater detail when the discussions on the process began in earnest.  On behalf of both groups, he reaffirmed that economic and social development should remain the centrepiece of deliberations at the United Nations, and emphasized the need for a strengthened global partnership for development, based on the recognition of national leadership and ownership of national strategies. 

He said that development cooperation should be demand-driven and be pursued on the basis of national strategies and plans of developing countries.  The Committee had always emphasized that such development cooperation should be voluntary and grant-based in nature, and that there should be no “one-size-fits-all” approach.  It would not support the introduction of new conditionalities through the reform process.  The Committee believed that the reform of United Nations operational activities for development should be aimed at ensuring both efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of assistance.  “It should not merely be a cost-cutting exercise,” he said.

He said that both groups agreed with the Secretary-General that the High-Level Panel’s report “merits a process of review… to build broad-based common understanding of its objectives,” and they trusted that the Assembly President would agree to lead the process.  Finally, he stressed that the report should be considered with “due deliberation” and that there should be no rush to take decisions against artificial deadlines.  The process should be open, transparent and inclusive.

HEIDEMARIE WIECZOREK-ZEUL, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that her delegation considered effective multilateralism, with a strong United Nations at its heart, to be a central element of its external action.  The process of reforming United Nations development cooperation had, therefore, always been an important issue for the European Union.  A more effective and efficient United Nations would be an even more important partner in ensuring that development assistance delivered results and accelerated progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals.

She agreed with the Panel that United Nations operational activities at the country level needed to be further strengthened and better coordinated, and it also concurred with the Panel’s vision of “delivering as one”.  The Panel’s proposal of the “four ones” –- one programme, one leader, one budgetary framework, and where appropriate, one office –- offered a good starting point. The Union was committed to the overall reform process, she said, adding that while the “one programme” approach would be a challenge for United Nations entities, recipients and donors alike, meeting that challenge was worthwhile.  One country programme would have to derive from and respond to the needs and priorities of the partner countries.  She welcomed the establishment of the “One Country” pilots, which the Union hoped would show to the wider membership the potential of such an approach.

She went on to say that future discussions on the Panel’s recommendations concerning institutional changes, in particular the creation of new bodies, should be carefully considered in view of their added value, and to take into account the need to assess the implementation of recent decisions on reform of the Economic and Social Council.  Also, human rights should be an integral part of United Nations activities.  The Union attached great importance to the discussion on how to integrate the rights-based approach to programming in the Organization’s operational activities.  In addition, gender equality and women’s empowerment were important cross-cutting issues and should be fully integrated, applied and adequately resourced within the international community’s efforts to achieve sustainable development.  The Union agreed with the Panel that the United Nations gender architecture needed to be strengthened.

She welcomed the Panel’s call for further coordination among the relevant United Nations agencies in the field of environment, and to upgrade the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  She felt encouraged to work for the establishment of a United Nations organization for the environment, based on UNEP, with a revised and strengthened mandate, supported by stable, adequate and predictable financial contributions, and operating on equal footing with other United Nations specialized agencies.  She also supported the Panel’s recommendations related to the need to clarify mandates for better coordination regarding internally displaced persons; the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) leadership in early recovery; and the need to enhance the Organization’s efforts in the area of disaster risk reduction.

BRIGITTE GIRARDIN, Minister for Development Cooperation and Francophonie of France, said she was aware of the fragmentation of United Nations actions, with many actors competing to attract limited resources.  Developing countries were the first to suffer, being faced with interlocutors that did not have the means to help them meet new challenges, including the Millennium Development Goals.

The United Nations had an essential role in responding to global development challenges, she said, and the urgent nature of those challenges required results.  She endorsed the need for unity in delivering coherent policies, and noted the need to move away from a system based on supply to a more strategic approach that focused on country needs.  That was the true meaning of the “one programme, one budget, one office” approach, set forth by the Panel. 

On the environment, she said the Panel’s recommendation to upgrade UNEP corresponded with France’s determination to give the United Nations sufficient authority to coordinate actions to preserve the planet.  The time for evaluation had passed, and action was needed, she stressed.  The General Assembly should take decisions that would enable the United Nations to better serve Member States.

On gender issues, she favoured the establishment of a specific entity for gender equality. Moreover, she was convinced that intergovernmental discussions would take into account the irreplaceable contributions of the United Nations Population Fund and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the promotion of women’s rights.

As the Secretary-General had highlighted in his report, it was important to avoid duplication, particularly by establishing convergence between debating new proposals and relying on existing processes, she stated.  The challenges facing the United Nations were such that the Organization could not risk failure, and France was determined to contribute to its success.

JOSEPH NSENGIMANA (Rwanda), speaking also on behalf of Eritrea, the “One UN” pilot countries (Cape Verde, Rwanda and United Republic of Tanzania) and the donor countries of Belgium, Denmark and Sweden, said the Panel’s recommendations provided a unique opportunity to improve the United Nations delivery of operational activities.  He agreed that the United Nations needed more “coherence and synergy” and that where the “four ones” were implemented, the Organization was likely to deliver more efficiently on national priorities and have more leverage in relation to other development actors.

Pilot country experiences would be valuable in understanding how to move forward with United Nations reforms, he said, encouraging all agencies and stakeholders to take part in that process.  Moreover, donors should provide assistance to the one budgetary framework of pilot countries.

Delivering as One was not a cost-cutting exercise, rather an intention to promote flexibility and responsiveness to country needs, he said.  National ownership of country pilot programmes was critical, as that process must be directed in all phases by national Governments.  Most of the Panel’s proposals could be addressed within existing reform processes, and final assessments of “One UN” pilot countries should be based on real development impacts. It was important that any institutional reform be established within a transparent process.

He looked forward to establishing mechanisms such as a sustainable development board and the appointment of a development coordinator, and welcomed the recommendation to establish an independent task force to eliminate duplication.  Further, he supported the proposed reform of United Nations business practices, as harmonization of procedures could support poverty eradication.  Additionally, he agreed that the United Nations should continue to reinforce integration of human rights into all development activities, emphasizing that coordination with multilateral agencies, including the Bretton Woods institutions, should be urgently addressed.

JOHN MCNEE (Canada), speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said he agreed with the Secretary-General that the Panel’s report was a major contribution to the wider United Nations reform process.  The recommendations not only gave impetus to existing reform efforts, but provided significant added value by proposing ways to reduce fragmentation and maximize the impact of the Organization’s work in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment, particularly at the country level, where it mattered most.  They now deserved thorough and constructive consideration by Member States.  He supported the Secretary-General’s proposed multi-track approach for taking the recommendations forward.

In taking the process forward, it would be important to match decision-making with the appropriate United Nations bodies and individuals, he said, noting that, for example, some of the suggestions fell under the Secretary-General’s authority, while others were within the purview of other senior executives across the United Nations system and, in particular, their coordinating bodies.  Also, some of the Panel’s recommendations were consistent with existing mandates for reform, and were indeed being addressed in a variety of intergovernmental and United Nations agency contexts.  On the “One United Nations” pilot programmes, he believed that the lessons learned would play a part in informing other reform efforts -- to ensure that better delivery at the country level was supported and enabled by coherent and effective processes and systems at regional and headquarters levels.

He went on to say that the United Nations must effectively promote and protect human rights, and that central to that aim was gender equality and the empowerment of women.  In that regard, he supported the Panel’s proposal for a new Under-Secretary-General, which went hand-in-hand with discussions on strengthening the United Nations gender architecture.  He hoped that that recommendation could be acted on quickly, and that it would be met with broad support.

KENZO OSHIMA ( Japan) said that moving ahead on the Panel’s recommendations would depend on how well the United Nations could meet challenges, such as realizing the Millennium Development Goals, supporting peacebuilding, protecting the environment and promoting gender equality, among other things.

Member States were ready to begin intergovernmental talks on the Panel’s report, he said, noting that time was of the essence, as the halfway point in the drive to achieve the Millennium Goals was fast approaching.  The recommendations should not be merely regarded as proposals for debate; rather as part of disciplined, structured discussions to derive optimum results.  He fully agreed that “different processes in the report should be addressed on their own merits”, and that the report should be considered within the context of ongoing reform processes.

The ultimate goal of United Nations system-wide coherence should be to find the most effective means of delivering services to those in need, he stressed.  The Panel’s identification of national ownership and people-centred approaches was particularly noteworthy, since it confirmed the importance of human security.  The pursuit of system-wide coherence and implementation of the recommendations must be influenced by the concept of human security.  On the “One UN” approach at the country level, he was pleased that the eight pilots had been initiated, and hoped the experiment would yield pertinent data. 

Greater emphasis should be given to climate change and global warming, due to the seriousness of the threats they posed, he added, noting that the General Assembly should consider holding a focused debate on that issue.  Moreover, States should strive to translate the Panel’s recommendations into concrete action sooner, rather than later.

ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY ( Indonesia) said she had been heartened by the Secretary-General’s approach to promote a transparent and inclusive process rather than taking the implementation of the Panel’s recommendations as a foregone conclusion.  Drawing on experience during the 2004 tsunami, she said that while Indonesia recognized that the United Nations had responded promptly, that response exposed weaknesses that had underscored the critical importance of policy coherence and coordination of United Nations-related entities on the ground.  Furthermore, it had become clear that there must also be enhanced coordination between United Nations agencies, the donor community, the Governments of affected countries, local actors, and nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.

Against that backdrop, and with an attempt to better understand the Panel’s recommendations and their likely impacts at the country level, the Indonesian and Norwegian Governments had jointly hosted in Jakarta last month regional high-level consultations on United Nations system-wide coherence, she said.  In his opening remarks, Indonesia’s President had underlined several principles that must underpin the reform process, including predictable funding for all national programmes, the simplification of the delivery process, alignment of United Nations programmes with national programmes, and national ownership of United Nations programmes at the country level.

She strongly supported the United Nations reform process and stressed that the process must not diminish the character of the Organization’s operations. To that end, she hoped that coherence, effectiveness and efficiency within the United Nations system would contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and other agreed development targets.  She also stressed that the “One UN” approach must take into account national conditions and priorities.  It must also be embraced voluntarily by national Governments.  Aware of the complexities of the United Nations operation in her country –- some 28 entities were working on the ground -- the Government had been seriously considering adopting a “One UN House” to enhance coherence and coordination.

NIKOLAY CHULKOV ( Russian Federation) said he was pleased that many of the provisions of the Secretary-General’s report were in line with his country’s approaches, and welcomed the start of the intergovernmental process to discuss the Panel’s report.  As a supporter of improved coherence of operational, humanitarian and environmental activities, he believed that some of the recommendations deserved serious consideration.  However, the report should not be viewed as a “package”, and each recommendation should be considered on the basis of its own merits.  In that context, he said delegations should be given adequate time for negotiating.

Noting that resolution 59/250 remained the policy framework for reform of operational activities, he confirmed his full support for the fundamental principles of United Nations development assistance.  While the “One UN” approach was interesting, it would not solve existing problems, and would raise other questions about coherence with the Bretton Woods institutions.  On the effectiveness of the “One UN” pilot programmes, he said the timeframe was not realistic to allow for an evaluation of the results.

He shared the concerns of other States about linking operational activities, with issues of human rights and gender, he said.  The idea to streamline gender institutions deserved attention.  On institutional proposals, he could not find an adequate justification for establishing either a global leader’s forum of the Economic and Social Council or a sustainable development board.  Similarly, he was not convinced of the need to establish an independent task force on eliminating duplication.

EMYR JONES PARRY ( United Kingdom) said that his delegation saw the Panel’s recommendations as an opportunity to match the vision contained in the Millennium Declaration with a world class United Nations delivery system.  That was an opportunity that all Member States needed to seize.  Acting on the recommendations amounted to a “triple win”:  a win for the developing countries who were demanding not just more aid, but better quality aid; a win for the United Nations system and staff as perceptions about the Organization’s ability to deliver were transformed; and a win for all Member States wrestling with challenging issues on the twenty-first century agenda, including climate change and poverty eradication.

He said the entire international development system must change together to tackle those and other new challenges, and that the Panel’s recommendations provided a solid platform for the United Nations to “get ahead of the game”.  “We can use [the recommendations] or lose it.  Let’s not lose it by debating whether change is needed,” he said.  He urged the Assembly to use the Panel’s findings and agree on “how and when” change would be delivered. 

He added that there had been a lot of talk about “conditionalities”.  The United Kingdom believed that “One UN” at the country level was about putting good Governments in the driver’s seat in deciding how external assistance could best support national priorities, with better accountability for results.  It was not a backdoor to more conditionality.  Rather, it was an open door to new partnership and trust.

NIRUPAM SEN ( India) said that while the Panel’s recommendations had provided guidance, there was a lack of clarity on their precise operationalization.  The Secretary-General’s report had provided views on some elements of the recommendations.  However, it was a telling comment that after the November release of the report, the Secretariat was still struggling with operational details.

The Secretary-General had acknowledged the need for dialogue to build broad understanding of the Report’s contents, and had provided information on how the “One UN” approach would be tested, he said.  But as the results of the eight pilot programmes would be presented at year-end, it was unclear how the international community could assess their importance.  He suggested awaiting the results of the programmes before consideration of them.  Also, he agreed with the Secretary-General’s recommendation that proposals be considered as a coherent whole.  However, that did not imply that the recommendations could be understood as a “package”.  Member States should decide which recommendations merited further consideration.

A “better performing” United Nations, he said, was in the particular interest of developing countries, and reform must respond to their needs.  Coherence was not an end in itself, and it was essential to measure the costs of better performance. There was a need to know how much of the reporting burden would be reduced in the pursuit of national development plans, and whether better coordination would lead to long-term savings.  The Secretary-General had stated that consideration would be given to the development of an independent task force to prevent duplication.  Such an exercise would duplicate the process of mandate reviews, he noted.

The details sought today would enable States to undertake a cost-benefit analysis, he said.  It would be a pity if the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) were to lose its current role, only to become a mere coordinator.  Further, the creation of a sustainable development board did not seem a “sustainable concept”.  Calling the reform of the Security Council and the Bretton Woods institutions the most important event at the United Nations, he said system-wide coherence would not make a difference if changes were made only on an administrative level.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.