Budget Committee Takes up Reports concerning Office for Partnerships, Committee for Programme and Coordination

13 October 2009
GA/AB/3920

Budget Committee Takes up Reports concerning Office for Partnerships, Committee for Programme and Coordination

13 October 2009
General Assembly
GA/AB/3920
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

5th Meeting (AM)


Budget Committee Takes up Reports concerning Office for Partnerships,


Committee for Programme and Coordination

 


Member States praised the work of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) this morning, as they took up issues related to programme planning in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).


The representative of the Russian Federation said that the Committee, as the principal body of the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly concerning the issues of programme planning and coordination, played a significant role in helping Member States set priorities for the Organization’s programme of work under existing mandates and in evaluating how effectively it achieved its goals.


Many States also supported the Committee’s recommendation in its current report not to align the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa with the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.  The delegate from the Sudan, speaking also on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that such an alignment would weaken the Organization’s focus on the special needs of the countries for which those bodies had been established and would be counter to the decision of the General Assembly in its resolution 63/260 not to abolish the post of Special Adviser.


The representative of Bangladesh said two General Assembly resolutions had called for the post of Special Adviser to be filled at the Under-Secretary-General level.  Failure to fill the post reduced the impact on the ground of both Offices.  The matter had been pending for two years.  It was time for the General Assembly to be given a clear and credible update on the issue.


Following introduction of the Secretary-General’s report on the Office for Partnerships, another item before the Committee today, Cuba’s representative wanted to know the criteria by which companies and other outside entities were selected as partners in implementing United Nations system projects.


Amir Dossal, Executive Director of the Office, who had introduced the report, said that potential partners went through an initial vetting process to weed out any entities that contravened international conventions, such as those on labour law or the environment.  In addition, the Office did not engage with companies involved in firearms, alcohol or tobacco.  The Office also used the services of an outside vetting organization.  If the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) or the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) were involved with the project, he said, they also had their own vetting processes.


Representatives of Sweden (on behalf of the European Union), India, Viet Nam and Pakistan also spoke.


The report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination was introduced by the Chairman of its forty-ninth session, Hendrik Ockert van der Westhuizen, via videoconference.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 16 October, to discuss improving the financial situation of the United Nations and to take up the pattern of conferences.


Background


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected to take up the issues related to programme planning this morning, as well as an update on the work of the United Nations Office for Partnerships.


In connection with new and/or revised mandates as they affect programme narratives of the approved biennial programme plans for 2008-2009 and 2010-2012, the Committee had before it the Secretary General’s consolidated reports on changes to the biennial programme plan as reflected in the programme budget for the biennium 2008-2009 (documents A/64/73 and Corr.1) and changes to the biennial programme plan as reflected in the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 (document A/64/74).


In particular, revised narratives are proposed under human resources management, consistent with modifications to the organizational structure and realignment of functions of the Office of Human Resources Management presented in the first performance report for 2008-2009.  Such revisions were needed to ensure that the organizational structure was in keeping with functional priorities and to support the Secretary-General’s human resources reform effort, along with an equitable division of accountability and responsibility among the new organizational units of the Office.


A subsequent review by the Office of Human Resources Management of its structure and programme of work for the biennium 2010-2011 proposed a further realignment and modification of those functions and responsibilities, leading to further revisions for that period.  The proposed structure for the human resources management (subprogramme 3) in 2010-2012 would be comprised of five numbered components (replacing the four current lettered ones):  1) policy; 2) strategic planning and staffing; 3) learning, development and human resources services; 4) medical services and a new component; 5) human resources information systems.


In both reports, revisions under subprogramme 4, Support services, reflect the creation by General Assembly resolution 63/262 of the Office of Information and Communications Technology.


The report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) (document A/64/16) -- the Organization’s main planning, programming and coordinating body -- details its work during its forty-ninth session, at which time it took up the programme questions relating to the United Nations budget and evaluation and United Nations system coordination questions, as well as the means of improving its own working methods and procedures within the framework of its mandate.


On programme questions, the Committee recommended approval of the changes to the biennial programme plan reflected in the budget for the biennium 2008-2009, as contained in the consolidated report of the Secretary-General (documents A/64/73 and Corr.1), subject to some modifications presented in the report.  Also recommended was the approval of changes to the biennial programme plan reflected in the budget proposal for 2010-2011, as contained in the consolidated report of the Secretary-General (document A/64/74), subject to some modifications.


Among other things, the Committee also recommended that the Assembly further review the logical framework for the Office of Information and Communications Technology in the proposed 2010-2011 budget to more accurately reflect the terms of Assembly resolution 63/262.  In connection with the enterprise resource planning system (ERP), the Committee recommended that the Assembly consider its logical framework in relevant sections of the budget proposal.


The Committee recommended that the Secretary-General be requested to ensure that the logical framework under subprogramme 6 of section E, Office of Information and Communications Technology, of programme 24, Management and support services, as revised by the Committee, would be equally applied to section B, United Nations Office at Geneva, section C, United Nations Office at Vienna, and section D, United Nations Office at Nairobi, of programme 24, as appropriate.


The Committee also had before it a report on the United Nations Office for Partnerships (document A/64/91), which facilitates the Organization’s public-private partnerships in furtherance of the Millennium Development Goals.  The Office oversees three areas:  the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP), established in March 1998; the United Nations Democracy Fund, established in July 2005; and Partnership Advisory Services and Outreach, established in 2006.


The UNFIP allows members of the United Nations system to draw on the United Nations Foundation -- the public charity initially established to administer Robert E. Turner’s $1 billion contribution in support of United Nations causes.  As at 31 December 2008, the Office had programmed through UNFIP a total of over $1.06 billion, of which $438.3 million represents core Turner funds, and $622.1 million (58.7 per cent) funds received from other partners, for over 455 projects implemented by 39 United Nations entities in 123 countries.


The United Nations Democracy Fund supports democratization throughout the world, focusing on the support of democratic institutions, promoting human rights, and ensuring the participation of all groups in democratic processes.  Through the Fund, the Office channelled a total of $58.7 million for 204 projects around the world, ranging from strengthening civil society leadership skills to promoting the participation of women and youth, and media programmes that give civil society a voice.


Partnership Advisory Services and Outreach was established in response to the growing demand from the United Nations system, Governments and non-State actors to develop and implement public-private partnerships, the report states.  The Office provides advice to potential partners within and without the United Nations system on the Organization’s procedures and best practices.  It also assists in the design of programmes and projects; advises companies on converting Global Compact principles into practice; helps to establish and, in some cases, manage global and regional networks; and advocates the Millennium Development Goals as a framework for action.


According to the report, in 2008 the private sector and civil society expressed increased interest in partnering with the United Nations, despite the economic downturn.  Looking ahead, the United Nations Office for Partnerships aims to strengthen partnerships in Africa.  The Office is developing a strategy, in consultation with the African Union, to attract new investments to the region, working with multinational corporations around the world.  In this regard, the Office intends to explore a sustainable resource base and to enhance its engagement with umbrella organizations for maximum impact.  In this connection, the Office anticipates working even more closely with the Millennium Campaign Office and the Outreach Division of the Department of Public Information.


Programme Planning


HENDRIK OCKERT VAN DER WESTHUIZEN, Chairman of the forty-ninth session of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC), introduced that body’s report, which he said contains important conclusions and recommendations in keeping with the Committee’s responsibility to review the Secretary-General’s work programme, in particular the changes arising out of decisions adopted by intergovernmental organs and conferences, or suggested by the Secretary-General.


With respect to the changes to the biennial programme plan, reflected in the proposed budget for 2010-2011 and the budget for 2008-2009, the Committee had made recommendations on the changes to programme 24, management and support services, including the Office of Human Resources Management and the Office of Information and Communications Technology, he said.  In discharging its function to assist the Economic and Social Council in its coordination functions, the Committee had reviewed the annual reports of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).


Among the Committee’s conclusions, he highlighted the recommendation that the Assembly bring to the attention of the Secretary-General, in his capacity as Chairman of United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, the need to continue to ensure that the Board enhanced its system-wide coordination activity and reiterated that any criteria and methodology for comprehensive evaluation of the eight “delivering as one” pilot projects should first be considered and approved by the Assembly.  United Nations support to “delivering as one” pilots should not prejudice the outcome of intergovernmental deliberations on system-wide coherence by the General Assembly.  On NEPAD, the Committee had once more stressed the urgent need to fill the position of the Special Adviser on Africa, so that the advocacy role of the Office of the Special Adviser was used to ensure that Africa remained squarely on the global development agenda.


On evaluation, he said the Committee had examined several Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) reports.  It had also considered the item on improving the working methods and procedures of the CPC within the framework of its mandate and decided not to include that item in future session.  Related matters would be discussed under the agenda item on the adoption of the agenda and organization of work, as required.  The Committee had acknowledged that the question of the timing of its sessions in budget and off-budget years had become an issue that merited further consideration.  Therefore, he would like to bring to the attention of the Assembly the possibility of reallocating the eight weeks allotted to CPC’s sessions.  A possible solution discussed was the division of work, so that in budget years, the Committee would meet for three weeks, and in off-budget years, for five weeks.


Statements


MAGID YOUSIF (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, underlined the importance of the CPC in its role of translating intergovernmental mandates into programmes that could be implemented.  It formed the core of the General Assembly’s capacity to provide oversight in improving programme design and avoiding overlap and duplication of effort.  He fully endorsed the recommendations in the Committee’s report.  He welcomed the guidance on the programmatic aspects of changes to the biennium budgets for 2008-2009 and 2010-2011 and stressed that setting organizational priorities was the exclusive mandate of Member States, as was defining the roles and responsibilities of intergovernmental and oversight bodies.


Regarding the Secretary-General’s proposal for aligning the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa and the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, he fully supported the Committee’s recommendation against such an alignment and regretted that the OIOS had expressed support for a proposal that went counter to the decision of the General Assembly in its resolution 63/260 not to abolish the post of the Special Adviser.  Such alignment would weaken the Organization’s focus on the special needs of the countries for which those bodies had been established, he said.  He called for filling the position of the Special Adviser on Africa.


Further, he said that knowledge management was instrumental to the Organization’s reform process.  He encouraged the Working Group on Knowledge Management to assess potential synergies and operational efficiencies when consolidating the Knowledge Management Service.  He also said that the United Nations Chief Executives Board should play an important role in improving coordination throughout the United Nations system.  He expressed appreciation for the Board’s efforts to enhance United Nations advocacy for the eradication of poverty, achieving the Millennium Development Goals and in supporting NEPAD, as well as for the priority the Board gave to the United Nations role in solving the financial and economic crisis.  However, there should be more frequent and substantive dialogue between the Board and Member States.


In closing, he recognized the improvements to the working methods of the CPC and welcomed the decision by the Committee not to include that agenda item in future sessions.


HENRIC RASBRANT ( Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the CPC had succeeded in organizing open and pragmatic discussion on its action and the role that it could play in the United Nations system.  He welcomed the Committee’s implementation of measures to improve its effectiveness and expressed the hope that it would continue those efforts.  Doing so would help the Committee to provide guidelines for the budget planning process with regard to priorities set by the General Assembly, as well as to ensure the coordination needed to prevent duplication and overlap.


Effective implementation of the Committee’s work required the assistance of the Secretariat.  He said that, to that end, it would be useful for the Committee and the other organs and services involved to have closer dialogue.


JORGE CUMBERBATCH ( Cuba) supported the position of the Group of 77 and said that programme planning was essential for the Organization’s functioning, since it enabled the legislative mandates of United Nations intergovernmental organs and entities to be turned into concrete activities, which, he hoped, would contribute to the development and well-being of the people of the world.  That was why the process of analysing programme planning was given special attention in all its stages.  He reaffirmed the role of the CPC as the main subsidiary organ of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council for those functions.


In the framework of the CPC, questions related to oversight and assessment of the results of the Secretariat’s work were analysed, he continued.  Reports submitted by the OIOS were useful in making the analysis.  Nonetheless, the approved intergovernmental mandates remained the starting point in the work of the Secretariat entities, including its oversight bodies.  The Oversight Office and all other entities of the Secretariat should refrain from expressing value judgements on the results of Member States’ deliberations.  Intergovernmental mandates resulted from long and complex negotiations among Member States and, therefore, must be strictly respected.


He welcomed the CPC’s recognition of the importance of improving its working methods in the framework of its mandate, as well as its expressed satisfaction for all the efforts carried out and the progress achieved, he said.  The outcome of the forty-ninth session of the CPC had reaffirmed the relevance of its recommendations and conclusions, which he fully endorsed.  His delegation would work for the amendments adopted by the CPC to be duly included in the different programmes it reviewed.


RAJENDRASINH G. RANA ( India) aligned himself with the position of the Group of 77 and reaffirmed the importance of the CPC as the main subsidiary body of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council for planning, programming and coordination.  The Committee’s significance was further highlighted by its critical role in ensuring that the programmes of the United Nations adhered to the letter and spirit of the legislative mandates given by Member States to the implementing entities.  It also identified programmatic changes arising out of decisions by intergovernmental bodies and relevant conferences.  Moreover, the CPC was a unique intergovernmental body, which facilitated coordination among the Organization’s bodies and mandates.  Given its critical role, it should be provided with the resources necessary to fulfil its mandated tasks.  He also commended the Committee’s sincere efforts to improve its working methods within the framework of its mandate, as directed by relevant Assembly resolutions.


Continuing, he endorsed the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee and urged the Secretariat to take full cognizance of those recommendations, while implementing its mandated tasks, once the report had been adopted by the Assembly.  In particular, he supported the recommendation on the approval of the changes in the biennial programme plan, as reflected in the 2008-2009 budget, and the proposal for 2010-2011, as contained in the Secretary-General’s consolidated reports.  He also insisted that the importance of evaluations within the Organization could not be overemphasized.  While processes and procedures for evaluation by the OIOS and self-evaluation by programme managers should continue to be reviewed and improved, the Secretary-General should ensure that evaluations contributed to, and improved, future policy decisions by programme managers.  He looked forward to the programme evaluation of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in 2011 and thematic evaluation of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations/Department of Field Support cooperation with regional organizations, as decided by the Committee during its forty-ninth session.


Commenting on the Committee’s recommendation on the urgent need to fill the position of Special Adviser on Africa, he said it was a critical one.  Echoing the stress that the Committee placed on it, he recalled resolution 63/260, by which the Assembly had decided not to abolish the post of the Special Adviser.  In one of its earlier reports, the Committee had called the United Nations system “a crucial pillar” in canvassing, mobilizing and dispensing international support for special needs countries.  Any structural alignment that threatened to weaken the Organization’s focus on the special needs of those countries should be carefully examined.  On the in-depth evaluation of the Department of Political Affairs, he concurred with the Committee that the OIOS should refrain from value judgements on issues still under consideration by the Assembly.  The OIOS should also take into account that the decision of the Assembly on strengthening the Department of Political Affairs, when evaluating future implementation of OIOS recommendations, had been endorsed by the CPC at its forty-sixth session.


Continuing, he took note of the report of the OIOS on the thematic evaluation of lessons learned, protocol and practices.  He hoped that it would further help to improve the work environment of staff, including in sharing knowledge, fostering teamwork, strengthening outputs and promoting efficiency.  He also took note of the thematic evaluation of the Organization’s coordinating bodies and called for further enhancement in their work to improve the effectiveness of programme delivery and organizational performance in member organizations.  To achieve that goal, the coordinating bodies would have to hold meetings on a regular and predictable basis, achieve better follow-up to their decisions and develop a mechanism to regularly and systematically measure their own performance.  India, as a member of the CPC, would continue to closely follow all those important issues in the future sessions.


YOURIY SPIRIN (Russian Federation) said that the Committee for Programme and Coordination, as the principal body of the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly concerning the issues of programme planning and coordination, played a significant role in helping Member States set priorities for the Organization’s programme of work under existing mandates and in evaluating how effectively it achieved its goals.  In the context of follow-up to the United Nations Conference on the financial and economic crisis and of preparation for the 2010 Summit on the Millennium Development Goals, he noted the importance of CPC recommendations on the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination’s annual overview report, particularly regarding the Organization’s response to the crisis and to the monitoring of its socio-economic consequences.


On the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination itself, he stressed that regular, substantive dialogue between the Board and Member States was essential for greater transparency and accountability.  He further welcomed improvements to CPC’s working methods and supported its recommendation not to include that as an agenda item in future sessions.  That would allow the Committee to focus on more substantive questions.


NGUYEN DINH HAI ( Viet Nam) supported the position of the Group of 77 and stressed the importance of the work of the CPC, saying that its guidance to entities of the United Nations system contributed to improving system-wide coherence and coordination.  He welcomed and endorsed the recommendations contained in the Committee’s report.  He particularly shared the view of the Committee that evaluation was an important and crucial function for the United Nations and played a significant role in ensuring balanced and timely decision-making, enhancing programme design and delivery, and contributing to better transparency and application of rules.  Therefore, he looked forward to the necessary measures to be put in place by the Secretariat and the OIOS in response to the well-grounded recommendations of the Committee.


He also stressed the legitimacy of the Committee’s detailed examination of the coordination question in connection with the OIOS thematic evaluation of United Nations coordinating bodies.  There was a vast space for improvement in those bodies’ effectiveness in programme delivery coordination and their impact on the coherence of programme implementation.  In that context, he trusted that all the recommendations of the Committee would enjoy adequate attention from all coordinating bodies, particularly the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, to avoid or at least minimize the risk of failing the coordination goals.


AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL ( Pakistan) said that the CPC not only guided the Secretariat on the content of the programme in the light of relevant legislation and policy, but also strengthened the role of evaluation by applying its findings to the implementation.  The evaluation procedures developed by the Committee improved programme design and helped to avoid overlap and duplication.  His delegation attached the utmost importance to the work of the Committee as it enhanced the Assembly’s competence and capacity to oversee the Organization’s work in that key area.


Turning to the evaluation of pilot countries of the United Nations “delivering as one”, he said that evaluation should, first and foremost, be driven by the countries concerned.  Country-led evaluation needed to be inclusive, transparent and independent.  That approach would be very much in line with the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of the United Nations Operational Activities (TCPR) 2007 resolution.  He also supported a second tier of evaluation, with clear methodology and terms of reference, to facilitate intergovernmental consideration of results from the eight pilot countries.


Pakistan appreciated the recommendations of the Committee pertaining to changes in the biennial programme plan reflected in the budget proposal for 2010-2011, he said.  He agreed with:  reviewing the logical framework for the Office of Information and Communications Technology; the improvement of future policy decisions by programme managers in light of the Committee’s recommendation; the continuous refinement of the OIOS methodology for conducting its evaluations; and increased coordination among all relevant departments for their activities.  The CPC report provided a solid basis to start considering those issues in the Fifth Committee.  Pakistan agreed with the recommendation that the Assembly might request the Secretary-General to ensure the dissemination and full implementation of findings of various evaluation mechanisms, including the OIOS.  The evaluation exercise was meaningful only if its findings were acted upon, and the right lessons were learned to meet the strategic objectives of the Organization.


He also highlighted the Committee’s recommendation for the enhancement of system-wide coordination by the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination and welcomed the recommendation for more frequent and meaningful dialogue between the Board and Member States in order to increase the transparency of the Board’s work and the accountability to Member States.  He also noted the Committee’s recommendation that the Economic and Social Council ask the Secretary-General to start an evaluation of the management and accountability system of the United Nations development and resident coordinator system.  He endorsed the recommendations with regard to:  the United Nations support for NEPAD; and the need to urgently fill the post of Special Adviser on Africa, and provide the Assembly with an update on progress on that matter.


MUHAMMAD A. MUHITH ( Bangladesh) aligned himself with the statement of the Group of 77 and China.  He said that realigning the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa and that of the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States would be taking steps directly counter to numerous mandates by Member States.  That included General Assembly resolutions 62/224 and 62/236, which called for the Secretary-General to fill the post of the Special Adviser on Africa at the Under-Secretary General level, and Assembly resolution 63/260, by which the Assembly decided not to abolish that post.


Such realignment would reduce the ability of those Offices to provide assistance to the very countries for which they had been created.  Because the position had not been filled, those Offices were unable to have the impact they might otherwise have had, and the issue had been pending for two years.  The General Assembly must be given a clear and credible update on the issue.


United Nations Office for Partnerships


AMIR DOSSAL, Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Partnerships, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the matter.  He outlined the contents of the document and updated the Committee on the Organization’s relationship agreement with the United Nations Foundation, which had been initially set for 10 years.  At the beginning of 2008, that agreement had been renewed, and he hoped that, by the end of 2017, the Organization would have about $2 billion in contributions coming through the Office.


He described some of the achievements of the United Nations Democracy Fund, including initiatives on women’s empowerment, community development, rule of law and human rights, youth, media in democracy building, tools for democratization and strengthening the instrumentalities of governments.  The United Nations Office for Partnerships had continued to help the underprivileged by harnessing the interest, competencies and resources across sectors.  Working with leaders in business and civil society, the Office for Partnerships provided a platform for strategic policy dialogue and engaged financial, technical and management expertise to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.


He added that Annex I of the report provided information on key innovative projects and initiatives, and Annex II contained a list of selected entities that had established partnerships and alliances with, or through, the United Nations Office for Partnerships.


Mr. CUMBERBATCH ( Cuba) asked what selection criteria the Office used to determine the organizations with which it established associations or alliances.  He noted that sometimes companies with which some countries might have had difficulties -- for example, there had been problems between that entity and its indigenous population -- later turned up as partners on a United Nations-related project.


In response, Mr. DOSSAL said that ensuring quality control was one of the Office’s biggest challenges.  He clarified that the Office itself did not implement any projects; that any project entered into was carefully talked through with the umbrella organizations.  The Office, per se, did not enter into any direct agreements with corporations.  It did go through an initial vetting process to weed out any entities that contravened international conventions, such as those on labour law or the environment.  In addition, the Office did not engage with companies involved in firearms, alcohol or tobacco.  The Office also used the services of an outside vetting organization, Calvert.  If the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) or the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) were involved with the project, he said, they also had their own vetting processes.


The Committee then approved a draft decision by which the Committee would recommend to the General Assembly that it take note of the report of the United Nations Office for Partnerships (document A/64/91).


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