Development to help nations consolidate peace

In the frame of the General Segment of the ECOSOC Substantive Session 2010 in New York, a Joint Special Event took place on 19 July 2010 about MDGs in countries emerging from conflict

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro told the audience at the event hosted by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) on 19 July that “the devastating effects of conflict on development are evident…It is not surprising that the majority of countries lagging furthest behind in achieving the MDGs are countries emerging from conflict”. She noted that reaching a particular development objective could lead to tackling inequalities that trigger conflicts.

Maternal mortality rates in countries affected by violence is typically very high, while infant and child mortality rates also increase during conflict and very low life expectancy rates persist years after the end of fighting. However, the good news is that many countries are moving forward, including some of the poorest, which demonstrates that the MDGs are achievable when appropriate policies, prudent planning, good governance and adequate resources are underpinned by political commitment.

Ambassador Peter Wittig of Germany, the Chair of the PBC, told the forum that there was an obvious interdependence between the MDGs and peacebuilding. “Many of the areas most commonly identified as peacebuilding priorities by post-conflict governments are a crucial foundation for progress towards the MDGs”, he said. As well as the issues of safety and security, there are others like restoring core government functions at the national and subnational levels; supporting economic revitalization and creating employment for young people and former combatants; and rehabilitation of basic infrastructure.

Panelists, consisting of the Minister of Economic Affairs of Liberia, high level representatives from UNDP and the World Bank as well as a professor for development studies underlined that more needs to be done to systematically mainstream security concerns into development strategies, and vice versa.

They stressed that countries emerging from conflict faced risks that stretched beyond their capacity to deal with them, including drug trafficking. Consistent ODA was crucial for complementing national budgets and mobilizing resources from other actors was necessary. The UN system entities working on the ground need countries emerging from conflict to do more to use MDG-based strategies to successfully foster peacebuilding.

The outcome of the discussion will be submitted to member states and aims at contributing to the preparatory process of the high-level MDG Summit scheduled for September. The meeting also aimed at strengthening the cooperation of ECOSOC and the PBC in the area of development in post-conflict countries and was the 2nd joint event of the two bodies.

Many member states welcomed this increased cooperation and suggested that the subjects of youth employment and the delivery of key services such as health and education in post-conflict countries were themes that could be addressed in future joint events.

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Cooperation for continued MDG progress

AICESIS and UN used the General Assembly of AICESIS to strengthen cooperation with DESA at the meetings on 6 and 7 July at UN Headquarters in New York

The International Association of Economic and Social Councils (AICESIS) held its General Assembly at the UN Headquarters. The Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon stated in his speech that he encourages AICESIS to continue the cooperation with DESA. He said that the exchange of letters of July 2009 between AICESIS and the USG of DESA, Mr. Sha, formed an excellent basis on which to work on participative governance and to enhance the role of ESC in Africa.

In addition, the Secretary-General underscored the necessity that Economic and Social Councils (ESC) help to achieve the MDGs. While governments and even he himself are often bound to role and other requirements, ESC can express opinions and proposals more often and he hopes that ESC will use this opportunity to help advance further towards the MGDs.

While some countries seem to be satisfied with AICESIS as a political network, others have higher expectations and proposed a more intensive and targeted cooperation. For UNDESA, both the political dialogue with AICESIS and all its members and a stronger result oriented technical cooperation are useful and, thus, the relationship will continue, although with emphasis on results for better development management.

Ongoing technical cooperation between DESA and AIECIS include: (1) A first stage of a knowledge base which consists of ESC profiles was jointly developed by DESA and AICESIS and its printout was distributed to participants. (2) The regional workshop for Africa in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, aimed at capacity building and knowledge sharing among ESC.

DESA and AIECIS are making in the preparation of development of a management tool for ESC in Africa, training of ESC staff in Africa on knowledge management, and DESA contribution to an AICESIS/ILO seminar on the employment pact in Africa.

After the meeting of AICESIS, the Director and staff from DESA met on 8 July with a delegation of the Economic and Social Council of Brazil to explore future cooperation.

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Global public health and financing for development

Highlights of the 2010 Coordination Segment held on 6-8 July 2010 during the ECOSOC Substantive Session in New York

At its 2010 Coordination Segment, ECOSOC focused on two main substantive areas–the follow-up to its 2009 Ministerial Declaration on “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health” and the follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development.

Within the context of the follow-up to its 2009 Ministerial Declaration, two panel discussions were held, on “Towards a United Nations comprehensive policy response to global health challenges” and on “Coordinating efforts for achieving the health-related MDGs”.

The first panel took stock of efforts undertaken by the UN system in follow-up to the Ministerial Declaration, considered progress achieved and discussed gaps and challenges that remained and which needed to be addressed in order to ensure a further coordinated, collaborative and multi-sectoral response by the system as a whole. Panelists included the executive heads of UNICEF, UNFPA and UNAIDS, as well as the Deputy Director-General of WHO.

The second panel examined how efforts undertaken by stakeholders, including the UN system and health alliances could be better coordinated to achieve the health-related MDGs by their 2015 target date. Represented on that panel were the heads of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the GAVI Alliance, WHO, the World Bank and the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Innovative Financing for Development. The Personal Representative of the Prime Minister of Canada for the G-8 and G-20 Summits served as discussant.

Under the financing for development agenda item, the Council considered the President’s Summary of the special high-level meeting of the Council with the Bretton Woods Institutions, the WTO and UNCTAD, held in April 2010, as well as a report of the Secretary-General entitled “Recovering from the Crisis: a Global Jobs Pact”. Two panel discussions were also held, on “South-South Cooperation and Financing for Development: Investment, Trade and Technology Transfer”, and “Global Economic Governance”.

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ICTs to help empower women with disabilities

The Ministerial Roundtable Breakfast on “The Role of Information and Communication Technologies in Empowering Women with Disabilities” took place during the ECOSOC High-Level Segment on 1 July

The roundtable was organized by Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict) and the Executive Coordinator of the Global Alliance on ICT and Development (GAID) spoke at the opening while a representative of DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) made a presentation on the role of ICTs in empowering women with disabilities. A representative of DESA’s Division on Social Policy and Development (DSPD) chaired one of the panels.

In consideration of the theme of this year’s Annual Ministerial Review segment is on “Implementing the Internationally Agreed Goals and Commitments in regard to Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.” the roundtable discussion focused on topics including the role of accessible Internet resources for work, health, education and social networking, how accessible mobile phones change the lives of women with disabilities, breaking disabled women’s isolation using ICTs, Accessible workplaces and accessible financial services, as well as Success stories, pending issues, and new solutions offered by industry and service providers.

A White Paper, by the G3ict, a flagship partnership initiative of GAID, will be published summarizing the presentations and conclusions reached during the exchanges among participants.

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Discussing aid commitments and effectiveness

Second Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) of ECOSOC took place on 29 -30 June with a considerable participation of Ministers, Vice-Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Director-Generals

The level of engagement of Member States from South and North was among the salient features of this year’s DCF, with a large number of Ministers, Vice-Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Director-Generals present. Non-executive stakeholders were represented in this truly multi-stakeholder forum through the Inter-Parliamentary Union; NGOs such as CIVICUS, ActionAid, ITUC and others and the Organization United Cities and Local Governments.

The debates confirmed the deep concern that aid commitments are not being met, although several speakers reiterated their government’s commitments to increase aid. Considerable attention was paid to the catalytic role of aid in increasing other sources of development finance. It was underscored that all policies of developed countries need to be coherent with development objectives. Alignment with developing countries’ national development strategies was seen as critical in ensuring policy coherence. There was a concern that a greater share of aid should go to countries with the greatest development needs and financing gaps.

Several speakers encouraged to engage more countries and stakeholders in processes on aid effectiveness and mutual accountability. Better use of country systems, more aid predictability and reporting of aid on budget, require more balanced aid relationships with more robust government systems to process aid monies. It was felt that the aid effectiveness agenda should be broadened to include concerns such as conditionality or flexibility to combat exogenous shocks. On South-South cooperation, a number of positive experiences were shared.

In addition, some speakers pointed to the role of the DCF to continue addressing issues such as policy coherence, trends in development cooperation and mutual accountability, among others.

The key messages of this second DCF will inform the negotiation process of the MDG Summit’s outcome document. DESA will also launch an “International Development Cooperation Report” during the MDG Summit that will draw together the analysis produced for the 2010 DCF, with a particular focus on the views of various stakeholders and independent analysts. The report, which will place a focus on accountability and transparency, will in itself be a tool for accountability. Its launch will reinforce the position of the DCF as a key forum for analysis of accountability and transparency in development cooperation.

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Excellence in Public Service rewarded

United Nations 2010 Public Service Day & Awards took place in Barcelona, Spain from 21 – 23 June and 23 winners were recognized for their public services

Government officials from over 70 countries gathered for the United Nations Public Service Awards Ceremony and Forum. The Forum focused on key public administration thematic areas, including transparency and accountability, innovation in public service delivery, citizen engagement and e-government development. Participants shared best practices, including how technologies and innovations are being applied around the world to help meet internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). An expert group meeting on the delivery of services in crisis situations was also held during the Forum and brought together experts and practitioners.

The Awards were presented at the end of the three-day international meeting on the role of public service in achieving the MDGs. The parallel capacity development workshops resulted in a set of recommendations on how to promote innovation in government, which was presented to a ministerial round table. Over 15 ministers discussed how to strengthen governance and public administration to promote development and achieve the MDGs.

In total, 23 winners — from Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, India, Italy, Republic of Korea, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and Tunisia — received a Public Service Award. The event resulted in a better understanding of how government leadership can be more effective in pursuing the MDGs and in increased knowledge of innovative solutions to complex governance challenges, particularly in crisis situations.

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