Advancing economic growth and development

General Assembly’s Second Committee held its general debate focusing on the MDG Summit implementation and on the preparations for Rio+20, debated its methods of work and discussed operational activities for development

During the Second Committee’s general debate, which took place from 4-6 October, a total of 72 delegations took the floor. Delegations expressed their views on various issues pertaining to the Committee’s work, including the world’s economic situation, global economic governance, MDG Summit implementation and sustainable development, in particular for the preparation of Rio+20. Delegates also highlighted the links between poverty, security, peace and development and focused on countries in special situation (i.e. LDC, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States), Africa and the UN Reform.

At the opening session, statements were made by the Chairperson of the Second Committee, H.E. Ms. Enkhtsetseg Ochir, and the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Sha Zukang, followed by a keynote address by Professor Robert J. Shiller of Yale University.

Methods of work

The Second Committee held a debate on its methods of work on 8 October. Delegations welcomed the Bureau’s initiative to consider this topic and the non-paper which had been circulated as a background paper for the discussions. The debate was concentrated around the following main conceptual issues, including the procedural aspects of the Committee’s work with implications for its substantive outcome and the established tradition of adoption of decisions by consensus.

The debate also focused on the inter-connectedness of the agenda items dealt with by the Committee and their importance for the UN’s development agenda, and the requirement for consultations among a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including line ministries in capitals, with a view to garnering the necessary technical and other inputs for effective discussions and decisions.

As a result, maintaining discipline in established timelines as well as streamlining the work of the Committee was felt by all as being of considerable importance. The Chairperson and the Bureau will convey specific proposals for short and longer-term actions on the ways forward, after distilling the main elements of the debate.

Agenda item on Operational activities for development

On 13 October, the Second Committee held a debate on operational activities for development. Delegates acknowledged the on-going reform efforts that have improved the impact of the United Nations development system at country-level. They however felt there is significant scope for improving effectiveness and efficiency. Speakers underscored the continued importance of the General Assembly’s Comprehensive Policy Review of operational activities (TCPR/QCPR) to guide UN system’s work in the countries.

Delegations were unanimous in saluting the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 64/289 on system-wide coherence. They welcomed in particular the establishment of UN Women, and the appointment of Ms. Michelle Bachelet as its helm. Importance was attached to the speedy follow-up to the resolution.

Several delegations said that the “Delivering as One” (DaO) approach represents a major advancement towards improving the United Nations support at country-level. Speakers looked forward to the independent evaluation of the DaO initiative. G-77 and China said that any saving accrued through increased coherence should be re-invested into the development cluster of the UN.

The report of the Secretary-General on the analysis of the funding of operational activities for development of the United Nations system for 2008 was very well received. On the positive side, many speakers welcomed that contributions received by the United Nations system reached the highest level ever in 2008. However, delegations expressed concern at the continued imbalance between core and non-core (extrabudgetary) resources. They felt this imbalance erodes the priorities set by Member states. It also contributes to complexity and fragmentation within the system, leading to high transaction costs and heavy administrative burdens.

Committee’s work in November

The agenda items that will be considered by the Committee in November include sustainable development, UN Habitat, the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people, International trade and development. The Committee will also have a dialogue with the Executive Heads of the Regional Commissions.

The Committee aims to conclude its work on 23 November 2010.

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