7 Th Session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration, 60th Anniversary Commemoration of the UN Programme on Public Administration and Development

I am delighted to address the UN Committee of Experts onPublic Administration for the first time as United NationsUnder-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. It is aparticular pleasure to join you to celebrate a programme that is almostas old as I am.

Today, we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the UnitedNations Programme in Public Administration and Development. TheProgramme has come a long way since 1948, when it was created by theGeneral Assembly. Allow me to share with you some reflections on theorigins and achievements of the Programme.

From its very inception, the United Nations put a strongemphasis on international cooperation to promote economic and socialdevelopment – as an end in itself and as a foundation forinternational peace and security.

In the early years of the Organization, public administrationwas identified as a major factor in promoting economic and socialdevelopment. From its first session, in 1946, the General Assemblymandated the Organization to provide technical assistance in variouseconomic and social fields, as an important form of support to itsMember States.

The General Assembly, following on its Resolution 200 (III) of1948, decided to build activities for strengthening publicadministration into all development programmes of the United Nations.This led to its approval, the next year, of the Expanded Programme ofTechnical Assistance, including all the public administrationactivities that were originally authorized in the 1948 Resolution. (SeeGA Resolution304 (IV) 16 November 1949.)

In the six decades since then, the role of the Programme hasevolved significantly, as the Organization and its Membership havegrown and changed.

During this period, we have witnessed sea changes in theworld, from East-West confrontation to international partnerships andcooperation. We have also seen rapid economic development, science andtechnology development, innovation and their application, globalizationand so on. And the use of ICT as a tool for development and forimprovement of governance and public administration has become a commonfeature.

Changing realities have shaped the public debate on publicadministration, and vice versa. This is the context in which thecontribution of the UN Programme in Public Administration andDevelopment can best be understood.

To highlight a few of its achievements, in the 1960s and 1970s, the Programme set up at least 14 national public administrationinstitutions in newly independent states: Brazil (1952), United ArabRepublic (1954), Argentina (1955), Ethiopia (1956), Libya (1957), Laos(1959), Colombia (1960), Sudan (1960), Ghana (1961), Somalia (1964),Yemen (1964), Libya (1967) and Niger (1968). And it assisted in theestablishment of eight such institutions at the regional andsub-regional levels: in Turkey and the Middle East, EASAPAC, CAFRAD,CLAD, ACDA, ARADO, East African Community Management DevelopmentInstitute, and ICPE. Some of these institutions are still active andworking in partnership with the Programme.

Throughout the 1980s, the Group of Experts in PublicAdministration and Finance, the predecessor to this Committee, grappledwith the questions surrounding the public sector fiscal crises and debtdefaults. The Group sought to advise on ways that public administrationcould diminish the negative impact of austerity measures onpeople-centred development. The Group stressed that publicadministrations should work more in partnership with the private sectorand civil society, within a larger framework of public governance.

During the 1990s, as a series of UN world conferences andsummits emerged on the interconnected dimensions of development, theGeneral Assembly dedicated its 50th Resumed Session, in 1996, to PublicAdministration and Development. At the session, for which the Programmeprovided the substantive support, Member States reaffirmed that thepromotion of social justice, equity and equal access to qualityservices and productive assets, participatory mechanisms, andstrengthened public administration and financial management capacitiesare all essential for sustainable development.

The Millennium Summit served to crystallize the set ofinternationally agreed development goals that has emerged from theconferences and summits, with governance and civic engagement among thekey cross-cutting issues. Since then, the Programme has intensified itsfocus on the public administration and governance components of theUnited Nations Development Agenda.

The Programme pools and facilitates access to information,promotes research and training, facilitates advocacy and exchange ofexperiences, and provides technical advisory and capacity-buildingservices, in support of national development strategies. To facilitatethese efforts, the General Assembly, in 2002, endorsed UNPAN, theUnited Nations Online Network in Public Administration and Finance. Italso, in 2003, mandated the UN Public Service Day and Awards, and UNsupport to the Global Forum on Reinventing Government.

The contributions of the Programme cannot be fully separatedfrom the contributions of this Committee, which provides us withvaluable expertise and advice on strengthening governance and publicadministration for development. Although established in 2002, theCommittee has its roots in the Group of Experts created in 1967. Onbehalf of the United Nations Secretariat, and the Member States that weserve, I would like to acknowledge and express appreciation for thededication of all the Experts who have advised this Programme over theyears.

I would also like to recognize the Secretariat staff who haveworked to implement the Programme. I take this occasion to recognizeMr. Guido Bertucci, who has been leading the Programme since 1993. Mr.Bertucci will retire, this year, after 36 years of service to theUnited Nations. His creativity and experience will be missed.

I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of Mr. AdilKhan, Chief of the Socio-Economic Governance and Management Branch, whowill likewise retire this year. Mr. Khan has been very essential inbringing into our Programme the concepts of participatory governanceand “pro-poor” policy. Our thanks and best wishesgo to both gentlemen.

During this 7th session, the Committee will focus especiallyon state capacity-development. With spiralling costs oflife’s necessities, such as food and energy, and projecteddownturns of many economies, the strengthening of state capacity todeal with development is as relevant today as ever. We look forward tothe Committee’s conclusions and recommendations on thisfront.

Thank you.

File date: 
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairsto the 7 Th Session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration, 60th Anniversary Commemoration of the UN Programme on Public Administration and Development

New York, 16 April 2008