14 October 2008


14 October 2008
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Global food, energy, financial crises highlight urgent need to strengthen


UN development pillar, Deputy Secretary-General tells Fifth Committee


Following is the text of remarks by Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, presenting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s proposal on strengthening the Organization’s development pillar, to the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today, 14 October:

I am honoured to be here today, to present the Secretary-General’s proposal for strengthening the development pillar of the United Nations Secretariat.  Development for all is the foundation of a peaceful, equitable and just world.  A stronger United Nations must rest on a stronger development pillar.

As you know, the Secretary-General submitted his proposal (document A/62/708) to strengthen the development pillar to the sixty-second session of the General Assembly.  The General Assembly decided to postpone consideration of this item until the current session.  It is encouraging to note that the ACABQ [Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions] has since reviewed and broadly endorsed the thrust of the proposal.

Allow me to explain the main rationale for the Secretary-General’s proposal.  In doing so I wish to underscore one point:  we have a serious mismatch between mandated responsibilities and available resources.

But before explaining the proposal, I call your attention to the fact that the scale of development challenges has intensified in the past year.  The world has been presented with challenges that push us to accelerate development -- the devastating effects of climate change, the impact of the recent food and energy prices, and the global financial downturn.

These challenges require global responses.  The implementation of the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report has thus acquired a renewed urgency.

The immediate future is uncertain.  There will no doubt be setbacks in the efforts to achieve the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] and the internationally agreed development goals.  Globally concerted efforts are needed to redress this and to avoid more problems down the road.  The interests of all countries can be articulated by the United Nations.  The challenges are interrelated and require enhanced United Nations short-, medium-, and long-term action.

The report before you outlines a number of key proposals on how to fill the critical gaps in capacity and improve efficiency in our use of resources.  It has a particular focus on strategic planning and strengthening coherence and responsiveness.

Yet, as pointed out by the Secretary-General earlier, the proposal is not intended to provide for a restructuring of the current institutional arrangements in the development field.

It aims to ensure that we deliver more effectively on our considerably expanded obligations in the development agenda.  This agenda continues to grow; yet, there has been no commensurate increase in the level of resources for the Secretariat.  This has led to resources being spread too thinly over a broad range of activities, with shortfalls in important areas.

Some examples of the new responsibilities and the work ahead include the focus on the MDGs in the recently held high-level events, the Secretary-General’s priorities to strengthen the United Nations work on development and the need to address the myriad issues on the United Nations development agenda.

I led an extensive consultation process within the Secretariat, to ensure that the comprehensive proposal will strengthen synergies and coherence in the work of all development entities.

This is rooted in a firm understanding of the complex multi-stakeholder environment in which we operate.  Often in conjunction with other United Nations and non-United Nations partners, such as civil society and the private sector.

The Secretary-General makes this clear in his review where he situates the proposal within the wider context of his overall endeavour to improve the delivery of mandates and strengthen United Nations system-wide coherence.

The proposed strategic integration and planning capacity is aimed at improving coherence and effectiveness of the work of the Secretariat in development, including through the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs.

The Secretariat recognizes that the interrelatedness of today’s development issues requires an efficient leadership response.  One backed by strong partnerships and political support.

At the same time, more strategic implementation of the development agenda demands quality analysis of cross-cutting issues.  Delivering better on its mandates to identify and address such issues requires strengthening the analytical and research capacity across the Secretariat.

In this context, dedicated attention will have to be given to climate change, innovative financing, international migration and development, violence against women, and indigenous issues.  We must continue to support national development strategies to achieve the MDGs and other internationally agreed development goals.

In addition, strengthened Secretariat capacities would more effectively support developing countries’ efforts in policymaking and capacity-building on a number of critical issues.

No doubt, we also need to strengthen our normative and policy support to United Nations intergovernmental processes on development.  The 2005 World Summit placed new responsibilities on the Economic and Social Council.  It established the Annual Ministerial Review of progress towards the MDGs and internationally agreed development goals.  It also established the high-level Development Cooperation Forum, to review trends in development cooperation and its effectiveness in supporting achievement of the goals.

The Secretariat needs to have adequate capacity to carry out these important new functions effectively.  In short, the development challenges are daunting.  This has become even more so as the world faces a global financial crisis of profound magnitude.

There are, however, no simple solutions.  Member States have high expectations of what the United Nations Secretariat can, and should, do to support the intergovernmental debate and to help find coordinated and comprehensive responses.

We are expected, and continuously endeavour, to offer sound policy analysis and statistics to support the process.  And indeed to deliver targeted and effective capacity development to interested Member States, working closely with the United Nations Development Group and its core membership.

To respond effectively to these various demands, there is an urgent need to strengthen the development pillar.  The Secretary-General and I count on the support of this distinguished Committee.

I look forward to listening to the views of Member States.  But, since I will have to leave before the end of this meeting, my colleague, Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang, will follow these important deliberations.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for giving me this opportunity to present the Secretary-General’s report and thank this distinguished Committee for its kind attention.

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