Deputy Secretary-General to New Resident Coordinators, United Nations Development Programme Resident Representatives: ‘You Are Face of UN, to People We Serve’

16 November 2009

Deputy Secretary-General to New Resident Coordinators, United Nations Development Programme Resident Representatives: ‘You Are Face of UN, to People We Serve’

16 November 2009
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General to New Resident Coordinators, United Nations Development

Programme Resident Representatives:  ‘You Are Face of UN, to People We Serve’


Following are the remarks of Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro at the induction of United Nations Resident Coordinators/United Nations Development Programme Resident Representatives, in New York today, 16 November:

It is a pleasure to join you and to welcome you to this induction programme.  Congratulations on your appointments.  You have worked hard to reach this point, and we all look forward to working with you as you take on your new responsibilities.

The position of Resident Coordinator is becoming increasingly more important and complex.  Grave global challenges such as climate change, the economic crisis and food insecurity call for enhanced teamwork and coherence.  They also place a premium on coordination, not only within the United Nations system, but also with other development partners.  As leaders, you have your work cut out for you.  This induction programme is meant to help you hit the ground running.

As you know, in our vision of United Nations reform, the United Nations system works as a team to develop the best strategies in response to national needs, plans and priorities in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals.

In each country, we have comparative advantages that we can and must use to best effect.  In each country, we want to be coherent; we want to harmonize our actions; and we want to act in a seamless manner so as to reduce transaction costs, eliminate duplication and reduce bureaucratic procedures.

We continue to make great strides, for example, in supporting country ownership and aligning our efforts with national development strategies.  But overall, our performance still falls behind expectations.  We still need to address issues such as the use of country systems, predictability of funding and mutual accountability.

We have also made important progress within the United Nations system in terms of structures, systems, processes, tools and skills.  Further harmonization efforts are ongoing in a number of areas.  These include business processes, information technology, financial rules, cost recovery and the alignment of United Nations budget cycles with national ones.  We are also simplifying the country programming process, based on lessons learned from the “Delivering as One” pilot countries.

The “Delivering as One” initiative has clearly shown that United Nations organizations can work together more effectively.  The recent intergovernmental meeting of the eight pilot countries in Kigali [ Rwanda] confirmed that reforms have had their intended effect at the country level.  Our challenge now is to pursue reform with equal vigour at the global level, involving agency headquarters, executive boards and the General Assembly.

The experiences in the pilot countries also recognized the strengthened role of the Resident Coordinator and the aim of the United Nations system to speak with “one voice”.  You will learn more about the Delivering as One effort during this induction programme.  I hope you will be able to adapt what you learn to your respective country contexts.

At the global level, initiatives have been put in place to streamline the various institutions and structures.

The United Nations Development Group (UNDG) has been integrated as a third pillar of the CEB [Chief Executives Board] framework, alongside the High-Level Committee on Management (HLCM) and the High-Level Committee on Policy (HLCP).

The UNDG mechanism itself has been streamlined, and has a clearer focus on operational work at the country level, while the HLCP and HLCM focus on system-wide policy and management issues respectively.

At the country level, while all members of the United Nations country teams have a critical role in enhanced coherence and effective delivery, there is need for strong, effective and accountable leadership.  This induction programme is part of our system-wide initiatives to strengthen the RC [resident coordinator] system.  A lot of effort is also being put towards the recruitment and retention of high calibre staff for the resident coordinator posts, and towards talent management, performance management and continued training.  We are also making special efforts to increase gender and regional diversity among the resident coordinators, and I am happy to learn of the progress made in this regard.

We also need to harness the totality of the United Nations system’s expertise.  That means greater involvement of specialized agencies and non-resident agencies, and increased understanding of their mandates and comparative advantages.  The induction programme is designed to help you in this regard.

These are difficult times.  The challenges we face are growing, not only in number, but in complexity and scope.  I am pleased to note that this induction programme includes discussions on many of these challenges, and much else besides.

You will need to be dynamic and creative.  But, of course, that is why you were chosen in the first place -- you already embody both of those qualities.

You will no doubt find yourself in situations that call for difficult trade-offs.  You have also been chosen because of your proven abilities to handle such dilemmas.

Above all, you will be the face of the United Nations -- to colleagues throughout the system, and most of all to the people we serve.

Let me assure you that we at Headquarters are here to support you, not second-guess you.

I wish you well in this induction programme and in your new roles as United Nations Resident Coordinators.

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