Following are UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the seventieth session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Programme, in Geneva today:
I am delighted to join you today. I am grateful to High Commissioner [Filippo] Grandi for inviting me to take part in these critical discussions on forced displacement — and its implications for collective efforts to ensure a future of peace, dignity and prosperity for all.
I am Amina Mohammed, I am Nigerian, I belong and I am privileged.
Addressing forced displacement and statelessness is fundamentally linked to a central purpose of the 2030 Agenda [for Sustainable Development]: to enable marginalized populations to contribute to, and benefit from, inclusion in sustainable social and economic development processes. The drivers behind forced displacement are often linked to development challenges, weak governance and exclusion of population groups.
At the same time, major refugee host countries require tangible support, including from a development perspective, to be able to cope with large‑scale influxes and protracted refugee situations. Time and again we see how both host communities and refugee populations can benefit from increased development cooperation in the area of education or health, for example.
It is precisely to better respond to increasingly complex challenges facing the world today that Secretary‑General António Guterres has launched far‑reaching reforms of the United Nations. At the core of these reforms are the unprecedented mandates issued by the General Assembly — 16 months ago — to reposition the United Nations development system. We are now well advanced in this transformative journey. And today, we can confidently say that evidence on the ground indicates a real transformation, rooted in a deep culture change.
At the beginning of this year, we launched a reinvigorated resident coordinator system under which the 129 leaders in our country teams around the world report directly to the Secretary‑General. These independent and empowered resident coordinators are responsible for bringing the whole United Nations system together to deliver on the ground, according to national needs and ensuring system‑wide accountability. This change has enabled more efficient use of resources and capacities, freeing up time for resident coordinators to invest in leadership and development coordination that is required. To support this reinvigorated system, we have put several new support structures in place.
First, a new Management and Accountability Framework. This has been agreed for United Nations country teams at the country level and signals a significant shift in organizational culture. It sets out a new dual accountability system for agency representatives: to their respective entities, as well as to the resident coordinator.
Second, a redesigned UNDAF [United Nations Development Assistance Framework], renamed the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework. This will become the backbone of the planning, performance and reporting of the United Nations development system. It will be the anchor of all that the United Nations development system does at the country level, laying the foundation of the United Nations system’s accountability as we respond, together, to the 2030 Agenda.
Third, a new funding architecture for the resident coordinator system is now operational, creating incentives for new kinds of collaboration. To date, 38 Member States and 19 United Nations entities have made commitments and contributions to the Special Purpose Trust Fund for the resident coordinator system, and that has mobilized around $195 million. Allow me to express my appreciation for the Executive Committee’s critical role in ensuring UNHCR’s timely cost‑sharing contribution.
A Funding Compact was also agreed upon between Member States and the United Nations system, recognizing that a fully funded United Nations development coordination architecture is essential if the various strands of the reform are to be successfully implemented. A draft system‑wide strategic document was published to foster a collaborative approach in support of country needs, build on entities comparative advantages and reduce overlaps and duplication to ensure a cohesive and integrated United Nations system approach. We are making progress on our goals for greater efficiency and effectiveness across the system. And we are enhancing the United Nations system’s capacity for partnerships, which will be essential to realizing the ambition and breadth of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Throughout this journey of transformation, UNHCR has been a strong and reliable partner. I would like to acknowledge the personal leadership of High Commissioner Grandi, who co‑chairs, with the World Food Programme, the inter‑agency team that leads our efforts to provide country teams with more effective business operation tools. High Commissioner Grandi has also consistently used direct lines of communications with UNHCR representatives and resident coordinators on the ground. I welcome the round‑table discussion he hosted between UNHCR representatives and resident coordinators last year, as well as his decision to write to all resident coordinators shortly after the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees, calling on them to leverage development action for refugees and hosting communities.
Resident coordinators will work with United Nations country teams to better connect development and humanitarian efforts. This has also been one of the promises of the Global Compact on Refugees, and in several countries this institutional synergy is even a personal one, with the resident coordinator wearing a double hat as the humanitarian coordinator. The goal is to achieve the greatest synergies in our work to support countries as they accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, while respecting international protection mandates and humanitarian space.
This means going beyond short‑term humanitarian assistance, which is still urgently needed, and adopting more holistic and long‑term approaches that really allow countries and communities to prevent crises — and recover more quickly when they hit. We rely on UNHCR to continue to play a key role in pre‑empting human suffering, advancing human rights and supporting United Nations country teams in assisting Governments in achieving the 2030 Agenda for all. Our journey to 2030 requires a robust UNHCR at the heart of our activities to ensure we bring along those who are stateless or forcibly displaced. The Global Compact on Refugees, adopted in December last year, is another remarkable road map for our common efforts — we have asked resident coordinators to dedicate priority attention to their implementation.
While we are dealing with changing processes and mechanisms, we must never lose sight of the end goal of our reforms: achieving better results and impact on people’s lives on the ground. To do this, we must become more than the sum of our parts. As we move forward with implementation, we rely on you, the Executive Committee, to continue supporting us with leadership and guidance. We count on you to maintain the momentum for reform. In the coming months, it will be critical to uphold your support to ensure sustainable cost‑sharing contributions to the new resident coordinator system, as well as maintain ongoing efforts to increase your share of common premises and common services.
Guiding entity‑specific discussions on the Funding Compact, especially regarding commitments for core and pooled funding, will be critical. The development system as a whole has much to learn from UNHCR and its good practices. For example, your partnership with the World Bank has helped to ease the pressure on countries that host refugees. Your work with the International Labour Organization to include refugees in national social protection systems, and your collaboration with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations Development Programme, are important examples of inter‑organizational cooperation. And as a key member of the United Nations Migration Network, you are also working with sister United Nations agencies towards a more coherent and effective United Nations response for all people on the move.
In doing so, UNHCR is already walking the talk, as the journey of transformation begins to unfold. Rest assured that the Secretary‑General and I remain personally engaged to preserve the trust and ambition you placed in the United Nations development system. We are committed to guarantee full transparency and a continued open dialogue throughout our common journey. Just two weeks ago, at the United Nations High‑Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the seventy‑fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Secretary‑General issued a global call for a decade of action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The decade of action is about narrowing the gap between vision, reality and implementation. It is about generating an unstoppable movement in support of a more inclusive, just and sustainable world. It is about delivering concrete change on those issues that we know can make a massive impact — financing, data, governance, technology and much more. And it is about nurturing the global engagement we have seen these past four years towards more ambitious, more urgent and more impactful action.
How we deliver through this decade for the refugees in our world will be one key indicator of success. December’s Global Refugee Forum will be an excellent opportunity to get things moving, to support implementation of the Refugee Compact and to put the principle of leaving no one behind into good practice. The Forum can help promote the inclusion of marginalized displaced populations and strengthen partnerships with a wide array of stakeholders who collectively can contribute to ensuring these populations are not left behind. And through its various thematic high‑level dialogues on subjects such as education, livelihoods and energy, the Forum can generate specific measures and commitments to help us kick‑start the decade of action.
We count on UNHCR and all of you to join us in this ambitious effort. Let’s work together and leave no one behind on our journey to peace, prosperity, dignity and opportunity for all.