My government strongly supports the “Delivering as One” report. We look forward to a process that will ensure a timely follow-up of the set of recommendations. We appreciate this opportunity for a first discussion of the report of the High-level Panel on System-wide Coherence.
Taken together, we are convinced that the recommendations will strengthen the United Nations and help the UN be more effective in support of country needs and demands the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment.
At the heart of the High-level panel report is the recommendation to establish, where appropriate, “One UN” in each country. With governments in the driver’s seat and on a voluntary basis, there should be one leader, one programme, one budget framework and one office, where feasible. This framework in each country should to be supported by more coherent governance and management arrangements in the regions and at headquarters. The High-level report also suggests concrete ways to ensure that One UN programmes and organisations receive adequate, sustained and secure funding.
We appreciate the broad support for the recommendations by the Secretary-General, heads of UN Agencies, as well as many governments.
But we have noted some concerns about the proposals. They include questions such as:
- Are reforms a cost-cutting exercise?
- Will there be pressure on individual countries to implement reforms in the same way?
- Will the recommendations lead to more donor dominance over the UN?
The answer to all these questions is no.
Firstly, the intention of the Norwegian Prime Minister, his co-chairs, the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and Mozambique and the rest of the High-level panel from around the world, was certainly not to provide less resources to the UN.
The ambition is to see the UN better resourced to meet its tasks. All administrative savings should be used for development programmes in the countries where the savings are made.
As one of the UN’s staunchest supporters, the Norwegian government will provide USD 25 mill in additional resources to fund the eight “One UN” pilots this year. This funding will be over and above what we had already committed for the UN and the countries involved in the pilots. In addition, my government will continue to provide multi-year pledges to key UN funds and programmes for development.
Secondly, in each country, the UN must be tailored to local priorities and specific needs. There is no “one size fits all”. The reforms are intended to put programmes countries more clearly in the driver’s seat.
Thirdly, the resources should go to the areas that the country and the UN leader agree are the areas where the UN has most to offer, rather than following donor priorities.
Allow me, Madame President, to address four areas where progress needs to be made swiftly.
1) Gender. We look forward to the up-coming consultations under your leadership, Madame President. We need urgent action to establish a strong gender entity in the UN. The existing gender architecture does important work, but is weak and fragmented. The new entity should integrate and strengthen both operational and normative functions. It should have sufficient high and independent status to participate in key governance structures in the UN, such as the Chief Executive Board. Therefore, the head of the gender entity must have the rank of Under Secretary-General. The gender entity should have sufficient and predictable funding. Norway has proposed a floor target of minimum USD 200 million.
With regard to the other issues we will highlight,, there is already sufficient mandate for follow-up action on the recommendations. Here, we look forward to the leadership of the Secretary-General and his team.
2) Pilots. There has already been timely follow-up of the “One UN” in this regard. We are pleased that there are now eight pilots from all regions, as it turned out to be impossible to limit the first round of pilots to the proposed five countries, due to great interest. We understand that several countries have already volunteered to become pilots in the next phase.
2) Regional coherence. All UN entities at the regional level should be reconfigured so that there are common regional hubs that can service the United Nations country teams.
3) Business practices. It is essential that the United Nations swiftly modernize and achieve full compatibility on processes for resource planning, human resources, common services and evaluation – all important drivers of coherence and efficiency in the UN system. Overall, the performance and accountability of the United Nations must be strengthened. We look forward to the review of the Chief Executive Board and the transformation of the United Nations Development Group to a UN-wide Development Policy and Operation Group.
The world of today is different from the world when the UN was created.
The UN too has changed, but we see a UN with a growing gap between what is expected of it, and what it can deliver for developing countries.
Norway will participate actively in the upcoming negotiations.
We have to modernise and strengthen the United Nations. The most radical decision we can make about the UN is to decide we do not have the political will to change it.