This delegation was strongly encouraged by the recent preliminary feed-back and discussion on the “delivering as one” pilots during the Joint Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNICEF/WFP. It showed that much has been done in a short period of time. We are particularly encouraged by the reports from host governments that they have taken a strong ownership of the process, that the UN is more responsive to their needs and priorities and that it has become easier for them to interact with a more coherent UN system at the country level. Before I turn to the challenges identified through this process, I wish to reflect briefly on some wider aspects of the panel’s proposals:
First, as already stated by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic countries, strengthening UN activities on gender equality is ripe for moving forward. We as member states have repeatedly, most recently through the TCPR, reaffirmed the importance of mainstreaming gender equality and women’s empowerment. If we are to achieve the MDGs we need also the assistance of an effective UN system in the field of gender. However, if it is everybody’s responsibility, we run the risk that it becomes nobody’s responsibility. We need to ensure that all UN entities take action to operationalise “gender mainstreaming”, but we also need to ensure that there is a strong unit that can be the “watchdog” and “driver” of the system.
Second, the UN system should create an enabling environment for increased coherence at the country level in order for the pilots to succeed. This means change, but it does not mean that one size fits all.
Then let me focus now on some challenges that have arisen from the “delivering as one” pilots:
There is first of all a need for support from headquarters to country level. Headquarters should provide the necessary flexibility for the pilots to be able to experiment at the country level, including decision-making authority and waivers for administrative rules and procedures.
There is secondly a need to strengthen and further clarify the role and responsibilities of the Resident Coordinator in order to improve decision-making processes at the country level as highlighted during the debate last week. There is a need to clarify the roles and responsibilities not only of the RC as team leader of the UN country team, but also the roles and responsibilities of the other members of the team.
Thirdly, the TCPR called for increased harmonisation in several areas, including business practices. This is in our opinion an essential element of the necessary “enabling environment” that not only affects operations in the pilots, but also prevents UN’s integrated and multidimensional operations from functioning optimally. We encourage the UN system to step up its efforts of harmonisation at the central level and stress the urgency of this important task.
At the same time that we are demanding changes from the UN system, we also need to look at what we as Member States need to do:
First issue is budget and financing: Competition over the same donor resources were a major cause of the fragmentation of the UN system in the past. While we agree that core contributions are crucial for the organisation, we do not see this as a short-term solution for financing of UN country level operations. The “One UN funds” have proven to be useful mechanisms in several pilots. However, there is also a need to look at mechanisms that will cover countries without a broad bilateral donor base. We therefore believe that we should start discussions on central financing modalities.
Another issue is Governance: If coherence is a goal at the country level, we also need to consider how we can maintain coherence at the central level, including in our governance structures. Practically, there is a need to consider how we address the issue of “One programme document”. It should not be necessary for a host government to have to break down their common programme document into “organisation specific documents” in order to get the country programs approved. The report has some proposals in this regard, and we encourage discussion on the changes that need to be made. We need to ensure that our governance structures are set up in a manner which addresses the needs of Member States and the UN organisations on the ground.
Finally, I agree with what was stated at the opening of today’s consultations on behalf of the co-chairs: These consultations must help us move ahead in a concrete manner during this session.
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