UNICEF: Review of UNICEF experience in high-income countries and in countries transitioning from upper-middle-income to high-income status

9/14/2016 // Joint statement by Norway's Deputy Permanent Representative May-Elin Stener, on behalf of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and Norway to the Second Regular Session of the UNICEF Executive Board, 14 September 2016.

Mr. President,

I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and my own country Norway.

Let me start by thanking UNICEF for presenting the review of UNICEF's experiences in high-income countries and in countries transitioning from upper-middle income to high-income status as requested at UNICEF's first regular board meeting in 2015.

We commend UNICEF for using flexible and innovative approaches when programming and engaging in various countries, and we acknowledge the efforts of UNICEF to respond to the needs of children in a world of constant change. However, the main focus of UNICEF must continue to be on children in the least developed countries, including fragile states and sub-Saharan Africa.

Although the Review provides useful information about UNICEF's work in various categories of countries, we would have liked to see a more comprehensive analysis of the future role and function of UNICEF in newly graduated high-income countries. We therefore consider it timely to have a more thorough discussion about UNICEF's normative and operational roles and its future presence in new high-income countries.

UNICEF's country office presence and programming in high-income countries is from our point of view temporary. Governments of high-income countries should take full responsibility for providing technical assistance and service deliveries for the realization of children's rights in these countries. We would therefore have liked UNICEF and the governments to agree upon exit strategies for the continuation of country programs.

We request UNICEF to look closely into the timeline and the rationale for the continuation and the sustainability of each of the proposed country programs in high-income countries, as well as possible changes in the mode of engagement.

Mr. President,

The discussion about UNICEF's engagement in countries transitioning from upper-middle-income to high-income status is not only about UNICEF's engagement in countries with high-income status today.

A large number of countries are expected to graduate to high-income status in the years to come, therefore this debate is extremely timely and the decision of the board will provide an important precedence for a larger discussion within the wider UN development system.

Ideally, we would have liked this discussion to await the results of the upcoming resolution on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system (QCPR). However, as a decision was already made at the first regular board meeting in 2015, we are therefore requesting to revisit this decision after the outcome of the upcoming QCPR resolution.

To ensure that the main focus of UNICEF continues to be on children in the least developed countries and in sub-Saharan Africa, we would kindly request UNICEF to reflect upon its engagement in high-income countries as part of the development of the new Strategic Plan 2018-2021, and we further request UNICEF to incorporate a review of its work in newly upgraded high-income countries in the midterm review of the new Strategic Plan.

The review should take into account: i) the activities and scope of work of UNICEF; ii) a cost-benefit analysis of the various financial models used, including an analysis of the funding formula, their financial sustainability and the administrative costs; iii) an overview of activities that create enhanced private funding; and iv) alignment with the forthcoming QCPR.

We are looking forward to our continued cooperation and dialogue about this important matter.

Thank you.


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