61st Session of the General Assembly
Informal Consultations of the Plenary on the United Nations
System-wide Coherence – Delivering as One at the Country-Level
H.E. Ambassador João Salgueiro
Permanent Representative of Portugal to the United Nations
on behalf of the European Union
New York, 3rd August 2007
Ms. Director of the UN Development Group Office,
Ladies and Gentleman,
I am speaking today on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia*, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
The EU would like to thank the Co-Chairs for convening this meeting on System-wide coherence on the themes of funding and delivering as one and to the Director of the UNDGO for her briefing.
The level and predictability of funding for UN operational activities has an important effect on the performance and impact of UN system development cooperation. Although we should be clear that there is an interrelationship between effectiveness of UN entities and readiness by donors to provide quality funding. Building on the last TCPR which stressed that core resources, because of their untied nature, continue to be the bedrock of operational activities for development, this year’s comprehensive review of operational activities will be a welcomed opportunity to further address the most suitable ways and means to implement operational activities in line with mandates and directions provided by governing bodies, including in light of the “One Country” programme pilots.
The EU considers the issue of funding for the UN’s operational activities both at headquarters and country-level as a key question, which it is committed to address, with the objective of ensuring multi-year, adequate, predictable and timely core funding. Improving the balance between core and non-core resources is imperative to strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of the UN at country level. In this regard, the EU considers “principles for good multilateral donorship” to have the potential to mitigate distorting funding patterns. Better quality finance and greater flexibility to allocate resources to agreed development priorities will support UN coherence in development, therefore the EU is willing to consider increasingly pooled funding at country level, in particular to support the UN deliver as one at the country level.
Predictable and timely funding are key to a more integrated and coordinated action by the UN agencies individually and the UN collectively. In this regard, sustained funding for the One Country Programmes, as well as secure core funding for United Nations entities would be welcome in order to guarantee the UN system’s ability to provide more effective support to the country owned national development strategies. Further, the degree to which UN entities are actively engaged and committed to reform should be taken into account. More secure funding should also go hand in hand with better strategic planning, performance, oversight, accountability, efficiency and results. The EU welcomes the ideas put forward by the High Level Panel in this respect.
Furthermore, in order to achieve improved coherence and efficiency, strengthening of the resident coordinator system is necessary. The RC needs to be adequately empowered, must be accountable to all participating agencies and have management responsibility that is de-linked from programme responsibilities, in order to provide leadership in strategic priority setting for UN operational activities at country level. Since any delegation of authority requires particular trust of UN agencies in the resident coordinator and in UNDP as manager of the RC system, the RC management function, on behalf of the UN system and the UNDP function have to be separated.
The reform in funding of the UN system remains a challenge for both donors and recipients alike, since both entail responsibilities and duties. The role of the UN in development is not that of a major financial resource provider, but rather, that of a convener, policy advisor, commodity provider and capacity builder, and mediator between all Member States.
The EU, as collectively the largest provider of development and humanitarian aid, is willing to consider increasingly pooling our contributions at country level instead of financing individual projects and programmes, in particular in the framework of the efforts to make the UN deliver as one at the country level. The EU calls upon the UN to continue considering modalities for the one consolidated budgetary framework in the “One UN pilots” to transparently display all sources of UN funding, including agencies’ core funding.
The European Union has adopted a voluntary Code of Conduct for the division of labour in EU Development Policy whose objective is to cut red tape, put the money where it is needed most, pool aid, divide the job in order to deliver more aid, better and faster. The Code of Conduct will contain ten principles for a better division of labour among EU donors in developing countries. It is expected that through the application of this voluntary code of conduct the UN system as a whole could also benefit.
Alongside a more effective use of resources within the UN system, the EU considers that the UN’s operational activities at country level need to be further strengthened and better coordinated. It is important to bring together the UN’s normative, analytical and operational expertise at country level in order to improve the effectiveness and visibility of the UN’s development activities and to generate substantial benefits for the UN’s partner countries. A common country programme should bring together the work of the UN system in each country to deliver a high-performing, effective response to governments’ priorities, with better accountability for results in line with aid effectiveness principles we all recognize.
The EU looks forward to future results and evaluations on the existing country programmes in this regard. In addition, we believe that countries who wish to apply or work on the basis of the principles of the One UN should also be able to do so. In effect, the TCPR already gives countries that opportunity.
Before concluding, the EU wishes to underline that national ownership and leadership are the prerequisites for sustainable development results. The One UN at country-level is about putting governments in the driving seat on deciding how external assistance can best support national priorities with better accountability for results. There is no one size that fits all. The guiding principles are national ownership and flexibility.
The EU does not interpret this exercise of the “One Country” projects as a cost-cutting exercise and agrees with the High Level Panel that the efficiency savings from the One Country pilots should be retained locally and ploughed back into programmes. The reform process should also not be used to introduce new conditionalities for development assistance. For crucial issues such as gender and the human rights-based approach, we should continue current well established practices within the United Nations. After all, no development programme can be successful unless such practices are fully integrated into it.
We truly believe that everyone stands to gain with the reform process initiated by the High Level Panel in these areas. As SG Ban Ki-Moon has stated, the System-wide coherence process can be a “win-win-win” for all stakeholders.
* Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.