I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia align themselves with this statement.
The European Union welcomes this opportunity to engage in a dialogue on the operational activities of the UN System. I would like to thank the Secretariat for the useful background reports for this agenda item.
We have heard repeatedly in the first debates of this session of the Second Committee that the global crises we are facing put the achievement of the MDGs at risk and that the international community has to step up its support to the developing countries in their struggle to reach the goals. It is particularly pertinent to ask what more the United Nations can do in this regard when we today discuss the UN operational activities for development. It is through the impact of its work on the ground that the UN can add most value to national efforts towards the achievement of the MDGs. Enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of UN operational activities is the focus of this statement.
In ECOSOC last July, the members of the Council had a thorough debate on the state of play of reforms of UN operational activities. It was generally concluded that considerable progress had been made in implementing the TCPR resolution and thereby in making UN operational activities more efficient and effective. This positive trend must continue. There is significant scope for further strengthening UN´s support to national development priorities and efforts.
The European Union is convinced that the Delivering as One approach provides great promise in ensuring a UN System that is efficient and effective and aligned behind developing country priorities. The stocktaking reports from the eight pilots have yielded clear evidence of positive results. We are pleased to see that an increasing number of countries are voluntarily adopting the Delivering as One approach and adapting it to their national circumstances. The roll-out of more than 90 UNDAFs in the next couple of years provides an opportunity for more countries to embrace this approach.
However, it is clear that more progress needs to be made for countries to reap the full benefits of a coherent and effective UN System. I will now briefly discuss the following four key areas of reform: the Resident Coordinator system, business practice harmonization, UN country programming and reporting, and human resources capacity.
First, the Resident Coordinator system needs to be further strengthened. Considerable improvements have been made, including in the area of accountability. The RC system has become the backbone of UN development coordination at country level. But more needs to be done. The European Union suggests that a strategy for the provision of sustainable and adequate resources for the RC system should be developed. This strategy should also propose options for contributions by UN agencies, since the RC system is providing services and support to the whole UN system. However, no matter how effective the administrative and operative systems are around the Resident Coordinator, the functioning of the RC system depends to a large extent on the personal traits, skills and experiences of the Resident Coordinator. The EU therefore calls on the UN agencies to support efforts to strengthen the capability of the UN system to attract, select and retain the best qualified candidates for RC positions. This issue is particularly important in countries emerging from conflict, or where a complex mix of humanitarian and development pressures need to be managed well.
Second, there is a need to harmonize and simplify business practices both at UN headquarters level and at country level. The EU welcomes in this regard the CEB Plan of Action and we call for stepped up efforts for its swift implementation. Resolving the issues that inhibit closer UN cooperation should be a priority. We call on the UN System to prioritize those changes which are urgently required, and which are going to yield the most results in improving UN work at country level. We would appreciate to hear how this work is progressing.
Third, further efficiency gains can be made in common country programming and joint reporting. The EU looks forward to the proposal from the Secretary-General, requested by the General Assembly in the resolution on system-wide coherence, on a mechanism for submission and approval of common country programs. In addition, we underscore the need to continue to reduce the reporting burden on UN country teams. We welcome the efforts which have been undertaken, in line with the TCPR, to harmonize results reporting requirements. In this regard, we would like to emphasize the importance of making progress on harmonizing agency specific reporting requirements.
Fourth, a vital aspect of the efficiency and effectiveness of UN operational activities is the quality and capacities of its human resources at country level. In other words, does the skills mix of the staff of UN country teams correspond to what is required to respond to national priorities? The EU calls on the UN system to carry out assessments of human resources capacities and the required skills mix in programme countries.
To maximize the benefits of Delivering as One we must ensure that funding is delivered in a way that promotes coherence between UN agencies. As the report on funding highlights, system-wide and pooled instruments are becoming increasingly important. The EU recognizes the usefulness of such funds. We would welcome additional analysis by the secretariat on the impact of these funds and their complimentarity to other funding instruments.
The lessons learned so far from the Delivering as One pilots are of preliminary nature. The EU therefore looks forward to the country-led evaluations which are being taken forward by the pilot countries, and the independent evaluation which is stipulated by the TCPR resolution and ECOSOC. The EU is fully supportive of the country level evaluations and, in line with the principle of national ownership and government leadership, we believe that the outputs from these evaluations should inform the independent evaluation process. Progress on this should be made without delay.
An important decision on strengthening UN operational activities was taken by the General Assembly just a few weeks ago, on September 14, when it unanimously adopted the resolution on system-wide coherence. The European Union warmly welcomes this resolution. It provides a good basis for further progress in all areas of the system-wide coherence process.
The European Union is very pleased with the agreement in this resolution to establish a composite gender entity headed by a USG. The new gender entity will bring about much-needed improvements in the way the UN promotes womens rights and equal involvement of women and men in development and peacebuilding. The EU urges the Secretary-General to swiftly establish the gender entity. We look forward to receiving the Secretary General´s comprehensive proposal for the entity before the end of this year.
The EU also looks forward to constructively engaging in the other areas of the system-wide coherence process, including governance and funding of UN operational activities. The background papers provided by the Secretariat in that process contain several ideas that could be further discussed. Additional, new proposals could also be considered. The EU fully supports the objective of achieving an adequate, predictable and stable funding base for UN operational activities. We recognize that the issue of balance between core and non-core resources needs to be addressed.
The European Union attaches great importance to the principles of aid effectiveness for increasing the development impact of aid at country level. We welcome the ongoing work by the UN development system to implement the Paris Declaration on Aid effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action. These efforts contribute to the strengthening of UN´s response to the needs and priorities of developing countries. While progress has been made, much more needs to be done by the UN in this area.
The EU recognizes the significant value that South-South cooperation adds to the development of poor countries. It is a welcome and increasing addition to international development cooperation. Just like North-South cooperation, South-South cooperation has much to gain from building on the principles of aid effectiveness. We see increasing synergies between these two cooperation agendas. The EU will continue to support South-South cooperation, including through triangular cooperation. We look forward to the High-level Conference on South-South Cooperation, to be held in Nairobi on 1-3 December.
The European Union welcomes the improvements made in the financial reporting for the UN operational activities. It is essential to have solid information that makes it possible to get a comprehensive and reliable picture of key aspects of the funding and expenditures of UN operational activities. The EU encourages the Secretariat to continue its efforts to improve its financial data and reporting system. We note in this context the General Assemblys request to the Secretary-General, in the recent resolution on system-wide coherence, to create a central repository of information on UN operational activities.
The United Nations has great potential, but it must improve its efficiency and effectiveness. The UN system needs to redouble its reform efforts. And we, Member States, have an obligation to ensure that the UN is appropriately mandated, resourced and otherwise supported to assist the developing countries in reaching the Millennium Development Goals.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.