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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Excellencies, Madame Deputy Secretary-General

The European Union would like to thank you and the Deputy Secretary-General for your introductory remarks. In response to Resolution 62/277 the discussion note presented, on strengthened governance of operational activities for development, provides the opportunity to exchange views on one of the critical aspects of the System-Wide Coherence agenda. We would like to thank and commend the Deputy Secretary-General for the preparation of the note. The EU remains committed to making progress on this issue during UNGA63.

The EU looks forward to seeing the forthcoming discussion note on funding and believes that these issues are closely inter-linked. Improved funding of the system could improve its governance, but equally the reverse is true. Reforms in the area of governance and funding of operational activities for development should be fully consistent with the Delivering as One country level process.

Before providing some preliminary remarks on the note the EU would like to make some broader remarks.

We believe that any strengthening of the governance architecture should respond to some of the well-recognised weaknesses of the current system. Greater coherence is not an end in itself.

The EU concurs with the previous co-chairs’ view that strengthening must strike a balance between adequate intergovernmental guidance and oversight while respecting national ownership and the voluntary nature of Delivering as One.

The High Level Panel’s original recommendations relating to governance provoked strong reactions from some parts of the UN membership. However, over the last year the membership has moved beyond these discussions and identified areas of common ground. Support has grown for the Delivering as One agenda at country-level. We should build on this momentum by allowing the system to catch-up and respond to the needs of those countries that voluntarily adopt the Delivering as One approach.

Excellencies, Madame Deputy Secretary-General

Turning to the note, we consider that some of the principal areas to strengthen have been well defined. We congratulate you for this. However, there are some important additional elements that should be considered, inter-alia:

i) How to address overlapping mandates and avoid duplication of operational activities within the system?

ii) How to improve results-based management and efficient delivery of development results?

iii) How to further strengthen country teams and improve coherence at country level?

iv) How to encourage harmonisation of business practices?

v) How the UN’s work at the regional level could be further consolidated including through better streamlined structures and more focused functions?

We have an opportunity to undertake a holistic consideration of all of the problems associated with strengthening governance, and to discuss potential solutions. In this regard, while the strengthening of ECOSOC is warranted, subject to agreement by member states, we had hoped that the discussion note would propose a range of governance options for operational activities for development, allowing the membership to discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of each. We would also be interested, in this regard, how the Specialized Agencies have contributed to the proposals.

Turning to the specific recommendations the EU would like to make some preliminary remarks on 7 areas at this stage.

First, we would be interested in hearing more about recommendation 1 and the consequences on the proposal to create a central system of information?

Second, recommendation 2 proposes to concentrate operational guidance in ECOSOC, with the GA continuing to provide strategic and policy advice. We believe that one of the principal weaknesses to address is the lack of clear delineation and hierarchy of the respective mandates of the General Assembly, ECOSOC and the Executive Boards and Councils. This results in overlapping decision- making processes that can result in conflicting advice to the system. While this issue is clearly illustrated in the note we would be interested to see more elaborated proposals on how it could be addressed in practice. Furthermore, we wonder what the role of decision making would be in the existing governing boards vis-à-vis ECOSOC if the proposed change is implemented?

Third, we are supportive of the thrust of recommendation 4. Strengthened governance in part relates to member states’ ability to provide coherent policy guidance across the system. We would welcome further discussion on how to further professionalise the dialogue at relevant decision making fora.

Fourth, national ownership and improving common country programming are central pillars to improved effectiveness, as illustrated in recommendation 5. The proposals to allow ECOSOC to provide guidance to, and a forum for, country-level experiences are interesting, but would ECOSOC sufficiently be able to respond to country-level demands? Additionally, we note that one of the immediate issues to address is the approval of ‘Delivering as One’ programmes, which is not mentioned in this section. We would be interested in further discussing how this particular issue can be addressed in the near future.

Fifth, recommendation 6 proposes to reform the operational activities segment of ECOSOC and create an Advisory Group, that inter-alia could “provide advice to ECOSOC upon request”. The creation of an expert body, that would consider the roles and mandates of the UN and its funds was one of the core recommendations of the High Level Panel. We would be interested in further discussing how such an Advisory Group, as proposed in the paper, would provide adequate advice to ECOSOC, and how such advice would be used. Any new body, that might be deemed necessary as a result of the discussions among the Member States, should not perform activities that existing bodies are failing to deliver. Additionally, it would need to be truly expert, independent, be fully integrated in to the existing system and have the capacity to advise on system-wide issues. What would be the envisaged role and relationship of this body vis-à-vis the existing strengthened architecture that is proposed?

Sixth, recommendation 7 proposes to transform ECOSOC in to a body that is capable of providing effective oversight and governance to the system. While the note recognises some of the current weaknesses of ECOSOC, it is not clear to the EU how the proposed changes would address some of the systemic weaknesses identified in the note. The EU is not convinced that only strengthening and merging segments within ECOSOC will result in advice that is both strategic and operationally relevant across the UN system. We would be particularly interested in understanding how the proposals would relate to the Specialised Agencies.

Finally, we fully support the broad thrust of recommendation 10. As the ‘Delivering as One’ pilot countries have illustrated there is a clear need for a system-wide performance review and evaluation mechanism. We believe that such a body needs to be truly independent and would be willing to explore how this function could be operationalised. The relationship between the functions of this new body and UNEG should also be further clarified. Additionally, we would like to underline the need for the system to agree on, and propose, how to complete the evaluation of the Pilots that was mandated in the 2007 TCPR. It is crucial that the independent evaluation is undertaken urgently to ensure that we learn from the Pilots’ experiences.

Excellencies, Madame Deputy Secretary-General

Many of the proposals merit further discussion to fully understand their impact and the weaknesses they address. However, we consider that a range of options beyond the strengthening of ECOSOC should be put on the table and discussed on their merits. We look forward to additional interactive consultations with member states to further elaborate on some of the proposals within the note and suggest alternate options that more comprehensively respond to country-level demands.

In closing we would like to thank the co-chairs for their leadership. The EU remains fully committed to making progress on the all aspects of the SWC agenda in UNGA63. You can be assured of our full support. However, it is clear that the different aspects of the SWC agenda are progressing at different tempos. Strengthening governance and the forthcoming discussion on funding will require detailed discussions to allow all avenues to be explored and action taken.

Thank you.


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