Press Releases

    GA/EF/3127
    10 November 2005

    As Second Committee Considers Operational Activities for Development, Delegates Voice Concern over Growing Reliance of UN Agencies on Supplementary Funding

    Speakers Also Underline Importance of Tighter Inter-Agency Coordination, Express Support for Growing Role of South-South Cooperation

    NEW YORK, 9 November (UN Headquarters) -- United Nations operational agencies were increasingly relying on supplementary rather than core resources, which could jeopardize national ownership of development, as well as the need to focus on local circumstances, needs and priorities, Nigeria's delegate said in the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today, as it concluded its general discussion of operational activities for development.

    He added that excessive reliance on supplementary funding could undermine the credibility of the United Nations as a universal and neutral body, tying it to the vagaries of donor preferences and priorities.  That type of funding had also led to increased competition in the Organization's fund-raising activities, often resulting in over-crowding on certain operational themes, to the detriment of others.

    Similarly, Indonesia's representative noted that supplementary funding for United Nations agencies was increasingly tied to conditions, and their regular budgets were being starved to keep them at zero or nominal growth, despite increasing demands for assistance.  Though official development assistance (ODA) had increased to $78.6 billion in 2004, only 31.9 per cent was considered multilateral, while bilateral support was becoming the order of the day.

    Facing those constraints, he continued, the United Nations system had been forced to borrow ideas from related bodies, including the "negotiated replenishment" of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the "voluntary indicative scale of contributions" model of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  Indonesia called on donors to increase funding for the core budgets of United Nations agencies and untie supplementary funding, which would allow greater flexibility in allocating funds to projects aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

    Addressing the question of inter-agency cooperation, China's delegate emphasized the importance of tightening coordination between United Nations agencies and improving the resident coordinator system to cut costs and boost efficiency.  Core resources for several programmes had failed to reach their expected targets for several years, leading to a decline of core resources to a level far below that of non-core funding.  Innovative ideas to improve the composition and ratio of resources, as well as a predictable increase in core funding, were needed to keep overall resources growing.

    The representative of the United States said it was essential to curb waste by reducing overlapping activities and programmes, and by using common administrative platforms wherever possible.  The United Nations must ensure sound programming and effective use of aid to attract donor support, by placing greater emphasis on national capacity-building.  In addition, the Secretariat should analyze funding on the basis of the impact that programmes had on the ground, keeping in mind that the ultimate goal of those programmes was to foster lasting development and to end aid dependency.

    Speakers also focused on the need to improve South-South cooperation, especially in the trade, investment, finance and technology sectors, in minimizing global economic reversals and improving national development programmes.  Japan's delegate observed that South-South trade had grown faster than that between developed and developing countries and now accounted for more than 40 per cent of total South trade.  South-South cooperation reduced developing-country dependence on the North, enhancing development ownership, and contributing to trade capacity development, as well as sustainable development.

    Outlining recent South-South activities, the representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea noted that a new action plan for cooperation in the political, economic and socio-cultural fields had been laid down by developing countries at the April 2005 Asia-Africa Summit in Jakarta, and later at the Second South Summit of June 2005 in Doha.  Also, the third round of negotiations under the Global System of Trade Preferences Among Developing Countries had been launched during the eleventh session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in São Paolo, Brazil, in June 2004.

    During a discussion period, speakers also stressed the need to monitor development assistance, speed up the pace of reform, and bridge the "information lag" between delegates and United Nations officials in the field.  Responding to those concerns, as she introduced a report of the Joint Inspections Unit, Doris Bertrand, of that Unit, said it had recommended a mechanism to link the executive boards of organizations outside the system with United Nations executive committees.  The regular exchange of information would also be a good way to increase "reform momentum", and help guarantee consistency in decision-making.

    Introducing another report of the Joint Inspections Unit, Qazi Shaukat Fareed, Director of the secretariat of the Chief Executives Board (CEB) for Coordination, said no one would give reform "a speeding ticket", given its historical pace within the Organization.  Delegates should be more concerned about the lack of will to initiate change.  Reform was not a question of creating more websites or more task forces, which would themselves require ponderous new coordinating mechanisms, defeating the very purpose of reform entirely.

    Also speaking during today's general discussion were the representatives of Jamaica (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Algeria, Switzerland, Angola (on behalf of the Southern African Development Community), Russian Federation, India, and Ukraine.

    The Committee also heard a statement by the observer for the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

    Anwarul Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States also delivered a statement.

    Patrizio Civili, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General's report on funding options and financing modalities, as did Joanne Sandler, Deputy Director for Programmes, United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM); and Cosmas Gitta, Chief of the Policy Partnerships and Resources Division, Special Unit for South-South Cooperation of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

    In other business, the Committee heard the representatives of Jamaica (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) and Brazil introduce a total of five draft resolutions in the areas of international trade and development; globalization and interdependence; science and technology; remittances; and international migration.

    The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday,  10 November, to take up groups of countries in special situations.

    Background

    The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today begin its consideration of operational activities for development.

    Before it was a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Joint Inspection Unit on some measures to improve overall performance of the United Nations system at the country level (Part II).  The report (document A/60/125/Add.1-E/2005/85/Add.1) reviews and makes recommendations on fostering partnerships for improved analysis, planning, programme implementation and results at the country level; simplifying and harmonizing procedures; rationalizing field presence; monitoring progress in operational activities for development; and improving transparency.

    Regarding partnerships, the report suggests that United Nations bodies enhance programme alignment with the priorities, systems and procedures of partner countries; elaborate and implement Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) to align them with the Millennium Development Goals and national ownership; and ensure that these processes complement each other, so as to reduce transaction costs, especially for partner countries. 

    The report suggests that in simplifying and harmonizing procedures, the executive heads of United Nations Development Group (UNDG) organizations should further delegate authority to their field representatives and strengthen and formalize links with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee.  The UNDG executive heads should report annually to their governing bodies on progress made in advancing the simplification, harmonization and alignment agenda.

    On rationalizing field presence, the report says the General Assembly should de-link the functions of the resident coordinator and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative, and change the designation process for the resident coordinator.  UNDG organizations should include an assessment of teamwork and horizontal cooperation in the performance appraisal system for the resident coordinator and the United Nations Country Team.

    Regarding the monitoring of operational progress, the Assembly should establish, at its sixtieth session, a "task force on operational activities" to oversee, support and monitor developments in operational activities, the report states.  The task force would allow Member States better to follow inter-agency work during off-sessions, and foster dialogue, accountability and transparency as well as informed and consistent decision-making.  It should initially be set up for two experimental years.

    As for improving transparency, the report says that UNDG organizations should instruct each resident coordinator to set up an in-country public website with comprehensive information on donor support and United Nations system presence.  The Chief Executives Board for Coordination should set up an "inter-agency task force" to raise funds for extrabudgetary/non-core funding.

    Noting that decision-making in both developed and developing Member States is often fragmented between ministries and departments, the report notes that bilateral donors have a key responsibility to bring more coherence and consistency to their roles as financiers and directors of the United Nations development system.

    According to the report, official development assistance (ODA) levels have increased, but not yet to the levels hoped for in the aftermath of the Monterrey International Conference on Financing for Development.  Within those ODA levels, United Nations bodies compete for funding, depending on their strengths and comparative advantages as perceived by donors.  The best way to encourage progress towards the "unity and purpose" of the entire system, as reform aims to achieve, would be for donors to increase their funding on a predictable and sustainable basis.

    Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General transmitting a report of the Joint Inspection Unit on some measures to improve overall performance of the United Nations system at the country level, Part I:  a short history of United Nations reform in development (document A/60/125), which describes reform of the Organization's operational activities over time.

    The report observes that the strengths of the United Nations lie not in its lending and grant-assistance contributions -- which add up to less than 7 per cent of net ODA -- but in its ability to define and rally partners around an agreed international development agenda, and to forge alliances with other stronger partners, such as the OECD Development Assistance Committee members, and the Bretton Woods institutions, in assisting developing countries to fight inequality and poverty.  However, facilitating a transparent discussion among bilateral, regional and multilateral actors with different decision-making structures, policies, procedures, institutional and management cultures is challenging.  Moreover, United Nations bodies, with their variety of decision-making bodies, technical-assistance projects, programme-delivery mechanisms and accountability systems, have not always been consistent.

    Observing that various commissions, ad hoc and eminent persons groups, as well as academics, have tried to reform the United Nations system for the last 50 years, the report lists the most important proposals, including those regarding development and the system's adequacy in performing its tasks.  To make it easier for Member States to revisit these reforms, the report recommends that the proposals be made widely accessible.

    The Committee also had before it a report of the Secretary-General on funding options and modalities for financing operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/60/83-E/2005/72), which explores options for increasing funds for operational activities and examines ways to enhance funding for development cooperation.

    According to the report, there could be a more harmonized dialogue with contributor countries if an attempt were made to group the financing needs for country, regional and global activities to achieve the Millennium Goals.  The role of United Nations operational agencies and their comparative advantages, vis-à-vis other channels for ODA, in accessing assistance funding is also discussed.  The system's comparative advantage lies in its extensive country-level experience, and efforts should be made to establish a country-based, demand-driven approach to quantifying funds to be disbursed.  In looking for ways to better coordinate the workings of the system at the country, regional and global levels, possible collaborative approaches to fund-raising should also be examined.

    Another report before the Committee was that of the Secretary-General on comprehensive statistical data on operational activities for development for 2003 (document A/60/74-E/2005/57), which details the resources spent by United Nations bodies in 2003 and earlier, and reviews trends in operational activities for development from 1993 to 2004.  Total contributions received for development cooperation activities were almost 13.4 per cent of total ODA, through bilateral and multilateral channels for that year.  Total contributions to the United Nations for development cooperation is less than 20 per cent of bilateral ODA, or about 35 per cent of total multilateral assistance, which also includes aid contributions to the Bretton Woods institutions, regional development banks and European Union official development cooperation.

    The report says that in 1993, resource flows dropped sharply by 14.7 per cent, then experienced a few years of stagnation or fluctuation until 1998, jumped in 1999, grew moderately between 2000 and 2002, and increased sharply in 2003.  Overall, contributions received for development cooperation more than doubled between 1993 and 2003.  The increase from 1998 to 1999 was largely due to a sharp rise in contributions to the World Food Programme (WFP), and the steep 2003 increase, while unprecedented, was inflated by the revaluation of several national currencies against the United States dollar.

    Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) on activities of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (document A/60/274), which reviews and updates the Fund's activities in 2004, the first year in the multi-year funding framework 2004-2007, and details specific developmental activities that UNIFEM has carried out to reduce feminized poverty; end violence against women; reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS; and achieve gender equality in democratic governance and post-conflict countries.

    Regarding feminized poverty, the report says UNIFEM has supported gender-responsive budgeting in 34 countries, as well as the incorporation of gender considerations into land reform in Central Asia, and programmes for women migrant workers in Asia and the Arab States.  Working to end violence against women, it supports the collection and dissemination of statistics; the United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women and its regional replication in Central Asia; and a regional programme in South Asia to address trafficking in women and girls.

    In its programmes addressing HIV/AIDS, the report states, UNIFEM promotes the gender and human rights dimension of the pandemic, especially in reversing the discrimination endured by affected women, and highlights the contributions and perspectives of HIV-positive women.  Promoting gender equality in post-conflict countries, the Fund links constituencies for women's rights to political processes and builds their capacity to advocate for the institutional changes needed if women leaders are to influence post-conflict reconstruction.

    The report also outlines progress made towards greater organizational effectiveness within the Fund, with particular emphasis on the sustainability of its products; the alignment of its programmes with demand and opportunities; strategic partnerships; and its resource base.  Assessing product sustainability, UNIFEM has tracked 16 instances of replication or upscaling of its innovations by Governments, six by United Nations organizations, and six by non-governmental organizations and private sector partners.  Aligning its programmes with demand, the Fund supported programmes in 43 countries and provided technical advice and/or catalytic funding in 40 others, through human and financial resources, as well as subregional initiatives.

    As for partnerships, the report says UNIFEM has strengthened traditional partnerships with national machineries for women, women's parliamentary networks and bilateral donors, and expanded its work with statistics bureaus and ministries of finance, planning, transport and justice.  On its resource base, the Fund exceeded projections for 2004 by approximately $10 million, due largely to increases in cost-sharing and trust funds.  Total funds increased by more than $14 million (or about 43 per cent) over 2003 contributions.

    The report concludes with recommendations by the UNIFEM Consultative Committee, which encourages current and potential donors to devote higher contributions to the Fund's regular resources and make commitments to multi-year funding.  UNIFEM should reach out to all Member States in this respect, including through annual written appeals addressed to permanent missions that highlight its priority needs.

    Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General's report on the state of South-South cooperation (document A/60/257), which reviews the contribution of developing and developed countries, the United Nations system, the private sector and civil society in support of South-South cooperation, as well as its growing role.  In terms of security, South-South peace efforts have played a large part in winding down conflicts.  The African Union deployed its first peacekeeping force in Burundi, comprising soldiers from Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa.  In Darfur, western Sudan, 150 Rwandan soldiers were deployed to protect a group of monitors overseeing the implementation of a ceasefire agreement there.

    According to the report, social and economic cooperation among Southern States has also grown, as exemplified by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Peer Review Mechanism initiative, whose purpose is to assess, monitor and promote political, economic and corporate governance, and the observance of human rights norms among its members.  In the Caribbean, the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will become the CARICOM Single Market and Economy at the end of 2005.  In Asia, the 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, decided to create regional institutions that would insulate them from a recurrence of the outflow of funds from their economies that precipitated the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s.  Known as the Chiang Mai Initiative, this agreement has led to the launch of a billion-dollar Asian Bond Fund.

    The report notes that United Nations organizations and agencies increasingly rely on Southern experts and institutions because of their cost-effectiveness and first-hand knowledge of development issues and solutions in the South.  To optimize the use of Southern capacities, it is recommended that the United Nations system make use of its Special Unit for South-South Cooperation.

    Introduction of Reports

    PATRIZIO CIVILI, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, introduced the reports on funding options and modalities for financing operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/60/83-E/2005/72), and on comprehensive statistical data on operational activities for development for 2003 (document A/60/74-E/2005/57).  He noted that the Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit had identified key challenges facing the international community in meeting the objectives of the development agenda.  He said innovative modalities were required to provide the resources needed to maximize the results and impact of operational activities at the country level.  The United Nations must continue exploring new ways of funding, with a renewed sense of purpose.

    DORIS BERTRAND of the Joint Inspection Unit, introduced notes by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Joint Inspection Unit on some measures to improve overall performance of the United Nations system at the country level, Part I and Part II, saying that the reports were useful in informing the debate on United Nations reform in the aftermath of the World Summit, and supplemented the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review.

    She said Part I provided a short history of United Nations reform proposals, many of which needed to be revisited.  Numerous reports were funded by core budget resources, as well as extra-budgetary resources, but the wealth of ideas generated did not capture as much attention as they should have because they were not presented in an easily accessible format.  To help fix that problem, an electronic inventory of such ideas would be developed within the framework of the United Nations history project. 

    The United Nations system was still some way from achieving a unity of purpose and action, she said, adding that the greatest challenge lay in implementation, addressed in Part II of the report.  For that to happen, it would be necessary to foster a culture of partnership among United Nations agencies and outside organizations, which was compatible and subservient to the national plans of Member States, where more authority was delegated to United Nations resident coordinators so that they could guarantee "buy-in" from partner organizations and improve programme delivery.  So far, there were only two examples of such "joint offices" -- in Cape Verde and Maldives -- showing that much remained to be done to translate ideas into practice.

    QAZI SHAUKAT FAREED, Director of the secretariat of the Chief Executives Board (CEB), introduced the advanced unedited text of the future document, containing comments by the Secretary-General and by the Chief Executives' Board on the report of the Joint Inspection Unit (document A/60/125/Add.2-E/2005/85/Add.2).  He said the document focused on key issues influencing the performance and effectiveness of the United Nations system at the country level, and contained recommendations to improve perceived shortcomings.  Since the present arrangements had been set up in 1978, continuous review was needed to update country-level operations, and a greater level of coordination at the policy level was needed to enhance effectiveness.  He then reviewed several of the report's observations that were at variance with those of the inspectors.

    JOANNE SANDLER, Deputy Director for Programmes, United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), introduced the note by the Secretary-General transmitting that body's report on its activities in 2004, saying that gender analyses had shown that money in the hands of women yielded significant gains for children's education, nutrition, health and even security.  With the shift in the United Nations development architecture, UNIFEM had concentrated on building local capacity and regional expertise in developing technical tools -- for example, by helping countries collect gender-sensitive, quantitative data -- to enable countries to mainstream gender into their management of development assistance.

    She said UNIFEM's main focus of action was the country level.  Within the United Nations Country Team, where UNIFEM had a presence, it provided technical expertise, contributed to the analysis and evidence base, brought together national experts on gender equality into United Nations coordination processes, and advocated coordinated action within the Country Team on gender equality.  In Egypt, for example, a United Nations joint programme had been created to support of the National Council for Women.

    Ten years after Beijing, 20 years after Nairobi and 30 years after the first women's conference in Mexico City, most countries had national plans for women's advancement, she said.  But they needed to be incorporated still further into overarching frameworks, like anti-poverty strategies and sector-wide approaches.  As a follow-up to the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, UNIFEM would chair a task force on gender equality for the UNDG, bringing together more than 13 United Nations organizations to undertake a five-part work plan focused on strengthening gender mainstreaming.

    COSMOS GITTA, Chief, Division for Policy Partnerships and Resources, Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, UNDP, introduced the report on the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation on its fourteenth session (document A/60/39).  The report observed that the policy and institutional environment needed for enhanced South-South cooperation was largely in place, and the scope for private sector and civil society participation had expanded.  However, the Committee had noted a need for a strategic approach in preparing developing countries to enter global markets, and gauge progress and constraints along the way.  The report demonstrated a tremendous rise in the South's involvement in the international system over the past few years, in the areas of trade, finance, governance and peacekeeping, among others.

    He then introduced the report on the state of South-South cooperation among developing countries (document A/60/257), noting that the international community had recognized the importance of South-South approaches in furthering development.  That consensus was evident in the outcome of several recent conferences, as well as in the increased number of regional and interregional arrangements to achieve socio-economic transformation across the South.  The report also credited subregional and regional efforts for reducing political conflict throughout Africa.  In addition, it highlighted the increasing role of South-South cooperation in triangular partnerships with the North and the private sector.

    Discussion

    In the ensuing discussion, the representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union had been keen to engage in a monitoring process, especially over the provision of development assistance, which should be demand-driven and coordinated with the actions of other partners in the development field.  What was being done to enhance the pace of reform so that coordination could be improved?

    The representative of Egypt then followed up with questions on how to bridge the "information lag" between delegates and the Secretariat, and between delegates and United Nations officials in the field, as they conducted their development work.

    In response, Ms. BERTRAND agreed that much remained to be done in establishing continuous contact and information exchange between such bodies as the UNDG, the CEB and delegates.  The Joint Inspection Unit had recommended the establishment of a mechanism to link the executive boards of organizations outside the system with United Nations Executive Committees.  Currently, delegates of other agencies that already participated in Secretariat activities were acting as channels of communication, and lines of communication should be established according to that model.  Such a mechanism should not take the form of another "task force".

    Regarding the pace of reform, she said that the exchange of information on a more regular basis would be a good way to increase the "reform momentum", as well as helping to guarantee consistency in the decision-making process.

    Mr. FAREED added that the Secretary-General had looked into ways to tighten the management of various programmes, such as humanitarian ones, in conjunction with the CEB, and it understood that he would report back to the General Assembly, though an exact date for that had not been given.

    He observed that, given its slow pace, "nobody will give reform a speeding ticket".  The problem lay in the fact that, while everyone wanted reform, nobody wanted to change.  That being the case, it should not be the "pace" of reform that should worry delegates, but the lack of will to initiate the necessary changes towards a reform process.  Furthermore, reform was not a question of creating more websites or more task forces.  Websites were only as good as the information presented on them, and task forces could become hindrances by requiring coordinating mechanisms themselves, which defeated the purpose of reform entirely.

    Coordination was being treated as if it was an end product of reform, when in fact it was merely a process to help the Organization to arrive more quickly at their destination, he said.  Such things as demand-driven, country strategy-based programmes had long been talked about, and it was clear that they had value.  But they required partnerships between different specialized but linked agencies -- those dealing with education or health, for instance -- and an approach that could widen or narrow the focus of their specialized beams when needed.  Also, it was difficult to analyze how much of each dollar spent actually reached the target audience, without which knowledge reform would be meaningless.

    MASSIMO D'ANGELO, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that partner organizations, such as the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization, would indeed provide information on their activities.  Issues to be discussed included capacity development, simplification and harmonization, and adjustment of the functions of various mechanisms.

    The representative of France pointed out that there was strong resistance within the United Nations system to adapting and becoming more effective.  Agencies were also slow to converge.  Was that due to differences between the individual structures involved?

    Responding to the question on trade and development, Ms. BERTRAND said the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had proposed the granting of priority to its programmes when drawing up country programmes.

    In response to a query about the possibility of a single United Nations office at the country level, she pointed out the lack of resources and the high costs of country programmes, suggesting that United Nations agencies negotiate administrative expenditures with host countries.  Some agencies feared that the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) was not fully considering their needs.

    She added that individual countries should inform the agency heads about their experiences with the United Nations system on the ground, since they were the ultimate judges of how effective assistance had been or whether national ownership had been respected.  Member States must be more willing to be open and critical in their efforts to move the development agenda forward.

    Responding to another question about United Nations reform, Mr. FAREED stressed the need to consider various views and to define the process in a manner that suited all.  Regarding trade and development, efforts must be made to work out trade agreements at the global level and then at the country level.  As for the idea of a single United Nations country office, previous experiences had not necessarily reduced costs.  Moreover, some agencies had fewer administrative costs than others at the country level.

    ANWARUL CHOWDHURY, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said the universally-recognized economic, social, environmental and institutional vulnerability of those groups of countries made them most deserving of improved South-South cooperation.  Some developing countries had become important markets, emerging as significant investors in, or suppliers of, technology, producers of medicinal drugs and providers of technical assistance and financial aid.

    He added that the private sector was becoming an important actor in South-South cooperation, especially in providing foreign direct investment (FDI).  Given that lack of resources had been cited as a constraint to enhanced South-South cooperation, greater efforts should be made to expand public-private partnerships in overcoming that obstacle.  The private sector and civil society should accord priority attention to the needs of the most disadvantaged nations.

    South-South cooperation should be an integral part of the international community's support for countries with special needs, he said.  In recent years, an increasing number of countries in the South had reached higher stages of development, becoming effective players in the global economy.  Those countries had the means and resources to further promote South-South cooperation in support of disadvantaged countries.  In recent years, such cooperation had been promoted in areas ranging from health, capacity-building, trade and agriculture to economic infrastructure, debt cancellation, governance and democratic institutions, and technology sharing.

    Statements

    DEIDRE MILLS (Jamaica), speaking for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said that intergovernmental decisions at Headquarters required effective implementation in order to be translated into meaningful action at the country level.  In bringing that about, the United Nations system must be able to respond in a flexible manner to the specific development needs of recipient countries and be mindful in ensuring national ownership and leadership in the design and implementation of programmes.  Also, adequate oversight arrangements must be in place to ensure that work undertaken by the various Secretariats, Funds and Programmes, the Council of the Executives Board and the United Nations Development Group were monitored. 

    For the Group of 77, she said, the outcome of Secretariat deliberations in the field of development must be appropriately reviewed by Member States before being implemented.  When it came to improving United Nations operational activities, adequate financial resources must be provided, accompanied by a transfer of technology to developing countries and capacity-building assistance, among other forms of aid.  While there had been positive trends in the levels of ODA, there was still need for greater predictability and long-term stability in terms of funding.  Of particular concern to the Group of 77, she added, were the significant increases in supplementary funding to the detriment of sufficient core resources for both administration and programme development.  She said the Group looked forward to further discussing that issue.

    On South-South cooperation, she said concrete measures should be taken to further strengthen the Special Unit for such cooperation as a separate entity, and a focal point for such cooperation within the United Nations system.  As part of that effort, core resources to the UNDP could be increased with a view to supporting the Unit's activities.  Cooperation was essential in the areas of trade, money, finance and technology, and while South-South cooperation should be strengthened, it should not negate the need for continued support from the wider international community.

    YAO WENLONG (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said progress had been made over the past year in the areas of resource mobilization, capacity-building, coordination and efficiency, thus creating a sound foundation for meeting the targets in 2007 as called for in General Assembly resolution 59/250.  Increased capacity-building should be provided in the developing countries.  At the field level, procedures should be simplified and harmonized.  Coordination among United Nations agencies needed enhancement and the resident coordinator system should be continuously improved with a view to cutting costs and improving efficiency.

    He said that sufficient resources, particularly core resources, were a prerequisite for the effective implementation of technical cooperation by the United Nations development system.  The core resources of a number of programmes, however, had failed to reach the expected funding targets for several years, leading to a decline of core resources to a level far below that of non-core resources.  That trend posed a challenge to the ability of the United Nations development system.  Innovative ideas to improve the composition and ratio of resources, as well as a predictable increase in core resources, were needed to keep overall resources growing.

    Remarkable development growth had occurred in recent years through the enormous potential of South-South cooperation, he noted.  Now was the time to seize that potential and explore innovative ideas with developing countries in order to create modalities for furthering South-South cooperation.

    Introduction of Draft Resolutions

    BYRON BLAKE ( Jamaica) introduced a draft resolution on international trade and development (document A/C.2/60/L.18) on behalf of the Group of 77, saying that because of the potentially contentious nature of the subject, its authors had fallen back on already agreed-upon language.  They had taken Member States' concerns into account by drawing on the discussions that had led up to the 2005 World Summit, so as to ensure the draft contained no new points.

    He also introduced a draft resolution on the role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence (document A/C.2/60/L.12), saying that the draft reflected the deep interest of developing countries in that issue.  The text recognized that globalization could be a positive force, especially when there was good governance at the international level.  In that area, the United Nations had major role to play, but key institutions like the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral development organizations must also take part in a coherent manner, so that the resultant policies would not negate each other.

    BENEDICTO FONSECA FILHO ( Brazil) introduced a draft resolution on remittances (document A/C.2/60/L.15), saying it suggested actions that might lead to the reduction of transaction costs for remittances.  It also suggested mechanisms that could allow remittances to play a stronger role in poverty alleviation and other development activities, while fully recognizing their private nature.

    Mr. BLAKE ( Jamaica) then introduced a draft resolution on science and technology for development (document A/C.2/60/L.17), saying it recognized the importance of science, technology and innovation for development and the achievement of the Millennium Goals.  It drew attention to the catalyzing role of communication and information technologies for development, the valuable input of this year's World Summit for the Information Society, the need to develop technological capacity in developing countries, and the importance of biotechnology.

    He also introduced a draft on international migration and development (document A/C.2/60/L.16), noting that it drew attention to the General Assembly's high-level dialogue on international migration, to be held in 2006.  The draft proposed a timeframe for the dialogue, and urged high-level participation from Governments, agencies and outside organizations.  It also suggested that the dialogue take the form of a plenary session and four interactive round tables, with an overall theme focusing on the multidimensional aspects of international migration and development.

    Continuation of General Discussion

    MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) said that operational issues were of considerable importance in helping developing countries to respond to development challenges.  Operations should be premised on the tenets of universality and neutrality, as well as a capacity to respond flexibly to the specific needs of recipient countries.  While Algeria supported United Nations efforts to promote partnerships with outside organizations, such as the Bretton Woods institutions, in combating poverty, questions of management and overlap in the delivery of services in the field required further attention, with an eye to increasing coherence.

    Noting the continuing acute need for resources to facilitate development, he said that although they had totalled more than $10 billion since 2003, questions arose as to how recipient countries could use that money without conditionality.  Regarding South-South cooperation, it was a driving force for development, and Algeria called upon United Nations organizations, including the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, to support it as the best promotion vehicle within the United Nations system.  Algeria had contributed $2 million to the special South-South Fund overseen by the Special Unit, towards the rehabilitation of countries affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.  The Special Unit also had immense potential for delivering health care programmes.

    THOMAS GASS ( Switzerland) noted the need to strengthen United Nations system operational activities at the country level, as well as its resident coordinator system.  Coordinators should be given more authority, resources and responsibilities to ensure effective programme implementation and follow-up.  There was also a need to reinforce the work of the Economic and Social Council, which was responsible for coordinating operational activities for development.  Switzerland welcomed the various reports on that topic, as they outlined the current situation of the Organization's operational activities in terms of resources and agency-wide coordination.

    ISMAEL ABRAÁO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said there was still room for improvement in both the programming and funding modalities of the United Nations Common Country Assessment (UNCCA) project and the UNDAF in many SADC member States.  The resident coordinator system should be strengthened through better training, an improved selection process and stronger accountability measures, to better serve the needs of recipient countries. 

    While the SADC welcomed the increases in ODA from developed countries, even higher levels would not suffice unless they were combined with better delivery and a more effective use of resources.  The SADC called upon development partners to remain engaged and take meaningful actions towards improving aid effectiveness.  The SADC also noted with concern the inclusion of emergency relief with humanitarian assistance, as it was not part of the strict definition of operational activities for development used by the General Assembly.  The inclusion of a multi-year perspective in the presentation of statistics helped to build a better understanding of the total value of contributions for development, which remained under-funded.  A continued partnership with United Nations development agencies was essential, and would also need to include the provision of effective support to national capacity-building.

    RIZAL BASRI ( Indonesia) said that operational activities in his country's Aceh province, following the devastation of the December 2004 tsunami, had revealed the need for greater coordination among various agencies in the field.  Since then, reforms had been carried out to achieve greater operational coordination of United Nations bodies, but funding had remained an ongoing concern.  Although ODA had increased to $78.6 billion in 2004, only 31.9 per cent of that was multilateral, and bilateral support was becoming the order of the day.  There was also a growing tendency to tie supplementary funding for United Nations agencies to various conditions.  In addition, regular agency budgets were being starved of funding to keep them at zero or nominal growth, with little regard to the increasing demands for assistance, and the system was forced to operate in a climate of uncertainty.

    Facing those constraints, he said, the United Nations system had been forced to borrow ideas from related bodies, including the "negotiated replenishment" of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) "voluntary indicative scale of contributions" model.  Donors should increase funding to core budgets of United Nations agencies and untie supplementary funding, which would allow for greater flexibility in allocating funds to projects aimed at achieving the Millennium Goals.

    DENIS PIMINOV ( Russian Federation) said that follow-up to decisions made at the 2005 World Summit regarding operational issues should be done within existing United Nations structures.  No parallel track should be developed to address those issues outside the triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities.  The Russian Federation would welcome additional suggestions on strengthening the coordination of United Nations operational activities and on tighter management of development activities.

    Stressing that follow-up to the 2005 World Summit should not constitute a new wave of reforms, he said that any additional proposals should be incorporated into the reform plan that was currently being implemented.  The Economic and Social Council was the best forum to determine how that integration could take place.  The Russian Federation supported a broadening of the donor base for funds and programmes, and was taking steps to increase its voluntary contributions substantially.  In considering new funding options, it was important not to shift from a voluntary-contribution approach that promoted neutral, non-politicized assistance.  Discussions of funding options could be conducted during ECOSOC's 2006 annual session.

    LUCA DALL'OGLIO, International Organization for Migration (IOM), said the entire development community should aim to achieve greater coherence and harmonization to enhance aid effectiveness.  In that respect, IOM welcomed the growing international attention paid to the link between migration and development, which had been acknowledged by the 2005 World Summit, and which would be the subject of the General Assembly's High-level Dialogue next year.

    For many, the two-way link between migration and sustainable development was only now being properly identified and supported, he said.  IOM looked forward to working with United Nations Country Teams over the next few months, to mainstream migration into current development frameworks, identifying modalities to include migration in country-level operational activities through the UNDAF and PRSPs.

    PANG KWANG HYOUK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said a new strategy and action plan for cooperation in the fields of political, economic and socio-cultural priority had been agreed by developing countries at the Asia-Africa Summit of April 2005 in Jakarta, and at the June 2005 Second South Summit in Doha.  In light of new dynamics in economic cooperation among developing countries, the third round of negotiations under the Global System of Trade Preferences among developing countries, had been launched during the eleventh session of UNCTAD in São Paolo, Brazil, in June 2004.  Such efforts for economic cooperation among developing countries had the potential to mitigate adverse elements of the global environment and to improve the effectiveness of national development programmes.

    He said it was necessary to strengthen the role of the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation as a focal point for economic and technical cooperation among developing countries.  Due attention should be paid to intensifying international assistance for the implementation of South-South cooperation initiatives, including the mobilization of regular and additional resources, in the spirit of the Monterrey Consensus on financing for development.  For its own part, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had trained a number of experts from Asian and African developing countries, in close cooperation with the Group of 77 and the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, in the fields of agriculture, science and technology, water resources and small-scale hydropower.

    GERALD SCOTT (United States) said it would be essential to curb waste by reducing overlapping activities and programmes and by using common administrative platforms, wherever possible, to reduce overhead costs; to encourage greater transparency and accountability in the management of activities and programmes; and to encourage competition among actors within and outside the United Nations development community, so as to enhance efficiency.

    In that regard, the United States disagreed with the Joint Inspection Unit's recommendation, in its report on reform, to create "a single core country analysis" and "a single comprehensive implementation plan", he said.  It was doubtful that such a "central plan" would produce the best analyses and results, and it might even stifle innovation.  The United States also disagreed with the suggestion in the Secretary-General's report to develop new funding modalities, such as "a voluntary indicative scale of contribution" or "negotiated replenishment" to compel more funding.  The right response should be for the United Nations to ensure sound programming and effective use of aid, to attract donor support by placing greater emphasis on national capacity-building, as recognized in the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review.

    He said the Secretariat should analyze funding on the basis of the impact that programmes had on the ground, keeping in mind that the ultimate goal of those programmes was to foster lasting development and end aid dependency.  The United States did not support further studies of funding modalities, since they called for inputs to feed the bureaucracy rather than development output, where the Organization's focus ought to be.  Regarding South-South cooperation, the United States encouraged the United Nations to foster public-private partnerships, in order to develop a vibrant private sector to generate employment and growth.

    KAZUO SUNAGA ( Japan) stressed the need to harmonize and coordinate United Nations bodies in accordance with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, issued earlier this year.  The cost of coordination could be reduced by making the authority and responsibility of each agency clearer within the overall framework of the UNDAF and the UNCCA.  Rather than ignore duplication and ambiguity in the United Nations division of labour, the Organization should lay down a unique mandate for each body.  By reducing overhead costs, joint United Nations offices could be established.  The CEB should draw up a list of countries amenable to such offices.

    Turning to South-South cooperation, he noted that it had expanded to include trade, investment and other activities on the international development agenda.  Trade among developing countries was growing faster than that between developed and developing countries, now accounting for over 40 per cent of the total trade of the South.  South-South cooperation, which reduced developing country dependence on the North, enhanced their ownership and contributed to trade capacity development, as well as sustainable development.

    RATILAL KALIDAS VARMA ( India), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said that the Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit dwelt on system coherence and operational activities.  India hoped that the implementation process would be within the framework of the guidance provided by the 2004 review, and in consultation with Member States.  The 2004 review emphasized the responsibility of national Governments to coordinate all types of external assistance and effectively integrate such assistance into their development process.  The exercise of coordination by the United Nations should be confined to assistance through the United Nations system, with field-level coordination carried out by national authorities.  In terms of funding, there should be no compromise in its basic attributes -- that it must be multilateral, neutral, flexible, universal and voluntary.  It should also be in the form of a grant.  Care would be necessary to ensure that non-traditional modalities of funding did not introduce new conditionality.

    He said countries of the South could benefit from exchanges of their individual development experiences and best practices.  As part of its commitment to South-South cooperation, India was cooperating with NEPAD and in the Techno-Economic Approach for Africa-India Movement initiative, involving concessional credit and technology transfer to West Africa.  India had also started work on a connectivity mission in Africa to support tele-education, tele-medicine, e-commerce, e-governance, infotainment, resource mapping and meteorological services, as well as a $50 million project to connect 53 countries of the African Union through a satellite and fibre-optic network.  Indeed, enhancing overall prosperity and well-being in the South required the creation and strengthening of capacity within the South.

    AYO AJAKAIYE ( Nigeria) said it was disheartening that more and more United Nations bodies were relying on supplementary, rather than core, resources for their operations.  Such funding did not augur well for national ownership of development strategies in recipient countries, or respond to local circumstances, needs and priorities.  Excessive reliance on supplementary funding could undermine the credibility of the United Nations system as a universal and neutral body, and tie the Organization to the vagaries of donor preferences and priorities.  Another area requiring urgent action was that of increased competition in fund-raising activities within the United Nations system, which was generally fed by heavy reliance on supplementary funding, often resulting in over-crowding of operational activities on certain themes to the detriment of others.

    He called attention to the unequal distribution of skills that was often observed between national stakeholders and United Nations Country Team experts in discussing, assessing and analyzing operational strategies and activities.  Such a mismatch could be exploited to undermine national ownership and leadership in implementing development programmes, contrary to set operational guidelines.  United Nations system activities should remain neutral and multilateral, capable of sustaining the confidence of both donor and recipient countries, while responding to the national needs, priorities and circumstances of developing countries.

    SERHII SAVCHUK ( Ukraine) expressed satisfaction with the increase in the number and quality of strategic planning instruments such as the UNCCA and the UNDAF.  Such mechanisms were effective in providing a collective and integrated response to national priorities, and in linking them with programme activities of the United Nations operational agencies.  However, more focused attention on their economic content would have been desirable.  In that regard, more collaboration between the Bretton Woods institutions and the UNCCA and UNDAF regional commissions was called for.  Also, because resource mobilization and performance in the field were linked, multi-year funding frameworks should be used as the primary tool to sharpen the results-based management of operational agencies.

    He said that United Nations operational activities in Ukraine were generally well-aligned with national development priorities and goals, but more emphasis should be placed on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care; reproductive health care; and mitigating the long-standing consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe.  It was to be hoped that those concerns would be addressed fully when finalizing Ukraine's UNDP and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) draft country programmes for 2006-2010.  For its own part, Ukraine would increase the volume and quality of its cooperation with United Nations operational agencies.

    S. SHAHID HUSAIN, Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), expressed full support for the private sector's role in the development process.  The OIC promoted it through its Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the form of business contracts, joint ventures, and other trading and productive activities through the national chambers of its 57 member States.

    He said many innovative approaches currently being initiated by the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, provided hope that a major breakthrough would emerge in South-South and triangular cooperation, such as through public sector-supported and market-based mechanisms and facilities for technological exchanges; a global south development forum; the establishment of creative industries; South-South peace efforts; and South-South disaster risk-management programmes.  Those initiatives, as well as the recommendations of the Secretary-General's reports on the deliberations and recommendations of the High-Level committee on South-South Cooperation, had the OIC's strong support and it looked forward to continued collaboration with the United Nations system.

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