14 July 2006
Economic and Social Council Discusses Follow-Up to Policy Recommendations of the General Assembly, the Council
(Reissued as received.)
GENEVA, 13 July (UN Information Service) -- The Economic and Social Council today, in the context of its segment on operational activities of the United Nations for international development cooperation, took-up and concluded its discussion on the issue of follow-up to policy recommendations of the General Assembly and the Council.
Patricio Civili, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, in an introductory statement, said the debate today was an opportunity for the Council to provide the United Nations system with further guidance to ensure the full implementation of the General Assembly resolution 59/250 on the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review (TCPR), and would be of great assistance to the Secretariat in preparing for the 2007 TCPR.
During the debate, speakers raised various issues, such as development, saying that more needed to be done in order to achieve significant increases in the effectiveness of development activities at the country level, and to build on recent progress on the "one-UN" plan at the country level. The fundamental characteristics of the operational activities of the United Nations development system should be, among other things, their universal voluntary and grant nature, their neutrality and multilateralism, which should guide the operational activities of the United Nations system to respond to the development needs of recipient countries in a flexible manner, recognizing that those activities should be carried out for the benefit of recipient countries.
The Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review was an important part of a continuous cycle of reform, delegates said. It was a process, from which, the United Nations system should constantly learn and then implement, evaluate and revise its operations against a background of improvements to enhance the effectiveness of aid and the capacity of partners. United Nations operational activities should be re-engineered, retooled, and reinvigorated. They should be supported by adequate funds, as this was essential to meet the huge challenges that faced humankind. Some specialized agencies manifested a growing interest for the implementation of the TCPR, which was a very positive signal indeed as to the possibility to eventually mobilize, coherently, all competences available within the United Nations system for the benefit of the developing countries.
Speaking in the context of the general discussion were the representatives of South Africa, on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China; Finland, for the European Union; United States; Russian Federation; Azerbaijan; Australia, on behalf of Canada and New Zealand; China; Bangladesh; Norway; Switzerland; Indonesia; Belarus; India; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Benin; and Thailand. Also speaking were representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.
The next plenary meeting of the Council will be on Friday, 14 July, at 10 a.m., when it will hold an informal ECOSOC event to discuss "relief to development"; first, with a panel on post-disaster recovery, and then, with a panel on risk reduction strategies in the recovery process.
The report of the Secretary-General (A/60/74-E/2005/57) on comprehensive statistical data on operational activities for development for 2003 focuses on the analysis of trends, through the use of synthetic tables and graphic illustrations, and a descriptive text, which focuses on the evolution in time and structural information inferred from data. It also contains the definitions and coverage of the statistics.
The report of the Secretary-General (E/2006/58) on progress in the implementation of General Assembly resolution 59/250 highlights actions taken by the United Nations development system to pursue the reform of its functioning, ensuring national ownership over the assistance it provides to developing countries, making national capacity-development a central goal of its development cooperation, and fostering an inclusive approach in inter-agency collaboration to facilitate access by developing countries to the expertise and services available within the system, to reduce administrative and procedural burden on United Nations organizations and national partners. The United Nations system is expected to play a significant role in the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, and to demonstrate its value by its positive impact on the development process of recipient countries. The biennial Development Cooperation Forum organized by the Economic and Social Council will be an opportunity to strengthen the commitment of the international community to support coherent and sustainable development policies.
The report of the Secretary-General (A/61/77-E/2006/59) on comprehensive statistical data on operational activities for development for 2004 responds to Council resolution 2005/7 of 20 July 2005, in which the Council requested the Secretary-General to further refine the data in the present report to better reflect funding for operational activities for development, including a better distinction between contributions made for humanitarian assistance and for long-term development cooperation and expenditures, and actual contributions as received, and channelled through the United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies and the United Nations Secretariat. It complements the report of the Secretary-General on the progress of the implementation of Assembly resolution 59/250 (E/2006/58). The report also presents a summary analysis of the data on resources received and spent by the organizations of the United Nations system on their operational activities for 2004 and in previous years. The data coverage in the present report has been broadened to include data and analysis on humanitarian assistance by United Nations organizations.
Patrizio Civili, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, in an introductory statement, said the debate today was an opportunity for the Council to provide the United Nations system with further guidance to ensure the full implementation of the General Assembly resolution 59/250 on the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, and would be of great assistance to the Secretariat in preparing for the 2007 Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review. Several important issues had already been addressed in the reports of the Secretary-General that were presented. Certain common threads had been emerging from the discussions, which were providing continuity and thematic unity to the session across segments, and were contributing content and substantive directions to the Council's reform, as prescribed by the World Summit.
The report in document E/2006/58 was intended to facilitate the Council's assessment of progress in the implementation of resolution 59/250. Across several issues before the Council today, there was, along with a renewed sense of common purpose around the Millennium Development Goals and the other Internationally Agreed Development Goals, a growing, common thrust within the system towards improving the quality and relevance of evaluation activities as they related to development cooperation. The basic question raised in the 2004 Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review was how to achieve a better integration of the United Nations development system with national efforts to pursue ambitious development goals. These were important, but only a means to an end. The fundamental issue was the relevance of the operational activities and of the United Nations development system to the new challenges in this new century.
G.J. MTSHALI (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that in evaluating the progress in the implementation of General Assembly resolution 59/250 on the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system, the Secretary-General had highlighted, in his reports, many areas where progress was made, but had also highlighted areas where more progress was needed. It was, perhaps, important to restate that the fundamental characteristics of the operational activities of the United Nations development system should be, among other things, their universal voluntary and grant nature, their neutrality and multilateralism, which should guide the operational activities of the United Nations system to respond to the development needs of recipient countries in a flexible manner, and recognizing that those activities should be carried out for the benefit of recipient countries, at their request.
It was imperative that operational activities for development, in addressing the long-term development challenge of recipient countries, took into account the need to promote national capacity-building in developing countries. By adopting General Assembly resolution 59/250, Member States had already recognized that capacity-development and ownership of national development strategies were able to avail themselves of the entire system's "accumulated experience in all pertinent economic, social and other domains", using the whole range of services available throughout the system, on the basis of their comparative advantage and expertise. Equally important was the need for the United Nations system to use, to the fullest extent possible, available national expertise and technologies in the implementation of operational activities, which, as highlighted by the Secretary-General in his report to the Council, was not always fully utilized.
TARJA FERNANDEZ (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union remained strongly committed to the implementation of the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review resolution in its entirety. The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals depended to a great extent on the successful reform of the United Nations operational activities. The Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review resolution was a tool in implementing the commitments made by Heads of State and Government in the World Summit to make the United Nations country presence more effective, efficient, coherent and better performing. The Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review should be a strong package to guide the United Nations system, and the United Nations country presence should support better outcomes for national development.
The reports before the Council today reflected that substantial progress had been made in the implementation of the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review resolution. However, they also showed that more needed to be done in order to achieve significant increases in the effectiveness of the development activities at the country level, and to build on recent progress on the one-UN at the country level. National ownership and leadership were prerequisites for sustainable development results. Gender mainstreaming and women's empowerment needed to be analysed and addressed in all of the operational activities. The transition from relief to development and its funding was still a challenge to the whole international community. The evaluation and monitoring of the United Nations system's performance regarding its development effectiveness, results and responsiveness to national development challenges needed to be strengthened and further developed using harmonized standards.
TERRY MILLER (United States) said the fact that countries bore the primary responsibility for their own development was a widely recognized principle in the international community; it was enshrined in the Monterrey Consensus and the World Summit Document. Governments were responsible for formulating policies and mobilizing resources for the development of their own countries. The international community, including the United Nations, would play a supporting role to those national efforts. United Nations assistance in building national capacities could be important for countries to develop the human and physical infrastructure necessary for them to make and implement the right policies to achieve development results. The ultimate goal of capacity-building was to enable developing countries to become independent of international development assistance. United Nations development activities should have a capacity-building dimension. The fact that some developing countries needed outside assistance today should not consign them to a status of perpetual dependency. United Nations agencies that performed some governmental functions, like public procurement, should place local capacity-building as a top priority with a view to hand over the work to local authorities in a reasonable amount of time.
The United Nations, itself, needed to improve the way it delivered development services to developing countries. The funds and programmes had recently been experimenting with new forms of coordination at the field level, such as common country offices and common programmes built upon Common Country Assessment and United Nations Development Assistance Framework models. Those experiments should be monitored to see if they lived up to their promise. It was also important to keep in mind that coordination was not the end in itself; it should be a means to produce results on the ground. Many funds and programmes, and specialized agencies were putting in place results-oriented management and budgeting. Funding levels should follow results. Good results would lead to more funding, bad results to less funding.
NIKOLAY CHULKOV (Russian Federation) said the Russian Federation had consistently advocated the strengthening of the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of operational activities of the United Nations for development in discussing all issues relating to the functioning of the United Nations development system, including the reform process. Many of the tasks put forward by the Member States before the United Nations development system had been accomplished or were being implemented. This was another proof that the reform process was generally well under way, and had clear goals and objectives. The measures aimed at national capacity-building were supported, as were the efforts to align United Nations activities with national plans and strategies. More progress was needed in strengthening the Resident Coordinator System.
The degree of fragmentation of the work of the United Nations system at the country level should not be exaggerated. The main precondition for overcoming this perception was not a merger of the agencies, but a more effective coordination of the work of all actors. The key element was the involvement in a closer collaboration of the specialized agencies and non-resident agencies or agencies with limited country-level presence. The strengthening of the collaboration with the Regional Commissions at the regional and subregional levels was supported. Ways to streamline the process of preparation and approval of country programmes at national level and in the Executive Boards should be considered. The work on alignment of the regional technical support structures and regional bureaux, including their regional coverage and locations of common regional offices was supported.
ELCHIN AMIRBAYOV (Azerbaijan) said Azerbaijan reaffirmed its commitment to see the Council as a sufficient platform for existing and future partnerships and for an active dialogue amongst stakeholders, including international financial institutions, regional development partnerships, alongside with regional development banks, the private sector and, of course, civil society, in discussing and devising various components of international development cooperation. Foreign assistance and beneficiary governance needed to be perceived of as a donor-and-recipient tandem for effective integration and transparent flows during mobilization of resources for development. It was equally crucial to learn from a feedback from beneficiaries, in terms of their capacity-building development needs.
Functional and regional commissions should be keen on helping countries in need of financing for their development in line with their national socio-economic agendas, including poverty eradication strategies and other mid-term and long-term development strategies -- those being their national priorities. Stressing the importance of regional coordination in assessing operational activities was also a regular task, because regional initiatives would contribute to common and more coherent visions when matters of strong a cross-border nature arose on national agendas.
ROBYN MUDIE (Australia), speaking on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, among other processes, was an important part of a continuous cycle of reform. It was a process from which the United Nations system should constantly learn and then implement, evaluate and revise its operations against a background of improvements to enhance the effectiveness of aid and capacity of partners. Particularly welcome was the progress made by the United Nations system in simplification and harmonization. This included strengthening of the Resident Coordinator system. The United Nations was also congratulated on the steps taken towards harmonization of cost-recovery rates and better monitoring and evaluation, including the endorsement through the United Nations Evaluation Group of system-wide norms and standards for evaluation. Some progress had been made in the areas of gender equality and transition.
The work of the United Nations Development Group working group in developing operational guidelines for United Nations country teams on developing the capacities of partner countries was welcomed. Further support to strengthening national capacity was required, especially in the context of new aid modalities such as Sector Wide Approaches and general budget support. Capacity development was also important beyond national Governments - at local and provincial Government levels, in the NGO sector, and within civil society. The Secretary-General, in conducting next year's Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, should identify ways to further enhance support for capacity, and this should include an assessment of the adequacy of the human resources available within the United Nations system to support capacity-development and national priorities. As a critical element of relief, transition and development, the United Nations should enhance its support to capacity development in all stages.
NINGNING YANG (China) said the Chinese delegation was gratified to note that the United Nations agencies had achieved new levels of progress in development activities. The agencies were working in line with the needs and priorities of strategies put in place by the recipient developing countries. Improvement had also been seen in resource mobilizing efforts; however, there had been regress in some areas of core resources mobilization, which had retarded the development efforts of some countries. The numerous United Nations development activities had taken into consideration the national capacity-building activities. China supported the UNDP increased support of capacity-building and assistance to development.
On the issue of United Nations development operational activities, China was of the view that the activities of the Resident Coordinator should be improved. There should be identification of priorities of each country instead of applying a unified model of development to all countries. The sharing of knowledge and experience should also be encouraged. The North-South cooperation should further be strengthened to prompt the South-South development cooperation to be enhanced further. The assessment of the performance of resident cooperation should be carried out in-line with the aim to reduce poverty in the recipient countries.
IFEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said development was increasingly seen as a multidimensional phenomenon. It encompassed economic, social and environmental dimensions. The United Nations, the apex of multilateralism, should address these dimensions in a comprehensive manner. The functions and activities of the individual United Nations system organizations were varying, but had a common purpose. The need to simplify and harmonize the United Nations system could not be overstated, and efforts to harmonise activities should be driven by criteria and procedures set by the wider United Nations membership. Proper monitoring and evaluation of the United Nations activities would enhance their effectiveness; and complex rules and procedures should be streamlined.
The United Nations activities at the country level should be coherent with national development strategies. The credibility and effectiveness of the United Nations development system greatly depended on a stable, predictable, long-term and expanding resource base. There was an emerging consensus that constrained financing and lack of coherence were severely restricting the ability of the United Nations system in supporting Member States. United Nations operational activities should be re-engineered, retooled, and reinvigorated. They should be supported by adequate funds, as this was essential to meet the huge challenges that faced humankind.
KJELL-GUNNAR ERIKSEN (Norway) said Norway underlined the link between increased funding and greater effectiveness. It was vital to underline that increased official development assistance bilaterally, as well as through the United Nations system and the development banks was a crucial part of the efforts needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Greater effectiveness, better coordination and stronger alignment to national ownership were not meant to reduce the need for funding. They were needed in order to make the link between funding and development stronger, to see to it that the funds committed indeed did contribute to development in partner countries while at the same time strengthening partner countries' capacity to take the lead in fighting poverty.
Progress had been made in aligning United Nations development plans with national development strategies such as poverty reduction plans. The United Nations system was, in most partner countries, not a major funding source. It was, therefore, crucial that the United Nations system utilize its comparative advantage at country level in contribution to capacity development, giving technical advice, being a trusted partner, as well as promoting the normative agenda of the United Nations, including good governance. Norway underlined that gender mainstreaming should be strengthened throughout the United Nations operational activities.
OLIVIER CHAVE (Switzerland) said a very relevant division of labour was in the process of being established with regard to the management of the United Nations operational system between the General Assembly, which focused on general policy aspects and guiding principles, and the Economic and Social Council, which focussed on the practical and operational aspects of their implementation. Some specialized agencies manifested a growing interest for the implementation of the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, which was a very positive signal indeed as to the possibility to eventually mobilize, coherently, all competences available within the United Nations system for the benefit of the developing countries. The effort of harmonization and simplification also seemed to bear fruit, though progress was somehow slow. One of the frontlines was certainly the rationalization of the management process applied by the United Nations operators; this process was practically beneficial to the beneficiaries of United Nations assistance, and it was essential to maintain the profile of the operational system.
Good note had been taken of what seemed to be one of the principal lessons learnt in the process: the fundamental need to apply approaches that took into account the national specificities in each of the partner countries. In the realm of harmonization and alignment of operational activities for development, a real need existed to ensure that strategic instruments were sufficiently flexible to adapt to the national realities. The essential nature of the core funding did not mean that all extrabudgetary contributions were counterproductive or damageable; on the contrary, a good portion was perfectly aligned with the political orientations provided by the governing bodies of the funds, programmes and agencies. The most important was to guarantee that the greatest possible portion of extrabudgetary resources responded qualitatively to the requirements of the operational framework given to the agencies by their intergovernmental governing bodies.
SALMAN AL FARISI (Indonesia) said the process of reform in the function of the United Nations system should continue in order to maintain the system's flexibility in its involving work environment and to constantly increase and improve in all areas of operational activities. Of particular importance were the various initiatives by the United Nations system to ensure that close collaboration with recipient developing countries would take place based on their development priorities, needs and requirements, and within their respective development frameworks. In line with that approach and in accordance with the provisions of the 2005 World Summit Outcome, measures had been implemented to make certain that there was a greater degree of national ownership of development programmes and that national capacity would occur to facilitate the long-term sustainability of programmes.
It was vital for donor countries to live up to their commitments. The value of South-South cooperation should also not be overlooked as a means of generating development resources and building capacity within developing countries. Donors should also be actively involved as triangular cooperation partners. It was also imperative for the donor countries to have a more coordinated approach in strengthening South-South cooperation. Given the fact that natural disasters appeared to be occurring with greater frequency, they had come to represent a serious challenge to operational activities. Along with the threat of inadequate financing, natural and man-made disasters also had serious implications for operational activities. They could bring development activities to an abrupt halt, causing funds to be rerouted to rehabilitation and reconstruction activities.
ANDREI TRIBUSH (Belarus) said in the wake of General Assembly resolution 59/250, the development landscape had been rapidly evolving. The World Summit Outcome Document and the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness gave the international community an improved conceptual framework and specific normative tools for the implementation of the global development agenda. The Secretary-General's report on progress in the implementation of the resolution was a very important step in the preparation for next year's negotiating process on the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review.
The report had sufficiently elaborated on a number of key points which could also guide the TCPR and be the outline of a future resolution. These, among others, were: contribution of the United Nations system to the development of national capacities and ensuring national ownership over aid; implementation of the reform agenda, in particular harmonisation and simplification of rules and procedures; strengthening the role of United Nations Resident Coordinators; enhancing the role of the United Nations system in relief and emergency situations and peacebuilding efforts; and promoting South-South cooperation and gender equality. It would be important in the future TCPR process to encourage a greater input from the field.
RUCHI GHANSHYAM (India) said that it was India's understanding that the principle of national ownership was not being used to the desired extent in the work of some development agencies. That needed to be addressed urgently. In that context, it was imperative that operational activities for development, in addressing the long-term development challenge of recipient countries, take into account the need to promote national capacity-building in developing countries. Member States had recognized in General Assembly resolution 59/250 that capacity development and ownership of national development strategies were essential for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. There was need to ensure that developing countries were able to avail themselves of the entire system's "accumulated experience in all pertinent economic, social and other domains", using the whole range of services available throughout the system, on the basis of their comparative advantage and expertise.
National capacity development would be facilitated through the use by the United Nations development system of available national expertise and technologies in the implementation of operational activities to the fullest extent possible. Regrettably, the Secretary-General had highlighted in his report to the Council, that that was not always fully done.
ALPHA IBRAHIM SOW (Guinea) said the Secretary-General's report on the state of implementation of the General Assembly resolution 59/250 was appreciated, as was the progress realized in the implementation, in particular, measures adopted and results achieved due to specific or general steps, which took into account the specific criteria and objectives of the system. The activities of the United Nations system within the national priorities and plans had been somewhat successful. In light of the experience of the results that had been recorded, Guinea would like evaluations to be done, but was aware that United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had said that only South Africa was on the programme for the joint evaluation.
Guinea was also most interested in partnerships and development assistance for capacity-building on a country level. The suggestions made were very interesting, in particular with regard to development. The United Nations capacity to contribute to development results should be enhanced, with stress placed on the Millennium Development Goals. The reform process was not, however, reflected in its entirety in the report, and it would have been preferable for the session to take a greater interest in the Council's overall view of the ongoing reform of the United Nations. The follow-up to the World Summit document from 2005 should have been discussed. There was a need to ensure greater fairness with regards to countries of destination with regards to needs in the field and national needs. Getting balance and more predictable financing were required in order to respond more rapidly to crises.
ALFREDO CABRAL (Guinea Bissau) said that the problem in ensuring the activities of the United Nations had been discussed widely during the Council's session. Member States had also ensured that General Assembly resolution 59/250 would be respected. As noted by one delegation, the notions of perpetuating dependency by developing countries should not be accepted. The need for the availability of domestic resources to develop net activities should be underlined. Since the real key strategy should be results, there should be a well-structured plan at the national level in order to realize national ownership in development. Before turning to external indulgence, a country should be able to cover its development needs at the national level. The developing countries should be able to understand the expectations of their populations before appealing to the external development partners.
At least 10 per cent of the national budget of the developing countries should go to education and health matters. Assistance should not be perpetuated without an end; the developing countries themselves should be able to find alternatives to finance their development activities. The assistance received by the recipient developing countries should be used in a rational manner.
The resolutions adopted by the Council should commit all to put them in practice and not just to see them on paper.
E. OHO GLELE (Benin) said there was one specific concern which should be raised, as it was particularly important. During yesterday's interactive debate, Benin had indicated that the programme of action for least-developed countries (LDCs) fell among the United Nations operational activities for development, even though in the Council there was a general segment dealing with implementation of that programme of action. Yesterday, the panellists had been asked whether the agencies, funds and programmes had adopted a coordinated approach to the implementation of the programme of action, bearing in mind that in the context of operational activities one referred to, among other things, coherency and synergies. No detailed reply had been received yesterday due to the lack of time.
Today, in discussing the implementation of the General Assembly resolution setting out key priorities for United Nations reform, Benin had noted an absence of indications as to the coherence of activities of the system as regarded the implementation of the programme of action for least developed countries. Operational activities sought to support development strategies and priorities and realization of internationally agreed development objectives. In this respect, and with a view to preparing next year's Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, there should be an indication as to whether the programmes, agencies and funds had adopted a coordinated approach to implementing the programme of action for least developed countries on the ground.
BANTITA PICHYAKORN (Thailand) said that in light of the General Assembly Resolution 59/250 and while one learned the progress of the one-UN project, Thailand would agree with China that there was no one fixed model that would fit every country. As a host of a regional commission and the specialized agencies of the United Nations, Thailand was concerned over the relationship and coordination between the one-UN office and the regional commission. The one-UN approach might be effectively applied if there were only United Nations funds and programmes in the host country. But, in the case of having many specialized agencies and the regional commission, practices should be different. Thailand did not want the one-UN office system to deteriorate or to lessen the role of the regional commission. However, at some point, they did the same job.
WENDY MANN of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), said the FAO vision of a strengthened United Nations development system found resonance in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Countries should lead their own development processes and coordinate external assistance for that purpose. Budget support and the use of Government systems (rather than parallel management systems) also moved towards greater national responsibility for administering, allocating and being accountable for the use of external financing. The United Nations system should support country leadership of these new instruments and modalities, but this would require new ways of doing business. The difference in capacities and the specificities of countries would determine the extent and time horizon in achieving ownership and leadership. Development assistance from all sources should help to build capacity in this regard.
Experience showed that one-size-fits-all approaches did not respond to differing needs and capacities of developing countries. Greater flexibility, tailoring and the use of the principle of subsidiarity in United Nations system support modalities could enhance effectiveness. There were managerial and substantive aspects of coordination. In managerial terms, there was an urgent need for simplification and harmonization of systems, procedures and modalities of all assistance providers to reduce transaction costs to partner and donor countries, as well as to United Nations system entities. Where possible and relevant, such harmonization should ideally be around national systems, procedures and modalities, and should receive greater priority and swifter action. Reform for reforms sake was not meaningful or productive; rather, it was a means to improve the impact of the assistance provided. Cooperation focused on substantive themes, tasks or clusters was more likely to yield concrete development results.
PETER JOSEPH MERTENS of the World Health Organization (WHO), said the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, General assembly resolution 59/250, had been at the basis for the WHO 2005 World Health Assembly resolution 58/52, called "United Nations reform process and WHO's role in harmonization of operational development activities at country level". Accelerated action had taken place since then with the aim to comply with the requests made to the Director General of WHO to ensure that WHO continued to implement country level activities in accordance with Member State's priorities and to coordinate those activities with other organizations of the United Nations system; to adhere to international harmonization efforts; and to examine ways to further rationalize procedures and reduce transaction costs. To date, more than 80 per cent of WHO country offices were actively involved in the United Nations reform process. WHO's own country cooperation strategies, which were being elaborated upon with the input expertise from Member States, contributed to the preparation of UNDAFs (United Nations Development Assistance Framework) and other planning modalities including national poverty reduction strategies. At present, there were 100 country cooperation strategies, linked to national priorities and need in the areas of health and social development.
PATRIZIO CIVILI, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, in a concluding statement, said very instructive comments had been made on the Secretary-General's report, and good note had been taken of the observation that in some cases the report was richer with information than it was user-friendly. Work would be done to improve the situation, but it was not easy to strike a balance between highlighting positive developments in the system, and between showing that there was still a ways to go to achieve desired levels of progress. The valuable and interesting remarks on the issues that should be addressed and the priorities that should guide the preparation for the next Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review (TCPR) were welcomed. These would provide a solid basis for the next TCPR. The degree of convergence that the interventions showed between delegations augured well for a speedy conclusion of the negotiations on the resolution. A little more Dante and a little less Machiavelli would help in concluding negotiations.
The basic feel within the system and the basic but fundamental message that had been conveyed in the report was that the volume of resources made a tremendous difference in the way that they were used by countries, but modalities were also of great importance. The debate would continue at the technical and political levels. Knowledge sharing and management would be increased. Each organization within the system defined itself increasingly as a knowledge-based institution, and knowledge was being given increased attention at many levels of the system. A knowledge taskforce would be created to develop a strategy to guide efforts across the system and define in the process specific deliverables that could serve to assess the progress being made.
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