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AS SECOND COMMITTEE CONSIDERS OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES FOR DEVELOPMENT, DELEGATES

Posted by benjamin-nicolau en octubre 16, 2008

AS SECOND COMMITTEE CONSIDERS OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES FOR DEVELOPMENT, DELEGATES

 

CALL FOR MORE PROACTIVE ROLE FOR UN SYSTEM IN OVERCOMING CHALLENGES

 

Given the recent uncertainties in the world economy, the United Nations system needed to take a more proactive role in overcoming such challenges as declining official development assistance flows and cutbacks in funding for the Organization’s operational activities, several speakers said today, as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) began its consideration of operational activities for development.

 

Such an enhanced role would enable the United Nations system to enhance its capacity and promote greater coherence, coordination, effectiveness and efficiency in its work, the delegates said.  The representative of Antigua and Barbuda, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted that in the past several years of robust global economic growth, official development assistance had never reached the levels required to achieve even the most modest of the internationally agreed development targets, and had even stagnated or dipped.

 

She said that since the 2005 Summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, where donors had pledged to increase aid to $130 billion by 2010, assistance had increased at only half the rate needed to meet that target.  Without significant increases in aid levels for operational activities in support of development goals, the international community would fail miserably to accomplish basic, but fundamentally important, goals and objectives that were common to humanity.  The Committee should ensure that the General Assembly undertook the necessary actions to avoid such a disastrous failure.

 

Calling the decline in official development assistance a “deeply disturbing trend”, Jamaica’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the shortfall in funding to United Nations funds and programmes made it challenging to ensure predictable development assistance, which impeded short- and medium-term planning and programming.  That, in turn, resulted in fragmenting the Organization’s development assistance, and limited the extent to which the system could respond to the priorities of programme countries.

 

Stressing the importance of not undermining the principle of national ownership, and of giving programme countries the opportunity to determine priorities in funding initiatives, he also called for increased efforts to strengthen the multilateral framework for development cooperation by increasing the stable, predictable base of core funding.  CARICOM also called upon the United Nations to more actively promote and expand the funding base.

 

On a similar note, India’s representative said developing countries valued the universal, multilateral and impartial nature of United Nations development operations, noting that, like other developing countries, India wished to augment the Organization’s development capability.  The Secretary-General’s reports made for depressing reading, as they showed that the share of global flows of official development assistance to United Nations development entities was more or less static, at slightly more than 10 per cent of global flows.  Moreover, the availability of funds for those entities had declined in real terms over the past year.  Predictable core funding without conditionality was the key to making the United Nations deliver more and better assistance, and greater political will was needed to ensure the Organization was equipped to deal with global development challenges.

 

Kenya’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said contributions to the United Nations from non-traditional donors had become increasingly important.  Multi-donor funds or pooled resources to finance specific activities of the Organization’s funds and programmes contributed remarkably to additional and more predictable resources for development assistance.  More efforts were needed to strengthen the impact of national programmes, and ensure they were based on national priorities.  It was also important to ensure that the strategic plans of the funds and programmes were consistent with, and guided by, the main intergovernmental parameters of operational activities for development.  It was important, as well, to align United Nations development assistance frameworks with the programme cycles of the countries concerned, in order to respond more effectively to the development needs and national priorities of developing countries.

 

Malaysia’s representative said that for many States in the developing world, the United Nations was most visible and relevant in its operational and developmental work, noting that, across continents and in all spheres of human activity, the Organization’s development system had shown that it did, indeed, make a difference to the lives of millions.  While those millions who benefited from its activities were unfamiliar with the bedrock principles of its developmental activities, such as its voluntary and grant nature, its neutrality and multilateralism, those principles were translated into activities on the ground.  In addition, the success of the Organization’s operational activities in assisting the developing world depended, to a very large extent, on the dedication and commitment of United Nations staff in the field.  Malaysia, therefore, viewed with grave concern any situation that might imperil those field staff.

 

China’s representative said many developing countries had yet to attain any real opportunities for development because the world was facing unprecedented difficulties and challenges.  As such, with the gaps widening between rich and poor, and North and South, poverty eradication remained an elusive dream for hundreds of millions of people worldwide.  Among an array of daunting difficulties, the United Nations development system must give priority to those major issues impacting the overall situation.

 

France’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Secretary-General’s report on the implications of aligning the strategic planning cycles of United Nations funds and programmes with the comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development presented valuable options for synchronizing the strategic planning cycles of the Organization’s funds and programmes with that of the comprehensive review.  That type of alignment might facilitate integrating recommendations into the new strategies of those organizations more easily.  The coherence of the United Nations system regarding development would thereby be enhanced.  Setting up a quadrennial cycle would help promote better consideration of guidelines under the review of operational activities and ensure a more optimal follow-up via a midterm progress report.  Consequently, the Organization’s work would be rebalanced.  The European Union wished to engage in a comprehensive dialogue on how to proceed, in order to adopt a text on alignment during the current General Assembly session.

 

The representative of Switzerland said that although non-core contributions represented an important supplement to regular resources, they were not a substitute for core resources, and stressed that regular resources must remain the “bedrock” of operational activities for development.  A “systematic culture of evaluation” should also be encouraged in order for the Organization to gain credibility among donors.  Two other recommendations were also paramount in improving the funding of operational activities for development:  an effort to gain political visibility and authority at the centre of debates on such emerging issues as climate change; and increasing peer pressure among multilateral donors.

 

Presenting reports for the Committee’s consideration were Thomas Stelzer, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs; and Inés Alberdi, Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

 

Other speakers today were the representatives of Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Colombia, the Russian Federation, Ethiopia, Thailand, Mozambique, Belarus, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Iran, El Salvador and Nepal.

 

The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, 16 October, to begin its consideration of the follow-up to and implementation of the outcome of the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development and preparations for the 2008 Review Conference.

 

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