Strengthening Governance of Operational Activities for Development: System-wide Coherence reform 2008 to Present
By Katie Jagel
18 April 2012
Governance reform within the UN is one of the most active sites for comprehensive UN reform. Since 2006, simple ‘governance’ reform has transformed into the more formal “Strengthening Governance of Operational Activities for Development” and has been a fixture on several UN organ agendas. This article maps the efforts, debates, outcome documents, resolutions, since 2008 but focuses mainly, on the actual progress made by the UN on the governance front.
Governance is a particularly hard idea to reform because of its intricate nature. 'Governance' is a web of accountability that lies within and interconnects the entire UN system. It is in need of a holistic approach, otherwise whatever progress that has been made will buckle under the unseen weak links of unaddressed inefficiencies. The 2006 High Level Panel on System-wide Coherence (SWC), gave governance reform particular emphasis, since then many UN agencies have pursued governance reform, with ECOSOC in particular taking an emphasized role, after the summing up of System-wide Coherence in the 2010 resolution 289.
Unlike Gender, the governance cluster did not require a new entity or program, but internal reforms and an overhaul of existing architecture. After actions taken from 2005 to early 2008, the 62nd General Assembly co-Chairs on SWC, Ambassadors Paul Kavanagh of Ireland and Augustine Mahiga of Tanzania, came out with a report on governance 21 July 2008 recommending three specific actions. These included: the establishment of a Global Leaders Forum of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as a more authoritative and hands on entity; the establishment of a UN Sustainable Development Board to oversee the Delivering as One initiative and the performance of the Resident Coordinators in each country; and lastly a review of the UN Chief Executives Board (CEB) to improve its performance and accountability for System-wide Coherence.
Originally, Member States received the recommendations somewhat defensively, citing the significant implications for existing UN bodies, and a concern that hurried structures would cause duplicating effects. They also argued that that a “bottom-up” country-level approach was likely to be better than a “top-down” normative approach, in regards to both legitimacy and accountability. In essence, the UN was aware but unsure how to go about striking a balance between providing adequate inter-governmental oversight and on the ground, nationally-led initiatives. States decided that there was potential for a closer engagement between the UN system and the Bretton Woods financial institutions on the top-down side, but also for inter-structural reform.
In late 2008 the General Assembly requested a discussion paper on Governance from the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The
governance paper, entitled “Strengthening governance of operational activities for development of the United Nations system for enhanced system-wide coherence” was issued on 15 April 2009 and identified the following issues: “weak prioritization, overlap of functions, policy inconsistency across the UN system, coordination deficit and great difficulty in assessing system-wide performance of the UN at both global and country levels.” Ban made several recommendations, one of which was the creation of a central hub and depository of UN operational activities for development.
63rd Session: Stocktaking and Preliminary Reports
Nominal discussion did not restart until the SWC co-Chairs of the 63rd General Assembly, Ambassadors Kaire Mbuende of Namibia and Juan Antonio Yáñez-Barnuevo of Spain, issued a report on June 12nd 2009. The note was on governance and funding and supported strengthening the institutions and roles that the GA and ECOSOC would play in a “strategic overview” capacity; providing guidance and acting as a coordinating and monitoring body for UN development activities. However, co-Chairs suggested that the GA could strengthen this role by adding an authoritative Advisory Group to the ESOSOC architecture. In response to the Secretary- General's recommendation concerning the 'central repository', most Member States said they would need more information on the proposed structure including: expenses and staffing, methods of data collection, and working modalities. The co-Chairs showed support for the data hub, saying it would ultimately dispense effective and high-quality information to UN bodies efficiently. They then suggested independent evaluation capacities could enhance system-wide performance.
After, the Secretary-General addressed the General Assembly directly during the 22 June 2009 plenary meeting with more specific remarks regarding Governance. The report discussed four main recommendations including: Member States fostering and pursuing common programs; creating comprehensive policy review as part of the legislative process; improving coordination between UN bodies and agencies, ECOSOC in particular; and lastly, the system-wide performance review and evaluation as formerly stated by the co-Chairs, for which he showed his support. He also emphasized the level of integration between governance and funding issues.
Member States made statements in response to both reports. South Korea mentioned that a comprehensive statistical analysis on the matter should be provided to both the GA and ECOSOC. By extension, Pakistan and some other delegations emphasized that ECOSOC should take a central role in the activities in both a policy and operational approach. Many Members states were in agreement that one, the integration of the ECOSOC and data collection should happen at a country level and that two, improved and strengthened governance at the headquarters level would help facilitate and enhance national ownership and leadership. Brazil and several other Member States requested information on the possible Advisory Group. Others, including the CANZ nations responded that it was crucial to reconsider ways for current resources to be used more efficiently. In response to the June report Member States agreed that enhanced UN governance system is crucial, that they needed more work on the proposals for reform. The co-Chairs decided at this point that they would embark on bi-lateral consultations with regional groups and delegations in order to start consensus building and finding common ground.
Resolution 311 was passed on the last day of the 63rd session. The resolution mainly had to do with the creation of the gender entity, led by UNIFEM, but contained a section on governance reform. It recommended United Nations and Bretton Woods Institutions strengthen “cooperation, coordination and coherence and exchanges” between themselves. Member States impressed the necessity for national ownership and the role national governments play in operations activities at the UN. In this way, Governance issues overlapped with the DaO initiative, which institutes small UN pilot programs that integrate national governments and UN agencies on the ground. The GA Resolution also put forth specific requests to the Secretary-General including: providing proposals on how particular forms of governance in the development sector could be improved, and how 'voluntary' country programs, or, programs like the DaO, might contribute to these efforts. In a bi-lateral proposal the UN System Chief Executive Board for Coordination (CEB) and the Secretary-General, the GA requested potential structures and options regarding the “establishment of an independent system-wide evaluation mechanism to assess system-wide efficiency, effectiveness and performance”. Lastly they requested a common country program architecture “bearing in mind the importance of national ownership and effective intergovernmental oversight of the development process.”
64th Session: The Secretary-General’s Report, Working Groups, and Resolution
The Secretary-General presented his December 22nd report, “Operational activities for development: operational activities for development of the United Nations system” to the 64th General Assembly on 4 February 2010. The report covered recommendations and thoughts on all SWC issues other than gender, covered in a separate report delivered around the same time. On Governance, the report covered four different areas with challenges and possible solutions presented for each.
The first area was “enhancing cooperation between UN bodies including the GA, the ECOSOC, and the CEB”. He listed four challenges with possible solutions. First, was the lack of a coherent governance system, for which he recommended increasing synergy between agencies by reviewing and analyzing existing legislation and resolutions. Second were the inherent problems with overarching policy-wide guidance. For this he recommended “Strengthen[ing] the role of the GA in establishing overall strategies, polices and priorities of UN operational activities for development.” Third, he cited ambiguity in coordinating operational activities by ECOSOC, he said a more specific definition of the role of the institution could aid in this endeavor along with an authoritative leader for policy coordination. Lastly, for the challenge of actual policy implementation, he prescribed ensuring accountability both at the executive board level and the within the governing bodies of specialized agencies.
The second area referred to questions revolving around country participation in governing bodies, and the third area was organizational arrangements and the challenge of secretariat support services. The challenge with country participation was finding a balance in regards to equal participation in issues. For this, the Secretary-General had a direct solution requiring enhanced participation of national policymakers handling UN System policies at the country level. For the enhancement of organizational arrangements, he recommended improving capacities for support including feedback channels, and increased information sharing.
The last area was the impact of intergovernmental decisions. The first challenge listed was inadequate information involved in decision making processes, for which the solution would be the proposed central repository of information, allowing for easier information flow from the UN Development Group (UNDG), Member States and others. The second challenge surrounded the current process for policy dialogue; he simply states that there needed to be strengthened coordination between the UN governing body and Member States. Third, deliberative and decisive “action-oriented” negotiations could aid the challenge of intergovernmental negotiations through better-defined key criterion and “analysis of field-level realities." And the last challenge was the evaluation of the implemented policies for which he reiterated his support of a system-wide evaluative function.
Discussions on the reports continued throughout February 2010 within the 64th General Assembly co-Chaired by Ambassadors Tiina Intelmann of Estonia and Ghazi Jomaa of Tunisia. The co-Chairs had decided to create two working groups: Working Group 1 (WG1), would be chaired by Mexico, focusing on "Equitable participation and decision-making in governing bodies." And Working Group 2 (WG2), would be chaired by Rwanda, focusing on "Functional coherence between the three tiers of the governance structure; Secretariat support and methods of work of the governing bodies; and modalities for approval of common country programs". WG2 also took on looking after the independent evaluations of the DaO initiative.
After the Secretary-General's report and the co-Chairs creation of the working groups, some Member States, including Switzerland, were ready to make a decision on the entire issue, while others, including Russia, pressed for further explanation to 'enhance clarity' on the issues. But overall Member States were in agreement with the proposed problems and solutions, there was just the problem of a finalized, formal agreement and its subsequent implementation. Some concerns included the establishment of the working groups (JCC), specifically because Common Country Problems could be grouped with the DaO initiative, instead of as an 'added burden' to Governance policy[cite these]. There was also a widespread concern not to overdo the meetings, notes and reports, which could do without further analysis, discussion and revision. However, in an informal meeting in WG1 on February 17th, progress was hampered when the JCC, represented by Egypt, reiterated its disagreement in regards to the division of topics. It pressed that the Common Country Problems be grouped with the DaO cluster. Co-Chair Ambassador Ghazi Jomaa said that the work plan was not open to re-negotiation and would remain as it was. Many members of the JCC then left the meeting, although it continued. WG2 then met the next day to better results.
65th Session: Panel Debates and Multi-lateral Trade Institutions
By May of 2010, a preliminary draft resolution was in the works. States stipulated that they were not looking for major reforms but were instead looking for better ways to utilize current provisions more efficiently. A general debate was held in September 2010, and was followed up with informal consultations between the General Assembly and the G20. Resolution 289 followed in late July of 2010, this was the last integrated resolution addressing all five of the SWC issues at once. States placed the Governance section first, and made several requests both to Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and to UN agencies (specifically ECOSOC). The Governance section addresses architecture within both the UN and its bi-lateral institutions. It asks the Secretary-General, the Joint Inspection Unity (JIU), the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) and other various groups to take stock of its mandates, funding, and structure and seek efficiency, coherence, and collaboration through the evaluative process. It makes nods to potential incentives saying, “Such measures could include the establishment of new trust funds or the use of existing mechanisms, as appropriate.” The results of this evaluation were given as a report to the GA during the 66th session. It also asked specifically for the Secretary-General to compile a note which contained “all relevant legislation on the roles and responsibilities of the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, including its subsidiary bodies, the executive boards of funds and programmes of the United Nations and the governing bodies of the specialized agencies in the governance of United Nations operational activities for development” to aid the GA in finding overlap relating to responsibilities and funding to then create a more coherent and organized system.
Resolution 94 followed shortly thereafter in January of 2011. This resolution centered on the necessity to strive for “inclusive, transparent, and effective multilateral approaches towards the global economy”. Those three words, 'inclusive, transparent, and effective', and the order in which they are written, was the subject of “a three hour debate”, reported a delegate from Lebanon.
By late June of 2011, the 65th General Assembly was drafting a new resolution. The UN hosted a thematic debate on global governance surrounding two high-level panels. The first panel addressed the economic side of international governance, and the second panel addressed the UN's ability to meet future challenges in the global arena. The keynote speakers were the President of Slovenia, Danilo Turk, and the Director-General of the WTO, Mr. Pascal Lamy. The debates emphasized the problem of diverging interests and wealth in nation states. The debate proposed that: citizens and civil society take on a greater role in global issues and institutions, and improved interaction and coordination take place between the ECOSOC, the UN, and the G20. A panelist, Ms. Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Former Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany suggested several reforms including: creating a coherent sequence of all initiatives which would include the MDG's and Rio+20; a systematic risks panel to reaffirm UN presence in bi-lateral socio-economic organizations like the G20; and lastly to streamline the ECOSOC to run continuously from 'the highest level' down to civil society. Other panelists included: Celso Amorin, former Foreign Minister of Brazil, Ramesh Thakur, Professor of International Relations at Australian National University, Richard H. Stanley, Chairman of the Stanley Foundation, and lastly, Adekeye Adebajo, Executive Director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution at the University of Cape Town, and covered the importance of both institutional reform and systematic reform.
A concept note by the Secretary-General on “Global economic governance and development” followed in late 2011. The concept note defines global economic governance as “the role of multilateral institutions and processes in shaping global economic policies, rules and regulations.” and contains several recommendations and critiques. The note makes specific mention to the upcoming Rio+20 conference and its role in global development in the environmental sector, but that the steps of governance decided on in follow-up of the conference should not be overlooked, and should be looked at for guidance. The note calls on policy-makers among Member States to re-draft and overhaul old policy that is inadequate in the unsympathetic wake of globalization. This was directed at both large States, whose institutions and policies are skewing the efficiency of world markets; and small States, to institute policies lessening dependence on the system to avoid falling into the 'trough of poverty'. It recommends creating a institutional framework for collective decision-making, to face the interconnected socio-economic challenges. The note attempts to cover the current decentralized state of global governance architecture in terms of the ad hoc social and economic institutions within and surrounding the UN proper at a global, regional, state and NGO level.
His critiques include the inability to address “a range of pressing development issues, including reducing global economic imbalances, advancing a developmental multilateral trade agreement and reducing the adverse impacts of natural disasters”. It critiques the IMF, the WTO and the World Bank as leaders in the global socio-economic arena given the vast differences in mandates, organization and goals, and that the G20 and Bretton Woods institutions lack openness, both in terms of regulations and participants, but concedes that the small group membership allows for enhanced efficacy in decision making. The recommendation is for an enhancement of ECOSOC in terms of accountability, leadership and coordination between entities. It asks all groups, together with the CEB, to attempt inter-agency coordination and “to further enhance collaboration among its members, develop strategic priorities that can be pursued collectively and strengthen linkages between its normative and operational work”.
It then reviews Member State proposals loosely categorized into three kinds of action categories: first, to enhance the functionality of relevant UN organs and subsidiary agencies; second, promote efficiency and coordination at inter-agency and the ground level; and lastly to raise the credibility and profile of the UN. The Secretary-General offers normative recommendations, but no specific policy or institutional changes, he leaves it up to the Member States and affiliated socio-economic agencies to create a necessary multilateral framework.
66th Session: ECOSOC and Follow-up
In early 2012, Member States and groups were already discussing and debating the 2011 panels and the Secretary-General’s framework note The 66th session informal meetings were being led by the Permanent Mission of Chile under Ambassador Eduardo Gálvez, with help from Kenya, Singapore and Switzerland. H.E. Gálvez noted that this year no substantive action was ready to be taken, and that the meetings were mostly conceptual, and normative; not requiring progressive action. He re-iterated this when he stated that the whole resolution was drafted carefully to not have any budgetary implications. They were discussing additions to 2011’s resolutions. Most States wanted a tangible change in efficiency regarding governance by utilization of the ECOSOC, but believed that they would have to discuss funding, if necessarily at a later date. Cynicism tinged the meetings with a delegate from Russia noting that hopefully one day the discussions would go from procedural ones to substantive ones.
A fair amount of attention has been given to global governance as a UN goal and integrated policy objective, but progress is uneven; with global governance in the environmental sector being given the most attention, and the redesigning of policy framework and institutional architecture dragging.
On 7 March 2012 ECOSOC hosted a Special Panel Discussion in New York centered on Global governance [on website include link to previous article]. The Discussion hosted three distinguished panelists and the President of ECOSOC, H.E. Miloš Koterec, designed it as an 'open free-flowing discussion with no formal statements'. Based on questions and statements from Member States, ECOSOC's role in global governance within the UN system is unquestioned but needs to be better defined and articulated in order for it to utilize its mandate as a 'logical platform and good compliment alongside the G20 and the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWI's)'.The discussion was moderated by Ambassador Gert Rosenthal, Permanent Representative of Guatemala and former President of ECOSOC, and three panelists including: Ambassador Albert Chua, Permanent Representative of Singapore; Mr. Roberto Marino, Special Representative of Mexico to the G20 Presidency; and Mr. José Antonio Ocampo, Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.
There were three 'Lead Questions' for the Panelists. The first question was: How can the UN's leadership and effectiveness in sustainable development governance be improved? What should be ECOSOC's role, especially in the post Rio+20 follow-up? The lead discussant was H.E. Mr. Chua. He stated that the UN is the only legitimate power in regards to global governance issues, but that other international, G20-type bodies were bypassing the UN in terms of efficiency. He stated clearly that the state the UN found itself in was because of Member States and no one else. For necessary reforms, he put forth three ideas. The first was for the UN to focus on its comparative advantage; coordinating responses and avoiding repetitions. The second was to improve its working methods. The third was to enhance accountability and implementation especially in regards to sustainable development. He then fleshed out his ideas a little further. In terms of his 'comparative advantage ideal’, he stated that recently there had been “no value added, no innovation” in terms of new programs. He stated that ECOSOC has many subsidiary bodies with cross-cutting linkages and that these issues, things like women, education, climate change etc, all needed to be dealt with in a holistic fashion, and asked that ECOSOC should “stop segmenting issues into thematic areas, because it needs a holistic approach.” This would enhance coherence and allow for the “weeding out of random things that have been thrown in”. Secondly, for the improvement of working methods, he stated that Member States needed to start working out their own problems in discussions. Whenever a standstill is reached the States give up and ask for a concept note from the Secretary-General, who then produces reports that “almost no one reads”. He declared that people are unwilling to review old mandates and then the inevitable crunch for time leads to agreements under language that no one understands. He asks Member States to make sacrifices for the global good. Lastly, he tackles the issue of accountability saying that the UN “has no teeth”. He requests that ECOSOC take this problem on in a comprehensive manner utilizing their role of bringing players together to address gaps. He acknowledged, “We want to the UN to be strengthened” but in order for that to happen, “we need to get our own house in order before governments can bring outside issues into that house for help”.
The second question was, “How might the G20 improve coordination with ECOSOC and the UN and produce greater synergies?” Mr. Marino headed this question, a special representative of Mexico to the G20. He started by saying that it was the G20's mission to improve synergies and coordination, and that he would be aligning his answers with the Mexican G20 Presidency. He stated that in the current globalized environment economic uncertainty existed within a weak global economy. He cited the main risk within the World Bank and the IMF is “the intensified global paradox of thrift”. He added then, that so much global debt was “fertile ground for volatile expectations”, this would in turn hurt medium-term growth prospects. He stipulated several priorities of the G20 group in relation to improved coordination. The first was economic stabilization by way of structural reform, which would increase possibilities for employment and growth. The second was to strengthen financial institutions, citing, “too much global restakeing”. He said that given the overall size of the world, the problem cannot be handled at the level of one nation-state, and that there needed to be a “deepening and inclusion within financial institutions”. The third priority was to reform financial architecture. He cited that one of the advantages of the G20 was that it could address short and long-term needs, with the surveillance capacity of the IMF. His fourth priority was that of food security, which would enhance market stability. And lastly, he cited the need for sustainable development within states. He summed up by saying that global financial institutions must take advantage of the specialized financial leaders within specific countries, that an informal environment is necessary to face the challenges of the interconnected world economy. He said that to maintain accountability, an institution must follow its mandate.
The third and last question was,” What could be ECOSOC's role in global financial and economic governance? What are the main issues and obstacles impeding more effective UN leadership on global governance challenges?” Professor Ocampo opened this discussion. Mr. Ocampo gave strengths and weaknesses. Strengths of the UN included: open forum at the global level; confidence from civil society and developing countries (he noted that the BWI's do not have the confidence of developing countries); the best development agenda, with both 'development at the country level' and 'development of society', the latter one being unique in terms of society, environment, and sustainable human development. He follows with five weaknesses: the UN and ECOSOC take on an ambivalent role in economic issues, displacing policy decisions to BWI's and ad hoc bodies; the boundaries between the General Assembly and ESOSOC are undefined, making level of political power an estimate; the implementation and tools for any sort of coordination are weak; the World Bank and IMF never quite fit into the general architecture, BWI's have maintained an orbit without being integrated; in terms of policy and coordination of operational activities, both are distinct and need to have a larger degree of separation. He specifically critiques the idea of 'a Board of Boards' and the unneeded levels of bureaucracy. He finishes his list of weaknesses by saying that ECOSOC needs to define its separate functions. He stated that ECOSOC is the best at dealing with humanitarian affairs, and that humanitarian affairs should be its comparative advantage (nodding to H.E. Mr Chua). Second, ECOSOC should be the cross-cutting body that coordinates development corporations. Lastly, ECOSOC should be the front-runner in the integration of economic, social, and developmental issues. He finishes by saying “This body should be the 'social development council', not anyone else.” and “at the World Bank you have bankers, at ECOSOC you have governments, civil society, and NGO's; different forums create different outcomes. ECOSOC is not economic and financial, but economic and social.”
Statements were made, in order, by: Mexico, Nepal, Chile, the EU, Cuba, Jamaica, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Algeria, Egypt, Brazil, Indonesia, Germany, the Islamic Republic of Iran, France, Belgium, and Nigeria. The main topics of discussion were: the role and legitimacy of the G20; what, specifically, is ECOSOC's comparative advantage and its level of effectiveness; and the issue of accountability and follow-up.
Meetings and debates are still being held on governance within GA plenary meetings and ECOSOC panels and debates.
21 Member States Launch ACT, a New Initiative for Better Working Methods of the UN Security Council
by William Pace, 12 May 2013
On Thursday, 2 May 2013, ACT (Accountability, Coherence, and Transparency) officially launched its initiative for better working methods of the Security Council. This initiative is a follow up to the multi-year efforts from the S5, in particular in regard to its draft resolution L.42 Rev.2 from May 2012.
Chapter 1b on Security Council Reform: September 2007-May 2013
7 May 2013
The Center is updating its 2008 publication on "Managing Change at the UN." Chapter 1b has now been made available online. The publication is intended to serve as a resource for academics, media, NGOs, and newly arrived diplomats.
No Strong Support for Drafting of Concise Working Document: Chair Proposes to Put Negotiations on "Strategic Hold."
Updated 7 May 2013
On 16 and 17 April 2013, Member States discussed ways on how to proceed with the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform, reacting to the proposals made by the Chair in July 2012. The Chair of the negotiations, Amb.Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan, believes that without a working document that could lead to actual give-and-take negotiations, it might be better to "put the negotiations on strategic hold."
Draft Resolutions on Security Council Reform: Growing Convergence between Developing Countries?
By Lydia Swart, 4 March 2013
Includes draft resolutions from L69 (2012) and CARICOM (2013)
Update on Security Council Reform: Another impasse?
By Lydia Swart, 1 February 2013
An update on Security Council reform efforts from July 2012 - 30 January 2013
Annual debate on the working methods of the Security Council - DPI report
26 November 2012
Joint Debate in the General Assembly on the Report of the Security Council & the Question of equitable representation and increase in its membership - DPI report
15 November 2012
67th Session Third Committee Preview
By Tamara Johnson, 24 October 2012
As the Third Committee progresses with its 67th session, here are some hot button issues with which the NGO community and some delegations (the off the record nature of the consultations informing this article prevents specifics) are particularly concerned.
Report on the Security Council Open Debate on Children in Armed Conflict
By Tamara Johnson, 28 September 2012
The Security Council, on 19 September 2012, held an open debate pertaining to The Report of the Secretary-General A/66/782-S/2012/26 on the status of children in armed conflicts and Resolution 2068(2012), the Security Council’s response to the Secretary-General’s report. While this subject of protecting children seems noncontroversial, the resolution proved more polemical than one may have expected. The principle subject under dispute was the reach of the Security Council’s mandate to protect children in armed conflict. The modalities of such protection and the efficacy or appropriateness of different options were also discussed. This report outlines key aspects of the resolution and the lines of argument the debate followed.
Report on Rio+20 Outcome and Migration: Including all stakeholders in the future we want
By Tamara Johnson, 30 August 2012
On 22 August 2012, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the MacArthur Foundation hosted a seminar to review issues surrounding migration policy in a human rights-based framework, as outlined in the Rio+20 outcome document, "The Future We Want.” This report summarizes the statements made at the event.
Report on the Committee for Development Policy Strategy Beyond 2015
By Tamara Johnson, 10 August 2012
On 23 July 2012, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) heard a briefing by members of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) regarding development strategy post-2015. The Vice-President of the Council, H.E. Mr. Luis Alfonso de Alba, opened the meeting. CDP members Ms. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor of International Affairs, The New School; and Mr. Norman Girvan, Professional Research Fellow, UWI Graduate Institute of International Relations, University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago reviewed the Committee’s recent report, United Nations Development Strategy Beyond 2015. This article provides a summary of the briefing and the CDP report.
Report on ECOSOC Panel Discussion: "Improving capacities for evidence-based humanitarian decision-making”
By Tamara Johnson, 5 August 2012
On 19 July 2012, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held a panel discussion, “Improving capacities for evidence-based humanitarian decision-making,” as part of its humanitarian affairs segment on special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance. This report provides a summary of the meeting.
Letter of the Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on SC Reform outlines negotiations thus far and possible ways to move the process along
By Lydia Swart
On 25 July 2012, Amb. Zahir Tanin, in his capacity as Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform, wrote a letter to the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, in which he provided an overview of the intergovernmental negotiations to date while also outlining possible ways to move the process along, including a concise working document to be drafted by the Chair. It is noteworthy that in spite of this bold move, Amb. Tanin was reappointed by the President of the General Assembly of the 67th Session as Chair of the negotiations.
Report on the Security Council Open Debate on the Peacebuilding Commission
By Tamara Johnson, 20 July 2012
On 12 July 2012, The Security Council (SC) met with representatives of the World Bank and the Chair and former Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) to debate the PBC’s efficacy and relevance. SC President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, Her Excellency María Angela Holguín, convened the debate pursuant to the Report of the Peacebuilding Commission on its fifth session (S/2012/70) and a Note Verbale dated 2 July 2012 from the Permanent Mission of Colombia to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (S/2012/511). This report provides a summary of the meeting.
Report on ECOSOC Panel Discussion: “Mobilizing partnerships for development, including in the field of education.”
By Tamara Johnson, 22 July 2012
On 11 July 2012, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held a panel discussion, “Mobilizing partnerships for development, including in the field of education.” Vice-President of the Council, H.E. Mr. Mootaz Ahmadein Khalil (Egypt) chaired the panel, which was moderated by Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Assistant Secretary-General and Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, United Nations Development Programme. This report provides a summary of the meeting.
Report of the 4th Thematic Meeting in the Ad Hoc Working Group on Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly
By Mie Hansen,28 June 2012
On 1 June 2012, the Ad Hoc Working Group (AHWG) on Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly met for the fourth and final thematic meeting, dedicated to a discussion of “ Enhancing the functions of the Office of the President of the General Assembly including Strengthening its institutional memory and its relationship with the Secretariat”. This report provides a summary of the meeting.
Report on the 2nd and 3rd Thematic Meeting in the Ad Hoc Working Group on Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly
By Mie Hansen,17 May 2012
On 30 April 2012 and 10 May 2012 the Ad Hoc Working Group (AHWG) on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly held its 2nd and 3rd thematic meetings, discussing respectively “Working methods of the General Assembly, implementation of GA resolutions and the agenda, as well as operational and technical issues” and “The role of the General Assembly in the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General of the UN, as well as in the selection of candidatures for other executive Heads of the UN system”. This report provides a summary of the two meetings
Report on Security Council Reform Meeting 10 April 2012
By Kirsten Schlosser
4 May 2012
On 10 April 2012 the fifth meeting of the eighth round of Intergovernmental Negotiations was held on Security Council reform. This meeting was devoted to the reform initiative of the C-10, presented by the Member State Sierra Leone. This summary is based on statements given by Member States at the meeting.
Report on Security Council Reform Meeting 13 March 2012
By Kirsten Schlosser
4 May 2012
On 13 March 2012 the fourth meeting of the eighth round of Intergovernmental Negotiations was held on Security Council reform. This meeting was devoted to the reform initiative of the L.69 Group, presented by the Member State Jamaica. This summary is based on statements given by Member States at the meeting.
Report on the first thematic meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly
By Mie Hansen, 25 April 2012
Last Thursday, 19 April 2012, the ad hoc working group on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly met for the first thematic meeting of the session, dedicated to “The role and authority of the General Assembly and its relationship to the principal organs of the United Nations and other groups outside the United Nations”
Harmonization of Business Practices: System-wide Coherence reform 2008 to Present
By Katie Jagel 23 April 2012
Harmonization of business practices was first introduced to the UN in 1977 within resolution 32/197 which resolved, “…measures should be taken to achieve maximum uniformity of administrative, financial, budgetary, personnel and planning procedures, including the establishment of [...] harmonized budget and programme cycles”. The idea made its resurgence as one of the five surviving clusters of the 2006 High Panel on system-wide coherence (SWC). In a 2009 outcome document from a joint meeting between the executive heads of UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, and WFP, it stipulates, “While simplification and harmonization of business practices in the UN system are not new initiatives, the urgency and momentum, the scope, and the approach are now new aspects of those initiatives.” ECOSOC has subsumed the initiative to a large degree, often with collaboration from the CEB, UNDG, and WFP, with progress shifting away from 'harmonization' and towards 'simplification' starting in 2010.
Improving the Funding System of Operational Activities for Development: System-wide Coherence 2008 to Present
By Katie Jagel 23 April 2012
Funding reform has been, and continues to be, a necessary reform to enhance UN efficiency. This article covers the progress of Funding as a cluster within system-wide coherence in 2008, to the present efforts of improving the funding system of operational activities for development taken on by the Fifth Committee, ECOSOC, UNESDA, and the CEB.
Strengthening Governance of Operational Activities for Development: System-wide Coherence 2008 to Present
By Katie Jagel 18 April 2012
Governance reform within the UN is one of the most active sites for comprehensive UN reform. Since 2006, simple ‘governance’ reform has transformed into the more formal “Strengthening Governance of Operational Activities for Development” and has been a fixture on several UN organ agendas. This article maps the efforts, debates, outcome documents, resolutions, since 2008 but focuses mainly, on the actual progress made by the UN on the governance front.
The “Delivering as One" (DaO) Initiative: System-wide Coherence reform.
By Katie Jagel 18 April 2012
This article is a summary of the Delivering as One initiative, monitoring the events which took place from inception up through implementation and subsequent evaluations. It tracks the events and debates which took place since 2008 up through the latest Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review planning documents, planned for late spring of 2012.
The Creation of a Composite Gender Entity: System-wide Coherence reform 2008-present.
By Katie Jagel 16 April 2012
The Creation of a Composite Gender Entity was one of the recommendations of the 2006 High-Level of System-wide Coherence. This article maps the progress of the making of UN Women since 2008. The years 2005-early 2008 are covered in the previous article by Jonas von Freiesleben in Chapter 3 on System-wide Coherence in the Center’s 2008 Edition of Managing Change at the United Nations . This article starts in 2008 and covers the Member State disputes, many concept notes and debates, and what the UN Women organization has been up to since its start date in February of 2011.
The S5 presents draft resolution on the Improvement the Working Methods of the Security Council
By Mie Hansen 10 April 2012
On 4 April 2012 the S5 (Jordan, Liechtenstein, Costa Rica, Singapore and Switzerland) presented a draft resolution on improving the working methods of the Security Council. At the meeting the S5 called for the General Assembly to take a stand to on the issue and suggested 16 May as a possible date for a vote. This article provides a summary of the proposal and the meeting held on it.
First Meeting of the 66th GA session in the Ad Hoc Working Group on Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly
By Mie Hansen 30 March 2012
On 27 March 2012 the ad hoc working group on revitalization of the work of the General Assembly held its first meeting of the 66th General Assembly session. The working group, established pursuant to resolution 65/315, is during the current session Co-Chaired by Ambassador Alexander Lomaia of Georgia and Ambassador Susan Waffa-Ogoo of the Gambia. The meeting was dedicated to a general exchange of views among the Member States on all of the issues included in the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly. This article provides a summary of the meeting and the statements made.
Report on Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) March 7th Special Panel Discussion on “ECOSOC and Global Governance”
By Katie Jagel, 21 March 2012
On March 7th ECOSOC hosted a Special Panel Discussion in New York centered around Global governance. The Discussion hosted three distinguished panelists and was designed by the President of ECOSOC, H.E. Miloš Koterec, as an 'open free-flowing discussion with no formal statements' between Member States and the panelists. Based on questions and statements from Member States, ECOSOC's role in global governance within the UN system is unquestioned but needs to be better defined and articulated in order for it to utilize its mandate as a 'logical platform and good compliment alongside the G20 and the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWI's)'.
Report on Security Council Reform Meeting 21 February 2011
By Mie Hansen, 12 March 2012
On 21 February 2012 the third meeting in the eighth round of the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform was held, dedicated to the reform initiative of the Uniting for Consensus group. Based on statements delivered by Member States at the meeting as well as conversations with delegates and observers to the process, this report provides a summary of the meeting as well as an update on the current state of the negotiations.
The Human Rights Council: Is it filling its mission as the World’s premier human rights protector?
By Thomas Colerick 23 February 2012
This posting provides an update of the Center’s 2008 article “The establishment of the Humans Rights Council”. It analyzes the achievements of as well as challenges to the Council since 2008 as seen from the perspectives of different stakeholder including civil society, UN Officials and UN Member States.
Update on Security Council Reform: Meeting from 26 January 2012
By Alicia Stott, 15 Febraury 2012
In a letter by the current chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations to the Member States and the President of the General Assembly, it was stated that in the interest of facilitating more in-depth discussion and evaluation the remainder of the meetings for the eighth round of the group will be providing each of the representatives of the five major initiatives the opportunity to present their most current proposals for Security Council reform, beginning with the G-4.
The Council on Foreign Relations posts video talk on Security Council Reform
On 11 January 2012 the Council on Foreign Relations posted a video talk by Stewart M. Patrick on Security Council Reform, entitled “UN Security Council Reform: Is it Time?”. Click here to watch the video talk on the CFR website
Meeting on General Assembly Revitalization 1 December 2011
By Mie Hansen, 5 January 2012
On 1 December 2011 the General Assembly met to discuss Agenda Item 120: Implementation of the Resolutions of the United Nations and Agenda Item 121: Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly.
This article provides an overview of the debate.
Former consultant with the Center for UN Reform Education wins prestigious award
By Thomas Colerick, 13 December 2011
Meeting in the General Assembly on Security Council Reform, 8 and 9 November 2011
By Mie Hansen, 7 December 2011
On 8 and 9 November 2011 the 51st and 52nd plenary meetings of the 66th General Assembly session were held with a discussion of Agenda Item 122: Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters. This article gives an overview of the debate and the statements made during the meetings, as well as an update on the developments in regard to Security Council reform leading up to the debate.
The 2011 Annual Report of the Human Rights Council
By Thomas Colerick, 8 November 2011
The 2011 Annual Report of the Council is now available.
Highlights of the Human Rights Council’s 18th Regular session
By Thomas Colerick, 11 October 2011
New report on the Human Rights Council’s fifth year
By Thomas Colerick, 4 October 2011
The Human Rights Council’s 18th Session (12-30 September 2011)
By Thomas Colerick, 28 September 2011
Update on Revitalization of the General Assembly: A RECAP OF DEVELOPMENTS DURING THE 65th GA SESSION
By Mie Hansen, 27 September 2011
Even before heads of state from around the world gathered last week at UN headquarters in New York for the opening of the 66th annual session of the UN General Assembly, the world’s main deliberative body, continuation of the ongoing negotiations to make the Assembly more effective, efficient and relevant were assured for yet another year. Member States have been discussing the “Revitalization of the General Assembly” for the past twenty years, but according to some critics only minor improvements have been made, leaving deep-seated reforms untouched. Even though all Member States seem to agree that reform of the Assembly is vital, recent developments confirm that it is still very difficult to reach an agreement on what should be done.
Chronology: The Human Rights Council – elections, sessions and important developments
By Thomas Colerick, 23 September 2011
As the Center for UN Reform Education once again will be covering the Human Rights Council more systematically, this chronology of the Council is provided. It includes elections, selected sessions and major developments and takes the reader from the Council’s birth in 2006 to today where the Council is currently holding its 18th Session in Geneva, Switzerland.
Panel on Improving Security Council Working Methods
On 23 June 2011, The Center for UN Reform Education held a panel discussion on “Improving the Working Methods of the Security Council”. The basis for the discussion was the most recent version of the S5 draft proposal on Reforming the Working Methods of the Security Council.
Qatar hosts workshop on Security Council Reform
On 12 & 13 May 2011, Qatar hosted a workshop on Security Council Reform in Doha. Lydia Swart of the Center was invited and she shared ten observations on this key reform process.
To move the process along, Member States, the Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations, and/or the President of the General Assembly will need to provide leadership by proposing a timeline/trajectory for the negotiations and by formulating a compromise solution that can garner support from all factions.
S5 presents draft resolution on Improving the Working Methods of the Security Council
By Mie Hansen, 2 May 2011
On 14 April, 2011, the Small Five Group (S5), consisting of Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Singapore and Switzerland, presented a draft resolution for Improving the Working Methods of the Security Council. The resolution was presented under agenda item 115 of the General Assembly (GA) that deals with follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit. The S5 had presented its first draft resolution on the topic (A/60/L.49) in 2006 also as follow-up to the 2000/2005 Summits.
Update on Security Council Reform
By Mie Hansen, 5 April 2011
Since the Center’s latest update of 22 June 2010, Members States conducted text-based negotiations on 21 October 2010, 11 November 2010, 14 December 2010, and on 2 March 2011 in their efforts to reform the Security Council. Some countries apparently continue to slow down the negotiations, while others may push for a vote sooner rather than later.
Book Launch, The Group of 77: Perspectives on its Role in the UN General Assembly.
25 April 2011
Pictured from right to left: Center President William R. Pace, Minister Marcelo Suarez Salvia from Argentina (current G77 Chair), Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz of Egypt, Ambassador Herman Schaper of the Netherlands, and co-author Lydia Swart. For their remarks, click here: Minister Suarez, Ambassador Schaper, Ambassador Abdelaziz (pending) and Lydia Swart.
Text-based Negotiations in Full Swing
22 June 2010
On June 16th the negotiations on Security Council reform proceeded with the third meeting of the fifth round. The meeting aimed at getting member states to discuss specific language on the fourth “key issue”. Many countries seemed to have misunderstood the intention of the Chair, however, and restated their positions rather than making suggestions for specific changes to the document at hand.
Potentially Historic Text on Security Council Reform
By Jakob Lund, 13 May 2010
On May 10th, Zahir Tanin, the Chair of the intergovernmental negotiations on the question of equitable representation and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council, sent out a long-awaited fax to all member states containing a “negotiation text”. The text and the annex can be accessed on the website of the PGA. The text includes the proposals sent by member states to Tanin's office since he opened the process of moving towards a text-based solution.
Open Debate on the Working Methods of the Security Council
By Jakob Silas Lund, 28 April 2010
On April 22nd, the Security Council’s Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Issues held an open debate on the working methods of the Council. The debate raised some key questions that are relevant to the ongoing Security Council reform negotiations. Furthermore, to keep the issue of its working methods on the agenda of the Security Council is, in and of itself, an accomplishment.
A New Phase in Security Council Reform Has Started
10 February, 2010
On February 5th, the Chair of the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform, Ambassador Tanin of Afghanistan, sent out a letter to all member states with an attachment of sixty pages. The document (available here and here) includes all “substantive input” submitted by Member States to the Chair thus far in the fourth round of negotiations. This marks the beginning of the fifth round, which, for the first time, will be text-based.
Moving Towards Text-Based Negotiations?
By Jakob Silas Lund, 21 January 2010
The previous month was an eventful one in terms of the Security Council reform process. On December 23rd, a group of countries sent a letter to the Chair of the intergovernmental negotiations, Ambassador Tanin of Afghanistan, urging him to present a composite paper. Following that, Tanin received a number of other letters concerning the process and on January 14th he replied with his own letter to all member states. This all culminated in the latest round of negotiations on January 19th and 20th in which the consequences of the letter exchanges were discussed.
Pros and Cons of Security Council reform
By Jakob Silas Lund, 19 January 2010
Through extensive interviews with experts as well as current and former Ambassadors and diplomats who have been close to the reform process, this article outlines and analyzes the advantages and disadvantages of the components incorporated in the proposals currently on the table.
The Long and Winding Road
by Jakob Silas Lund, 11 December, 2009
On November 16th, the chair of the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform, Ambassador Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan, sent a letter to all member states inviting them to the first meeting of the fourth round of negotiations. The negotiations ended up spanning over two days rather than the planned one-day session.