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Statements in International Organisations


UNITED NATIONS General Assembly: Informal meeting of the plenary on the United Nations System-wide Coherence

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Sanja Štiglic, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the UN on behalf of the EU

Distinguished Co-chairs,

I have the honour today to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia[1] and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.

The core objective of strengthening the UN System-wide Coherence is to improve development results. Improved realisation of vision, mission and services by the UN is a winning proposition for all – the UN system, its Member States, and most of all the people who will benefit from the eradication of poverty. Experience in the One UN pilot countries is beginning to show us that the UN can improve the way it works with countries, to enable them to meet the MDGs faster and with lower UN overhead and transaction costs.

The EU found the debate on Delivering as One at the country level on 28 March a very helpful guide to the issues we are discussing today. We noted the stress many speakers placed upon the need for sufficient, core and predictable funding of the UN Development System to allow it to assist Member States achieve their national development objectives.  We heard the evidence from several pilot countries that some efficiency savings have been made and reinvested in development programmes.  We also heard how the pilots have not found that the availability of funding has been made contingent on new forms of conditionality.

Over the past years, contributions to the UN system have risen, which is a sign of willingness to extend support to its operational activities. Member States have in several occasions identified the need to overcome systemic fragmentation and to build on ongoing reforms. It has been noted that there has also been an increase in non-core resources for all UN bodies. These patterns are partially responding to ongoing fragmentation within the UN system and vice versa. It is, however, crucial to preserve the legitimacy of the UN as a neutral and honest broker with a multilateral mandate.

The EU considers the issue of funding for the UN´s operational activities both at central and country level as a key question which it is committed to address, with the objective of ensuring multi-year, adequate, predictable and timely core funding. Improving the balance between core and non-core resources is imperative to strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of the UN system at country level.

We consider that one of the prerequisites to achieve coherence of UN development programmes is to improve significantly the balance between core and non-core resources. Growth in core funding is an important factor in decreasing transaction costs and thereby supporting the effort to maximise efficiency.

Regarding financing at country level, the EU is willing to consider increasingly pooling funding instead of financing individual projects and programmes, in particular in the framework of the efforts to make the UN to deliver as one at the country level. The EU also encourages the UN system to continue considering modalities for the consolidated budgetary framework in the "One UN pilots" to transparently display all sources of UN funding, including agency core funding.

As we heard on Friday, more countries are interested in adopting the measures to improve coherence and improve efficiency that are being tested in the One UN pilots. We believe that increases the need for efficient funding at the country level.

Efficiency and effectiveness are both important for success on the ground. On one hand, the number of UN stakeholders at all levels has increased with time, which led to more complexity across the system. In practice, intricacy often leads to incoherence and when this is translated into financial terms, we are left with unnecessary costs. In other words, the harmonisation of UN systems across the agencies in the One UN plan will generate savings and harmonisation and efficiency targets must be part of the objectives for Delivering as One. We would like to stress one more time that the EU does not interpret “Delivering as One” as a cost-cutting exercise. We fully agree that efficiency savings, obtained through the reform of UN operational activities for development, should be retained locally and ploughed back into programmes. Special consideration should be given to mechanisms, directed into obtaining this goal, as well as to the question of flexibility that country teams may need in order to make best use of obtained savings. We therefore call upon UN headquarters to show this flexibility.

On the other hand, it has been recognised that increasing financial contributions to the UN development system contributes significantly to achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs. However, Member States also identified in the 2007 TCPR the mutually reinforcing link between increased effectiveness, efficiency, accountability and coherence of the UN system, the achievement of concrete results on the ground, and the overall resourcing of the UN development system.

If we are to see progress in overcoming development challenges, all stakeholders have to carry out their respective roles. The EU believes that funding remains one of the biggest challenges. The 2007 TCPR recalled the need to provide the UN system with adequate and timely resources with the aim of enabling it to carry out its mandates. The principles of national ownership, alignment and harmonization of donor programmes with development priorities of recipient country should be the guiding principles for development activities, as should principles relating to aid effectiveness in line with those of the Paris Declaration and the Monterrey Consensus.

Thank you.

[1] Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.


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Date: 08.04.2008