STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MR. MOHAMED GAD, MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY, DEPUTY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF EGYPT TO THE UNITED NATIONS: QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS ON SYSTEM-WIDE TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND OVERSIGHT AND PARTNERSHIPS, AT THE BRIEFING ON THE REPOSITIONING OF THE UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM, IN PREPARATION FOR THE OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES FOR DEVELOPMENT SEGMENT OF THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL (New York, 16 February 2018)
G77 & China Questions and Comments on System-wide Transparency, Accountability and Oversight and Partnerships
The Group of G77 and China would like to note that the comments expressed today reflect the preliminary thoughts of the group on the issues of system-wide transparency, accountability and oversight as well on Partnerships.
First, with regards to Section VI, entitled strategic direction, oversight and accountability for system-wide results, the group would like to make the following remarks:
We reiterate our strong support for the steps taken in recent years to improve the transparency, accountability and oversight by member-states over the UNDS. We agree with the observation in Paragraph 103 that progress made at the entity level, however, has not been matched by improvements at the system-wide level.
A central question that we need to answer is how the system can align itself with the 2030 Agenda in order to enhance its direct impact on the ground.
With regards to the recommendation made in Paragraph 105 that calls for strengthening the role of ECOSOC, the Group supports this. We note that the Charter mandated all UN agencies to submit reports to ECOSOC. No such mandate however exists for the General Assembly. How can we guarantee that a strengthened ECOSOC will be responsible to the universal membership of the UN?
With Regards to Section A entitled Revitalizing the Economic and Social Council operational activities for development segment and related mechanisms, the Group would like to note the following:
On Paragraph 107, which discusses ECOSOC reform, the Group is of the view that coherence among the various processes needs to be maintained. In this light, the Group believes that this issue should be dealt with in the review process of General Assembly Resolution 68/1. The creation of any new parallel processes could undermine such efforts.
Regarding Paragraph 108, which proposes institutionalizing the operational activities segment as an accountability platform for system-wide performance, the Group supports strengthening this segment to provide policy guidance to the entire system. It is unclear however how this will be achieved through the suggested reforms. Moreover, the Group questions the rationale behind holding biannual meetings of the segment that have distinctive focuses.
Paragraph 109 proposes enhanced oversight by the operational activities segment over the regional architecture. The Group agrees that such oversight needs to be strengthened, however, we note that reforms should not result in a decrease in the information available to member-states. In other words, efficiency gains should not result in a reduction of the information contained in the reports. Moreover, we seek further clarity on the proposals for reform at the regional level, and how such reforms would recognize the specificities of the different regions and Regional Economic Commissions.
On Paragraph 111, which proposes using the operational activities segment to enhance guidance on the development system's coordination with humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding efforts, we note that such proposals should not go beyond the QCPR mandate. The Group cautions expanding the role of ECOSOC to areas beyond its scope. Furthermore, we seek clarification on what is meant by the Council's role as an intergovernmental space for reinforcing 'the Organization's transition to a culture of prevention.' How does the rotation of the Council's sessions between New York and Geneva serve that purpose?
On Paragraph 112, the group seeks clarity on what is meant by UN accountability to 'the larger public that it serves.' While we acknowledge the impact of the UNDS activities on a large range of stakeholders, the Group notes that the UN system is only accountable to the member-states. We would also like to seek clarity on how the proposed reforms enhance the accountability of the Central Executive Boards and the UNDP to ECOSOC and member-states.
With regards to Section B entitled "strengthening executive guidance, and oversight through a joint executive board," the group would like to make the following remarks:
The group agrees that there is a need to enhance system-wide coordination. Yet, it is unclear how the proposed integration of the Executive Boards would bring about actual changes in this regard and improve the work of such entities.
We do not envision that such a joint board meeting would result in the desired efficiency gains outlined in Paragraph 117, as different people from capitals cover the work of the various entities. There is also a concern that a decrease in the volume of documentation would result in less information available to member-states pertaining to the work of those particular entities.
We would also like to pose the following questions: What is the value-added of having such a joint executive board? Would such a merger lead to the dilution the mandates of the various entities or negatively affect geographical representation in the boards for developing countries? Finally, what are the costs associated with the creation of the joint board?
With regards to Section C entitled establishing an independent system-wide evaluation function, the group would like to note the following:
Paragraph 122 states that the Secretary General will establish a small, independent system-wide evaluation unit that is to be administered by the department of management and directly accountable to ECOSOC. In this regard, How would the independence and neutrality of this unit can be guaranteed given its affiliation to the management department?
Furthermore, the Group seeks clarification on the need to establish such a new unit rather than enhance the capacities of the Joint Inspection Unit, especially in light of the budgetary implications involved as outlined in Paragraph 127. We would also like to understand where DOCO figures in this system-wide evaluation function and how the new unit would relate to and interact with existing oversight functions. There is also a need to look at these reforms within the context of the other parallel reforms taking place, in particular the Management Reform.
It is our understanding that UNDAF evaluation occurs at the national level. We do not see how such evaluations could be conducted at the global level. Furthermore, with regards to the system-wide evaluations, we seek more clarity on how will such evaluations be guided and informed by the system-wide strategic document as delineated in Paragraph 124.
Second, with regards to Section VII, entitled Partnership for the 2030 Agenda, the Group of G77 and China would like to make the following remarks:
In general, while the Group believes that partnerships are important in the realization of the 2030 Agenda, including for some developing countries, as outlined in the mandate of the OCPR resolution, we would like to note that the proposals presented in the report go beyond that mandate.
Paragraph 134 states that resident coordinator offices will be empowered to serve as a 'one-stop shop' for external partnerships. This is contrary to both the QCPR mandate and the 2030 Agenda and is inconsistent with the reinvigorated UNCTs.
Regarding the section on the launching of the six partnership related work streams, the group would like to make the following remarks:
In paragraph 136, the Group would like to seek clarification on how these partnerships will ensure that priority is given to core resources and that non-core resources from partners are made flexible and aligned with strategic plans and national priorities. In this regard, the Group would also like to seek clarification on how these efforts will be coordinated with the national government.
Paragraph 137 talks about making acceptance of the UN Global Compact's 10 principles as a common partnership standard. The Group would like to point out that these principles were not inter-governmentally agreed and predate the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The paragraph also mentions that the UNDG process will "explore all options and ensure action as soon as possible." The Group believes that any options explored need to be considered by Member States before any action takes place.
Regarding paragraph 138, the Group understands that the United Nations Global Compact is a voluntary corporate sustainability initiative that is not part of the UN System. As such, we believe that it is not in a position for its leadership to be asked to consider ways to improve governance at the global level. The Group would also like to seek clarification regarding the nature of the Global Compact Local Networks and the role they are envisaged to play.
Regarding the Office of Partnerships and its expanded role, as outlined in paragraph 139, we would like to seek further clarification, especially how it will consider the role of Member States in overseeing partnerships.
With regards to Paragraph 140, the Group welcomes the reinforcement of partnerships with the World Bank and other international financial institutions and stresses the importance of extending this engagement to new and regional development banks.
Finally, on Paragraphs 141-143 which affirm the need to reinvigorate the support for South-South Cooperation, we would like to note that South-South cooperation is a complement to, rather than a substitute for, North-South cooperation. In this regard, we stress that North-South cooperation is the most important channel to mobilize the means of implementation needed for the implementation of the SDGs. We also urge developed countries to make concrete efforts in order to increase official development assistance in order to increase resources for development.