Deputy Secretary-General Briefs Governments on Resident Coordinator Reform
UN Photo/Manuel Elías
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The UN Deputy Secretary-General presented a preliminary outline of a 24-month plan to implement the changes to the Resident Coordinator system called for in the 31 May 2018 resolution of the General Assembly.

Addressing a joint meeting of the Executive Boards of the New York-based agencies in June, Amina Mohammed highlighted that their role will be critical to ensuring an enabling environment for the various entities to contribute their respective funding shares to the RC system.

27 June 2018: The UN Deputy Secretary-General briefed UN Member States on initial steps underway to “reinvigorate” the Resident Coordinator (RC) system. The planned changes are mandated in a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on reforming the UN development system in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

By resolution 72/279, adopted on 31 May 2018, the UNGA calls for separating the RC’s functions in each country from the functions of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative. The Assembly requests the UN Secretary-General, in consultation with the UN development system entities, to present a plan for the inception of the reinvigorated RC system, including the operationalization of its funding arrangements, to the UNGA before the end of the 72nd session.

A draft of the plan to implement changes to the UN’s Resident Coordinator system will be circulated soon.

Briefing Member States on 27 June 2018, in New York, US, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed presented the preliminary outline of a 24-month implementation plan. She said that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ plan will be issued by early September, with a draft version circulated “soon.” Mohammed plans to hold briefings and informal conversations with Member States so there are “no surprises” in the eventual plan.

The Deputy Secretary-General said the plan will:

  • specify the transition of staff and operational support
  • clarify UNDP’s new role in the UN Country Teams (UNCTs) on a fee-for-service basis
  • elaborate on the regional architecture and multi-country offices (MCOs), as well as on new models of physical presence
  • identify risks and contingency measures.

Mohammed explained that all RCs will be transferred to the UN Secretariat. The new UN Development Operations Coordination Office (DOCO) will be in place by October 2018, and the RC system reinvigoration will unfold during 2019.

Mohammed informed governments that an in-depth review of the regional architecture and the MCOs also will take place, the terms of reference for which will be outsourced. She expressed hope that Member States will be involved in the process, and said details on the engagement process will be shared in the coming weeks.

Mohammed said the cost-sharing or “hybrid” scheme for funding the RC system, as recently agreed through the UNGA resolution, will take time to implement, and therefore must be supported with voluntary funding from the beginning. To this end, she encouraged Member States to “frontload” their contributions, noting that their returns on this investment will be measured in development results. She informed delegations that the Secretary-General will hold a roundtable of ministers during the July 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), to capture their understanding of the new scheme. She added that she welcomes the support of the UN entities’ executive boards, and that discussions with Member States will follow the rules of the UNGA’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

Mohammed said the funding of the RC system will constitute the main focus of the Secretary-General’s proposal for a Funding Compact, which will be a commitment between the UN development system and Member States to ensure the funding of the UN development system. The Funding Compact is to be finalized through a Funding Dialogue that Mohammed said will be launched in the second half of July 2018 and conclude in December 2018, to be endorsed at the 2019 session of the UN Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) Operational Activities for Development Segment.

Mohammed informed governments about a transition team that is expected to be in place by August 2018, and work for 17-18 months to implement the planned changes under her oversight, while aiming to ensure minimal disruption to in-country work. The Secretary-General has appointed Robert Piper to lead the transition team. Piper currently leads UNDP’s Bureau of External Relations (BERA). Mohammed expressed hope that the team will benefit from secondments, and be representative of all stakeholders in the UN system. Mohammed invited Member States to provide input on expectations for the team, and how to measure its effectiveness.

Finally, Mohammed mentioned her upcoming visits and meetings with the African Union, South Sudan and Niger, and Chad, noting that she will examine the humanitarian and peace and security experiences of those countries in the context of the reform.

In an interactive exchange, Egypt for the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China) called for the implementation process to retain its transparency and inclusiveness. He underscored the need for data-driven implementation, constant communication with Member States, and accountability to Member States.

The EU welcomed the funding dialogue as crucial for ensuring sustainable financing for the UN development system by broadening its donor base “as much as possible.” He added that EU members will fulfill their fair share, and that it expects others, including UN entities, to do the same. New Zealand, also for Canada and Australia, acknowledged the Deputy Secretary-General’s message on the need for funding certainty, and said the implementation plan will help support the rationale for further investments.

On 1 June 2018, following the UNGA’s adoption of the resolution on repositioning the UN development system, Mohammed addressed the Executive Boards of the New York based agencies (UNDP, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the World Food Programme (WFP)), which were convened for their joint meeting. She said the “large-scale change management process” required to implement the resolution will rely significantly on the leadership of entities in the UN development system and their Boards. She specified that the Executive Boards will play a critical role in ensuring an enabling environment for entities to contribute their respective funding shares to the RC system and, more broadly, to “fully partake” in the country-based efforts for greater coherence, more tailored physical presence and common back offices. In many ways, she said, “the future of the UN development system lies in your hands.” [Deputy Secretary-General’s briefing] [UNGA resolution 72/279] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on UNGA resolution] [All SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of reform process] [Deputy Secretary-General remarks at meeting of Executive Boards] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]

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