Intergovernmental Consultations on UN Development System Reform Commence
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Co-facilitator Ib Petersen noted that the deadline for finalizing the consultations is mid-April, until which time the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions will also evaluate the financial implications of the agreed reform proposals.

The co-facilitators will send an elements paper for the zero draft on Monday, 12 March, to which delegations are invited to submit written feedback by Wednesday, 14 March.

Space is being sought for consultations to start on 16 March.

8 March 2018: During the first meeting of the intergovernmental consultations on the repositioning of the UN development system, UN Member States expressed their views on the process and the outcome document of the consultations. Co-facilitators Sabri Boukadoum, Permanent Representative of Algeria, and Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark, provided governments with updates regarding the timeline for the process and the proposed basis for negotiations.

The “repositioning” process started with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) dialogue series in 2014-2015 on positioning the UN development system for a post-2015 era, followed by the UNGA’s adoption of the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) 2017-2020. Since the QCPR’s adoption in December 2016, the UN Secretary-General has delivered two reports containing reform proposals, in June and December 2017, as mandated by the QCPR. The reform proposals contained in the reports were discussed informally by Member States in a series of briefings organized by Marc Pecsteen (Belgium), ECOSOC Vice-President, from 29 January to 22 February 2018. The ECOSOC Secretariat also published eight “explanatory notes” that respond to questions raised by Member States during the briefings. The first official discussion on the reform proposals took place during the ECOSOC Operational Activities for Development Segment (OAS), which was held from 27 February to 1 March 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York, US.

The co-facilitators plan to send a timeline for consultations soon, with one or two meetings per week until April and with more meetings per week in April, as the deadline approaches.

Opening the meeting on 8 March, Boukadoum said the OAS summary circulated by the ECOSOC Vice-President on 6 March serves as an input to the discussions. Petersen noted that the deadline for finalizing the consultations is mid-April, until which time the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) will also evaluate the financial implications of the agreed reform proposals. The consultations are expected to commence on 16 March. He added that the co-facilitators would send an elements paper for the zero draft on 12 March, to which delegations are invited to submit written feedback by 14 March. The co-facilitators also plan to send a timeline for consultations soon, he said, with one or two meetings per week until April and with more meetings per week in April, as the deadline approaches. Petersen further proposed that the co-facilitators remain the “penholders,” as was the case with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, rather than discussing compilations of text.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand (CANZ), the EU and Norway said many issues do not require deliberations because mandates already exist, including for the Resident Coordinator (RC) system, the system-wide document and making UN’s work more efficient and accountable. They cautioned against reopening the QCPR by renegotiating issues included in it. Rather than that, they called for a short text and a process that respects clear deadlines, adding that they trust the co-facilitators to remain the penholders. The EU, supported by the US, stated that issues pertaining to ECOSOC, such as the OAS format, should be dealt separately, in the context of the ECOSOC review process. He expressed the EU’s full support for the Secretary-General’s proposals on the RC system, UN Country Teams (UNCTs) and the UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs). He also expressed support for the proposals on creating a system-wide evaluation unit, restructuring the UN Development Operations Coordination Office (DOCO) and the regional approach.

Egypt for the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China), and Pakistan, stressed that: the process should provide sufficient time for receiving inputs from Member States; the quality of discussions should be prioritized over deadlines; and the outcome needs to be substantive. G-77/China noted that the OAS summary can only serve as “food for thought” for governments, while only Member States’ inputs should be the basis for negotiations. To that end, he said the Group will submit a position paper that will include all the elements that should be included in the zero draft, based on both the explanatory notes and the opinions expressed in the ECOSOC informal briefings. He added that the ECOSOC reform should take place after the negotiations on the UN development system conclude, in a sequential and not a parallel manner. He also required clarification on whether the funding dialogue, proposed by the Secretary-General for agreeing on the new Funding Compact, will be part of this process.

The US said the draft should be limited in scope and have no programme budget implications. He added, supported by Mexico, that the ECOSOC review should start “in earnest” and take place in parallel, not sequentially.

Paraguay for the land-locked developing countries (LLDCs) highlighted that countries in special situations need to remain a priority in this process. Nigeria for the African Group stressed that the reform needs to address Africa’s priorities and be focused on: closing the widening digital gaps; addressing the “excruciating” costs of technologies for Africa; poverty eradication; and tackling international financial flows (IFFs). He added that the reform should also address “the perennial difficulty” in financing the RC system in Africa, as well as the development-humanitarian-peace nexus, through the lens of sustaining peace.

Switzerland noted that the Secretary-General’s reform proposals identify seven key areas, while the QCPR focuses only on three of them. She said the outcome should also capture the other four areas, including a road map for the Funding Compact. She underlined that the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) reform needs to be informed by the reform of the UN development system. Mexico also said discussions should not be restricted to the QCPR. He added that the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) needs to be protected, and its resources should not be included in the package being negotiated.

The Russian Federation announced the preparation of a position paper that will be sent to the co-facilitators. He said the process should focus on quality rather than on deadlines, and the resolution should be concise and set a path for the areas that need more discussions, such as the RC system and the Funding Compact. [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources] [SDG Knowledge Hub Policy Brief on Repositioning Proposals] [SDG Knowledge Hub Coverage of UN Reform Processes] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on the Briefings] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on the Explanatory Notes] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on the OAS]


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