27 March 2018
Co-Facilitators Issue Zero Draft on UN Development System Reform
Photo by IISD/ENB
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The zero draft of a UNGA resolution on repositioning the UN development system was circulated on 21 March 2018.

The document includes sections on seven major changes proposed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his December 2017 Report.

Governments provided general comments to the zero draft in a meeting that took place on 23 March 2018, and negotiations continue on 27 March.

21 March 2018: The co-facilitators for negotiations on repositioning the UN development system circulated the zero draft of a UN General Assembly resolution, which responds to seven major changes proposed by the UN Secretary-General. Co-facilitators Sabri Boukadoum, Permanent Representative of Algeria, and Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark, will develop a “compiled overview of inputs” from UN Member States on the text.

The structure of the zero draft, circulated on 21 March, largely aligns with the seven major changes proposed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his December 2017 report. The respective sections of the text are: a new generation of UN country teams (UNCTs); reinvigorating the role of the Resident Coordinator (RC) system; revamping the regional approach; strategic direction, oversight and accountability for system-wide results; funding the UN development system; and following up on the UN development system repositioning efforts at the global, regional and country levels. This final section addresses two areas of the Secretary-General’s proposals: the system-wide strategic document and the system-wide approach to partnerships.

By the zero draft’s section on ‘A new generation of UNCTs,’ Member States would request the Secretary-General to work through the (proposed) UN Sustainable Development Group in ensuring the use of needs-based and indicative quantitative criteria to determine the presence and the composition of UNCTs. This process would take into account country priorities and national governments’ requests.

On ‘Reinvigorating the role of the RC system,’ the text would request the Secretary-General to strengthen RCs’ leadership and authority, as well as system-wide accountability for implementing the 2030 Agenda. Specific ways include: enhanced authorities for the RC to ensure alignment of both agency progammes with the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and of inter-agency pooled funding with national priorities; the establishment of a “matrixed” reporting model, with UNCTs members accountable and reporting to their respective entities on individual mandates, and reporting to the RC on respective contributions to collective results towards achievement of the 2030 Agenda at the country level; and a collectively owned dispute resolution mechanism.

On ‘Revamping the regional approach,’ by the zero draft Member States would encourage the Secretary-General to immediately implement the measures proposed to optimize functions and enhance collaboration at the regional and sub-regional levels. They also would “look forward” to options for longer-term restructuring of the UN’s regional assets at the UN Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) 2019 Operational Activities for Development segment (OAS).

On ‘Strategic direction, oversight and accountability for system-wide results,’ the UNGA “takes note” of the Secretary-General’s proposal to gradually merge the NY-based Executive Boards of funds and programmes, and decides to grant decision-making authority on areas of joint action to the existing joint meeting of the Executive Boards. They also welcome the proposed establishment of a dedicated system-wide evaluation unit.

On ‘Funding the UN development system,’ the text requests the UN development system, as part of its commitment to the Funding Compact, to: provide annual reporting on system-wide support to the SDGs and present aggregated information on system-wide results by 2021; undergo independent system-wide evaluations of results achieved, at global, regional and country levels; allocate at least 15% of non-core resources to joint activities; and enhance visibility of Member States’ contributions to core resources and pooled funds, and related results.

On ‘Following-up on the UN development system repositioning efforts at the global, regional and country level,’ the zero draft requests the Secretary-General to submit the next system-wide strategic document to the 2019 OAS session. Member States also would “welcome” the Secretary-General’s proposals to strengthen the UN’s system-wide approach to partnerships.

Governments provided general comments on the zero draft in a meeting on 23 March 2018 in New York, US. The consultation process continues on 27 March, and is expected to conclude in mid-April. [Co-facilitators’ Letter, Zero Draft, and Updated Negotiation Schedule] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on governments’ feedback to the zero draft outline] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on December 2017 reform proposals] [SDG Knowledge Hub brief on repositioning proposals] [SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of UN reform processes]

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