Background

At its fall 2013 retreat session, CEB had agreed that the leadership of the United Nations system faced two distinct challenges in providing support to Member States in preparing and, eventually, in implementing the post-2015 development agenda. First, the United Nations system needed to achieve clarity and a common understanding of key principles that would inform and guide the decisions of Member States; and, second, it needed to ensure that the organizations of the United Nations system, individually and collectively, were fit for the purpose of implementing / operationalizing the post-2015 development agenda.

CEB had recommended the following steps for its high-level Committees to pursue as a joint contribution to CEB at its first regular session of 2014:

  • The High-level committee on Programmes to elaborate a set of options on how best the UN system can support Member States as the international community strives to transition to a new, universal development agenda centered on sustainable development;
  • The United Nations Development Group to develop a set of options across global, regional and country levels on how best the UN system can support Member States in implementing sustainable development at the country level; and
  • At a later stage, once Member States have expressed themselves on this topic, the High-level committee on Management will also be asked to contribute to this debate.

Discussion

In her opening remarks, the Vice-Chair informed the Committee that the High-level Committee on Programmes and the United Nations Development Group had met on this issue, as mandated by CEB. It was agreed that, although the CEB may have envisaged a sequential order in asking the High-level Committee on Management to contribute to the discussion on fit for purpose at a later stage, the strategic repositioning of the organisations from the management and operational perspectives needed to be pursued concurrently, otherwise risking a disconnect between the goals and the means. Accordingly, it would be more effective to develop an approach that encompassed all three CEB pillars. 

A draft joint Chapeau to the CEB Post 2015 – Fit for Purpose Strategy (HLCM/2014/CRP/1) was before the Committee for consideration. The Vice-Chair explained that, once finalized, it would be submitted to the first regular CEB session of 2014, at which time the contributions by the HLCP and UNDG would also be considered. Subsequently, HLCM would prepare its input on fit for purpose as an input to the second regular CEB session of 2014. 

The Vice-Chair observed that the HLCM Strategic Plan 2013-2016 provided a strong basis for the Committee’s contribution. She also noted that, in the Committee’s discussions during the session, links had been made between a number of items on the agenda and fitness-for-purpose, including staff safety and security, the review of the United Nations compensation package, and joint service centres. 

With respect to the text of the draft joint Chapeau, the Vice-Chair proposed introducing a free-standing paragraph describing the Committee’s anticipated contribution to CEB’s consideration of the matter.  She invited members to provide written comments on the draft language that is relevant to the High-level Committee on Management. 

In the discussion that followed, the Secretary of CEB emphasized the importance of the Committee’s contribution to the fit-for-purpose discussion as management and administration are vital to supporting policy and programme work. The Committee also recognized the need for the United Nations system to be fit to implement the broader United Nations Charter, not only the post-2015 development agenda that is being promulgated by Member States. 

One agency suggested that the HLCM’s input to the fit for purpose exercise provided an opportunity to address how agencies, funds and programmes would implement the approach called for by QCPR mandate 155 on the provision of common support services to agencies operating at country level, including through the development of a template for common planning at the country level for the provision of common support services. 

Action

The Committee:

  • Agreed to review and provide written comments on the draft joint Chapeau to the CEB Post 2015 – Fit for Purpose Strategy, ahead of the CEB first regular session of 2014. 
  • Requested the CEB secretariat to prepare and circulate for comment a draft outline, drawing on the Committee’s Strategic Plan 2013-2016, of the Committee’s contribution to the fit-for-purpose discussion to be held at the second regular CEB session of 2014, and to subsequently prepare a draft paper, following a consultative process among all HLCM members, for the Committee’s endorsement at its twenty-eighth session.