With this report, the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) aims to contribute to the preparations for the 2005 World Summit, to take place this September in the General Assembly, five years after the adoption of the historic Millennium Declaration. The report provides an account of how UN organizations are working together to assist countries in achieving the Declaration’s objectives. This common effort is serving to broaden the perspectives of all parts of the UN system and helping them, both individually and collectively, to deepen analysis, expand knowledge-sharing, reinforce synergies and sharpen the focus on results. In short, the Millennium Declaration has demanded and facilitated the evolution of a more coordinated, cohesive and functional UN system.
The report concentrates on both accountability and action: on accountability for the UN system’s performance so far in helping countries to implement the Millennium Declaration and, generally, in improving its effective delivery of services; and on adjusting and accelerating action, as necessary, to help countries meet the Millennium Declaration’s objectives.
Since the Declaration’s adoption, new orientations and approaches have guided the collective work of the UN system in the key areas of poverty eradication and sustainable development; human rights, democracy and governance; and the prevention and management of armed conflicts. These are illustrated in the body of the report. Yet, the UN system still faces the challenge of fully transforming its diversity and complexity into a source of strength: one that enables its constituent organizations, acting alone or in concert, to respond flexibly and from different perspectives to the evolving international environment and to the changing requirements of Member States. Much more action is needed for the UN system to evolve into “One United Nations”—the cohesive force for progress and change that current conditions require and that Member States have demanded, in putting forward the Millennium Declaration.
The way forward for the UN system
In this report, the organizations of the UN system resolve to build “One United Nations.” Although not the only multilateral player, One United Nations could serve as a unique agent and catalyst of progress, applying its varied strengths to a common purpose. It would both support and build on regional and bilateral cooperation. It would engage in concerted effort with all actors—State and non-State—to advance synergies. Its constituent organizations would together have the ability to attract sustained political support, to formulate coherent policies and to translate those policies into coherent programmes and operations that yield concrete results. It would derive direction from a common set of goals and hold itself accountable for better results. The overall result of One United Nations, so defined, would be an international environment more conducive to progress and real change in the conditions and quality of life of peoples throughout the world.
Achieving One United Nations will require of the UN system specific changes in policy and in practice, similar to those that citizens increasingly demand of their governments. The report’s concluding chapter elaborates three categories of change: deepening understanding and better managing knowledge; achieving an inclusive, purposeful mobilization of all resources and capacities; and increasing transparency and accountability.
Deepening understanding and better managing knowledge
A collective capacity to acquire and create knowledge and put it to productive use for the common good is as critical to the efforts of the UN system as it is to individual countries. This means, for the UN system, concerted action to deepen understanding and to manage and share knowledge much more purposefully. On the conceptual level, for example, a compelling need exists to articulate fully the system’s understanding of the linkages between peace and security and development. In the development area itself, UN system organizations need to further together their understanding of how to advance a truly holistic approach to economic and social development: which fully reflects the mutually reinforcing relationship between pursuing the Millennium Development Goals and those incorporated in the wider UN development agenda; which ensures that social objectives are effectively integrated into economic decision-making; and which factors in the challenge of addressing existing inequalities within and among countries.
Individual efforts must coalesce into system-wide action to become centres of excellence within and across areas of competence, especially on multisectoral approaches.
The UN system must continue to intensify its efforts more effectively to manage and share knowledge and best practices, to better employ information technology and to produce reliable standardized data, all of which facilitate coherent support of decisionmaking and cogent system-wide strategies for public communication. As part of those efforts, the system needs to promote a system-wide learning culture, rooted in shared values and common objectives.
Achieving an inclusive, purposeful mobilization of all resources and capacities
As at the national level, a determination to mobilize all resources and capacities in the most inclusive and purposeful way possible should continue to drive change within the UN system. This means a system-wide commitment to overcome fragmentation and the pursuit of narrow interests; to surmount the obstacles to policy coherence and cohesive action inherent in system structures; to integrate sectoral interventions effectively; and to launch more multidisciplinary and well sequenced responses.
Further action on this front must take several forms, which include: promoting the participation of all parts of the UN system, in the pattern of the global conferences; engaging parliaments and local authorities and all forces of civil society in policy development and implementation; ensuring, within and across organizations, that the system’s conceptual and standard-setting work and its country-level operational activities proceed in a mutually reinforcing manner; and achieving a much more unified system presence at the country level.
Increasing transparency and accountability
As it promotes transparency and accountability as principles of good governance at the national and local levels, so must the UN system internalize and apply these principles as the core of what “One United Nations” should embody and convey at the global level. This means a common, system-wide position of zero tolerance for abuses, of openness to scrutiny, and of proactively implementing the most effective and reliable systems for monitoring, evaluation, audit and oversight, including system-wide action to evaluate UN performance in terms not merely of effort, but mainly of real impact in targeted areas.
At the 2005 World Summit, Governments should reaffirm their consensus that these are directions in which they wish the UN system to proceed, and they should act deliberately to advance that movement in the system’s different governing bodies. The intergovernmental consensus must entail a strong, renewed commitment to substantive progress on and among each of the Declaration’s three pillars, in order to strengthen the entire multilateral framework for collective action.
The Summit will have before it the Secretary-General’s report, In Larger freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All (A/59/2005), in which he presents proposals for strengthening efforts to secure for all peoples freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom to live in dignity, and for enhancing UN effectiveness in these core areas. The UN system’s future work in these areas will be guided by the consensus reached at the Summit, by the directives of the governing bodies of its constituent members and by the ongoing evolution of the international policy and legal frameworks.