Coherence in the delivery of services by organizations of the United Nations system at the country level, particularly in the context of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, was high on the agenda of CEB during the year, and is expected to remain so in the follow-up to General Assembly resolution 59/250 on the triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development, and the September 2005 High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly.

In 2004, CEB took stock of progress in achieving greater coherence of United Nations system activities at the country level and considered further steps to maximize the collective impact of the system as a whole. It considered that one of the ways to achieve a better match between national priorities and United Nations system support of country efforts and a closer alignment of existing tools, particularly common country assessments and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), with national policies and processes was to ensure a more systematic participation of non-resident agencies, many of which are engaged in the productive sector or infrastructure support, in the overall development cooperation effort at the country level. It welcomed the emphasis placed on this objective in General Assembly resolution 59/250.

CEB noted that advances had been made in ensuring that the national poverty reduction plan provided the key programme framework in each country; in aligning the common country assessments and UNDAF with national analytical and planning processes; and, more generally, in enhancing the responsiveness of UNDAF and other country programme instruments to national priorities. CEB stressed the need to improve modalities to ensure that the wealth of knowledge and expertise available throughout the system, including among the non-resident agencies, is made available to countries in ways that effectively respond to their needs. Improved dialogue and information-sharing, better knowledge management and increased use of ICT were viewed as the most promising and effective means to that end.

With regard to country-level instruments, CEB considered that the effort should focus on making maximum use of existing United Nations system tools and instruments at the country level, rather than proposing new tools and mechanisms. In the same context, it was underscored that the resident coordinator system bears the key responsibility for harnessing the full potential of the system’s knowledge and expertise in support of a country’s development, and that for this purpose, a more inclusive mindset within the country teams is necessary and should be accompanied by measures to augment the resources available to the resident coordinator system.

Other measures addressed included:

  • The need to tap expertise at the regional level for country-level activities through improved dialogue and information-sharing by and with country teams;
  • Greater resort to lead agencies, when this appeared to be a more cost-effective approach, in order to pursue specific objectives at the country level;
  • The development of new modalities of field representation, such as those being introduced between UNIDO and the United Nations Development Programme;
  • The designation, at the country level, of focal points to liaise with non-resident agencies, so as to engender better awareness of their services.

The General Assembly resolution on the triennial comprehensive policy review is guiding further discussions on these issues at the inter-agency level. The United Nations system is committed to mobilizing all its assets to respond in a concerted and proactive way to the provisions of the resolution. A key result to be achieved is greater integration and alignment of the country-level activities of the United Nations system with national plans and priorities, under the leadership of national Governments. The active involvement of the system is being mobilized across the many different areas of action covered by the resolution, from the simplification and harmonization of processes and the strengthening of the resident coordinator system to monitoring and evaluation activities and capacity-building efforts.

To move this agenda forward, the High-Level Committee on Programmes is undertaking a review of the practical implications of General Assembly resolution 59/250 for its work programme and that of CEB. It is pursuing concrete ways for the High-Level Committee on Programmes and the United Nations Development Group to complement each other’s work in ways that best exploit their respective strengths in advancing the objectives of the resolution and related conclusions adopted by CEB in 2004.