Since 2001, the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) has built its policy agenda around the themes identified in the Secretary-General’s first report on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration (A/56/326). In that report, the Secretary-General set out a broad road map for the follow-up process and proposed two topics on which the process might focus each year, leading to a comprehensive review of the implementation of the Declaration in 2005. Thus, in 2002, it took up the treatment and prevention of diseases, including HIV/AIDS and malaria, and the prevention of armed conflict; in 2003, strategies for sustainable development and financing for development; and in 2004, curbing transnational crime and bridging the digital divide. The outcomes of these discussions have served as input to the Secretary-General’s annual reports on the follow-up to the Declaration and provided the focus of the annual reports of CEB since 2001. The intention was to contribute a system-wide perspective to the process of monitoring and reporting by the Secretary-General on progress achieved in implementing the Declaration. Beyond this, CEB has sought to shape a set of common and complementary approaches to guide the work of the United Nations system in advocacy, analysis, resource mobilization and operational activities in support of key system-wide goals embodied in the Millennium Declaration.

The work of CEB during the period under review (which includes its fall 2004 and spring 2005 sessions) was dominated by the preparations for the comprehensive review of the implementation of the Millennium Declaration that will take place in the General Assembly in September 2005. This involved, in the first instance, an intensive process of reflection on the overall response of the system to the Millennium Declaration, as part of the system’s determination to be held accountable for its role in supporting progress in its implementation. The focus of the reflection was on the impact that the Declaration has had on the coherence of the system’s work and on the quality and effectiveness of inter-agency collaboration; on gathering, on a system-wide basis, assessments and lessons learned as to the strategies and interventions that best make for progress, particularly the linkages among them that most affect development outcomes and their sustainability, and on how the system can best advance them; and on collectively developing a vision of the way ahead for the system, encompassing a drive to further both policy coherence and managerial effectiveness. The highlights of this reflection have been gathered in a publication soon to be issued, entitled, “One United Nations — catalyst for progress and change: how the Millennium Declaration is changing the way the United Nations system works”, which should be read in conjunction with the present report. The publication offers a comprehensive account of how organizations of the system are increasingly working together to help countries reach the goals of the Declaration, identifies the constraints and challenges in building the United Nations system into a cohesive force for progress and change, and outlines the conditions for, and the system’s commitments to, enhancing its contribution to accelerating progress in the period ahead.

The United Nations system is deeply conscious of its responsibilities, through the quality of its interventions and the effectiveness of the collaborative work it is able to generate, for advancing the international community’s commitment to multilateralism — of the challenge it faces of demonstrating that multilateralism does work and deliver. At the same time, the system’s efforts for enhancing coherence and effectiveness will ultimately succeed only if backed by genuine political will and adequate resources. The political force of the outcome of the September high-level event in the General Assembly will be crucial. It should generate a momentum capable of being sustained in the various intergovernmental bodies that provide policy direction to the organizations of the system, and of focusing and deepening the common guidance that the central intergovernmental organs provide to the system, both in respect of development policy and management of the common system.

Chapters II to VII of the present report highlight the outcomes of discussions in CEB and its High-Level Committees during the past year on substantive issues relevant to the system’s implementation of the Millennium Declaration. These included issues, such as conflict prevention and curbing transnational crime, that CEB had previously taken up and to which it reverted during the period under review to follow up on its previous decisions. Chapter VI responds to a specific request from the Committee for Programme and Coordination for information on mechanisms to coordinate the fight against hunger, while chapter VII reverts to the issue of the United Nations system’s support for Africa and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. Chapter VIII focuses on the continuing efforts of the system to strengthen its coherence at the country level, and chapters IX to XII cover management issues including staff safety and security, enhancing human resources management, the impact on management and programmes of the changing relationship between regular and voluntary funding, and United Nations system oversight.