Addressing Sexual Harassment within the Organizations of the UN System

Harassment of any type is antithetical to the principles of the UN, and sexual harassment in particular undermines its credibility and degrades its staff. The Secretary-General and UN system leaders committed to a zero-tolerance approach to tackling sexual harassment, to strengthening victim-centred prevention and response efforts, and fostering a safe and inclusive working environment across the UN system.

Artificial Intelligence

The Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) and its high-level committees, High Level Committee on Management (HLCM) and the High Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP), have devoted significant attention to strengthening system-wide policy and programmatic coordination and coherence to address the social, economic and environmental implications of rapidly developing technologies, including artificial intelligence, as well as to capturing innovation-driven opportunities for accelerating the achievement of the SDGs.

Attracting and retaining a highly skilled international civil service

This principle is the foundation of HLCM’s human resources management agenda, whose overarching goal is the continued development of the international civil service as an independent, neutral and engaged resource to meet the requirements of the international community, a workforce that is agile and flexible to operate with diverse partners in cross-disciplinary and multi-sectoral environments, together with leaders that have the sensitivity and courage to lead Rights up Front, and have the skills to convene multi-stakeholder partnerships.
Building on ongoing efforts, HLCM will therefore focus on designing and putting in place the building blocks in order to achieve the goal of establishing a “global UN system workforce”, including mechanisms to support system-wide mobility and cross-fertilization of skills and to amalgamate specializations, expertise, and training opportunities across the entire system.

Fostering safety, security, health and well-being of staff

The full set of priorities outlined in the past Strategic Plan was framed against a paramount principle: that the organizations of the UN System will preserve and foster the safety and security of their staff – while remaining committed to respond to the ever increasing demand for their services, despite the deteriorating conditions in which those services are being delivered. CEB strongly re-affirmed this notion in its Common Principle n. 11: “The organizations of the UN System will preserve and foster the health and well-being as well as safety and security of their staff – while remaining committed to stay and respond to the ever-increasing demand for their services, despite the often deteriorating conditions in which those services are being delivered”.
HLCM is committing with a renewed sense of urgency and a strong sense of resolve and determination to build on the experience of increasing tragic events to do everything in the power of management to strengthen organizations, each in their own way, to contribute to a more peaceful, equitable, people-centered world.


The United Nations system Leadership Framework was developed under the auspices of CEB to establish a common United Nations leadership culture aligned with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Peace and Conflict Prevention

 With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015, Member States agreed to a comprehensive and far-reaching set of universal and inter-linked sustainable development goals and targets, with the imperative of leaving no one behind.  The 2030 Agenda provides an integrated framework for action aimed at markedly improving the lives of the world’s people, protecting the Earth’ natural resources, as well as fostering peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

Quality, accessibility and reliability of disaggregated data

As the UN system starts working towards the implementation of the Strategic Development Goals, there is a growing need to measure, communicate, and share results. The 2030 Agenda commits “to addressing the gap in data collection so as to better inform the measurement of progress” and stresses that “quality, accessible, timely and reliable disaggregated data will be needed to help with the measurement of progress and to ensure that no one is left behind. Such data is key to decision-making.”
HLCM is strongly committed to supporting organizations in this endeavour, as called for in CEB Common principle n. 7 - Innovation, Experimentation and Data: “The UN system will collectively create space for innovation and experimentation, utilizing cutting-edge technology and data as appropriate, to explore new opportunities and tailored solutions based on changing environments and country needs. It will take a strategic, cross-cutting, system-wide approach to utilizing technology to facilitate joint analysis and decision-making. This requires strengthened UN data capacity and investments in disaggregated data availability and knowledge sharing”.

Risk management and resilience-building

The UN system has made considerable achievements in the past few years in the areas of controls, risk mitigation, transparency and accountability (including through the implementation of ERP systems, IPSAS, Audit Oversight Committees, Statements of Internal Controls, etc.).
HLCM is striving to consolidate a ‘trust based’ relationship between Member-States and the UN system. To continue to build this relationship, the Committee focused on ensuring the provision of consistent, accurate, and timely controls. In this regard, HLCM recognizes the strategic value of collective engagement to devise effective and coordinated approaches to the management and mitigation of risks.
HLCM has started developing a number of policies and tools in this area. The UN system must continue to build on them and devise a comprehensive new framework that provides for the appropriate vetting, monitoring and accountability of partners (within and across the system), for the safety and security of staff, for the mainstreaming of the human rights factor in every aspect of the UN’s work, and for the protection against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.

Sustainable business solutions for high-quality operational services

Recognizing the need to re-shape the operational model of the UN system, HLCM is exploring new technologies and embracing new approaches to business operations. This ranges from adopting new technological platforms to embracing ‘green’ solutions. This work has led to a significant shift in how the UN system works. Inter-agency collaboration, capitalizing on economies of scale and reduction in transaction cost has become a core component of back office functions in the UN system. To fully capitalize on opportunities, a clear understanding of the different business models in the system and how these relate to mandate delivery is also needed, to recognize the comparative advantage of organizations not only related to program delivery expertise, but also with respect to management and administrative processes.

Working effectively with multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral partnerships

Sustainable Development Goal n. 17 calls to “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development”. As stated in the Partnerships for SDGs - 2016 Special Report1, Goal 17 recognizes multi-stakeholder partnerships as important vehicles for mobilizing and sharing knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, particularly developing countries. Goal 17 further seeks to encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.
HLCM, as a body responsible for improved efficiency and effectiveness of the operations of the UN System, has a key role in ensuring that the appropriate mechanisms are in place for collaboration around funding, reporting standards, information flow, and data compatibility. Furthermore, new accountability models and reporting frameworks will need to be established and put in place. These are areas of work that HLCM is well placed to lead, both from a policy and an implementation perspectives.

Previously featured on the agenda

Climate Change

Climate change is the defining issue of our time. It is the ultimate test for the global community to unite and meet a challenge that respects no borders. It exacerbates nearly every other development challenge. At the same time, taking climate action will help solve many other social, environmental and economic problems as well. In fact, by acting on climate change we can significantly advance the sustainable development agenda.

Disaster Risk Reduction

Over the past decade, more than 700,000 people lost their lives and over 1.4 million were injured as a result of disasters, amplified by a changing climate and rapidly growing exposure to disaster risk. In 2015 alone, close to 20 million people were displaced by natural hazards. Reducing disaster risk is fundamental to protecting development gains and to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Global Financial and Economic Crisis

Since the unfolding of the global financial and economic crisis in 2008, CEB has taken special measures to promote a rapid United Nations system response. Starting in October 2008, the Board and the High-level Committee on Programmes initiated a review and analysis of the impact of the crisis and identified the major challenges facing the international community in meeting the needs of the world’s most vulnerable.


International migration - the movement of people across international border – has important implications for growth and development. More than 215 million people, half of them women, live and work outside their countries of birth. Migration is a key enables for equitable, inclusive and sustainable social and economic development to the benefit of countries of origin and destination, as well as the human development of migrants and their families.

Sustainable Development

With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, world leaders agreed on a vision and an ambitious plan of action for change: freeing the world of poverty and hunger, protecting the planet from degradation; ensuring that that all people can live prosperous and fulfilling live in dignity and equality, and fostering peaceful, just and inclusive societies free of fear and violence. Universal in scope and application and integrated and indivisible in nature, the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has the potential to be truly transformative. Its implementation calls for coordinated actions across the peace and security, human rights, humanitarian affairs and sustainable development spectrum and requires a deeper collective engagement by all stakeholders – governments, parliaments, the scientific and academic community, civil society, the private sector, the international community and the United Nations system.


In 2012, the United Nations Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) discussed the topic of youth and sustainable development in light of the confluence of events during the Arab spring and in preparation for the Rio+20 conference. Executive Heads exchanged views on the various dimensions of programmatic issues affecting youth, including youth employment, political inclusion, health and education.


Urbanization is one of the most important global trends of the 21st century. It is a transformative force that can be harnessed to enhance economic growth, productivity and development. However, today’s most common urbanization patterns are often not environmentally, socially, politically and economically sustainable.  The international community is gathering in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016 for the Third UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) to renew its global commitment to sustainable urbanization and a “New Urban Agenda.”