UN Reform

The Reform of the United Nations aims at enhancing relevance and effectiveness of UN programmes and operations as a priority concern of the Member States. Read more about UN Reform here.

In 2005, at the World Summit, world leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a strengthened United Nations (UN) with enhanced authority and capacity to effectively and rapidly respond to the full range of global challenges of our time. Based on the outcome document of Summit, the Secretary-General formed a High-Level Panel on System-wide Coherence to consider major reforms on how the UN System works in the fields of development, humanitarian assistance, and the environment. By their nature, these challenges also expand the possibilities for collective action by States and other entities and actors, such as civil society and the private sector, enabling the UN to be the focus for concerted action to advance the common good.

In the report “Delivering as One”, released in 2006, the High-Level Panel offered a number of recommendations for development operations. The proposal is organized around four “ones.”

One Programme: bringing all members of the Country Team together under one nationally-owned strategy that draws on the full range of UN expertise.

One Empowered Leader and Empowered Team: the empowered Resident Coordinator is expected to provide strategic leadership throughout the programming process, bring together relevant analytical capacities – both national and international – and develop synergies between various UN “assets” and linkages between the UN entities with their respective mandates and other partners.

One Budgetary Framework: presenting costed results in one financial framework, showing each agency’s planned input together with the funding source.

One Office: harmonizing and simplifying the team’s business policies and procedures, allowing them to reduce overhead and moving into a common UN House.

Based on the intergovernmental mandate of the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) (General Assembly resolution 67/226), the Five-Year Action Agenda and reports from the Secretary General and the findings of the Independent Evaluation of Lessons Learned from “Delivering as one”, the UN Development Group (UNDG) is working on ensuring that the second generation of “Delivering as one” is firmly focused on results, strengthened accountability, monitoring and evaluation, and improved outcomes. The QCPR requests the UN development system to provide programme countries that choose to adopt the Delivering as One approach with an integrated package of support comprising Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

Overall, the SOPs will imply two important shifts: First, the SOPs shift the focus from the UN System planning together, to delivering together, with a clear focus on simplification and streamlining of processes and instruments. Second, the SOPs aim to accelerate reform in the area of business practices in support of driving a focused results agenda. The SOPs strike a balance between flexibility and standardization in order to be applicable and useful in a wide variety of country contexts, such as low-income or least developed countries and middle-income countries, each with its specific development challenges, normative settings, institutional capacities and UN presence.

A series of benefits will result from the implementation of the UN Reform.

  • Implementing the Paris Declaration, Accra Agenda for Action and the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. Working coherently helps the UN put the aid effectiveness declarations into practice by strengthening the capacity of countries to manage their own development, and managing for results through strong, transparent and accountable partnership.
  • More relevant programming. By thinking, planning and implementing programmes together, UN organizations can provide better technical assistance, support for capacity development and engagement in the upstream policy advice and sophisticated technical assistance according to government’s request.
  • Increased efficiency and lower overhead costs. By simplifying and harmonizing business practices and using common services and premises, UN Country Teams (UNCT) can reduce their overhead expenses. Cost savings liberate more funding for development programming and make every tax dollar the UN spends more impactful.
  • Clear picture of full UN System support to the country. Bringing all of the UNCT’s work together in a common programme supported by a common funding framework provides donors and partners with a clear overview of the full range of UN operational activities, financing and funding gaps. This helps donors plan their own expenditures more strategically and effectively.
  • Clear communications between the donors and partners and the UN. Communication between the UN and government improves thanks to more coherent UNCTs led by resident coordinator working in tandem with government coordination mechanisms.
  • Wider and deeper agency involvement. A more coherent UN increases involvement by non-resident UN agencies. From this process, UN agencies that are not physically present in country are able to spend more time advising their governments without having to set up costly office.
  • Greater use of national systems. The UN System is seeking to make use of national systems and capacities wherever possible, and to develop national capacities to implement programmes. This helps to strengthen governments’ ability to absorb and use direct budget support from donors.