Committee on Technical Cooperation
THIRD ITEM ON THE AGENDA
Further developments concerning operational
activities in the United Nations system
(a) Integrated follow-up on global conferences
(b) Gender and development
(c) Collaboration with civil society organizations
(d) Strategic frameworks
(e) Humanitarian assistance
(f) Capacity building
1. Operational activities for development constitute a major aspect of United Nations reform measures. This paper provides an overview of reforms in the UN system, with particular emphasis on programme and operational activities and aspects that have implications for the ILO's technical cooperation activities.
2. The report submitted to the Committee in November 1998(1) covered a broad range of the ongoing reform measures and discussions in the General Assembly and ECOSOC concerning operational activities in the United Nations system. This report highlights three major developments with relevance to the ILO.
3. The first major event was the general discussion on the role of the ILO in technical cooperation at the International Labour Conference in June 1999, which concluded that partnerships with the donor community, development banks, Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations system were important to the ILO. The Committee called on the Organization to intensify its efforts to actively promote its core values and principles throughout the UN system organizations so that their programmes and activities encouraged and promoted ILO values and standards.(2) The Committee emphasized the importance of the ILO's active involvement in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) to ensure that the priorities of its constituents are effectively pursued and reflected in the UNDAF process while maintaining its unique tripartite values.
4. The second major event was the substantive session of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held in Geneva in July, where the UN Secretary-General presented three reports:
5. All three reports hold implications for the ILO. In particular, General Assembly resolution 53/192 on the triennial policy review of December 1998 plays a central role in the reform measures.
6. The third major event was the new orientation for ILO activities as expressed in the Programme and Budget for 2000-01. This involves four major strategic objectives:
I. The Common Country
Assessment and the
United Nations Development Assistance Framework
7. In his report to the Substantive Session of ECOSOC held in Geneva in July 1999, the UN Secretary-General noted the significant progress made in the implementation of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and Common Country Assessment (CCA) exercises as tools for promoting goal-oriented collaboration, programmatic coherence and mutual reinforcement. As reported in 1998,(3) the pilot exercises were completed and assessed last year with inputs from the ILO. Based on the lessons learned from the pilot phase and policy guidance from General Assembly resolution 53/192, the provisional guidelines were revised by the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) and sent out to the field for application by all UN system organizations. Extensive consultations within the UN system and the World Bank contributed to the finalization of the two frameworks, as reflected in the ACC statement on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 53/192 and the Guidance Note on the implementation of the CCA and UNDAF.(4)
8. The provisions of resolution 53/192 are expected to facilitate the effective use of the two instruments at the country level, as well as empowering the UN country teams to achieve greater unity of purpose in responding to the needs of the countries and people served by the UN system. The Office has already issued guidelines to the field offices on ILO participation in the CCA and UNDAF processes to complement the UN system-wide guidelines issued by the UNDG. Countries to be covered in the next round of the CCA/UNDAF process have also been instructed accordingly. In addition, the UNDG organized a one-day workshop at ILO headquarters on the two instruments in early July for officials responsible for programme management and backstopping of technical cooperation programmes, which was found very useful.
9. The feedback from ILO offices in the field on the two processes was generally positive. Many field offices actively participated in the UNDAF process in the pilot countries (Argentina, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Romania, Senegal, Turkey, Uruguay, Zambia, Zimbabwe). They confirmed that the thematic groups in which the ILO was a lead agency provided a link between the Organization and the UNDAF process and enhanced the Organization's effectiveness in promoting its priorities. Moreover, the UNDAF exercise brought the Organization into closer contact with government agencies responsible for allocating resources, such as ministries of finance, economics and planning. However, in some countries full participation was constrained by the physical absence of the ILO. The general conclusions based on the responses from the field indicated the following as the major UNDAF advantages:
10. The following items were identified as some of the major constraints:
11. The Office will continue to monitor the evolution of the two instruments and will regularly assess their impact, usefulness and the added value as planning and programming tools in ILO technical cooperation activities. Now that the two instruments are operational, the challenges facing the UN system include: the rationalization and simplification of programing procedures, particularly those of the funds and programmes, and the need to explore the linkages between the CCA and UNDAF, on the one hand, and on the other, the other core missions of the UN system.(5) A comprehensive approach to countries in crisis will require adaptation of and compatibility between the programme instruments that are already in place or to be developed, especially in the areas of reconstruction and development.
12. The World Bank's Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF), which was recently introduced on a pilot basis, has added yet another dimension in terms of new instruments, although its testing will take account of the UNDAF guidelines. Further work will be required to explore and determine the complementarity and optimal interface between the CDF and the CCA and UNDAF.
13. While it is too early to measure the impact of UNDAF on development activities at the country level, action was under way through the UN Inter-Agency Working Group on Evaluation to provide guidelines on the design of a monitoring mechanism that will provide relevant information by using data and information generated from the annual reports of the Resident Coordinators, as well as ensuring the availability of data on impact evaluation foreseen in General Assembly resolution 53/192.
14. In his Report to the International Labour Conference entitled Decent Work, the Director-General emphasized that building new and strengthening existing partnerships with UN system organizations and beyond will be a major task of the Organization. Relationships with the United Nations system organizations, the World Bank and the major regional banks are important for the ILO since they define its profile within the international community and extend its reach to the outside world.(6) The Director-General also underlined the importance of partnerships as a keyword in ILO technical cooperation, going beyond the funding aspect, and of the fact that the Organization will be a full "team player" within the United Nations system.
15. The Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) noted and recognized early in the year the ongoing reform process and the "new partnership" within the UN system, which will enhance opportunities for joint collaborative activities and progress towards enhancing cooperation at the country level.(7) The ACC underlined the importance of the UNDAF process in providing a mechanism for greater collaboration and coherence in UN system operations. The consultations which began in December 1998 between the UNDP and the specialized agencies on "new partnerships for the future" could be a positive development in that direction. The ILO participated in the dialogue and in a series of meetings to determine the goals, objectives and principles, as well as the added value of this partnership.
16. The basic objectives are to build confidence and understanding of each other's role, mandate, priorities and comparative advantages, to develop joint strategies and coherent programming approaches, and to increase resource mobilization efforts for joint programmes. A pilot exercise will be undertaken in a few selected countries where the UNDP and the specialized agencies will collaborate in a joint programming exercise focusing on poverty eradication as a cross-cutting issue. The Organization will participate in this exercise as part of a process of strengthening its partnership with the UNDP. Consultations between the UNDP and the specialized agencies on further collaborative efforts in poverty eradication were initiated in May 1999 through a video conference and a follow-up UNDP mission to the ILO in June to review issues of poverty from the standpoint of the ILO.
17. It is important for the ILO to promote its own values and to retain its own approaches based on its unique tripartite character. In return, the ILO expects that other UN system organizations will reflect its values, priorities and basic social agenda in their programmes. In this respect, both the CCA and UNDAF will provide a useful vehicle for promoting the ILO social agenda, values, principles and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
III. UNDP funding and technical cooperation activities
18. In its decision 98/23, the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA adopted an annual funding target of US$1.1 billion and stressed the goal of achieving annual increases until the target is met. However, available information indicates that in 1998 contributions to UNDP core resources did not exceed US$750.9 million. The UNDP's Executive Board reaffirmed the need to reverse the downward trend and thus established a mechanism to place UNDP core funding on a more predictable and sustainable basis. The Board endorsed the Multi-Year Funding Framework (MYFF) which integrates programme objectives, resources, budget and outcomes in order to increase its core resources.
19. The decline in UNDP core resources has important implications for the specialized agencies and for the ILO in particular, as it decreases the level of extra-budgetary resources available for technical cooperation activities. Generally, a decline in UN system resources has an impact on the capacity of the UN system to effectively contribute to national development and on its response to emergency needs. In a statement to the 24th Meeting of the Substantive Session of ECOSOC in Geneva, July 1999, the G77 and China emphasized the importance of the funding of UN system operational activities and urged the developed partners to substantially increase their official development assistance.
20. The UNDP allocation for ILO activities for the year 1998 totalled some US$38.5 million which includes US$3.5 million under the Support to Policy and Programme Development (SPPD) facility. Despite the introduction of the Multi-Year Funding Framework, the future of UNDP's core resources is not promising, as some of the major contributors have already reduced their contributions or announced their intention to do so.
IV. Implementation of General Assembly resolution 53/192
21. The implementation of General Assembly resolution 53/192 on the Triennial Policy Review of Operational Activities for Development of the United Nations system and the ACC Statement are further important developments for the Organization. The ACC reaffirmed that particular attention will be paid to the full and effective participation of the organizations of the UN system in the CCA and UNDAF exercises to ensure greater cooperation among relevant partners of the system including the Bretton Woods institutions.
22. Like former General Assembly resolutions on triennial comprehensive policy reviews (Nos. 44/211, 47/199 and 50/120), resolution 53/192 reaffirms the need for the governing bodies of UN specialized agencies to ensure full implementation of these resolutions and requests the executive heads of the agencies to submit yearly progress reports to their governing bodies. In this regard, the resolution emphasizes that further steps need to be taken, in consultation with governments, to evaluate the results and impact of operational activities for development in order to enhance their effectiveness, transparency and accountability.(8)
23. The ACC acknowledges the progress made in strengthening the role of the UN system in supporting the national efforts of recipient countries through more effective development cooperation, greater efficiency and impact. This progress, enhanced by the implementation of the Secretary-General's reform initiatives and the reforms undertaken by other organizations of the United Nations system, is also noted by the General Assembly in its resolution 53/192.
24. The management process for the implementation of this resolution, which was considered at the Substantive Session of ECOSOC in Geneva, contains a matrix delineating activities to be undertaken through system-wide action. The matrix sets out targets, benchmarks, time frames and action and designates the principal actors. The Office has informed field offices and technical sectors at headquarters on the management process, with particular reference to the following activities that fall within the mandate and competence of the ILO.
(a) Integrated follow-up on global conferences
25. The management process emphasizes the importance of an integrated follow-up on global conferences. This is of particular importance to the ILO in view of its prominent role as lead agency of the ACC Task Force on Full Employment and Sustainable Livelihoods, since the follow-up session on the World Social Summit will be held in Geneva in June 2000. Furthermore, headquarters has drawn the attention of field offices to the role of the UNDAF in facilitating the ILO's contribution to coordinated follow-up on major conferences at the field level. Emphasis is being placed on the need to implement the outcome of the major conferences by fulfilling the commitments and targets agreed at the conferences. The report of the UN Secretary-General entitled The Role of Employment and Work in Poverty Eradication: The Empowerment and Advancement of Women(9) to the Substantive Session of ECOSOC, Geneva, July 1999, acknowledged the role of the ILO in follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development and the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995).
(b) Gender and development
26. The management process for the implementation of resolution 53/192 stresses the need for gender mainstreaming in operational activities of the UN system in all fields, particularly in support of poverty eradication.
(c) Collaboration with civil society organizations
27. The management process further emphasizes the importance of helping national governments to create an enabling environment in which links between national governments, the UN development system, civil society organizations, national non-governmental organizations and the private sector involved in the development process are strengthened.
(d) Strategic frameworks
28. The management process outlines the role of the UNDAF in promoting a country-driven collaborative and coherent response by the UN system in order to achieve greater impact, fully consistent with and in support of national priorities.
(e) Humanitarian assistance
29. The management process stresses the importance of development through strategic frameworks, where appropriate, with a comprehensive approach to countries in crisis situations, with particular reference to reconstruction and development in the ILO context.
(f) Capacity building
30. The management process stresses the need for action to be taken in order to ensure that capacity building and its sustainability are explicitly articulated as a goal of technical assistance provided by the UN system. The issue of poverty eradication and capacity building was also considered by the Substantive Session of ECOSOC held in Geneva in July 1999. Efforts are under way within the UN inter-agency consultative machinery (CCPOQ) to develop a shared understanding of capacity building and to combine specific technical goals of cooperation with capacity building objectives.
31. As follow-up on General Assembly resolution 53/192, a workshop was organized by CCPOQ in Geneva in July 1999, bringing together specialists with extensive experience in capacity building. The objective of the seminar was to review the lessons learned from the evaluation, conducted by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), to improve policy guidance of the UN system, to facilitate UN system interorganizational learning and to provide the basis for revisions of programming guidelines as well as improving learning and training by UN system partners. In addition, a delegation from the Substantive Session of ECOSOC representing 60 member States as part as of the High-Level Segment on Poverty Alleviation visited the ILO Training Centre and the UN Staff College in Turin in July 1999 and held a panel discussion on the role of training in promoting access to work, which was chaired by the UN Under Secretary-General Mr. Desai in the presence of the Director-General.
32. The outcome of the workshop organized by CCPOQ will be used as the basis for developing guidelines for UN system-wide application at the country and headquarters levels so as to ensure that capacity building becomes an explicit goal of UN system operational activities. The ILO was well represented in this workshop, whose results were reviewed by CCPOQ at its 15th Session in September 1999. Headquarters will ensure that ILO field offices are informed of the issues involved.
V. The UN Resident Coordinator system
33. In his report to ECOSOC on progress in the implementation of General Assembly resolution 53/192, the UN Secretary-General noted the significant progress made in the implementation of the UNDAF, the CCA and the role of governments in the two processes evolving around the UN Resident Coordinator system. He also noted that steps were under way to strengthen the Resident Coordinator system, particularly as regards the selection process, training, competency-based assessments and workplans. As part of its efforts to strengthen the Resident Coordinator system, CCPOQ has already endorsed recommendations of its working group on the Resident Coordinator system to abolish the Advisory Panel on Training and to use the UNDG Working Group on Training as its task manager.
34. This working group will work closely with the UN Staff College in Turin and the other UNDG relevant subgroups. The group will focus on a review of the learning needs of the Resident Coordinator system and on improving the effectiveness of ongoing training courses. The results of the reviews were discussed by the UNDG at the last session of CCPOQ in September 1999 as part of the system-wide assessment. The Office will continue to monitor developments in this regard for the benefit of the field staff as members of the UN country teams.
35. The report of the UN Secretary-General emphasizes the role of the Resident Coordinator system in assisting governments to implement follow-up action on the global conferences and commitments. The thematic groups and the new programming frameworks (UNDAF and CCA) were the main instruments to facilitate the performance of this task. The thematic groups have continued to be functional and useful as mechanisms for coordination and policy dialogue with governments and for regular consultations within the UN system. The ILO has been a lead agency in the thematic groups in a number of countries and has used the groups as a platform to promote its concerns and priorities. The Office will continue to monitor the functioning of the thematic groups and their potential for promoting ILO values in order to advise and encourage the field offices to continue playing a major role in these groups.
VI. UN inter-agency consultative machinery
36. The ILO has continued to be an active participant in the UN inter-agency consultative machinery on policy and operational issues. Through the CCPOQ, which is currently chaired by the UN Under Secretary-General Mr. Nitim Desai, programme and operational issues with UN system-wide implications are discussed and agreed upon. ILO participation provides a good opportunity for the Organization to promote its values, programmes and operational activities. The CCPOQ has prepared a number of important guidelines and guidance notes for approval by the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) and subsequent system-wide application. The ILO will continue to be an active player in the inter-agency consultative machinery as an avenue for strengthening partnerships with UN system organizations and the Bretton Woods institutions, which also actively participate.
Policy, programme and
37. Partnerships and relations with the UN are of critical importance for the ILO in defining its profile within the international community. The ILO will continue to be an engaged team player in the United Nations system, by promoting cooperation and joint activities. The development of a new partnership between the specialized agencies and UNDP is a step in the right direction.
38. The Common Country Assessment (CCA) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) stand out as two developments with significant implications for ILO technical cooperation activities. These two programming instruments will provide the Organization with a greater opportunity to promote its values and principles, and those of its constituents, through joint programming at the country level.
39. The ILO Declaration and its Follow-up will benefit from such joint programming through the CCA and UNDAF, particularly with UNDP in its programmes on integrated human rights, sustainable human development and poverty eradication.
40. The implementation of General Assembly resolution 53/192 is another significant development with implications for the Organization. Its implementation requires a comprehensive approach, over a three-year period, involving action at the intergovernmental and inter-agency levels as well as action by individual governments and the UN system organizations.
41. The General Assembly resolution specifically reaffirms the need for appropriate action to be taken by the governing bodies of the UN specialized agencies to ensure its full implementation. The Office will ensure that the ILO-related activities specified in the resolution are carried out, including: integrated follow-up on global conferences, with particular reference to employment and poverty alleviation, gender mainstreaming and participation in the UNDAF/CCA processes. In this regard, the Office will ensure effective follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development at the special summit of the General Assembly to take place in Geneva in June 2000.
42. In summary, the following may be noted:
Geneva, 16 September 1999.
2. Report of the Committee on Technical Cooperation, Provisional Record No. 22, International Labour Conference, Geneva, June 1999.
4. ACC/1999/7, May 1999.
5. Report of the Secretary-General to the Substantive Session of ECOSOC, Geneva, July 1999 (E/1999/59).
6. Decent Work, Report of the Director-General, International Labour Conference, June 1999.
7. ACC Guidance Note on the implementation of the CCA and UNDAF processes (ACC/1999/7).
8. General Assembly resolution 53/192, paras. (4) and (53).
9. ECOSOC document E/1999/53.