Minister Martin praises progress in United Nations Reform Effort. Ireland helps to lead way in advancing Gender equality and women’s empowerment
The United Nations General Assembly adopted an Irish-led measure this week which could significantly advance the process of UN reform.
The initiative, led by Ireland in partnership with Tanzania is intended to improve the delivery of development assistance by the United Nations at country level. The countries’ Ambassadors to the UN in New York have chaired the “UN System-wide Coherence” process since the beginning of the year, supported by Irish Aid.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, T.D., welcoming the breakthrough, said:
“Ireland is absolutely committed to the reform of the United Nations and we have developed a strong reputation for leadership in this area. The adoption of the Resolution is a significant moment for the reform of UN development system”.
Minister of State Peter Power, T.D., said:
“Ireland’s over-riding priority in dealing with our UN partners is to ensure aid is delivered effectively and efficiently. We decided as early as 2006 that we would take on the challenge of this reform process and our people in New York, in the field in Africa and Asia and at headquarters, have worked hard to bring about the result we have achieved at the General Assembly.”.
The Resolution, which was adopted by consensus, gives a positive political impetus to efforts to bring together the fragmented UN development system. A Pilot programme in eight countries has seen bodies such as UNICEF, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) agreeing a single operational plan and budget based on the priorities of the host Government. In the past each of these agencies operated on an individual basis. Ireland actively supports pilots in Vietnam and Tanzania via its Embassies in those countries.
The Resolution also commits the Assembly to taking an early decision to rationalise the various UN bodies dealing with gender equality and the empowerment of women around the world. Advocates of this reform have called for a single UN entity which can advance women’s interests at inter-governmental level and work with women’s groups in the field.
The outgoing President of the General Assembly, Macedonian Srgian Kerim, hailed the outcome as a highlight of the just concluded 62nd session. He paid tribute to “outstanding leadership” of Ireland’s chairmanship in bridging deep divisions among the UN member States on the long intractable issues involved.
The gender dimension was warmly greeted by worldwide networks of women’s non governmental organistaions. June Zeitlin, Chair of Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO) said:
“We welcome the step taken by the General Assembly in its resolution to strengthen the United Nations system to deliver on their commitments to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women.”
Note for Editors:
The broad UN system comprises the United Nations organization proper at its centre as well as: (i) the Specialised Agencies (e.g. the World Health Organization WHO in Geneva, the Food and Agriculture Organization FAO in Rome, the International Labour Organization ILO also in Geneva and the UN Education, Science and Culture Organization UNESCO in Paris; (ii) a number of Funds, including the UN Fund for Children (UNICEF) in New York and; and (iii) Programmes, including the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in New York and the World Food Programme (WFP) in Rome.
The Irish and Tanzanian Ambassadors to the UN in New York were appointed in January 2008 by the President of the UN General Assembly to lead consideration of the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on System Wide Coherence (SWC). Essentially, these are proposals to improve the UN’s internal coherence and its ability to deliver development assistance.
The main recommendations are:
- Establishment of a unified UN presence at country level, with one leader, one programme, one budget and, where appropriate, one office. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) would effectively become the coordinating body for the UN at country level.
- Upgrading of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to become the authoritative environment pillar of the UN.
- Establishment of a single UN entity to address gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The approach is being piloted in eight countries - Albania, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uruguay and Viet Nam. Irish Aid supports the pilots in Tanzania and Viet Nam via its embassies in those countries.
Resolution A/62/277 of the General Assembly on “System-wide Coherence” dated 15 September 2008 as well as the report of the Irish and Tanzanian Co-chairs (Ambassadors Paul Kavanagh and Augustine Mahiga) dated 21 July can be accessed on the United Nations website: www.un.org
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