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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

PRESS CONFERENCE BY SYSTEM-WIDE COHERENCE PANEL

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

9 November 2006

The United Nations could save up to 20 per cent per year of its current costs system-wide through eliminating duplication and consolidating certain funds and programmes, freeing up more resources for humanitarian activities, the Co-Chairs of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence told correspondents at Headquarters today.

At the core of the panel’s proposals was the idea of creating “One UN” country programmes, which would coordinate the Organization’s work in each nation, replacing the current fragmented approach to such initiatives. The panel recommends that the “One UN” programme start with five pilot countries next year. (For details and further information, see www.un.org/events/panel.)

“Any organization –- global, regional or local -– in time needs to reinvent itself,” said Shaukat Aziz, Prime Minister of Pakistan, and one of the panel’s Co-Chairs. “If we can deliver the United Nations as one entity, as one family at the country level, we will increase its effectiveness exponentially.”

Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway and the other Co-Chair, noted that, in some countries, up to 20 United Nations organizations were currently working without any sort of coherence. The panel’s proposals envisioned “one United Nations in each country, with one budget, one programme, one leader, and also one common office, where that’s appropriate,” he said.

Another concrete proposal was a plan to merge three existing organizations that focused on women’s issues (United Nations Fund for Women, Office of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues, and the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women) into one strong gender organization with its own under-secretary-general, in order to give women’s issues a stronger voice in the United Nations system, he said.

A coherent United Nations at the country level also required changes at Headquarters, Mr. Stoltenberg added. For that reason, the panel had proposed creating a sustainable development board to coordinate and make decisions on implementing the “One UN” programme, as well as a funding mechanism aimed at providing multi-year financing for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

“The whole idea is not to save money for donor countries, but to save money so we can use more money for development, more money for protecting the environment and more money for humanitarian assistance,” he said.

Mr. Aziz concurred, adding that “the whole exercise is not to cut a dollar here and a dollar there, but to recycle it for more productivity and more results.”

Asked about the staffing implications of the proposals, Mr. Stoltenberg said that savings could be accomplished by combining organizations and better coordinating financial mechanisms, as would be the case with the plan to merge the three institutions dealing with gender. Existing entities could be maintained, but made to coordinate their programmes under a single budget at the country level. In the long run, such initiatives would result in the mobilization of more financial support for the United Nations, he added, since it would be easier to make the case for additional funding from donor countries if they felt that the money was being spent efficiently.

Asked about whether there would be an implementation mechanism to monitor the panel’s recommendations, Mr. Stoltenberg said that that was the responsibility of the Secretary-General, if he decided to support the report’s proposals. “This is not one single decision to implement the report,” he stressed, noting that the proposals touched on decisions to be made by the Secretary-General, the General Assembly, and all United Nations bodies and entities.

Asked what the pilot countries for the “One UN” programme would be and how additional ones would be selected, Mr. Stoltenberg said that the Secretary-General would have to discuss that with the different countries. Mr. Aziz said it would be preferable if the pilot countries represented a diverse mix, in order to receive wide-ranging feedback.

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For information media • not an official record



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