Remarks by Terri Robl, Deputy U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council, on Operational Activities, Given before the UN General Assembly's Second Committee (Economic and Financial)

Teri Robl
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
October 15, 2012


Thank you, Mr. Chairman,

The United States is committed to a strong and responsive UN development system, and we welcome today’s important discussion in our shared efforts to see UN agencies maximize their impact in developing countries around the world. We appreciate the Secretary-General’s thoughtful reporting on the UN’s development activities (A/67/93) and his recommendations for the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) process (A/67/320). These reports offer a wide menu of substantive proposals and ideas for us to consider, and we welcome the Secretary-General’s call for “strategic reflection” about the position of UN development activities in a changing global development landscape.

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to focus briefly on six themes:

First, while millions have been lifted out of poverty in the last twenty years, millions remain trapped by it. The United States believes UN development agencies need to prioritize persistent poverty and focus particular efforts on combating the chronic impediments to development and on supporting those conditions, policies, actions, and capacities that are essential to development success. In this regard, we also welcome the Secretary-General’s attention to “transition” environments, the role of the UN, and the call for greater alignment between development, peace, and human rights efforts.

Second, the report anticipates the need for the UN system to make “strategic choices” and calls for efforts to reduce institutional fragmentation. We agree, and see scope for advance in a number of areas. This includes further strengthening the Resident Coordinator system, simplifying UN Development Assistance Frameworks, rationalizing and harmonizing UN business practices, and exploring innovative operational mechanisms to drive coherence, efficiency, and impact. During this year’s High-level Segment in the Economic and Social Council, we heard several programme country leaders describe the challenges posed to them by parallel UN practices, and we appreciate the Secretary-General’s vision of a more “interoperable” UN system. While Delivering as One has made some progress, the independent evaluation indicated how much more remains to be done.

Third, we appreciate the Secretary-General’s emphasis on partnership. We have seen tremendous gains and development innovation when governments, the private sector, foundations, and civil society work together to reach shared goals. We also welcome exploring the scope for greater south-south and triangular cooperation.

Fourth, the report candidly speaks to lack of progress in gender mainstreaming. We look forward to in-depth discussion about how to redouble our efforts and improve in this crucial area.

Fifth, the United States applauds the recent decision by UN agencies, funds, and programmes to adopt transparency practices, particularly public disclosure of audits. Beyond audits, we share the Secretary-General’s assessment that there is substantial scope to improve results-based management, sharpen tools for monitoring and evaluation, and strengthen accountability. We need more consistent focus on outcomes over outputs, better and more compatible data to underpin analysis, and system-wide comparability of reporting to enable UN agencies and Member States to make informed decisions about priorities and performance. This should include more deliberate efforts to use, or build the capacity of, national evaluation systems.

Finally, in today’s financial climate, it is of course even more crucial that we spend every dollar wisely. We strongly encourage UN development agencies to take critical steps to make the best possible use of resources, including by improving the overall efficiency of their operations.

In closing, we would note that this year’s QCPR will be setting directions for the UN system early in our collective deliberations about the post-2015 development agenda. We should therefore ensure that the QCPR builds in flexibility to adapt to development objectives that we have not yet elaborated.

We look forward to working together in the days ahead. This QCPR cycle presents a vital opportunity for us to engage each other as Member States as well as wider stakeholders in development in an inclusive dialogue about the UN’s role and operational activities in a changing global development environment. We trust that, working together, we will be able to achieve a positive and practical outcome.

Thank you.


PRN: 2012/216