June marks the sixth month of the implementation of Secretary-General Guterres’ dynamic reform of the United Nations system. Taking effect on 1 January, 2019, the development system reform seeks to strengthen leadership, capacity, and the accountability mechanisms of the UN system to better enable it to provide essential assistance to countries in the most effective and efficient manner.
As Co-Facilitator of the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform, QUNO hosted an informal, off-the-record meeting to support the UN development system reform process to effectively advance the Secretary-General’s prevention agenda and uphold the contribution of civil society. During the discussion, civil society, UN colleagues and member states collectively considered the impact of the development system reform on the UN and its civil society partners so far, as well as key points of progress and challenges in its implementation.
Headway made towards the effective repositioning of the development system includes the adjustments made by staff in country teams to the new organizational structure, which positions the Resident Coordinator as lead. Another success has been the contribution of Peace and Development Advisors (PDAs) to prevention efforts at the country level within the new structure, made evident by plans to further expand the PDA program to cover more geographic regions. Meanwhile, restructuring of regional offices is set to enable stronger engagement with actors at the regional level. At the headquarters level, constructive collaboration between the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, the UN Development Program, and the newly named Development Coordination Office has played a critical role in setting the development system reform process off to a positive start.
It was agreed that the UN system has been experiencing an important stage of flux since the reform process commenced in January. However, substantial challenges remain in incentivizing more support from key actors to increase innovative financing. Other areas identified as essential to the UN’s transition included an increased focus on conflict prevention, strengthened monitoring and evaluation of country contexts, and streamlined information flow to the Resident Coordinator. UN colleagues also highlighted the importance of forming partnerships beyond those with national government to include civil society actors who often have valuable direct access to local contexts. Participants also identified a need to look at what partnerships mean in practice.
The Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform looks forward to continued constructive engagement with the UN and civil society during this critical stage of transformation to collectively support effective prevention within the reformed UN system.