UN General Assembly debate on Civilian Capacities Report: Nordic Statement, New York, 11 May 2011
Mr. President, thank you for organizing this debate.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries; Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
Every now and then an opportunity arises to step back and look critically at how we do business. The Civilian Capacity review presented us with such an opportunity. We were fortunate to have the visionary, yet pragmatic Senior Advisory Group at the helm of this process, and we congratulate them on the report. It contains a number of clear and thoughtful proposals that have enormous potential to make the UN a stronger partner in the field in post-conflict settings.
The real work, however, begins now. We commend the Secretary General for having taken swift action in designating Ms. Malcorra and appointing the steering committee to lead the process of implementing the recommendations. We are encouraged by the momentum that has been mobilized in the system, and support Ms. Malcorra in her efforts to deliver quick results through defining priorities for early action. The report points out useful suggestions that are already within the remits of the Secretary Generals authority. We encourage the system to make use of this and pick the “low hanging fruits”. We look forward to the first Secretary General Report in the fall.
Let me touch upon three things of particular importance to the Nordic countries:
1) Enabling National Ownership
We strongly support the recommendations aimed at strengthening core government capacities early on, such as policy management, aid coordination and public financial management. This is essential to enable national authorities take the lead in defining priorities.
We welcome the call for clearer, more practical guidance on how to enable national capacities. There is still a lack of understanding on how to address ownership in practice, and how to identify, nurture and leverage national capacity.
True ownership also requires full participation of women, as well as prioritizing women’s needs and capacities, and the report stakes out valuable recommendations for action in this regard.
2)Building Stronger Partnership
The Nordic countries are keen to see an enhancement of South-South and triangular cooperation in order to access pools of capacity. We are fully aware that this will require further investment and resources from all of us. In the context of UN operations and missions, a system which builds on the use of “experts on mission” along the same lines as the recruitment of UN police and military observers, would facilitate such partnership.
In the status report expected this autumn, we look forward to learning about concrete steps taken to widen the partnership base, particularly with partners in the South. We also look forward to a UN that can make further use of existing capacities.
The peacebuilding process in South Sudan offers an opportunity in this regard. We hope that the report on civilian capacities can be used by all involved as an inspirational tool in preparing for and implementing the upcoming programs, building on existing innovative practises on the ground. We believe the secondment of highly qualified civil servants from the IGAD countries could greatly contribute to building the new state’s capacity in core government functions.
Lastly, on partnerships: We are hopeful that the proposed ‘Civilian Partnership Cell’ can be put in place as soon as possible. Well designed, it could be a key piece to enhance partnerships that will greatly facilitate and contribute to the overall aim of better and quicker matching needs with capacities.
3) A more nimble and flexible system.
In order to respond to changing circumstances in fluid environments, it is clear that UN leadership in the field need to be given flexibility in their day-to-day operations. We are therefore supportive of the recommendation to give Heads of Mission the ability to re-allocate 20% of the civilian personnel budget.
Related to this, getting the right people to the right places at the right time, calls for a better understanding of who in the system does what and where. Taking into account that all contexts are unique and the need for tailored response, we call upon the system, including the International Financial Institutions, to define areas of responsibility and accountability. This will reduce gaps and overlaps of efforts.
In closing, Mr President, we believe the civilian capacity review process offers a window of opportunity to achieve key improvements for more nimble, agile and relevant UN support. What matters in the end is how we deliver in the field, and we have every reason to implement immediate improvements that will strengthen our collective ability to deliver effective support, when faced with peacekeeping and peacebuilding challenges such as those before us in South Sudan.
The Nordic countries will continue to support this process in any way we can.
I thank you for your attention.