Rethinking Bretton Woods | Tue, Apr 24, 2007
In this position paper the Center of Concern, International Trade Union Confederation, UBUNTU Forum Secretariat and World Federalist Movement assess the report released by the High Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence on late 2006.
The Center of Concern, International Trade Union Confederation, UBUNTU Forum Secretariat and World Federalist Movement have released a position paper "A Civil Society Response to the Report of the UN High Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence."
The High Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence was appointed by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, with the aim of looking into ways to achieve stronger system-wide coherence across the various development-related agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations.
(The report by the High Level Panel is available at http://www.un.org/events/panel/)
A brief summary of this position paper follows:
The System Wide Coherence process must have as an ultimate aim the achievement of the purposes established in the UN Charter. Paramount among these are promoting respect for the international human rights law framework and the international cooperation in the solution of political, economic and social problems.
The paper calls for a reading of the report of the Panel on System-Wide Coherence that locates it within a historical context whereby a growing number of matters hitherto under the sphere of the UN have been transferred to the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs). Another concern guiding the reading is whether the development system is one that promotes a range of options from a number of providers, or leaves provision to a monopoly. It argues that a certain amount of choice among providers of "development services" should not only be preserved, but fostered, in the interest of the health of the whole system. "Coherence", indeed, is not only achievable in centralized systems, but can also be present in a well-coordinated, decentralized ones.
The paper then assesses the process by which the Report has been produced, emphasizing the timeline, and the involvement of three groups of stakeholders: the G77, public in donor countries, and civil society in general. It also makes a series of general remarks on the report, regarding 1) the question of UN financing, 2) the MDG vision of the development process, 3) the orientation to results and the role of the private sector and 4) the limited attention paid to the performance of the Bretton Woods Institutions.
The paper goes on to make specific comments on Section II of the report (Development, humanitarian assistance and the environment). The Panel places much emphasis on the notion of a unified UN at the country level responding to national needs. It is argued the idea of a One Programme and One office raises important questions, both for which it might mean for UN operations at the national level, as well as for its potential impact on global agencies, funds and programmes. Then the recommendations regarding the areas of sustainable development, gender and human rights, are addressed.
The final part contains comments on Section III (Governance, funding and management). This section addresses recommendations by the High Level Panel regarding ECOSOC reform, the establishment of a UN Sustainable Development Board, the relationship between the Bretton Woods Institutions and the UN, and the call for the UN Secretary General to establish a Task Force to clearly delineate the roles of the UN and its funds, programmes and specialized agencies.