The UN Resident Coordinator System
The Resident Coordinator (RC) system encompasses all organizations of the United Nations system dealing with operational activities for development, regardless of their formal presence in the country. The RC system aims to bring together the different UN agencies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operational activities at the country level.
The Resident Coordinator lead UN country team and is the designated representative of the UN Secretary-General for development operations.
Working closely with the governments, the Resident Coordinator and country teams advocate the interests and mandates of the UN system while drawing on the support and guidance of the entire UN family.
Coordinating development operations promotes more strategic support for national plans and priorities, makes operations more efficient and reduces transaction costs for governments. This helps the UN to be a more relevant and reliable partner for governments.
In more than 130 countries, the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office is funded and managed by UNDP.
The Resident Coordinator’s Office is found at:
United Nations Development Programme
Mbabane, Kingdom of Swaziland
Delivering as One: Making the UN system more coherent, effective and efficient
The "Delivering as One" initiative is a process that was recommended by the Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence. The panel made up of a group of heads of state and policy makers, was tasked with examining ways to strengthen the UN’s ability to respond to the challenges of a changing world. The main objective was to test how the UN family can provide development assistance in a more coordinated way and respond to the challenges of the 21st Century.
Launched in 2007, the initiative seeks to build on the existing reform agenda set by UN member states, which asks the UN development system to accelerate its efforts to increase coherence and effectiveness of its operations in the field through the establishment of Joint Offices.
In response to the High-level Panel's Report, the Secretary-General requested the Chair of the United Nations Development Group to move forward with the implementation of the "Delivering as One" approach. Subsequently, the governments of eight countries — Albania, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uruguay, and Viet Nam — volunteered to become “Delivering as One” pilot countries.
The pilot countries agreed to work with the UN system to capitalize on the strengths and comparative advantages of the different members of the UN family. Together they are experimenting with ways to increase the UN system’s impact through more coherent programmes, reduced transaction costs for governments, and lower overhead costs for the UN system.
Delivering as One has brought together partner countries, donors and UN country teams with fresh energy, momentum and a greater sense of common purpose. By strongly encouraging the eight pilot country teams to implement reforms and by giving them broad latitude to innovate and experiment with ways of working together as one UN team, Delivering as One has tested a number of different ways of working together differently.
The Four principles
The reforms of Delivering as One are based on four principles:
These changes respond to varied needs while drawing on all parts of the UN system, whether based in the country or not. The exercise has already helped to align our programmes and funding more closely to national priorities. It has strengthened government leadership and ownership. It’s ensuring that governments have access to the experience and expertise of a wider range of United Nations organizations to respond to their national priorities.
Several benefits to country offices have been observed from the increased emphasis on Delivering as One. Most notably being support to the productive sector, employment, trade, protection of the environment, adaptation to climate change, the global food crisis, and the financial crisis. This improvement has emerged from a process where UN agencies that aren’t physically present in the pilot countries have been able to spend more time advising their governments without having to set up costly offices.
The United Nations System supports national priorities and needs, including Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and equivalent national strategies. These are supported within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), commitments, goals and targets of the Millennium Declaration and international conferences, summits, conventions and human rights instruments of the UN system, as well as the achievement of sector-wide priorities as expressed in Sector-Wide Approaches, where applicable.
In recent years a number of reforms have been introduced to improve UN coordination, effectiveness and efficiency in supporting national goals and to reduce the transaction costs for government. Within this context, UN procedures for operational activities are being simplified and harmonized (S&H), while maintaining and building on the effectiveness and value added that each agency brings within the diversity of the UN. Principal among these reforms have been the harmonization of country programme cycles and the introduction of the Common Country Assessment (CCA), and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), including the UNDAF Results Matrix and the joint UNDAF evaluation as integral parts in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of country programmes of cooperation and country level projects.
To ensure that a clear link exists between the UNDAF priorities and country programmes and projects, as well as between preparation and implementation of country programmes, UN funds and programmes have further harmonized steps for country programme preparation, approval, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. They have introduced Results Based Management (RBM) terminology, Country Programme Action Plans (CPAPs), and the Annual Work plans (AWPs).
The Secretary-General’s 2002 agenda for further UN reform calls for increased joint programming and pooling of resources to further enhance the effectiveness of the United Nation’s system in developing countries, and to ensure the system’s combined resources are put to best use. These measures are intended to maximize UN’s effectiveness, reduce transaction costs for governments, donors, and the UN, and strengthen how the UN organizations programme jointly with governments. They also seek to respond to donors’ and programme countries’ concerns to enhance the UN contribution in the current context of international development assistance, with a focus on self-reliance and capacity building.
What is joint programming?
Joint programming is the collective effort through which the UN organizations and national partners work together to prepare, implement, monitor and evaluate the activities aimed at effectively and efficiently achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other international commitments arising from UN conferences, summits, conventions and human rights instruments. Through joint programming, common results and the modalities for supporting programme implementation are identified.
Joint programming contributes to making the UN support to reaching the national goals more coherent, effective, and efficient. It is meant to avoid duplication, reduce transaction costs and maximize synergies among the national partners and the differing contributions of UN system organizations – be it in terms of the normative framework and technical expertise, or of expertise in programme areas and strategies.
Planning starts with a joint assessment and analysis of the country situation by the government and the UN system organizations. This assessment/analysis normally culminates in the Common Country Assessment (CCA). The CCA provides the government, other national partners and the UN organizations with the analytical basis to identify priorities for the UN’s contribution to the achievement of national goals. This prioritization is expressed in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).
A key programming tool of the UNDAF is the Results Matrix, which sets out (in a logical framework) the contribution of each UN organization to each of the UNDAF outcomes. The Results Matrix is updated through an iterative process, from the completion of the UNDAF through the finalization of country programmes and projects.
Following the completion of the UNDAF, programme and project preparation processes of UN specialized agencies will provide opportunities for participation in joint programming. In the case of the ExCom agencies (UNDP, UNFPA, WFP, and UNICEF) the preparation of the Country Programme Documents (CPDs) and the Country Programme Action Plans (CPAPs) provide the opportunity for each agency to work closely together and with government to ensure that their respective programmes of cooperation are coordinated and that they jointly contribute to the UNDAF outcomes.
Implementation: The next step in joint programming is implementation. Joint programming involves each of the UN programmes, funds, and specialized agencies working closely together and with national partners to coordinate their interventions in support of results which will lead to the achievement of the UNDAF outcomes, as set out in the UNDAF Results Matrix.
Monitoring, evaluation and reporting takes place throughout the duration of the UNDAF cycle and are based on the UNDAF M&E plan. Monitoring of the interventions of the UN programmes, funds and specialized agencies, together with exchange of information and progress updates, occurs throughout the year and culminates in Annual Reviews against work plans (for some UN Organizations this takes place every other year). Joint monitoring and evaluation activities will be identified and undertaken as part of the UNDAF M&E plan. The UNDAF evaluation includes an assessment of UN system collaboration, which encompasses joint programming.
What is a joint programme?
A joint programme is a set of activities contained in a common work plan and related budget, involving two or more UN organizations and (sub)-national partners. The work plan and budget will form part of a joint programme document, which will also detail roles and responsibilities of partners in coordinating and managing the joint activities. The joint programme document is signed by all participating organizations and (sub)-national partners.
Because of this line function, and the fact that other UNCT members also have direct-line accountability to their own organizations, the UN has established a firewall between the RC function and his responsibility as UNDP RR so that the RC in the leadership role of the UNCT will uphold the interests of all agencies and not give preference to any agency in the UNCT.
During UNCT meetings in which the RC is the chairperson, he vacates his role as UNDP RR, and the UNDP is represented by the Deputy Resident Representative and head of programme. In that capacity the RC is accountable to other UNCT members for producing results under the UNDAF, recognizing that a well-functioning UNCT allows each organization to be more effective than acting alone.
The RC has an equal relationship with, and responsibility to all UNCT members. The RC “on behalf of the UN System (UNS), and in consultation with country representatives of the UNS, assumes overall responsibility for, and coordination of the operational activities for development of the UNS carried out at the country level.”
The RC is responsible for coordination of the UNCT in strategy, planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of development programmes at the country level, contained in the UNDAF and provides overall leadership, programme oversight, advocacy, resource mobilization and allocations for UNDAF, and lead the UNCT in monitoring, evaluation and reporting of UNCT progress on the UNDAF. The RC leads the UNCT in using tools for increased coherence in the country (e.g. CCA, HACT, and common services).
RC Roles and Responsibilities include the following:
- Representing the Secretary-General to Government
- Representing the UNCT as a group
- Leading the team in strategic development of the UNDAF [and joint programmes within it], taking the final decision on strategic focus if consensus cannot be reached
- Advocating and mobilising resources for the UNDAF, supporting UNCT priorities
- Coordinating UNDAF implementation with the Theme Group lead agencies and the UNCT more generally
- Leading UNCT-wide monitoring, evaluation and reporting on the UNDAF results
- Representing and supporting inclusion of non-resident agencies
- [if there is a One Fund] leading a consultative process on allocations from the One Fund and making final decision if consensus cannot be reached
- Coordinates [to be inserted by OCHA]
As the RC is also the Designated Official for Security (DO) he/she is accountable to the Secretary-General for the management of the UN security system in the country. As DO, he/she will coordinate actions to ensure the safety, security and well-being of all staff and families of the United Nations system in the country, convene and lead the work of the inter-agency Security Management Team (SMT) for effective joint action on all security-related aspects and ensure proper planning, implementation follow-through and reporting.
The RC, in partnership with the UNCT, advocates the goals, norms and standards of the UN system. The RC, on behalf of the UNCT, promotes the development of a wide range of partnerships to advance all programmes of the United Nations, including mobilising resources for the programmes of the UNCT to complement agencies’ own efforts and advocates for funds.
The RC is the primary interlocutor for the UNCT with the Head of State or Government in support of the UNCT, its members and its UNDAF results, accompanied by agency representatives when agency specific matters are discussed. Government’s prerogative to call on individual agency representatives is not affected, and agency Representatives retain the possibility to have direct access to Heads of State / Government and all appropriate central and line ministries and agencies on matters within their mandate. In the case of a crisis, individual agency representatives may also work directly with top government leaders, as necessary.
The UN system agencies should come together in humanitarian situations, and organise themselves through the IASC cluster approach. In such cases the RC may be designated as HC and all UNCT partners will be part of the cluster system as will key non-UN partners, following IASC practice.
The RC may have representational responsibilities for agencies present or not, based on agreements with each agency at the country and headquarters. The RC and the UNCT should ensure inclusive measures to work closely with NRAs, to be fully informed of the mandate, priorities and requirements of the agency and promote active partnerships in meeting national priorities, according to the country context.
At the same time, NRAs will take necessary measures to engage with the RC and UNCT, ensuring that they have the requisite level of technical staff at headquarters/regional/sub-regional level as appropriate to support the work of the UNCT when called upon, and are in dialogue with the UNCT about country visits. The functioning of the UNCT should ensure regular communications with all active NRAs, through both electronic means and face to face, as appropriate.
The overall policy setting mechanism of the UN Country Team is the annual UNCT retreat. In this meeting, UN agencies sit together to plan together. In this process, they also involve all resident and non-resident UN agencies as well as government.
The meeting conducts a thorough review of the implementation of UN programmes and operational activities in the previous year within the context of progress towards achievement of UNDAF as framed under the UNDAF results matrix.
The retreat is the most important meeting of the UN system in the country and is often facilitated by resource persons from the UN Development Operations and Coordination Office (DOCO). It not only reviews performance in the previous year but also sets out the policy objectives and direction of the UNCT in the coming year.
The 2009 UNCT retreat was particularly crucial in light of the conclusion of the 2006-2010 UNDAF which required planning for the next planning cycle for the 2011-2015 UNDAF. To facilitate the commitment and agreement on results, this retreat also included all individuals who have leading roles in the UNCT as well as key implementing partners.