Common Services

Sharing services to assure cost savings

The United Nations in Swaziland has introduced the concept of Common Services and is progressively undertaking common administrative functions as an important component of implementing the Secretary-General UN Reform agenda.

UN Reform emphasizes the harmonization of budget frameworks, services, facilities, and administration and personnel practices. The practice of common services can be seen as extending the practice at UN headquarters where UN organizations share various facilities and services.

At the country level common services seek to improve coordination and coherence among representative offices of UN agencies to achieve cost savings.

This practice has been further reiterated in several General Assembly resolutions, in which member states advocate for the United Nations system to promote the sharing of administrative systems and services to assure that support services are cost-effective, high quality, timely, and provided on a competitive basis, resulting in full client satisfaction.

Implementation of common services requires the UN system’s Funds, Programmes and Specialized Agencies are to take concrete steps in the following areas:

  • Rationalization of country presence through common premises and co-location of UN Country Team members;

  • Implementation of the joint office model;

  • Common shared support services including security, IT, telecommunication, travel, banking, administrative and financial procedures, including procurement;


  • Harmonization of the principles of cost recovery policies, including that of full cost recovery.

Common Services form an integral part of the One UN concept advocated in the 2006 “Delivering as One” High-Level Panel Report to the Secretary-General.

How it works

Common services arrangements focus on the guiding principles of inter-agency partnership and cooperation. The Executive Head of each UN agency is required to direct their country office representative to fully engage in this significant area of UN reform. The UN Country Team has the overall responsibility to coordinate and oversee Common Services arrangements. The Operations Management Team (OMT) is the focal point for all inter-agency operational arrangements given its mandate to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate the agreed common services activities.