by H.E. Mr. Bui The Giang, Ambassador and DPR
of Mission of Viet Nam to the United Nations, at the session
of Joint Executive Board of UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and WFP
(New York, 28 January 2008)
At the outset, as I am speaking for the first time at this Board meeting, let me extend to Mr. President my most heartfelt congratulations on your election. You can rest assured of our full support during your entire tenure. I would like to thank you for this auspicious opportunity for those of us from pilot countries to share our experiences in carrying out the “One UN Initiative”. In this connection, I would also like to thank and congratulate previous speakers, especially distinguished representatives from Albania and Rwanda, for their comprehensive and insightful presentations.
We listened with keen interests and broad agreement to the presentation last week of the Administrator. My delegation totally shares the view that a lot of work has been done and initial positive results have been recorded for the past over a year in pilot countries in implementing the “One UN Initiative” thanks to the strenuous efforts of the UN and member States aimed at “Delivering as One”. As a pilot country participating right at the beginning of the undertaking, and mindful of the time constraint, allow me to brief you on the process of our country’s engagement in this “One UN Initiative”.
Until the early 1990s, in face of the fact that traditional sources of assistance declined sharply and UN development assistance grew to account for the largest share of the overall ODA in Vietnam, it became apparently imperative for the then available resources to be properly and effectively utilized. The UN complicated procedures and sophisticated processes appeared to be among the primary targets for corrective measures. Concretely speaking, administrative and financial procedures, among other things, needed to be simplified and harmonized.
This was not an easy exercise from all perspectives, for new things often encounter resistance. Most fortunately, our Government was determined to embrace the idea of “One UN Initiative”, cooperate with the UN system to put it in place, and to make the best possible contribution to turning the idea into reality, in the interest of its own people and of the international community at large. In November 2006, we confirmed our participation as a pilot country. With the approval of the Prime Minister, the Tripartite National Task Force (TNTF) was established, consisting of representatives of all relevant ministries. On the UN side, the first participants included UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNAID, UNV and UNIFEM. One of the first assignments of TNTF was to design a detailed workplan the main targets of which were to refocus UN activities and better align resources under UN Funds and Programs with our national socio-economic development plan. All this could be described in the 5 main areas called “One Plan”, “One Budget”, “One set of Management Practices”, “One Leader”, and “One UN House”, or “5 Ones” for short.
The “One Plan” is to serve as a foundation for cooperation between Viet Nam and the UN, thus replacing other UN agencies’ cooperation frameworks such as Country Program of Action (CPD). The “One Plan” 1 (phase 1) covers UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF. The One Plan 2 will cover, hopefully, all the other UN agencies present in our country. Actually our Government has already received letters of intent from those agencies expressing their readiness to join the initiative. This is to confirm what the UNESCO Assistant Secretary-General mentioned earlier this morning.
The “One Budget” will in the end work as the UN Development Fund. When completed, the “One Budget” will become comprehensive and transparent, thus overcoming the currently relatively fragmented and unpredictable UN funding patterns, and better supplement the Government’s socio-economic development plan, while reducing time and transaction costs and strengthening monitoring and evaluation activities.
“One Leader” and“One Set of Management” are to ensure a streamlined contact point and strong support for the role of UN Resident Coordinator (UNRC) with a view to efficient leadership and ownership of assistance programs and projects.
As for the One UN House, based on the establishment and initial implementation of the joint Government/UN Working Group for an eco-friendly UN House in Hanoi, the would-be UN Green House is expected to play its important role in helping achieve greater UN coherence.
While heartened by the positive results so far gained and realistic and feasible program of work, we still see “One UN” as an undertaking and a process with a lot of challenges, particularly now that it has been piloted in our country for just more than a year. To contribute to further discussions and better implementation of this task, my delegation wishes to share with you the following humble observations:
First, from the very beginning, a strong sense of commitments and ownership on the part of the concerned Government - in this case, the Vietnamese Government - is a key of success. All relevant Government bodies and related stakeholders need to be involved, with the Government keeping its leadership role. Otherwise, better coordination, simplification and harmonization would be but lip service.
Second, UN agencies on the ground are encouraged to work out their most pratical and feasible proposals, which best compliment national socio-economic development plan. In our case, this will guarantee the successful implementation of the 2006-2010 socio-economic development plan which was the outcome of the joint endeavor of Vietnam and the international community with UN agencies as a representative.
Third, the role of the UNRC should be further enhanced, coupled with his/her accountability, making it possible for the UNCR to serve as a good and effective interlocutor between UN and the Government.
Last but not least, just as I have mentioned a second ago, implementation of the “One UN Initiative” is a process. Experiences or lessons we have learned so far remain intitial and originated from the specific conditions of Vietnam. We therefore look forward to learning more from experiences in other countries and opening to more discussions on our own experiences, while continuing to be committed to cooperating with all colleagues in our joint efforts.
Thank you for your attention.