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Essentials

Summary
The United Nations at the Country-level: Re-Assessing Operational Activities for Development

The role of the United Nations system in providing development assistance has been evolving rapidly and this evolution has not been well covered by academic researchers.  A main feature since the late 1960’s has been UN system country offices, headed by a Resident Coordinator.  There are currently 137 of these offices, mostly in developing countries.  However, most of these offices no longer provide classical development assistance, except to the 40 least developed countries.  This evolution is becoming important in the context of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September 2015.

One vehicle for intergovernmental discussion is the quadrennial report on operational activities presented to the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council by the Secretary-General on behalf of the UN system (A/71/63–E/2016/8 and A/71/292/Rev.1).  The most recent report was presented in September 2016 and on that basis the General Assembly is now negotiating revisions to the formal role of the UN at the country level.  As the Secretary-General’s report notes: “The new development era calls for a new dynamic ways of thinking, new ways of acting and new ways of organizing. The United Nations development system has embraced this vision and has already taken steps in this direction.”

The Journal of International Organizations Studies plans to have a special issue in Fall 2017 that will present research on the role and functioning of the United Nations system at the country level.  Anyone who has done research on or has analyzed the issue is welcome to submit draft articles. Please send article to John Mathiason: [email protected].