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UN Regional Integration

UN Regional IntegrationThe United Nations has five regional commissions that perform the critical function of bridging the gap between the UN headquarters in New York and the UN program delivery at the country level. The UN regional commissions perform the missing-link regional functions in order to remedy a traditional yet still challenging weakness in the UN, that is regional integration for social and economic development. However, the UN regional commissions have many challenges of their own; funding, coherence and coordination are among these challenges. We will review these challenges after a brief overview of the five regional commissions.

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) supervises the five UN Regional Commissions:

  • United Nations Economic Commission for Africahttp://www.uneca.org – ECA is mandated to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intra-regional integration, promote international cooperation for Africa’s development, promote regional integration in support of the African Union vision and priorities, while meeting Africa’s special needs and emerging global challenges. ECA was established in 1958, it consists of 53 member States, it is located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europehttp://www.unece.org – ECE aims is to promote pan-European economic integration, to provide analysis, policy advice and assistance to governments, to give focus to the United Nations global mandates in the economic field, in cooperation with other global players and key stakeholders, notably the business community. ECE also sets out norms, standards and conventions to facilitate international cooperation within and outside the region. ECE was established in 1947, it consists of 56 member States, it is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbeanhttp://www.eclac.org – ECLAC focuses on contributing to the economic development of Latin America, coordinating actions directed towards this end, and reinforcing economic ties among its countries and with other nations of the world. The promotion of the region’s social development was later included among its primary objectives. ECLAC was established in 1948,  it consists of 44 member States, it is located in Santiago, Chile.
  • United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacifichttp://www.unescap.org – ESCAP is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region. It focuses on issues of economic and social development that are most effectively addressed through regional cooperation. ESCAP was established in 1947, it consists of 62 member States, it is located in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asiahttp://www.escwa.un.org – ESCWA is mandated is to fulfill the economic and social goals set out in the United Nations Charter by promoting cooperation and integration between the countries in the region, to support economic and social development in the countries of the region and to ensure interaction between Western Asia and other regions of the world. ESCWA was established in 1973, it consists of 13 member States, it is located in Beirut, Lebanon.

Funding Challenges

Funding is one of the major challenges of the UN regional commissions. As an example, we will compare funding of the newest UN regional commission (ESCWA) with the funding of a medium size UN organization (UNFPA). ESCWA biennium budget for 2008-2009 is $67.2 million, an average of $33.6 million per year. That is 0.05% (less than 1%) of other UN organizations such as UNFPA, whose biennium budget for 2008-2009 is $1,263 million, an average of $631.5 million per year. A significant portion of UNFPA’s budget goes to support abortion programs and another significant portion of UNFPA’s budget is wasted due to UNFPA top management abusive and corrupt practices. For more on UNFPA mismanagement, waste and abuse, please see our posts UN Mismanagement, UN OIOS Inaction and UN Broken Justice. For more on UNFPA’s support of abortion, please see our post UN Abortion Policies.

With the capable leadership of Ambassador Tallawy, and despite the severely limited budget, ESCWA was successfully able to deliver its programs under very difficult regional circumstance in a politically charged and war torn region. Among the flagship successes of  ESCWA is the Integrated Social Policies initiative, with the significant contributions of one of the world’s leading sociologists, Prof. Nagi. For more on this leading program, please see our post UN Social Policies. ESCWA was also successful on many other fronts, including:

  • Sustainable management of natural resources (water/Energy)
  • Technology, especially Information and communication technology
  • Productivity and competitiveness of small and medium enterprises
  • Post-conflict recovery, rehabilitation and development
  • Regional integration/trade, transport and finance
  • Population and Social Development
  • Economic analysis and forecasting
  • Advancement of women

The above mentioned funding discrepancies are completely inexplicable. For every $19 UNFPA receives, ESCWA receives $1 (19 to 1 ratio). The UN must review its funding priorities and must provide the regional commissions with sufficient funding in order to function effectively, to be better equipped and more able to deliver on its mandate.

Coherence Peculiarities

The five UN regional commissions include 2 economic and social commissions (ESCAP and ESCWA) and 3 economic commissions (ECA, ECE, and ECLAC ), which gives the false impression that social development is not important in Africa, Europe or Latin America; wrongly implying that economic development is the sole objective of these 3 commissions. In fact, social development is more significant than just economic development in Africa, Europe and Latin America, therefore, just having a department in these commissions for social development is not enough. All 5 UN regional commissions should be Economic and Social Commissions as the ultimate goal of development is an all encompassing social goal, that is to enhance people’s life and well being in all aspects including health, education, income, peace, security, justice and human rights; not just merely economic development.

One of the five UN regional commissions does not mention the UN in its name; that is the Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean (ECLAC) which leads the observer to wonder as to the reason behind this inconsistency, that is again confirmed in ECLAC’s website domain name: http://www.eclac.org which also omits mentioning the UN. Incidentally, out of all the 5 UN regional commissions websites, ECLAC’s is the only website that opens in Spanish, the other 4 websites open in English, including ESCWA’s whose main target audience are Arabic speaking, yet their main website is in English, with an available Arabic translation. It should be mentioned that the UN official languages are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. As to ESCWA, there is another peculiarity in the website domain name: http://www.escwa.un.org which includes a mention of the UN but after ESCWA and uses a domain name structure similar to small offices of the UN Secretariat such as the UN online jobs system http://www.jobs.un.org which is part of the UN Office of Human Resources Management.

Membership in some of the UN regional commissions is another peculiarity; for example the membership of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) includes USA, UK and France; none of these 3 countries is in the Asia Pacific region. The membership of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) includes Israel which is not in the European region. The membership of the Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean (ECLAC) includes USA, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Japan and Republic of Korea; none of these countries is located in the Latin America Caribbean region. These membership patterns defy any geographical explanation.

Coordination Recommendations

Coordination between the UN regional commissions and the rest of the UN organizations should be reviewed and enhanced to reduce or remove duplication, redundancy and to ensure the efficient and effective use of the limited financial resources available to the UN regional commissions. For example, all the UN specialized organizations such as UNICEF, WHO and UNDP have regional and sub-regional offices in the same geographic regions of the UN regional commissions. Many of these regional and sub-regional offices carry out similar programs as the UN regional commissions, it would make good sense financially and programmatically to entrust the UN regional commissions to monitor and coordinate the regional work of the other UN organizations (programs and funds) as well as the rest of the UN activities in the regional commissions respective regions to ensure effectiveness, efficiency and to reduce waste and duplication at the same time to help the UN be more coherent, better coordinated and better able to deliver its programs while speaking in one voice at the regional level. The budgets of the UN regional commissions should be further augmented in order to perform the additional functions of the UN regional monitoring and coordination.

M. Alaadin A. Morsy

The UN PostUNpost.org • Copyright © 2009 • All Rights Reserved • Contact The UN Post

14 Comments

  1. «Демократия несовершенна, но ничего лучше человечество пока не придумало», – сказал Уинстон Черчилль.
    Так ли это?
    У птицы два крыла… У планеты два полюса… Вы можете представить себе птицу с одним крылом или планету с одним полюсом? Нет? Но именно в таком асимметричном обществе мы живем и именно такой однокрылый мир мы строим! Не верите? Судите сами.
    Наука развивается семимильными шагами и современное человечество знает то, чего не знал английский премьер-министр. Он не знал, например, о Законе Тождества Противоположного. Между тем этот Закон позволяет понять, в чем ошибались в свое время коммунисты и в чем ошибаются в наше время демократы. Главной их ошибкой является ПРОТИВОРЕЧИЕ между ПРОТИВОПОЛОЖНЫМИ формами собственности и власти. Нужно понимать, что речь идет о Частной и Государственной Собственности и, соответственно, о Личной и Общественной Власти. Если бы политики не придумывали свои законы, а ПОЗНАВАЛИ и вместо термина “законотворчество” вооружились термином ЗАКОНОПОЗНАНИЕ (объективный закон нельзя придумать – его можно только познать), то дело пошло бы на лад.
    Так вот, согласно Закону Тождества Противоположного, который пока, к сожалению, не преподают в школах, коммунисты совершили трагическую ошибку, поставив государственную собственность НАД частной, а общественную власть над личной. Результат – социально-экономический кризис. Причина – нарушение Закона Тождества (РАВНОВЕСИЯ) Противоположного. По сути, они национализировали частную собственность и обобществили личность. Что делают сегодня демократы? Они делают то же самое, что делали коммунисты, только с точностью до наоборот. Они приватизировали государственную собственность и личность сегодня фактически игнорирует общественные нормы и устои. Другими словами, современная демократия – это форменный произвол личности по отношению к обществу. Результат – социально-экономический кризис.
    Пора, наконец, уяснить раз и навсегда – у птицы должно быть ДВА КРЫЛА, а у нашей экономики должно быть ДВЕ СОБСТВЕННОСТИ – Частная и Государственная.
    Причем Частная Собственность не подлежит национализации, а Государственная Собственность – приватизации, а тот, кто это сделал, совершил тем самым экономическое Преступление, отрубив одно крыло экономической птице.
    Если же руководствоваться ОБЪЕКТИВНЫМ Законом Тождества Противоположного, на котором, между прочим, СТОИТ ВСЕЛЕННАЯ, то не нужно национализировать частную собственность и не нужно приватизировать государственную. Нужно просто сесть и разобраться, наконец, что есть частная собственность и что есть государственная, а затем передать Частную Собственность в руки Личности (ТОВАРОПРОИЗВОДСТВО), а Государственную Собственность – в руки Общества (СЫРЬЕ). При этом даже можно отказаться от системы налогообложения (придуманной господами для своих холопов), поскольку производить частную собственность и, следовательно, обогащаться можно будет только через производство материальных и духовных ценностей, не обкладывая налогом Творца этих самых ценностей, а продавая ему сырье для производства его товаров. Если же допустить к общественной собственности личность, то мы превратим людей не в творцов, а паразитов, которые будут жить за счет эксплуатации наших природных богатств, а не за счет производства товаров и услуг (так называемый феномен олигархов).
    Может, хватит смешить Вселенную и пора, наконец, построить что-то получше демократии?

  2. can i translate in Russian and post on my blog? )

  3. The response level to local and national disasters is noble but it’s a damn shame that so many citizens take advantage of the negative situations.

    I mean everytime there is an earthquake, a flood, an oil spill – there’s always a group of heartless people who rip off tax payers.

    This is in response to reading that 4 of Oprah Winfreys “angels” got busted ripping off the system. Shame on them!

    • It is true that times of disaster and strife bring out the best of most human beings. It is also true that the same times of disaster and strife bring out the worst of some human beings.

      Examples of the best of human beings are many, just look at the many who gave their lives in the line of duty working for the UN for example, in August 2003, the UN headquarters in Baghdad was blown up. Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN Special Representative in Iraq, and 22 other UN staff were killed in that heinous explosion. Mr. Sergio de Mello had requested to visit and monitor Abu Ghraib jail. Please see The UN Post article: UN Against Torture.

      More recently, Mr. Hedi Ennabi, the Representative of the UN Secretary General for Haiti and many other UN staff gave their lives in the line of duty during the Haiti earthquake. Please see The UN Post article: UN Doctors Abandon Haiti Victims as an example of the best of human being, Mr. Ennabi and the other victims, and an example of the worst in the form of those doctors who abandoned their patients.

      Another example of the worst of human beings is the Wells Fargo manager who foreclosed on a multi-million dollar house then moved into it with her family without paying a single dollar to the bank, the tax payers or the owners of the property. That is Greed in action. Please see The UN Post article: Global Recession, Local Corruption.

      We should not lose heart over the bad few, as most fellow human beings are innately “good”, decent and honorable.

  4. What and where is the guarantee that the new UN will be different from the one we are now living with for past 60+ years.

    Our Eastern Wisdom speaks about path to progress or call it salvation (“Moksha”) simply thus:
    “Malam nivirthi” (removal of impurities) viz: of all garbage in our mind-body-sense compact; “Vikshepa nirithi” (control of mental modifications/aberrations) – in essence, being able to keep our likes and dislikes under check; and finally, “Aavarana nivirthi” (removing the veil of ignorance) – one may explain this as gathering of true knowledge of human situation, thus understanding that “we are the world” and there is enough to meet all our needs by caring and sharing. It is simply like lighting the candle in a dark room – darkness just disappears and one sees the things around! Jai Ho!

    • We deeply believe in the “IDEAL” of the United Nations as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). We whole heartedly support the true reform of the United Nations not just in structure and process but most importantly in culture; norms, values and beliefs of the organization and its human assets.

      The argument for a new World Organization to be based on the spirit of UDHR, not just its text, is the argument of last resort that could be considered if and when true reform of the United Nations fails. If that becomes necessary, then all the lesson that the world community learned from the United Nations should be applied and built into the new World Organization, should that last resort become the only viable option .

  5. Nice to read a number of articles on the UN operations around the world. Often it is seen as a multi-faceted “octopus” with its tentacles spreading to almost all aspects of human activities. They are the fundamental problems because of  lack of harmonization, coherence, coordination, integration, thus resulting in plenty of duplication and wastes in all precious resources. All it does is to feed into the insatiable egos of so many “big guns” occupying the key positions in all the agencies, with their own turf to control until their time is up.
    Now that there have been several attempts at the UN reform for the past years, we would like to see in one place (maybe a series of articles) how these reform efforts have resulted in any improvement in the coordination of UN activities, especially in the socio-economic areas excepting of course the political arena.  As long as our human situation is festered with the base elements – greed, jealousy, prejudice, false pride, vanity, etc. –  the politics of and at the UN forums may be unavoidable.  However, these can be minimized and tolerated provided we have some real reforms on the socio-economic front with clearer and focused attention to tackle our real problems of the day – lack of health, education, poverty, potable water, environmental issues, inequalities of all kinds, and all kinds of human rights violation.l

    • In most previous UN Reform attempts, the focus was almost always on structure, very little on process and almost nothing about the most critical obstacle the UN has; that is the negative internal organizational culture of abuse impunity, unaccountability and outright corruption. That is the main reason why all previous attempts for UN Reform either completely failed or yielded limited success for a short period of time then soon rolled back to even worse situations than before the so called Reform.

      On the other hand, it is always easier to change structures and processes than to change minds and win hearts, yet that is the key. One approach that may help is to reduce the influence of governments in the UN and increase the presence of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Grassroots Groups and Small Businesses. If that proves to be impossible, then perhaps it is time for the world community to start thinking and doing away with this United Nations and start thinking about creating a new world organizations that is truly dedicated to justice, peace and development on our planet.

  6. А я сейчас обязательно подпишусь на такой блог! = And I am now sure to Subscribe to this blog!

  7. Админ, а можно я размещу этот пост на своём сайте? = Admin, can I posted this post on my site?

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