Ambassador Raymond Wolfe
Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations
on Agenda Item 16:UNFPA Strategic Plan and Related Matters
at the Annual Session of the Executive Board
of the United Nations Development Programme
and the United Nations Population Fund
12 June 2007
Let me seize this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to the Executive Director and her team for the very extensive work done in preparing the proposed UNFPA Strategic Plan for 2008-2011. In keeping with the importance which the Government of Jamaica attaches to the work of the Fund, I would like to briefly present our views on the latest version of the Strategic Plan. I premise my comments by reiterating our strong commitment to ensuring that the Fund is better placed to advance the goals of the ICPD and the Millennium Declaration.
1. The Consultations
First, the UNFPA deserves special commendation for the process of consultations on the Plan and its evolution over the past months. We value such processes as they lend credibility and legitimacy to the final outcome and ensure transparency and inclusiveness. This is critical in order to ensure the support of all parties, especially programme countries, for the Plan.
2. The Proposed Outline and Related Matters
We think that the comprehensive nature of the Plan provides for a very detailed comparison of lessons learned from the MYFF for 2004-2007. For us, the key objective remains that of advancing the progress made to date and overcoming the challenges related to the implementation of the ICPD and the MDGs. From this perspective, we are pleased that special emphasis will be placed on such critical issues as national capacity building and development, youth, gender, and population and development. We welcome this continued focus in the context of the proposed Strategic Plan, particularly as regards the issue of capacity-building. This was one of the areas to which the cumulative MYFF report for 2004-2007 made repeated references in the context of requiring further attention by the UNFPA. We expect that this will be forcefully addressed, especially with respect to data collection and analyses since the lack of data constrains the work of the Fund on the ground, and particularly with regard to national execution and the use and building of local skills and expertise. Integrally linked to the issue of capacity-building is that of national ownership. These are principles which are sacrosanct and should be at the core of the operations of the Fund.
It is against this background that we are still trying to understand the rationale for the three proposed operational principles that are supposed to “guide the operationalisation of the Strategic Plan”. We wonder at the need for this particular distinction on the matter of operational principles as to our recollection past MYFFs have not sought to do so. One would have assumed that the issue of gender mainstreaming, culturally sensitive and rights based approaches (this is the terminology we recognize was used in the last MYFF) would have logically informed UNFPA activities in the past and at present without having to categorise them as operational principles. By the same token, it could be argued that the real operational principles should in fact be national ownership and capacity-building. We would wish to seek further clarification, therefore, on this concept of operational principles and exactly how it relates to the key focus areas, goals and outcomes identified throughout the Plan.
In the same view, it would be useful to clarify the concept of a ‘human-rights based approach to development’ that is supposed to be adopted in the proposed UNFPA global and regional programme, as well as the expected outcome of embracing such an approach. It is our belief that the global and regional programme should in fact be structured around the three substantive goals outlined in the Strategic Plan (population and development, reproductive health and gender).
It is clear that in order for further progress to be realized in the implementation of the ICPD and the attainment of the MDGs, the availability of resources will be critical. Of course, we acknowledge that the Fund has made positive steps in this regard, both in terms of the quantity of resources it has attracted and in terms of its expanded donor base. This by no means, however, negates the need for increased resources to enhance the predictability of funding and the sustainability of programmes.
We attach particular importance to the issue of funding because we are conscious of the importance of ensuring that the UNFPA is fully equipped to execute its mandate. Our appreciation extends from the fact that we are from a region that suffers, as the documents before us have confirmed, from ‘deep and ingrained inequality’. From this perspective, the work of the Fund remains essential in countries like Jamaica. We therefore would want to reiterate our expectation that the work of the Fund will in no way be compromised in our particular context and that due account will be given to disparities within and across regions. The full range of concerns and needs of all developing countries should be given special attention. We therefore want to better understand the proposal in paragraph 23 of the Draft Review of the System for the Allocation of UNFPA Resources to Country Programmes on the simplification of groups as regards the removal or limited retention of the criteria of per capita GNI in determining the distribution of resources to programme countries. We want to be reassured that disparities and inequalities will in fact be taken into account. For this reason, we welcome the focus in paragraph 39 of the same Report that resources will be distributed based on the priorities and needs as defined by individual countries. I would also wish to avail myself of the presence of the authors of the Plan to seek further clarification on the proposed changes to country programme documents as outlined in paragraph 22 of the draft resource allocation framework document.
We support recommendations aimed at strengthening the UNFPA at the field level. For us, it is logical that this should be the focus of attention if the overall goals of the Plan and the UNFPA are to be realized. Our examination of the proposed organizational structure review is leading us towards Option 3 as being best able to advance this objective since it would result in country offices being fully strengthened. We look forward to further discussions on this matter to ensure that the Organisation will indeed be able to provide the requisite support to programme countries.
3. The intergovernmental process
Finally Mr President, we wish to underscore the importance that Jamaica attaches to the intergovernmental process on matters regarding the proposed UNFPA Strategic Plan. We are heartened by the acknowledgement in paragraph 111 of the Plan that the UNFPA’s strategy on UN reform is guided by the recommendations of the TCPR. Unfortunately, this time both processes are not concurrent and we will have to address this in due course. In the interim, we expect the position as outlined in paragraph 111 to be maintained.