Comparative advantages of UN development cooperation: aspirations, evidence and further development

Development Cooperation (DC) is one of the principal fields of activity of the United Nations (UN), for which a differentiated institutional system is being put to use. The spectrum of activities encompasses the generation of norms, the supervision of compliance with international agreements, the development of new concepts such as the MDGs, the generation of knowledge to the important function of serving as a forum for international dialogue on DC. In particular the operational activities for development in pursuit of an international development agenda are the “principal pillar” of UN development cooperation. Their reform are the object of research within the UN-project at DIE.

Project Lead:
Stephan Klingebiel

Project Team:
Timo Casjen Mahn Jones

Silke Weinlich

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

Time frame:
2011 - 2012 / completed

Project description

The institutional complexity and heterogeneity of the UN development system (UN-DS) generate significant requirements in terms of coherence and operational and governance capacities which for long have been subject to reforms. Reform efforts have been focussed in particular on improving the coordination of operational activities towards development at the country level. The prospects for implementation of activities in these areas are generally seen to be more promising than more comprehensive reforms of the institutional landscape. The UN resident coordinators are one particular focal point for the assignment of functions as well as the object of reforms. Their internal – within the UN-DS – and external – with regards to the other development partner representatives – coordination function has to be seen as a clear comparative advantage of the UN-DS in comparison to other global actors.