Background

The Director of the CEB secretariat introduced a paper entitled, “Review of the procedures and working methods of the High-level Committee on Programmes”, which the CEB secretariat had been requested to prepare and circulate for comment by members of the Committee in advance of the session. In that regard, he noted that the proposals made by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) at the Committee’s last session had been incorporated into the paper. Within the scope of the three pillars established by CEB following its review, the High-level Committee on Programmes was expected to deepen and operationalize its work on promoting policy coherence through the development of common policy tools as well as through its efforts on global policy and programme issues and global public goods. CEB had also proposed that the Committee develop a methodology for analysing key areas of overlap and duplication and for studying the different dimensions of policy coherence. Finally, CEB had delegated authority to the high-level committees, agreeing that their decisions should be presented at formal sessions by the respective chairs but be deemed to be approved by the Board unless an executive head explicitly asked for a discussion in CEB.

Discussion

The Committee expressed appreciation for the paper. Some participants noted that, given its focus on policy issues, the Committee might wish to change its name to “High-level Committee on Policy”. Others pointed out that a name change might erroneously send the message to Member States that the Committee was setting, rather than following, intergovernmental mandates. It was therefore decided to retain the present designation at this stage.

Several members stressed the importance of identifying the big issues that needed to be addressed by the United Nations system over the next three to four years. Several were cited, including climate change, the Millennium Development Goals, human security, gender equality, health, food security and global international threats. In addition, there was a need to factor in the regional dimension and possible linkages with regional coordinating mechanisms.

Regarding membership and representation, it was stressed that participants should be those authorized by their executive heads to take decisions on their behalf.

Action

The Chairman stressed the need for enhanced collaboration among the three high-level committees, which were serviced by the same CEB secretariat, and among the chairs and vice-chairs of the three committees. All committees could put forward documents for information, but otherwise there had to be two kinds of issues, papers and/or actions: (a) issues for decision, which had to be very carefully prepared; and (b) issues for brainstorming, for example, to identify emerging issues and the like, for which there could be a broader discussion.

Given the outcome of the CEB review, the Committee agreed that it was timely for the High-level Committee on Programmes to ensure that its mandate was properly reflective of its role and position vis-à-vis the other two committees, which were engaging in a similar reflection.

The Committee agreed that, based on further work by the CEB secretariat in consultation with members, it would take up any further issues related to its working methods and work programme at an intersessional meeting on the margins of the Economic and Social Council in July 2008.