The United Nations system is unique in the range and coverage of its structures and mandates and in the diversity of the means of action that are at its disposal. These characteristics can be a unique source of strength in addressing the increasingly complex and interrelated challenges that the international community is facing. Fully exploiting and harnessing this potential — ensuring that the wide-ranging capacities of the system are brought to bear in a coherent and, at the same time, creative and flexible way in meeting the evolving requirements of Member States and the international community — continues to be the main underlying objective guiding the work of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB). Political will to make full and effective use of the system, and the presence of an internationally agreed framework to provide common policy orientation to all parts of the system, are key conditions for progress in this respect. The advances that the Millennium Summit brought about in this regard, building on the conferences of the 1990s, have been unparalleled. By reaffirming confidence in the system and providing a common policy instrument around which all parts of the system could rally, an unprecedented unity of purpose was generated within the system, as well as an unprecedented common drive to identify and address the rigidities and other problems within and among organizations that stand in the way of maximizing the system’s overall relevance and impact.

Against this background, the preparations for the 2005 World Summit and the follow-up to its Outcome (General Assembly resolution 60/1) provided the main focus for the work of CEB, and that of its High-level Committees, during the period under review. CEB’s contribution to the preparatory process culminated in the publication of One United Nations: Catalyst for Progress and Change — How the Millennium Declaration is Changing the Way the United Nations System Works, which was launched at the July 2005 session of the Economic and Social Council and was commended by the President of the Economic and Social Council to the Summit. The publication evolved as a product of the United Nations system assessment of its role in supporting the implementation of the goals of the Millennium Declaration. It was intended to demonstrate how the common endeavour engendered by the Declaration has been serving to broaden the perspectives of all organizations of the United Nations system and helping them, both individually and collectively, to deepen analysis, expand knowledge-sharing, reinforce synergies and sharpen the focus on results. And it sought to underscore the system’s readiness to be held collectively accountable for its efforts in this regard.

One United Nations concludes with a number of commitments, chief among them: achieving a more inclusive, purposeful mobilization of its resources and capacities: engendering the active participation of all organizations in shaping policies and seeing to their implementation; working towards a deeper engagement of civil society in policy development and implementation; ensuring that within and across organizations the conceptual and standard-setting work of the system and its operational activities proceed in a mutually reinforcing manner; and achieving a much more unified system presence at the country level. The capacity to combine analytical and normative functions with operational mandates amounts to a unique comparative advantage of the United Nations system, which has so far been vastly underexploited. A more integrated approach to the system’s policy development and operational functions would help to further harmonize its mission to advance agreed goals at all levels, while strengthening its adherence to the basic principle of country ownership of development assistance. These commitments are among those which are now guiding the system in its follow-up to the 2005 World Summit Outcome, which is the focus of section II of the present report, and which tie in closely with the ongoing work of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on United Nations System-wide Coherence in the Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and the Environment, also referred to in that section. In the same perspective, section II refers to the role of the United Nations System Staff College as a means to promote a system-wide learning culture rooted in shared values and common objectives for all staff of the United Nations system.

Section III of the present report deals with the system’s follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society. Other elements of the system’s agenda for further progress, as outlined in One United Nations, focus on common, more reliable and more accessible, user-friendly statistical and other data and, as reported in section IV of the present report, on a common strategy for better employing information and communications technologies (ICT) in management and operations.

Section IV details the efforts of the United Nations system to strengthen collaboration in the area of management and administration. Since it promotes transparency and accountability as principles of good governance at the national and local levels, the United Nations system must internalize and apply these principles at all levels.