Concerns Aired over Junior-Level Post Cuts, Insufficient Geographic Diversity among Workforce, as Fifth Committee Debates Human Resource Management

Staff members were the United Nations main asset, but greater efforts must be made to bring more women into the Organization’s ranks and to tackle long-standing concerns over geographical underrepresentation, speakers said today as the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) turned its attention to human resources management issues.

They took the floor as the Secretariat introduced reports that put the number of staff members at 39,651 as of 31 December 2016, down 4 per cent from June 2013, with female staff accounting for 35.1 per cent of the total, up slightly from 33.9 per cent.  The number of Member States whose representation in the Secretariat was deemed to be desirable, or “within range”, declined from 125 in June 2013 to 102 in December 2016.  Twenty-nine Member States were deemed to have been overrepresented, 44 underrepresented and 18 not represented at all in the Organization.

Ecuador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed concern that the largest number of appointments to posts subject to geographical distribution were of staff from overrepresented countries, an ongoing trend since 2013, while the number of Member States in the unrepresented and underrepresented categories was inversely increasing.  She also noted that the overall number of women in senior positions remained less than 50 per cent, and asked how many of them were from developing countries.

In the same vein, the representative of the United States — emphasizing that the Secretariat could do a lot more to improve the Organization’s human resources management system in an era when talented people enjoyed many employment options — said more could and should be done to increase the number of women staff members and to address the continuing challenge of underrepresentation, “including our own”.

Angola’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted with concern the persistent issue of the ever-increasing number of high-level posts, saying that contradicted the Organization’s objective of being more agile and field-oriented.  He said the Group also looked forward to hearing the reasons why the Secretariat had been unable to comply with guidance from the General Assembly to fill vacant posts within 120 days.  On disciplinary matters, the Group urged the Secretary-General to take more substantive steps to address allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse within the Organization.

The representative of Singapore, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said both gender and geographical equity principles must advance together.  He encouraged the Secretary-General to ensure a more refined performance management system, particularly at the managerial and leadership levels, along with continuous assessment and evaluation of those changes.

Japan’s representative, meanwhile, voiced concern that the average age of United Nations staff had continued to increase slightly over the past five reporting periods, from 43.4 years to 44.8 years.  He called for efforts to facilitate an influx of young, diverse talent, and give them opportunities to develop their abilities and rejuvenate the workforce of the Secretariat.  Creating a modern organization and global workforce took commitment, he said, looking forward to an updated human resources management framework at the General Assembly’s seventy-third session.

Martha Helena Lopez, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports titled “Composition of the Secretariat:  staff demographics”, “Practice of the Secretary-General in disciplinary matters and cases of possible criminal behaviour, 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017” and “Amendments to the Staff Regulations and Rules”, with Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introduced that body’s corresponding report.

The report on disciplinary matters, covering the period from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017, informed Member States about all actions taken in cases of established misconduct and/or criminal behaviour and the ensuing disciplinary and legal action, while the report on amendments to the Staff Regulations and changes notably addressed necessary changes to reflect the General Assembly’s decision to increase to 65 the mandatory separation age for staff members appointed before 1 January 2014.

Ian Richards, representative of the United Nations Secretariat staff, supported the proposed change in the Staff Regulations that would enable all staff on board on 1 January 2018 to work until 65 years of age.  On the Secretariat’s gender strategy, he stressed the importance of tackling trends such as the departure of women mid-career, which would require addressing issues such as child care, shared and extended parental leave and increased outreach and leadership training.  It was also time to update the policy on sexual harassment, he said, expressing concern as well about a long-term trend which had resulted in fewer junior posts and an increase of senior posts.  He also drew attention to a number of departments that were still not granting five-year, fixed-term contracts to qualified staff members, saying it had led to a two-track system within the Organization.

Michel Tommo Monthe (Cameroon), Committee Chair, made a brief statement, saying the diversity of the world and gender equality should be reflected in the Organization’s make-up.  That might be an old matter, he said, but it could be looked at with a fresh point of view.  He also encouraged delegations to aim to complete the Committee’s work according to the agreed schedule.

Also speaking today were representatives of Kuwait and Pakistan, as well as the European Union.

The Fifth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., on Wednesday, 1 November, to consider the proposed 2018‑2019 programme budget as it relates to the seismic mitigation retrofit and life-cycle replacements project at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific premises in Bangkok.

Composition of the Secretariat and other reports

MARTHA HELENA LOPEZ, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports titled “Composition of the Secretariat:  staff demographics” covering the reporting period from 1 July 2016 to 31 December 2016 (document A/72/123), “Practice of the Secretary-General in disciplinary matters and cases of possible criminal behaviour, 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017” (document A/72/209) and “Amendments to the Staff Regulations and Rules” (document A/72/129/Rev.1).

On the composition of the Secretariat, she said the total number of staff members on 31 December 2016 stood at 39,651, down 480 or 1.2 per cent from 30 June 2016, reflecting a decrease of staff for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and 45 other entities as well as no change or an increase of staff at 52 entities.  Over the last five reporting periods, or four and a half years, Secretariat staff had decreased by 4 per cent.  The percentage of staff holding a permanent or continuing appointment rose from 18 per cent in June 2013 to 25 per cent in December 2016, while that of staff on fixed-term appointments fell from 78 per cent to 67 per cent.  The ratios of female staff to total staff increased slightly from 33.9 per cent to 35.1 per cent over the same five reporting periods, while the average age of staff increased slightly from 43.4 to 44.8 years.  With regard to representation, the number of Member States “within range” decreased from 125 to 102 from June 2013 to December 2016.

On the report titled Amendments to the Staff Regulations and Rules, she said it contained amendments required to implement an increase to 65 the mandatory age of separation for staff members appointed before 1 January 2014, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 70/244.  It also contained amendments required to implement a revised education grant scheme, approved by the Assembly through the same resolution.  She said that, in addition to setting a new mandatory separation age, a new rule was being proposed to reflect, where applicable, staff members’ acquired right to separate at their normal retirement age — 60 or 62 — as defined under the Regulations of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund.  That proposed change would be implemented from 1 January 2018.

Changes to the revised education grant scheme would include a single-currency maximum grant amount, set in United States dollars, as opposed to the current scheme based on 15 currency/country zones, she said.  A streamlined list of admissible expenses would be applied, comprising tuition, mother-tongue tuition and enrolment-related fees, while the grant would be payable up to the end of the school year in which a child completed four years of post-secondary studies, or attained a first post-secondary degree, whichever came first, subject to an upper age limit of 25 years.  The proposed amendments would be implemented as of the school year in progress on 1 January 2018.

Turning to the report on disciplinary matters, she said it provided summaries of individual cases where the Secretary-General imposed disciplinary measures during the reporting period, as well as statistics on the numbers and types of cases received by the Office of Human Resources Management, the number of cases completed and the disposition of completed cases.  With respect to the summaries of cases, she said the report sought to better explain some of the considerations taken into account by the Secretary-General when deciding the measures to impose in a particular case.  That was a delicate task as it was important that information provided did not breach the right to confidentiality for the staff members involved.

CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introduced its report on Human resources management (document A/72/558), recalling the Advisory Committee’s previous recommendations regarding the analytical quality of the Secretary-General’s report on the Secretariat’s composition and the need to understand the underlying causes of several trends with a view to developing corrective measures and policy enhancements.  Specifically, the Advisory Committee noted with concern that since 2013, the number of Member States in the unrepresented and underrepresented categories was increasing and reiterated its recommendations that greater efforts were needed to address that trend.  The Advisory Committee also noted no progress had been achieved regarding the growth in senior-level appointments and the “top heaviness” of the Secretariat, and it remained concerned about the upward shift in the grade structure and resulting fragmentation of leadership responsibilities.  The Advisory Committee was concerned that the administrative instruction on investigations and the disciplinary process was still under internal review and stressed that it must be promulgated as a matter of priority.  Also needed was greater clarity in the amendments proposed under the staff rule relating to administrative leave.

IAN RICHARDS, representative of the United Nations Secretariat staff, supported the proposed change in the Staff Regulations that would enable all staff on board on 1 January 2018 to work until 65 years of age.  He took note of the decision to pause and review the mobility policy which in two years of operation had only generated moves for 22 of the 241 staff that wanted a new assignment, representing a 9 per cent success rate.  He expressed concern over the proposed Global Service Delivery Model which would eliminate the current competitive market for administrative services and replace it with a monopoly provider with no incentive to improve costs and standards or innovate.  On the gender strategy, he stressed the importance of tackling trends such as the departure of women mid-career, which would require addressing issues such as child care, shared and extended parental leave and increased outreach and leadership training.  It was also time to update the policy on sexual harassment.  He went on to express concern about the long-term trend which had resulted in fewer junior posts, while the number of senior posts increased.  He also drew attention to a number of departments that were still not granting five-year, fixed-term contracts to qualified staff members, which had led to a two-track system within the United Nations.

AMÉRICA LOURDES PEREIRA SOTOMAYOR (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that it was vital that the Office of Human Resources Management implement the United Nations mandates in an environment that exemplified diversity, flexibility and dynamism.  The Group noted with concern that the largest number of appointments to posts subject to geographical distribution were of staff from overrepresented countries, an ongoing trend since 2013, while the number of Member States in the unrepresented and underrepresented categories was inversely increasing.  The Group noted the increase in the number of female staff members in the Secretariat to 35.1 per cent, although the overall number of women in senior positions was still less than 50 per cent.  The Group was interested in knowing how many of the women in senior positions were from developing countries.

The Group noted the increase in the average age of the Secretariat staff and emphasized the need to recruit young staff members to ensure the smooth transfer of institutional knowledge and to build capacity in the wake of retirement and other forms of separation, she said.  The Group noted the reported improvements in the responsiveness of investigating entities and the enhanced quality of investigation reports, although it was concerned that the information contained in the Secretary-General’s report on disciplinary matters and cases of possible criminal behaviour did not provide a comprehensive overview of all the cases related to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse within the Organization.  The Group was concerned about the increased number of days to fill vacant posts and reiterated that the Staff Rules must comply with the Staff Regulations, whereby the latter could not be overruled or changed by the former.

DANIEL WANG (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and associating himself with the Group of 77, said that given the increasingly complex global environment within which the United Nations must operate, a dynamic and motivated workforce was crucial.  To that end, ASEAN emphasised the need for more balanced gender and geographical representation in the United Nations system.  He was specifically concerned with the lack of equitable gender and geographical representation in the Secretariat, especially at senior levels.  But both gender and geographical equity principles must advance together, he said.

ASEAN encouraged the Secretary-General to ensure a more refined performance management system, particularly at the managerial and leadership levels, along with continuous assessment and evaluation of those changes, he said.  He noted the Joint Inspection Unit’s report on knowledge management and agreed it should be a strategic priority in all United Nations systems.  In closing, he urged the Secretary-General to deal with all cases of staff misconduct in a timely fashion and with appropriate disciplinary action.

MARCIO SANDRO ALEIXO PEREIRA BURITY (Angola), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Group of 77, stressed that an equitable geographic representation in the Secretariat remained a priority for the Group.  He noted with serious concern that the number of Member States within the desirable range for representation in geographical posts had decreased by 18 per cent from 125 to 102.  Moreover, the largest number of appointments to posts subject to geographical distribution were for staff of overrepresented countries.  The Group was interested in learning more about the reasons for that and sought more information on the progress in implementing the General Assembly decision on the desirable ranges system set up to address the issue of geographical representation.

The Group also noted with concern the persistent issue of the ever-increasing number of high-level posts, which contradicted the objective of the Organization to be more agile and field-oriented, he said.  The Group also expected to receive clarification from the Secretariat on the reasons for the continuing delay in implementing the 120-day guidance provided by the General Assembly to fill vacant posts, as well as the apparent lack of effort to rejuvenate the Organization.  On disciplinary matters, the Group urged the Secretary-General to take more substantive actions to address allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse.  The Group also emphasized that proposals to amend the Staff Regulations and Rules must follow decisions of the General Assembly as well as the Administrative Tribunals, and in that context, the Group would carefully examine the amendments related to the staff separation age and the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse.

JAN DE PRETER, European Union, describing staff members as the Organization’s main asset, welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to improve human resources management.  The European Union also welcomed simplified human resource policies and procedures, improved workforce planning, better recruitment procedures, personnel mobility and enhanced performance management.  “The right-sizing of the Secretary should be a priority,” he said, expressing concern however that gender imbalance remained a persistent issue, especially at the senior level and in field operations.  He added that, during the current session, the focus should be on time-bound issues and other urgent business at hand, allowing sufficient time for the Secretary-General to further develop his proposals and get back to the Advisory Committee.

ALI ABDULLATIF ALI ALYAHYA (Kuwait), associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country supported the Secretary-General’s efforts to reform the United Nations, particularly regarding management reform.  Better management of human resources was essential to achieving progress.  Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals would require a great deal of effort, and in that context, he emphasized the importance of ensuring all United Nations offices, particularly those away from headquarters, were properly staffed to make the fulfilment of the Goals possible.  He went on to underscore that his delegation would like to see Kuwait better-represented across the Organization, while also pointing to the need for better geographical representation overall in all United Nations bodies.

CHERITH A. NORMAN CHALET (United States) said the Secretariat could do a lot more to improve the Organization’s human resources management system.  With talented people having many employment options, the United Nations must move faster in its recruitment efforts to remain a viable option for many candidates.  At the same time, the Organization must do more to recognize and reward outstanding performance and address under-performance.  In that regard, strong and empowered leadership was essential.  More could and should be done as well to increase the number of women staff members and to address the continuing challenge of under-representation, “including our own”.  She went on to ask that the Organization’s leadership carefully and continually review the resources at its disposal to ensure that they were optimally configured for mandate delivery.  That was among many ways in which it could act now to ensure that it remained relevant, she said.

KEISUKE FUKUDA (Japan), stressing that diversity was one of the defining features of the Organization, welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to launch a system-wide strategy on gender parity.  Expressing concern that the average age of the United Nations staff had continued to increase slightly over the past five reporting periods, he called for efforts to facilitate an influx of young, diverse talent, and give them opportunities to develop their abilities and rejuvenate the workforce of the Secretariat.  Creating a modern organization and global workforce took commitment, he said, looking forward to receiving an updated human resources management framework at the seventy-third session of the General Assembly.

HASEEB GOHAR (Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77, reiterated his country’s support for continuing human resources reforms, while also pointing out the necessity of regularly evaluating their impact in order to refine and improve them.  It was regrettable that, since 2013, the largest number of appointments to posts subject to geographical distribution was of staff members from overrepresented countries, he said, calling for enhanced representation of Member States which were either unrepresented or underrepresented.  There was merit in considering contributions to peacekeeping when revising any system of desirable ranges in terms of adequate representation, he observed, calling for the creation of a new paradigm to reduce disparities prevalent in the Organization.

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Africa: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO): DRL Labor Programs to Combat Slavery in West Africa

October 31, 2017


This is the announcement of funding opportunity number DRLA-DRLAQM-18-015

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number: 19.345

Application Deadline: January 12, 2018

For new application submission instructions, see Section D below.

A. Project Description

The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces an open competition for organizations interested in submitting applications for projects that support to combat slavery and assist the reintegration of former slaves into society in West Africa.

Program activities should focus in at least one of these countries and may include, but are not limited to, increasing collaboration among civil society organizations working to promote the rights of current and former slaves; engaging with former slaves, advocates, and civil society organizations to assist former slaves in claiming their rights under existing laws; conducting public awareness campaigns focused on combatting slavery; improving the capacity of legal and judicial professionals to hold slaveholders to account; engaging with key stakeholders to increase non-discriminatory access to services and to vocational training critical to the reintegration of current and former slaves; strengthening advocacy efforts to increase respect for human rights and to expand former slaves’ public and political participation and access to formal identification cards; and supporting civil society organizations working to combat the practice of forced begging, particularly among the talibé population.

DRL intends to support at least two programs with this funding; therefore, proposed budgets should not exceed $1m. Countries may include, but are not limited to, Mauritania, Niger, Mali, and/or Senegal. Applicants must demonstrate knowledge of relevant ongoing USG-funded programs in the countries they are proposing to work, and explain how a new program will build on existing efforts.

Projects should aim to have impact that leads to democratic reforms, and should have the potential for sustainability beyond DRL resources. DRL’s preference is to avoid duplicating past efforts by supporting new and creative approaches. This does not exclude from consideration projects that improve upon or expand existing successful projects in a new and complementary way.

Where appropriate, competitive proposals may include:

  • Systematic follow up with trainees at specific intervals (3 months, 6 months, etc.) after the completion of trainings to track how beneficiaries are retaining new knowledge as well as applying their new skills.
  • Opportunities for trainees to apply their new knowledge and skills in practical efforts.
  • Solicitation of feedback and suggestions from beneficiaries when developing trainings and activities in order to strengthen the sustainability of labor programs and participant ownership of project outcomes.
  • Input from participants on sustainability plans and systematic review of the plans throughout the life of the project with adjustments made as necessary.
  • Inclusion of vulnerable populations in needs and/or rapid assessments in order to identify challenges, gaps, and opportunities among these groups.
  • Joint identification and definition of key concepts with relevant stakeholders and stakeholder input into project activities.

To maximize the impact and sustainability of the award(s) that result(s) from this NOFO, DRL reserves the right to execute a non-competitive continuation amendment(s). The total duration of any award, including a potential non-competitive continuation amendment(s), shall not exceed 60 months or five years. Any non-competitive continuation is contingent on performance and availability of funds. A non-competitive continuation is not guaranteed; the Department of State reserves the right to exercise or not exercise the option to issue non-competitive continuation amendment(s).

Activities that are not typically considered competitive include, but are not limited to:

  • The provision of large amounts of humanitarian assistance;
  • English language instruction;
  • Development of high-tech computer or communications software and/or hardware;
  • Purely academic exchanges or fellowships;
  • External exchanges or fellowships lasting longer than six months;
  • Off-shore activities that are not clearly linked to in-country initiatives and impact or are not necessary for security concerns;
  • Theoretical explorations of human rights or democracy issues, including projects aimed primarily at research and evaluation that do not incorporate training or capacity-building for local civil society;
  • Micro-loans or similar small business development initiatives;
  • Initiatives directed towards a diaspora community rather than current residents of targeted countries.

DRL may ask successful applicant(s) to incorporate coordination of an implementer and stakeholder meeting into the Scope of Work of the final project. DRL will discuss this possibility with particular applicant(s) during the proposal negotiation phase.

B. Federal Award Information

DRL anticipates having approximately 2,000,000 of HRDF available to support approximately two successful applications submitted in response to this NOFO, subject to the availability of funding. Applicants can submit one application in response to the NOFO.

Applicants should not request less than $500,000 and no more than $1,000.000. Applicants should include an anticipated start date between June 2018 – September 2018 and the period of performance should be between 24 months to 36 months.

The U.S. government may (a) reject any or all applications, (b) accept other than the lowest cost application, (c) accept more than one application, and (d) waive informalities and minor irregularities in applications received.

The U.S. government may make award(s) on the basis of initial applications received, without discussions or negotiations. Therefore, each initial application should contain the applicant’s best terms from a cost and technical standpoint. The U.S. government reserves the right (though it is not under obligation to do so), however, to enter into discussions with one or more applicants in order to obtain clarifications, additional detail, or to suggest refinements in the project description, budget, or other aspects of an application.

DRL anticipates awarding either a grant or cooperative agreement depending on the needs and risk factors of the program. The final determination on mechanism will be made by the Grants Officer. The distinction between grants and cooperative agreements revolves around the existence of “substantial involvement.” Cooperative agreements require greater Federal government participation in the project. If a cooperative agreement is awarded, DRL will undertake reasonable and programmatically necessary substantial involvement. Examples of substantial involvement can include, but are not limited to:

  1. Active participation or collaboration with the recipient in the implementation of the award.
  2. Review and approval of one stage of work before another can begin.
  3. Review and approval of substantive provisions of proposed subawards or contracts.
  4. Approval of the recipient’s budget or plan of work prior to the award.

For projects of $150,000 or less, DRL expects to provide a fixed amount (fixed price) award. Fixed amount awards are generally used when the work to be performed can be priced with a reasonable degree of certainty, the grantee can reliably predict costs based on similar types of work, or the grantee can easily obtain bids or quotes. Appropriate activities for fixed amount awards generally include, but are not limited to: conferences, workshops, surveys, studies, and technical assistance when costs can be separated by milestone. Fixed amount awards should be based upon milestones, which outline a verifiable product, task, deliverable, or goal. Milestones generally include three components: (1) a description of the product, task, deliverable, or goal to be accomplished; (2) a description of how the recipient will document the completion of the product, task, deliverable, or goal (e.g. survey submission, submitting training materials, toolkits or reports); and (3) the amount that DRL will pay the recipient for the deliverable. Accountability is based primarily on performance and meeting milestones. While it is possible to provide flexibility within the milestone timing, the period of performance for fixed amount awards cannot be modified.

The authority for this funding opportunity is found in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (FAA).

C. Eligibility Information

For application information, please see the proposal submission instructions on our website.

C.1 Eligible Applicants

DRL welcomes applications from U.S.-based and foreign-based non-profit organizations/nongovernment organizations (NGO) and public international organizations; private, public, or state institutions of higher education; and for-profit organizations or businesses. DRL’s preference is to work with non-profit entities; however, there may be some occasions when a for-profit entity is best suited.

Applications submitted by for-profit entities may be subject to additional review following the panel selection process. Additionally, the Department of State generally prohibits profit to for-profit or commercial organizations under its assistance awards. Profit is defined as any amount in excess of allowable direct and indirect costs. The allowability of costs incurred by commercial organizations is determined in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) at 48 CFR 30, Cost Accounting Standards Administration, and 48 CFR 31 Contract Cost Principles and Procedures.

Please see 2 CFR 200.307 for regulations regarding program income.

C.2 Cost Sharing or Matching

Providing cost sharing, matching, or cost participation is not an eligibility factor or requirement for this NOFO, and providing cost share will not result in a more favorable competitive ranking.

C.3 Other

Applicants should have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with thematic or in-country partners, entities and relevant stakeholders, including private sector partners and NGOs, and have demonstrable experience in administering successful and preferably similar projects. DRL encourages applications from foreign-based NGOs headquartered in the geographic regions/countries relevant to this NOFO. Applicants may form consortia and submit a combined application. However, one organization should be designated as the lead applicant with the other members as sub-award partners. DRL reserves the right to request additional background information on applicants that do not have previous experience administering federal grant awards, and these applicants may be subject to limited funding on a pilot basis.

DRL is committed to an anti-discrimination policy in all of its projects and activities. DRL welcomes applications irrespective of race, ethnicity, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or other status.

Any applicant listed on the Excluded Parties List System in the System for Award Management (SAM)(www.sam.gov) is not eligible to apply for an assistance award in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR,1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR,1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.” Additionally no entity listed on the Excluded Parties List System in SAM.gov can participate in any activities under an award. All applicants are strongly encouraged to review the Excluded Parties List System in SAM.gov to ensure that no ineligible entity is included in their application.

D. Application and Submission Information

D.1 Address to Request Application Package

Applicants can find application forms, kits, or other materials needed to apply on www.grants.gov and SAMS Domestic (https://mygrants.service-now.com) under the announcement title “DRL Labor Program to Combat Slavery in West Africa” funding opportunity number “DRLA-DRLAQM-18-015” Please contact the DRL point of contact listed in section G if requesting reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities or for security reasons. Please note: reasonable accommodations do not include deadline extensions.

** Applications will be accepted in either grants.gov or SAMS Domestic. However, please note that applicants seeking to submit through SAMS Domestic can only do so after December 8, 2017 on (https://mygrants.service-now.com). Applicants seeking to submit their application on or prior to December 8, 2017 must do so through grants.gov. **

D.2 Content and Form of Application Submission

For all application documents, please ensure:

  1. All documents are in English and all costs are in U.S. dollars. If an original document within the application is in another language, an English translation must be provided (please note: the Department of State, as indicated in 2 CFR 200.111, requires that English is the official language of all award documents. If any document is provided in both English and a foreign language, the English language version is the controlling version);
  2. All pages are numbered, including budgets and attachments;
  3. All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper; and,
  4. All documents are single-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins. Captions and footnotes may be 10 point Times New Roman font. Font sizes in charts and tables, including the budget, can be reformatted to fit within 1 page width.

D.2.1 Application Requirements

Complete applications must include the following:

  1. Completed and signed SF-424, SF-424A, and SF-424B forms.
  1. If your organization engages in lobbying the U.S. government including Congress, or pays for another entity to lobby on your behalf, the SF-LLL “Disclosure of Lobbying Activities” form is also required.
  1. Cover Page (not to exceed one [1] page, preferably in Microsoft Word) that includes a table with the name of the organization, project title, target country/countries, thematic area, project synopsis, and name and contact information for the application’s main point of contact.
  1. Executive Summary (not to exceed one [1] page, preferably in Microsoft Word) that outlines project goals, objectives, and activities.
  1. Table of Contents (not to exceed one [1] page, preferably in Microsoft Word) listing all documents and attachments, with page numbers.
  1. Proposal Narrative (not to exceed ten [10] pages, preferably in Microsoft Word). Please note the ten page limit does not include the Table of Contents, Cover Page, Attachments, Detailed Budget, Budget Narrative, or Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA). Applicants are encouraged to combine multiple documents in a single Word Document or PDF (i.e., Cover Page, Table of Contents, Executive Summary, and Proposal Narrative in one file).
  1. Budget (preferably as an Excel workbook) that includes three [3] columns containing the request to DRL, any cost sharing contribution, and the total budget. A summary budget should also be included using the OMB-approved budget categories (see SF-424A as a sample) in a separate tab. Costs must be in U.S. dollars. Detailed line-item budgets for subgrantees should be included as additional tabs within the Excel workbook (if available at the time of submission).
  1. Budget Narrative (preferably as a Word Document) that includes substantive explanations and justifications for each line-item in the detailed budget spreadsheet, as well as the source and a description of all cost-share offered.
  1. Your organization’s most recent A-133 audit (if applicable), F Audit, or standard audit. Please see Audit section 2F below for more information.
  1. Logic Model (not to exceed two [2] pages, preferably in Microsoft Word).
  1. Monitoring and Evaluation Narrative (not to exceed two [2] pages).
  1. Monitoring and Evaluation Performance Indicator Table (not to exceed four [4] pages in Microsoft Word).
  1. Risk Analysis (not to exceed one [1] page, preferably in Microsoft Word).
  1. Key Personnel (not to exceed one [1] page total, preferably as a Word Document): Please include short bios that demonstrate relevant professional experience. Given the limited space, CVs are not recommended for submission.
  1. Timeline (not to exceed one [1] page): The timeline of the overall proposal should include activities, evaluation efforts, and program closeout.
  2. Security Plan: if applicable; please refer to the NOFO to see if this is required.

Applications that do not include the elements listed above will be deemed technically ineligible.

D.2.2 Additional Application Documents

Strong applications will also contain the following:

  • Individual Letters of Support and/or Memorandum of Understanding. Letters of support and MOUs must be specific to the project implementation (e.g. from proposed partners or sub-award recipients) and will not count towards the page limit.

Please refer to the Proposal Submission Instructions on DRL’s website for detailed guidance on the documents above: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/275216.pdf. For an application checklist and sample templates please see the Resources page on DRL’s website:http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c72333.htm. The sample templates provided on the DRL website are suggested, but not mandatory.

DRL reserves the right to request additional documents not included in this NOFO. Additionally, to ensure that all applications receive a balanced evaluation, the DRL Review Panel will review from the first page of each section up to the page limit and no further.

Note: If ultimately provided with a notification of non-binding intent to make a Federal award, applicants typically have two to three weeks to provide additional information and documents requested in the notification of intent. The deadlines may vary in each notification of intent and applicants must adhere to the stated deadline in the notification of intent.

D.2.3 Additional Information Requested For Those Receiving Notification of Intent

Successful applicants must submit after notification of intent to make a Federal award, but prior to issuance of a Federal award:

  • Written responses and revised application documents addressing conditions and recommendations from the DRL Review Panel;
  • If your organization has a NICRA and includes NICRA charges in the budget, your latest NICRA as a PDF file.
  • Completion of the Department’s Financial Management Survey, if receiving DRL funding for the first time;
  • Submission of required documents to register in the Payment Management System managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, if receiving DRL funding for the first time (unless an exemption is provided);
  • Other requested information or documents included in the notification of intent to make a Federal award or subsequent communications prior to issuance of a Federal award.

D.3 Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM)

All organizations, whether based in the United States or in another country, must have a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI), formerly referred to as DUNS, and an active registration with the SAM.gov before submitting an application. DRL may not review applications from or make awards to applicants that have not completed all applicable UEI and SAM.gov requirements. A UEI is one of the data elements mandated by Public Law 109-282, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA), for all Federal awards.

Note: The process of obtaining a SAM.gov registration may take anywhere from 4-8 weeks. Please begin your registration as early as possible.

  • If you are based in the United States or pay employees within the United States, prior to registering in SAM.gov you will need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code.
  • If you are based outside of the United States and do not pay employees within the United States, you do not need an EIN from the IRS. However, you will need a NATO CAGE (NCAGE) code before you can have an active registration in SAM.gov.

All organizations must also continue to maintain active SAM.gov registration with current information at all times during which they have an active Federal award or application under consideration by a Federal award agency. SAM.gov requires all entities to renew their registration once a year in order to maintain an active registration status in SAM. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure it has an active registration in SAM.gov and to maintain that active registration. If an applicant has not fully complied with the requirements at the time of application, the applicant may be deemed unqualified to receive an award and use that determination as a basis for making an award to another applicant.

For further guidance on the registration process, please see the SAM.gov Registration Guide on DRL’s website: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c72333.htm. Please refer to 2 CFR 25.200 for additional information.

Please note the registration process for SAM.gov is free.

In October 2017, new information was added to the www.SAM.gov website to help international registrations, including “Quick Start Guide for International Registrations” and “Helpful Hints”. Navigate to SAM.gov, click HELP in the top navigation bar, then click International Registrants in the left navigation panel.

D.3.1 Exemptions

An exemption from these requirements may be permitted on a case-by-case basis if:

  • An applicant’s identity must be protected due to potential endangerment of their mission, their organization’s status, their employees, or individuals being served by the applicant.

* Organizations requesting exemption from SAM.gov, NCAGE, and UEI should email the point of contact in the NOFO. If establishing your SAM.gov account as private rather than public view, please notify DRL at the time of submission.

Note: Foreign organizations will be required to register with the NATO Support Agency (NSPA) to receive a NCAGE code in order to register in SAM.gov. NSPA will forward your registration request to the applicable National Codification Bureau (NCB) if your organization is located in a NATO or Tier 2 Sponsored Non-NATO Nation. As of March 2016, NATO nations included Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States of America; and Tier 2 nations included Australia, Austria, Brazil, Finland, Israel, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Morocco, New Zealand, Serbia, and Singapore.

NSPA and/or the appropriate NCB forwards all NCAGE code information to all Allied Committee 135 (AC/135) nations, which as of March 2016 also included Afghanistan, Argentina, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Montenegro, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates. All organizations are strongly advised to take this into consideration when assessing whether registration may result in possible endangerment.

D.4 Submission Dates and Times

Applications are due no later than 11:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), on January 12, 2018 on www.grants.gov or SAMS Domestic (https://mygrants.service-now.com) under the announcement title “DRL Labor Programs to Combat Slavery in West Africa” funding opportunity number “DRLA-DRLAQM-18-015.”

** Applications will be accepted in either grants.gov or SAMS Domestic. However, please note that applicants seeking to submit through SAMS Domestic can only do so after December 8, 2017 on (https://mygrants.service-now.com). Applicants seeking to submit their application on or prior to December 8, 2017 must do so through grants.gov. **

Grants.gov and SAMS Domestic automatically log the date and time an application submission is made, and the Department of State will use this information to determine whether an application has been submitted on time. Late applications are neither reviewed nor considered unless the DRL point of contact listed in section G is contacted prior to the deadline and is provided with evidence of system errors caused by www.grants.gov or SAMS Domestic that is outside of the applicant’s control and is the sole reason for a late submission. Applicants should not expect a notification upon DRL receiving their application.

D.5 Funding Restrictions

DRL will not consider applications that reflect any type of support for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization.

Project activities whose direct beneficiaries are foreign militaries or paramilitary groups or individuals will not be considered for DRL funding given purpose limitations on funding.

The Leahy Law prohibits Department foreign assistance funds from supporting foreign security force units if the Secretary of State has credible information that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights. Per 22 USC §2378d(a) (2015), “No assistance shall be furnished under this chapter [FOREIGN ASSISTANCE] or the Arms Export Control Act [22 USC 2751 et seq.] to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.” Restrictions may apply to any proposed assistance to police or other law enforcement. Among these, pursuant to section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (FAA), no assistance provided through this funding opportunity may be furnished to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country when there is credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights. In accordance with the requirements of section 620M of the FAA, also known as the Leahy law, project beneficiaries or participants from a foreign government’s security forces may need to be vetted by the Department before the provision of any assistance.

If a proposed grant or cooperative agreement will provide assistance to foreign security forces or personnel, compliance with the Leahy Law is required. Federal awards generally will not allow reimbursement of pre-award costs; however, the Grants Officer may approve pre-award costs on a case-by-case basis. Generally, construction costs are not allowed under DRL awards. For additional information, please see the DRL Proposal Submission Instructions for Applications using SAMS Domestic Updated October 2017: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/275216.pdf

D.6 Application Submission

All application submissions must be made electronically via www.grants.gov or SAMS Domestic (https://mygrants.service-now.com). Both systems require registration by the applying organization. Please note: the Grants.gov registration process can take 10 business days or longer, even if all registration steps are completed in a timely manner.

** Applications will be accepted in either grants.gov or SAMS Domestic. However, please note that applicants seeking to submit through SAMS Domestic can only do so after December 8, 2017 on (https://mygrants.service-now.com). Applicants seeking to submit their application on or prior to December 8, 2017 must do so through grants.gov. **

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that it has an active registration in SAMS Domestic or Grants.gov. Applicants are required to document that the application has been received by SAMS Domestic or Grants.gov in its entirety. DRL bears no responsibility for disqualification that result from applicants not being registered before the due date, for system errors in either SAMS Domestic or Grants.gov, or other errors in the application process. Additionally you must save a screen shot of the checklist showing all documents submitted in case any document fails to upload successfully.

Faxed, couriered, or emailed documents will not be accepted. Reasonable accommodations may, in appropriate circumstances, be provided to applicants with disabilities or for security reasons. Applicants must follow all formatting instructions in the applicable NOFO and these instructions.

DRL encourages organizations to submit applications during normal business hours (Monday – Friday, 9:00AM – 5:00PM Eastern Time). If an applicant experiences technical difficulties and has contacted the appropriate helpdesk but is not receiving timely assistance (e.g. if you have not received a response within 48 hours of contacting the helpdesk), you may contact the DRL point of contact listed in the NOFO in section G. The point of contact may assist in contacting the appropriate helpdesk, but an applicant should also document their efforts in contacting the helpdesk. Applicants may also contact the DRL point of contact listed in the NOFO if experiencing technical issues with grants.gov or SAMS Domestic that may result in a late submission.

Applicants experiencing technical difficulties should follow these three steps:

  1. Contact the helpdesk for either Grants.gov or SAMS Domestic immediately.
  2. Document (including screenshots) technical issues AND efforts to contact the helpdesk.
  3. Submit all of the required documents to the DRL point of contact listed in the NOFO before the deadline.

Note: The Procurement Office/Grant Office will determine technical eligibility of all applications.

SAMS Domestic Applications:

All applicants are strongly encouraged to submit applications via SAMS Domestic (https://mygrants.service-now.com) after December 8, 2017.

Applicants using SAMS Domestic for the first time should complete their “New Organization Registration.” To register with SAMS Domestic, click “Login to https://mygrants.service-now.com” and follow the “create an account” link.

Organizations must remember to save a screen shot of the checklist showing all documents submitted in case any document fails to upload successfully.

SAMS Domestic Help Desk:
For assistance with SAMS Domestic accounts and technical issues related to the system, please contact the ILMS help desk by phone at 1-888-313-4567 (toll charges for international callers) or through the Self Service online portal that can be accessed from https://afsitsm.service-now.com/ilms. Customer Support is available 24/7/365.

Grants.gov Applications
Applicants who do not submit applications via SAMS Domestic may submit via www.grants.gov.

Please be advised that completing all the necessary registration steps for obtaining a username and password from Grants.gov can take more than two weeks.

Please refer to the Grants.gov website for definitions of various “application statuses” and the difference between a submission receipt and a submission validation. Applicants will receive a validation e-mail from Grants.gov upon the successful submission of an application. Validation of an electronic submission via Grants.gov can take up to two business days. Additionally you must remember to save a screenshot of the checklist showing all documents submitted in case any document fails to upload successfully.

Grants.gov Helpdesk:

For assistance with Grants.gov, please call the Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or email support@grants.gov. The Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except federal holidays.

See https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/snow-dismissal-procedures/federal-holidays/ for a list of federal holidays.

E. Application Review Information

E.1 Proposal Review Criteria

The DRL Review Panel will evaluate each application individually against the following criteria, listed below in order of importance, and not against competing applications. Please use the below criteria as a reference but do not structure your application according to the sub-sections.

Quality of Project Idea

Applications should be responsive to the program framework and policy objectives identified in the NOFO, appropriate in the country/regional context, and should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to DRL’s mission of promoting human rights and democracy. Projects should have the potential to have an immediate impact leading to long-term sustainable reforms. DRL prefers new approaches that do not duplicate efforts by other entities. This does not exclude from consideration projects that improve upon or expand existing successful projects in a new and complementary way. In countries where similar activities are already taking place, an explanation should be provided as to how new activities will not duplicate or merely add to existing activities and how these efforts will be coordinated. Proposals that promote creative approaches to recognized ongoing challenges are highly encouraged. DRL prioritizes project proposals with inclusive approaches for advancing these rights.

Project Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives

A strong application will include a clear articulation of how the proposed project activities contribute to the overall project objectives, and each activity will be clearly developed and detailed. A comprehensive monthly work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and the logistical capacity of the organization. Objectives should be ambitious yet measurable, results-focused and achievable in a reasonable time frame. A complete application must include a logic model to demonstrate how the project activities will have an impact on its proposed objectives. The logic model should match the objectives, outcomes, key activities and outputs described in the narrative. Applications should address how the project will engage relevant stakeholders and should identify local partners as appropriate.

If local partners have been identified, DRL strongly encourages applicants to submit letters of support from proposed in-country partners. Additionally, applicants should describe the division of labor among the direct applicant and any local partners. If applicable, applications should identify target geographic areas for activities, target participant groups or selection criteria for participants, and the specific roles of sub-awardees, among other pertinent details.

DRL recognizes that all programs have some level of risk due to internal/external variables that have the potential to adversely affect a program. Risk management should address how the program design incorporates the identification, assessment, and management of key risk factors. DRL will review the risk analysis based on the organization’s ability to identify risks that could have an impact on the overall program as well as how the organization will manage these risks.

Institution’s Record and Capacity

DRL will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants. Applications should demonstrate an institutional record of successful democracy and human rights programs, including responsible fiscal management and full compliance with all reporting requirements for past grants. Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the project’s objectives. Projects should have potential for continued funding beyond DRL resources.

Inclusivity of Marginalized Populations

DRL strives to ensure its projects advance the rights and uphold the dignity of all persons. The Bureau requests an inclusive programming approach, which should encompass marginalized populations, especially those facing discrimination and violence that undermines society’s collective security. To the extent possible, applicants should identify and support marginalized populations in all proposed project activities and objectives, and should provide specific analysis, measures, and corresponding targets to include them as appropriate. It assumes that interventions will not affect all segments of society in the same way. It requires stakeholders to identify and address the difference between the opportunities and barriers to equality and to design programs in a way that does not perpetuate inequality.

Cost Effectiveness

DRL strongly encourages applicants to clearly demonstrate project cost-effectiveness in their application, including examples of leveraging institutional and other resources. However, cost-sharing or other examples of leveraging other resources are not required. Inclusion of cost-sharing in the budget does not result in additional points awarded during the review process. Budgets should have low and/or reasonable overhead and administration costs, and applicants should provide clear explanations and justifications for these costs in relation to the work involved. All budget items should be clearly explained and justified to demonstrate necessity, appropriateness, and connection to the project objectives.

Please note: If cost-share is included in the budget, the recipient must maintain written records to support all allowable costs that are claimed as its contribution to cost-share, as well as costs to be paid by the Federal government. Such records are subject to audit. In the event the recipient does not meet the minimum amount of cost-sharing as stipulated in the recipient’s budget, DRL’s contribution may be reduced in proportion to the recipient’s contribution.

Multiplier Effect/Sustainability

Applications should clearly delineate how elements of the project will have a multiplier effect and be sustainable beyond the life of the grant. A good multiplier effect will have an impact beyond the direct beneficiaries of the grant (e.g. participants trained under a grant go on to train other people; workshop participants use skills from a workshop to enhance a national level election that affects the entire populace). A strong sustainability plan may include demonstrating continuing impact beyond the life of a project or garnering other donor support after DRL funding ceases.

Project Monitoring and Evaluation

Complete applications will include a detailed M&E Narrative and M&E Plan, which detail how the project’s progress will be monitored and evaluated. Incorporating well-designed monitoring and evaluation processes into a project is an efficient method for documenting the change (intended and unintended) that a project seeks. Applications should demonstrate the capacity to provide objectives with measurable outputs and outcomes.

The quality of the M&E sections will be judged on the narrative explaining how both monitoring and evaluation will be carried out and who will be responsible for those related activities. The M&E Narrative should explain how an external evaluation will be incorporated into the project implementation plan or how the project will be systematically assessed in the absence of one. Please see the section on Monitoring and Evaluation Narrative in the Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) for more information on what is required in the narrative.

The output and outcome-based performance indicators should not only be separated by project objectives but also should match the objectives, outcomes, and outputs detailed in the logic model and proposal narrative. Performance indicators should be clearly defined (i.e., explained how the indicators will be measured and reported) either within the table or with a separate Performance Indicator Reference Sheet (PIRS). For each performance indicator, the table should also include baselines and quarterly and cumulative targets, data collection tools, data sources, types of data disaggregation, and frequency of monitoring and evaluation. There should also be metrics to capture how project activities target those discriminated against or marginalized populations or addresses their concerns, where applicable. Please see the section on Monitoring and Evaluation Plan in the Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) for more information on what is required in the plan.

E.2 Review and Selection Process

DRL strives to ensure that each application receives a balanced evaluation by a DRL Review Panel. The Department’s Office of Acquisitions Management (AQM) will determine technical eligibility for all applications. All technically eligible applications for a given NOFO are reviewed against the same seven criteria, which include quality of project idea, project planning/ability to achieve objectives, institutional record and capacity, inclusive programming, cost effectiveness, multiplier effect/sustainability, and project monitoring and evaluation.

Additionally, the DRL Review Panel will evaluate how the application addresses the NOFO request, U.S. foreign policy goals, and the priority needs of DRL overall. DRL may also take into consideration the balance of the current portfolio of active projects, including geographic or thematic diversity, if needed.

In most cases, the DRL Review Panel includes representatives from DRL, the appropriate Department of State regional bureau (to include feedback from U.S. embassies), and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) (to include feedback from USAID missions). In some cases, additional panelists may participate, including from other Department of State bureaus or offices, U.S. government departments, agencies, or boards, representatives from partner governments, or representatives from entities that are in a public-private partnership with DRL. At the end of the panel’s discussion about an application, the Panel votes on recommending the application for approval by the DRL Assistant Secretary. If more applications are ultimately recommended for approval than DRL can fund, the Panel will rank the recommended applications in priority order for consideration by the DRL Assistant Secretary. The Grants Officer Representative (GOR) for the eventual award does not vote on the panel. All Panelists must sign non-disclosure agreements and conflicts of interest agreements.

DRL Review Panels may provide conditions and recommendations on applications to enhance the proposed project, which must be addressed by the applicant before further consideration of the award. To ensure effective use of DRL funds, conditions or recommendations may include requests to increase, decrease, clarify, and/or justify costs and project activities.

F. Federal Award Administration Information

F.1 Federal Award Notices

DRL will provide a separate notification to applicants on the result of their applications. Successful applicants will receive a letter electronically via email requesting that the applicant respond to Panel conditions and recommendations. This notification is not an authorization to begin activities and does not constitute formal approval or a funding commitment.

Final approval is contingent on the applicant successfully responding to the Panel’s conditions and recommendations, being registered in required systems, including the U.S. government’s Payment Management System (PMS), unless an exemption is provided, and completing and providing any additional documentation requested by DRL or AQM. Final approval is also contingent on Congressional notification requirements being met and final review and approval by the Department’s warranted Grants Officer.

The notice of Federal award signed by the Department’s warranted Grants Officers is the sole authorizing document. If awarded, the notice of Federal award will be provided to the applicant’s designated Authorizing Official via SAMS Domestic to be electronically counter-signed in the system.

F.2 Administrative and National Policy Requirements

The Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards set forth in 2 CFR Chapter 200 (Sub-Chapters A through F) shall apply to all non-Federal entities, except for assistance awards to Individuals and Foreign Public Entities. Sub-Chapters A through E shall apply to all foreign organizations, and Sub-Chapters A through D shall apply to all U.S. and foreign for-profit entities.

The applicant/recipient of the award and any sub-recipient under the award must comply with all applicable terms and conditions, in addition to the assurance and certifications made part of the Notice of Award. The Department’s Standard Terms and Conditions can be viewed at https://www.state.gov/m/a/ope/index.htm.

F.3 Reporting

Applicants should be aware that DRL awards will require that all reports (financial and progress) are uploaded to the grant file in SAMS Domestic on a quarterly basis. The Federal Financial Report (FFR or SF-425) is the required form for the financial reports and must be submitted in PMS as well as a copy from PMS then uploaded to the grant file in SAMS Domestic. The progress reports uploaded to the grant file in SAMS Domestic must a narrative as described below; and Project Indicators (or other mutually agreed upon format approved by the Grants Officer) for the F Framework indicators.

Narrative progress reports should reflect the focus on measuring the project’s impact on the overarching objectives and should be compiled according to the objectives, outcomes, and outputs as outlined in the award’s Scope of Work (SOW) and in the Monitoring and Evaluation Narrative. An assessment of the overall project’s impact should be included in each progress report. Where relevant, progress reports should include the following sections:

  • Relevant contextual information (limited);
  • Explanation and evaluation of significant activities of the reporting period and how the activities reflect progress toward achieving objectives, including meeting benchmarks/targets as set in the M&E plan. In addition, attach the M&E plan, comparing the target and actual numbers for the indicators;
  • Any tangible impact or success stories from the project, when possible;
  • Copy of mid-term and/or final evaluation report(s) conducted by an external evaluator; if applicable;
  • Relevant supporting documentation or products related to the project activities (such as articles, meeting lists and agendas, participant surveys, photos, manuals, etc.) as separate attachments;
  • Description of how the Recipient is pursuing sustainability, including looking for sources of follow-on funding;
  • Any problems/challenges in implementing the project and a corrective action plan with an updated timeline of activities;
  • Reasons why established goals were not met;
  • Data for the required F Framework indicator(s) for the quarter as well as aggregate data by fiscal year: Program Indicators or other mutually agreed upon format approved by the Grants Officer.
  • Proposed activities for the next quarter;
  • Additional pertinent information, including analysis and explanation of cost overruns or high unit costs, if applicable.

A final narrative and financial report must also be submitted within 90 days after the expiration of the award.

Please note: Delays in reporting may result in delays of payment approvals and failure to provide required reports may jeopardize the recipient’s’ ability to receive future U.S. government funds.

DRL reserves the right to request any additional programmatic and/or financial project information during the award period.

G. Contact Information

For technical submission questions related to this NOFO, please contact the DRLLaborGrants@state.gov inbox.

For assistance with SAMS Domestic accounts and technical issues related to the system, please contact the ILMS help desk by phone at 1-888-313-4567 (toll charges for international callers) or through the Self Service online portal that can be accessed from https://afsitsm.service-now.com/ilms. Customer Support is available 24/7/365.

Please note, establishing an account in SAMS Domestic may require the use of smartphone for multi-factor authentication (MFA). If an applicant does not have accessibility to a smartphone during the time of creating an account, please contact the helpdesk and request and instructions on MFA for Windows PC.

For assistance with Grants.gov accounts and technical issues related to using the system, please call the Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or email support@grants.gov. The Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except federal holidays.

For a list of federal holidays visit:

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/snow-dismissal-procedures/federal-holidays/

With the exception of technical submission questions, during the NOFO period U.S. Department of State staff in Washington and overseas shall not discuss this competition with applicants until the entire proposal review process has been completed and rejection and approval letters have been transmitted.

H. Other Information

Applicants should be aware that DRL understands that some information contained in applications may be considered sensitive or proprietary and will make appropriate efforts to protect such information. However, applicants are advised that DRL cannot guarantee that such information will not be disclosed, including pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or other similar statutes.

The information in this NOFO and “DRL’s Proposal Submission Instructions for Applications using SAMS Domestic Updated October 2017” is binding and may not be modified by any DRL representative. Explanatory information provided by DRL that contradicts this language will not be binding. Issuance of the NOFO and negotiation of applications does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the U.S. government. DRL reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets.

This NOFO will appear on www.grants.gov, SAMS Domestic (after December 8, 2017), and DRL’s website http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.

Background Information on DRL and general DRL funding

DRL has the mission of promoting democracy and protecting human rights globally. DRL supports projects that uphold democratic principles, support and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, prevent atrocities, combat and prevent violent extremism, and build civil society around the world. DRL typically focuses its work in countries with egregious human rights violations, where democracy and human rights advocates are under pressure and where governments are undemocratic or in transition.

Additional background information on DRL and its efforts can be found on www.state.gov/j/drl.



The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

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UN chief pays tribute to courage, resilience of people of Central African Republic

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&#8220I wish to pay tribute to the people’s courage, resilience and determination to overcome great adversity,&#8221 Mr. Guterres told the National Assembly in the capital, Bangui, on the final day of his visit to the country.

&#8220The task of solving this crisis lies first and foremost in the hands of the people of the Central African Republic. Nobody is in a better position to help the country than its own citizens,&#8221 he added.

The UN chief noted that the country’s enormous difficulties include insecurity, a humanitarian crisis and slow progress towards development.

Armed groups are fragmenting and multiplying. One in four Central Africans is displaced. Development programmes are needed for neglected rural areas. Religion and ethnic origin have been manipulated to create division among communities, severely polarizing a fragile country.

&#8220The Central African Republic is at risk of sliding back into open inter-communal violence,&#8221 Mr. Guterres said.

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Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meeting with women reps at Youth Cultural Centre. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meeting with youth at Youth Cultural Centre. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meeting with youth at Youth Cultural Centre. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meeting community in PK5. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General António Guterres (left) interacts with members of Muslim community in PK5, Bangui. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meeting with women reps at Youth Cultural Centre. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

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The National Assembly has a vital role to play in ensuring the efficient delivery of government services, not just in the capital, but at the local level, he said.

&#8220We are all committed to the return to peace,&#8221 he said, noting that a cessation of hostilities is undoubtedly important, but there is also a need to bring peace to people’s hearts.

&#8220The Central African Republic has suffered for far too long. As representatives of the people, you have a central part to play in turning the situation around,&#8221 he told the lawmakers.

Noting the historical generosity of the Central Africans who, over the years, have opened their borders to refugees from neighboring countries, the Secretary-General pledged that the UN would continue to accompany and support Central Africans.

According to his spokesman, Mr. Guterres then travelled to the PK5 area, a traditionally Muslim part of Bangui that has been the site of violence against the community.

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The Secretary-General then held a roundtable with youth leaders and a separate session with women leaders.

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Delegates Urge Equitable Balance between Core, Non‑Core Funding Resources, as Second Committee Takes Up Operational Activities for Development

Reform activities must resolve the imbalance between core and non‑core funding and strengthen South‑South cooperation with respect for national sovereignty, speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today as it took up its agenda item on operational activities for development.

The representative of Antigua and Barbuda, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said there was no “one-size-fits-all” approach to development and that the disproportion between core and non‑core funding countries weakened the multilateral framework for development assistance, created conditionalities and undercut development effectiveness.

Calling for an equitable balance between core and non‑core funding resources, he said the current trend increased operational costs and fragmented the United Nations system, particularly at the country level.  Development assistance should be responsive to national policies and be free from overprescribed contingents.

India’s representative said an estimated one third of international development cooperation was routed through multilateral channels, of which the United Nations development system controlled an estimated one third.  Development cooperation was largely dependent on earmarked funding from donors.  The top 10 donors accounted for almost three quarters of development system funds, and nine of those provided more earmarked than core contributions.

To address that trend, he said there was growing interest in South‑South cooperation, which worked more in accordance with the priorities of partner countries rather than the conditions accompanying traditional donor aid.  That cooperation also had a decades-long tradition emanating from shared experiences of a colonial past that had subjugated and distorted economies, he added.

Bangladesh’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said South‑South cooperation could accelerate development as a complement to North‑South cooperation.  The role of emerging economies as trading partners, investors and providers of development cooperation of least developed countries had substantially increased over the past decades.

Total development cooperation from emerging providers was estimated at about $32 billion in 2014, or 17 per cent of the global total, he continued.  Cooperation between the least developed countries and the South had gone beyond provision of aid to include more varied areas of cooperation.

The representative of the Russian Federation said South‑South cooperation should be strengthened with due consideration to sovereignty, responsibility and mutual benefit of the countries involved.

Expanding that sentiment, Cameroon’s representative said any changes to the development system should be aligned with national priorities and needed to avoid moving away from sustainable development into areas like conflict prevention or peace and security.  Such a trend could lead to interference in political processes and violate the sovereignty of States.

Earlier in the day, the Director of the Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system: funding analysis (document A/72/61-E/2017/4); and the Director of the United Nations Office for South‑South Cooperation in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the state of South‑South cooperation (document A/72/297).  The Deputy Secretary-General for the United Nations gave an introductory address.

Also speaking were the representatives of Ecuador (for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Viet Nam (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), El Salvador (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Nauru (for the Group of Asia and Pacific Island Developing States), Maldives (for the Alliance of Small Island States), Philippines, Iran, Indonesia, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Jamaica, Belarus, Honduras, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, China, Thailand, Zambia, Malawi, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Brazil, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Republic of Korea, Nepal, Mozambique, Argentina, Japan, Algeria and Morocco as well as the Holy See and International Chamber of Commerce.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 31 October, to introduce and act on draft resolutions.

Introduction of Reports

AMINA MOHAMMED, Deputy Secretary-General, introduced the operational activities for development of the United Nations system.  She said demographic trends, technological advancements and big data held immense potential for sustainable development, however the international community had to contend with a growing number of complex global challenges.  That included persistent inequality, migration and urbanization, climate change, conflict and violence and increased dissatisfaction with political institutions.  The global and economic crisis revealed imbalances in the financial system and slowed down financing of poverty eradication and sustainable development.  Given that, she said the international community must re‑establish the role of the financial sector and usher in an era of fair globalization with better policy and regulatory frameworks.  In regards to climate change, she said the international community must promote a critical shift away from high emissions and consumption patterns.  Noting the lack of confidence in governmental institutions, she said “a handful of rich men hold as much wealth as half the global population”.  Citizens around the world therefore demanded increased effectiveness, transparency and accountability.  To highlight that concern, she said a recent survey indicated that only 14 per cent of people trusted their Government to do what was “right” for their country.

For its part, she said the United Nations system would continue its reform efforts and aim to establish a new generation of country teams.  Those teams would further support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through stronger leadership and reduced fragmentation and ensure that the work of the United Nations would be properly calibrated to specific country needs.  Additionally, efforts were underway to support the provision and efficient use of official development assistance (ODA), bolster South‑South cooperation, improve urban working environments and support the meaningful participation of women, among other priorities.

NAVID HANIF, Director of the Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system: funding analysis (document A/72/61-E/2017/4).  He said the United Nations development system received $26.7 billion in 2015 which represented a 4 per cent increase compared to 2014.  At the same time, the share of non‑earmarked and core resources dropped to 22.9 per cent of total funding.  Between 2000 and 2015, the volume of funding more than doubled, indicating that the funding of operational activities for development grew at a faster rate than overall global ODA.  Funding in the non‑core resources grew roughly six times faster than the core funding during that same period.  The slow growth in that core funding was a cause for concern, given that core resources were seen as a better instrument for advancing national ownership while providing the flexibility needed to deliver in an efficient and effective manner.  The analysis showed a lack of progress in broadening the donor base, as only three Government donors accounted for 47 per cent of all Government contributions.

Regarding transparency and accountability in funding flows, he said that several United Nations entities developed and improved publicly accessible systems that map data on donor contributions and expenditures.  Improvements were also made to achieve full cost recovery.  Pooled funding accounted for only about 11 per cent of overall non‑core funding in 2015, despite the acknowledgement that inter‑agency pooled funds were useful mechanisms for strengthening system-wide coherence, reduced fragmentation and the development of economies of scale.  Funding for humanitarian assistance activities increased more rapidly than funding for development-related activities, but could not keep pace with the growing humanitarian demands.  He said the report stressed the need to explore options to supplement funding raised through more traditional means and looked at ways the ongoing structured financing dialogues could be improved.

JORGE CHEDIEK, Director of the United Nations Office for South‑South Cooperation in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the state of South‑South cooperation (document A/72/297).  He noted that United Nations agencies had taken a series of measures to further mainstream South‑South cooperation and triangular cooperation into their policy frameworks and incorporate strategies towards implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Moreover, they were increasingly allocating dedicated funds and/or recruiting specialists to boost South‑South cooperation initiatives at Headquarters and also at regional and country levels.

United Nations agency support for South‑South cooperation included facilitation of policy dialogues, research and analysis, capacity development, knowledge-sharing, partnerships and innovative financing, monitoring, evaluation and reporting, he said.  The Organization was also supporting regional and interregional South‑South cooperation through funding initiatives and partnerships with regional organizations.  By drawing on three key mechanisms to promote stronger coordination of United Nations support to South‑South and triangular cooperation — catalysing advocacy and dialogues, promoting research and knowledge-sharing and deepening partnerships — the United Nations had laid the basis for further institutionalization of South‑South cooperation, within the system and beyond it.

Questions and Answers

The representative of Mexico said that reform of the United Nations system, especially in areas of development, had different dimensions.  Some were part of the Secretary-General’s mandate and would be carried out internally with political support from Member States.  Another dimension depended on Member States working together and agreeing upon changes.  Two new contracts would be needed in carrying out reform — one between the Secretary-General and Member States and another between Member States.  He stressed that the United Nations must transform itself from a system built on lack of trust to one with more confidence in the future.  The new development agenda could not be implemented without reform and improved discussions among Member States.  The core forum for those discussions should be the Economic and Social Council, which was a central, important body, but one which had lost its original function and ability.  Now it could be transformed into a deliberative body that held more effective, relevant discussions in achieving the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Kenya noted that the United Nations had come a long way since it had been established more than 70 years ago.  However, it was now at an impasse because the world was changing so rapidly.  Adding that the 2030 Agenda had focused Member States on specific objectives, he said it was the instrument to keep the United Nations on track.  It was clear that funding was insufficient and that gap must be closed, which could be accomplished by building interrelations, including with the private sector.  The Committee should hear how that could proceed as well as trends of South‑South cooperation financing, which was not just about sharing experiences but leveraging resources.

Mr. HANIF agreed that successful United Nations reform depended upon building trust and a system able to respond to new challenges.  The $26.7 billion in funding for the 2030 Agenda was a vote of confidence in the United Nations system.  That amount was two thirds of the financing the Organization received for all pillars combined.  The development system must be a catalyst in ensuring that financing streams were targeted towards the Sustainable Development Goals.  It had evolved by design and default, but must now change its mindset and functional arrangements to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

Mr. CHEDIEK said the Department of Economic and Social Affairs was working together with UNDP and other partners to gather information about differences and complementarities of South‑South cooperation, which would be included in a report his office was preparing.  The report would consider options to advance South‑South cooperation, most of which was happening outside the United Nations system.

Statements

HENRY JONATHAN VIERA SALAZAR (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, emphasized that improvements in the United Nations development system should be aimed at adapting it to better support countries, particularly developing States, in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Such improvements should strengthen the system and mobilize more resources, mindful of the importance of multilateralism and the crucial role of the United Nations in development cooperation.  The Group recognized the importance of the resident coordinator system in supporting Government efforts, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of development efforts, enhancing sustainable development results and reducing costs at the country level.  In that regard, it was important to consider the need to build, promote and strengthen the capacity of developing countries in their efforts to achieve long-term sustainable development at the national level, while bearing in mind the different development levels and realities on the ground.

The quadrennial comprehensive policy review was the main instrument to better position the United Nations development system and any proposed reform of the development system should be based on that review, he said.  South‑South and triangular cooperation were of growing importance to collective efforts to achieve the future development agenda, and such cooperation was a complement to, rather than substitute for, North‑South cooperation.  There was an urgent need to address unmet ODA commitments, considering that it was still the main channel of financing development for developing countries.  He went on to highlight the role of the new regional banks of developing countries, which were designed to operate within and across regions based on the belief that a revitalized partnership among Southern countries was possible.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and aligning herself with the Group of 77, said that the development cooperation between her group and the United Nations had been growing in many areas.  The 2030 Agenda and the Association’s Community Vision 2025 would be implemented in a mutually reinforcing manner to build an inclusive, people-centred ASEAN Community.

Turning to United Nations development system reform, she pointed out that its work should always be aligned with the needs, priorities and capacities of programme countries.  Furthermore, the reliance on earmarked contributions had weakened the multilateral characteristic of the system, increasing the risk of duplication and overlap.  In that context, she highlighted that ODA should be a key determinant in leveraging other international sources of financing, and to do so, the system should develop appropriate capabilities for promoting leverage by providing integrated policy support to Governments for mobilization of resources.  South‑South and triangular cooperation were complementary to, but not a substitute for the North‑South cooperation, she said, reaffirming the need for developed countries to meet their ODA commitments.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the United Nations development system must be repositioned to support least developed States for specific programmes, projects, follow-up and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda and other development projects in a coordinated and coherent manner.  United Nations entities dedicated to least developed countries must be strengthened and there must be a strong presence of the development system in all vulnerable States.  The United Nations must be well-resourced, supporting least developed countries to combat climate change, make technology and innovation available and facilitate partnerships for development.

South‑South cooperation had the potential to be a great means for accelerating development as a complement to North‑South cooperation, he said.  The role of emerging economies as trading partners, investors and providers of development cooperation of least developed countries had substantially increased over the past decades.  Total development cooperation from emerging providers was estimated at about $32 billion in 2014, or 17 per cent of the global total.  South‑South cooperation followed a broader approach than cooperation from traditional donors.  Cooperation between the least developed countries and the South had gone beyond provision of aid to include more varied areas of cooperation, especially in trade and investment.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CELAC), urged for the United Nations development system to incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals into all strategic planning documents and into their work at all levels.  In that regard, he emphasized that poverty eradication should remain a key priority.  He said that the governance structure of the development system must be more efficient and transparent, better able to respond to Member States, and more able to improve the coordination and efficiency of its operational activities.  Such reforms would allow for improved strategic planning, application, presentation of reports and system level assessments to implement the 2030 Agenda.

He said that the United Nations development system must incorporate and support South‑South and triangular cooperation under the leadership of developing countries.  In that regard, his Community would continue to promote such cooperation through its policies, funds and programmes for development.

TUMASIE BLAIR (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77, CELAC and the Alliance of Small Island States, said there was no “one size fits all” approach to development and development assistance.  Operational activities for development should be able to respond to the development needs of programme countries in a flexible manner, for the benefit of those States and at their request with respect to their national policies and priorities.  Similarly, operational activities for development should consider the need to encourage national capacity-building.  Greater emphasis should be placed on the strengthening of the multilateral framework for development, including by rearranging the funding core of the United Nations system.  The disproportion between core and non‑core funding countries weakened the multilateral framework for development assistance, created conditionalities and undercut development effectiveness, he stated.

Calling for an equitable balance between core and non‑core funding resources, he said the current trend increased operational costs and fragmented the United Nations system, particularly at the country level.  Development assistance should be responsive to national policies and plans and be free from overprescribed contingents.  He emphasized the importance of South‑South cooperation for development, which would be instrumental in addressing long-term challenges and would ensure the transfer of technologies, increase capacity-building and facilitate access to the range of services available in the United Nations system.

ANADELLA EDWARD (Nauru), speaking on behalf of Pacific small island developing States and associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said that her group of countries remained a “special case” for sustainable development.  They had myriad challenges and unique geographies, economies, and environments, she added, reiterating the need to fully implement the small island developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway.  Small island developing States had been aided in that task by the recently completed independent analysis of United Nations system support for small island developing States, in the form of the report of the Joint Inspection Unit.  That report contained several findings and recommendations which must be fully implemented.

Coherence and coordination of all activities on the ground were paramount to fulfilling the 2030 Agenda, she continued.  Agencies must be able to jointly develop and implement programmes towards common objectives.  Those objectives must be derived from the Development Assistance Framework.  In that context, empowering the resident coordinator system remained essential, she said, adding that the resident coordinator must have visibility towards all projects and activities undertaken under her purview.  That would pose a challenge in the Pacific, where one resident coordinator oversees 10 countries.  She also emphasized the need to find adequate and predictable sources of financing through core resources.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating himself with the Group of 77, said the susceptibility of small island nations to natural hazards was just one of numerous challenges they faced on the path towards sustainable development.  In 2015, the Alliance did not hesitate to fully commit to the 2030 Agenda, he said, adding that the Samoa Pathway was the blueprint for its development.  As an active participant in the 2016 quadrennial comprehensive policy review, he said the Alliance realized there were many matters that were unclear regarding the functioning and operation of the United Nations development system that hindered Member States from giving more specific guidance to the system.  As such, it still had some of the same questions as in 2016, in addition to new ones arising from some of the recommendations contained in the report.  Turning to the December report, he said the resident coordinator system was vital as to whether programme countries would be able to implement the 2030 Agenda.  He expected it to elaborate on outstanding matters raised in the June report.

The funding mechanism for the United Nations development system must be predicable and flexible to address the priorities of programme countries, he continued.  The entire system must discourage highly earmarked non‑core resources, as that encouraged silos and disconnection from priority areas.  In that context, the system should explore low-risk financing options.  While partnerships were particularly important to small island developing States, they must be genuine, durable and based on mutual respect.

A.P. JITHENDER REDDY (India) noted that an estimated one third of international development cooperation was routed through multilateral channels, of which the United Nations development system controlled an estimated one third.  Development cooperation was largely dependent on earmarked funding from donors, unlike other avenues.  The top 10 donors accounted for almost three quarters of development system funds, and nine of those provided more earmarked than core contributions.  The situation had to change if the development system was to become more effective and tuned to the needs of developing countries where it was operational.  In that regard, there was growing interest in South‑South cooperation, which worked more in accordance with the priorities of partner countries rather than the conditions accompanying traditional donor aid.  South‑South cooperation also had a decades-long tradition emanating from shared experiences of a colonial past that had subjugated and distorted economies.

MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines), aligning herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, said the operational activities of the United Nations development system should be allied with the development needs and priorities of States.  That was a basic principle in her country’s national process in the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of its country programme document and national development assistance framework.  Noting the continuing imbalance of core and non‑core funding, she expressed concern that funding drove programming.  She urged States and donors to prioritize core and non‑earmarked funding and support the critical need for transparency, accountability and governance.  To that end, she called on States and the United Nations system to operationalize the critical mass of core resources, incentivize donors, broaden the donor base and ensure full cost recovery.  She additionally welcomed initiatives that contributed to the institutionalization of South‑South cooperation and encouraged greater programmatic and institutional support to those initiatives.

EBRAHIM ALIKHANI (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the principles of national ownership and leadership in guiding the operational activities of the United Nations system at the country level were of critical importance.  The resident coordinator system should therefore respond to the plans, priorities and needs of host countries within their development assistance frameworks.  He expressed concern about the imbalance between core and non‑core resources and urged for the promotion of a more transparent and efficient governance architecture to enable system-wide strategic planning.  Given that the tendency to reduce programme activities would impair the performance of development projects and joint activities at the field level, he urged for the emphasis of quality of work rather than administrative considerations.  Similarly, he said South‑South cooperation could be maximized through subregional, regional and interregional frameworks and should be integrated into operational activities.  He welcomed efforts to mainstream South‑South cooperation and called for greater analytical information on the implementation of major intergovernmentally agreed developmental goals in the next Secretary-General’s report.

AINAN NURAN (Indonesia), associating herself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that the Organization must work together and find innovative ways for Member States, partners and the international community to mobilize resources.  That included public and private resources focused on moving towards a stronger integrated financing strategy in accordance with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  For its part, Indonesia partnered with the United Nations and the private sector to channel private capital to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  It also provided funding to rural smallholders to improve productivity while conserving the natural environment.  She called for greater coordination and coherence at the United Nations level in addressing development needs and priorities on the ground.  She also emphasized the importance of strengthening South‑South and triangular cooperation to assist developing countries.

TATIANA ZVEREVA (Russian Federation) said introducing any changes to the United Nations development system would only be possible with broad consensus among Member States, given its scale and complexity.  She urged the Secretariat to submit additional details about the ramifications of any changes.  Objecting to politicization of operational activities, she stressed that national ownership and priorities must be included in any changes to the development system.  Reform must aim to strengthen interactions between recipient States and United Nations country teams.  Formation of those teams should be based on the needs of the host country.  South‑South cooperation should be strengthened, paying due consideration to sovereignty, responsibility and mutual benefit of countries involved.

BIANA LEYVA REGUEIRA (Cuba), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, the Alliance of Small Island States and CELAC, underscored the contribution of the United Nations development system in confronting pressing development challenges facing the most vulnerable countries.  Reform of the system must strictly adhere to the principle of neutrality and development-related aims guiding United Nations operational activities in those countries.  At the same time, the system should be more proactive in eliminating poverty, achieving sustainable development and responding effectively to national priorities.  It must also promote flexible and inclusive policies based on the principle of voluntarism, respect for sovereignty and leadership at all levels of the receiving State.  Indeed, the countries of the South knew their needs best and it was up to them to determine their assistance priorities, she said.

VLADAMIR BUDHU (Trinidad and Tobago), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, Alliance of Small Island States, CELAC and CARICOM, said he expected the United Nations development system to be a stable, long-term, reliable partner in the foreseeable future to help his country achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Vision 2030 national development strategy.  As a high middle-income developing country, Trinidad and Tobago continued to grapple with its status which rendered it ineligible for international development assistance, while also coping with the vulnerabilities of being a small island developing State.  Operational activities for development must encourage national capacity-building by ensuring the promotion and transfer of new technologies to developing countries, while also enabling and facilitating those countries’ access to the full range of services available throughout the United Nations development system.

JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said reform of the United Nations development system must be guided by the quadrennial comprehensive policy review.  Additionally, the resident coordinator system must be informed by the country’s national plans, policies and priorities, and remain under the leadership and ownership of national governments.  While the review had captured the mutually reinforcing relationship between peace and development, it also rightfully pointed out that must not adversely affect resources for development.  The continuing and ever-increasing imbalance between core and non‑core resources remained a critical concern, as it hindered country-level programming.  The fragmentation of United Nations entities at the country level had also proved to be a major disservice to countries that required support from the United Nations development system.  He stressed that the international community must step up development enablers such as capacity-building, technology transfer and an enabling and fair international environment.

E. COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), associating himself with the Group of 77, CARICOM, CELAC and the Alliance of Small Island States, said that regional policy coordination was operating at a suboptimal level due to an unclear division of labour and the inefficient use of United Nations policy capacities on regional priorities.  Jamaica attached great importance to the proposed improvements in the resident coordinator system and believed there must be empowered and well-resourced leadership within the system, with clear lines of authority over United Nations country teams on system-wide responsibilities.  The fact that United Nations agencies had been experiencing a reduction in resources available for investment was of concern, particularly due to their limited core resources and reliance on resource mobilization from donors.  In that context, United Nations agencies needed to augment their pool of resources by adopting more creative approaches.

ANNA BAGDASAROVA (Belarus) said her country supported the reorganization of the United Nations development system, to promote greater transparency, accountability and conform to the needs of recipient countries.  She encouraged a systematic approach to address the needs of middle-income nations which currently lacked access to coordinated financial assistance mechanisms, and in that regard, she called for the establishment of a middle-income-country-specific strategy.  Noting the need to revitalize operational development activities, she encouraged the creation of regional partnership mechanisms to link multilateral initiatives.  She expressed concern that financial assistance to middle-income countries might be reduced, and said that such a trend would lead to the politicization of the development system.  She urged all United Nations bodies to improve the efficiency of their work and the use of financial resources in existing mechanisms, without placing greater burdens on recipient countries.  She said efforts to strengthen the development system should not become “reform for reform’s sake” and that all efforts should be results-oriented and focused on specific operational needs.

YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said the international community’s compliance with the 2030 Agenda would require substantial mobilization of resources.  To that end, South‑South cooperation would be a fundamental complementary tool, could provide effective solutions to challenges and balance growth and equality.  South‑South cooperation had been vital in her country’s development efforts, particularly in technology transfer and sharing of expertise.  Honduras had strengthened its role as an “offering” country, as demonstrated in their national strategy called “Sharing Honduras”.  She urged all United Nations agencies, funds and programmes to continue their work with developing countries to maximize the impact of South‑South cooperation.

ALAIN WILFRIED BIYA (Cameroon) said any adaptation or repositioning of the United Nations development system could be decided only based on an intergovernmental resolution.  The international community should avoid making hasty decisions that disregarded the legitimate procedure of intergovernmental bodies.  Any resultant changes to the development system should be aligned with national priorities, aiming to strengthen the energy and infrastructure sectors as well as stimulate economic growth and industrialization.  Any development system changes needed to avoid moving away from sustainable development into areas like conflict prevention or peace and security.  That could lead to interference in political processes and violate the sovereignty of States.  Given the scarcity of resources, uncalled‑for interference in political issues would be counterproductive.

ROLANDO CASTRO CORDOBA (Costa Rica) said multilateral cooperation should play a major role in achieving the 2030 Agenda.  The international community must adopt a multidimensional stance in analysing poverty and its commitments to eradicating it.  One of the essential aims of cooperation was to support capacity-building in developing countries.  Access to concessional finance at the international level must consider the vulnerabilities of countries.  The global community must create new and larger sources of finance and also widen the selection criteria for access through a multidimensional analysis of the needs of developing countries.

LEULESEGED TADESE ABEBE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said implementation of the 2030 Agenda in developing States needed to support a more efficient United Nations development system.  Guiding principles of the reform process should be reinforcement of national ownership, ensuring country-contextual responses and making country-level delivery the litmus test for success.  South‑South cooperation had become a major source of development support and nowadays included trade, investment, infrastructure and connectivity.  South‑South cooperation should be further strengthened and institutionalized while reaffirming that it was not a substitute for North‑South cooperation.

LUO JIN (China), associating herself with the Group of 77, said developing countries had high expectations to eradicate poverty, improve livelihoods of people, strengthen economic development and rectify global imbalances.  First, she said the international community must fully implement the quadrennial comprehensive policy review for the benefit of programme countries and with respect to national ownership, leadership and priorities.  Second, it should reinforce and promote development through a system-wide reform with an aim to provide greater support to States, reinforce multilateralism, build partnerships, enhance cooperation and ensure effective global governance.  Third, the international community must bolster global partnerships and fix the current imbalance of resources.  To do so, she encouraged developed countries to honour their ODA commitments, increase donation to core resources and enable greater flexibility in non‑core resources.  Fourth, greater emphasis should be placed on South‑South cooperation.  For its part, China had incorporated the Sustainable Development Goals into its national development plan and enhanced efforts to eradicate poverty.

PUNNAPA PARDUNGYOTEE (Thailand), associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that as the home to more than 50 United Nations agencies, her country was of the view that coordination and consultations between various United Nations bodies and national authorities needed to be enhanced.  In that context, the resident coordinator played an important role and must be able to effectively lead and coordinate within the country team.  It was also crucial that the resident coordinator had the appropriate profile and skills to work in the context of development.  She called for the United Nations development system to be more transparent, accountable, coherent and coordinated at Headquarters and stressed that the global partnerships for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals must be revitalized and scaled up.

LEONARD NKHOMA (Zambia) said South‑South cooperation had great potential to advance equitable national development agendas, taking advantage of specific strengths and conditions of the region.  In recent years, the scope of South‑South cooperation had expanded well beyond technical cooperation and exchange of knowledge to include trade, investment, infrastructure and connectivity as well as coordination of policies and development strategies among developing nations, which was vital for least developed and landlocked countries.  He called for effective and concrete measures to support South‑South and triangular cooperation in view of the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations development system reform process.  United Nations regional commissions should continue to play a catalytic role in promoting South‑South and triangular cooperation.

NECTON D. MHURA (Malawi), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the 2030 Agenda was a “big task with a limited timeframe”.  In that regard, he expressed his commitment to create a United Nations development system that would adhere to its values, while being adaptable and flexible.  Noting that the agencies, funds and programmes were essential to the success of the reform process, he urged for greater accountability, transparency and coordination.  The United Nations, he said, should foster partnerships within itself and with external actors.  He expressed alarm that the United Nations development system had not yet transformed to the Sustainable Development Goals framework, as evident by the fact that 50 per cent of the budget remained targeted to the Millennium Development Goals.  “By the time we realize it, it will be too late in the 2030 trajectory to enable us to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.  To that end, he called for a broader cultural shift that would discourage competition between agencies and programmes.  He also expressed concern about the decline in core and non‑core funding, while stating that the current trend would lead to increased inequality and failure.

PHOUTAVANH OUANEPHONGCHALEUNE (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating herself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the United Nations development system had played a key role in supporting projects in developing States.  United Nations development agencies had to focus on supporting and assisting the development of Member States in line with the United Nations Charter and their respective mandates.  Least developed countries required support and assistance from United Nations agencies, she stressed, expressing concern over the continued declining trend of core resources.  Member States, especially developed countries, must contribute funding to the core budget and non‑earmarked funding to the operational activities so that United Nations development agencies could effectively carry out their mandate and provide efficient and effective service to Member States.

LIVIA OLIVEIRA SOBOTA (Brazil), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said the 2016 quadrennial comprehensive policy review provided a solid foundation as well as the key policy orientation for the United Nations development system to support countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda.  Expressing support for the Secretary-General’s overall vision as laid out in his June report, she outlined elements that Brazil considered crucial in the upcoming deliberations of Member States.  Those included addressing insufficient levels of inter‑agency coordination; retaining the physical presence of the United Nations development system across all regions and contexts while paying special attention to the most vulnerable countries; retaining flexibility to operate in the context of the unique development dynamics in each country; coordinating and sophisticating capacity development at the country level; improving the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, the country teams and the resident coordinator system; and reinforcing the system’s development focus.  South‑South cooperation was another important and diverse modality of development cooperation that must be fostered and supported, she added.

Mr. ELAWAD (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the United Nations development system was vital in assisting developing States in their efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  The international community must continue supporting them, focusing on challenges faced by the most vulnerable States, including least developed and landlocked countries.  It must also ensure that the system was adapted to suit the needs of developing countries and national strategies directed towards achieving development goals.  Further efforts were needed and resources had to be mobilized to promote the key role of the United Nations in development.  It was vital that the development system provide continued support to countries working on national plans and encountering serious challenges along the way.

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the 2030 Agenda’s highly integrated nature made it imperative for the United Nations development system to increase collaboration and the sharing of expertise among its various entities, by leveraging their comparative advantages and ensuring that their work was complementary rather than duplicative.  Improving the system’s funding was also critical, he said, pointing out that Member States had long decried the imbalance between core and non‑core resources.  With the latter at 20 per cent, he said “this is unsustainable and does not bode well for the effective delivery of key mandates relating to the 2030 Agenda”.  Calling for more innovative means and partnerships to help bridge that gap — as well as adequate oversight to ensure that their objectives matched those set out in the 2030 Agenda — he underscored the importance of national ownership in countries’ development processes, the urgency of the humanitarian assistance and development nexus and the role of South‑South cooperation as a complement to traditional North‑South cooperation.

WON DOYEON (Republic of Korea) said unless the United Nations development system transformed itself, it would not be able to maintain its leadership in global development cooperation.  The reform should therefore reinforce the system’s role as a catalyst for action and innovation.  On prevention, reform efforts should go to de‑silo humanitarian, development and peacebuilding works on the ground by drawing on assets and the innovation of a new culture to maximize coordination in the field.  Additionally, he called for funding reform measures to secure sufficient core funding and address the imbalance between core and non‑core funding.  A big challenge was the inadequate quality of non‑core funding where over 90 per cent of non‑core contributions were allocated to a single donor project.  In that regard, he emphasized that the success of the funding compact relied on carefully designed funding options for more predictable and less earmarked funding in addition to core funding.  Relatedly, he emphasized inter‑agency pooled funds that incentivized collaboration would be instrumental. Concluding, he expressed high expectations for the reform to overcome bureaucracy and red tape to improve institutional effectiveness and efficiency, including through the design of a collaborative framework at the regional level.

SHANKER DAS BAIRAGI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, stressed the need to enhance United Nations effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and impact in helping countries meet their sustainable development needs.  Regarding the United Nations development system, he said it was important to reduce overlap and inter‑agency competitions over resources, and improve coordination and effectiveness to “deliver as one” on the 2030 Agenda.  He stressed that data must be reliable, accessible, timely and disaggregated by income, gender, age and other relevant characteristics.  He added that any systemic and organizational change or new resident coordinator system must consider ongoing works and ensure that the new system worked seamlessly and delivered better.  Additionally, funding must be predictable and aligned with priorities of programme countries.  There lay an enormous potential in South‑South cooperation, especially for countries in special situations.  South‑South cooperation must be elevated to a higher institutional framework.

ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the United Nations was once again called upon to reinvent itself, this time to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  In that regard, he urged for access to predictable financial resources and for addressing the imbalance between core and non‑core resources.  He called on his country’s bilateral development partners to ensure the fulfilment of all ODA commitments.  Efforts to reform the United Nations development system should take human resources into account, as there was a need to recruit people with the required knowledge.  The Organization should therefore recruit from within the countries it was serving, whenever capacity was available.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said South-South and triangular cooperation formed an axis of his country’s foreign policy.  An Argentinian fund established to further such cooperation had mobilized more than 9,500 Argentinian and foreign experts in projects with over 70 countries.  South-South cooperation promoted inclusive development and articulated various positions in international fora.  Such cooperation could make a real difference to establishing national frameworks to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  The main challenge was drawing on it to establish a strategic framework for achievement of the 2030 Agenda and other development platforms.

TOSHIYA HOSHINO (Japan) asked how a more independent and reinvigorated resident coordinator system would be structured.  He added:  “How will it function and interact with other players?”  It was important also to consider how it would be supported both at the country level and from Headquarters.  He emphasized the need to consider how the costs would be financed and the burdens shared, and asked whether a renewed resident coordinator system would improve their delivery on the ground.  Those questions required clear explanations.  He remained fully committed to the Secretary-General’s initiative for the United Nations development system reform and therefore welcomed additional and early explanations on those matters.

MOURAD MEBARKI (Algeria), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that reform efforts should focus on making the United Nations more effective, and in that context, increasing the coherence of the Organization’s work was vital.  Transparency and accountability were also essential for any reform efforts to bring real results.  Expectations were high that the international community would work together towards shared goals.  At times, the Secretary-General’s reports were not easy to read and they should be better-structured and more clearly identify problems that needed to be addressed by Member States.  Technical issues that should be addressed by the United Nations system should be elaborated in separate sections.  He went on to point out that the cost of preparing the Secretary-General’s reports was of concern for some delegations, particularly the costs associated with hiring outside consultants.

Ms. HATTANE (Morocco), associating herself with the Group of 77, supported the consultation process on the repositioning of the United Nations development system and hoped that process would lead to tangible results that would give a new boost to the Organization.  While the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review was a useful tool for repositioning the operational activities of the United Nations development system, streamlining the expenditure of that system and striking a balance between core and extra-budgetary resources remained crucial for ensuring viable financing of projects and achieving the development goals.  Morocco continued to call for a culture of peace and solidarity, which was the backdrop for her country’s commitment to development in Africa, particularly in the context of South-South cooperation.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said that repositioning the development system required a system-wide review that considered the development needs of each country.  Focusing more on people meant not only protecting them from heinous crimes but also placing them ahead of all national and geopolitical interests and fulfilling all the international political commitments on social and economic development.  “Putting people always first means protecting, at every stage and in every circumstance, the dignity of the person, and its human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he said.  The right to life and to freedom of religion were two rights from which all other rights flowed.  Those two human rights were indivisible from the other rights.  He warned against giving financial aid conditioned by the introduction of ideas and cultures not in consonance with the beneficiaries’ value system.

HIROKO MURAKI GOTTLIEB, International Chamber of Commerce, called for ideas that were “fit for purpose” in responding to global challenges and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals while also strengthening South-South cooperation.  Such ideas included enhancing inclusivity through strengthened multilateral, multi-stakeholder engagement; strengthening capacity-building, especially for women, girls and vulnerable populations; and fostering global trade.  Leveraging rapidly advancing technology was also crucial, as was short-term financing to support global trade — known as “trade finance” — that could support the growth of entrepreneurs by enabling access to global markets and value chains.  To those ends, the Chamber would be partnering with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development to host an expert group meeting on trade finance in November at United Nations Headquarters.

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Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near‑verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

**Dag Hammarskjöld

I have the following statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary‑General concerning the death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him.  It is a little bit long so bear with me:

The Secretary‑General is pleased to announce that he transmitted the report of the Eminent Person, appointed pursuant to General Assembly resolution 71/260, to the President of the General Assembly, together with his own observations on the progress made and on the way forward in the search for the truth relating to the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him.

The Eminent Person concluded in his report that it is almost certain that Dag Hammarskjöld and the members of the party accompanying him were not assassinated after landing and that all passengers died from injuries sustained during the plane crash, either instantaneously, or soon after.  As to the cause of the crash, the Eminent Person considered it plausible that an external attack or threat may have been the cause.  The Eminent Person also noted that it remains possible that the crash was an accident caused by pilot error without external interference, and that it was plausible that human factors including fatigue played a role in the crash.  Based on the Eminent Person’s findings, the Secretary‑General is of the view that the information made available to the United Nations to date has been insufficient to come to conclusions about the cause or causes of the crash.  The Secretary‑General also considers that it seems likely that important additional information exists.

The Secretary‑General calls on the General Assembly to remain seized of the matter, and to endorse the report of the Eminent Person and his recommendations. In particular, the Secretary‑General calls on Member States to make available information and endorses the Eminent Person’s recommendation that Member States appoint an independent and high‑ranking official to conduct a dedicated and internal review of their archives, in particular, their intelligence, security and defence archives, with a view to ensuring comprehensive access to relevant information and establishing what happened on that fateful night.  The Secretary‑General wishes to express his profound gratitude to the Eminent Person for his excellent work.  The Secretary‑General considers the report a further important step towards fulfilling our shared responsibility for the search of the truth, which remains our solemn duty to the distinguished former Secretary‑General, Dag Hammarskjöld, to the other members of the party accompanying him, and to their families.

**Central African Republic

This morning, the Secretary‑General met with the President of the Central African Republic, Faustin Archange Touadéra, and members of his Government.  In remarks to press afterwards, the Secretary‑General said that he is making a visit of active solidarity.  He called on the international community to engage in the country because there is an opportunity to build a new Central African Republic that is peaceful, secure and prosperous.  He also reiterated the need to strengthen the UN Mission, MINUSCA, so it can better protect the population.  The Secretary‑General and his party then travelled to Bangassou in the southeast of the country.  At the local UN Force camp, he laid a wreath to honour Moroccan and Cambodian soldiers killed earlier this year in the line of duty as UN forces tried to protect the population.  In addressing representatives of the contingents, he told them how proud he was to be one of their colleagues and that their efforts were courageous as they attempted to keep the peace in areas where all too often there is no peace to keep.

From there, the Secretary‑General went on to the compound of the Catholic church in Bangassou, which is now home to more than 1,200 Muslim residents of the area.  They had sought shelter from communal violence earlier this year.  The Secretary-General listened as a 14‑year old Muslim girl named Fatimah [explained] her community’s situation and concerns, as well as their wish for reconciliation.  In speaking to the assembled crowd, the Secretary‑General expressed his personal solidarity with the people of Bangassou and urged them to work for reconciliation.  He underscored that it would not be easy.  The Secretary‑General excoriated politicians who use religion to divide communities that often worship the same God, albeit with a different name.  He also urged religious leaders to live up to their responsibilities.  Religious leaders need to be apostles for peace, said the Secretary‑General.  Prior to flying back to Bangui, the Secretary‑General met with local authorities and civil society leaders, encouraging them as well with a message of reconciliation.  He has now just landed back in Bangui, where he is scheduled to meet with the UN humanitarian and development team, as well as with NGOs later tonight.

**Yemen

The Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, today wrapped up a four‑day visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he met with senior Yemeni and Saudi officials.  In his meetings with Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek al-Mikhlafil, the Special Envoy discussed his efforts to move towards a viable negotiated settlement.  He said that steps are being explored, focusing on three pillars:  the resumption of the cessation of hostilities, specific confidence building measures that can alleviate suffering and the return to the negotiating table to reach a comprehensive peace agreement.  While in Saudi Arabia, the Special Envoy also met with the Saudi Foreign Minister, the US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and diplomats.  Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed stressed that, at heart, this is a political conflict that can only be solved through political negotiations. He also emphasized that the large-scale suffering must end, appealing to the parties to make the necessary concessions that can help pave the way for a long-lasting peace.

Meanwhile, Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock continues his visit to Yemen, arriving in Sana’a today.  In Aden yesterday, he met with Prime Minister Bin Dagher and encouraged authorities to pay the salaries of civil servants and emphasized the need for the expansion of the presence of aid workers further in the country’s southern governorates.  Mr. Lowcock also met with the heads of the Emirates Red Crescent and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre in Aden to improve humanitarian coordination.  He also spoke with internally displaced people and visited a hospital in Lahj, where he met patients receiving treatment for cholera and malnutrition.  In Sana’a, Mr. Lowcock will meet with the authorities there and travel to other governorates, including Hudaydah.

**Syria

Our humanitarian colleagues in Syria are deeply concerned about the situation for civilians in East Ghouta.  We are aware of reports indicating that children in the besieged enclave are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.  The last UN inter‑agency convoy reached Eastern Ghouta on 23 September with assistance for 25,000 people in the besieged towns of East Harasta, Misraba and Modira.  The UN continues to call on all parties to the conflict — and those with influence over them — to ensure sustained and unhindered access by all humanitarian workers and to allow them to independently assess needs and provide services to people affected by fighting.

**Iraq

According to the UN migration agency (IOM), nearly 136,000 people are still displaced due to recent military activity in northern Iraq.  This includes some 60,000 people who fled from Kirkuk governorate and some 35,000 displaced from the Tooz district in Salah al-Din governorate.  The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that aid workers continue to respond to the needs of families in need, wherever access allows.  OCHA says that the closure of checkpoints in Ninewa governorate is slowing down aid operations which target 300,000 people, including in the Mosul, Telafar and Sinjar areas.  Humanitarians continue to appeal to all parties to ensure that civilians are protected, can leave affected areas if they choose, and ensure that humanitarians have access to provide assistance where needed.

**Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, the UN today welcomed the holding of the Second National Election Forum and the commitment of the Electoral Commission to continue consultations with election stakeholders so that credible, transparent and inclusive elections can take place next year.  The UN [Assistance] Mission [in Afghanistan] (UNAMA) said it is encouraged by recent decisions taken by the Electoral Commission and it encouraged Afghanistan’s political leaders and civil society to unite their efforts to prepare and support credible elections in 2018.  The Mission also reiterated its commitment to working with Afghan institutions as they implement reforms to enhance transparency and build trust in Afghanistan’s democratic processes.  More information on UNAMA’s website.

**Bangladesh-Myanmar

Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that the number of Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar and arrived in Bangladesh since 25 August has reached 604,000. Refugees have sought shelter in Bangladesh since the outbreak of violence in Myanmar on 25 August.  More than half of the new arrivals are living in the Kutupalong Expansion Site, which includes several makeshift settlements and land allocated by the Government.  Nearly 570,000 people have received food assistance and nearly 310,000 people received health care.  There are concerns about sanitation, with less than one quarter of sites hosting refugees having access to clean water.

**Economic and Social Council

The President of the Economic and Social Council, Marie Chatardová, has issued this morning a Presidential Statement on the special meeting of the Council on the “Aftermath of recent hurricanes: Achieving a risk‑informed and resilient 2030 Agenda” that took place yesterday.  The President underscores the need to act urgently and calls for sustained and coherent international support to accelerate recovery, ensure risk‑informed reconstruction, and strengthen resilience in all dimensions of sustainable development in the affected States.  For additional questions, please feel free to contact Paul Simon.

**Press Briefings

For further press briefings:  after me, you will hear from Brenden Varma, the Spokesperson for of the President of the General Assembly.  Today at 2 p.m., there will be a briefing here by Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights.

Then tomorrow we have a large number of press conferences taking place here.  At 10:15 a.m., there will be a briefing by Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.  Immediately after, at 11 a.m., there will be a briefing by Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Then at noon, I will be joined by Manos Antoninis, Director of the Global Education Monitoring Report of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Following that, at 1:15 p.m., there will be a briefing by Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.  And last, at 2 p.m., there will be a briefing by the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi.  That’s it for me.  Yes, Joe?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Yeah, earlier this morning, David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, critiqued the UN’s, in his words, failure on freedom of information access.  He also, you know, previewed a report to be submitted to the UN General Assembly on that subject.  And… and he indicated that… that there were things or steps that the Secretariat could take and recommended some to systematise more open access, freedom of information processes and so on.  His report also, while praising the Secretary‑General’s efforts on whistleblowing protections, the report criticised the fact that there were apparently no consequences, no punitive consequences, to be imposed on those who, you know, clamp down and retaliated against the whistle‑blowers.  So I’m wondering whether the Secretary‑General would have any comment and whether he intends to address the call for more open freedom of information access at the UN.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, regarding the freedom of information access, this is something that we’ve been exploring for some years.  There continues to be input from various different departments, including those dealing with our archives and those dealing with legal affairs, to look into the situation.  And so we’ll be in touch with the Member States.  So, that is something that is a work in progress that, as time goes on, we always try to reinvigorate and revamp our processes for dealing with situations, and we’ll do that in this case, as well.

Question:  Same topic?  Yeah, he seemed to say that… that it’s as simple as set… it’s not about archives.  It’s as simple as setting up a procedure in which, rather than just the inform… the UN choosing which information to push forward, that it’s set up a procedure in which, based on a re… a request by the press or the public, there’s some responsibility on the Secretariat to provide information.  And he said that that can be done… although it would be good to bring Member States along and to get buy‑in from the General Assembly that, although it’s been said here many times, it doesn’t require the General Assembly to… to authorise the Secretariat to make financial and other information available to the public upon request, not just as it’s put out.  So, I’m just… I want to be very specific.  It’s not about archives or Member States.  Will António Guterres establish, during his… I don’t know… in the next three months, six months, a procedure in which requests for information can be made and will be answered as required not voluntarily or by discretion?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, with respect for the envoy’s… the Special Rapporteur’s views, those are his views.  And we do have, like I said, a process in place, which does include involvement with the Member States, and so we’ll continue on that track.

Question:  He also called a previous response to one of his inquiries to the UN unsatisfactory.  I don’t know if you’ve seen the press conference, and I don’t want to actually… I’m pretty sure what you’d say if I… so, I’m wondering, you say there’s as process, but doesn’t the UN encourage Member States to respond to Special Rapporteurs and probably to take into account if the Special Rapporteur who made the inquiry calls the response unsatisfactory maybe to do another response or figure out why it’s unsatisfactory?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, we do.  And, of course, we’ll continue to be in dialogue with Special Rapporteurs.  We want to make sure that their various concerns are addressed.  But this is, as I mentioned, a topic on which we’ve been doing work, and we’ll continue.  Yes, please?

Question:  A few hours ago, Raila Odinga has declared that his political party in Kenya will become a resistant movement and will mobilise for fresh polls in 90 days, ahead of tomorrow’s elections, obviously.  Is the UN prepared for the chaos that is to come in that East African country?

Deputy Spokesman:  You’ll have seen the statement we issued over the past weekend in conjunction with the African Union, and the sentiments that we’ve expressed there remain.  We want to make sure that all parties on the ground, all leaders, all people involved do their utmost to make sure that what happens in the coming days happens peacefully, so that free, fair and peaceful elections can be held.  We have also called, of course, upon the security forces in particular to respect the rights of the people, and we’ll keep monitoring the situation and see what happens in the days ahead.  But we’re hoping that all the parties are heeding that call.  Yes, please, Olga?

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  Just want to check if you are aware of what seems to be the new development from Kurdistan.  The original government of Kurdistan says… said it’s ready to freeze the results of the referendum if the Iraqi forces will cease fire in the region.  Do you think it’s going to be a helpful exchange?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we are encouraged by any efforts by the parties to reach out to each other, and we encourage all efforts at dialogue.  You’ll have seen the statement that the UN [Assistance] Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) put out yesterday, and we continue to affirm that statement, and we hope to be able to help the parties as they need.  Yes.  And… oh, and… actually, you haven’t asked.

Question:  And, Farhan, I wanted to ask about a statement that just issued by the Russian Defence Minister.  They’re saying that the US and armed forces… they prevented Syrian Government forces from accessing an area for the purpose, as the statement said, for humanitarian purpose, in the southern province of Homs.  Do you have any update about this? This seems to be a very tense situation in the province overall in the past week.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we have no first‑hand information to verify what they are claiming.  At the same time, of course, we do urge all parties on the ground, including all parties conducting military operations, to allow for humanitarian access to the areas in their control.

Question:  There’s no humanitarian partners in the Homs, in that area, in the south of… and in the south…?

Deputy Spokesman:  We’ve been working with humanitarian partners in many areas, including trying to get aid into Homs.  Sometimes, as you know, parts of Homs have been inaccessible.  Benny?

Question:  The BBC asked the UN to… to interfere in the situation where you have a lot of arrests of… or, you know, narrowing the situation… you know, basically annoying that… restrictions on journalists in Iran. Has… has the UN… anybody got this request? Can you… can you tell us anything about that?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I’ll see whether we’ve received any formal request from them.  Yes, Abdelhamid?

Question:  Who would handle such a request?

Deputy Spokesman:  We’d have to see. It depends upon the request.  Yes?

Question:  Thank you. I have two questions.  You know, when Halab… Aleppo was attacked late last year, there were many Security Council meetings.  There were many statements.  Every day there is talk about Aleppo.  However, now, we saw Raqqah, the city of Raqqah, has completely destroyed.  Eighty per cent of the city is being completely destroyed.  Civilians, we don’t know what happened to them.  There are so many humanitarian crises.  Yet everything is going fine.  Is that the difference between that Aleppo was attacked by the Russian forces and this one by the Americans?  Why there is double standard here?

Deputy Spokesman:  No, no, that’s not true.  Look at the briefings that we’ve been giving just over the past several weeks, and you’ll see that every couple of days, we’ve been mentioning our concerns about the humanitarian conditions and the fighting in Raqqah.  It’s the same as what we did with Aleppo and it’s the same basic standard.  We’re aware of different military operations in different parts of Syria, but we are always alarmed by the consequences in terms of humanitarian conditions for the population in those areas, and we’ll want to make sure, in all of those cases, that the parties on the ground do their utmost to ensure that civilians will be protected.

Question:  My second question is about the report just published by B’Tselem, Israeli human rights group, about the rights of Palestinian children.  Is the UN aware of this report?  Do they take note of it?  Do they benefit from these facts introduced in the report?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, we’re aware of the report, and we’ll study its findings.  Yes?

Question:  Sure. I wanted to ask a follow‑up on Kenya and then about the Secretary‑General’s trip.  Even before the Raila Odinga announcement, there was this controversy around the courts.  I know that the UN and AU have called for, you know, obeying the courts, the rule of law.  In order to rule… to rule on a request to postpone the election, it seems that some judges were definitely delayed if not physically attacked to… to… to bring about a problem with quorum.  So, I’m wondering, is the UN actually… it’s… it’s… it made its statement.  Is it following that?  Does it believe that… that… that… that the… the… the… the… the Supreme Court was able to deal in a fair and partial and unimpinged way with… with the request to postpone the election?

Deputy Spokesman:  We’re aware of the reports, but we don’t have any way of verifying those particular reports of harassment.  We want to make sure, however, that all those involved, including the court system, are treated with respect and are able to go about their work without any hindrance.

Question:  Sure.  Thanks.  And on the trip, I’d asked… I just wanted to… I asked you yesterday whether… whether… not just will… will the Secretary‑General meet with, but whether this Renner Onana, who was named in the UN’s own report on sexual abuse in CAR, is still with the mission.  And I’ve since… since asking you — I don’t have an answer yet, but I’ve seen a photograph of him with Fabrizio Hochschild as recently as 5 December, 2016, and him described as the head of MINUSCA regional office sector… centre, which seems to be a promotion.  Is it the case that Renner Onana, after being named as… in a problematic way in terms of the cover‑up of sexual abuse in CAR, was promoted?  Is he still with the mission?  And what does the Secretary‑General… how does he explain that?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, regarding that, I’m still checking up on his status.  I believe he may still have a position with the mission, but whether he’s on active duty or not, I’m checking about that, and I’ll need to figure out where he stands.

Question:  And, on the issue of sexual abuse, have you seen this… there’s a report out by a new group called Hear Their Cries, which involves some former UN OIOS (Office for Internal Oversight Services) investigators, law professors, and others.  They put… they have a very high number — 60,000 is the number they put — at… at child sexual abuse by UN personnel, not just peacekeepers, but including civilian, over the last decade.  I have no… I’m not… seems like a very high number, but they are… there… these are serious people that have worked for the UN and OIOS, and I wonder, what’s the UN’s response to their proposals that there be a… much more serious investigative measures and waiving of immunity in all… in these cases?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, you’ve seen the response that we’ve been doing over the course… in particular of recent months.  We have had a revamping of the system for dealing with sexual exploitation and abuse.  As you know, even on the trip that he’s going on in the Central African Republic, the Secretary‑General is accompanied by Jane Connors, the Victims’ Rights Advocate, and she is starting her work.  And we’re going to continue to find ways to make the system more effective.

Question:  And just, finally, on the trip, just because it’s related… Cameroon, do you have an announcement?

Deputy Spokesman:  There’s other people; excuse me.  There’s other people.  Yes?

Question:  On the Dag Hammarskjöld report, you just mentioned that the report says that there’s important information held by Member States.  Can you… can you… does the report say who are those Member States that hold additional important information?

Deputy Spokesman:  I’d just advise you to read the full report.  The report is available online, and we can make it available in our office, but it’s a lengthy thing.  So I’d just suggest read the whole thing.  Yes?

Question:  Yeah, I apologize if I missed this, but does the Secretary‑General have any comment on the veto of the Security Council resolution yesterday to extend the JIM’s [Joint Investigative Mechanism] mandate?

Deputy Spokesman:  No, we don’t have any particular comment on yesterday’s proceedings.  Of course, the Joint Investigative Mechanism will continue to be briefing the Security Council.  If they have need to do further work, we hope and expect that the Security Council will give them the ability to do so.  Yes.  Benny?

Question:  Just to follow up on my question before, so what you’re saying is the BBC hasn’t… that nothing came from the BBC as of yet.

Deputy Spokesman:  No, that’s not what I’m saying.  What I’m saying is I would need to check up on what… whether the request has been received.  I’m…

Question:  Well, it’s like all over the media; the BBC put out a…

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, I’m aware that they’ve put out on the media that they’ve sent in a request.  As you’re aware, there are things like the formal reception of requests, and I just need to know whether a request has been formally received.

Question:  So you’re not saying that it hasn’t been received yet.  You’re just saying that you don’t know whether it has been…

Deputy Spokesman:  I’m saying I would need to check, which is what I said, literally.  Yes.  Did you have a question?  Okay.  Back to you.

Question:  Sure, yeah. I wanted to ask about on the trip, but I’d asked yesterday and, again, there… there… there… since… the Cameroon mission to the UN has… has… has told me that the Secretary‑General will being stopping in Yaoundé on 27 October and even named the number of the Air France flight.  I’m just wondering… there’s a lot of interest in it, and there’s been a lot of questions about the UN’s response or lack of response or hearing questions about Cameroon.  Can you say whether they’re going… whether he, in fact, is going there?  And, if so, will he meet the president?  This seems like a basic…

Deputy Spokesman:  At this point, I’ve got nothing to announce.  As you know, when we get to confirm things, we’ll announce them, but we’re not at… at that point.

Question:  Has he made his… his airplane reservation?  Because they know… named the flight.

Deputy Spokesman:  We do not talk about airplane or airline arrangements.  If there’s any meetings to announce, we’ll announce that in due course.  Brenden?

Question:  Wait.  I have a UNICEF question; does the UNICEF…?

Deputy Spokesman:  What?

Question:  UNICEF… has the post been out put out to… to… for… for… for applications?  And, if so, why wasn’t OCHA [Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] and DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] put out for applications and yet UNICEF is?  Can you explain that?

Deputy Spokesman:  Different posts have different processes.  Once there’s something to announce on the hiring process regarding the Executive Director of UNICEF, we’ll let you know.

Correspondent:  There’s a notice on the website.

Deputy Spokesman:  Like I said, we don’t have an announcement to make about UNICEF at this point.  Once we have something to say, we’ll let you know.

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How PPP’s are assisting to close the African Infrastructure Gap

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Oct. 25, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Movement is happening within African infrastructure, especially in the transportation sectors. Most recently, the Government of the Republic of Kenya has launched a tender process to develop a PPP bridge and the Government of Rwanda has signed the concession agreement for the development of the new international […]

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Regional Partners Must Steady Increasingly Unstable Security Landscape, First Committee Speakers Stress, Calling for Drive to Boost Trust

Regional efforts must advance common disarmament priorities and address global security challenges, said speakers in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today as they highlighted the importance of cooperation and confidence‑building in an increasingly unstable world.

The representative of Pakistan said achieving a stable balance of conventional forces and weapons through cooperative initiatives was imperative, particularly in regions characterized by tension and disputes.  At the same time, confidence‑building measures could help to create favourable conditions to resolve disputes peacefully, but they should not become an end in themselves, he added.

Offering a similar perspective, the representative of Bangladesh said the notion of “strategic stability” based on nuclear deterrence was of concern for his country.  Peaceful dialogue and diplomacy remained the best option for building sound regional security architecture.

In that connection, Cameroon’s delegate introduced a draft resolution on regional confidence‑building measures and activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa.  The draft text reaffirmed efforts to promote confidence‑building measures for removing tensions and reducing conflict in the region.

Several delegates highlighted best practices at the regional level that, in some cases, could be replicated in other parts of the world.  France’s representative cited the Group of Five for the Sahel (G‑5 Sahel) Joint Force, which encouraged the five States — Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania — to bolster their military presence in border areas and improve coordination through a single chain of command.  He also noted that global, regional and subregional non‑proliferation and disarmament initiatives could be mutually reinforcing when designed with a view to achieving complementarity.

Indeed, mutual trust was essential, Cuba’s delegate said.  She emphasized that the proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace had promoted general and complete disarmament and enabled confidence‑building in the region.  Implementing regional confidence confidence‑building measures contributed to avoiding conflict and preventing unwanted or accidental break of hostilities.

Underscoring some of the challenges in implementing regional agreements, the representative of Egypt said the long‑standing unresolved issue of establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East was undermining the sustainability and credibility of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Many delegates echoed his call for resolving the issue, with some asking Israel to accede to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and end the impasse on the issue.

A panel discussion on “Disarmament machinery” featured the President of the Conference on Disarmament; Chair of the United Nations Disarmament Commission; Chair of the Secretary‑General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters; and the Director of United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).

The following draft resolutions were introduced: regional confidence‑building measures in Central Africa; the strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region; the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Kazakhstan, Iraq, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Peru, Togo, Kuwait, Myanmar, Azerbaijan, Nepal, Ukraine, Bahrain, Russian Federation and Iran.

The representatives of Syria, Myanmar, Armenia, Russian Federation, United States, Azerbaijan and Bangladesh spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 25 October, to conclude its debate on the disarmament machinery.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met to continue its thematic discussion on regional disarmament and security and held a panel discussion on the disarmament machinery.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

Panel Discussion

A panel discussion on “Disarmament machinery” featuring Julio Herráiz, President of the Conference on Disarmament; Gabriela Martinic (Argentina), Chair of the Disarmament Commission; Trevor Findlay, Chair of the Secretary‑General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters; and Jarmo Sareva, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).

Mr. HERRRÁIZ asked Member States to strengthen their patience vis‑à‑vis the two‑decade‑long paralysis in the Conference on Disarmament because the alternative was not an option.  Presenting the 2017 report, he highlighted activities, including that 27 States to date had requested joining.  Also, an open‑ended working group had taken stock of progress made on all issues of the agenda.  Although divided on its approach, members had debated ways to make advancements towards a nuclear‑weapon‑free world, with disarmament emerging as a priority.  Discussions had focused on two priority issues that would be important to a future programme of work: a fissile material cut‑off treaty and continued negotiations towards a mandate on negative security assurances.  Overall, there was a need to strengthen the constructive, common view to bring back to the Conference the mandate of negotiating treaties.  To do so, serious decisions needed to be adopted, he said, emphasizing that the power was in Member States’ hands.

Ms. MARTINIC said that while the Disarmament Commission was a deliberative body charged with producing a set of recommendations, it had been in a paralysis for 18 years.  The 2017 substantive session, the third year of the cycle to address nuclear disarmament and confidence‑building measures on nuclear arms, had seen delegations having discussions on a range of issues and reach an understanding, which was what multilateralism was all about.  Discussions on outer space had proven to be constructive.  Compromise was possible with lots of patience, goodwill and listening, she said, adding that multilateralism offered a win‑win situation for all.  It could be difficult and frustrating, but it took time, she said, encouraging all to follow that path.

Mr. FINDLAY said substantive issues on the Advisory Board’s 2017 agenda included the threat of cyberattacks by terrorists on nuclear facilities, the impact of artificial intelligence and a review of the recommendations contained in a United Nations study on disarmament and non‑proliferation education.  Recommendations included forming a science and technology advisory group, allocating more resources to nuclear security and that Member States should consult on measures to deal with biosecurity threats, given the lack of a verification system or implementation body for the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.  In addition, he proposed that Member States table a draft resolution dealing with artificial intelligence, which represented both an opportunity and a threat to international security.  On disarmament and non‑proliferation education, he called for a landmark study to be reissued with a new foreword by the Secretary‑General.  He also noted the disappointing response by Member States to report on disarmament and non‑proliferation education efforts.  Turning to UNIDIR, he said it was weathering funding and institutional challenges, but the Advisory Board was confident it had a bright future as a critical component of the disarmament machinery.

Mr. SAREVA, commending UNIDIR staff, said the Institute was constantly held accountable and had been able to deliver on that reputation.  Drawing attention to the report (document A/72/154), which described the road map of the organization and the rationale behind its agenda, he said its administrative and financial footing was more stable, but that could not be taken for granted.  The need to ensure its stability while maintaining its autonomy persisted.  While it did well in mobilizing earmarked resources, financing the institutional operations was challenging.  That strain was particularly pronounced when earmarked resources were declining.  Recalling General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/69, which had called for exceptional one‑off funding for UNIDIR for the biennium 2018‑2019 to preserve its future, he said the Institute offered fact‑based analysis on a range of security issues, acted as a facilitator and had, through its activities, helped Member States to improve their international security programmes.

After the floor opened, the representative of Myanmar said developing countries depended on UNIDIR and its good quality research, calling on colleagues in a position to do so to financially support the Institute.

Regional Disarmament and Security

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said persistent instability and growing tensions around the world were making regional disarmament and security complicated to achieve.  Establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East was an effective non‑proliferation measure and such designated areas should be expanded to all regions.  Turning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme, he said that ensuring its proper implementation could show the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea “the right road map” with a legal solution that could actually work pragmatically.

Mr. HASSAN (Egypt), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, said the longstanding unresolved issue of establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East undermined the sustainability and credibility of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  The right way forward on that issue had been outlined in the proposal presented by the Non‑Aligned Movement at the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which had been acceptable to all States except three.  Egypt would continue to seek the implementation of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference resolution by creating a clear road map aimed at starting negotiations to conclude a legally binding treaty establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons.

Mr. SAEED (Pakistan) said regional arrangements for disarmament and arms limitation should give priority to addressing the most destabilizing military capabilities and imbalances in both the conventional and non‑conventional spheres.  In regions characterized by tension and disputes, achieving a stable balance of conventional forces and weapons through cooperative initiatives was imperative.  Confidence‑building measures could help to create favourable conditions to resolve disputes peacefully, but they should not become an end in themselves.  Rather, they should be pursued alongside sincere dispute settlement efforts, in line with the United Nations Charter.

FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the notion of “strategic stability” based on nuclear deterrence was of concern for his country.  Peaceful dialogue and diplomacy remained the best option for building sound regional security architecture.  He emphasized the need for establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East in the interest of sustainable peace and stability in the region.  Recognizing the useful role of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific in convening relevant experts and policymakers to share views on issues of concern, he said that his country benefited greatly from the centre’s customized support in promoting the implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon) introduced a draft resolution on regional confidence‑building measures and activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa.  The draft recalled the principles guiding general and complete disarmament.  The role of the Committee was to promote disarmament, non‑proliferation and development in the subregion, as well as to serve as an element of preventive diplomacy in the region.  The new elements of this year’s draft resolution took into account the revitalization of the work of the Committee to improve its peace agenda, and of the entry into force of the Central African Convention for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and all Parts and Components that can be used for their Manufacture, Repair and Assembly (Kinshasa Convention).  The draft resolution reaffirmed efforts to promote confidence‑building measures for removing tensions and reducing conflict in the region.  It had also included a timeline of activities to fight terrorism and arms trafficking.

Ms. SÁNCHEZ RODRÍGUEZ (Cuba), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of regional and subregional initiatives in proclaiming zones free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.  The proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace promoted general and complete disarmament and enabled confidence‑building in the region.  Implementing regional confidence‑building measures contributed to avoiding conflict and preventing unwanted or accidental hostilities.  Establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East would be a fundamental step for regional peace.  Underlining the importance of the work of the United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament, including in her region, she lamented that the current resources were limited and insufficient.

Mr. REDHA (Iraq), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, reaffirmed the importance of establishing nuclear‑weapon‑free zones, which would “bring us closer to achieving international peace and security”.  He regretted to note the failure to achieve consensus on the final document of the 2015 Review Conference of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East to ease the tensions in the region depended on Israel joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non‑nuclear‑weapon party.

ABDELKARIM AIT ABDESLAM (Algeria), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, stressed his country’s emphasis on regional solidarity on security issues and its correspondingly deep concern at the lack of a nuclear‑weapons‑free zone in the Middle East.  In addition, he reiterated warnings about the uncontrolled proliferation of all types of conventional weapons in North Africa and the Sahel, and its close link with terrorism and transnational crime.  Given the magnitude of the humanitarian consequences of the spread of such arms, he underlined the importance of technical and financial assistance to stem their proliferation.  Affirming support for reconciliation among Algeria’s Libyan and Malian brothers, he expressed hope that he could count on support for the draft resolution submitted by his country, as in years past, on strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region.

Ms. OWEIDA (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, said the Non‑Proliferation Treaty was a model in the region for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  On the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East, she renewed the call for Israel to enable progress on that issue and accede to the instrument.  Turning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, she said Iran must adhere to its provisions.  Further, United Arab Emirates supported international efforts to end Iranian activities that undermined security and stability in the region.  It also supported the First Committee’s efforts geared towards adopting effective measures that would contribute to the promotion of regional and international peace.

ENRI PRIETO (Peru), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, highlighted the varied efforts of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Member States had benefited from technical and legal assistance, and from training in marking, destruction and tracing of small weapons as part of an initiative to promote the implementation of the International Tracing Instrument and the Programme of Action on Small Arms.  The Regional Centres had also strengthened the capacity of Governments and assisted in the destruction of small arms.  For its part, Peru had launched a project to promote the participation of young people and raise awareness about dangers of firearms, he said, introducing a draft resolution titled “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean” and calling for delegations to approve it by consensus.

ESSOHANAM PETCHEZI (Togo) said that in Africa, where small arms and light weapons had posed grave challenges for States, the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa had encouraged cooperative efforts and provided technical support.  It had provided support to the African Union in carrying out its sustainable development agenda, particularly in achieving the goal of silencing weapons by 2020, to efforts in the Sahel to stop the illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons and to the emerging debate on maritime security, having participated in an extraordinary session of the African Union on that issue.  Expressing gratitude for the Regional Centre’s efforts, he highlighted its financial challenges and appealed to Member States to donate funds and to support Nigeria’s related draft resolution.

Mr. COUSSIÈRE (France) said ambitious best practices at the regional level could inspire work in United Nations forums and disarmament conventions.  The European Union was the best example, having succeeded in drawing lessons from a painful past, and its cooperation tools had a strong regional dimension, including in the field of disarmament.  Among other international initiatives, France was involved in the Group of Five for the Sahel (G‑5 Sahel) Joint Force, encouraging the five States Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania to bolster their military presence in border areas and improve coordination through a single chain of command.  At the European level, France strongly supported establishing transparency and confidence‑building measures adapted to the geographic situation in the region.  Outlining some of those agreements, he said global, regional and subregional non‑proliferation and disarmament initiatives could be mutually reinforcing when designed with a view to achieving complementarity, and cited the international community’s mobilization against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons as one positive example.

TALAL S. S. S. AL FASSAM (Kuwait), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, underlined the importance of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.  Urging States to focus on working towards achieving that objective, he regretted to point out the failure of achieving a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East despite all efforts.  In 2010, States had been very close to achieving that goal; however, such a zone had not been created because of Israel.  Voicing concern about the failure of Israel to join the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and place its nuclear capabilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) control, he said the current situation posed a threat to the security and humanitarian and environmental safety in the region.

PYE SOE AUNG (Myanmar), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recalled that in 2016, his country had organized a national round table on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.  At that event, stakeholders had exchanged views on best practices regarding implementing the resolution to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non‑State actors.  Also in 2016, the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific had organized a capacity‑building workshop on small arms and light weapons in Myanmar in order to formulate international instruments as well as domestic legislation and available tools for assistance.

FARID JABRAYILOV (Azerbaijan), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that although his country had not ratified the 1992 Tashkent Agreement on the Principles and Procedures for the Implementation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, it had been voluntarily applying and observing the provisions.  Stressing the importance of confidence‑building measures, he cited Azerbaijan’s participation in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and said that illicit trade in small and light weapons must be eradicated.  However, implementation of arms control and disarmament instruments was being hampered by Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan.  Armenia was in flagrant violation of the treaty obligations, continued its military build‑up in occupied territories and misinformed the United Nations community by providing false information.  Any confidence‑building measure proposed by Armenia would not be considered by his country until it withdrew its armed forces from Azerbaijan’s territories.

Mr. THAPA (Nepal), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, highlighted the important role of regional centres in promoting international peace and security, and encouraged them to partner with youth, the private sector and civil society to develop confidence‑building measures and to act as a repository of best practices.  They should also be strengthened to fulfil their mandates.  In partnership with the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, Nepal had encouraged confidence‑building measures in the region and had also organized a conference on the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).  Recognizing the role regional centres could play in supporting Sustainable Development Goal 16 and in including women in disarmament activities, he called for voluntary contributions by Member States.  As host of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, Nepal had tabled a resolution on that topic and hoped it would gain consensus.

ANDRIY TSYMBALIUK (Ukraine), expressing support for draft resolutions on regional and subregional arms control and confidence‑building measures, said his country was a long‑term participant of confidence‑building mechanisms, including the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, the Open Skies Treaty and the Vienna Document on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures.  Ukraine had continued to comply with its obligations, despite shouldering the burden of the Russian Federation’s invasion.  Expressing support for bilateral confidence‑building measures with neighbouring countries in border areas, as outlined in the Vienna Document, he regretted to note that the Russian Federation had caused an impasse on subregional military cooperation and confidence‑building agreements between the littoral States of the Black Sea.  Nevertheless, experience gained in the OSCE area with the development of confidence‑building measures deserved proper attention, and the Vienna Document could serve as an example for similar arrangements in other regions of the world.

Mr. NOJEM (Bahrain), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, highlighted the importance of an agreement to establish a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East for achieving regional peace and stability.  He also underlined the importance of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty in facing the catastrophic security and humanitarian danger resulting from nuclear weapons.  Denouncing Israel’s rejection to adhere to that instrument and to IAEA safeguards, he said such actions represented a threat to the security in the region and obstructed progress in non‑proliferation endeavours.  His delegation looked forward to obtaining positive results in establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East.

VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation) said his delegation had presented a draft treaty on comprehensive European security to substitute the outdated Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe.  Instead, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had accelerated its “reckless expansion to the East”, building military infrastructure near his country’s border.  There had also been direct interference in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation’s neighbouring country and attempts at a regime change using anti‑constitutional methods.  For that reason, the Russian Federation had supported the German initiative to launch a “structured dialogue” on European security issues in the OSCE region, easing tensions and restoring trust.  The OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation could become the best platform for promoting dialogue; however, its potential had been weakened by unilateral NATO actions that severed military cooperation with the Russian Federation.  The Open Skies Treaty remained an important confidence‑building measure.  However, after the coup d’etat in Kyiv, followed by unjustified claims against the Russian Federation on alleged armed forces concentrations near Ukraine’s border, he said his country had demonstrated transparency by allowing observation flights in that area.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the Middle East remained one of the world’s most volatile regions, with the Israeli regime and two Persian Gulf States among the world’s top 15 countries for military expenditures in 2016.  To restore security and stability, the elimination of Israel’s nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and its accession to related international instruments, was crucial.  So too would be the establishment of a Middle East nuclear‑weapon‑free zone.  There must also be a sharp decrease in military expenditures and arms imports by Israel and certain Persian Gulf States, he said, emphasizing that Iran continued to have one of the lowest levels of military expenditures in the region while being party to all major treaties banning weapons of mass destruction.

Right of Reply

The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said many European Union countries had trafficked and smuggled weapons to armed terrorist organizations in the region, and its coercive measures against his country were mainly responsible for the suffering of millions of people.

The representative of Myanmar said the humanitarian situation along the border of Bangladesh had nothing to do with disarmament issues being addressed by the Committee.  He affirmed that his Government was responding to the humanitarian crisis and would continue to work with others in good faith.

The representative of Armenia said his counterpart from Azerbaijan had failed to explain the reason behind constantly rejecting the establishment of any confidence‑building measures vis‑à‑vis Nagorno‑Karabakh.  It was unacceptable to allow Azerbaijan to continue ceasefire violations, he said, adding that Armenia would keep working towards a peaceful settlement through the OSCE Minsk Group.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the Kyiv authorities had fulfilled none of their commitments under the Minsk agreements, which contained no provisions that dealt directly with his country.  The Russian Federation could not withdraw troops from Donbass because there were none there.

The representative of the United States said improved relations between NATO and the Russian Federation would depend on the latter’s compliance with international law and commitments.  Emphasizing that NATO enlargement was not directed at the Russian Federation, he said the United States would keep honouring its Open Skies Treaty commitments.  The Russian Federation must stop interfering in its neighbours’ affairs, he said, adding that “all those little green men causing havoc in Ukraine” did not come out of nowhere.

The representative of Azerbaijan said Armenia must demonstrate constructiveness and respect for international law by withdrawing its forces from Azerbaijani territory.  He emphasized that Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity would never be a subject for negotiation.

The representative of Bangladesh said the situation in Rakhine State was far from stabilized.  The humanitarian situation was the reason why thousands of Rohingya refugees were crossing into Bangladesh, he said, adding that concerned and responsible Member States should reconsider arms transfers to Myanmar’s military forces.

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Syrian Diplomat’s Outburst at UN a Symptom of Regional Rivalries

UNITED NATIONS Middle Eastern regional rivalries spilled over Wednesday into a U.N. meeting on human rights in Iran, when a Syrian diplomat’s outburst brought the proceedings to a temporary halt.

The meeting, an annual exercise in the U.N. committee that reviews the human rights situation in some of the countries with the worst records, began predictably enough.

Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir outlined concerns about the rate of executions in Iran � 435 since January this year � that included some women and juveniles. She also detailed reports she has received about the harassment, intimidation and prosecution of human rights defenders.

Jahangir, who took up her mandate in November last year, addressed the dangerous conditions for journalists, bloggers and social media activists, noting that more than two dozen were in Iranian jails as of June.

She went on to address discrimination against women, who must wear garments that cover them in public, are not allowed to watch sporting events at stadiums, are excluded from some occupations and face double the unemployment rates of men. When they do work, they are paid 41 percent less than their male counterparts.

She also expressed concern about the situation of ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Baha’is, who face unabated discrimination and even arbitrary arrest, torture and prosecution.

Some praise for Iran

Jahangir, an independent human rights expert who received her mandate from the U.N. Human Rights Council, also had some positive things to say.

She noted high participation rates in the May presidential and local elections and President Hassan Rouhani’s pledge to address the rights of women in Iran. She also welcomed the relatively good communication she has had with the government in carrying out her mandate, although a request to visit the country has not been granted.

Regional disputes erupt

When the discussion was opened to the floor, regional disputes came into play.

Iran would like to divert the international community’s attention through stoking tension and instability in other countries and also through fueling hate crimes, Saudi Arabia’s representative said. Iran is sponsoring all problems in the Middle East.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran are arch enemies. They support different sides in the Syrian civil war and are fighting each other directly and indirectly in Yemen. In Lebanon, Saudi Arabia backs the legitimate government, while Iran arms the militant cum political movement Hezbollah.

Syrian diplomat Amjad Qassem Agha began by accusing the Special Rapporteur of relying on fabricated reports provided by intelligence agencies in countries that seek to destabilize Iran.

Agha then suggested that before appointing a Special Rapporteur for Iran, there should be one assigned to look into Saudi Arabia or countries that were involved in Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia’s representative asked to address the remark about his delegation and the chair allowed it.

We are now discussing the report on human rights in Iran, I do not think it appropriate to refer to other countries in this context, he said. I ask the Syrian representative not to address countries that have nothing to do with this item.

Undiplomatic behavior

What is his country’s concern to talk about Iran in this way? Syrian diplomat Agha shouted. How he has to dare to talk about Iran and he needs other countries not to talk about Iran, to protect Iran! he yelled. He lost all composure and continued shouting for four minutes.

The committee’s secretary, Moncef Khane, could be heard speaking to the chair saying, He’s completely out of line; it’s never happened (before), expressing his shock at the undiplomatic outburst.

Syria is Iran’s main regional ally. Iran, along with Russia, intervened militarily in the conflict to save the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2015, when it appeared it might fall to the opposition.

The Syrian representative’s microphone was ultimately shut off, but he could still be heard screaming, ultimately provoking the committee secretary to warn that if he continued, U.N. security would be called. Ultimately, the chair suspended the session.

After a 10-minute hiatus, that included both the Iranian representative and committee secretary Khane speaking to the Syrian diplomat, the meeting resumed and so did the insults.

If only one reason was needed to prove how debased the third committee has become to consider country-specific situations, the Saudi intervention provides that, said Iranian envoy Mohammad Hassani Nejad Pirkouhi.

Saudi � a bad child killer that has recently upgraded to a good child killer � kills more children in Yemen than al-Qaida, ISIS and al-Nusra put together around the globe, Pirkouhi said, referring to Saudi Arabia’s listing on a U.N. blacklist of countries that kill and maim children in conflict.

This year, Riyadh was listed for coalition bombings in Yemen, but the U.N. noted it has put in place measures to improve child protection.

Source: Voice of America

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