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Cablegate: Unicef Executive Board 2010 First Regular Session

DE RUCNDT #0060/01 0341509
P 031509Z FEB 10




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: UNICEF Executive Board 2010 First Regular Session

1. (U) Summary: The UNICEF January 12-14 first regular session dealt
with a light menu of routine items (budgeting and final approval of
a few country programs), but took place against the backdrop of the
Haiti earthquake disaster and Executive Director Ann Veneman's
announcement that she would not seek a second five-year term when
her current term expires at the end of April 2010. The Joint Boards
held on January 15 and 18 included panelist discussions of several
timely development topics, including Tanzania's presentation of a
single UN country program document developed as a pilot "Delivering
as One UN" country, and UN funds and programs response to climate
change, food insecurity, gender-based violence, and the MDGs. The
joint session also included a special January 15 brief by all four
agencies (UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, and WFP) on the status of their
efforts to respond to the crisis in Haiti. End Summary.

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2. (U) The UNICEF Executive Board held its First Regular Session of
2010 from January 12-14th. The Executive Boards of UNICEF, UNDP,
UNFPA, and WFP also held their annual Joint Board meetings January
15th and 18th. UNICEF's principal Annual Session will be held in
New York, June 1-4.

Departure of Executive Director Ann Veneman

3. (SBU) UNICEF Executive Director announced on December 23 that
she would not seek a second term as head of the organization when
her current term expires on April 30, 2010. In delivering the U.S.
opening statement, Ambassador Rice praised Ms. Veneman's work over
the past five years, including her role in implementing important
institutional reforms in the areas of transparency and
accountability. Other Board members also joined in lauding Veneman's
accomplishments, but stopped well short of the effusive send-off
they gave former UDNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis.

4. (U) During the January 14 wrap-up meeting, the Bangladeshi
Permanent Representative and new President of the Executive Board
Dr. Abdulkalam Abdul Momen said that on January 13, in response to
calls from several delegations asking for more transparency in the
succession process (including the UK and Ireland), he had met with
"the Under Secretary General" (unnamed) who spoke on behalf of the
Secretary-General Ban (SYG). Momen reported that SYG Ban will issue
a note verbale to all permanent missions notifying them of the
vacancy and asking for nominations of suitable candidates. The
vacancy will not be advertised more widely due to budgetary
constraints. A Selection Committee will then be convened to review
candidates and draw up a short list for interviews. The SYG is
required to "consult with the Executive Board members" throughout
the succession process. According to Momen, SYG Ban plans to have
Veneman's successor chosen before her term ends on April 30, 2010.
This procedure is very similar to that used publicly when Executive
Director Veneman was chosen.

Taking Care of Business

5. (SBU) During the session, the Executive Board approved country
programs for Argentina, Guatemala, and Uruguay, as well as
additional regular resources for ten country programs (Azerbaijan,
Chile, DPRK, Iran, Mozambique, Philippines, Serbia, Somalia,
Uruguay, and Palestine). The U.S. delegation intervened to
encourage UNICEF country-level representatives to contact U.S.
embassies and USAID missions to review and coordinate plans on these
and upcoming programs. (Note: We were quite pleased as UNICEF
included almost all of the USG suggestions made on the initial
drafts last fall. USAID-UNICEF staff cooperation on programs is
quite good.) The UNICEF Annual Session in June will consider
fourteen programs in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burma, Cambodia, China,
DPRK, Georgia, Iraq, Malaysia, Serbia, Turkey, and an area program
for Palestinian women and children. The Executive Board reviewed
UNICEF's Annual Report to ECOSOC, private fundraising matters, and
improvements to its programming results matrices, which were all
found to be satisfactory. Despite its intention to do so by now,
UNICEF has still not fully implemented International Public Sector
Accounting Standards.

6. (U) The U.S. Del intervened following the presentation of
UNICEF's report to the Economic and Social Council to praise
UNICEF's south-south cooperation work, emphasis on gender
mainstreaming, and efforts to build national capacity. The U.S. Del
urged UNICEF to follow up on recommendations from recent polio
evaluations and to further standardize the way in which it engages
in external partnerships.


USUN NEW Y 00000060 002 OF 002

7. (U) Immediately following the January 15 announcement of the
UN's flash appeal for Haiti, senior staff of UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and
WFP briefed Joint Board members on their efforts to respond to the
crisis. They all stressed that there were considerable assets on
the ground and that better communication and coordination among UN
agencies and with other actors was the most important challenge.
UNDP said that it was important to engage the local population in
cash for work activities to provide them with the means to support
themselves as well as to assist the humanitarian and recovery
efforts. A number of delegations, including the U.S., expressed
condolences and recounted specific contributions. U.S. ECOSOC
Representative Ambassador Barton noted the significant U.S. efforts
underway in Haiti, and our desire to coordinate closely with the
Haitians, the UN and other nations.

8. (U) Tanzania, a "Delivering as One UN" pilot country, briefed the
Joint Boards on its progress towards producing a first-ever common
country program document for all Tanzanian cooperation with the UN.
Tanzania noted that it would follow existing UN governance rules and
submit the common program for approval separately to each of the
UNICEF, WFP and UNDP/UNFPA Boards. The U.S. joined, along with a
number of donors and program countries, an Irish statement
supporting Tanzania's efforts to improve coordination and
effectiveness of UN activities in the country. Joint Board members
also lauded a separate brief by a representative of Burkina Faso on
"Delivering as One UN" and addressing gender-based violence that
suggested the initiative was leading to better coordination and
measurable results on the ground.

9. (U) Joint Board discussion on UN funds and programs environmental
efforts centered around the follow-up to the Copenhagen Summit. Of
note, Cuba complained that the Copenhagen Accord had no validity and
could not be used as a basis for future agreements or commitments.
This was a viewpoint not expressed by other delegations. Cape Verde
complained that Copenhagen contained some commitments that small
island nations did not support, but added that if they are thrown a
lifeline, they unfortunately may have no other choice than to accept
them. The U.S. delegation statement urged others to associate
themselves with the Copenhagen Accord.

10. (SBU) The January 18 morning session of the Joint Board on
recovering from the economic and financial crisis was somewhat
disappointing. The presentations were largely prepared statements
and the questions were fairly superficial. In contrast, the
afternoon session included a session on the MDGs, with most member
states focusing on the upcoming high-level plenary scheduled for
September. The Rwandan representative from the Ministry of Finance
made a strong presentation, indicating her country's endorsement of
the "Deliver as One UN" approach. She said there was no way back
and that this approach should be strengthened and spread. She also
noted donors and multilateral organizations can effectively support
the government's development by contributing to clearly defined
country section strategies. There was also a need to align country
strategies to available financing. As an example, she noted that
while seventy percent of Rwanda's health budget is earmarked for
HIV/AIDS, HIV affects only three percent of the Rwandan population.
On the other hand, more than half of the population is affected by
the indicators of MDGs 4 and 5, yet the national health budget does
not adequately address this disparity. While HIV is an issue for
the Rwandan government, broader community health efforts are a
higher priority. National budgets and donor aid should therefore be
aligned to where there is the greatest need.

11. (U) The last session of the Joint Board on the MDGs was by far
the most interactive, with many Member States posing relevant
questions that elicited well thought out responses from the
panelists. A number of delegations made other contributions.
Japan's intervention focused on protecting the most vulnerable and
poorest of the poor. France noted the effect on the MDGs of
variations in policies of different countries, e.g. with respect to
domestic resources or tax reform. Bangladesh stated that they are
"on track" to achieve most MDG targets, especially poverty
reduction, reduction in child mortality, and decrease of the
incidence of malaria among others. Belarus, along with Spain, would
be grateful to UNICEF if they could share success strategies for
middle income countries.

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