830(MFC.1) Reform of the regional commissions Relationships between the Economic Commission for Africa, United Nations agencies, regional and subregional organization in Africa


The Ministerial Follow-up Committee,

          Recalling the terms of reference of the Commission as adopted by the Economic and Social Council in resolution 671A (XXV) of 29 April 1958 and amended by its resolutions 974 D.1 (XXXVI) of 5 July 1963, 1343 (XLV) of 18 July 1968 and 1978/68 and 1978/68 of 4 August 1978.

          Recalling further the various resolutions that have implications on the mandate and operations of the Commission including, in particular, General Assembly resolution 32/197 of 20 December 1977 on the restructuring of the economic and social sectors of the United Nations system, 33/202 of 29 January 1979, 44/211 of 21 December 1989 and 50/120 of 20 December 1995.

          Noting with appreciation the endorsement by the Economic and Social Council in resolution 718 (XXV) of 12 May 1991 on the revitalization of the mandate and operational framework of the regional economic commissions, commission resolution 726 (XXVII) of 22 April 1992 on strengthening the Economic Commission for Africa to face Africa's development challenges in the 1990s, 779(XXIX) of 4 may 1994 on strengthening the operational capacity of the Economic Commission for Africa, and 809 (XXXI) of 8 May 1996 on the New directions for the Economic Commission for African.

          Bearing in mind General Assembly resolutions 44/177 of 19 December 1990, 45/264 of 13 May 1991 and 46/235 of 13 April 1992 on the restructuring and revitalization of the United Nations in the economic, social and related fields, in which the call was made for the regional commissions to be enabled fully to play their role under the authority of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, and that for those located in developing countries to be strengthened in the context of the overall objectives of the ongoing restructuring and revitalization process.

          Taking into account General Assembly resolution 52/12B of 19 December 1997 on Renewing the United Nations: A programme for Reform which invited the Economic and Social Council, in consultation with Member States and appropriate intergovernmental regional bodies, to conduct a general review of the regional commissions at its substantive session of 1998, bearing in mind the relevant provisions of resolution 50/227 of 24 may 1996 and the individual reviews each commission has already carried out, in order to consider the competencies of the regional commissions, taking into account the competencies of global bodies and other regional and subregional intergovernmental bodies,

          Having examined in-depth document E/ECA/MFC. ½ entitled ''Reforms of the regional commissions: Relationships between the Economic Commission for Africa, United Nations agencies, regional and subregional organizations in Africa note by the secretariat''

  1. Welcomes  the note by the secretariat:
  2. Expresses its appreciation for the observations and analyses contained in the note;
  3. Decides to recommend as follows:

Recommendation 1:  Reaffirm and support existing coordination mechanisms at the regional level.

          An important first step in enhancing collaboration between the Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations agencies is to reaffirm and support the team leadership role assigned to the regional commissions in General Assembly resolution 32/197. The agencies should use the mechanism of a regional administrative committee on coordination first suggested by the Secretary-General in 1994. The Economic and Social Council should consider providing a legislative directive to this effect. The regional administrative committee on coordination would be useful in addressing several regional issues, including questions such as follow-up to the global conferences, and various programmes on post-conflict reconstruction developments in Africa. In this regard, the next meeting of the Conference of Ministers to be held in 1999 should consider in-depth coordination and collaboration among United Nations agencies operating at the subregional and regional levels in Africa.

          Recommendation 2:  Adopt some principles for regional coordination

          The United Nations agencies in Africa should adopt some principles for regional coordination. The agencies should endeavour to foster regional coordination on the basis of promoting greater exchange of information on planned and ongoing work; improve complementarities among the programmes; draw on each others competencies; and bring the pool of resources financial and human at their disposal to bear policy issues of common interest.

          Recommendation 3:  Strengthen coordination at subregional level

          Coordination or collaboration among United Nations agencies in Africa should also be enhanced at the subregional level.  At this level, this should take the form of development of joint ventures to support the specific activities of countries in a subregional framework. In this way, the complementarities and harmony sought at the regional level will be given greater impact and impetus. The Commission's Subregional Development  should be used as important vehicles for coordination at the subregional level.

          Recommendation 4:       The role of the Economic Commission for Africa in normative and operational functions

          The Economic Commission for Africa, as a United Nations regional commission and as part of the landscape of regional institutions in service of Africa's development, has carried out valuable normative (analysis, advocacy, norm-setting) and operational activities which have been mutually complementary and supportive to the member States of the region. It should continue to undertake both categories of activities, it being recognized that its technical assistance plays a catalytic role in translating its normative work into concrete support of the development efforts of member States.

          Recommendation 5:  Enhanced cooperation among African organization

          At the regional level, there is already an implicit specialization and division of labour among Africa's three premier intergovernmental Organizations: the organization of African Unity, the Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank. Still, there remains a need to promote a more clear-cut division of responsibilities, and to rationalize and strengthen complementarities among the three organizations more strictly according to their mandates and competencies as a means of increasing their combined effectiveness, impact and efficiency in their collective mandate to oversee the overall development of Africa at the regional level. This calls for these African organization to strengthen their joint Secretariat by implementing among themselves similar strategies as outlined above for the United Nations system. In particular, they should:

(a)          Strengthen coordination, including collaboration in programme development, planning of activities, monitoring and evaluation, geared to building upon and exploiting complementarities;

(b)          Improve networking and communications at all staff levels, and not only at the level of the chief executives;

(c)          Work to establish a common ethos among their staff, based on a common perspective of African political, social and economic development challenges and opportunities, and a common zeal to move Africa forward; and,

(d)          Streamline and coordinate their intergovernmental machineries: the governing bodies of all African organizations could be required to summarize, in joint report, their main decisions for submission to the summit of the African Heads of State and Government, which is the supreme organ of the African Economic Community.

  1. Revision to the Economic Commission for Africa's Medium-term plan, 1998-2001

The Ministerial follow-up committee,

          Having considered document E/ECA/MFC.1/3 entitled ''First revision to the Medium-term plan, 1998-2001: Note by the secretariat''


          Recalling Commission resolution 809 (XXXI) of 8 may 1996 in which the Commission endorsed the Medium-term plan, 1998-2001 in the context of new directions for the Economic Commission for Africa.

          Further recalling Commission resolutions 810 (XXXI) of 8 May 1996 and 828(XXXII) of 8 May 1997 which respectively called for the strengthening of the former Multinational Programming and Operational Centres and their transformation to Subregional Development Centres with an extended programme and policy orientation, as well as Commission resolution 824 (XXXI) of 8 May 1996 on the Follow-up to the Dakar and Beijing Conferences: implementation of the Global and Regional Platforms of Action for the Advancement of women.



          Endorses the revision to the Medium-term plan, 1998-2001 involving the establishment of two new subprogrames: Promoting the advancement of women and supporting subregional activities for development.