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UNICEF Executive Board

UNICEF Executive Board ends with call for intensified efforts in support of United Nations development system reform

© UNICEF video


NEW YORK, United States of America, 7 February 2019 – The UNICEF Executive Board’s first regular session for 2019 ended on Wednesday with the adoption of several important decisions that will pave the way for more effective governance of the organization in the years to come.

In closing the session, Executive Board President H.E. Mr. Omer Dahab Fadl Mohamed, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Sudan, remarked that the discussions over the two days “had a single purpose: to develop ever more effective, innovative and sustainable strategies to promote and protect the rights of children everywhere, especially the most vulnerable.”

Although much progress has been made in the realization of children’s rights over the past 30 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children are still deprived of adequate food and nutrition, care and protection, water, sanitation and access to quality education. Their lives are at risk due to the numerous conflicts taking place around the world.

In her remarks made earlier in the session, UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta H. Fore, said that “advocacy on rights in the first 30 years should be realizing those rights in the next 30 years”. She stressed that better addressing these challenges outside requires strengthening the organization from within. “We must be as efficient as possible across the [United Nations] development system, and keep our focus not on processes, but on results, especially at the country level,” she said.

© UNICEF/UN0145555/Schermbrucker
An adolescent girl, holding school supplies and a calculator, leans against the blackboard during a class in Lusaka, Zambia. UNICEF and partners are supporting national efforts to improve access to and quality of education in pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, including activities to increase education access for adolescent girls and marginalized children.

Building partnerships

Central to improving effectiveness, Executive Director Fore underscored, is the UNICEF commitment to recent United Nations development system reform efforts. UNICEF is contributing to a range of efforts to drive more change across the system, including work on the common chapter to the four-year Strategic Plan with UNDP, UNFPA and UN-Women, and efforts to invigorate the resident coordinator system. Stronger collaboration with sister agencies is crucial to building on progress already made.

“From reducing malnutrition with the World Food Programme…to our work with UNFPA to end child marriage…to Generation Unlimited, that includes every UN agency…” Executive Director Fore said, “I am committed to expanding UNICEF’s partnerships with our sister agencies because these partnerships work.”

UNICEF is determined to expand ties with the private sector and is taking concrete steps in order to do so. During the session, the Board reviewed and approved the 2019 workplan and budget for the Private Fundraising and Partnerships Division, which focuses on developing shared-value partnerships to contribute to at-scale programming and achieve lasting results for children.

“We need our corporate partners to work hand-in-hand with us to find new ways to provide young people with opportunities, training and even jobs so they can provide for their children one day,” Executive Director Fore remarked.

Looking back, forging ahead

UNICEF is also evaluating the ways in which it lives up to its own commitments.

In March 2018, Executive Director Fore requested the UNICEF Evaluation Office to undertake an independent review of the UNICEF response to protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. A summary of the report and the response from the UNICEF management were presented during the session. Aimed at deepening management accountability and improving UNICEF’s policies, systems and culture, the review makes several recommendations for scaling up the organization’s response.

“We must send a clear signal,” the Executive Director said. “Sexual abuse and exploitation will not be tolerated…it will be investigated…and perpetrators will face punishment.”

H.E. Mr. Jonathan Allen, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, United Kingdom, spoke on behalf of a cross-regional group of 45 Member States. “We commend UNICEF for undertaking an independent review of its response to sexual exploitation and above. We strongly support the key messages and recommendations for action and UNICEF’s comprehensive management response,” he said, while also reiterating the shared commitment between UNICEF and the Member States for taking action in this regard.

The Board also reviewed efforts by UNICEF to better link humanitarian and development programming, to promote a rights-based model of education through the Out-of-School Children Initiative, and to address HIV/AIDS by investing in innovations.

“Our work on innovation is expanding every year,” Executive Director Fore noted. “From scaling up Primero to help countries better manage data…to developing pneumonia interventions, like diagnostic and oxygen systems. To investing in expanded HIV testing and care for infants. To exploring the possibilities of digital identity for all children – including those on the move.”

© UNICEF/UN0259812/Chute
On December 2018, UNICEF partnered with the Government of Vanuatu on the first-ever commercial contract to deliver vaccines by drone. Here, Joseph Hing and Rebecca Olul introduce the children of Epi to the magic of drones.

Key decisions

The Board adopted a total of eight decisions over its two-day session. These included approval of a new country programme in Niger to support Government efforts to ensure that all children, especially those affected by humanitarian emergencies and children with disabilities, are reached with vital services and care. The Board also endorsed the continuation of country programmes in Afghanistan, Comoros and South Africa, paving the way for continued collaboration with national Governments and other stakeholders on a range of issues that align with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Other decisions related to the working methods of the Board; the two evaluation reports mentioned above; the financial report and audited financial statements and report of the Board of Auditors for 2017; the workplan and proposed budget for private fundraising and partnerships for 2019; and the implementation of General Assembly resolution 72/279 on repositioning of the United Nations development system.

Executive Director Fore expressed her appreciation to the Board members for their ideas and advice, stating “the improvements you are making to the Board and the methods demonstrate that we can improve efficiency while ensuring that there is a strong and vital oversight function.”

“As we close this first session of 2019, we know that we have much work to do,” said Ambassador Mohamed. “Ultimately, our success will be judged on how faithfully we fulfilled our promises to the children of the world, on how well we established and sustained the conditions that enabled them to grow into healthy, happy and productive adults.”


The Executive Board will convene for its 2019 annual session from 11 to 14 June. Several annual reports will be on the agenda, as well as further updates on the working methods of the Board and on UNICEF implementation of General Assembly resolution 72/279.

Read more:

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Executive Board welcomes efforts by UNICEF to better link humanitarian and development programming



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