New York, 24 June 2013: UNICEF Executive Board concludes its 2013 annual session
On 21 June, the UNICEF Executive Board concluded its annual session, which resulted in the adoption of eight draft decisions, after hearing reports on field visits made by Board members to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, Malawi, Myanmar and Thailand.
NEW YORK, United States of America, 24 June 2013 – During the final day of the UNICEF Executive Board’s 2013 annual session, members adopted important decisions.
Executive Board discusses next strategic plan
The Executive Board took note of the annual report of the Executive Director, which outlines UNICEF’s progress and achievements against the current medium-term strategic plan. It also reviewed the draft Strategic Plan of UNICEF for 2014–2017, which focuses on advancing the rights of every child, especially the most disadvantaged. Following an extensive discussion, the Board adopted a decision requesting that UNICEF take into account the views of the Member States in finalizing the strategic plan, which will be adopted at the next Board session in September.
The Board also noted the report on the progress of gender equality work in UNICEF, which recommended that UNICEF develop a new gender equality action plan, to be aligned with UNICEF’s new strategic plan. Also reviewed were the annual report of the evaluations function and major evaluations, and the annual report from the Office of Internal Audit and Investigations.
Harnessing knowledge for children
Executive Board members heard a presentation from UNICEF Deputy Director Geeta Rao Gupta and Director of UNICEF’s Office of Research Gordon Alexander on harnessing knowledge to achieve results for children, bringing knowledge sharing and research to bear on critical issues for children, maximizing the synergies between UNICEF’s role in generating data, research and policy advocacy for children.
“I would like to say that there is a great deal going on across all levels of UNICEF, but we need to better link these efforts up more systematically and effectively, and be more effective in the design and implementation, and particularly in supporting national efforts in this regard,” said Ms. Rao Gupta.
Executive Board field visits
The field visits undertaken by Executive Board members provide a window onto UNICEF’s programmes on the ground. The President of the Executive Board, H.E. Mr. Jarmo Viinanen, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, recounted the visit by the Bureau to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.
“It was a very important visit for many reasons,” he said. “[It] was important to note UNICEF’s engagement in the middle-income countries”, he stressed, adding, “this region has been engulfed in a civil strife, and it was therefore important to understand the rebuilding efforts in these countries and, in particular, UNICEF’s role in a post-conflict situation.”
Second Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations Edel Dwyer reported on a field visit to Malawi, noting the delegation saw UNICEF-supported work in the areas of child protection, early childhood development, health, education, water and sanitation. The delegation had been able to meet with senior members of the Government of Malawi, including President Joyce Banda.
Development Adviser at the Australian Mission to the United Nations Chris Stokes presented the report on a joint field visit of 23 members of the executive boards of UNDP, UNFPA, UNOPS, UN Women, WFP and UNICEF to Myanmar and Thailand. “The purpose of the visit was to enhance executive board members’ understanding, the extent and ways in which United Nations organizations position their engagement with the countries,” he said.
Myanmar was selected for the field visit because of the country faces unique development opportunities and challenges, amidst a period of rapid and substantial political, socioeconomic and public-sector reform.
Country programme budgets approved
Budgets for the country programmes of Benin, Bhutan, Cuba, Egypt, Niger, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Togo were approved. These budgets lay out the funds required for UNICEF to carry it out its work in these countries. The programmes themselves will be approved at the September session.
Best interest of children is main concern
In his closing remarks, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake stressed UNICEF’s apolitical stance and reiterated its mandate to defend the rights of children everywhere.
“Surely, if there is any place on any issue where the governments of the world should work together, it is about the children – because the children do not have politics – UNICEF does not have politics.”
In his closing remarks, H.E. Mr. Viinanen recalled the importance of the Executive Board for UNICEF’s work on behalf of children’s rights, echoing Mr. Lake’s message on UNICEF’s priorities.
“I want to extend my sincere appreciation to all the Board members for their rich and very useful interventions during the dialogue which we had here,” he said. “I’m sure we all agree that the spirit of openness and constructive dialogue must prevail at the Executive Board of UNICEF, keeping the best interest of the child as our main concern,” he added.
The UNICEF Executive Board will reconvene for its third and final session of the year 3-6 September. Executive Board sessions are held at United Nations headquarters in New York.