The UN Development System, Taking It Local

UNDP Ivory Coast elections
The UN Development Program provides support to election processes in Ivory Coast. Here, a women dips her finger in ink after voting in Grand Laho in July 2013. HIEN MACLINE/UNDP

The United Nations development system is part of the new global order emerging in the 21st century. But interdependence has brought changes. Earlier international relations addressed issues in intergovernmental relations. National political, economic, social and environmental issues were largely left to national governments. Now national policies and issues — on economic management, poverty reduction, good governance, human rights, rights of the child and of women and environmental management — are all matters of concern to the international community of states. The UN is empowered to address these issues — setting norms, monitoring progress and updating international policies (the normative and operational dimensions of the UN development system, or FUNDS) and offering technical support for capacity building (the operational dimensions).

Undertaking these tasks effectively demands a symbiotic relationship between UN bodies and individual national governments. Embedding normative and operational activities in national entities of all types — governmental and nongovernmental — is critical to the UN development system mission. To continue reading the briefing, click here

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Leelananda De Silva

Leelananda De Silva

Leelananda De Silva worked for the government of Sri Lanka from 1960 to1977. From 1970 to 1977, he was in charge of international economic relations, particularly with UN agencies. He was the secretary of the economic committee of the Nonaligned Summit in 1976. From 1978 to 1982, he was executive secretary of the Third World Forum, held in Nyon, Switzerland. Since then, he has been an international consultant to the UN, working in more than 30 countries and with 12 UN bodies, including the UN Development Program, the UN Conference on Trade and Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. He has also worked as a consultant to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the International Council for Voluntary Agencies.

De Silva is the author of "Development Aid, A Guide to Facts and Issues" and contributed to the history of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific for the UN Intellectual History Project.

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