Joint Statement at the UNICEF Executive Board on Country Programme for the Republic of South Sudan
I am speaking on behalf of the delegations of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Luxemburg, Sweden, United States, New Zealand and The Netherlands. We thank UNICEF for the draft country programme for South Sudan and would like to express our appreciation for the rapid and timely presentation of the programme to this board.
We understand that this is, like the country programmes of UNDP and UNFPA, an interim programme and that the 2012-2013 biennium will be used to develop a comprehensive and joint analysis and a Common Country Programme for the next planning period.
We support this approach and would like to encourage a strong cooperation between the different UN organisations that are involved, to develop a comprehensive transition analysis that takes into account the efforts of other international and local partners as well. This includes UN Women and WHO.
In addition to the annual internal reviews of programmes, jointly undertaken by the UN agencies, we would also like to emphasize the importance of conducting independent evaluations on a regular basis, collecting lessons learned and integrating them into program documents. Likewise, we hope that the UN can continue to learn from past experience and improve project management and reporting, adapting to a changing environment.
In this process close cooperation with national authorities is key. Parallel processes by the international community should be avoided. The government of South Sudan should be encouraged and supported by all of us to play a leadership role. This includes the areas of peace keeping, security and stability which are essential preconditions for sustainable development. In these areas the international community sometimes tends to respond too automatically without requesting a leadership role of the government.
As recent developments show the situation in South Sudan remains highly volatile. Armed clashes as well as internal displacement and migration continue and in some regions famine is expected. Developments in Sudan will also continue to affect this situation and it is advised that regular contingency planning and follow-up meetings are held involving the UN country teams in Khartoum and Juba.
Against this background we would also like to stress the importance of a continuous and consistent approach of humanitarian assistance, recovery and development efforts.
Relief and humanitarian assistance will have to continue and it will be important to closely cooperate with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and humanitarian organisations like OCHA, World Food Program and UNHCR to effectively start building sustainable development.
The country program recognises the particular situation of returnees and we trust that in implementing the program the complex situation on the ground will be taken into account. We note with concern the exceptionally high maternal mortality rate, lack of skilled birth attendance, low birth registration, poor access to primary education and the heightened security risks for children. We are encouraged to note the high priority accorded by UNICEF to these issues in its country programme. To advance work in these areas, it is also critical that UNICEF continues to strengthen its cluster coordination and leadership in the humanitarian clusters: Education, Child Protection, WASH, and Nutrition, all requiring intense contingency planning. Information from the field clearly shows UNICEF’s efforts to build national capacity in a conflict sensitive way in a situation of transition, with special attention to vulnerabilities of children, adolescents and women, gender and geographical inequalities. We also note with interest and request further information on the innovative cooperation on child protection between UNMISS and UNICEF in line with the civilian capacities review.
Effective UN involvement requires a decentralized approach and long-term involvement of committed UN staff with a proper mix of knowledge, technical expertise and hands-on experience. Increased human resources are urgently needed in order to implement the ambitious programme, and further prioritisation is needed to deliver aid of high quality. In this context, we would also like to underline the need for proper risk analysis and adequate risk mitigation strategies to accompany program delivery.
As was very rightly underscored in the background paper on Transition for the joint meeting of the executive boards last week, national ownership and the development of national capacity are extremely important.
The needs in South Sudan are overwhelming and answering to all of them at the same time carries the risk of fragmentation and ineffectiveness. We would like to urge UNICEF to carefully select priorities, based on comparative strengths, in order to avoid duplications and overstretch.
The High Level Meeting on Aid effectiveness in Busan concluded with a “New Deal for engagement in fragile states” which we fully support. We would like to encourage UNICEF and all other UN organisations to use to a maximum the guidelines and principles for engagement as agreed upon. In particular, the importance of country-led and country-owned plans. We look forward to further constructive cooperation in South Sudan.