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UN System Documentation

Overview of Coordination of UN System

Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefs the Security Council; UN Photo 744982

The UN System is complicated: people from many organizations work together to accomplish challenging goals in complex environments. Coordination is a vital part of the work of the UN system.

The General Assembly adopts high-level policy goals for the UN system, such as the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Security Council reviews any situation involving political or security questions.

Coordination between the UN and specialized agencies is assigned to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) by Chapter X of the UN Charter. 

At the level of the secretariats of the organizations, there are several coordination bodies, including:

Chief Executives Board (CEB)

UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB or UNCEB)

  • Chaired by UN Secretary-General
    • 1946-1948: Co-ordination Committee established by E/RES/13 (III) of 21 Sept. 1946
    • 1949-2000: Administrative Committee on Co-ordination (ACC)
      • See report of the ACC on its 6th session, December 1948, for name change (E/1076, p. 3)
    • 2001-present: UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination 
  • Three pillars:
    • High-Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP)
    • High-Level Committee on Management (HLCM)
    • UN Development Group (UNDG)
      • Proposed in 1997, Renewing the United Nations: a Programme for Reform : Report of the Secretary-General (A/51/950)
      • Part of the CEB since 2008
      • Responsible for coordinating UN operational activities at the country level
  • Working documents issued with series symbol
    • 1947-1979: Coordination/-- or CO-ORD/--
    • 1979-2000: ACC/--
    • 2001-present: CEB/--
    • Many documents restricted
  • Annual report
  • Statistics

Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

There are several mechanisms in place for coordination of humanitarian assistance.

A/RES/46/182 of 19 Dec. 1991 established the following:

Subsequently, the Secretary-General established:

  • Department of Humanitarian Affairs by ST/SGB/248 of 16 Mar. 1992
  • Became the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 1998
  • Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) is the Under-Secretary-General of OCHA
    • 2017- : Mark Lowcock (United Kingdom)
      • Press release SG/A/1731-BIO/4965-IHA/1430
    • 2015-2017: Stephen O’Brien (United Kingdom)
    • 2010-2015: Valerie Amos (United Kingdom)
      • Press release SG/A/1252-BIO/4213-IHA/1280
    • 2007- 2010: John Holmes (United Kingdom)
      • Press release SG/A/1037-BIO/3839
    • 2003-2007: Jan Egeland (Norway)
      • Press release SG/A/840/Rev.1-BIO/3497/Rev.1
    • 2001- 2003: Kenzo Oshima (Japan)
      • Press release SG/A/755
    • 1998-2000: Sergio Vieira de Mello (Brazil)
      • Press release SG/A/657-BIO/3120
    • 1996-1998: Yasushi Akashi (Japan)
      • Press release SG/A/619
    • 1994-1996: Peter Hansen (Denmark)
      • Press release SG/A/573-BIO/2839
    • 1992-1994: Jan K. Eliasson (Sweden)
      • ST/SGB/249, press release SG/A/484, SG/A/486-BIO/2640

Information Resources

International Civil Service Commission (ICSC)

International Civil Service Commission (ICSC)