United Nations expands its presence in the Pacific

Nov 14, 2006

(Suva, Fiji) - The United Nations Development Group (UNDG) Executive Committee agencies have agreed to jointly expand the presence of the UN in the Pacific.

This expansion is in the spirit of promoting the United Nations reform in the Pacific and has been done in consultation with the Pacific Island Forum Ambassadors.

The joint plan has been endorsed by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

This decision was reached after a submission was made by the Permanent Mission to Palau to the UN Secretary-General requesting expanded presence in the Pacific through at least one talented full-time official to coordinate activities on the ground and a permanent office.

The submission was made on behalf of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu but was later joined by the Federated States of Micronesia.

UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Dr Hafiz Pasha is in the region to address the matter.

Dr Pasha said that a full time Country Development Manager will be stationed in these countries to support the implementation of national sustainable development strategies based on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and support the liaison with UN agencies, funds and programmes.

The UNDG agencies have also recognized that priority consideration should be given to all the Pacific LDCs (Least Developed Countries) without a UN in-country presence in which Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu were included.

"In the Solomon Islands, which is the largest Pacific LDC, we will further expand the existing programme to become a separate country programme, and also upgrade our sub-office to match the requirements of administering the expansion," said Dr Pasha.

The proposal was developed by UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP and UNDP, which was discussed by Pacific Ambassadors at the General Assembly in New York in September. These countries have indicated their readiness to contribute to its realization.

"UNDP has agreed to take the lead in four countries, namely Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Palau and Nauru," Dr Pasha said. These expansions will begin with the first phase in the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu in 2007 and Palau and Nauru in the second phase by 2008.

Dr Pasha said that operational details needed to be worked out jointly with UNICEF and UNFPA in consultation with the concerned governments. "We plan to be able to start putting people on the ground for the first phase in the first half of 2007," he added.