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Research Report

Driving the System Apart?: A Study of United Nations Integration and Integrated Strategic Planning

Copyright Date: Aug. 1, 2013
Pages: 32

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. None)
  2. (pp. i-ii)
  3. (pp. iii-iv)
  4. (pp. 1-3)
  5. (pp. 3-4)

    The United Nations (UN) has come a long way since Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s Agenda for Peace in 1992, introduced as one of the first attempts to instill greater unity of purpose in the organization’s conflict and postconflict engagement. ¹ Over the last two decades, despite strong countercurrents, the UN has undertaken a series of institutional innovations to promote greater coherence across its political, security, development, and humanitarian pillars.

    Efforts to better integrate different elements of the UN’s work first began within the UN Secretariat, to get the various departments administering and coordinating the UN’s activities to combine efforts in support...

  6. (pp. 4-9)

    Over the past two decades, the UN has undertaken a series of institutional innovations to promote greater coherence across its political, security, development, and humanitarian pillars. While the terms “integration” and “integrated strategic planning” are frequently discussed and used as guiding principles throughout the UN community, they encompass both different processes (intra-Secretariat versus Secretariat together with UN agencies, funds, and programs) and outcomes at different levels (structural, strategic, operational, etc.).

    Integration first began as an intra–UN Secretariat affair, with the creation of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Depart - ment of Political Affairs (DPA) in 1992....

  7. (pp. 9-14)

    After all these efforts, many within and beyond the UN have now begun to ask, “So what has all this led to?” Unfortunately, the institution has not so far been able to demonstrate a consistent causal link between integrated planning approaches and meaningful impact on the ground. As with other functions and interventions, it is technically difficult to establish attribution, and the counterfactual (“what if the UN had not planned together?”) is subject to claims that belong more in the realm of philosophy than science. Furthermore, concrete examples of integration’s added value in areas such as electoral assistance may be...

  8. (pp. 14-23)

    The range and breadth of challenges that the UN’s integrated planning ambitions face call for a combination of smaller “quick fixes” and larger systemic reforms. Small but painstaking internal efforts are needed to upgrade planning capacities, demonstrate value, reduce transaction costs and efforts, and rekindle the UN leadership’s enthusiasm for integration. More systemic improvements designed to strengthen the UN’s response to shifting operational requirements need to be based on a renewed integration consensus within and beyond the UN.

    The “quick fixes” outlined here aren’t necessarily easy to achieve, but they are fixes that do not require systemic or even structural...

  9. (pp. 23-25)

    Over the years, the UN has made remarkable strides in increasing the coherence of its multifaceted responses in conflict and postconflict settings. Out of necessity and out of vision, based on field experiments and through headquarters policies, the organization has in fact gone further than many other international actors in developing its own version of a “whole of government” approach. The level of system-wide collaboration has risen exponentially in just a few years, a fact all the more remarkable in light of decades of pressure to decentralize and the absence of any fundamental structural changes. However, this reality may be...

  10. (pp. 26-26)