By making a difference in the lives of tens of millions of people in over a hundred countries, the United Nations team in Brussels is showcasing the concrete results of an increasingly dynamic partnership between the United Nations and the European Union. With the motto, “Improving Lives” the UN Team in Brussels has published its fifth annual report on 10 June 2010, detailing joint actions undertaken with its EU partners ranging from crisis prevention, through humanitarian action and promoting sustainable development to building democratic and just societies. Rich in detail, this year’s report puts a human face to the UN-EU partnership with a wide array of concrete examples spanning the globe from: mine clearance projects in Albania to hygiene improvement initiatives in Uganda.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in paying tribute to the achievements of the UN-EU partnership stress in their forewords that the two organizations are in fact natural partners for promoting peace, development and human rights by sharing the same values, objectives and concerns in tackling major global challenges.
The global mandate and impartiality of the United Nations offers an unmatched legitimacy for action whilst the near universal reach of the UN’s country presence provides a broad coordinating platform that allows the pooling of resources from a wide variety of actors into a common effort. These, together with a wealth of expertise of humanitarian and development specialists on the ground offers unique advantages for making the best use of the European Union’s strong commitment, willingness, resources and expertise to engage in global problem solving. Working together has allowed the UN and the EU to achieve results that go beyond what could have been achieved if both organizations were acting alone.
Building on a wealth of experience and reflecting on lessons drawn from the 2009 achievements, the Report underscores a number of key elements that continue to give the partnership its unique strength. These include the importance of combining a policy dialogue, exchanging expertise, agreeing on and promoting common methodologies and tools that benefit the broader international community, as well as improving coordination at all levels – within the framework of concrete actions on the ground. The EU’s sustained political and financial support to help the UN reforms is also highlighted as a significant driving force within the partnership.
This year’s Report comes at a crucial time with only a few months before the September summit of world leaders convened by the United Nations to reassert their commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. In looking at the challenges ahead, the Report is clear in stressing that “the UN and the EU must be able to respond and use the strength of their existing partnership to accelerate their contribution to the MDGs” in a concerted way. In this regard, the Report points to the many and varied entry points that the EU and the UN share that can be leveraged towards that goal.
The Report highlights the fact that the partnership has both broadened and deepened. Broadened to encompass virtually all human rights, humanitarian and development issues within the UN’s mandate, and deepened to maximize the synergies of interventions in these fields with the achievement of sustained peace and security.
By showcasing the numerous achievements of joint UN-EU work, the Report gives concrete evidence of a deepening partnership in humanitarian assistance and sustainable development. These include:
- People in over 60 countries suffering from natural disasters or conflict benefited from life-saving interventions such as provision of food, shelter, water, emergency health, education and protection.
- Over 150 million square meters of land were cleared from mines, and 4,000 tonnes of small arms and light weapons were destroyed.
- The reconstruction of schools ensured over 100,000 children could go back to school, including in emergency settings, thereby providing a sense of normality to these children’s lives.
- Over 20 countries and their communities were supported to prepare and respond to natural disasters and mitigate the suffering that disasters might cause.
- Close to 14 million people in over 50 countries were supported with food.
- Clean drinking water was provided to people in 13 countries.
- The partnership worked with 12 countries to support them in eliminating child labour and provided psychosocial support to children suffering from trauma in crisis and post-crisis countries.
- Electoral cycles of 22 countries were strengthened, and 88 million valid votes were cast in 8 countries for elections taking place between December 2008 and December 2009.
- 22 countries were supported to integrate poverty and environment linkages into planning and development strategies.
- 11 countries were supported to improve governance of forests.
- Some 20 countries we re supported to increase their competitiveness on the international market by building their capacity to conform with the norms and standards of international trade.
Ultimately, it is the way these assistance programmes influence the everyday life of individuals that is at the heart of the UN-EU partnership. Through dozens of personal stories, this years Report brings into focus specific country programmes from the perspective of individuals.