Role and Functioning of the
Resident Coordinator Systemem


The system of the resident co-ordinator came into effect as an integral part of the restructuring of the economic and social sectors of the United Nations system initiated by the General Assembly (GA) resolution 32/197 of 20 December 1977. In that resolution, the General Assembly decided that, on behalf of the UN system, overall responsibility for, and the co-ordination of, operational activities for development carried out at the country level should be entrusted to a single official, who would exercise team leadership and ensure a multidisciplinary dimension in sectoral development programmes.

The resident co-ordinator is the designated representative of the Secretary-General for development operations and leader of the United Nations Country Team. Resident Co-ordinators report to the Secretary-General through the UNDP Administrator, who is accountable to the Secretary-General for the efficient performance of the resident co-ordinator system and to the UNDP Executive Board for UNDP expenditures in support of the resident co-ordinator system. The UNDP Administrator is responsible for recommending the appointment of resident co-ordinators to the Secretary-General.

The Administrative Committee on Co-ordination (ACC) is responsible for ensuring interagency support for the resident co-ordinator system, and has adopted the following statement on the role and functioning of the resident co-ordinator system:

1. The primary objective of the operational activities for development within the United Nations system is to promote the self-reliance of recipient countries through multilateral co-operation. The fundamental characteristics of these operational activities should be their universal, neutral and grant nature, and their ability to respond to the needs of recipient countries in a flexible manner. They constitute a critical and unique resource in enabling recipient countries to exercise the lead role in the management of their own development processes.

2. The government has the primary responsibility for co-ordinating, on the basis of national strategies and priorities, all types of external assistance, including that provided by the United Nations system. The resident co-ordinator system seeks to facilitate and support the exercise by the government of this co-ordination responsibility.

3. Within an enabling environment provided by co-ordinated and supportive action by the United Nations system at the headquarters level, the resident co-ordinator system aims at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of operational activities at the field level, through a co-ordinated multidisciplinary approach to the needs of recipient countries under the leadership of the resident co-ordinator, bearing in mind the complementarity of the United Nations system and the need for a division of labour within the respective spheres of competence of funds, programmes and specialised agencies.

4. The functioning of the resident co-ordinator system, which aims at a better co-ordination of operational activities for development, does not affect relations between governments and individual organisations of the United Nations system or the direct lines of authority and communication between the representatives of those organisations at the country level and their own executive heads. Its functioning must similarly respect the responsibility of those representatives to carry out the mandates and programming processes of the governing bodies of their organisations. (ACC/1995, annex 1).

The functions of the resident co-ordinator, although they pertain principally to development activities, increasingly encompass issues arising from follow-up to the global conferences and from linkages between the United Nations' development work and its activities in the humanitarian sphere, particularly in the context of complex emergencies and countries in special development circumstances.

Dated: 26Jan1999