Management and Administration Statement

Delivered by Ms. Heather Jeffrey, Director General, International Humanitarian Assistance, DFATD, to the 66th SESSION of the EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES

Geneva, 5 - 9 October 2015

Government of Canada Intervention to the 66th Session of the UNHCR Executive Committee


Mr. Chairperson,

Let me begin by congratulating UNHCR on a number of key management achievements over the past year. In 2014, the agency continued to raise record donor contributions, including impressive private sector resources; delivered the highest volume of core relief items since the inception of the global stockpiles; and continued to expand its operational policy suite with global strategies in key areas, such as access to energy and settlement and shelter.

Despite the achievements of the past year, and acknowledging additional pressures on UNHCR in 2015, more can and must be done. New sources of revenues, including from private sector sources, are needed. And UNHCR like all humanitarian actors must find innovative ways to provide assistance in order to achieve greater efficiencies.

Managing new and ongoing operational challenges will need to increasingly rely on the broad partnerships UNHCR holds with national and local NGOs, host and donor governments, the private sector, UN and other international organisations. Canada would like to focus its remarks today on the important issue of partnership and highlight a number of areas where Canada would like to see UNHCR focus its attention in the coming year.

Mr. Chairperson,

As noted in the 2014 Global Report, expenditures through implementing partners now represent 40 percent of overall spending. Canada is encouraged by this recognition that it is optimal for UNHCR to focus on key expertise while drawing on the experience and know-how of its partners. Looking ahead, we would encourage an open dialogue with ExCom members about where UNHCR can increase impact by relying on partners where UNHCR staff must take the lead. In this regard, Canada notes with some concern what appears to be a growing reliance on NGO staff for what we see as core UNHCR activities, including protection, refugee status determination and resettlement, and calls on UNHCR to take all appropriate measures to ensure effective training is provided and oversight of partner staff involved in these complex and sensitive activities.

We commend recent efforts made by the Agency to address strategic partnership, such as its work with International Council of Voluntary Agencies and InterAction to implement partnership principles. We also are hopeful that the Enhanced Framework for Implementing with Partners will lead to improved and transparent partner selection as well as clearer communication with partners including of expectations.

Canada urges UNHCR to continue to refine this Framework in close consultation with NGO partners. In particular, we hope that the agency’s Enterprise Risk Management approach is rolled out in a way that increases efficiencies for implementing partners deemed to be low-risk. We ask UNHCR to ensure that appropriate training is provided for financial and project staff on both of these approaches.

Mr. Chairperson,

Inter-agency cooperation is another vital aspect of partnership which has witnessed significant evolution in recent years. Canada commends UNHCR on its efforts to enhance inter-agency cluster coordination and recent steps to formalise the accountability between UNHCR’s coordination of refugee response and the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affair’s coordination of the broader humanitarian response. Canada’s expectation is that humanitarian partners work together to increase efficiency and complementarity to ensure better protection for those in need.

UNHCR has a special responsibility to ensure that the IASC’s commitment to the Centrality of Protection is implemented across UN country operations and we encourage strong advocacy within the Inter-Agency Standing Committee to turn this statement into field-level operational reality. This lead role for protection extends to UNHCR’s cluster leadership – we support the steps being taken to build and mobilize the necessary capacity for UNHCR to properly discharge its responsibilities not only as it relates to protection, but also for shelter and camp management as well.

Mr. Chairperson,

Finally, Canada would like to note the importance of its partnerships with donors.  As an Institutional Lead for the Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network’s 2014 review of UNHCR, we have been keenly aware of the challenges that UNHCR faces in its reporting on organizational-level results. Despite these challenges, we would like to once again underscore the importance of effective performance measurement.

We recognize the improvements made to the new Global Focus portal; however, we urge UNHCR to further explore how to improve reporting so that it provides a clearer picture of progress against objectives, both at the country and thematic level. Ensuring that results-based management systems are in place to plan, monitor and evaluate programming will help us develop smarter approaches to addressing displacement. 

Thank you.