The UN is such a huge player in the development world, and today spans such a vast spectrum of development activity, from advocacy to targeted interventions, from the global to the local .... it is almost mind-boggling to try and fathom the actual scope and impact that this development behemoth really has.

Development discourse, trends and buzz-words are cultivated in the meeting rooms and corridors of UN offices world-wide, and then harvested and sold to governments, NGO's and the public worldwide.

But is the UN a SALTy organisation?  Does it appreciate strengths and connect local responses....?

As I pose these questions I feel the need to go back to the UN's original mandate and reflect.  Article 55 of the UN Charter states the following:

With a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the United Nations shall promote:

  1. higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development;
  2. solutions of international economic, social, health, and related problems; and international cultural and educational cooperation; and
  3. universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.
It only says it once.. but it is key... that the UN commits to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being, with respect to "Self determination of peoples" .  

So what role should we play in helping the UN to achieve its mandate?  Do we need to remind them of their commitment to self-determination?

A number of UN agencies, mostly at country office level, have integrated ACP or CLCP in their programmes, many working through local NGO's and CBO's to do so.

The journey, however, tends to be not without its challenges - gaining support from senior leaders and staff, developing systems that make CLCP compatible with the UN's reporting and M&E systems, and changing the overall mindset.... 

If we truly believe that this process can be integrated in UN programming, then we must plan for how we can overcome these challenges.

Which brings me to the next question... does CLCP fit within UN Programming????  

 What have some of the UN agencies already done?  Maybe you have worked within the UN system and can share your experience ....


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Je pense pour ma part que le problème peut etre posé autrement. Nos gouvernements sont ils capables d'orienter les actions des agences UN pour répondre à leurs besoins? Les agences des Nations Unies sont les invités du gouvernement. Compris dans ce sens, ces Agences viennent appuyer le programme de ce gouvernement. Alors ce sont nos communautés bénéficiaires des actions du gouvernement pour lesquels les programmes des agences sont destinés en premier lieu qui doivent s'organiser de manière à obtenir leur appui. En meme temps que nous faisons le plaidoyer auprès des agences UN, il ne faut pas oublier de le faire auprès de l'institution gouvernementale concerné car c'est à elle que revient la responsabilité de faire appliquer les approches, méthodes et techniques innovantes. Par expérience, si l'institution gouvernementale partenaire n'a pas d'approche à proposer à l'agence UN, c'est cette dernière qui propose son approche pour autant que celle-ci corresponde à la vision programmatique de l'agence UN. La 1ere chose à faire est de faire accepter l'approche SALT simultanément auprès de l'agence UN et de l'institution gouvernemental partenaire. Il y'a des mécanismes prévus pour ça au niveau de la coopération entre le gouvernement et les agences UN (Accord de base, planification conjoincte, revues successives etc..).
Jeanne d'Arc
Translation from Jeanne d'Arc's message
I think that the problem can be asked in a different way. Are our governments able to orient the actions of UN agencies to respond to their needs? UN agencies are invited by the governments. Therefore, the agencies come to support the programmes of this government. So, the communities benefiting from the actions of the government (that these agencies support) should organize themselves to get their support. While we are advocating at the UN agencies, we should not forget to do that also at the government institutions because they are responsible to implement innovating approaches, methods and techniques.
From my experience, if a partnering government institution doesn't propose an approach to the UN agencies, it is the UN that proposes its approach as long as this one corresponds to the vision of the UN agency programmes. The first thing to do is to make sure that the SALT approach is accepted both in the UN agencies and the partnering government institution. There are mechanisms foreseen to do this at the cooperation level between the government and the UN agencies (Bases agreement, joint planning, successive revenues, etc.)

Thank you,
Jeanne d'Arc
Hi Jeanne,

Thank you for an EXCELLENT response! It has really got me thinking about our role as advocates for this approach. Like you say,"the communities that benefit from the actions of the government... should organize themselves to get their support".

But some communities do not even realize that they are being dealt a bad deal by their governments and/or the development industry. Others do not know how, or have the courage, to organise around political issues. For example, in Indonesia, many of my friends talk a lot about the institutionalized corruption here, but few of them vote, or get involved in political activism. I ask them why and they say.... what is the point?....

So..... I am wondering now, what do we, as CLCP facilitators, do about this? YOu mentioned having the SALT approach accepted in both the UN agencies and the government partners. We tried that here in Indonesia at UNFPA, and have approached the National AIDS Commission for introducing it there. When Jean-Louis was here we held a wonderful "National Stakeholder's Meeting" where we introduced the SALT approach to dozens of Government representatives and UN staff in one setting. It was fantastic!

But, overall, the introduction has had mixed success. In my experience here it is VERY dependant upon the senior leaders within each organisation, and if they decide to play a catalytic role.

I'd like to learn more about how you would introduce SALT in some of the Joint Planning activities as you mentioned above? It could be useful for us here in Indonesia.

Thanks again!

You know the answer to that question, don't you?

If you agree with me that it does not, the question becomes:

Why not?
What will make the UN change?

I'll wait for your reaction...


Thanks for challenging me :-)

I don't agree with you that it does not... at least not always. I think, for example, in the HIV programme at UNFPA, it appears to have worked well, despite the typical reporting parameters. WHY? Because of the commitment of the people managing the programme, and because of supportive senior leadership, all giving the ACP facilitators space to work with their communities in a SALTy way.

There is still some way to go, but this example shows great promise.

On the other hand... in the macro sense.... yes, I agree with you that it does not. The UN takes a needs-based approach to everything, characterised by the way they start every programme with a massive Needs Assessment. If you remember, we tried to introduce CLCP for our Needs Assessment here but they are so antithetical to one another that nobody could see a way to synchronize them. So the idea was abandoned.

Furthermore, the UN has an archaic heirarchical nature, which stifles any chance of bottom-up change, whether from staff within, or from communities. Not great news for a volunteer like me!

The role of government as partners is interesting. Jeanne (above) has noted that the influence Governments have over programming. It would be interesting to see what the flow-on effects are of introducing ACP / CLCP to Government agencies. Has anyone done this successfully?

So, in terms of my reaction.... I am sad, frustrated and angry!..

Why do we allow these big institutions to determine the way peoples lives are lived?
Furthermore, why do the people allow it!

Turning a big ship is hard. It takes such courage and strength from a lot of little boats around it.
Or..... is it up to the captain and the crew?

My point is, do we wait for communities to demand this change?
Or, should we (UN staff) play a catalyst role from the inside, and slowly slowly foster change.

Something has to happen.

Would love to hear people's thoughts.




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