The Resident Coordinator (RC) system encompasses all organizations of the United Nations system dealing with operational activities for development, regardless of their formal presence in the country. The RC system aims to bring together the different UN agencies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operational activities at the country level.
Resident Coordinators, lead UN country teams in more than 130 countries and are the designated representatives of the Secretary-General for development operations. Working closely with national governments, Resident Coordinators and country teams advocate the interests and mandates of the UN system while drawing on the support and guidance of the entire UN family.
Coordinating development operations promotes more strategic support for national plans and priorities, makes operations more efficient and reduces transaction costs for governments. This helps the UN to be a more relevant and reliable partner for governments.
In Pakistan, the UN RC is the representative of the Secretary-General for the UN system. As the chair of the UN Country Team (UNCT), comprising the head of all UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, and as such plays a central role at the country level in making possible the coordination of UN operational activities for development in order to ensure alignment of UN assistance with national development priorities, plans and capacity building in the context of internationally agreed treaty obligations and development goals, and placing the UN centrally in development and international cooperation in the country.
The Resident Coordinator (RC) is responsible for the operational activities for development, policy and political affairs. The RC acts on behalf of the UN system in an impartial way, strategically positioning the UN in each country. The RC upholds and promotes the UN’s responsibilities with regard to preventing and responding to serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including the responsibilities of UN entities and staff in this regard. Recognizing that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, and that development is a central goal in itself and constitutes a key element of the overarching framework of the United Nations operational activities for development, the RC system contributes to respond effectively to the needs, priorities, and challenges of programme countries in accordance with the UN’s comparative advantage, and in recognition that programme countries should have access to and benefit from the full range of mandates and resources of the UN development system.
The RC is responsible for implementing the ten core coordination functions of the Resident Coordinator System (UNDG, 2014):
- Strategic analysis and planning
- Oversight of the UN country programming cycle
- Representation of and support of UN Secretariat and UN agencies/NRAs
- Support to national coordination systems and processes
- Development and management of shared operational support services
- Crisis management preparedness and response
- External communication and advocacy
- Human Rights and Development
- Joint Resource mobilization and fund management
- General UNCT oversight and coordination
The Resident Coordinator is supported in his/her functions by the Resident Coordinator’s Office (RCO). The office assists the RC to fulfil those core coordination functions which pertain to the operational activities for development.
Mr. Neil Buhne, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Neil Buhne took up his position in Pakistan in September 2015. As UN Resident Coordinator, his responsibility is to coordinate and lead the UN team’s work in Pakistan. As Humanitarian Coordinator he leads the work of the humanitarian community working to meet needs in Pakistan in support of national efforts. As UNDP Resident Representative, he has overall responsibility for the work of UNDP, working with the UNDP Country Director and UNDP staff. As Designated Official he has responsibility of behalf of the Secretary-General for the Safety and Security of UN Staff in Pakistan.
Before coming to Pakistan he served in Geneva as the Director of the UNDP Geneva office in 2014 and 2015, and from 2011 to 2013 as Director of the Geneva office of UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR). In both these positions he served as UNDP’s representative in it links to the Humanitarian and Peacebuilding Communities in Geneva. In addition, as Director of the UNDP Geneva office he worked with all UN agencies and international organizations in Geneva, including those working on risk reduction, health, human rights, migration, environment and trade; and he led the offices’ work with selected countries, notably Switzerland and France.
Before that he served with the United Nations as Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative and D.O. in three countries for 12 years. From 2007 until February 2011 he served as Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Sri Lanka during the last years of the conflict and the first years of recovery afterwards. From 2003 to 2007 he was RC/RR in Bulgaria, which at the time was the largest UNDP programme in Europe and the CIS, and before that, from 1999 to 2003, he was RC/RR in Belarus.
Prior to that he spent many years in Asia, including in Pakistan. From 1995 to 1999 he was UNDP Deputy Representative in Malaysia (and acting RC/RR/DO for 20 months) from 1995 to 1999. As UNDP Assistant Resident Representative in Pakistan from 1990 to 1995 he led a team in the office working on Human Development, social development, environment and water and energy. From 1987 to 1990 he was a Programme Officer in UNDP Bhutan, and in 1985 and 1986 he served with UNDP and other agencies as Junior Professional Officer in Sudan on humanitarian and recovery issues. He began with the UN in Sri Lanka in 1984.
He holds an M.A. from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University Ottawa, Canada. He is Canadian, married to a Swiss, Sonja Friedrich, who has served twice as a Swiss delegate with IFRC. They have two sons in university.