Netherlands assumes Presidency of largest UN Executive Board

In 2022 the Kingdom of the Netherlands holds the Presidency of the UN’s largest Executive Board. As President, Dutch Permanent Representative to the UN Yoka Brandt will chair the formal and informal meetings of the Board.

The Board’s first regular session was held last week. ‘Fortunately, the virtual session went smoothly,’ Yoka says. ‘It was great to see the many joint interventions made by countries from all regional groups. That support from all the groups is a clear sign of the importance the member states attach to the work of these organisations.’

Several organisations

The unusual thing about this Executive Board is that its work covers several different organisations. The best known of these are the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

But it also deals with three smaller organisations: the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), UN Volunteers (UNV) and the UN Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

It is the largest Executive Board within the UN and thus is responsible for a significant part of the UN development system.

Watch this animation video for a short explanation of the role of the Netherlands in de the Board.

How important is this Presidency to the Netherlands?

Yoka: ‘These organisations are essential to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and thus also the achievement of several key goals of BZ and the Netherlands, such as sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), women’s rights, combating climate change and the reform of the UN development system.

So this is definitely important. The last time our Kingdom held the Presidency was in 2004. Doing so again now gives us the opportunity to gain a deeper and broader insight into the performance of the UN organisations concerned and the UN’s impact on the ground.

It’s also a chance to keep Dutch priority issues high on the agenda. One of our key tasks is chairing the formal and informal meetings of the Board. Over the past year there were about 60 such meetings. So the Presidency offers a unique opportunity to raise the Netherlands’ visibility as a major UN partner on international cooperation.’

What’s it like to be President?

Yoka: ‘For me personally, it’s a real honour to be able to do this job. I see it as a good opportunity to link my experience at UNICEF with the work of the Permanent Mission. And it’s great that the other member states have entrusted me with this responsibility.

Another special thing about this Presidency is that you’re wearing different hats at different times: you represent your own regional group (in my case the Western European and other States group). You have to liaise between the regional groups to seek solutions and consensus. And over the course of the year you’re the member states’ main point of contact when it comes to these six UN organisations.

It’s also very enjoyable and useful be to working alongside my colleagues from Kenya, Peru, Qatar and Ukraine, who are representing the other regional groups this year.’

What are the Netherlands’ priorities as President?

Yoka: ‘Our main priority is to shift the focus more towards results achieved on the ground, at country level. The meetings in New York must be aimed at increasing the UN’s impact on the ground. We can’t be making decisions or issuing recommendations in New York that don’t have any bearing on what’s happening in the field.

The Netherlands also believes it’s important for the UN development organisations to work together effectively. So as President the Netherlands will have to collaborate effectively with the Presidents of the other two New York-based Executive Boards, those of UNICEF and UN Women, where my counterparts from Costa Rica and Bangladesh respectively have been elected as Presidents.

And lastly, we want to make the Board ­– and its oversight – more inclusive. For example by encouraging joint initiatives from the regions and bringing field-based professionals to New York more often so we can hear what they have to say.’

Want to know more about the Netherlands’ Permanent Mission to the United Nations and Board President Yoka Brandt?

Follow Yoka (@yokabrandt), the Permanent Mission (@NLatUN) and #KNLBoard22 on Twitter.