Governing Council

Governing Council1

The Governing Council of UN-Habitat

1. The work of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UH-Habitat) is guided by three main policy bodies of the United Nations namely, the General Assembly of the United Nations including through the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Governing Council of UN-Habitat and the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR).

2. With effect from 1 January 2002, the Commission on Human Settlements and its Secretariat, the United Nations Centre for Human Settlement (Habitat), including the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation, was transformed into United Nations Human Settlements Programme pursuant to resolution A/RES/56/206 of the General Assembly.

3. The General Assembly, in the same Resolution, also transformed the Commission on Human Settlements into the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme.

4. The Governing Council was empowered to propose its rules of procedure which were approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in resolution A/RES/58/223 of 23rd December 2003.

5. The Governing Council is composed of 58 members who are elected by the Economic and Social Council for a term of 4 years, as follows:

  • Africa – 16 seats
  • Asia – 14 seats
  • Eastern Europe – 6 seats
  • Latin America and Caribbean States – 10 seats
  • Western Europe and other States – 13 seats

6. At the commencement of the first meeting of each regular session, the Governing Council elects a President, three vice Presidents and Rapporteur. These officers constitute the Bureau of the Governing Council whose function is to assist the President in the conduct of the business of the Governing Council. The membership of the Governing Council as at 1 January 2018 can be found at https://unhabitat.org/gc26members/. In addition the Bureau of the twenty-sixth session of the Governing Council consists of:

  • President: India (representing Asia-Pacific States);
  • Vice President: Germany (representing Western European and Other States);
  • Vice-President: Kenya (representing African Group);
  • Vice President: Guatemala (representing Latin America and Caribbean States);
  • Rapporteur: Russia, (representing Eastern European States).

7. The Governing Council is an intergovernmental decision – making body for UN–Habitat. It meets biennially and reports to the General Assembly of the United Nations through the Economic and Social Council, particularly on programmatic issues. When the Governing Council meets, it is divided into: i. a Plenary, which is assisted by a sessional committee of the whole and a drafting committee and, ii. a High-level segment and dialogue on a special theme.

8. As indicated earlier, the President, the three Vice Presidents and the Rapporteur which represent the Regional Group of States make up the Bureau of the Governing Council.

9. The Objectives, functions and responsibilities of the Governing Council pursuant to resolutions A/RES/56/206 are set out in resolution A/RES/32/162 of 19 December 1977, which is the resolution that originally established UN-Habitat as a Commission and also in paragraph 222 of the Habitat Agenda. All of are attached.

10. In summary, the Governing Council has the following:

  1. Objectives: a. Promote integral and comprehensive approach to human settlements; b. Assisting countries and regions with human settlements problems; c. Strengthening co-operation and co-participation in all countries on human settlement issues.
  2. Functions and Responsibilities: a. Develop and promote policy objectives, priorities and guidelines with respect to the Organization’s programme of work; b. To study new issues, problems and solutions in human settlements at national, regional and international level; c. Provide policy guidance and supervision of the Foundation; d. Review and approve the utilization of funds of the Organization; e. Provide overall direction to the Organization; f. promote effective implementation of the Habitat Agenda. In summary therefore, the Governing Council is an intergovernmental decision – making body for UN–Habitat.

11. The Governing Council is assisted by an intersessional subsidiary body known as the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) which is based in Nairobi. The CPR is made up of all Member and Observer States to UN-Habitat.

12. Like the Governing Council, the CPR officers are made up of a Chair, three Vice-Chairs and a Rapporteur representing all the Regional Group of States at the UN. These officers make up the Bureau of the CPR. This Bureau is elected every two years. The current Bureau was elected on 2 December 2015 and will serve for two years, 2016 -2017. The composition of the current Bureau is as follows:

  • Chair: Rwanda (representing Africa Group)
  • Vice-Chair: Ukraine (representing Eastern European Group);
  • Vice-Chair: Colombia (representing Latin America and Caribbean Group)
  • Vice -Chair: United States of America( representing Western European and Other Group);
  • Rapporteur : China (representing Asia-Pacific Group)

13. The CPR meets at least four times a year to monitor progress in the implementation of the activities of the Organization.

14. The CPR has two Subcommittees namely, the Subcommittee on Finance and Administration and Subcommittee on Policy and Programme of Work. These Subcommittees review the work of the Organization prior for its submission to the CPR, including and where required for onward transmittal to the Governing Council.

15. In Addition, the CPR, during its 57th Regular meeting on held 12 June 2015 formally established the Working Group on Programme and Budget as decided by the twenty fifth session of the Governing Council through its resolution 25/7 on 25/7 ‘United Nations Human Settlements Programme governance reform’. The Governing Council at Its twenty sixth session decided to extend the mandate of the Working Group through its resolution 26/1 “United Nations Human Settlements Programme governance reform and extension of the mandate of the working group on programme and budget”. The Working Group consisting of 15 Members States with three (3) Member States each representing each of the five regional Groups as follows;

  1. Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, representing the African Group of States
  2. China, Japan, and Iraq representing the Asia Pacific Group of States:
  3. Hungary, Poland and Romania representing Eastern European Group of States:
  4. Argentina, Brazil and Mexico representing the Latin America and Caribbean Group of States:
  5. Germany, Norway and the United States of America representing Western European and other States:

16. During its sessions, the Governing Council communicates its instructions with respect activities to be undertaken by the Organization through resolutions. These contained in the resolutions require the Organizations to provide a Report to the subsequent Governing Council on the activities undertaken to implement the resolutions of the previous sessions.

17. In carrying out the activities required by the said resolutions as preparation for an up-coming Governing Council, the Secretariat consults and seeks guidance from the CPR through the CPR Subcommittees. These take the form of reports and briefings from the Organization to the CPR and its Subcommittees and discussions.

18 In the lead up to 26th session of the Governing Council held from 8 to 12 May 2017, the Organization was reporting to, discussing with and seeking guidance as appropriate from CPR Subcommittees and the CPR with respect to the work already carried to implement some of the resolutions that come from 25th session of the Governing Council held in April 2015

19. In the end and in preparation for the 26th session of the Governing Council, Reports were be prepared as has always been done on the status and outcome of the Resolutions adopted for instance during the 25th session of the Governing Council. It was mostly based upon these Reports that the 26th session of the Governing Council discussed and passed new resolutions.

20. During the recently concluded twenty-sixth session of the Governing Council there were nine (9) Resolutions that were passed as follows;

26/1. United Nations Human Settlements Programme governance reform and extension of the mandate of the working group on programme and budget

26/2. Enhancing the role of UN-Habitat in urban crisis response

26/3. Revised strategic plan for 2014–2019 and work programme and budget of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme for the biennium 2018–2019

26/4. Promoting safety in cities and human settlements

26/5. Regional technical support on sustainable housing and urban development by regional consultative structures

26/6. World Urban Forum

26/7. Accreditation

26/8. Promoting the effective implementation, follow-up to and review of the New Urban Agenda

26/9. Human settlements development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

21. It should be noted that, pursuant to the request by the General Assembly in its resolution 56/206, the Governing Council amended its rules of procedure in 2005 to provide for the effective participation of local authorities and other Habitat Agenda partners in its deliberations. The partners include parliamentarians, civil society organizations, local authorities, professionals and researchers, academia, foundations, women and youth groups, trade unions, indigenous peoples organizations, financial institutions, and private sector; as well as organizations of the United Nations system and Intergovernmental Organizations. These provisions are contained in rules 64 to 67 of the rules of procedure.

22. It should be further noted that, the Governing Council further amended its rules of procedure in 2015 during its twenty-fifth session under decision 25/ 1 “Amendment to rule 19 of the rules of procedure of the Governing Council” to provide for clearer and more effective procedure for replacing Members of its Bureau.

23. In terms of future meetings of the Governing Council, unless an extraordinary meeting is called to discuss an urgent matter which could not wait for the twenty-seventh session in 2019, it is not anticipated that the Governing Council will meet at a seating until 8 April 2019.

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