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UN Development

The United Nations Development Programme is the UN’s global development network. The
organisation mandate is to advocate for change, as well as connecting countries to the
knowledge, resources and experience necessary to create… Since the introduction of the
Millennium Development Goals in 2000, the UNDP has coordinated its efforts to cut poverty
in half by 2015. Other key areas include democratic governance, poverty reduction, crisis
prevention and recovery, environment and energy and HIV/AIDS.
The UNDP currently operates in 166 countries. The UNDP consists of an executive board
made up of 36 countries, who serve on a rotating basis.

Committee Topics
Topic A: The responsibilities of multinational
corporations acting in developing countries
Background and developments
Non-state actors, in particular multinational corporations (MNCs), are playing an increasing
role in the world, and in determining the livelihoods and welfare of its people. However,
while the legal and moral norms and responsibilities attached to governments is reasonably
well developed, those surrounding MNCs still remain largely ill-defined and undertapped.
Business, as a primary agent driving globalization, can help ensure that markets,
commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies
everywhere. At the same time, with MNCs operating larger than the economies of some the
states, political and economic pull, and what some label as a power extending beyond the
state, the potential for abuse is great. Therefore there is an outstanding need to develop
legal and moral norms to which they are held accountable.
Currently no international treaty exists regulating behaviour. While developments have
been made in terms of identifying the responsibilities of these organisations, these
agreements either remain non-binding or fail to move out of the committee stages.
In 1990 movements were made for the UN to adopt a Code of Conduct on Transnational
Corporations. The code was produced by the Intergovernmental Working Group on a Code
of Conduct and the (now decommissioned) Commission on Transnational Corporations, by
request of the Economic and Social Council. It outlined behavioural guidelines, in addition to
attempting to facilitate broader state cooperation on issues relating to MNCs. However, due
to the ambition of the project, difficulty over determining its status (legally binding or
voluntary), and external factors such as the Cold War, the code was never adopted and the
draft was abandoned.
The Global Compact program, launched in 2000, has proven to be more successful. The
project attempts to align the interests of the global community with international business
with ten “universally accepted principles” in the areas of human rights, labour, environment
and anti-corruption. It is the world's largest corporate citizenship initiative, and spans a
large number of high-profile businesses. However, as a voluntary project, the Global
Compact has faced criticism over its inability to hold corporations accountable. In addition,
critics argue that it is subject to misuse and “bluewashing” – an excuse to oppose any
binding international regulation and a public relations stunt.
Similar guidelines have been produced by other international bodies, including the
International Labour Organisation’s Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning
Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, and the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational
Enterprises, as well as by national governments, nongovernment organisations and other
More recently, in 2003, the Human Rights Commission's Sub-Commission on the Promotion
and Protection of Human Rights produced and adopted the Norms on the Responsibilities of
Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights.
The document outlines the responsibilities of MNCs in terms of human and labour rights, in
addition to issues of corruption, operating in states in conflict. Seen as the first authoritive
guide to corporate social responsibility, it represented the first comprehensive set of
international human rights norms explicitly applied to MNCs and other business entities.
Although considered by the Human Rights Commission in 2004, it failed to be adopted and
therefore has no official bearing over MNCs.
Currently, under the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, there exists a
mandated Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights and
Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises. In 2005, the Special
Representative presented a policy framework for business and human rights, to ‘protect,
respect and remedy’. In October 2009, at the Consultation on Operationalising the
Framework for Business and Human Rights, the results of which will shortly be presented to
the Human Rights Council.
A significant gap remains, particularly in the context of MNCs and developing countries.
Despite corporate codes of conduct and voluntary initiatives, significant exploitation
remains. Globalisation, while recognised by the UNDP as presenting enormous potential to
advance human development, has resulting in increasing inequality and disadvantage.

Key issues for debate
• How the UN and its member states can best hold MNCs to account and the extent of this
• Where the balance lies in terms of the contribution MNCs make to developing nations
and the livelihoods of its people: are MNCs a force for good?
• Whether the provisions put forward in other instruments were sufficient, and how they
can be improved upon to better suit a development agenda.
• What provisions should be emphasised: should responsibilities be focused around
human rights or other mechanisms; are they principle based or do they require more
significant action and implementation in terms of programs and community
• What actions can be taken by MNCs in terms of the Millennium Development Goals,
promoting equality, democratic governance (anti-corruption), foreign direct investment
and integration into the global economic system. Where should the line be drawn
between responsibilities and ethical actions?
• Whether a set of universal, legally binding guidelines is the best method of securing the
good behaviour of MNCs; voluntary action, the market and consumer pressure is more
effective; or both.
• If a code of conduct is to be developed: how and by whom?

Documents and instruments
1990, UN Code of Conduct on Transnational Corporations (draft)
United Nations Global Compact [online],
Commission on Human Rights Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human
Rights. 2003, Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and
other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights,
E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/12/Rev.2 [online],
International Labour Organisation. 2001, Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning
Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy [online],
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. 2000, Guidelines for
Multinational Enterprises [online],,3343,en_2649_34889_2397532_1_1_1_1,00.html

Other resources
At a Glance: Comparing the Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations
and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights with the Draft United
Nations Code of Conduct on Transnational Corporations [online],
Hillemanns, C. F. 2003, ‘UN Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and
Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights’, German Law Journal vol.
4, no. 10, pp. 1065-1080 [online],
UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Business and Human Rights. Business
and Human Rights Resource Centre [online],
Assessment of topic
Like Topic B, Topic A is not the best fit in terms of the UNDP’s mandate. However, the
question raises important questions in terms of the responsibilities of MNCs to countries
and their human development. Some difficulty might arise in terms of drawing a line
between responsibilities and principles and direct action, as well as the mandate of the
committee. Directors will need to be clear that a code of conduct is just one of multiple
measures that can be taken, and than a more comprehensive approach and assessment is
needed. It might be worth considering whether we want to give representation to MNCs in
the committee. Although, I feel that debate can operate sufficiently without this.

Topic B: Achieving the goals of the “Cities Without
Slums” initiative
Definition and characteristics
According to the UN Human Settlers Programme (UN-HABITAT), over 1 billion people
worldwide live in slums. By the year 2030, this figure is expected to double if no firm or
concrete actions are taken. Slums have come to be the most visible expression of urban
poverty in the developing world.
UN-HABIT describes a slum in its simplest form using the Webster definition: “a heavily
populated urban area characterised by substandard housing and squalor”. Slums can be
divided into two main categories. As outlined in UN-HABITAT’s The Challenge of Slums:
Global Report on Human Settlements, they are:
1. Slums of hope: ‘progressing’ settlements characterised by new, normally self-built
structures, usually illegal (e.g. squatters) that are in, or have recently been through,
a process of development, consolidation and improvement; and
2. Slums of despair: ‘declining’ neighbourhoods, in which environmental conditions and
domestic services are undergoing a process of degeneration.
However, settling on a comprehensive definition of slums is complex. The term ‘slum’ is a
catch-all phrase without a universal, objective definition. The general definition
encompasses a variety of living patterns and environments, dependent on the
neighbourhood, city and nation; and stretches social, economic, legal and physical
dimensions, without clear distinction.
As a result there has been a recent push for a more quantitative definition of slums. UN-
HABITAT in its Challenge of Slums report identifies seven common characteristics. In
addition, a 2002 UN Expert Group Meeting proposed an international operational definition
of slums based on the following features: inadequate access to safe water; inadequate
access to sanitation and other infra-structure; poor structural quality of housing;
overcrowding; and insecure residential status. This has since been used to monitor the
progress of states toward MDG Target 11.
The lack of standard, operational definitions means that measuring and monitoring slums
(and any progress) is particularly difficult. Further issues are faced due to a lack of available
data or capacity to measure data in the first place. This is especially problematic when
measuring indicators for agreements such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
While four key criteria have been developed for this purpose, data problems ensue.
“Cities Without Slums” initiative
The “Cities Without Slums” initiative was developed in 1999 by the Cities Alliance
organisation. In 2000 “Cities Without Slums” was endorsed by UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, and supported in the UN Millennium Declaration (A/RES/55/2), declaring “by 2020,
to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers
as proposed in the "Cities Without Slums" initiative”. The program was subsequently
incorporated into the Millennium Development Goals as Goal 7, Target 11, with the full
support of the World Bank and UN-HABITAT. It reads: “by 2020, to have achieved a
significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers”, in proportion to
households with access to secure tenure.
“Cities Without Slums” is an initiative that falls within the mandate of UN-HABITAT, and
forms a significant component of its Good Governance and Security of Tenure programs.
The intention of “Cities Without Slums” is to strengthen institutions and partnerships for
slum-upgrading initiatives at the citywide level, with decision-making that is inclusive of the
organizations of slum dwellers and supporting non-governmental organizations. The body is
responsible for assisting nations monitor and attain the target. However, most work so far
seems to conceptualising and reporting the problem, although this is an important first
step. Individual governments must rely on their own actions, without any combined effort
on the part of the international community.
Despite some proclaimed success, critics argue that rather than translating into sustainable
improvement in the lives of slum dwellers, the program results in slum eradication and
elimination, delivering mass evictions (whether legal or not) and little resolution of the
problem. They argue that governments have failed to distinguish between the normative
title of the program and the operational target set down in the MDGs, opting for quick fix
options rather than making progress on addressing underlying issues linked to slum
propagation. Instead, occupants are disempowered, displaced, and the problems that
existed in the slum communities still remain.
Furthermore, questions have been posed as to whether target-setting is an appropriate
means of responding to slums. These arguments highlight the unrealistic nature of the
goals established, given the growing rate of slums, and also emphasise that the formation
of new slums merely means forcing poverty into other forms of inadequate housing, as yet
not labelled slums, suggesting that a more appropriate outcome than eradication of slums
may be governance structures and approaches at the country and city levels that recognize
and manage today's and future informal settlements. Rather than “Cities Without Slums”
the campaign should be “Cities Recognising Slums”.
Ultimately, progress towards achieving MDG Target 11 has been incremental. Although the
proportion of people living in slums was reduced from 50% in the 1990s to 36% in 2005,
population increases mean that this number is still higher than ever before. As the 2009
Millennium Development Goal Report notes, “though general improvements have been
made in slums worldwide, the current housing and energy crisis may slow progress in the
developing regions and, in some regions, slow further trends”.

Key points of debate
• Whether the “Cities Without Slums” has been a successful initiative so far.
• Determining the success of particular national programs versus others.
• Whether the definition and characteristics associated with the term ‘slums’ is sufficient.
• Whether the focus of “Cities Without Slums” needs rethinking.
• Moving towards practical implementation of strategies: using data to create change and
creating systems to allow this.
• Determining what kind of support is necessary for the MDG to be better achieved.
• Whether a more unified international effort should occur or whether context-specific
initiatives should take priority. Whether a middle-ground exists?

Documents and instruments
2000, UN Millennium Declaration (A/RES/55/2)
2000, Millennium Development Goals
Cities Alliance organisation,
UNDP. 2005, UNDP Practice Note: Monitoring Country Progress Towards MDG7 – Ensuring
Environmental Sustainability [online[,
UN-HABITAT. 2003, The Challenge of Slums: Global Report on Human Settlement
UN-HABITAT. 2003, Guide to Monitoring Target 11: Improving the Lives of 100 Million Slum
UN-HABITAT. 2003, Slums of the World: The Face of Urban Poverty in the New Millennium?
United Nations. 2009, Millennium Development Goals Report [online],

Other resources
Huchzermeyer, M. 2007, ‘Elimination of Poor in KwaZulu Natal’, Pambazuka News, 311
Huchzermeyer, M. 2006, ‘How to Improve the Lives of 100 Million Slum Dwellers by 2020’,
UN Chronicle [online],

Assessment of topic
This is an interesting and challenging topic, with a lot of complexity and scope. Although
the mandate largely falls to UN-HABITAT, it is not an irrelevant topic for the UNDP.
However, emphasis should be placed on creating greater action and partnerships on fixing
slums, in addition to assessing the viability and applicability of the actual “Cities Without
Slums” initiative.

Topic C: Building digital bridges: Information and
communication technology for development
The global digital divide is a term that describes the disparity of access to information and
communication technologies (ICT), such as the Internet, that often exists between
developing and developed nations. It encompasses economic, educational and social
components. The Internet has been hailed as the “great equaliser” for its enormous
potential to provide information and advancement to even the most remote communities,
yet this has failed to eventuate. Nelson Mandela noted that, “in the twenty-first century, the
capacity to communicate will almost certainly be a key human right. Eliminating the
distinction between the information-rich and information-poor is also critical to eliminating
economic and other inequalities between North and South, and to improve the life of all
Increasingly, development focused organisations, including the World Bank and UNDP, are
recognising the important role that ICT can play in social-economic development.
Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) refers to applications
of information technology in order to reduce poverty and enable development. These
strategies are diverse, with input from international institutions, companies, governments,
non-government organisations and even virtual organisations, ranging from One Laptop per
Child to the International Institute for Communication and Development. According to the
UNDP, projects aim address one or more of the following issues.
• Access and infrastructure
• Capacity building
• e-Governance and e-Government
• Environment and Agriculture
• Free and open source software
• Gender and ICT
• Health and medicine
• Policy and social analyses
• Technical innovation for development
However, despite some progress, significant problems remain. Issues such as low computer
literacy, lack of infrastructure, isolation of communities, and a lack of means to ensure
maintenance means that implementing projects is often costly and unsustainable.
Additionally, simple factors such as general illiteracy of populations (making text-based
interfaces problematic), hunger (creating low concentration) and corruption present
barriers to new technologies being embraced and used. Critics also argue that projects are
too costly to apply on a large scale and therefore have minimal impact. Additonally, there is
risk of cultural imperialism and adverse environmental impacts.
In light of this, initiatives such as the World Bank’s Information for Development Program
(infoDev) have published a List of Lessons Learned, and are working to mainstream ICT into
the Millennium Development Goals. There is still great potential for change, however
approaches need to be better integrated and supported. Partnerships between public,
private and informal sectors and the target audience is crucial in this regard.

UNDP has explicitly recognized the key role that ICT can play in the fight against global
poverty and as an effective tool in helping to achieve the MDGs. In order to achieve this,
the UNDP has identified, in consultation with developing country stakeholders, five strategic
areas for ICT4D related interventions, including:
• National ICT for Development Strategies
• Capacity development through strategy implementation
• E-governance to promote citizen participation and government transparency
• Bottom-up ICTD initiatives to support civil society and SMMEs
• National awareness and stakeholder campaigns
Since 1992, UNDP has made significant contributions in ICTD. It has gained substantial on
the ground expertise and knowledge through global initiatives such as the Sustainable
Development Networking Programme (SDNP), the Small Islands Developing States Network
(SIDSNet) and the Cisco-UNDP Network Academies programme for 24 LDCs; regional
initiatives such as the Asia Pacific Development Internet Programme (APDIP) and the
Internet Initiative for Africa (IIA); and national programmes such as Ukraine's FreeNet,
Egypt's Community Access Centers and Cameroon's SchoolNets.
The World Summit on the Information Society was established with paired conferences in
Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005, aimed at bridging the digital divide and spreading the
Internet in the developing world. Documents from these summits outline the agenda and
plan of action not just to use ICT for development purposes, but also to build a global
information society. Since this, under the mandate of the UN’s ECOSOC, further
conferences continue to occur. At it’s latest meeting in 2009, the UNDP highlighted the
need for ICT in achieving the MDGs, and the need for further innovation and problem

Key points of debate
• Whether resources should be devoted to digital inclusion, when there are potentially
more pressing issues such as food, water and health.
• Overcoming ‘costs’ such as financing, information literacy, design, institutional and
political access, which require addressing if digital bridges are to be successful and
• Overcoming existing problems programs face.
• Whether ICT initiatives should be mainstreamed into the Millennium Development Goals.
• The interplay of human rights and access to ICT.

Key documents and instruments
WSIS. 2005, Tunis Agenda for the Information Society [online],
WSIS. 2003, Plan of Action [online],
UNDP. Information and Community Technologies for Poverty Alleviation [online],

Other resources
UN Development Program. Asia-Pacific Development Information Program, ICTD Case
Studies [online],
UN Development Program Information and Communication Technologies for Development
World Bank. infoDev [online],

Assessment of topic
This is an interesting and viable topic if its scope is broadened to wider ICT developments
and initiatives than simply Broadband and the Internet. Key areas worth focusing on are
using ICT to achieve the MDGs, and human rights questions.

Alternate Topic Proposals
Possible alternate topics could focus on food or water security. However, food security was
a topic for the Third GA at AMUNC 2009, and water scarcity is a proposed crisis issue for the
Security Council. Despite this, there is room to develop these in a UNDP framework. Such
topics would also work well for the UNEP.

Suggested Countries
Democratic Republic of Congo
Russian Federation
South Africa
United Kingdom
United States