Through UN programs and funds, Romania receives considerable technical and financial assistance in the following fields of national relevance: environmental protection, population issues, human rights, health, agriculture, industry, the strengthening of democratic institutions. The value of these projects significantly exceeds Romania’s financial obligations towards the UN.
In Romania, 11 UN agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNESCO-CEPES, UNHCR, UNAIDS, WHO, ILO, UNIC, WB, IMF) work together with national partners to reduce poverty, protect the environment, fight disease and promote human rights. In support of these national development priorities, the UN has formulated the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), which provides a collective, coherent and integrated UN system response to national priorities, including the achievement, in Romania, of the Millennium Development Goals.
The national political consensus on reform and joint effort toward the EU accession has provided good opportunities for the UN agencies to help the Romanian Government in key activity areas, such as employment generation, health, minority integration, equal opportunity access, human rights and local government capacity building. In recent years, UN system programs have been increasingly focusing on supporting Romania to further the process of integration into the EU and benefit from its programs for development and cooperation.
The UN Agencies in Romania
The UN Information Center (UNIC) was the first UN institution to open an office in Romania, in June 1970. UNIC offers informative materials regarding UN goals and activities in the political, economic, social and humanitarian fields. The center represents both the active connection between the UN and mass media, educational institutions and non-governmental organizations, as well as the main source of public information about the UN system.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) opened its Romanian office in 1971. In its first years of activity, UNDP offered technical assistance, organized training programs abroad for Romanian experts and acquired Western equipment. After 1989, UNDP was able to assume a more dynamic role and became a real partner of the Romanian Government in its new development programs. The National Program for Cooperation, from the 2005 – 2009 period, focused on three fields of action: democratic governing and decentralized development, economic and social development, the creation of a favorable environment for durable development.
The UNESCO European Centre for Higher Education/Centre Européen pour l'Enseignement Supérieur (CEPES) began its activity on September 21st 1972. The Romanian government had invited UNESCO, in 1970, to open, in Bucharest, a center dedicated to the promotion of international cooperation in the field of higher education, especially collaboration between Western and Eastern Europe. UNESCO-CEPES has focused its activities on policy-making and implementation in the field of higher education, legislative educational reforms, the ensuring of academic quality and accreditation, the recognition of academic and professional qualifications, new approaches of institutional and governmental management, university autonomy and academic freedom, the status and qualification of professors, relationships between universities and patronages, the use of new informative technologies, transnational education.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) co-signed, in 2005, with the Romanian Government, the Romanian Program Action Plan, which provided the basis of collaboration for the following five years, the main fields of action being: population and health, reproductive health, equality of chances between men and women. The main objectives are aimed at the strengthening of the capacity of governmental institutions to elaborate and effectively implement policies regarding population, family violence and human trafficking. Several additional goals are considered, including an increase in population access to quality family planning and pre and post birth care services, as well as the improvement of youth access to education and to friendly services regarding reproductive and sexual health, with an accent on the prevention of ITS and HIV/AIDS.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is represented in Romania since 1991. UNHCR has supported the efforts of the Romanian Government to transform the Romanian asylum system into an important component of Romania’s preparation for accession to the European Union. UNHCR objectives in Romania are: the development of the national asylum system and of the refugee protection regime, according to European and international standards; the assistance of asylum seekers and refugees; the promotion of durable solutions to the problems of refugees; the prevention and reduction of statelesness cases. The UNHCR cooperation fields are: access to the asylum-seeking procedure, the upholding of the non-return principle, continuous improvement of procedural quality for the determining of refugee status in Romania, the improvement of welcoming conditions for asylum-seekers and of housing for refugees, family reunification, the integration of refugees in the Romanian society and their access to Romanian citizenship, as well as other issues: voluntary return (when conditions in the country of origin allow it), settlement in a third country (if no other solution is possible, and only in certain situations). Specific activities include: technical assistance, protection and assistance for asylum seekers and refugees. UNHCR devotes special attention to the following aspects in the assistance of asylum seekers and refugees: welcoming/housing conditions, access to education, employment, health services, social assistance and legal counseling.
The Romanian Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) was founded in 1990. Since then, it has implemented the WHO Eurohealth Program, consisting of three phases: the emergency phase, WHO preventing a crisis of basic medication supply; a short term phase, offering assistance to the Romanian Government in the transformation of health policies in national programs in priority fields, and a long-term phase, offering assistance to the Government in the development of national health policies according to the principle Health for All. This consultative support was offered for the Health Reform, the development of health policies, the organization and management of the health system, for decentralization and the development of primary services of medical assistance and of educational institutions for pubic health.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) opened its Romanian office in 1991, initially developing two biannual emergency programs. The following Country Program (1995-1999) was aimed at providing assistance to families to cope with the difficulties caused by the transition period. Ever since, UNICEF has contributed to the construction of a solid base for the reform of the national system of child protection. At present, the UNICEF Romanian office has four priorities: the ensuring of primary education, the promotion of child development and the protection from disease and deficiencies, the promotion of child rights. The Romanian UNICEF action plan has four components: monitoring of child rights, health (food and health policies and services) and education.
The International Monetary Fund (FMI) opened its Romanian office in 1991, Romania being a member of the IMF since December 15th, 1972. Romania has utilized IMF resources eight times up to the present day, to support governmental financial programs. The key stabilizing policies regard the reduction of state budget deficit, the strengthening of the financial status of state industrial units through the control of energy prices and of salaries, as well as credit-limiting measures. In the course of its presence in Romania, the IMF has also offered specialized training.
The World Bank opened its Romanian office in 1992, Romania being a member of the World Bank since December 15th 1972. The first loan was awarded to Romania in June 1974, and up to the present day, the World Bank has financed over 40 operations in our country, indicating a total commitment of almost 5 billion dollars. The investment operations and development policies loans (DPLs) are focused on three main domains: the promotion of the private sector and the development of efficient markets – including the finalizing of the privatization agenda, the improvement of infrastructure services, the creation of a business environment favorable to investment and economic growth and the strengthening of labor market efficiency – strengthening of key public institutions, and improvement of government through the public service reform, the improvement of public spending and responsibility management, the implementation of an anti-corruption strategy and the justice reform, the building of human capital and the improvement of social protection through an improvement of social services in the field of health and education; the improvement of the pension system. In addition, the programs for rural development and poverty reduction are aimed at the improvement of rural infrastructure, including irrigation systems, social services and rural financing system, as well as improvement of agricultural and forest productivity.
The Bucharest Office of the International Labor Organization (ILO) opened in 1992. Romania has been a member of the organization from its creation in 1919. Since then, the ILO has contributed to the improvement of Romanian labor legislation, on the basis of international labor standards, while offering technical assistance to tripartite national constituents. In addition, the ILO has contributed technical assistance to the implementing of various projects in Romania, such as the modernizing of employment services and the prevention of alcohol and drug consumption at the work place. The organization is presently involved in the common effort of eliminating child exploitation. The ILO has also organized a series of seminars and conferences on themes such as labor standards, inspection systems, tripartite systems, union representation, labor conflict resolution, wage policies and child exploitation.
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) opened its Romanian office in August 1997. Its objective is to assist the Romanian Government with the implementation of its national strategy of counteracting the spread of HIV/AIDS and the development of local capacities of prevention of HIV infection. UNAIDS is also involved in research activities and tries to create networks of communication and information exchange to facilitate the common efforts of epidemic prevention and resolution. The current UNAIDS activities in Romania focus on support for strategic planning in the field of HIV/AIDS and on the prevention of HIV spread among vulnerable categories.
All UN funds, programs and specialized agencies in Romania cooperate with the UN Resident Coordinator and its office to gain assistance in the harmonizing of programs and coordination of activities. Operational harmonization is based on the comparative advantages offered in specific arias of expertise by every UN agency or program, and includes information exchange, common activity planning, common approaches of general interest topics, as well as the harmonizing of program cycles.
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