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Interview Of Brian Williams for the Albanian Daily News » 15/03/2017
1. Your Excellency, you have been in Albania for over a year now being the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in this Balkan country. In the first place, how do you find your position as UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative?
- It is a privilege to serve the United Nations which is the major foundation of the aspiration for peace based on human rights. Indeed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is relevant to everything that the United Nations does, from elections, to the rule of law, social inclusion, the right to a fair trial, even to social housing.These are exciting times to work at the United Nations as I believe that we are more relevant than ever, with human rights under fire in many places worldwide. The new Secretary General has focused on conflict prevention where one of the key principles is inclusiveness and the political power is not winner-take-all, but about guaranteeing a place in society for everyone.
- Albania is dramatically different from 1991. And the United Nations has evolved alongside the Albanian people, their economy, and their different governments through this incredibly dynamic period. It is needless to talk about the 1990`s, but especially since 2000 the UN has tried to match the growing sophistication of the environment that Albania finds itself in by focusing on policy advice and facilitating partnerships that can help advance critical reforms.
3. It`s well known and appreciated the contribution of UN bodies, particularly of the UNDP, to Albania and its people. I have had the privilege to be Albania`s focal point when the First Country Programme started to be implemented. How would you evaluate the progress of this country in this span of time? According to you, is there some good news, especially in the frame of improving the living conditions of the people?
- As I mentioned above Albania has enjoyed a high sustained rate of economic growth over the past several years and is a candidate country for EU accession. The country has made significant progress toward European Union integration, measured primarily in terms of meeting political criteria and establishing stable institutions that guarantee democracy, rule of law, human rights, protection of minorities, regional cooperation and good relations with enlargement countries and Member States.
- I think that the biggest overall issue is trust in institutions most dramatically seen in the judicial reform and widespread perceptions of corruption. The judicial reform, including the vetting process, is a top priority, for it is the institution that guarantees the basis for that trust across all other institutions, public and private.
- In October of last year we signed our new 5 year Programme with the Government of Albania called “Programme of Cooperation for Sustainable Development” which brings together 17 UN agencies and Programmes to help the country in its key national priorities. Eight of them are resident. The 17 participating agencies bring their distinct expertise and skills in the implementation of the programme.
- I have travelled across the country and it has been fantastic to meet people who have benefitted from our programmes, such as farmers affected by floods, Roma people who can`t have proper access to services, women who have been victims of domestic violence, juveniles in conflict with the law and I could go on and on. I am glad to confirm that the assistance provided by the UN has been beneficial to them. Of course our assistance is much larger.
- We have one single, joint annual report, which provides full transparency of how funds are spent. We have systems of internal and external audits. For example last year UNDP carried out a multi-year Assessment of Development Results. So there are globally controlled systems and regular audits. The International Aid Transparency Index in 2016 has rated UNDP as number 1 and UNICEF as number 3 in the world.
8. In 2015, world leaders including Albania adopted Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. What needs to be done in and outside of Albania to attain the goals and what is UN`s role? How is the UN helping Albania achieve this agenda by 2030?
- Agenda 2030 – the Sustainable Development Goals – marks a huge leap forward in terms of global commitment to making a difference to the billions of people currently sharing planet earth, and those who will inherit it in coming generations: In the first place it is universal. It means European countries are part of the agenda too. Secondly, it incorporates the environment. There will no longer development vs the environment. Thirdly, it takes into account the impact of governance – the rule of law – on development.
- I can frankly admit that Albania is a `hidden jewel` in Europe, and what has struck me are the people, their hospitality, the natural beauties of the country from south to north, east and west.
Link to the interview is here ...
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