The Resident Coordinator Office

The Secretary-General’s reform process initiated in 1997 stressed the need to achieve a greater unity of purpose and coherence in country-level operations of the UN system, highlighting the need to strengthen the Resident Coordinator System and promoting a more united UN presence at the country level.

The Resident Coordinator system (RC system) encompasses all organizations of the United Nations system dealing with operational activities for development, regardless of their formal presence in the country. The RC system aims to bring together the different UN agencies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operational activities at the country level. Resident Coordinators lead UN country teams in more than 130 countries and are the designated representatives of the Secretary-General for development operations. Working closely with national governments, Resident Coordinators and country teams advocate the interests and mandates of the UN drawing on the support and guidance of the entire UN family.

There are 17 UN agencies and programmes represented in South Africa with offices in Pretoria. The Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the International Finance Corporation, also have offices in Gauteng. Most of the UN agencies are housed in the UN House located in Pretoria. Substantially, three Thematic Interagency groups (HIV/AIDS, Integrated Sustainable Rural Development and Regional Integration) ensure coordination.

In South Africa, the Resident Coordinator is the head of the United Nations and representative of the UN Secretary-General. She facilitates and coordinates the United Nations operational activities in South Africa.

Specific Duties and Responsibilities of the Resident Coordinator

1) Advocacy for the United Nations System:

  • Speak to and support the advancement of United Nations system objectives and mandates
  • Follow-up to United Nations global conferences
  • Information activities

2) Operational Coordination:

  • Support to national coordination, including the country strategy note
  • United Nations Development Assistance Framework (including the common country assessment and the common database)
  • Establish Field-level committee
  • Foster the Establishment of Inter-agency thematic groups

3) Management Coordination:

  • United Nations House and common services
  • Team-Building and Inter-Agency Training
  • Representation of Organizations of the UN system without field representation
  • Security

4) Humanitarian and Emergency Assistance

5) Annual Reporting, Appraisal and Hiatus Arrangements:

  • Annual Reporting, including the annual work plan
  • Resident Coordinator and country team performance appraisal
  • Hiatus Arrangements

The Resident Coordinator in South Africa

Nardos Bekele-Thomas is currently the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations (UN) and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in South Africa.

Prior to this, she served (2016-2017) as the Senior Director of the Office of the Secretary-General, in charge of the overall management of the Office of the Secretary-General, the Office of the Chef de Cabinet, and that of the Deputy Secretary-General.  Previously, she was the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Republic of Kenya.  She also served as UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Republic of Benin from November 2008 to September 2013.

Prior to her appointment by the UN Secretary-General as Resident Coordinator and as Resident Representative by the UNDP Administrator, in Kenya and Benin, she served for over four years in Kenya as Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP with responsibility for the formulation and implementation of UNDP programme of assistance to the Republic of Kenya.  

Over the last three decades, Ms. Bekele-Thomas has also lived and served in various capacities in Ethiopia (1974-1982), New York, USA (1983-1987 and 1998-2004), India (1987-88), Bhutan (1988-1989), Comoros Islands (1989-1990), Republic of Benin (l990-1993) and Uganda (1994-1998), promoting human development anchored on the principles of economic, social and political rights for all. Before her assignment to Kenya, Ms. Bekele-Thomas served in New York as Country Programme Adviser for East and Central Africa in the Regional Bureau for Africa of UNDP (2001-2004).

Ms. Bekele-Thomas holds a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. Candidate Certificate in Economic Development, Monetary Economics and Econometrics from New York University (NYU).  She is the author of several papers and monographs and she is fully bilingual in French and English.

The Resident Coordinator Office

Nardos Bekele-Thomas

Nardos Bekele-Thomas

Resident Coordinator