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The Mandate Review Registry is a work in progress. It currently represents our best efforts to create a searchable registry in an extremely limited time period. If you come across any errors, please notify us by clicking on the Contact Us link in the top right corner of the main page to access the dedicated Mandate Review Registry phone and email hotlines.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.What is a mandate?

Mandates are not easily defined or quantifiable; a concrete legal definition of a mandate does not exist. Guided by the Summit Outcome Document and subsequent discussions, and in order to facilitate the current mandate review exercise, we have, however, identified an agreed upon a working definition: a mandate is a request or a direction for action by the UN Secretariat or other implementing entity, that derives from a resolution of the General Assembly or one of the other relevant organs.

As implied in the Summit Outcome Document and agreed upon in the informal consultations of the General Assembly, mandates in the registry are limited to those that are active or potentially active and that come from resolutions originating in the General Assembly, Security Council, and the Economic and Social Council. The Trusteeship Council does not currently have active mandates.

2.What is an active or potentially active mandate?

Because the review of mandates is being undertaken in order to "strengthen and update" the Organization as stated in the Summit Outcome Document, and not as a historical or archival record, the current registry includes only active or potentially active mandates. A mandate has been considered active or potentially active if it meets at least one of the following three criteria, as agreed upon by the Member States during the informal consultations of the General Assembly:

  • a) At least one United Nations department or entity has indicated that the mandate is currently being implemented
  • b) It receives an allocation in the budget [1]
  • c) It has appeared on an agenda of one or more of the principal organs between September 2000 and September 2005 [2]

For matters of convenience and relevance, the user can define the scope of the search by any one or more of the above attributes.

3.How do you interpret "older than five years"?

The Summit Outcome Document requests that the review be undertaken of mandates "older than five years." Because consultations in the General Assembly over the past few months were inconclusive on how to interpret this phrase, we have included, categorized and visually color-coded the following mandates:

  • a) Mandates originally adopted more than five years ago which have not been renewed within the last five years (appear in plain text in the registry)
  • b) Mandates originally adopted more than five years ago which have been renewed within the last five years (appear highlighted in light yellow in the registry)
  • c) Mandates originally adopted within the last five years (appear highlighted in light grey in the registry)

Those mandates originally adopted within the last 5 years (category "c") have been included for reference so that the membership may see, if so desired, the totality of mandates to enable a more thorough and complete analysis.

We have defined the "5 years" cut-off slightly differently for mandates from the General Assembly, from the ECOSOC, and from the Security Council, in order to match them with each principal organ's session calendar. As such, the "5 years" cut-off is:

  • 5 September 2000 for mandates from the General Assembly (the beginning of the 55th session)
  • 5 July 2000 for mandates from the ECOSOC (the beginning of the substantive session of 2000)
  • 1 January 2001 for mandates from the Security Council (the beginning of its 56th year)

4. What is a constitutive mandate?

A constitutive mandate establishes a new Secretariat or intergovernmental body, mechanism or process, or changes the terms of reference of an existing body, mechanism or process. If a subsequent mandate changes the terms of reference of a previous constitutive mandate, then it is considered constitutive itself. Subsequent mandates that simply renew or restate the constitutive mandate, however, are not considered constitutive themselves.

5. What is a recurrent mandate?

A recurrent mandate is a mandate that calls for recurrent action (e.g. reporting back to the General Assembly annually, biannually, every three months, etc) or on a continuous basis (e.g. tracking or supporting a peace process of a situation but with no end date stated). Recurring mandates may not appear again in future resolutions although they remain ongoing.

6. What is an issue area? How did you assign mandates to issue areas?

Issue areas are the thematic clusters of the work of the UN as identified in the GA annotated agenda A/59/251 or the Biennial programme plan and priorities for the period 2006-2007 (A/59/6 Rev.1). The nine issue areas are:

  • a) Maintenance of international peace and security
  • b) Promotion of sustained economic growth and sustainable development.
  • c) Development of Africa
  • d) Promotion of Human Rights
  • e) Effective coordination of Humanitarian Assistance Efforts
  • f) Promotion of Justice and International Law
  • g) Disarmament
  • h) Drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism
  • i) Organizational, administrative and other matters

Resolutions are linked to agenda items, which are in turn linked to issue areas. This allowed us to associate mandates with their corresponding issue areas. Issue areas are not necessarily linked to one specific principal organ, and often span two or three principal organs. For example, the issue area "Promotion of sustained economic growth and sustainable development" is covered by both the General Assembly and the ECOSOC, and mandates from relevant resolutions of both are categorized by this issue area.

7. What is a function? Can a mandate have more than one function? How do I search by function?

Mandates serve various functions. For example, some mandates request reports, while others request operational activities in the field. We have attempted to capture the array of functions that mandates may serve, and in the registry mandates have been categorized as such. Note that some mandates will be categorized by more than one function, as mandates can cut across functions. For convenience and to make the function parameter as effective as possible, efforts were made to limit to three the maximum amount of functions that a mandate is associated with. The user can search by function via the Specify function type advanced search screen. Please note that if you leave the function search blank, the registry will retrieve mandates of all functions.

8. What is geographic scope? How do you define its search parameters? Why are certain countries not listed?

The geographic scope search functionality enables users to look for specific regions or sub-regions (i.e. Africa, Northern Europe, etc.), specific countries/territories (i.e. Austria, Pacific Islands, etc.), or specific economic groupings of countries (Least developed countries, transition countries, etc.) that are explicitly and directly affected by a mandate. A mandate is considered "global" if most of or all countries are affected by it. In addition, all other mandates that either do not specifically or explicitly affect a particular country or region, or that relate to internal UN processes, have also been defaulted to be global.

The geographic scope represents only the scope of effect, not the scope of action. For example, a resolution on the status of Montserrat may be implemented by or acted upon in part by the United Kingdom, but the geographic scope is Montserrat alone and not the United Kingdom plus Montserrat.

The user can choose any number of combinations of Geographic scopes. Please note that the regional groupings are not an aggregation of the country groupings, but will only search for mandates where such groupings are specifically mentioned in the mandate (e.g. a mandate calling for "development in Africa" can be found by choosing the Africa region, while a mandate calling for "development in [a country in Africa]" can be found by choosing that country.

For matters of consistency and relevance, we have only included in the search menu geographic descriptors for those regions, countries and territories that have been identified in our universe of active mandates.

9. What are implementing entities, and how can I search by them?

The UN departments or entities that are responsible for the implementation of mandates are called implementing entities. Implementing entities have been indicated and identified with mandates in the registry for most of the recent mandates and for older mandates when possible. However, in the case of older mandates it is sometimes extremely difficult to provide information on the UN implementing entity of the past, as departments and other implementing entities have changed significantly over time and/or older resolutions did not make explicit reference to the implementing entities, but referred only to the UN Secretariat.

The registry enables users to search for mandates by implementing entity. Implementing entities are clustered in the search screen as defined by the UN System Chart (http://www.un.org/aboutun/chart.html). For example, Funds and Programmes are listed separately from Research and Training Institutes, but in alphabetical order within their cluster.

Users can search by more than one implementing entity, and such a search will retrieve mandates implemented by either of the implementing entities chosen. In addition, a mandate is considered to be implemented by "United Nations" when it makes reference to implementation by the United Nations as a whole or in a general sense.

Note that by selecting more general implementing entities, such as United Nations, as well as UN Funds and programmes, and Specialized agencies, only mandates that specifically mention those general entities will show up. As is the case with the Geographic scope search parameter, general implementing entities are not an aggregation of the specific entities listed below it.

10. How does the keyword search function work?

When performing a search by keyword, the Mandate Search Registry will retrieve mandates containing the keyword in either the Resolution title, the operative paragraph of the resolution, the issue area (if available), or the Agenda item. When searching for mandates by using keyword search, the user needs to enter either any part of the word or words or the exact phrase. The keyword search does not support "and/or" statements (also known as "Boolean operators"). For example, to search for mandates relating to the Decade to Roll Back Malaria, the user would need to type "Roll back Malaria," not "Roll back and Malaria." If a keyword search provides no results, it is recommended to make the keyword search less specific (e.g. simply type "Malaria" as opposed to "Roll back Malaria"). Similarly, the keyword function does allow for stemming (e.g. typing "Mala" will still retrieve all mandates containing the word "Malaria"). In the case that any typos are committed, however, the keyword search will most likely not provide any results.

11. How do I use the agenda item search function?

Most resolutions of the principal organs fall under an agenda item, and as such mandates can be linked to agenda items as well. The user can thus search for mandates by indicating one or more agenda items. Note that the Specify agenda item search menu page will only show those agenda items that are associated with mandates from the organs and of the issue areas selected by the user.

12. Now that I have performed a search and see the search results screen, what tools does the registry provide me with?

The registry is a potentially very powerful tool. It allows for visual comparisons across a range of categorizations and attributes of mandates in order to help the user identify potential duplications, gaps, or opportunities for programmatic shifts. It also allows for printing, as well as exporting to database programs like Microsoft Excel where statistical analyses can be performed. As a first step, the registry allows users to generate a list of mandates they would like to examine and then provides the mandate data on those mandates.

The real power of the registry is that it is an interactive and iterative tool, allowing the user to further hone or broaden the universe of mandates by adding or removing search parameters. In addition, once the user has performed a search, he or she can further sort the results by any of the parameters listed in the search results page, except for function, by clicking on the column header. For example, the user can sort mandates by their date of adoption by clicking on the column header Date of adoption. Similarly, if after performing a search the user wishes to gather all mandates of the same agenda item together, he or she simply needs to click on the column header Agenda item and mandate.

As the user becomes more comfortable with using the registry, he or she will be able to adapt its tools according to his or her needs. This is the precise reason why an online, interactive registry has been provided to the membership, as opposed to a printed annex of the report. In the long-run, and if resources are provided for the registry's continued maintenance and development, it is hoped that the Secretariat will be able to add additional helpful information, search capabilities, and analytical functions.

13. How can I print my search results?

The user has various options for printing the records of mandates. From the Search Results Page, the user can choose to print either the summary table of mandates from that search, or the complete mandate details for the results of the search. In order to print the details of a single mandate only, the user can go to the Mandate Details Page and print from there.

Please remember that the registry is a "living" tool, and that it may be updated within the coming weeks as the Secretariat receives feedback. As such, it is recommended that Member States use the on-line registry interface whenever possible to ensure that they have the most up-to-date information.

14. There is a factual error in one of the mandates listed, or the categorization is incorrect. Where can I report this error, and will it be fixed? Similarly, if I have any comments for making the registry more user-friendly or relevant, whom should I tell?

The Mandate Review Registry is a work in progress. It currently represents our best efforts to create a searchable registry in an extremely limited time period. We have assembled, categorized, researched and analysed 1000s of mandates and reworked the data into a new layout and format. During this process, it is possible that we may have missed some mandates, made some factual errors or produced some inconsistencies. If this is the case, please notify us. Similarly, the Secretariat is very interested in your feedback on the Mandate Search Engine. Therefore, please feel free to contact us with any general or specific questions, comments and/or recommendations that you may have. For delegates who wish to contact the Secretariat directly, this can be done by either calling our specifically provided hotline phone number or by emailing us at our hotline email address. The hotline information can be found in 'Contact Us' on the Mandate Search Engine Home page. Please be advised that due to limited resources, the hotline phone number will be available only for the first two weeks after the launch of the website, on 30 March 2006. The email hotline will be operational for a longer period of time.

15. Will there be additional information added to the registry in the future? Will it be updated and enhanced?

As has been the case with the implementation of many other mandates, the implementation of the mandate issued in the Summit Outcome Document requesting the Secretariat to facilitate the current review has been carried out almost entirely out of existing resources and staff. Should the Member States decide that this registry is a useful tool that should be maintained beyond its release, updated and further developed, the Secretariat will be available to undertake this initiative, given that the proper resources are provided. Future updates and developments of the registry could include adding mandates as more are adopted, providing additional information on mandates, including mandates from decisions, conclusions, and subsidiary bodies, and improving the registry's search capacity, statistical capabilities or user-friendliness.

1. This includes those legislative mandates listed in the biennial programme plan and priorities for the period 2006-2007, A/59/6 Rev.1 as well as documents on the peacekeeping budget. [Back to text]

2. The agendas and, where necessary, the annotated agendas for the General Assembly and ECOSOC were used for mandates from those organs during the last five years. For the Security Council, the "Report of the Security Council" from the last five years was used. [Back to text]