There is an absence of coordination at the national level in regard to the policies and programmes of United Nations organizations. Donor can complicate policy making because they deal directly with individual spending ministries. This can lead to duplication of effort and impede central control of the host country's budget. Donor representatives may also be under pressure from their own organizations to lend and disburse which may lead them to seek special treatment, for example through the separation of counterpart funds from the budget or exempting projects from the normal procedural checks. The weakness and rareness of such policy coordination in many governments has led not only to divergent positions being taken by the representatives of the same country in different organizations but also not infrequently to divergent decisions actually being reached by those organizations themselves.
Poor coordination in respect of international activities in certain fields - one of which is the application of science and technology - usually reflects poor coordination on those subjects at the national level. Again, proliferation and overlapping of programme activities (which is perhaps more obvious at the national and regional levels than at the global level) arise because, in so many broad fields, different ministries and divisions are involved in each country; and initiatives varying slightly in approach but having very similar objectives can well be launched and carried through simultaneously by two or more international agencies. For example, the UN regional and community development programme is closely related to UNESCO's work on functional literacy, FAO's agricultural extension work, aspects of the public health work of WHO and aspects of the ILO programme on handicrafts and cottage industries. UNESCO's early work on fundamental education and that of the UN on community development, each with its separate antecedents, were found to be so similar in aim that they were eventually merged under arrangements proposed by the secretariats concerned.
Most countries still lack systematic arrangements even for keeping the activities of international organizations under central review, let alone for developing coordinated positions on issues coming before them. Nothing approaching full coherence and coordination in the UN system will occur so long as this situation prevails.