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Published:April 3rd, 2006 14:36 EST
UN Deputy Secretary-General the United Nations Budget Committee to Back a Sweeping Set of Reforms

UN Deputy Secretary-General the United Nations Budget Committee to Back a Sweeping Set of Reforms

By SOP newswire

Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown today urged the United Nations budget committee to back a sweeping set of reforms put forward by Secretary-General Kofi Annan last month to keep step with the shift at the Organization from bureaucratic tasks to life-saving work in the field.

“The underlying principle and idea that drives this report (is) that of an Organization which has outgrown its existing business model,” he told the General Assembly’s Administrative and Budgetary (Fifth) Committee in New York.

“We needed to lay out – so that we can all sign off on it – the idea that today’s UN is a much more complex, much more diverse, much more fast-moving organization than the UN of the past and despite the heroic efforts of our staff all around the world to deliver on the new demands on they are encumbered by institutional arrangements, by human resource policies by financial regulations, by a lack of investment in field commissions and in management development or IT systems,” he said.

“What we are saying here is if you would allow the Secretariat the tools and means to deliver on the responsibilities you’ve tasked it with, it will allow us in return to offer you a much better set of tools to judge our performance by and to hold us accountable for,” Mr. Malloch Brown told delegates.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented the proposals last month in a report entitled “Investing in the United Nations: For a Stronger Organization Worldwide,” which focuses on ensuring efficiency and accountability in a way that reflects the fact that more than 70 per cent of the $10 billion annual budget now relates to peacekeeping and other field operations, up from around 50 per cent of a $4.5 billion budget ten years ago.

In the 16 years since the cold war ended, the Organization has taken on more than twice as many new peacekeeping missions as in the previous 44 years and spending on peacekeeping has quadrupled. Over half of its 30,000 civilian staff now serve in the field - not only in peacekeeping, but also in humanitarian relief, criminal justice, human rights monitoring, supporting national elections, and in the battle against drugs and crime.

The proposals encompass a revamped version of how to recruit, contract, train, assign and compensate staff, with an emphasis on bringing conditions for field-based personnel up to par with those at other UN agencies operating in the field. This will include proposals for converting 2,500 existing short-term peacekeeping positions into a new flexible and mobile core of dedicated specialists who can be deployed rapidly in urgent peacekeeping and special political missions.

The report proposes significant investment to overhaul the Organization's information and communications infrastructure by replacing current antiquated, fragmented technology systems with an integrated global platform that should be led by a dedicated Chief Information Technology Officer.

Separately, the report identifies significant opportunities to realize cost savings and efficiency gains, recommending that the Secretariat explore options for alternative service delivery, including the potential for relocating core functions from Headquarters to lower cost duty stations and possible outsourcing of less central functions such as printing.

In the report, Mr. Annan cautions against complacency, stressing that the proposals must mark the beginning of a process that will be carried over the next several years. “One of the weaknesses of the old culture is precisely the view that a report or a vote in itself represents change,” he notes. “In practice, reports and votes enable and authorize change, but change itself is the long march that follows.”

The Secretary-General's comprehensive reform blueprint was called for in the outcome document adopted by national leaders at last September's World Summit in New York.

Source: The UN