Global perspective Human stories

Annan urges re-alignment of UN priorities to meet Millennium Declaration goals

Annan urges re-alignment of UN priorities to meet Millennium Declaration goals

To fulfil the goals set at the United Nations Millennium Summit, the world body must better align its priorities and improve its efficiency, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today, as he concluded a series of meetings with regional groups of countries to outline his plans for his second term in office.

The Millennium Declaration adopted by the world leaders in 2000, he said, "represents an unprecedented consensus on the human condition and what to do about it, and it gives the UN an admittedly ambitious yet achievable agenda for the years ahead."

While a great deal had been accomplished to strengthen the Organization in recent years, "we can and must do more," he said, calling for efforts to make sure that the UN's work programme better reflects the priorities set out in the Millennium Declaration.

Expressing concern about last year’s decision by Member States to cut $75 million from his initial “modest” budget request, representing a 3 per cent reduction in real terms from the previous budget, Mr. Annan pledged to submit a comprehensive report to the next General Assembly proposing institutional, programmatic and administrative improvements in the UN. It would include a review of programme activities, administrative and management procedures, and the UN’s planning and budgetary cycle.

Describing it as an "ambitious" but necessary project, the Secretary-General noted, however, that for it to succeed "it must not be a budget-cutting exercise" and must not be led by a desire to protect employment for any particular category of staff.

As for his own role, Mr. Annan pledged to furnish the "unvarnished truth, no matter how vexing or complex" to UN bodies. "In future, if I believe a lot of money is needed for something, I shall not hesitate to provide an estimate. If we need a large number of troops, I will say so. If something held to be sacrosanct isn't working, I shall point that out. If mandates are unrealistic or contradictory, I shall propose other courses of action."

The Secretary-General's meetings, which began on Monday, were held separately with representatives of countries that are members of the five regional groups of States at the UN: African, Asian, Eastern European, Latin American and Caribbean, and Western European and Others.

Briefing reporters today, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette, who is leading the project to prepare the report to the Assembly, stressed that Mr. Annan was seeking a better approach to resource allocation at the UN.

"There's a need for a good systematic look at our administrative processes," she said. "We've come some ways in the last five years, but we think there's room for further improvement."