Annan launches new round of UN reform initiatives

Annan launches new round of UN reform initiatives

Annan unveils plan for UN reform
Five years after starting his groundbreaking push for a leaner and more effective United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today launched a new plan to further strengthen the world body and improve its ability to meet current and future challenges.

Five years after starting his groundbreaking push for a leaner and more effective United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today launched a new plan to further strengthen the world body and improve its ability to meet current and future challenges.

In keeping with his earlier approach of confronting difficulties head-on and offering concrete solutions, the Secretary-General's "Agenda for Further Change" contains blunt language on such problems as "too many meetings" while proposing dozens of specific actions to remedy them. As with past reform efforts, some of these initiatives fall within his domain and will be implemented immediately, while others require the approval of Member States.

Among the suggested measures, the Secretary-General calls for a thorough review of the Organization's work programme to make sure it is doing what matters, and not wasting time or money on out-of-date or irrelevant tasks. He suggests a number of areas for priority attention, including reaching the goals set by world leaders at the 2000 UN Millennium Summit, tackling issues related to migration, addressing problems associated with scarce natural resources, pursuing conflict prevention strategies, and strengthening the UN's role in the fight against terrorism.

In a section on "managing conferences and meetings," Mr. Annan points out that while these activities are central to the UN's work, much improvement is needed to better plan, coordinate, and optimize their functioning.

The report also puts the spotlight on UN budgetary difficulties, which, while less severe than in previous years, still persist. "The reality is that in recent years the Organization's regular budget has not even kept pace with inflation, while the number of mandated activities has increased significantly," Mr. Annan notes. He proposes changes to the UN's budget and planning system, which he calls "fragmented, prone to duplication and burdened with excessive paperwork."

Other sections of the report deal with the functioning of the UN's Department of Public Information, which is largely responsible for telling the Organization's story, strengthening the UN's human rights work, reaching out to partners in civil society and the private sector, and improving staff performance and quality of life.

"This new age of interdependence and integration offers many opportunities to all the peoples of the world, but it also poses many dangers," the Secretary-General says in the report. "The challenge ahead is to strengthen our capability for collective action and thus forge a common destiny in a time of accelerating global change."