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General Assembly begins discussion of Annan’s agenda for further UN reform

General Assembly begins discussion of Annan’s agenda for further UN reform

The United Nations General Assembly today began extensive discussions on a package of new proposals put forward by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to bolster his longstanding efforts to improving the workings of the world body.

Presenting his report on “Strengthening the United Nations: An Agenda for Further Change,” Mr. Annan told the Assembly that his key aim was to make the UN more useful by making it more effective and efficient.

Toward that end, the Secretary-General is calling for a thorough review of the UN’s work programme to “make sure we are concentrating our efforts on what matters to you and to the peoples of the world.” The report also contains a number of proposals for improving performance in the areas of human rights and public information.

Concerning efforts to enhance the reports prepared by the UN Secretariat, he said that the issue went beyond reducing the number and length of documents to encompass strengthening their quality – “to permit a more comprehensive and holistic consideration of the complex, interconnected issues which we must grapple with.”

The Secretary-General also reviewed proposed changes to the Organization’s budget and planning system. “At the moment we have three different processes, covering different time scales, and there are three different oversight and review mechanisms,” he noted, calling this “unnecessarily complex and labour-intensive.”

In addition, Mr. Annan said he was establishing a high-level panel to take stock of the relationship between the UN and civil society. While much good has come of the growing intensity of this interaction in recent years, “some real challenges have come to the fore, and we can all sense that it may well be time to look closely at what is working well and what isn’t,” he said.

The Secretary-General called for prompt feedback from the General Assembly. “This report provides broad direction for the future,” he said. “What I need to know now is whether you agree with this broad direction.”

Responding to this call, the General Assembly President, Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic, hailed the report as “comprehensive, timely and extremely useful,” adding that the initial, informal response had been positive. He also pledged to commence negotiations shortly with all interested States towards the early adoption of a formal response. “I do believe that given good political will, dedicated time and energy of concerned delegations and a bit of luck we will have a workable endorsed resolution before Christmas,” he said.