Reminding a United States House of Representatives committee that the United Nations has undergone more reform under Secretary-General Kofi Annan than under any of his predecessors, his Chief of Staff today said the UN is under-funded and over-managed.
Mark Malloch Brown told the House Committee on International Relations, chaired by Rep. Henry Hyde, in Washington, DC, that Mr. Annan "welcomes the fact that you are as intent as he is to ensure that the United Nations is the most effective instrument it can be in the interests of the people it exists to serve."
Listing cases of under-funding, however, he said the UN was operating 18 peacekeeping missions, with 67,000 uniformed personnel, on a budget of $4.5 billion that is less than 0.5 per cent of the world's military spending "and means a unit cost for peacekeeping that is a fraction of that spent by the US and UK in comparable operations."
"It's a bargain – but perhaps too much of one," he said.
Instead of threatening to cut contributions in response to failure, a long-term, sustainable solution would come about when the United States and fellow UN Member States "agree what they want to the UN to do, then fund it properly to allow the UN to do the task well."
Meanwhile, the UN's inter-governmental constraints on the Secretariat "often amount to micromanagement," Mr. Malloch Brown said.
As head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) reporting to an Executive Board of Member States, Mr. Malloch Brown said, he had more autonomy and more accountability for results than had Mr. Annan, "who is mired in a web of Government committees and outdated rules that impede his freedom to manage."
At the heart of the UN reform agenda, he added, "is the organizing idea of how a Secretary-General can be given back the power to manage, while at the same time Governments recover the strategic tools to ensure accountability for results."
Among Mr. Annan's requests has been for the authority and resources to offer a carefully calibrated one-time staff buyout, Mr. Malloch Brown said, and for Member States to review all UN mandates older than five years to see whether they are still relevant or whether their resources could be better spent elsewhere.
In the Canadian capital, Ottawa, UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette also addressed the issue of reform during a ministerial meeting of the Human Security Network (HSN), a group of countries that maintains dialogue on questions pertaining to human security by pursuing policies that focus on the protection and security requirement of the individual and society.
In her address, Ms. Fréchette reviewed Mr. Annan's report, "In Larger Freedom," including progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of targets to wipe out or reduce a host of socio-economic ills.
She said the Secretary-General also asks states to take on the responsibility formally to protect their people from genocide and other forms of mass killing, limit the spread of small arms and light weapons and replace the UN Human Rights Commission, criticized as selective in its judgements, with a more credible and focused Human Rights Council.
"One document will not address all our problems," Ms. Fréchette said. "But it could give us powerful momentum on the road to security."
Meanwhile, as part of the effort to promote the reform agenda, Mr. Annan's five envoys were circling the globe, visiting capitals and attending multilateral conferences.
After having bilateral meetings with several of their European counterparts, Latvian President Vike-Freiberga and Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern addressed the Summit of the Council of Europe in Warsaw, Poland, a UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters at the daily news briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.
Former Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas met the President of Indonesia, General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and Malaysian Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul for reform discussions, while former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique was visiting South Africa, Tanzania, Angola and Zimbabwe, he said.
Former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo took part in the Community of Democracies meeting of more than 140 Member States last month in Santiago, Chile, Mr. Dujarric said.