Renewal and reform will help restore public support of UN, official says

24 April 2006

Comprehensive reform of the United Nations, now underway, should help boost support for the world Organization, which has been plagued by the perception of a gap between its ideals and the international community's ability to unite to deliver results, a top UN information official said today.

Comprehensive reform of the United Nations, now underway, should help boost support for the world Organization, which has been plagued by the perception of a gap between its ideals and the international community's ability to unite to deliver results, a top UN information official said today.

“One of our key challenges, therefore, is to close this gap and once again make the UN not only a symbol of our collective hope, but also a powerful instrument for translating that hope into everyday reality,” Under-Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor told the opening session of the Committee on Information meeting at the UN's New York Headquarters

People's faith in the “idea” of the UN as a universal Organization leading global collective effort for the common good is still firm, he said.

However, faith in the UN as a “reality” has weakened, he added. “With horror unfolding daily, and the world unable to stop it, Darfur is a good example of this gap between intent and reality.”

But due to ongoing reform, he said “signs of renewal are everywhere,” and it is important for the UN to communicate them to the global public. The flurry of activities that has followed the 2005 World Summit include revitalization of human rights machinery through creation of the Human Rights Council, and better post-conflict coordination through the Peacebuilding Commission and the Democracy Fund.

In addition, he said that “a comprehensive review of UN mandates is on the anvil, creating a unique opportunity to strengthen and adapt the Organization to new priorities,” and Secretary-General Kofi Annan has proposed measures for a fundamental overhaul of the rules, systems and culture of the UN Secretariat.

The Department of Public Information (DPI) had itself been undergoing reform over the past three years, Mr. Tharoor said, targeting its delivery of information, making better use of new technologies and building an expanded grass-roots support base through partnerships with civil society organizations around the world.

Such efforts are paying off, he said, noting that the estimated reach of UN radio programmes has more than doubled to some 300 million a week, its multilingual websites are used by millions of people every day, and visitors leave UN guided tours with a better understanding of the work of the Organization and more support for it in 9 out of 10 cases, according to evaluations.

 

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