Annan urges consensus on main management reform proposals

27 April 2006

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged the General Assembly’s powerful budget committee to set aside contentious issues blocking agreement on his management reform proposals so as to achieve progress on the matter.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged the General Assembly’s powerful budget committee to set aside contentious issues blocking agreement on his management reform proposals so as to achieve progress on the matter.

As delegates to the Assembly’s Administrative and Budgetary (Fifth) Committee deliberated for hours today on a formal reaction to Mr. Annan’s recommendations for overhauling management practices at the United Nations, he urged them to reach consensus on the main points.

In a letter to John Ashe, the Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda and Chairman of the Fifth Committee, Mr. Annan acknowledges that controversy has dogged certain proposals in his landmark report, “Investing in the United Nations: For a Stronger Organization Worldwide.” These recommendations – number 20 and 21 in the report – relate to interaction between the UN and the Fifth Committee.

Under proposal 20, intergovernmental committees would focus on core budget issues, with emphasis on planning and the analysis of performance. The proposal also calls for strict time limits for budget discussion and decision-making, and would eliminate prolonged item-by-item debates in plenary.

Proposal 21suggests reconsidering the need for the Committee for Programme and Coordination. Among other measures, it would impose time limits on the sessions of the Fifth Committee and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.

The Secretary-General also recommends that the Assembly, “examine ways to allow strategic discussion to be held in meetings of manageable size, possibly through dividing up the workload of the Fifth Committee among select working groups of limited membership, or consider whether an executive committee could be elected from among its members and asked to bring agreed recommendations before the Committee as a whole.

“It is apparent that there are some concerns related to proposal 20 and 21,” Mr. Annan, who has held discussions on the matter with representatives of Member States, writes in today’s letter. “While my sole purpose was to propose more efficient working methods for the intergovernmental process, I recognize that these two proposals have provoked concern and resistance.

“Certainly they should not be allowed to stand in the way of consensus or lead to a departure from the valuable and well-established practice of avoiding divisive votes on budgetary matters,” he says. “Neither should they be an impediment to achieving progress on other aspects of reform.”

Suggesting that proposals 20 and 21 be set aside, he urges the Committee to “proceed quickly to an agreed resolution adopted by consensus that allows the programme of work on the management reforms to continue without delay.”

Unable to reach consensus on whether indeed the contentious paragraphs should indeed be set aside, either permanently or temporarily, the Committee then agreed to continue discussing the matter informally this evening and to reconvene to vote on a draft text concerning the report tomorrow morning.

The management report, which Mr. Annan presented to the Assembly in March, aims to help the Organization keep step with the shift in its work from bureaucratic tasks to life-saving work in the field. The far-reaching recommendations range from setting up a 2,500-strong core of mobile peacekeeping professionals to multimillion dollar investments in training and technology.

 

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