As he enters the last six months of his tenure as United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan today expressed optimism that divisions between Member States on reform of the world organization were healing, allowing a feared budget crisis to be avoided and letting both the reform, and the myriad of ongoing operations, to continue.
“I think the sort of tensions and poisonous atmosphere we saw earlier in the year seem to be dissipating, and I am confident that the Member States will come together and reform this Organization,” he told a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York that touched on a wide range of issues, from Somalia to Timor-Leste to relations with the United States administration to the football World Cup.
“The cap on the budget will be lifted,” he added in response to a reporter’s question about the funding compromise between Member States reached at the end of last year, under US pressure, which allowed funding for only six months this year with the expectation that management reform would be completed in that time.
“There will be no crisis, as far as I can see, this month. I think the Member States understand that the Organization has work to do,” he said. “I think that by the end of the month, the way we are going, you are going to see quite a lot of progress and Member States will realize that reform is running apace and there is no need to maintain the cap, and they will come to an agreement to lift it.
“Certainly I sense a strong desire among the whole membership to move ahead with reforms that are very much in the general interest, because they will make the Organization more effective and more efficient and more useful to all its Member States.”
Citing examples of tangible progress on the reform front, Mr. Annan pointed to the creation of the new Human Rights Council and Peacebuilding Commission, which will hold their first meetings next week, along with the inception of the Ethics Office, reform of development sections, and review of mandates.
In another vital area, he said he will transmit next week to the General Assembly the comprehensive review of accountability and oversight, and will soon submit proposals for procurement reform, as well as the terms of a new Independent Audit Advisory Committee, along with further details on management reform.
“Given the agendas I gave you, I still have quite a lot to do, and I am determined to work till midnight the 31st of December,” he added, stressing that reform is an ongoing process and that the next Secretary-General would probably be continuing the task.