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States agree Ban Ki-moon’s UN reform plans need support – Arab League official

States agree Ban Ki-moon’s UN reform plans need support – Arab League official

United Nations Member States agree that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deserves their backing for his plans to restructure the Organization’s peacekeeping and disarmament operations so that he can focus on tackling pressing international crises and global challenges, an official from the League of Arab States said today.

The League’s Permanent Observer to the UN, Yahya Mahmassani, who attended a private lunch today with Mr. Ban and other key ambassadors, including members of the Security Council, said participants concurred that although they might have different views on some of the proposal details, they must come to an agreement quickly.

“We can’t continue to just keep discussing it and putting forward our ideas without setting a consensus on this,” he told the UN News Service and UN Radio. “There was a general feeling at the luncheon that we must agree on this issue because the SG has too many other things to do. He has a big agenda to follow.”

Under a proposal given to Member States, Mr. Ban wants to create a new Department of Field Support so that UN peace operations – whose numbers have reached an all-time high – can be supported more effectively and coherently.

The Secretary-General has also suggested that the Department of Disarmament Affairs be constituted as an Office with a direct line of responsibility to him “to ensure access and more frequent interaction,” his spokesperson Michele Montas said today.

Mr. Ban and other senior UN officials have been holding talks with Member States about the proposals, and Mr. Mahmassani said that informal process would continue in the weeks ahead.

Also speaking to the UN News Service and UN Radio, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari said Mr. Ban stressed to participants at today’s luncheon that “he wants to feel he has their support” for his vision for restructuring, so that he can implement it quickly and then concentrate on such issues as the Darfur crisis, the Middle East, Iraq and climate change.

Mr. Gambari said Mr. Ban wants Member States to at least support the framework of his changes, allowing any contentious details to be worked out in the second phase during meetings involving the General Assembly and its committees.

He added that some participants voiced concerns about the process rather than the content of the planned reforms, given that they would have budgetary and resource implications.

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and some other States also wanted assurances that the proposal for disarmament affairs did not represent a downgrade of its role, especially amid perceptions among some that non-proliferation was being paid more attention than disarmament.

But Mr. Gambari said Mr. Ban informed ambassadors that his plans were actually designed to upgrade the role of disarmament and ensure it plays a more pro-active part in encouraging Member States to reach agreement on issues where they are divided.

He added that representatives of the European Union and the United States, among others, indicated that they wanted to give Mr. Ban plenty of room to organize the Secretariat in the ways he sought.

Mr. Gambari also noted that Mr. Ban had already made some alterations to the initial draft of his plans to accommodate the views of Member States.