General Assembly President cites ‘compelling’ need for change within UN

7 February 2008

While the United Nations has a leading role in advancing global issues such as development and poverty eradication, the world body must be strengthened to respond more effectively to today’s challenges, the President of the General Assembly said today.

“The need for change is compelling,” Srgjan Kerim told an informal meeting of the Assembly on system-wide coherence, adding that now is the time for the 192-member body to “deliver as one.”

Mr. Kerim pointed out that despite its unique legitimacy, the UN’s status as a central actor in development is undermined by “a lack of focus” on results.

“It is clear that without ambitious and far-reaching reforms the United Nations will be unable to deliver on its promises and maintain its position at the heart of the multilateral system,” he told delegates.

Change is “inevitable,” he stressed, if the UN is play its vital role in advancing global issues, including the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the pledges made by world leaders to slash poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy by 2015.

“The United Nations – more than any other body – is uniquely placed to take a leading role in achieving the MDGs. But in order to do so, and like any other organization, it must renew and retool itself to respond to emerging challenges.”

Reform and continuous improvement are an intrinsic part of any successful organisation, and the UN is no exception, Mr. Kerim pointed out, adding that the world body will only continue to attract resources if it can demonstrate its effectiveness and deliver results.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has endorsed a set of recommendations put forward in 2006 in the report of the High-level Panel on UN System-Wide Coherence as “an ambitious yet achievable vision of a harmonized and accountable UN system.”

The report, entitled Delivering as One, recommended a country-level consolidation of UN agencies, the strengthening of leadership on humanitarian and environmental activities, and the creation of both a new funding system and a new women’s organization.

So far eight pilot countries are testing the ‘One UN’ approach, and Mr. Kerim noted that the results of these pilots will be important for future discussions on achieving greater coherence and effectiveness across the system.


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