General Assembly approves series of UN reforms aimed at greater efficiency

Assembly President Jan Eliasson

10 July 2006 – The United Nations General Assembly has unanimously approved a series of reforms that its President said will further consolidate a “culture of accountability, transparency and integrity” at the world body, as well as make it more effective and efficient.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the eight-part resolution entitled, “Investing in the United Nations: for a stronger organization worldwide: detailed report,” which addresses accountability, budgetary discretion, information technology, procurement, financial management, reporting mechanisms, public access to UN documentation and future consideration of management reform.

“By the decision today we have contributed to the strengthening of the United Nations. Together we have taken a step to make the organization more efficient and effective. We have begun consolidating a culture of accountability, transparency and integrity in the Secretariat,” President Jan Eliasson said after the resolution was adopted late on Friday.

“I am particularly pleased by the constructive atmosphere that has prevailed during the difficult negotiations of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) during the past three days,” he added, highlighting the complexity of some of the issues in the resolution.

In particular, the resolution authorized Secretary-General Kofi Annan “on an experimental basis” to spend up to $20 million in 2006-2007 and again in 2008-2009 to meet the UN's needs in a more flexible manner. It also gave Mr. Annan up to $706,600 to strengthen the world body’s procurement system, established the post of an information technology chief and decided to replace the world body’s outdated information management system.

“By the adoption of the resolution, the General Assembly has…decided to authorize the Secretary-General on an experimental basis a limited discretion for budgetary implementations to enter into commitments of up to $20 million during 2006-2007 and 2008-2009. This would enable the Secretary-General to meet the evolving needs of the organization,” Mr. Eliasson told the Assembly, listing all the measures in the resolution.

Along with the positives included in the eight-part resolution, the President stressed the atmosphere of consensus involved in reaching Friday’s decision but also acknowledged that the 192-member Assembly had decided to put off until its next session, which begins in September, discussion of several other reform measures.

“While I note that in some areas the resolution did not fully meet the concerns of all delegations, I’m glad to note that this resolution was adopted by consensus.”

He also noted that, concerning future work on management reform, the Assembly decided to defer to its next session the question of peacekeeping accounts, proposals of the Secretary-General on governance, oversight and accountability as well as human resources management.

The eight-part resolution was adopted just over a week after the Assembly lifted a spending cap on the UN budget – despite objections from the United States, Japan and Australia – that had threatened financial crisis at the world body.

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