Streamlining the UN is a win-win step for rich and poor States – Secretary-General

16 April 2007 –

Countries rich and poor will benefit if the United Nations can make its operations in the fields of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment more streamlined and efficient, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today as he unveiled his report on the recommendations contained in the recent High-Level Panel on system-wide coherence across the world body.

In a presentation to the General Assembly in which he said “the Panel has produced thought-provoking and far-reaching proposals,” Mr. Ban stressed that any progress on improving UN coherence should not be viewed as favouring one set of Member States at the expense of another.

“It is a win for developing countries, who stand to gain more coherent assistance and better service delivery,” he said. “It is a win for developed countries, who will be able to explain and justify to their constituents why it is right to channel resources through the UN, and demonstrate real results.”

The issues of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment are all broad enough, Mr. Ban added, that everyone should have a stake in them.

“It is a matter of life and death to millions of men, women and children around the world who depend on us to meet their basic human needs – today and for generations to come.”

Since taking office in January, Mr. Ban has said that improving system-wide coherence – which springs from a mandate from the 2005 World Summit at the UN – is one of his priorities as Secretary-General.

“I profoundly agree with the Panel’s emphasis on efficiency, transparency and accountability,” Mr. Ban told the Assembly today, adding that “frank and productive” discussions with Member States and other stakeholders, inside and outside the UN, about the recommendations in the Panel’s report had helped shape his response.

He noted the “One UN” pilot programme introduced to eight countries in which the various UN agencies, funds and programmes operating there are grouped together under one leader, programme and budget to maximize efficiency and opportunities.

The UN Chief Executives Board for Coordination should also become “a more effective and transparent mechanism,” in line with what the Panel proposed, he said.

Mr. Ban stressed his support for bringing the various UN bodies that deal with gender equality and women’s empowerment into “one dynamic UN entity,” with the aim of enhanced results both globally and at the national level.

But he said that the recommendations on UN governance, especially on the plan for strengthening the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), deserve “in-depth intergovernmental review” so that there is more of a common vision.

Before Mr. Ban presented his report, General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa told the meeting that the need for a more efficient UN was becoming ever more crucial as the world approached the halfway point for achieving the Millennium Development Goals by their target date of 2015.

The UN must remain at the heart of the multilateral development system, Sheikha Haya said, and its development activities in poorer countries should be strengthened.

“We have an important and timely opportunity to build on our shared objective to strengthen the UN system,” she said.

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