Ban Ki-moon seeks backing of Member States for UN management reform

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses informal General Assembly thematic debate

8 April 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on Member States to support proposals to further strengthen the United Nations, particularly in the areas of procurement, accountability and human resources, as the General Assembly began a two-day debate on management reform.

“The only way we can embrace that future and do our good works in the world is to make ourselves more modern, more flexible and more efficient. In a word, to be better managed,” Mr. Ban told the 192-member body.

He noted that the Organization is being called on, as never before, to do much more with fewer and fewer resources. “All the critical activities that the United Nations carries out around the world, all of the groundbreaking studies and initiatives, all of the intensive diplomacy – just about everything we do hinges on sound management of the limited resources entrusted to us,” he stated.

Mr. Ban stressed the need to do more in the area of management reform, which is essential to enabling the UN “to keep pace with the growing demands upon us. We have to be open to scrutiny. We have to hold each and every person accountable to you, the Member States, and to the global taxpayers.”

Over the past 10 years, the Assembly has discussed and agreed to a number of reform initiatives to make the UN more effective and efficient, including the establishment of the Ethics Office and the post of Chief Information Technology Office.

In addition, it has upgraded accounting standards, strengthened procurement practices, and helped set up a new system to administer justice in the Secretariat.

Stressing the need to go further and “take on more difficult challenges in better managing our United Nations,” the Secretary-General outlined a series of measures to make the Organization more modern and keep up with changing times.

He emphasized that the UN needs an integrated, multi-skilled and mobile global workforce, and, to achieve it, it must streamline its contractual arrangements and improve conditions of service. It must also be able to recruit staff more quickly than at present.

“It’s getting harder and harder to hang on to our best people. We just cannot allow this to continue,” Mr. Ban said, expressing hope that the Assembly will act on his recommendations at the earliest.

Other proposals include improvements in the selection of top managers and in promoting mobility for staff, as well as setting up a Learning Advisory Board to ensure relevant staff training. He added the Secretariat has developed a comprehensive information and communications technology (ICT) strategy which it will present to the Assembly next month.

The Secretary-General also stressed the need for accountability, which he said is the “heart of effective management,” and he said the key to enhancing accountability is a strong commitment to transparency. “The image we wish to project is of an organization that has nothing to hide, that actively welcomes the scrutiny of its members, staff and the public.”

General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim said that “a more effective United Nations is an essential part of bridging the gap between the global public’s high expectations and our ability to deliver. All our reform efforts are fundamentally about improving the image, authority and relevance of the United Nations.”

In discussing how to improve the effectiveness of the UN, he highlighted three important issues – the way mandates are formulated, implemented and evaluated, the planning and budgetary process, and the management of human resources.

“Member States should now agree to give greater coherence to all past management reform initiatives, and, reach a common understanding of the future role that they envisage for the Organization,” he said.

In doing so, the President stressed the need to “move beyond piecemeal approaches and look at the big picture to ensure that our reforms efforts keep pace with the changing international landscape.”

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