United Nations

A/RES/51/241


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

22 August 1997

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH



Fifty-first session
Agenda item 48


                  RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

          [without reference to a Main Committee (A/51/24, para. 15)]


            51/241.     Strengthening of the United Nations system


      The General Assembly,

      Recalling its resolution 49/252 of 14 September 1995, by which it
established the Open-ended High-level Working Group on the
Strengthening of the United Nations System,

      Recalling in particular paragraph 2 of resolution 49/252,

      Taking note of the report of the Open-ended High-level Working
Group on the Strengthening of the United Nations System, 1/

      1.    Adopts the text contained in the annex to the present
resolution for implementation effective from 1 January 1998;

      2.    Calls upon the relevant intergovernmental bodies to
implement fully the measures specified in the text to strengthen the
work of the United Nations system, in particular of the General
Assembly and the Secretariat;

      3.    Requests the Secretary-General, as part of his ongoing
efforts to improve the functioning of the Organization, to implement
fully those measures specified in the text that are within his
competence;

      4.    Also requests the Secretary-General to report to the General
Assembly at its fifty-second session on the implementation of the
present resolution;

      5.    Invites other principal organs, the specialized agencies and
other bodies of the United Nations system to implement the measures
for strengthening the system that are specified in the text and that
are within their respective areas of competence, as appropriate;

      6.    Decides that the Open-ended High-level Working Group on the
Strengthening of the United Nations System has completed its work as
mandated in resolution 49/252.


                                                         105th plenary meeting
                                                                  31 July 1997


                                     ANNEX

                                  I.  PURPOSE

1.    The Open-ended High-level Working Group on the Strengthening of
the United Nations System has undertaken its work in accordance with
the perspective that its mandate for strengthening the United Nations
system, derived from General Assembly resolution 49/252 of 14
September 1995, is to  better enable the Organization to fulfil the
purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and to
meet the aspirations of its Members. It has focused on improving the
capacity of the General Assembly to discharge effectively its
functions, role and powers and that of the Secretariat to carry out
effectively and efficiently the mandates of intergovernmental
processes with the necessary transparency and accountability.

2.    The Working Group has proceeded on the assumption that adequate
resources will be provided to support the United Nations system. It
has not seen its mandate as responding to the current financial
crisis, which is being considered by the High-level Open-ended Working
Group on the Financial Situation of the United Nations. It has also
proceeded on the assumption that any Secretariat resources that are
freed up as a result of strengthening measures proposed by the Working
Group shall be reallocated according to priorities set by the General
Assembly, in particular to the economic and social areas.

              II.  REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE WORK OF THE
                   ORGANIZATION

3.    The report of the Secretary-General on the work of the
Organization should be available not later than thirty days prior to
the opening of the regular session of the General Assembly in all
official languages of the Organization so as to permit due
consideration.

4.    The introduction to the report of the Secretary-General on the
work of the Organization should be in the nature of an executive
summary highlighting main issues.

5.    The main body of the report shall be comprehensive, informative
and analytical in a way that will allow Member States to examine and
assess, inter alia, through the debate on the report, the extent to
which mandates given by the General Assembly have been fulfilled, as
well as to set priorities in the context of the major political,
economic and social, administrative and financial issues on its
agenda.

6.    The Secretary-General shall incorporate a new forward-looking
section in his report on the work of the Organization. It shall
describe the specific goals for the Secretariat in the year ahead in
the context of the work plan for the Organization in the coming year,
taking into account the medium-term plan and the fact that the
responsibility for establishing priorities rests with the Member
States.

7.    The report of the Secretary-General on the work of the
Organization shall be considered in plenary meetings of the General
Assembly immediately after the general debate. The President of the
Assembly should assess the debate on this item. In the light of that
assessment, informal consultations shall be held, under the
chairmanship of the President or one of the Vice-Presidents of the
Assembly, to discuss action that may be required by the Assembly on
the basis of the debate on the report.

8.    The General Assembly in plenary meeting may refer sections of the
report for more detailed consideration by the Main Committees.

9.    The report of the Secretary-General on the work of the
Organization shall, inter alia, contain an analytical and concise
annex elaborating the costs by major programmes and activities of all
bodies of the United Nations system, located both in and outside New
York, according to their mandates, so as to improve Member States'
overview of system-wide issues.

10.   The Secretary-General is requested to introduce the report orally
at an appropriate time under the agenda item entitled "Report of the
Secretary-General on the work of the Organization".

               III.  GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONSIDERATION OF THE REPORT OF
                     THE SECURITY COUNCIL

11.   The agenda item entitled "Report of the Security Council" shall
continue to be considered in plenary meetings of the General Assembly.

12.   The President of the General Assembly shall assess the debate on
this item and consider the need for further consideration of the
report of the Security Council. In the light of that assessment,
informal consultations shall be held after the debate in plenary
meetings, under the chairmanship of the President or one of the
Vice-Presidents of the Assembly, to discuss the need and content of
any action by the Assembly based on the debate.

13.   The agenda item shall not be closed but shall remain open to
enable further discussion as necessary during the year, bearing in
mind, inter alia, the submission of additional reports as and when
necessary.

14.   The monthly forecast of the programme of work of the Security
Council shall be circulated for the information of members of the
General Assembly.

              IV.  GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONSIDERATION OF THE REPORT OF
                   THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL

15.   The report of the Economic and Social Council to the General
Assembly shall be prepared in accordance with General Assembly
resolution 50/227 of 24 May 1996. The report shall also contain an
evaluation of the report of the Administrative Committee on
Coordination, taking into account the report of the Committee for
Programme and Coordination.

              V.  GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONSIDERATION OF THE REPORT OF
                  THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE

16.   The report of the International Court of Justice shall continue
to be considered in plenary meetings of the General Assembly. The
Assembly shall continue to support the role of the International Court
of Justice as the principal judicial organ of the Organization, in
accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. The Assembly shall
also continue to encourage the progressive development and
codification of international law.

               VI.  TIMING OF THE PLENARY MEETINGS OF THE GENERAL
                    ASSEMBLY

17.   The plenary meetings of the General Assembly shall be formally
opened every year on the first Tuesday following 1 September, with the
election of the President, Vice-Presidents and Chairmen of the Main
Committees (the General Committee). The General Committee shall then
meet as soon as possible after its election and shall present its
report to the General Assembly before the commencement of the general
debate.

18.   The plenary meetings of the General Assembly shall reconvene in
mid-September to consider the report of the General Committee.

                           VII.  THE GENERAL DEBATE

19.   There shall continue to be only one general debate each year,
beginning in the third week of September.

20.   The preparation of the list of speakers for the general debate
shall be based on the following principles:

      (a)   The general debate shall be organized over a period of two
weeks so as to maximize possibilities for interministerial contacts;

      (b)   Member States shall be invited to indicate three preferences
for speaking times;

      (c)   Member States wishing to organize or participate in group
meetings during the general debate period shall be encouraged to
coordinate their responses to the request for preferences and to
indicate this transparently in their responses;

      (d)   The Secretariat shall be requested to prepare a list of
speakers based on existing traditions and expressions of preference to
best accommodate Members' needs;

      (e)   The list of speakers for each day shall be completed and no
speakers will be rolled over to the next day, notwithstanding the
implications for hours of work.

                              VIII.  TIME LIMITS

21.   There shall be no time limits or specified themes for the general
debate but the General Assembly will indicate a voluntary guideline of
up to twenty minutes for each statement.

22.   Outside the general debate there shall be a fifteen-minute time
limit in plenary meetings and in the Main Committees.

                                IX.  THE AGENDA

23.   Bearing in mind rule 81 of the rules of procedure of the General
Assembly, the requirements for reopening debate on an agenda item
which the Assembly had decided was completed will continue to be as at
present and should be made clear to delegations through a statement
from the President of the Assembly. A delegation wishing to reopen
debate on an agenda item should send a written request to the
President of the Assembly. The President will then undertake soundings
to ascertain whether the request enjoys wide support.  In the light of
these soundings, the President shall announce in the Journal of the
United Nations the date of the meeting of the Assembly to consider the
question of reopening debate on the item, bearing in mind the
requirements of rule 81.

24.   The General Assembly shall take further steps to rationalize and
streamline the agenda, based on the Guidelines on the Rationalization
of the Agenda of the General Assembly agreed to by the Assembly in
annex I to its resolution 48/264 of 29 July 1994, and in particular
shall make greater use of clustering, biennialization or
triennialization of agenda items. Items that could be considered at a
later session shall be identified, taking into account the priorities
set by the medium-term plan.

25.   As a general rule, agenda items that could be considered in the
Main Committees shall be referred to the Main Committees rather than
the General Assembly in plenary meetings.

26.   The Main Committees shall give specific attention to
rationalizing their future agenda and shall consider recommending any
possible clustering, biennialization or triennialization of items.

                           X.  ORGANIZATION OF WORK

27.   The General Assembly is the highest political body with universal
membership of the Organization. Consideration of agenda items directly
in plenary meetings shall be reserved for urgent issues or issues of
major political importance, bearing in mind paragraphs 1 and 2 of
annex I to General Assembly resolution 48/264.

28.   The President of the General Assembly, with a view to ensuring
that there is a systematic and transparent process for participation
by delegations in discussions on action to be taken on items
considered directly in plenary meetings, shall assess the debate in
plenary meetings and, where appropriate, organize open-ended informal
consultations, under the chairmanship of the President or one of the
Vice-Presidents of the Assembly, to discuss the need for and content
of any action.

29.   The Secretariat shall ensure, in consultation with the President,
that priority is accorded to the availability of a meeting room and
services to facilitate these consultations.

30.   All Main Committees shall hold brief organizational sessions once
the General Assembly has taken decisions on the agenda, before the
commencement of the general debate. Bureaux of the Main Committees
shall meet earlier to draw up recommendations on the organization and
programme of work.

31.   The Main Committees shall meet in substantive session only after
the end of the general debate.

32.   The number of reports requested shall be rationalized where
possible so as to permit more focused consideration of issues. All
bodies shall exercise restraint in making proposals containing
requests for new reports and should consider integrating,
biennializing or triennializing the presentation of reports, bearing
in mind paragraphs 6 and 7 of General Assembly resolution 50/206 C of
23 December 1995.

                          XI.  THE GENERAL COMMITTEE

33.   The General Committee shall use its authority and competence,
taking into account rule 43 of the rules of procedure, by allowing
Member States that are not represented on the General Committee to
participate in its discussions. The process of decision-making will
continue to be as at present.

34.   The General Committee may, each year, prior to the closure of the
session, prepare suggestions based on its experience for the
consideration of the incoming General Committee.

35.   The General Committee is requested to consider and recommend to
the General Assembly methods and procedures for streamlining and
rationalizing the Committee's work. The General Committee shall, in
this context, in relation to each agenda item proposed, consider its
rejection or its inclusion in the provisional agenda, taking into
account previous recommendations of the General Committee and previous
relevant decisions of the Assembly.

                          XII.  SUBORDINATE MACHINERY

36.   The First Committee and the Fourth Committee shall not meet
simultaneously and may consider meeting in a sequential manner during
the regular session of the General Assembly. This arrangement shall
not apply if it affects their respective identities, programmes of
work and effective consideration of their agendas.

37.   The Disarmament Commission should continue to consider ways to
organize its work better, including rationalizing the duration of its
sessions.

38.   The General Assembly should invite the International Atomic
Energy Agency and the World Health Organization to consider the
functions and role of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the
Effects of Atomic Radiation and to submit a recommendation to the
Assembly at its fifty-third session.  Meanwhile, the United Nations
Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation should be
asked to submit its report to the International Atomic Energy Agency
and World Health Organization as well as to the General Assembly.  The
Assembly would discuss the report along with any International Atomic
Energy Agency and World Health Organization evaluation of the report.

39.   The Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole of the General Assembly for the
Mid-term Review of the Implementation of the United Nations New Agenda
for the Development of Africa in the 1990s shall conduct its final
review and appraisal during the fifty-seventh session of the General
Assembly. 

             XIII.  THE BUDGET PROCESS AND FULFILMENT OF MANDATES

40.   To ensure better transparency and accountability, the medium-term
plan shall be the framework for the budget process.

41.   The budget process shall be carried out in accordance with
relevant General Assembly budget resolutions, in particular resolution
41/213 of 19 December 1986, and the relevant provisions of the
Financial Rules and Regulations. The importance of continuous and
appropriate dialogue on the improvement of current administrative and
budgetary practices and procedures is recognized.

42.   The Secretary-General shall continue to have flexibility, without
prejudice to the fulfilment of mandates, to redeploy, as necessary,
within the limits prescribed by the General Assembly budget
resolutions and the Financial Rules and Regulations, the human and
financial resources necessary to fulfil mandates.

              XIV.  ROLE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

43.   The President of the General Assembly shall be encouraged to take
appropriate opportunities to utilize the potential of the office of
the President, consistent with the Charter and the mandates of the
Assembly, to advance the purposes and principles of the Organization,
including regular consultations between the President of the Assembly
and the presidents of other organs, particularly the Security Council
and the Economic and Social Council.

44.   In order to assist the President in the discharge of his
responsibilities, the General Assembly shall request the
Secretary-General, after consultation with the President, to include
in the next programme budget a proposal for adequate resources to be
made available to the President, including, if necessary, through
enhanced administrative and personnel support to the office of the
President.

                                XV.  TECHNOLOGY

45.   The Secretary-General is requested to pursue an information
technology plan with a range of options to provide all permanent
missions to the United Nations and the wider public with on-line
access to documents and relevant United Nations information. Unless
the General Assembly decides otherwise, hard copies of documents shall
continue to be distributed to permanent missions in accordance with
their needs. While welcoming the progress made by the Ad hoc
Open-ended Working Group on Informatics of the Economic and Social
Council, further efforts in this direction could be pursued within a
specified time-frame to harmonize and improve United Nations
information systems. All countries, in particular developing
countries, shall be assisted in making full use of this potential
access. Adequate provision should be made for training delegates.
Facilities for such access by delegations within the United Nations
premises shall also be expanded as much as possible.  Availability of
information in this manner should be ensured in all official languages
of the United Nations.

46.   The Secretary-General is encouraged to include information on the
impact of technological improvements in his report on the
implementation of mandates, by means of comparing outputs with
objectives.

                        XVI.  SYSTEM-WIDE COORDINATION

47.   The Secretary-General is requested to elaborate further ways to
strengthen system-wide coordination and to report thereon to the
General Assembly.

                XVII.  OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY OF THE
                       SECRETARIAT: EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL MECHANISMS

48.   The Secretariat shall be held strictly accountable for
implementing mandates within allocated budgets.

49.   For the Secretariat to operate efficiently in fulfilling
mandates, micromanagement of the Secretariat by the General Assembly
should be avoided.

50.   The Secretary-General is encouraged to submit proposals to the
General Assembly to improve the presentation of the programme
performance report so as to enable the Committee for Programme and
Coordination and the Main Committees of the General Assembly, without
prejudice to the provisions of section VI of resolution 45/248 B of 21
December 1990, as reaffirmed in resolution 51/221 of 18 December 1996,
to consider the portions of the report related to their substantive
work with reference to the medium-term plan, with a view to
facilitating the consideration of the programme performance report by
the Fifth Committee.

51.   There shall be a more detailed and structured examination in the
Main Committees of the relevant reports of the Board of Auditors, the
Joint Inspection Unit and the Office of Internal Oversight Services in
relation to the substantive work of these Committees.

52.   Accountability and intergovernmental oversight shall be improved
by periodic coordination meetings between the Board of Auditors, the
Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and the
Joint Inspection Unit, with appropriate input from the Office of
Internal Oversight Services.

53.   "Question time" in all Main Committees would enable a dynamic and
candid interchange with responsible Secretariat officials to
facilitate the work of the Main Committees in their assessment of
fulfilment of mandates, productivity and related issues.

54.   Every effort should be made to ensure that the measures referred
to above take into account and are mutually reinforcing of the
programme evaluation activities carried out by other competent
intergovernmental bodies.

         XVIII.  AREAS FOR MORE INTENSIVE WORK BY OVERSIGHT MACHINERY

55.   The relevant bodies should request the external and internal
oversight machinery to give early attention to, among others, the
following areas and to report thereon periodically to the General
Assembly:

      (a)   Practice and procedures in the employment of consultants;

      (b)   Practice and procedures in short-term contract employment;

      (c)   Practice and procedures with respect to recruitment;

      (d)   Productivity gains actually achieved from investment in
technology and the impact of the postponement/deferral of upgrading
technological systems on the long-term functioning of the
Organization;

      (e)   Practice and procedures for appointments at the senior
level;


      (f)   Practice and procedures for procurement and the award of
contracts;

      (g)   An evaluation of conflict of interest issues, in particular
for personnel dealing with employment decisions and the award of
procurement and contracts;

      (h)   Practice and procedures in the establishment and use of
trust funds;

      (i)   Practice and procedures with regard to personnel on loan;

      (j)   Any other issue recommended by the General Assembly.


                          XIX.  THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

56.   The process of selection of the Secretary-General shall be made
more transparent.

57.   The General Assembly shall make full use of the power of
appointment enshrined in the Charter in the process of the appointment
of the Secretary-General and the agenda item entitled "Appointment of
the Secretary-General of the United Nations".

58.   The duration of the term or terms of appointment, including the
option of a single term, shall be considered before the appointment of
the next Secretary-General.

59.   In the course of the identification and appointment of the best
candidate for the post of Secretary-General, due regard shall continue
to be given to regional rotation and shall also be given to gender
equality.

60.   Without prejudice to the prerogatives of the Security Council,
the President of the General Assembly may consult with Member States
to identify potential candidates endorsed by a Member State and, upon
informing all Member States of the results, may forward those results
to the Security Council.

61.   In order to ensure a smooth and efficient transition, the
Secretary-General should be appointed as early as possible, preferably
no later than one month before the date on which the term of the
incumbent expires. 

                            XX.  SENIOR MANAGEMENT

62.   The senior management structure should be considered in the
context of the overall structure of the Organization, desired lines of
authority and decision-making.

63.   The Organization shall have a clear pyramid structure. To that
end, the functions and number of under-secretaries-general, special
representatives of the Secretary-General and assistant secretaries-
general should be reviewed and streamlined by the Secretary-General,
and lines of authority and decision-making made transparent.

64.   Member States note the Secretary-General's decision to establish
a Policy Coordination Group as a means to enhance coordination in the
terms explained by him to Member States.

65.   The principles of equitable geographical distribution and gender
balance shall be reflected in appointments to senior positions,
including heads of programmes, funds and other United Nations bodies.

66.   The principle enshrined in General Assembly resolution 46/232 of
2 March 1992 that there should be no monopoly on senior posts by
nationals of any State or group of States should be strictly observed
and implemented.  The Secretary-General should keep the Assembly
regularly informed of his/her actions on those matters.

67.   The Secretary-General is encouraged to consider uniform terms and
term limits in his appointments to senior management posts. 

            XXI.  HEADS OF PROGRAMMES, FUNDS AND OTHER UNITED NATIONS
                  BODIES

68.   Affirming the role of the General Assembly in approving
appointments and extension of terms, uniform terms of office of four
years, renewable once, should be introduced for the executive heads of
programmes, funds and other bodies of the Assembly and the Economic
and Social Council.

69.   The specialized agencies are also encouraged to consider uniform
terms and term limits for their executive heads.

                        XXII.  GENERAL STAFFING ISSUES

70.   It is essential for the successful functioning of the
Organization that it has a career international civil service for its
core functions. There is also an important role for term contracts for
various categories of staff. 

71.   The Secretary-General shall be encouraged, in accordance with
legislative mandates, to ensure a judicious mix of career and fixed-
term appointments, so as to have an appropriate balance between
institutional memory, long-term commitment and independence and the
ability to bring in fresh insights and expertise, and to dismiss
non-performing staff.

72.   Short-term appointments should not be used as an entry to career
positions.  A review should be undertaken of staff on short-term
appointments.

73.   Staff development and training shall be encouraged along with a
cost-effective common training system to be developed for personnel of
the Secretariat, funds and programmes.

74.   The provisions of the Charter giving due regard to the importance
of recruiting staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible shall
be implemented. In this regard, the principle of gender balance shall
be observed within the Organization. In achieving gender balance, the
principle of equitable geographical distribution shall be respected. 

75.   The quality of the language services shall be enhanced, including
through the provision of effective management practices, bearing in
mind that all official languages of the United Nations are of equal
importance in this regard. 

                         XXIII.  PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT

76.   The system of in-career promotion shall be made more transparent.

77.   A planned rotation among different departments as well as between
Headquarters and the field level, as appropriate, as endorsed by the
General Assembly in its resolution 49/222 A of 23 December 1994, as
one way of enhancing experience and skills, should be developed and
submitted to the Assembly.

78.   The performance appraisal system shall be subject to periodic
review and audit and comparative statistics should be maintained for
review by the General Assembly.

                        XXIV.  SECRETARIAT REMUNERATION

79.   The General Assembly shall request the International Civil
Service Commission to prepare proposals for a possible system of
performance-based remuneration for its consideration.

80.   The General Assembly shall reiterate that topping up of
remuneration of their nationals in any way by Member States is not
acceptable and shall request the Secretary-General to report on the
matter.

                     XXV.  INDEPENDENCE OF THE SECRETARIAT

81.   Further efforts shall be made, consistent with Article 101 of the
Charter to pay due regard to the importance of recruiting the staff on
as wide a geographical basis as possible.

82.   Compliance with Article 100 (2) of the Charter is of fundamental
importance and it would be timely to call upon Member States
scrupulously to observe Article 100 (2) and to request the
Secretary-General to prepare guidelines on what constitutes acceptable
representations to him and his staff on appointments.

83.   Consistent with Article 101 of the Charter, Secretariat
guidelines for staff members on financial interests shall include a
requirement at all levels of senior management for specified financial
disclosures at the time of appointment and on a regular basis. These
financial statements shall be dealt with on a basis of
confidentiality.


                                     Notes

1/     Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-first Session,
Supplement No. 24 (A/51/24).

 

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