1. In September 2005, world leaders set in motion a potentially historic process by resolving to "strengthen and update the programme of work of the United Nations so that it responds to the contemporary requirements of Member States". To that end, they called on States Members of the United Nations to "review all mandates older than five years originating from resolutions of the General Assembly and other organs". To facilitate that review, they asked the Secretary-General to provide analysis and recommendations. The present report provides a framework for consideration by the Member States, and the initial tools to undertake this exercise. It does not contain the full range of analyses of the Organization's work that can be made. To build on this initial analysis, the Secretariat stands ready to provide additional proposals at a later stage.
2. The review process touches the very core of the Organization. The adoption of many layers of mandates over the 60 years of the existence of the United Nations has resulted in the operational structure and programmes that we see today. Many of those structures have not changed, despite new priorities. This makes such a review essential, if the effectiveness of the United Nations is to be maintained. The need to review the work of the Organization periodically was recognized as early as 1954.
3. In that year – only nine years into the Organization's existence – Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld understood the importance of "reassessing, in consultation and agreement with the organs concerned, the role which the Secretariat can most appropriately and constructively play in furthering the objectives of the Charter and [...] of reappraising the nature and scope of the activities it can most usefully undertake". Pursuant to decisions of the General Assembly at its eighth session, Hammarskjöld saw it as his duty to "offer advice and express opinion"on the work of the Organization.
4. Dag Hammarskjöld came to three key conclusions: first, that the Secretariat's contribution to the work of the United Nations was most effective and enduring when their activities strengthened and supplemented each other; second, that "the very nature of the responsibilities that must be assumed by the Secretary-General and his senior staff imposes a limit on the volume of the tasks that can be handled effectively" and, third, that "certain Governments, after a certain point, find it difficult to cope with the mass of documentation and other information provided by the Organization" As a result, he believed that responsible intergovernmental organs must make a choice between urgent and less urgent mandates.
5. Over 50 years later, Dag Hammarskjöld's observations are more valid than ever. The current process gives us a new opportunity to match the aspirations for our Organization with the practical constraints we face, so that it can respond to the challenges that confront us today. It is not an easy task.
6. There are numerous difficulties which stem from the magnitude of the exercise and the lack of adequate information on every mandate on which to base a full review. Strategic information on the effectiveness of the mandates that permits us to judge how they contribute to the overall goals of the Organization will become indispensable as we move to revitalize the United Nations, making it truly accountable to its members and ensuring that it fulfils its commitments to people around the world.
7. The exercise will in many ways be mutually reinforcing with other processes under way, including the management reform efforts, the review of governance and oversight, the examination of system-wide coherence, and the revitalization of the General Assembly itself. Management reform and improved oversight can help the Secretariat to implement mandates better, and hold it accountable for doing so. Similarly, the study and recommendations on system-wide coherence will chart a path towards a more effective delivery mechanism for the United Nations system as a whole. Decisions by Member States on revitalization of the General Assembly will affect the Assembly's agenda and thus also the resolutions falling under different agenda items, and the mandates that they comport. In other words, the revitalization exercise will provide a strong base on which Member States can conduct the mandate review.
8. As the review proceeds, the Secretariat will support the process, in appropriate ways, with the same spirit of collaboration, to help to adapt the Organization to contemporary priorities. Member States thus have a unique opportunity to strengthen and focus our Organization. This is an opportunity that they should seize.
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