Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization (2012)

I. Strengthening the Organization

photo of flags outside the UN secretariat building

At the end of my term, I want to leave behind a global, dynamic and adaptable Secretariat, accountable to all its stakeholders, delivering high-quality results and able to help Member States to deal with global challenges, while working within recognized resource constraints. 86. The Organization has embarked on a number of critical initiatives which build on experiences and successes already achieved within the United Nations system. In the medium term, they offer the opportunity to reconsider the present distinction between so-called Headquarters-based activities and field-based activities, which has created distinctive approaches to management and administration over the past six decades. The actions taken by the General Assembly over the past decade to harmonize conditions of service across the entire United Nations system, and innovations adopted by other entities of the system, such as the creation of shared service centres, afford opportunities for strengthened oversight, greater standardization and additional efficiencies.

To achieve a global, dynamic and adaptable workforce, the Organization is enhancing young professional recruitment, implementing a system of continuing contracts, and rolling out the new talent management system. The Organization is drawing up a comprehensive and structured approach to mobility and career development, which I will present to Member States for consideration at the main part of the sixty-seventh session with the aim of agreeing an approach that will be implemented across the Organization. To ensure that our staff is equipped with the latest knowledge and skills, we will need to reinvigorate our approach to learning, training and research. This will be a priority in my second term. With this approach, the Organization should be able to deploy a global workforce that can effectively fulfil current and future mandates and meet evolving operational needs while concurrently broadening opportunities for career development. The capital master plan will contribute to modernizing the workforce culture and will upgrade the working environment in the renovated Secretariat building.

In spite of a number of problems encountered during the past year, Umoja, the enterprise resource planning project, is moving from the design phase to the build phase. Umoja will drive a substantial improvement of our business model and processes, bringing the realization of important benefits, improvements, control and transparency to our administration. It is fundamental to the way the United Nations will conduct business in the future, enhancing accountability, managerial control and decision-making. The Organization has also made good progress over the past year on preparations for the implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards. As the implementation will commence in July 2013 for peacekeeping operations and January 2014 for all other operations, the project’s focus has shifted from policy to implementation, with an emphasis on coordinated change management and transition planning with the Umoja project.

The accountability system is being internalized in the Organization’s day-to-day work through outreach, education and training of staff at all levels. Proactive responses to recommendations of the oversight bodies are encouraged. Lessons are being drawn from pilot exercises in enterprise risk management. One early indication that these efforts are having an impact in fostering a culture of accountability is that the implementation rates of oversight recommendations have noticeably improved. The Organization is also beginning to see the benefits of the reformed internal justice system. Both staff and management are encouraged to seek to resolve disputes informally in the first instance. Where disputes cannot be settled, they are resolved by the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and the United Nations Appeals Tribunal. Senior management is closely following the developing jurisprudence of the Tribunals and has issued guidance manuals to improve administrative decision-making within the Organization.

The Organization is moving decisively towards climate neutrality and achieving substantial savings and efficiencies by producing and distributing documents in a greener fashion. All documents are now processed and distributed electronically to all Member States and system-wide. The pilot of the PaperSmart model, introduced at the Rio+20 Conference, resulted in major savings, with an average of only one or less sheets of paper used per participant. I intend to submit a report on this pilot and propose next steps during the sixty-seventh session. The introduction of new e-services has made documents more accessible also to persons with disabilities, particularly the visually impaired, a goal to which the Organization remains fully committed.

In 2011, the Organization replaced the United Nations security phase system by a security risk management process designed to be more measurable and flexible, in line with our goals to find ways to stay and deliver, not leave, in heightened security risk areas. Concurrently, on the programme side there is a development process under way to determine how to measure impact and continue critical programmes in high-risk environments. Combined with improved training for designated officials, security advisers and officers, and members of the in-country security management teams, the Organization is addressing heightened security risk situations in several countries in ways that kept vital programmes operating, where previously large and lengthy evacuations would have been standard.

In a related development, the Organization has recruited, trained and fielded additional personnel to specifically analyse security threats. An enhanced ability to more accurately and completely understand security threats to the United Nations and implementation partners in real time has also helped to keep United Nations operations delivering under difficult circumstances.

In the past year, I reached out to my staff and to Member States for additional ideas that improve our work. To help to develop associated deliverables, I created a small change management team and a network of change management focal points across the Organization. Following discussion with Member States of the plan which the team had developed, the General Assembly, in its resolution 66/257, took note of the initiatives and also requested that I submit to the Assembly proposals or measures related to the implementation of a number of its recommendations. In this regard, I intend to provide Member States with an overview and a road map in this area for the next five years. This will be followed by detailed proposals to the General Assembly that will be phased as appropriate.

It is my conviction that the global problems we face today are simply too complex to be solved by Governments alone. They require collective and coordinated action by Government, by the private sector, by civil society, by academia, and by international organizations and multilateral development banks. Over the next year, I will develop a comprehensive proposal which seeks to harness the power of partnership.