19 December 1997


19 December 1997

Press Release


19971219 Noting Establishment of Deputy Secretary-General Post, Expresses Hope that, after Consultations, `She will Join Us Early in New Year'

This is the text of the Secretary-General's statement to the General Assembly this afternoon anticipating the Assembly's adoption of a further resolution on measures and proposals for United Nations reform:

On 12 November, the General Assembly adopted a consensus resolution welcoming those elements of my reform package that fell within my jurisdiction as Secretary-General. Today, you are about to adopt a second resolution, this time endorsing many of my proposed reforms concerning elements that are within the domain of Member States. Together, we have taken major strides to initiate the process of revitalization that we all agree is necessary if the United Nations is to thrive in the twenty-first century. Together, we are making this the Reform Assembly.

Your adoption of this resolution will establish the post of Deputy Secretary-General, which I view as indispensable to the new leadership and management structure of the Secretariat. I will move immediately to appoint a Deputy, following consultations with Member States, and very much hope that she will join us early in the new year.

In the area of peace and security, the resolution contains provisions that will improve the ability of the Organization to detect potential threats to international peace and security, with the objective of supporting efforts by the Security Council and the Secretary-General to prevent conflicts. It also endorses steps to enhance the rapid deployment capacity of the Organization.

This resolution accepts my proposal to establish a Development Dividend, funded by administrative savings, thereby reaffirming our collective commitment to the instrumental objective of efficiency as well as the substantive priority of economic and social development.

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By adopting this resolution you are expressing your willingness to further rationalize intergovernmental machinery in the United Nations, including the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and several of its subsidiary organs. The same is true of the regional commissions.

Finally, the resolution authorizes improvements in several other substantive areas of our work, including disarmament, development cooperation, and humanitarian affairs.

We have every right to take great pride in these achievements. They speak well of the capacity of the United Nations to reform itself, where reform means embracing fundamental measures that strengthen the Organization and augment its efficacy. Moreover, the process whereby the two reform resolutions came to be adopted reflect the General Assembly at its best: innovative, pragmatic, and concerned with the greater good of the United Nations itself.

I thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership and your fair but firm hand in reaching these achievements. I want also to express our collective gratitude to your two friends, the outstanding Permanent Representatives of Botswana and Ireland, whose effective diplomatic skills helped produce today's consensus resolution.

Mr. President, allow me also to thank the members of my own team who have assisted me throughout the process of initiating and coordinating the reform effort, drafting my report, and presenting its measures and proposals to this Assembly. Above all, I am indebted to Mr. Maurice Strong, the Executive Coordinator for Reform, a man of enormous energy, creativity, and dedication to the Organization we all serve. I am also grateful to Mr. Joseph Connor, Under-Secretary-General for Management, who has worked tirelessly in a quest for administrative efficiencies and other managerial improvements. We would not be where we are today were it not for their efforts, and those of the rest of our team.

Lack of time did not permit you to consider, in depth, the measures of a longer-term nature within the framework of my reform report. I look forward to presenting more detailed proposals before the end of March, as you have requested.

I will present to you the outlines of a results-based budgeting system together with illustrations of how it would function in the context of the United Nations. As parliaments from New Zealand to Singapore have discovered, such a budgeting system increases the ability of legislatures to hold administrative entities accountable. But it does so in a manner that

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stimulates administrative efficiencies, encourages coherence of efforts, and promotes agility. More effective results are achieved, typically at lower costs.

Similarly, in any organization, public or private, a rational process is required to routinely update its work. The idea of sunset provisions is intended to provide a specific time horizon for mandates, whereupon their continuation would require explicit renewal by the General Assembly. As you requested, I shall propose concrete measures to this effect.

I consider the Millennium Assembly to be of utmost importance. As we enter the new century and the new millennium, we must do for the Organization what has not been done since its founding conference in San Francisco. We must articulate clearly a compelling epochal vision for the United Nations, reaffirming its place in the system of international organizations, and its role in the international community as a whole.

In my judgement, the Millennium Assembly should review and reassess what the United Nations has endeavoured to achieve as well as the means by which it has sought to achieve its ends, with an eye on how further to close the gap between aspiration and accomplishment. It should identify promising opportunities as well as significant shortcomings. It should re-examine the continued viability of the juridically-based fragmentation that exists within the United Nations family as a whole. And it should provide focused strategic guidance for the United Nations in the era ahead.

You have heard me say before that reform is not an event, but a process. Today marks an exceedingly important event, to be sure, but the process must continue. And why must it continue? Because we are not engaged in reform for its own sake. We undertake it so that a more vital and more effective United Nations can make the contributions to its Member States, indeed, to men, women and children throughout the world, that our historic mission calls upon us to make. The Charter, as is so often the case, puts it best: to maintain international peace and security, to cooperate in achieving economic and social progress, to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The twentieth century has exhibited unprecedented outbursts of inhumanity. But it has also planted the seeds for greater human solidarity to come. Chief among them is the United Nations. Let us nourish this unique and precious expression of what unites us, and by virtue of enacting a self- fulfilling prophecy, the nations of the world will become ever more united.

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For information media. Not an official record.