27 February 2009


27 February 2009
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks to the Francophonie, in New York on 25 February:

I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to speak to you today about a number of urgent issues, from development and climate change to United Nations management reform.

Our organizations have much in common.  They are based on the notion that we are stronger together, in all our diversity, than alone.  We believe that dialogue can prevent and help resolve conflicts, and we are determined to work towards democracy and development for all.

Allow me to give the rest of my statement in English.

Over the past year, we have worked to strengthen our collaboration.  In April in Paris, we took steps to strengthen early warning systems for conflict prevention.  At a symposium in December, we focused on democratic transitions in Africa.  We have also jointly promoted human rights and efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The Secretary-General and I are particularly concerned about slow progress towards the goals in Africa.  At present, no African country is on track to achieve all of the Goals by 2015.  With this in mind, in September 2007, the Secretary-General and I brought together eight leading multilateral organizations working on African development to determine what they could do to help.  This MDG Africa Steering Group’s landmark recommendations, released last year, provided the first comprehensive, costed and feasible plan for poverty reduction in Africa by 2015.  I urge you to review the recommendations and join us in their implementation.

As you know, we are mandated by Member States to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals every five years.  The President of the General Assembly has circulated a draft resolution calling for a high-level meeting in 2010 to consider this next review.  We need to ensure that this review focuses on identifying key gaps in financing and implementation.  Extensive studies show us what needs to be done.  We need to act.

We also need to ensure that the gains we have made on the Millennium Development Goals are protected from the present economic and financial crisis.  Every part of the United Nations system is striving to minimize the impact on developing countries.  The Secretary-General is working to ensure that the needs of developing countries ‑- along with climate change ‑- are addressed at the G-20 (on financial markets and the world economy) leaders’ summit planned for 2 April in London.  The General Assembly’s high-level meeting on the impact of the financial and economic crisis on development will also consider these issues in early June.

The economic crisis must not be an excuse for deferring action on climate change.  Quite the contrary, the Secretary-General strongly believes that solutions to the climate crisis will help pave the way for solutions to the economic crisis and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  That is why the Secretary-General has called 2009 “the year of climate change”.

At last December’s climate conference in Poznan, Poland, parties to the United Nations Framework Convention took an important step forward by committing themselves to reach an agreement later this year in Copenhagen on a new, post-2012 climate regime.

This gives us a little more than nine months to negotiate one of the most complex multilateral treaties ever.  Leadership from every country will be essential in sealing a deal that is ambitious, comprehensive and acceptable to all.

The Secretary-General intends to convene a Head-of-State-and-Government event for all countries at the start of the General Assembly in September.  Just months before the Copenhagen conference, this will be an important catalyst for action.

An agreement in Copenhagen is essential for all of us, and could give Governments and industry the signals needed to help move the world towards a new green economy.  Let us make Copenhagen a success.

Francophone voices also need to be heard in the process of organizational renewal at the United Nations.  The Secretary-General envisions an administration focused on results; an administration that is efficient, directed, pragmatic and accountable; an administration that is committed to excellence and integrity in serving the global good.

To deliver on this vision, we must modernize.  The Secretary-General places a high premium on implementing the management reforms that have been approved by Member States to promote greater transparency, accountability and efficiency in our work and in the use of resources.

Together, we have made progress in a number of areas.  We re-organized our peacekeeping operations and established the Department of Field Services.  We overhauled our procurement practices, appointed a Chief Information Technology Officer and established the foundation for more proactive preventive diplomacy.  We welcome the progress that was achieved this past December and your continued support for our reform efforts.

However, there is much more to do.  Several initiatives are under way to strengthen the administrative backbone of the Organization, including a new accountability architecture, streamlined human resources processes, a new system of administration of justice and the implementation of enterprise resource planning.

Results matter.  Performance must be measurable.  This is why we are developing a management framework built around ingraining a “results mindset” in the working culture of the Organization.  Towards this end, the Secretary-General and I are seeking the support of Member States for a “new accountability architecture”.  This new framework would clarify roles, responsibilities and expected results at every level of the Organization.  It would also provide a more proactive and systematic approach to managing risk.

Accountability has to be more than just a management buzzword.  That is why, in the new system for the administration of justice to be introduced in July, all contested decisions will first be reviewed as part of a management evaluation before any case proceeds to litigation.  If it is found that an improper decision has been made, the individual manager shall be held accountable.

The United Nations must also invest more in our most important resource ‑- our people ‑- and establish an integrated global pool of staff.  At the moment, our staffing is cumbersome, slow and often unable to attract the best talent or reach a geographically diverse pool of candidates.  Our challenges in this area will only grow:  some 30 per cent of our current staff will retire in the next five years.

To address these problems and modernize our human resources management, we are streamlining contractual arrangements and improving conditions of service, as approved by the General Assembly this past December.  The new framework will become effective in July.  We are also planning for the future by consolidating a Secretariat-wide strategic workforce plan.  Each department has begun to map out upcoming vacancies in order to identify staffing needs.

Let me assure you that the new system that will replace Galaxy on 1 July, the Talent Management System, will support applications in French.  All vacancy announcements will continue to be translated in French and candidates will be able to submit their applications in French.

Finally, another major initiative for the years ahead is the implementation of an Enterprise Resources Planning System.  The ERP project aims to build an integrated, global information system for the Secretariat that strengthens management of human, financial and physical resources, and that is based on streamlined business processes and best practices.

It is expected to improve accountability, risk management, transparency, client satisfaction and overall operational effectiveness.  This in turn will result in long-term efficiency benefits, not least better information for Member States.

The United Nations welcomes the opportunity to continue to work in close partnership with the Francophonie on all these issues.  I look forward to seeing what together we can achieve.

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*     Reissued to include text translated from French.

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.