Report of the Secretary-General: III. Strengthening the Organization

Close-up of Secretary-General Ban as he shakes hands with principals at the UN Insurance Sector Summit organized by the UN Office for Partnerships in collaboration with the International Insurance Society.

Close-up of Secretary-General Ban as he shakes hands with principals at the UN Insurance Sector Summit organized by the UN Office for Partnerships in collaboration with the International Insurance Society. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The General Assembly made important strides in the past year to enhance the Organization’s decision-making capabilities and to make it more reflective of the twenty-first century. Intergovernmental negotiations continued on Security Council reform and the Assembly placed a new emphasis on coordination among the principal organs on topical issues. Enhanced interaction between the Assembly and civil society was also prioritized. There was a 21 per cent rise in the frequency of Security Council meetings and a 36 per cent increase in the number of General Assembly meetings, and the Secretariat provided quantitatively more but qualitatively consistent conference service support. Delivery of conference services was modernized in a variety of ways, including with a global United Nations platform for computer-assisted and machine translation.

The Secretariat made notable progress throughout the year on a number of key transformational initiatives designed to make the Organization truly global and to maximize our capacity to deliver on mandates effectively and efficiently. For example, Umoja, the enterprise resource planning system, reached another critical milestone in June with its deployment to the Nairobi-based entities (United Nations Office at Nairobi, United Nations Environment Programme, UN-Habitat) as well as to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. It will be deployed to all other duty stations in November, thereby enabling an integrated and streamlined management of financial, human and physical resources for the global Secretariat. This standardized solution will in turn support a global service delivery model that will provide high-quality, timely and standardized administrative services across the global Secretariat, including services to peacekeeping and special political missions. I will present a framework proposal on the global service delivery model to the General Assembly at its seventieth session.

In addition, the mobility and career development framework will soon become a reality with the launch on 1 January 2016 of the first job network (POLNET), which includes departments and offices working on political, peacekeeping and humanitarian affairs. This new approach to staffing will permit the movement of staff to meet the strategic needs of the Organization arising from mandate requirements and organizational priorities.

The implementation of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards in 2014 has increased transparency by making available much more detailed information about the Organization’s financial position and the use of its resources and has led to greater traceability of management decisions, thereby strengthening accountability.

In view of the endorsement by the General Assembly of an information and communications technology strategy, I will continue to address the highly fragmented technology landscape, including by transitioning technology services and programme delivery to a model with both enterprise-wide and regional components that comply with standards, best practice and governance requirements. I continue to accord the highest priority to information security and operational resilience.

Given the level of inherent risk the Organization faces as well as the additional risk generated by the magnitude of organizational change under way, the Secretariat is in the process of implementing an enterprise-wide coherent and integrated risk management system to mitigate the risks to our work.

The renovation and refurbishment of the Headquarters complex in New York has been successfully concluded with the dissolution of the Office of the Capital Master Plan in July 2015 and the transfer of responsibilities to the Office of Central Support Services in the Department of Management.

Considerable management attention was dedicated this year to the increasingly critical question of the safety and security of United Nations personnel around the world. The Organization worked towards strengthening its duty of care in high-risk environments, ending impunity for serious crimes and acts of violence committed against United Nations personnel, and ensuring consistency in the implementation of the programme criticality methodology in order to weigh security risks against programme imperatives. In addition, the Organization remains committed to the strengthening of security management.

Partnerships

Multi-stakeholder initiatives such as Sustainable Energy for AllEvery Woman, Every ChildGlobal Education First Initiative, the Zero Hunger Challenge and Global Pulse demonstrate the great potential in partnership to harness the strengths of various actors towards achieving the goals of the United Nations. The Climate Summit in September 2014 mobilized leaders from the private sector, finance and civil society to commit to ambitious actions to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience. The Organization should continue to seize the great potential of partnership, while ensuring oversight and accountability.

Taking heed of the positions of Member States, I informed the General Assembly that I no longer wished Member States to consider the proposals related to the establishment of a partnership facility which had been made in the context of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015. This allows further consideration of how best to achieve the objectives for which a partnership facility had been proposed. It also allows any subsequent proposals in this area to be informed both by the discussions held in the context of the consideration of the proposed partnership facility and by decisions of Member States on financing for development and on the post-2015 development framework.

With respect to existing partnership we continue to focus on increasing the impact of our work with a broad range of partners, including Governments, civil society, the private sector, philanthropy, academia, and other multilateral organizations. Through the United Nations Global Compact, over 8,000 companies in more than 150 countries are already advancing responsible business practices. In addition, consultations were held across the United Nations system to revise the Guidelines on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Business Sector. The Department of Public Information raised global awareness of the work and goals of the Organization through partnerships with traditional and new media outlets across multiple languages, the creative community, and over 1,000 universities that have committed themselves to the United Nations Academic Impact. Outreach programmes mandated by the General Assembly, including those related to the Holocaust, the Rwanda genocide and the transatlantic slave trade, continued to be strengthened with the association of new partners and the enlargement of audiences. The Organization also signed a Revised and Restated Relationship Agreement with the United Nations Foundation, to reflect the evolving nature of the Foundation’s activities, from primarily grant making to advocacy and resource mobilization and cross-sector partnerships.