Annan outlines UN reforms

The report has sparked an outcry from United Nations staff who are concerned about a proposal to outsource some functions.

Mr Annan, who is stepping down after completing his second five-year term at the end of this year, presented his report to the UN General Assembly in response to demands made at a summit of world leaders here last September.

The 34 page report called “Investing in the United Nations: For a Stronger Organisation Worldwide”, builds on reforms initiated last year to enhance ethics and accountability and remedy lapses exposed by the Iraq oil-for food corruption scandal, UN procurement fraud and sexual exploitation in some peacekeeping operations.

One of its most controversial recommendations is the outsourcing of services such as translation, printing and publishing, medical insurance plan administration, information technology support services, payroll and staff benefits processes.

Staff critical

At a meeting with UN staff after his presentation to the Assembly, Mr Annan listened to strong criticism of the way the reform would be conducted from some of the UN’s 700 staff members.

Rosemarie Waters, president of the Staff Union, expressed “deep disappointment over the content of the management reform… particularly the latest proposal to eradicate thousands of UN jobs as a consequence of outsourcing and offshoring.”

“Our current rules and regulations were designed for an essentially static Secretariat, whose main function was to service conferences and meetings of member states, and whose staff worked mainly at headquarters,” Mr Annan earlier told the 191-member General Assembly.

“That is not the United Nations of today,” he said, noting that more than 70 percent of UN headquarters’ 10-billion-dollar (8.3 billion-euro) annual budget was now earmarked for peacekeeping and other field operations.

“In the 16 years since the Cold War ended, we have taken on more than twice as many new peacekeeping missions than in the previous 44 years. Spending on peacekeeping has quadrupled,” he said.

Mr Annan said that more than half of the UN’s 30,000 civilian staff now served in the field, not only in peacekeeping, but also in humanitarian relief, human rights monitoring, electoral assistance and the battle against drugs and crime.

Report’s key recommendations:

– improve recruitment and retention of personnel capable of handling large multidisciplinary operations;

– shake up the structure of top management to enable the secretary general to exercise effective authority;

– increase investment in communication technology for faster information retrieval;

– explore new ways to deliver services, such as relocation and
outsourcing;

– simplify budget and financial management processes;

– increase transparency in management and budget procedures;

– and create a small, dedicated office to manage the process of change, in close liaison with a small, representative group of member states.


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