Reform is the purposeful act of modifying the structure, composition, decision-making procedures, working methods, funding or staffing of an institution in order to enhance its efficiency and/or effectiveness in advancing its core goals and principles. Considering this definition, and trying to apply it to the United Nations System, we are committed to question the functioning of the organisation, to envisage its possible improvement. Why would reforms of the UN system be needed? When looking at the range of field subject to reforms, it's easy to notice that, indeed, UN needs to be reformed. Decision-making procedures are contested through the claim for new permanent seats at the Security Council, the legitimacy of the veto right, the proposals for a weighted system of voting at the General Assembly; funding is clearly a critical issue regarding the dramatic financial crisis the UN goes through, and its so small budget (around $10billions a year, which is absolutely obsolete compared as many governments' budgets).
[...] To sum up, there has been no reform of the UN for different reasons, due to many factors. Bureaucracy and administration which at first seem to be major issues actually appear as means to keep UN weak. Improvement of their functioning is subordinated to the will of member states that finance heir structures, those very member state that would not necessarily benefit from the gain in UN efficiency! An efficient UN System is one which is as much independent of its members in the decision-making process as it is possible. [...]
[...] I shall illustrate the former by considering the Secretariat staff: when in 1945, there were 300 members of staff had been recruited by 1964, to get a 1984 staff approaching 15000 people! While it actually partly reflects the growth in UN membership, it still needs to be reconsidered. First, it came out that no clear requirements were set for staff recruitment, even for senior staff! It seems that the system is more based on equity rather than on efficiency: geographical representation rather than qualified candidates. [...]
[...] However, if the process for reform of the UN has always been tortuous, it is still to be wished and supported, as it is not a vain, useless quest. It is necessary for the UN to work and to last. It is necessary for a fairer, more developed world; it is necessary to give UN means to eradicate misery, hunger, poverty; which is, I think, the main issue the UN members should morally focus on. Bibliography Readings - T.Arnold, Reforming the UN, its Economic Role (London, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1995) - J.Baylis and S.Smith, The Globalization of World Politics, an introduction to International Relations (New York, Oxford University Press, 2001) - Y.Beigbeder in The United Nations at the Millenium, the principal organs, edited by Paul Taylor and A.J.R.Groom (London, Continuum, 2000) - R.Cook, Neocons are out for Kofi Annan's Blood”, The Guardian, April 1st,2005 - E.C.Luck,United Nations: lessons from a History in Progress,(International Relations Studies and United Nations Occasional Papers - The Nordic UN Project, The United Nations in development (Stockholm, GOTAB, 1991) - B.Urquhart, “Looking for the Sheriff”, New York Review of Books, July 16th - Lord S.Salter, The UN, Reform, Replace or Supplement, Annual Memorial Lecture - D.Steele, The Reform of the United Nation (Chatham, Mackays, 1987) Internet links - www.globalpolicy.org - www.un.org - www.lemonde.fr - http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/ Reforming the United Nations: a lesson from a history progress, Edward C. [...]
[...] A main problem of the system has been the lack of coordination between institutions, missions, programmes, NGOs They are, firstly too numerous, secondly too independent and uninterested in each other. The ECOSOC is supposed to deal with this matter of coordination. However, it appears as a real challenge, when considering the way UN System has grown: instead of looking at what institution exists and could deal with a new issue, a new one is quickly created. Alas, it is not as quickly coordinated with older ones. [...]
[...] It has been written in a very specific context (end of the Second World War) and there have been many calls for the Charter to be adjusted in order to better fit in today's world. The UN F.D.Roosevelt, J.Stalin and W.Churchill wanted was a strong one, but controlled by the “Four Policemen”, which were to become the P5 with the veto. However, since 1945 many things have changed, decolonisation added lots of Third World countries to the GA where Africa and Asia got then half the seats! [...]
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