UN Reform Watches

  • 5 March 2009, No. 39

    by Lydia Swart

    Upon taking office, the current President of the General Assembly (GA), Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, made GA revitalization and democratization of the United Nations top priorities of his presidency. His recent attempt, however, to make the Assembly more relevant by addressing the crisis in Gaza - in his own assessment - failed.

  • 16 December 2008, No. 38

    by Jonas von Freiesleben

    The following analysis provides an update to chapter 3 on System-wide Coherence in “Managing Change at the United Nations,” and covers events pertaining to this issue during the 62nd General Assembly session, as well as a look ahead at what might come.

  • 1 December 2008, No. 37

    by Emanuel Evans and Lydia Swart

    The Fifth Committee is scheduled to meet from 3 October to 12 December 2008. Considering its heavy workload, the late issuance of certain documents, and the regretfully all too predictable disagreements among Member States, it is likely that the session will take longer than anticipated – an increasingly common occurrence in the Fifth Committee. The following provides an overview of a number of issues on the agenda and also attempts to summarize some of the proceedings so far, highlighting the dynamics among Member States as well as between Member States and the Secretariat.

  • 11 November 2008, No. 36

    by Jonas von Freiesleben

    The following analysis provides an update to chapter 1 on Security Council reform in the Center's publication “Managing Change at the United Nations” (April). It covers events and Member States dynamics in the Open-ended Working Group and in the Security Council during the 62nd General Assembly session, and - as the Open-ended Working Group is about to meet on 11 November 2008 - also on the road ahead.

  • 10 November 2008, No. 35

    by Lydia Swart

    On 30 October, an informal meeting took place on the draft resolution “Strengthening the environmental activities in the United Nations system.” Member States provided feedback on the draft resolution made available on 23 July which was a revision of the 2 May original Chairmen’s version. This analysis explores the chances of this resolution being adopted by the end of this year.

  • 5 September 2008, No. 34

    by Jonas von Freiesleben

    Member States met on Tuesday, 2 September 2008, to discuss a recently published draft report on the current status and future of the Open-Ended Working Group on Security Council Reform. During the all-day meeting, a number of countries delivered statements (available documents in blue), with many challenging both the contents of the draft report and the proposed way forward.

  • 24 June 2008, No. 33

    by Jonas von Freiesleben

    At the last meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group on Security Council reform, on 17 June 2008, a task force composed of ambassadors and appointed by the GA President presented their status report. It included a reform suggestion based on the idea of a transitional approach. According to this approach, Member States would agree on basic reforms now, with a view to revisiting them at a later mandatory review conference; at which time they could be reversed or amended. The following provides some additional insight on the legal and political implications of such a transitional approach.

  • 7 May 2008, No. 32

    by Lydia Swart

    This analysis explores the premise that there is a governance crisis in the Fifth Committee (Budgetary and Administrative) and is based on conversations with a number of key delegates from the EU, Group of 77, and the US as well as other insiders.

  • 16 April 2008, No. 31

    by Jonas von Freiesleben

    The Working Group on Security Council reform met on Thursday 10 April 2008 to discuss a draft put forward by Cyprus at the initiative of Germany. The text was an attempt to infuse new momentum in the slow-going debate, but was almost certainly “killed off” by heavy criticism from especially the Uniting for Consensus bloc and a large portion of developing countries. The following is an analysis of the current developments.

  • 29 January 2008, No. 30

    by Lydia Swart

    A look at the current dynamics in the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee which deals with budget and administrative matters, based on conversations with key players from the EU, Group of 77, and the US. In particular, this analysis focuses on the powerful Group of 77 and the US. The latter insisted on the vote to approve the budget.

  • 29 November 2007, No. 29

    by Lydia Swart

    Informal discussions on the work of the Task Force were postponed last week at the request of the Group of 77. Some insiders believe that one of the first investigation cases taken up by the Task Force may be a key reason for this delay.

  • 10 September 2007, No. 28

    by Irene Martinetti

    Among the many caucuses and groupings of the United Nations none seems to be more intensively scrutinized than the Group of 77 (G77), a powerful faction representing the interests of 130 developing Member States. Since its inception in 1964, the Group has carefully guarded the interests of ‘the South’, as the developing world is colloquially referred to at the United Nations. For outsiders, the G77 has often been elusive yet the Group constitutes a powerful factor in moving opinions on important issues at the UN. Through interviews with key diplomats and UN officials, this article analyzes the current management reform discussions as seen through the eyes of the Group of 77.

  • 21 June 2007, No. 27

    by Julia C. Hurley

    This analysis examines efforts by the United States to bring about management reform at the United Nations. The author based her findings on statements issued by the United States, an interview with a key US diplomat at the UN, as well as NGO and Press reports.

  • 25 April 2007, No. 26

    by Lydia Swart and Irene Martinetti

    Apart from important decisions on budgets and assessments, the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly also deliberates on key proposals in regard to management reform. Progress on some of these reform proposals has been slow and this analysis explores whether the working methods of the Fifth Committee may be as much to blame as the much lamented North-South divide.

  • January 31, 2007, No. 25

    by Irene Martinetti

    In the few months that followed the selection of Ban Ki-moon as the new Secretary General, professors, diplomats, politicians, NGOs, journalists, and other "UN experts” made their voices heard - in concerto or solo – by providing him with advice and proposals. This article outlines the priorities that have been entrusted to the new Secretary General and offers an evaluation of the actions he has taken on them– especially in regard to moving reform proposals forward - during his first month in office.

  • January 30, 2007, No. 24

    by Lydia Swart

    Now that the informal consultations at the General Assembly (UNGA) on the UN’s environmental activities are moving to the formulation of an Options Paper, it will become more evident whether there is sufficient political will to strengthen environmental governance at the global level.

  • December 21st, 2006, No. 23

    by Irene Martinetti

    On December 22, 2006, the General Assembly is expected to approve a resolution on the reform of the UN’s human resources management policies. The resolution provides some basis for improvement but leaves many questions open for further discussions. The article provides an analysis of the main issues at stake.

  • December 1st, 2006, No. 22

    by Irene Martinetti

    The long expected reform of the oversight and governance systems of the UN is now being discussed at the Fifth Committee. Despite the general consensus on the need for reform, achieving it will be a difficult and lengthy endeavor. The following analysis offers an overview of the main issues at stake.

  • November 15, 2006, No. 21

    by Lydia Swart

    This analysis explores the need and calls for procurement reform, current trends in the Fifth Committee and some of the more complex issues involved.

  • 26 October 2006, No. 20

    by Irene Martinetti

    Adoption of a draft resolution on the strengthening of the United Nations Economic and Social Council is being delayed by disagreements amongst Member States.

  • October 2, 2006, No. 19

    By Lydia Swart

    On 13 October 2006, the General Assembly appointed by acclamation Ban Ki-Moon of the Republic of Korea as the next UN Secretary General, starting 1 January 2006.

  • August 16, 2006, No. 18

    By Irene Martinetti

    Behind the controversy on Management Reform: important differences on UN priorities. The article explores the key issues that are slowing down the process of Mandate Review.

  • July 12, 2006, No. 17

    By Lydia Swart

    An interview with the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information and India’s nominee for U.N. Secretary General, held on 12 July 2006.

  • June 28, 2006, No. 16

    By Irene Martinetti

    U.N. management reform has become one of the most contentious issues debated by the Member States. The main point of contention has risen out of the concern (especially by the G-77 and China) that giving increased independence to the U.N. Secretariat in basic financial, budgetary and post reallocations could result in the countries paying the largest share of the bills to exercise more leverage on the Secretariat and potentially the entire organization. At the adoption of the 2006-2007 budget, funds were only allocated for the first six months of 2006 (the so-called budget cap) and the remainder of the funds were to be approved only if enough progress was made on U.N. reform proposals.

  • June 20, 2006, No. 15

    By Ayca Ariyoruk

    Ban Ki Moon, South Korea's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has publicly declared his candidacy to the post of Secretary General on February 2006. During an interview with Center Research fellow Ayca Aryoruk, he explains his desire to pay back the United Nations for military and economic assistance to Korea during and after the Korean war. His agenda includes bringing forward the Iran and North Korea nuclear dialogue, stopping the genocide in Darfur and ensuring implementation of the management reforms at the U.N.

  • June 16, 2006, No. 14

    By Irene Martinetti

    On March 15th 2006, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved, 170 to 4 votes against (US, Israel, Marshall Islands and Palau) and 3 abstentions (Belarus, Iran and Venezuela), the draft resolution A/60/L.48 creating the Human Rights Council. The newly born Council, which is meeting in Geneva on June 19th, is being constituted to replace the Human Rights Commission. Will the Human Rights Council achieve the hard objective of “mainstreaming” human rights? Or will it simply be a slightly improved copy of the politicized Commission? The article analyses strengths and weaknesses of UN's new organism for the promotion of human rights.

  • April 19, 2006, No. 13

    By Walter Hoffmann

    On April 20, 2006, Jan Eliasson, the president of the General Assembly will reconvene the open-ended discussion of the working group on Security Council reform. This is an opportunity for member states to present their best views on the development of this debate since their last meetin gin November, 2005. In his introduction, Jan Eliasson, should encourage governments to discuss alternative models put forward by independent groups. The Model Duo is an alternative model, under which governments would seek a two-country slate election to occupy one seat at the Security Council and, by exchangind diplomats, would share a longer six-year term.

  • April 12, 2006, No. 12

    By Ayca Ariyoruk

    Although Vike-Freiberga has not announced her candidacy for the top U.N. job, some observers speculate she may be what the U.N. needs. An inspirational leader, Vike-Freiberga offered hope to Latvians at times of desperation and demonstrated moral courage to do the right thing despite the consequences. Center's research fellow Ayca Ariyoruk met with the Latvian President on March 8, 2006 and talked about U.N. reform, NATO, Iraq and her personal journey that brought her from refugee camps to a presidential palace.

  • March 22, 2006, No. 11

    By Ayca Ariyoruk

    Since 1946, the United Nations has appointed seven secretaries general based on an imprecise General Assembly resolution outlining the terms of the appointment. With a small modification to the resolution passed in 1946, General Assembly can reverse the decline to it's prestige, Security Council can reform its working methods, United States can ease suspicions against its overall reform agenda and most importantly U.N. can choose the best possible candidate for

  • March 16, 2006, No. 10

    By Gergana Nedeva

    On March 15, 2006 170 member states at the United Nations agreed to establish a new Human Rights Council to replace the discredited Commission on Human Rights, despite a 'no' vote by the United States.. In February we talked with Mr. Lawrence Moss, the Special Counsel for for U.N. Reform at Human Rights Watch. Mr. Moss said "President Eliasson's text provides for significant improvement over the Commission, although it is not as strong as Human Rights Watch had sought."

  • March 1, 2006, No. 9

    by Ayca Ariyoruk

    Surakiart Sathirathai is one of three candidates openly running for the post of the United Nations secretary general. Dr. Surakiart, talks reform with Center's research fellow Ayca Ariyoruk, in Washington DC on February 13, 2005.

  • February 1, 2006, No. 8

    By Walter Hoffmann

    According to The Japan Times, Japan is preparing to introduce a new model which would allocate a permanent seat to Japan, and will also increase the number of non-permanent seats. While Japan's move to consider alternative methods is encouraging, a permanent seat for Japan, is very likely to be vetoed by China, if the issue comes to a vote. For the sake of not slowing debate on the enlargement of the Council, states should start giving serious consideration to non-permanent models. Model X or one of its variations might be a good place to start...

  • January 23, 2006, No. 7

    By Ayca Ariyoruk

    With the term of Secretary General Kofi Annan set to expire at the end of 2006, aspirants for the job are beginning to present their qualifications. Among them is Jayantha Dhanapala, an expert in international arms control, one of only two candidates to have officially received their country's endorsement for the post. In an interview with Center Research Fellow Ayca Ariyoruk on January 7, 2006, Dhanapala said "there is a lot that is right about the U.N. We have to preserve what is right while fixing what is not."

  • December 21, 2005, No. 6

    By Niamh Gibbons

    On December 20, 2005, the General Assembly and the Security Council passed resolutions on founding a Peacebuilding Commission, one of the reform proposals originally agreed by heads of states during the world summit in September. The new commission will be an advisory body and help stabilize and rebuild countries emerging from war. We talked about the new body with Necla Tschirgi, vice president of the International Peace Academy and an expert on peacebuilding.

  • November 18, 2005, No. 5

    By Gergana Nedava

    On November 21, the U.N. working group is expected to submit a draft resolution outlining the specifics of the proposed Human Rights Council, which will replace the discredited Human Rights Commission. Member states will start consultations on the basis of this draft on November 28.

  • October 7, 2005, No. 4

    By Ayca Ariyoruk

    Last week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said the moment for the Group of Four has passed. Why the Group of Four’s proposal failed to gather support? Is it time to consider alternative proposals?

  • September 22, 2005, No. 3

    Featuring: Peggy Hicks, Craig Mokhiber, Harris Schoenberg, Thomas Schewich and Martin Thummel
    How will the proposed Human Rights Council will be different from the Commission it is replacing? Should there be a criterion for membership? Should it be principle organ of the United Nations or a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly?

  • June 15, 2005, No. 2

    Featuring: Steven Schlesinger and Bhaskar Menon
    Yesterday, U.S. Institute of Peace released the report of a bi-partisan Congressional Task Force. What does the Report say about the U.S. position on U.N. Reforms? Is there enough time for the member states to deliberate reform proposals before the September Summit? Is the U.N. being set up for a big let down or pushed towards transformation?

  • June 3, 2005, No. 1

    By Ayca Ariyoruk

    Member states may be called into a special session as early as mid- June on a resolution calling for the expansion of the Security Council by adding six permanent seats. Are the member states ready to alter the structure of the Security Council?