Библиографическое описание:

Левина К. А. The United Nations Current History: Contribution of Kofi Annan to the Organisation Reforming Process // Молодой ученый. — 2011. — №5. Т.2. — С. 76-78.

Since the very moment of inauguration as the UN Secretary-General in 1997, Kofi Annan has been deeply concerned about the problem of strengthening the United Nations Organization and that issue has become a priority for him. During his tenure Secretary-General submitted and approved numerous ideas and reform proposals so that United Nations’ actions were carried out on the basis of the most advanced international practice.

Kofi Annan aimed at the perfection of the United Nations actions as an institute, a special establishment, and his program of transformations is often called administrative and budgetary reform of the UN. The institutional reforms outlined in this report consist of three types of measures. The first are those that the Secretary-General can and will undertake on his own initiative within the UN Charter, concerning largely the organization and management of the Secretariat programmes and funds. The second are complementary measures that reside within the jurisdiction of Member States, including the structure and functioning of intergovernmental bodies, which require their approval. Finally, several more fundamental proposals are advanced for serious consideration and deliberation and possible action in the longer term [1, p. 5].

Reform proposals were submitted by the Secretary-General in the form of reports, and then the General Assembly approved them and adopted resolutions on them. The report practice has become extended in the sphere of the Organization strengthening. These analytical works contain offers on transformations of practically all aspects of the United Nations actions. Classifying the reports on the coverage, they can be divided into key and thematic reports.

On July 14, Kofi Annan released Maurice Strong's initial plan to begin reforming the United Nations. The 95-page document, entitled Renewing the United Nations: a Programme for Reform (А/51/950), is a step-by-step program to implement many of the recommendations advanced by the UN-funded Commission on Global Governance in its 1995 report entitled Our Global Neighborhood. The reform plan comes as no surprise. Maurice Strong was a member of the Commission on Global Governance and a lead author of its report. He was the first appointment of Kofi Annan, just days after Annan's selection as UN Secretary-General. As Executive Coordinator for Reform, Strong was hired specifically to restructure the sprawling UN system into the mechanism for global governance described in Our Global Neighborhood [2].

The reform plan was welcomed in Washington as evidence that the new Secretary-General was serious about reducing the bloated world-wide bureaucracy. A promise to eliminate 1000 staff positions and reduce overhead costs from 38 percent to 25 percent were the plan's key features heralded in the media. Little, if any, attention was focused on the effect of the reform plan on the structure of the institution. The report itself says: "Reform is not intrinsically an exercise in cutting costs or reducing staff. It is an exercise to assure the Organizations' relevance in a changing world...” [1, p. 87].

The document consists of two parts: the first part contains the thematic review of the basic elements of the reform, describes a new structure of the UN management proposed by the Secretary-General and summarizes key sectoral measures which are being carried out, has already been carried out or are offered to member states. The second part contains more detailed descriptions of all series of measures on reform.

1997 reform package included a number of changes in secretariat structure the most considerable of which was the creation of United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs which replaced three existing departments. Moreover two programs were combined within the framework of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The competence of UN Human Rights Center was transferred to Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. We should mention that the reform has nothing to do with reducing costs and everything to do with the consolidation of power.

All the secretariat work was divided into 5 areas: peace and security, economic and social affairs, sustainable development, humanitarian issues and human rights. Executive Committees have already been organized for each of four areas. The fifth area, human rights, is considered to cross all areas and is therefore represented on each of the other Executive Committees. Virtually every one of the more than 130 UN agencies, commissions, committees, and funds, has been assigned to one or more of these four UN "Departments." The heads of these new departments, along with several selected senior staff, constitute the new Senior Management Group [2].

Three important new structures were created after the report. First of all, in 1997 the post of the First Deputy Secretary-General was introduced in order to strengthen and facilitate the management of the Organization at the top level. Secondly, the Secretary-General established his own cabinet in a format of Senior Management Group which included all heads of secretariat departments and also heads of funds and UN programs. Its objective is to ensure strategic coherence and direction in the work of the Organization [3]. The SMG has enabled the United Nations to refine its leadership and management by allowing senior managers to plan together, share information, pool efforts, coordinate activities, avoid duplication, and work for common objectives.

The report also contained measures on increasing the budgetary efficiency of the Organization (Result Based Management). Besides, the measures on UN combat readiness strengthening and deployment of UN peacekeeping operations especially in the field of postdisputed peacebuilding were suggested. The proposal implied making sufficient amendments to the UN Charter such as "Stronger cooperation" is required from nations that have "relevant capabilities" and "regional or sub-regional organizations" such as NATO; "Global security can be said to exist only if the [Security] Council can dispatch military forces rapidly and with the requisite predictability and reliability."[1, p. 37].

Among the desirable UN changes which also demanded amendments to the Charter the report outlined the transformation of United Nations Trusteeship Council to the trustees of the global commons. Global commons is defined to be "The atmosphere, outer space, the oceans beyond national jurisdiction, and the related environment and life-support systems that contribute to the support of human life [4]." The United Nations Center for Human Settlements (HABITAT) is being incorporated into the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The restructured UNEP will administer all environmental treaties, more than 300 currently, and will become the implementation and enforcement arm of the UN Trusteeship Council. Programmatic activity is being shifted to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), into which will also be folded the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The disadvantages of the decentralized system of the UN Specialized Agencies were to be eliminated but all their benefits must me preserved. Moreover, immediate structural change included the creation of a new International Criminal Court [4].

The program of the reforms containing in this report was approved by the General Assembly (A/RES/52/12).

The second reforms package which was contained in the Report Strengthening of the United Nations: an Agenda for Further Change included measures on adjusting the UN actions (session, reports, etc.) in accordance with the priority aims endorsed in United Nations Millennium Declaration, improvement of work in the field of public information, perfection of cooperation quality and distributions of resources o the priority bases [5]. Furthermore, the report contains the idea of curtailing the volume of official meetings and documents due to the fact that Many smaller Member States found it practically impossible to play a meaningful role in even the most crucial activities of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council and even larger countries find it increasingly difficult to keep track of — let alone actively participate in — the full range of annual meetings [5, p.9].

This program was also approved by the Assembly (A/RES/57/300).

We should notice that Kofi Annan intentionally avoided talking about Organization strengthening issues on which political consensus was unattainable (for example, Security Council reform). However, he still underlines the importance of reforming the General Assembly by rationalizing its agendas, Security Council by offering greater transparency and Economic and Social Council by continuing the annual dialogue with the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization [5, p.8]. Consequently, his reform is generally characterized as administrative and institutional. It is important to notice that Kofi Annan considered that the process of the United Nations reformation should be consistent but constant at the same time, and it should cover as many UN activities as only possible. Therefore he initiated the creation of various Panels which studied the ways the United Nations could be strengthened (Panel on UN Peace Operations, Panel of Eminent Persons, High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Changes, etc.).

In September 2003 while giving a speech at the 58th sessions of the General Assembly Kofi Annan drawn the audience attention to irreconcilable differences between member states concerning the character of modern threats and the appropriateness of the use of force for their elimination. He also declared his intention to call High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Changes, a so-called “Wise Men Panel” (А/Res/58/16). In December 2004 its report A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility (А/59/565) was published. It contained about 100 recommendations which should be used during the process of general approaches development and rationalization of joint actions mechanisms in order to react more efficiently to the most dangerous challenges including terrorism [6].

The report In Larger Freedom - Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All (A/59/2005) which followed the “Wise Men Panel” report in many aspects was based on it. In this report Kofi Annan suggested resolute transformations in United Nations principal organs structures hoping that they would be accepted by member states at 2005 Millennium Development Goals Summit.

The General Assembly’s work was urged to be rationalized by conducting an internal reform and facilitating its interaction with civil society structures. The General Assembly should take bold measures to rationalize its work and speed up the deliberative process, notably by streamlining its agenda, its committee structure and its procedures for holding plenary debates and requesting reports, and by strengthening the role and authority of its President. It should give focus to its substantive agenda by concentrating on addressing the major substantive issues of the day, such as international migration and the long-debated comprehensive convention on terrorism [7, p 40].

The Security Council should be broadly representative of the realities of power in today’s world. The Secretary-General supports the principles for reform set out in the report of the High-level Panel, and urges Member States to consider the two options, Models A and B, presented in that report, or any other viable proposals in terms of size and balance that have emerged on the basis of either Model [7, p. 43].

The Economic and Social Council should be reformed so that it can effectively assess progress in the UN’s development agenda, serve as a high-level development cooperation forum, and provide direction for the efforts of the various intergovernmental bodies in the economic and social area throughout the UN system. The Council should also convene timely meetings, as required, to assess threats to development, such as famines, epidemics and major natural disasters, and to promote coordinated responses to them [7, p.44].

The report also proposed a creation of Human Rights Council replacing the Commission on Human Rights which suffered from declining credibility and professionalism.HRC should be introduced either as a UN principal organ or a subsidiary of the General Assembly, whose members would be elected directly by the General Assembly, by a two-thirds majority of members present and voting [7, p. 45]. Today we already know that the member states chose the second variant.

The report In Larger Freedom - Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All included initiatives on making amendments to the Charter such as an exclusion of out-of-date references to «the enemy states» in articles 53 and 107, chapters XIII “The Trusteeship Council”, article 47 about Military Staff Committee together with all references to this committee in articles 26, 45 and 46 [7, p. 52].

Not all the report suggestions were welcomed by member states during 2005 Summit. 2005 World Summit Outcome (A/RES/60/1) contained rather careful recommendations which didn't assume qualitative changes including those of the Security Council.

Nevertheless, reforming process took it course. In 2006 the Secretary-General published the next report Investing in the United Nations: for a Stronger Organization Worldwide (А/60/692) which raised the issue of further Secretariat reorganization. It contained daring ideas on the reformation of Secretariat management within the next five years. In the second half of 2006 three more reports which developed these ideas were published: Comprehensive Review of Governance and Oversight, the report of the Panel on the Redesign of the UN system of administration of justice and the review prepared by the High-level Panel on System-wide Coherence (A/63/362). All these reports proposed the far-reaching recommendations concerning key administrative procedures and structures. If these recommendations had been confirmed by Member States, they would have been capable of changing the Organization methods of work considerably.

Summarizing the work on the UN reformation done by Kofi Annan we should admit that even though some reforms proposed by the Secretary-General were vague or too drastic and progressive to be accepted by the world community, he took a big step forward in the field of the UN strengthening and his initiative in United Nations reorganization was supported by a number of world leader including Angela Merkel, Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev.


  1. Renewing the United Nations: A Programme for Reform (А/51/950). – Access: http://www.ubuntu.upc.edu/civil_society/documents/4/esp

  2. UN Reform. Restructuring for global governance. – Access: http://sovereignty.net/p/gov/ggunreform.htm#9

  3. UN official website, Senior Management Group. – Access: http://www.un.org/sg/management.shtml

  4. Our Global Neighborhood. The Report of the Commission on Global Governance. – Access: http://www.libertymatters.org/globalgovernance.htm

  5. Strengthening of the United Nations: an Agenda for Further Change. – Access: http://www.ubuntu.upc.edu/civil_society/documents/8/fra

  6. A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility. – Access: http://www.un.org/secureworld/

  7. In Larger Freedom - Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All. – Access: http://www.libertysecurity.org/IMG/pdf/RapportONU2005EN.pdf


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