NEW FORMAT FOR OLD REFORM

 

NOVEMBER 2018

NEW FORMAT FOR OLD REFORM

Announcements to introduce new reform to the United Nations' system sound familiar to those who have followed reform efforts for decades.

Departments being split, combined, or renamed were the subject of various "high-level" reviews over the years. For example, Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar, introduced the post of Development Director, at a more senior level than Under-Secretary General, to allow for a basic sector of the U.N. to work together under one official, Eric Repert. Incidentally, the name, pronounced in French as "repair," prodded our sarcastic colleague, Diego Cordovez, to describe the assignment as "beyond repair".

Another appointment was Under-Secretary General for management, Marti Ahtsari, who initiated basic internal reform before returning to Finland as its president.

Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali initiated further reform in handling Peacekeeping and Special Political Affairs departments between Mr. Marack Goulding and Kofi Annan and introduced a new office of investigation which was headed by German diplomat (and outstanding Saxophone player) Karl Paschke.

Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan announced a basic reform process headed by Canadian internationalist Maurice Strong. Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, then Vice-President of the World Bank, was commissioned to prepare an overall review of the Department of Public Information. Over two years of preparations by reform team produced wide-spread proposals which were supposedly, yet gradually, implemented.

Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon reputedly declared a "new culture" in reforming the U.N., though leaving it to his compatriot, dubbed Kim-Too-Soon, to implement.

A high-level team by new Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is similarly coming out with suggestions, reportedly including joining together the two departments of Peacekeeping and those of Political Affairs. The initials alone would be hard to remember, for example, PKOPAOPC. Actual implementation will certainly be welcome though open for mixed results, particularly if left for actual implementation to the current head of the management department, but that's a different question.

It was usually said that reform is in the mind of the beholder. Where you stand towards it would depend on where you sit.