GAMBARI BLENDS REFORM VISION WITH NEEDS OF MEMBER STATES - Ibrahim Gambari

 

GAMBARI BLENDS REFORM VISION WITH NEEDS OF MEMBER STATES

9 September 2005

One month after taking over the Department of Political Affairs, Under-Secretary General Ibrahim Gambari initiated immediate changes blending his own leadership vision with the ascertained political needs of all member states. At a Town Hall staff gathering which resulted in a standing ovation, he stressed the need to encourage talent within the department to actually deal with conflict resolution rather than be merely assigned to note taking or reporting. Building a creative team from within -- available at all times -- will not only strengthen the capacity of the Department, but will also enhance the credibility of the U.N. Secretariat with member states. Another equally practical outcome would be to unload off the general budget a number of occasionally designated prima donnas who carry elaborate titles as Special envoys on a number of issues (Africa alone has 18) with more expenditure than real outcome. The staff also agreed with his assertion that Political Affairs should work as one team with one general direction and one voice. A fragmented approach will lead to a fragmented perception. Those in the field should truly reflect agreed policy and those at Headquarters should clearly reflect realities in the field. Knowing that there is a problem is a prerequisite to solving it. Hence, another area requiring active attention was the substantive analysis of emerging problems. Member states will gratefully acknowledge a lucid presentation placed at their disposal when handling an item under consideration. If properly prepared and well-established, such presentations could also help facilitate a harmonious approach among members of the Security Council.

Ambassador Gambari is drawing on his experience as a former Foreign Minister and Permanent Representative to the U.N., on his background as a University Professor, and on his work with the Secretariat for the last six years. Within the month, he has already made 16 personnel decisions to clear the deck without rocking the boat. Bringing along his tried and tested Personal Assistant Joan Felli, he just appointed Judith Karem as Special Assistant -- and the beat goes on.

In these almost desperate days for the U.N., it is heartening to see a new head of a Department throwing himself fully into the task to achieve a desperately needed success.