15 JULY 2008

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be very well served by his newly-appointed Under-Secretary General for Management. Angela Kane has earned her newest promotion the right way: she worked with dedication in various posts from New York to Jakarta and varied disciplines from Development to the Secretary General's Office to Public Information to Political Affairs.

It has been a very long while since someone from the house was given the authority to put it in order. Even an insider Secretary General like Kofi Annan, who knew every angle in that area, allowed brewing internal issues to escalate while responsibility for management authority was lost between those who were actually in charge and those who were officially responsible. A succession of continuously changing Under-Secretaries General for Administration and Management seemed to approach their task mainly through budgetary cuts and staff reductions. Internal implications were lightly dismissed as no career development strategy was drawn to stimulate staff morale or inspire program delivery.

Perhaps much of the growing tension and low morale was due to the feeling that most senior management officials did not really care for the welfare of their junior colleagues. The fact that the head of Management did not KNOW the staff and did not FEEL a personal link with most of them gave the general impression that for them figures mattered more than people.

The appointment of someone with the personal knowledge and professional enlightenment of Angela Kane offers a welcome opportunity for the staff and a new challenge to her. Her task is very daunting and times are very difficult. With the backing of the Secretary General and support by the staff, she could help bridge an ever-widening gap through closer communication and systematic dialogue. She could also review more effectively the Human Resources (Personnel) domain which seemed to take a life of its own as several department heads and senior officials competed in evading established practice (and staff rules) in making staff appointments. Through her previous work at the Secretary General's Office and Political Affairs Department, she could connect with decision-makers to ensure implementation of a feasible practical and effective work programme. Drawing on her public information experience, she could communicate it with reasonable clarity to the staff, to delegations concerned, and to the media. One of her enduring efforts was her central role in launching the U.N. official website (www.un.org) in 1994 with then head of DPI Samir Sanbar, despite lack of budgetary resources, staff limitations and outright opposition by some of the most influential senior officials at the time. That site is now the main U.N. reference with millions of hits annually.

We may be raising our expectations on the appointment of Ms. Kane. And why not? Here is a hard-working, dedicated, enlightened colleague, a woman of grace and dignity, entrusted with a formidable most senior management task at one of the most crucial periods of U.N. history, when many observers are almost giving up on any successful revival. We all have a stake in her success. We certainly know that there are many limitations and even more challenges. Having worked with Angela Kane, we certainly know that she will do her best.