Europe urges Annan to reform the UN

The European Union is to urge the new Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, to take swift and aggressive steps to overhaul the organisation's sprawling web of departments, agencies and specialised funds, if necessary merging some with each other and eliminating others altogether.

The proposals, that have emerged from months of debate between EU governments most recently at foreign minister level, are contained in a 25-page memorandum obtained by The Independent. The document will be presented today to Maurice Strong, the Canadian industrialist who was appointed by Mr Annan at the weekend to bring together an overall reform package.

While the memorandum, which is still classified, is far-reaching in its suggestions for change, it contains repeated warnings that reform at the UN should not be equated with cutting the organisation's budget. The references are meant to put distance between the EU and those voices in the United States, most of them Republican, seeking to use the reform exercise to strip away UN resources. "The reform of the United Nations is not about cost-cutting," it insists.

In what promises to be a critical week, Mr Annan tomorrow begins a visit to Washington, where he will meet for the first time as Secretary General with President Bill Clinton and members of the Congress. Mr Annan must try to persuade members of Congress of his commitment to reform while convincing them to release the more than $1bn in late payments due the UN from the US.

Mr Annan hopes to have a complete package of reform proposals ready by the summer. Mr Strong, 67, who also acted as an adviser to the last Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, will head a task force of advisers on reform. Its other members will include Gustave Speth, the head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), who last year caused controversy by asking that all UN development and humanitarian bodies be streamlined and grouped under his own.

The EU document, which is restricted to addressing UN social and development activities, notably borrows heavily from the controversial Speth proposals.

Where the need for rationalisation is clear, the paper said, the "Union considers that funds and programmes so assesses could be merged ... the assessment should extend to all funds and programmes".

In a nod to Mr Speth's allusion to a new umbrella role for his agency, the paper adds: "While fully open to dialogue on best ways forward in this respect, the EU considers that the UNDP could provide a focus for enhanced co-ordination in this area".

Both Mr Speth and Mr Strong have voiced on the record their support for closing down some of the less obviously useful UN agencies such as the UN Industrial Development Organisation in Vienna (from which Britain has just withdrawn) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

The EU also calls for the creation of a new Under-Secretary General who would take overall responsibility for all UN social and development activities. This person would act as Executive Secretary to the Economic and Social Council, the overarching committee of all UN members that oversees all development matters and which would itself be radically streamlined and pared down.

The EU would also like to see the establishment of a single UN headquarters in each country where the UN is represented. At the head of each would be a single UN representative, responsible for co-ordinating all UN efforts in that country.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

English Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: [ Megan Smith 22/09/2014 17:00:...

Foundation and KS1 Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Foundation and Key Stage 1...

Geography Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Temporary Teacher of GEOGRAPHY ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments