Reform Clouds Darken the Future of the UN Development Program

As the first effects of Secretary-General António Guterres’s ambitious organizational reform plans become apparent, former and current officials of the United Nations Development Program see the future of the internationally influential agency as uncertain if not in peril. Fears center on aspects of the reform plan for development that would allow more political interference by … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Can the UN Finally Get Serious About Inefficiencies in Its Development System?

BONN, Germany — Member states of the United Nations are now negotiating reform proposals for the world body’s development system. In the latest draft resolution, they welcome the secretary-general’s proposal for “advancing common business operations” and “request” for their “implementation,” in line with earlier decisions by the General Assembly (a previous draft requested “full implementation”). This … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Guterres’s UN Reform Agenda? It Couldn’t Be Vaguer

Secretary-General António Guterres, encouraged by the United States, has embarked on new reforms, so it is appropriate to scrutinize their policy content. Are they meaningful or are they hollow? With all due respect to the secretary-general of the United Nations, these are for the most part hollow reforms. They have the scent of snake oil. … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Has Anyone Seen the UN Secretary-General’s Human Rights Agenda?

Secretary-General António Guterres has set about modernizing some sectors of the United Nations and made impassioned statements about the need to protect human rights. But beyond rhetoric, so far there has been no indication of his modernizing the human-rights sector. We have seen this before. Dag Hammarskjold, a previous secretary-general, undoubtedly believed in human rights, … Read more

 

NIKKI HALEY WATCH

US Pressures UN Chief to Take the Executive Reins

António Guterres just laid out his first major reform plan for the United Nations through a report presenting concrete suggestions embedded in wonky language and hyperbole. One recommendation that stands out is the emphasis by Guterres, the secretary-general, to reassert his role as the chief executive of the UN. It is that emphasis on centralizing … Read more

BOOKS

New Development Goals: Can the UN Machinery Cope?

The United Nations is now discussing in a broad consultation process the sustainable development goals: a new universal set of ambitions for economic and social development, made up of targets and indicators that all countries are expected to use to frame their agendas and policies from 2015 to 2030, to be adopted by the General … Read more

How Is the UN’s Development Machinery Perceived? Does Anyone Care?

One year ago, the report of a high-level panel of world leaders and renowned development specialists proposed 12 goals and 50 indicators for the United Nation’s post-2015 agenda. These were already unwieldy numbers, but after a year and a half of juggling and negotiations, member states in New York on the Open Working Group (OWG) … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

The UN Development Program: A New Crisis or a New Opportunity?

GENEVA — For those with longer memories, the latest dip in resources for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the staff cutbacks and restructuring announced by its administrator, Helen Clark, in May are merely the onset of another cycle, just in time for the agency’s 50th anniversary but part of its history since its … Read more

 

Is a Better UN System Possible? Global Experts Respond to an Independent Survey

An unusual survey of 3,400 people worldwide who know the United Nations has found strong support for some basic rethinking over the next decade on the organization’s work in development. Among the recommendations, over two-thirds of respondents suggested adding more nongovernmental representatives to governing bodies and better consolidating both organizational representation and programs in countries … Read more

The UN Development System, Taking It Local

UNDP Ivory Coast elections

The United Nations development system is part of the new global order emerging in the 21st century. But interdependence has brought changes. Earlier international relations addressed issues in intergovernmental relations. National political, economic, social and environmental issues were largely left to national governments. Now national policies and issues — on economic management, poverty reduction, good … Read more

New Development Goals, Plus Ça Change?

“If we want things to change, some things will have to stay as they are.” This inversion of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa‘s aphorism summarizes a key finding of a recent global survey on the future development goals. A select group of development commentators favors maintaining most of the familiar Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015. … Read more

America and the West Should Invest More in the UN, Not Less

PAHO antimalaria campaign, Paraguay

Institutions of global governance are weak by design not default. As Singapore’s permanent representative in New York, I encountered senior members of the American establishment who lamented the United Nations’ poor condition. The explanation was the domination by the poor and weak states of Africa and Asia and the poor quality of its bureaucrats. To … Read more

 

The G20 vs. the UN Development System: Two Rivals Heat Up

G20 meeting at the Kremlin

The Group of 20 nations is more capable of replicating development success models than the United Nations manages to do within its own development ranks, representing a major challenge to the UN system and its second-most important agenda item after the maintenance of peace and security. The G20 also represents other challenges to the UN … Read more

Increased Private Financing to the UN Poses Benefits and Risks

Armenia National Disaster Observatory

As the United Nations relies more heavily on private sources of financing from foundations and corporations, it is important to look at how these changes affect the world body’s development aid channel. A new report examining how private donations to activities of the UN Development Program reveals both advantages — better management, for example — … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

An American in Europe: The UN, Who Cares?

The metro in Cologne, Germany

BRUSSELS — George Gershwin certainly would not have been inspired to write a symphonic tone poem about an American academic on sabbatical attempting to interpret European reactions to the United Nations. Ten years ago, Robert Kagan wrote that “Americans are from Mars and Europeans from Venus.” Perhaps, but not regarding the UN. After years of … Read more

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