... Allow me, first of all, to restate strongly my faith in the values of the World Organization. Those are the values of peace, of freedom and of justice, of progress and development, of generosity and solidarity, and of respect for human rights. These are also the values which have made America such a great nation. They are the values of the people who, 50 years ago, invited the United Nations to set up headquarters on its territory...
I am heartened by the many opinion polls which show strong American public support for the United Nations: for our peace-keeping and humanitarian assistance operations; for our economic development programs; and for our vital work in the fields of human rights and democratization...
The world has changed. It is increasingly interdependent. This interdependence, which profoundly benefits the United States, is fostered by the United Nations, through agreements among its sovereign Member States.
The United Nations promotes the freedom of trade and markets. Other United Nations bodies fight epidemics, famine, poverty; protect human rights; promote the protection of the environment; help the advancement of women and the fights of children.
United Nations agencies also set the indispensable rules and standards for safe and efficient transport by air and by sea. It is because of United Nations rules that all pilots and air traffic controllers across the world have to speak English. Imagine what would happen if they didn't. A United Nations agency works to ensure respect for intellectual property rights throughout the world. Another United Nations body coordinates the allocation of radio frequencies; without this, the international airwaves would be drowned in discordant noise.
The institutions of the United Nations advance the respect and promotion of international law and norms. This includes measures against terrorism, drug-trafficking and transnational crime. These problems cross frontiers; so must their solutions.
The Office the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) looks after some 45 million refugees and displaced persons worldwide. Without this essential institution, many countries would be destabilized by chaotic refugee flows.
And United Nations peace-keepers have in many cases prevented the escalation of conflicts and saved countless thousands of lives. They are helping to consolidate peace in such a wide range of countries as Angola, Cyprus, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia and the former Yugoslavia.
These diverse activities show the many ways in which the United Nations touches the lives of ordinary Americans. We are not some remote foreign body; the United Nations is part of your daily life.
I have had constructive and positive meetings with President Clinton, with the members of his Administration, with Congressional leaders of both parties.
I have assured them that I am determined to reform the United Nations. Not reform for its own sake, but in order to revitalize the Organization's capacity to serve its Members, in our changing world. We, too, cannot risk falling off the bridge to the twenty-first century.
We have already begun our journey across that bridge. Our high-level staff has been reduced by a quarter since 1992 and the total number of staff is down 25 per cent. Since last December, the Organization has taken steps to live within a no-growth budget capped at $2.608 billion for the two year period, 1996-1997. During the last 12 months, the Secretariat initiated more than 400 efficiency projects with concrete results already in hand -- for example, expanding the use of the Internet and the United Nations Home Page to disseminate United Nations information, reducing the cost of documentation and meeting services, and improving cash management.
... Reform is a process, not an event. Its result will be a leaner and more efficient Secretariat. We will thoroughly review our structures and procedures in light of our limited financial resources. We will make a determined effort to eliminate duplication and overlap. We will seek to create a United Nations that is relevant to the challenges the world wants us to face. And we shall make every effort to attract, develop and retain the best possible talent. The United Nations should never be just another job; it is a calling. We must review that spirit, redefine our mission reorient our efforts to fulfill vision...
In order to ensure that the Organization renews both its relevance and its effectiveness, reform must be rooted in a new consensus among governments on the role of the United Nations, its core functions, its priorities, what it can do best, what it should to with others and what it should leave to others to do.
I am keenly aware of the complexity of the task. Its success requires changes in structures and methods of work. It must involve mutually reinforcing actions by governments and by the Secretariat. And it requires the coming together of many actors around common objectives. I am however, convinced that it can be done, and that the time for it is now...
There are three basic components to my reform strategy all of which are being initiated now in parallel. They should produce concrete results at different stages during the course of the year, and will, I hope, lead to the adoption of a comprehensive package of reforms at the fall session of the General Assembly. I am optimistic because, in relation to each of these components, some of the foundations on which to build have already been laid; and because, already in my first few days in office, I have been able to test and, I believe, strengthen some of these foundations.
The first component involves expanding and accelerating the managerial reforms and efficiency review processes that are under wan, under the direction of Under-Secretary-General for Administration and Management Joseph Connor. Building on this work, I have challenged my senior program managers and the staff at large to help me develop a further set of managerial improvements that can be implemented in the short term and that can significantly strengthen Secretariat efficiency and cost-effectiveness...
The second component of my reform strategy builds on these measures and is aimed at a significant simplification and rationalization of organizational structures. I have already laid the ground for a series of reviews in each of the major areas of the work of the Organization.
The third component reflects the fact that I will not be undertaking reform alone. I will work in close partnership with Member States engaged in a parallel process. Some of the duplication in the United Nations system exist because government have created overlapping agencies, and only governments can eliminate them. I have already begun to work closely with the President of the General Assembly to ensure that we are on the same track. I must be careful not to encroach on the prerogatives of governments. But I will not hesitate to offer them my own ideas when I judge it can be helpful to facilitate transactions and move the process forward.
My report on United Nations reform will be completed by the end of July 1997, at which point I will initiate consultations with Member States and submit proposals to the General Assembly at its fifty-second session. For reform to succeed, we must build a consensus around it.
I have appointed Maurice Strong, a well-known reformer with both United Nations and corporate experience, as Executive Coordinator for United Nations Reform. Under my leadership, he will coordinate all aspects of the reform process, working closely with Under-Secretary-General Connor, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Price Waterhouse, who is now in charge of the management of the Secretariat.
When Americans think of United Nations reform, they are not only thinking of those reforms the Secretary-General can introduce by himself. There is, for instance, the issue of the Security Council. Many governments believe that the size and composition of the Council reflects the political realities of 1945. They, feel it should be enlarged to become more representative and take on other members to better reflect today's geopolitical realities. I share that view. But it is for Member States to decide the nature and extent of Security Council reform. It is my hope that the prolonged debate on this subject will be brought to closure this year...
Another issue we must address openly is the financial crisis of the United Nations and the American debt. Some have urged me to be reticent about this subject. But I know that most American do not like their country being thought of as one that doe not keep its word, and many are eager to bring this problem to an end. Let me make it clear: the United States dues are the result of an open process amongst all Member States to which the United States has freely agreed. The United States plays a major part in deciding how the United Nations is run. But it cannot be run without the dues of its Members.
We must understand first of all that the crisis facing the United Nations is not one that can be dealt with by tinkering with the budget or using better cash management techniques. It is rather a political crisis -- a crisis of faith in the Organization.
As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I have committed myself to restoring that faith...
American interests are directly involved in the successful conduct of peace operations. Over the past few years, we have witnessed barbarism and injustice on a scale that, after the Second World War, we had hoped we would never see again.
If the United Nations did not exist, world public opinion would in all likelihood turn towards the sole super-Power ask it to intervene. Instead, the United Nations provides the United States and other countries a way to share responsibility for peace and order around the globe and to take on collectively the political costs, the financial burden and the human risks involved.
If war is the failure of diplomacy, then surely diplomacy, both bilateral and multilateral, is our first line of defense. Any experienced Commander will tell you that without a strong defense, you cannot conduct an offense. The world today spends billions preparing for war. Shouldn't we spend a billion or two preparing for peace; It does not cost much to strengthen this vital line of defense. The United Nations actions in preventive diplomacy can avert the immense costs -- in lives and resources -- of war.
At the same time, the United Nations must be better able to meet the economic and social development challenges of tomorrow. These are the primary concerns of the majority of the United Nations membership...
Globalization is a source of new challenges for humanity. President Clinton has stressed the need for nations to work together to deal with the new realities of the global era. I agree with him: when we act together, we are stronger and less vulnerable to individual calamity. But we must help each other. To quote one eminent statesman, the late French President Francois Mitterrand, "if we buy into the illusion that we need only make the planet inhabitable for a few, it will end up becoming uninhabitable altogether".
Only a global organization is capable of meeting these global challenges. I want to say to the American people: you have such an organization. You have the United Nations...
Today, I ask for partnership. I ask for rededication and reaffirmation of the ideals of the United Nations Charter. The vision which prompted leaders 50 years ago to create the United Nations remains just as relevant today, perhaps even more so.
Where we have differences,let us address them openly and honestly. But let us at last put an end to the accusations, counter-accusations and name- calling.
We share the extraordinary opportunity of taking the world into the new millennium. Let us leave behind the missed opportunities of recent years. Let us work together to build a world we can all be proud of.
The Secretary-General is described by the Charter as the "chief administrative officer" of the Organization. He is, of course, much more than that. Equal parts diplomat and activist, conciliator and provocateur, the Secretary-General stands before the world community as the very emblem of the United Nations. The task demands great vigor, sensitivity and imagination, to which the Secretary-General must add a tenacious sense of optimism -- a belief that the ideals expressed in the Charter can be made a reality. The present Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the seventh occupant of the post, is Kofi Annan, of Ghana, who took office on January 1, 1997.
The work of the Secretary-General involves a certain degree of inherent, creative tension that stems from the Charter's definition of the job. The Charter empowers him to bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which, in his opinion, threatens international peace and security. It also calls upon him to perform "such other functions" as are entrusted to him by the Security Council, the General Assembly and the other main United Nations organs. Thus the Secretary-General functions as both spokesperson for the international community and servant of the Member States -- roles that would seem to guarantee some amount of friction. Far from constricting his work, however, these broad outlines grant the Secretary-General an extraordinary mandate for action.
The Secretary-General is best known to the general public for using his stature and impartiality -- his "good offices" -- in the interests of preventive diplomacy". This refers to steps taken by the Secretary-General or his senior staff, publicly and in private, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. Indeed, as events and crises unfold across the globe, the Secretary-General's words and deeds can have profound impact.
But his work also entails routine daily consultations with world leaders and other individuals, attendance at sessions of various United Nations bodies, and world-wide travel as part of the overall effort to improve the state of international affairs. Each year, the Secretary-General issues a report in which he appraises the work of the Organization and advances his view of its future priorities.
Each Secretary-General also defines the job within the context of his particular day and age. In 1992, for example, then Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, at the request of the Security Council, authored An Agenda for Peace, a far-reaching proposal for peace-keeping and peace-building in the post-cold war world. Similarly bold initiatives are expected from this and future Secretaries-General. At a time when the world community is entering largely uncharted territory, so, too, is the office of Secretary-General being given new dynamism and direction.
Mr. Annan's predecessors as Secretary-General were: Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt who served from 1992 to 1996; Javier Perez de Cuellar, of Peru, who served from 1982 to 1991; Kurt Waldheim, of Austria, who held office from 1972 to 1981; U Thant, of Burma (now Myanmar). who serve from 1961 to 1971; Dag Hammarskjold, of Sweden, who served from 1953 until his death in a plane crash in Africa in 1961; Trygve Lie, of Norway, who held office from 1945 to 1953.
Kofi Annan was appointed on 17 December 17, 1996 by the General Assembly to serve a term of office from January 1, 1997 through December 31, 2001. Mr. Annan has studied at the University of Science and Technology at Komasi, Ghana; Macalester College, Minnesota; Insitut universitaire des hautes etudes internationales, Geneva; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts. Mr. Annan was born on 8 April 1938, in Kumasi, Ghana.…