'Group of 18' on UN Efficiency and Financing Makes 71 Recommendations on Organization's Functioning

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'Group of 18' on UN efficiency and financing makes 71 recommendations on Organization's functioning

The Group of High-level IntergovernmentalExperts to Review the Efficiency of the Administrative and Financial Functioning of the United Nations has formulated 71 recommendations to streamline the structure of the Organization, which the experts described as "too complex, fragmented and top-heavy".

The wide-ranging proposals--whichcover personnel measures, Secretariat structure, intergovernmental machinery, and monitoring, budget and implementation procedures--include a call for a 15 per cent staff cut within a period of three years and a 25 per cent cut in the number of Under-Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General within a period of three years or less.

The 18 experts also asked for significantreductions in the number of United Nations conferences and meetings, and of resolutions, reports and other documents; consolidation of United Nations departments and offices throughout the world; improved co-ordination in work programmes to eliminate duplication; and reducing official travel by 20 per cent.

Measures to ensure the recruitmentof more women and persons from developing countries were asked for. The reduction of annual leave for United Nations staff from six to four weeks, and the elimination of the education grant for post-secondary studies should be considered for prompt implementation, the Group stated. The mandatory retirement age of 60 should be strictly applied.

More involvement by MemberStates in setting priorities for United Nations activities and in developing budget procedures was recommended. Particular attention was given to restructuring in the area of economic and social activities, which the experts stated required 31 per cent of assessed contributions under the regular budget--more than any other category.

The 40-page report (A/41/49),presented to Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar on 18 August by Group Chairman Tom Eric Vraalsen of Norway, is to be considered by the forty-first General Assembly.

The Group asked that the Secretary-Generalbe requested to implement the recommendations within his purview "as soon as possible" and within a set time-limit, and that he report to the Assembly by 1 May 1987 on such implementation.

(Secretary-General Perez de Cuellaron 15 September extended the mandate of the Steering Committee he had established to advise him on action to be taken in connection with the Group's report, with Patricio Ruedas, Under-Secretary-General for Administration and Management, continuing as Chairman. He also designated Assistant Secretary-General Margaret J. Anstee as Special Co-ordinator to ensure implementation of the decisions he might take in this area.)

The Group also asked that theCommittee for Programme and Coordination (CPC), assisted, as required, by the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) and other bodies, co-ordinate and monitor implementation relating to intergovernmental machinery, with the CPC reporting to the Assembly before the opening of the forty-second session in 1987.

The Secretary-General and theCPC were to report to the 1989 Assembly on implementation of all Group recommendations.

67 meetings: The Group of Experts,established by the General Assembly on 18 December 1985 under resolution 40/237, began work in February 1986, holding 67 closed meetings during four sessions over a six-moth period. Its mandate was not to address the immediate and short-term financial problems of the United Nations, but to identify medium- and long-term measures.

Chairman Vraalsen, at an 18August press conference, said that all recommendations, except for one pertatining to fixed-term and permanent appointments, had been adopted unanimously. The Group, he said, had confined itself to the United Nations and its affiliated bodies and had not dealt with the specialized agencies. …