Global Policy Forum

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Reform Agenda - 2007 to Present



Ban Ki-moon, 2006
Picture Credit: United Nations
 2008 | 2007| 2006


UN General Assembly Opens to Evergreen Talk of Reform (September 15, 2008)

Ban Ki-Moon has said that UN reform is of top priority, but this article describes Ban's achievements as "modest" and claims his initiatives have had "mixed results" so far. Analysts and policymakers define "reform" in many different ways and the difficulty lies in finding compromises between rich and poor countries. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Open Letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations (May 16, 2008)

The UN staff union has expressed a vote of no confidence in Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and some of his senior administration officials. In this letter to the Secretary General, President of the UN Staff Union Stephen Kisambira argues that Ban has repeatedly ignored the concerns of the staff union regarding the appointment of senior UN officials and general management. Kisambira argues that "nepotism, favouritism and patronage" characterize the staff selection system and reforms in the management of the UN have only been "cosmetic."

UN's Ban Ki-moon Emerges as Dogged Reformer (March 12, 2008)

This Christian Science Monitor article looks at UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's achievements during his first fifteen months in office. From the beginning, Ban has prioritized climate change, Darfur and UN Reform. Even though progress has been slow, the article indicates that the Secretary General has shown great persistence when it comes to these issues. In 2008, Ban is focusing partly on the problem of water in the world, urging that the UN address this matter before it causes calamities or war.

Remarks to the General Assembly Thematic Debate "Toward a Common Understanding of Management Reform" (April 8, 2008)

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the urgent need for UN management reform, as the organization has to take on more responsibilities with fewer resources. Ban talked about speeding up the UN's recruitment process and improving the selection of top managers. To increase the accountability of individual managers and their decisions, UN staff will be able to assess the Secretary General's "Compacts" with senior managers, which lists their responsibilities. (UN News)

Challenges 2007-2008: UN Remains Impotent as Captive of the US (January 10, 2008)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon uses many great words in his New Years speech. But critics doubt that he will be able to fulfill all of his pledges for 2008. They suggest that Ban should shift focus to restore the esteem of the UN and more importantly free the organization from the domination of the US. (Inter Press Service)

Opening Remarks on News Conference (January 7, 2008)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon talks about the challenges the organization will face in 2008. Ban emphasizes the needs of the "bottom billion," the poorest in the world, calling for a strenghtened role of the UN in development issues. With the 60th birthday of the Declaration of Human Rights approaching in late 2008, Ban also stresses the importance of human rights. Finally the Secretary General recommends expanding public awareness about climate change. (UN News)


UN Chief's Dealings with US Draw Fire (September 24, 2007)

Human rights groups, governments and UN officials criticize UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for his close relationship with Washington and for supporting pro-US decisions. For example, Ban opposed a US withdrawal from Iraq and committed to an increased UN presence in the country. The Secretary General defends his decisions, calling them pragmatic and claims he prefers to work behind the scenes, rather than being a public moral figure. (Washington Post)

New Secretary General Is Still Finding His Footing at the UN (April 9, 2007)

This Los Angeles Times piece analyzes UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's transition into office in an atmosphere of strong distrust among Member States. Ban's "cryptic decision-making style" drew criticism from a large number of diplomats, who decried the UN chief's failure to consult with their delegations about his reform plans. As a newcomer trying to establish himself as a competent and insightful leader, Ban must seek to engage with the organization as a whole and, in particular, those "who know the [UN] system."

Secretary General's Report on UN System-Wide Coherence (April 3, 2007)

In this report to the General Assembly, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomes the recommendations of the High Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence for improving the UN. While urging governments to support the panel's suggestions for streamlining the UN's work in development, the environment and humanitarian assistance, Ban concedes that "other areas will require fuller discussions and deliberations."

Ban Ki-moon, Testing the Tightrope (March 28, 2007)

This MaximsNews piece evaluates Ban Ki-moon's performance in his capacity as UN Secretary General, ahead of the one hundred day mark of his term in office. Given Ban's elusive approach to UN reform and to the appointment of his senior management team, the author remarks that "there is a quite remarkable lack of information on which to base any assessment." The article concludes that while Ban may have developed mediation skills through quiet diplomacy, he ought to use his position at the UN to speak out occasionally on politically-sensitive issues.

Bound to Fail (March 5, 2007)

Drawing from the experiences of previous UN leaders and from changes in the global order, this Newsweek piece analyzes the challenges ahead of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, whose term in office began on January 1, 2007. Like his predecessors, Ban must try to use his mediation and leadership skills to strengthen the United Nations. However, the author argues, his success will depend less on his qualifications and more on how well he deals with the incessant clashes between "selfish" big powers and "irresponsible" smaller powers, which often delay or weaken UN action on key issues.

Secretary General Faces A Backlash (February 14, 2007)

Less than two months into his tenure as UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon has already received sharp criticism for pushing reform proposals that appear "to accommodate US interests and the desires of other wealthy member nations." This Washington Post article highlights the challenges Ban faces in pursuing an independent agenda at the UN's helm. The UN leader must strike a balance between meeting the demands of the "big powers" and addressing the poor countries' concerns.

Ban's UN Peacekeeping Reforms Rejected (February 6, 2007)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's plans to restructure the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) have been supported by the US and Russia but have not received similar welcome from developing countries, who fear that the restructure could endanger peacekeeping troops. In addition, Ban's efforts to carry out the reform quickly without following established consultation procedures have worried the developing countries, some of whom are among the largest troop contributors, and are thus affected the most if the reform of DPKO takes place. (Los Angeles Times)

UN Chief Tries to Avoid Roadblocks on Path to Reform (February 5, 2007)

Amid concerns that he intended to hastily push through dubious reforms, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon assured the General Assembly that he would "personally engage in consultations with Member States." While the US and other big donors back Ban's proposals, many others – mostly the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 – remain skeptical about the planned changes. The situation hints at the underlying North-South power struggle entwined with the UN reform process. (Inter Press Service)

UN Chief Moves to Restructure World Body (January 23, 2007)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has laid out his suggestions for reshaping the organization. Several NGOs as well as UN delegations have already balked at the proposal to move the Department of Disarmament Affairs (DDA) more directly under the UN chief's authority. Further, the largest bloc of nations at the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement, has called on Ban to clarify some issues, such as whether he will downgrade the top post at the DDA from Under Secretary General to Assistant Secretary General. (Inter Press Service)

UN Chief to Drop Merger Plan (January 19, 2007)

Following strong protests from the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will abandon his proposal to combine the UN's Departments of Disarmament Affairs (DDA) and Political Affairs (DPA). Amid speculation that the US – a nuclear power – seeks to secure the top DPA job, the NAM, which consists largely of "nuclear have-nots," rejected the idea of a merger they believe could further politicize and, therefore, slow down the global disarmament process. (Associated Press)



A Priority Agenda for the Next UN Secretary General (December 2006)

This paper argues that Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon should focus on "actionable" and "achievable" goals, such as establishing protocols for the next Secretary General election, instead of seeking to reform the Security Council and creating new panels on UN reform. Further, the paper says Ban should cooperate with NGOs and make sure all UN members respect existing international agreements before formulating new ones. (Friedrich Ebert Foundation)



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