Transition and Restructuring – BAN’s spokesperson speaks of “surge” in demand for peacekeeping

The UN spokesperson’s office reports that “This morning at 9:00 a.m. [at UNHQ/NY] the new Deputy Secretary-General, Asha-Rose Migiro, will sign a declaration in the presence of the Secretary-General and other senior officials, to mark her formal induction. She will then be introduced by the Secretary-General at the press stakeout at about 9:40 a.m. At 10:00 a.m. the Secretary-General will meet with the Member States informally, in the General Assembly Hall, to talk about his restructuring proposals and his recent travels”.

After the Deputy Secretary-General’s formal induction, she and SG BAN took questions from journalists at a “stake-out”. DSG Migiro insisted to the press that she did have managerial experience: “I do have the managerial capability in my work experience. First as an academic, I have had responsibility that involved management. But I have also successfully managed two important ministries of my country – first, the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children, and secondly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So I believe I have enough capability to do the managerial work that the SG envisages, and maybe I should emphasize that, yes, the United Nations is a big organization, but management does not always have to do with the size of the Organization. What matters is whether one has the experience, the skills, the dedication and the commitment to work as a team. My experience in the last week has shown that there is a lot of expertise, there are a lot of skills within the United Nations, and I am ready to tap these skills, combined with my own, so really I believe that I have the relevant managerial capability to meet the challenges that the SG will entrust upon me.

Q: Had you met the Secretary-General before you were offered this job?

DSG: Several times. First, I met him when he visited my country. At that time I was Minister for Community Development, and he was the guest of our Government, so I met him. But I also met him when I became Minister for Foreign Affairs. I met him before he was a candidate. I met him at the time he was candidate, and then I met him when he was SG-designate. So I have met him several times, including here in New York.

Q: Your predecessor made some speeches in his final months criticizing US and British foreign policy as damaging the world, the institution, Iraq. Do you have any thoughts like that, and will you be speaking out? And welcome to the UN. [laughter]

DSG: Thank you very much. I think that Member States do have their own priorities. They have their own set policies, and what is important for the UN is to build a concensus between what different Member States think and others, and to act as a bridge, to confront the challenges together, and to look at the issues together. So, there is diversity in membership, we have to agree on that, but we can still work together as a family – consultations, dialogue, sensitivity.”

At the same journalists’ stake-out, SG BAN was asked about his proposal to spllit the Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO):

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, concerning your proposal for DPKO, splitting up DPKO. The Ambassador from India has raised the issue that – India is one of the main peacekeeping contributing countries – with having two USGs there, would not set up a good chain of command. It might, in fact, endanger peacekeepers from India. He is very concerned about that. How do you respond to the criticism [that] splitting it up in that way – might cause some problems, disorganization, whatever?

SG: At ten o’clock, during the General Assembly, I am going to present my proposal more in detail. I heard that he expressed his concern, but I will make sure that there is unity of command. This is very important. I am taking this proposal to make this DPKO operation, in terms of management and procurement, more consolidated, more efficient, with the unity of command. You don’t need to be concerned about that. I will make sure.”

A little while later, the UN spokesperson told journalists at the regular Noon Briefing at UNHQ/NY that “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in an informal meeting this morning, told the Member States about the need for restructuring to enhance UN efforts in the fundamental areas of peace operations and disarmament. He said the number of peacekeeping operations is at an all-time high, and there is a need to deal with the surge in demand. He proposed the creation of a new Department of Field Support that can support field operations more effectively, coherently and responsively, and establish a clear point of responsibility and accountability for field support. Meanwhile, the Secretary-General also emphasized the need for sustained and determined leadership to deal with disarmament issues, and therefore proposes that the Department of Disarmament Affairs be constituted as an Office with a direct line to him to ensure access and more frequent interaction. And he promised that he continues to listen to Member States and has adjusted his proposals in accordance with their concerns…Asked about the response from Member States, the Spokeswoman noted that consultations are still continuing. The Secretary-General’s presentation this morning, she noted, was in front of a full room, in what is just the beginning of consultations with the larger membership, following a period of discussions on a smaller scale. She said that this morning, Member States had been answering the Secretary-General’s request for more views, while senior UN officials were on hand to provide more information. The Secretary-General, she said, would provide more information to Member States as the process goes on.
Asked whether there were any more changes to the restructuring plan, Montas said that there had been clarifications, not changes. Asked whether the Department for Disarmament Affairs was being downgraded, the Spokeswoman said that the proposal was that the office would be under the Secretary-General’s stewardship. She said that the Secretary-General would wait for a reaction, and would follow the legislative process at the United Nations. Asked about the rank of the disarmament head, Montas said that has not been decided yet. Asked whether the Secretary-General had changed his mind on incorporating the Department for Disarmament Affairs within the Department for Political Affairs, the Spokeswoman said that idea had simply been one of many suggestions made. The idea before the membership now, which does not include that earlier suggestion, is more concrete, she said.”

Reform the UN, meanwhile, has sent an e-mail summarizing where SG BAN’s restructuring proposals stand:
Ban Revises Proposal
Rumors of Secretary-General Ban’s plan to reform the internal structure of the United Nations have been a near-constant feature of his first month in office. No final decision yet has been made, but Ban took a step towards it when he submitted a formal proposal on restructuring in a 29 January letter to the President of the General Assembly. The proposal seemed to acknowledge some of the criticism over earlier rumored reform plans, which stemmed from an internal memo. While the potential division of DPKO has been discussed widely in the media, the proposed change to the Department of Disarmament Affairs (DDA) has received the most criticism. This week’s proposal includes dividing the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) into two departments, a Department of Peace Operations (DPO) with a focus on the planning, directing, and political management of field operations; and a Department of Field Support (DFS) responsible for logistics, finance, personnel, and training. Like all Departments of the Secretariat, each of these two departments would be led by its own Under-Secretary-General. The USG for field support would report to the UN Deputy Secretary-General, with the operations USG reporting to the UN Security Council.

Ban also proposes replacing the current Department of Disarmament Affairs (DDA) with an office within the Secretariat. This was a change from his earlier intention to have the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) absorb DDA. Opponents to the DDA absorption proposal included the 130-member Group of 77 (G-77), the slightly smaller Non-aligned Movement (NAM), and a group of five civil society organizations who signed a letter from the Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy. Many argued that the DDA should not ‘lose its unique identity and mandate’ and that it should continue to report directly to the Secretary-General through its own Under-Secretary-General. The civil society letter said, ‘The quantity and technical nature of the Department’s work is sufficient to warrant a dedicated department, and the subject the Department covers is sufficiently urgent and complex to justify expansion rather than absorption’ … Ban has stressed the benefits of the change as vital to overcoming ‘the absence of meaningful outcomes’ in the present DDA. In his revised vision, the DDA (currently headed by Nobuaki Tanaka of Japan) would become the Office of Disarmament Affairs instead of a department, an Office being a lower-ranking body. The head would no longer be an Under-Secretary-General but a ‘special representative’ or a ‘high representative’ reporting directly to the Secretary-General.

Next Steps – Process for Making Changes to Secretariat
To be turned into action, the proposal’s elements must be welcomed by the largest organ of the United Nations, the General Assembly. While decisions regarding appointments of staff can be made by the Secretary-General on his own, approval by the General Assembly is required in the case of restructuring the Secretariat. This requirement comes from the General Assembly’s Rules of Procedure. Further, if the proposal implies budget changes, it also has to be reviewed by the Fifth Committee of the GA (which deals with administrative and budgetary questions).
Ban asserts that his proposed changes would not require a larger budget that what the present DPKO holds. It has been suggested in media reports that in order for him to stay within the current budget, Ban must link changes to the DPKO with a downgrading of DDA. In order to add an Under-Secretary-General position to the DPKO he would need to remove one elsewhere.

The General Assembly is scheduled to meet for a discussion on the SG’s proposals on Monday, 5 February, when Ban returns from Africa.

However, the G-77, currently chaired by Pakistan, met this week and reportedly agreed that they were not willing to rush to a decision. Pakistan also indicated a desire in waiting for the study on DPKO currently being done by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).

The spokesperson for the President of the GA said Tuesday this week that the new proposals were generally welcomed by Member States, but that further consultations were needed in order to discuss some details of the reform proposal.
Ban himself wishes to meet with countries bilaterally and in groups, according to his spokesperson this week, and such consultations will be high on his agenda when he returns to New York.

Senior Appointments to Depend on Restructuring
The widespread anticipation that a U.S. State Department official, Lynn Pascoe, would be appointed to head the Department of Political Affairs reportedly heightened skepticism towards Ban’s earlier proposal to bring the DDA under DPA. Countries that do not hold nuclear weapons, as well as civil society groups, expressed concern about disarmament affairs being led by an official from a nuclear power. The United States is the largest weapons producer. While delegations at this week’s meeting of the G-77 argued for a “de-linking” of senior appointments from restructuring, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson emphasized that the appointments will indeed be dependent on the outcome of these reforms. Therefore, no new appointments are expected before the restructuring proposal is discussed in more detail…” says it will be following the restructuring process closely; high-level appointments will be monitored at the new website of the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy,

There was this exchange between the UN spokesperson and journalists at the regular Noon Briefing on 30 Januaryat UNHQ/NY:
“The Secretary-General is concerned about the need to strengthen the capacities of the Organization to cope with the increased scope of activities in the peace and security area, as well as to advance the disarmament agenda. In this connection he has been in touch with the President of the General Assembly. The proposals outlined by him seek the realignment of some of the political and security departments.

Over the past week, the Secretary-General has been in touch with Member States individually and in groups in order to solicit their views and be guided by them. The Secretary-General has come to the conclusion that this procedure needs to be pursued further before a formal issuance to the General Assembly can be undertaken. On his return from his current visit to Africa, he plans to meet with Member States of the Assembly to further share his ideas and hear their views.

This is an ongoing consultation. On the basis of the reaction he receives from Member States, he will consider how to take this matter forward. The Secretary-General intends to fully respect and operate through the established legislative procedures of the Organization.
Question: Do you have exact dates on when the Secretary-General is going to discuss with whom the realignment on peacekeeping and disarmament and so forth?

Spokesperson: As I said the consultation process is going on, he has submitted…

Question: The question seems to be about NAM and others. So, I’m just wondering…

Spokesperson: Well, he started the process before. Before he actually sent a letter to the President of the Council, as you know, the consultation process started. It started with NAM and different members of the General Assembly and I think you’re going to have more answers from the Spokesperson for the General Assembly. One thing I can tell is that this is part of an ongoing process and nothing is set in stone.

Question: But his letter this week and last week, his non-paper and his formal letter, which are one and the same, said that he wants approval by the GA as soon as possible. So these two issues cannot be an ongoing process if he wants to get the (inaudible)…

Spokesperson: Well, as soon as he comes back from Africa, there’s going to be, as I said, this is the first thing on his agenda — on pursuing the process with the General Assembly. We don’t have an exact date, whom he’s going to meet, when, if that’s what you want to know. There are going to be consultations with different groups within the General Assembly and you’ll hear more a little later about how the process is going to go on. As you know, the process is going to be led, from now on principally by the President of the General Assembly.

Question: That’s not going to help me.

Spokesperson: If you want specific dates when he’s meeting different people, but what I cannot do is give you every time the results. As I said, the process, the Secretary-General is modifying his approach and he’s going to respect the legislative process. The legislative process is going to decide”.

OK, what does that really mean?

THE WASHINGTON TIMES is running an article today by Betsy Pisik, in which she reports: “Ban Ki-moon is off to a rocky start after one month as U.N. secretary-general, with diplomats complaining that his transition is progressing far too slowly and member states resisting his early proposals for restructuring… ‘He has had a long transition period, and we are a little concerned that we still don’t know what he is thinking,’ said one Western diplomat of Mr. Ban’s first month in office. ‘They haven’t briefed us on appointments or priorities. Everything is still a priority.’ Some diplomats, U.N. elder statesmen and pundits say that Mr. Ban’s team of handpicked aides — many who came with him from the South Korean Foreign Ministry — has been slow to reach out for advice from seasoned hands. Permanent U.N. staff members acknowledge that they should have done a better job of explaining the first two planks of Mr. Ban’s restructuring plan, which called for folding the U.N. disarmament department into the political-affairs department and splitting the peacekeeping department in two. Both proposals received a chilly reception from member states last week. And until the structure of those departments is sorted out, officials say, it will be impossible to choose people to lead them … A coalition of developing nations and Japan already has forced Mr. Ban to back away from his plan to merge the U.N. disarmament department with political affairs and is resisting a plan cut the disarmament agency’s staff and have it report directly to Mr. Ban.
In a letter circulated last week, Mr. Ban said there is a ‘need for a greater role and personal involvement of the secretary-general in the field of disarmament and nonproliferation.’ The letter noted that the existing department has produced little of significance. ‘The department needs energizing,’ one senior U.N. official told The Washington Times, noting that a recent conference to review the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty collapsed because no one could agree on substantive steps.
But that is not the way U.N. delegations are hearing the message.
Developing countries resent Mr. Ban’s insistence on acting immediately on the proposal, and in a letter to the president of the General Assembly last week, they insisted that changes be discussed in the assembly’s budgetary and management committees, “in a manner that is smooth and nondivisive.” …

And the New York Sun’s Benny Avni is reporting today that “Over the weekend, I came across a reproachful letter that Britain’s Foreign Office sent to a U.N. executive, Carolyn McAskie, who heads something called the ‘Peacebuilding Support Office’. As old television hosts used to say, there are 8 million reform stories in the naked Turtle Bay. This is one of them.
Secretary-General Ban must have realized by now that with so many constituents pushing in so many directions, the process known at the United Nations as ‘reform’ is a Sisyphean exercise. I am told that early this week, Mr. Ban will instead announce several new top appointments — most significantly naming an American, Lynne Pascoe, to head the powerful Department of Political Affairs.
The original plan to announce top appointments like Mr. Pascoe’s in a package, along with ideas to reorganize Turtle Bay, ran into a brick wall at the General Assembly, which has no power over appointments but can kill organizational proposals. One of Mr. Ban’s reorganization ideas concerned the peace-building unit.
Mr. Ban’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, proposed a radical plan to reorganize Turtle Bay back in 2005, hoping to dig himself out of the scandals plaguing his second term. The General Assembly blocked most of the plan, but one idea slipped through the cracks and was immediately hailed as a stellar success for U.N. reform.
Thus, a new U.N. bureaucracy was born … Critics like the American ambassador to the United Nations at the time, John Bolton, argued that the new unit’s role was ill-defined and that its responsibilities overlapped with existing U.N. structures. Washington declined to finance the peace-building fund…Meanwhile, the Europeans who finance the peace-building efforts and support its good intentions are concerned that their money may disappear into a black hole, as the reproachful British letter shows. After committing $60 million to the peace-building fund over three years, ‘it is with regret that we find ourselves in the unfortunate position of having to write to you to express our concern about the consultation process’ inside the peace-building unit, a London foreign officer charged with conflict, humanitarian, and security issues, Juliette John, wrote to Ms. McAskie on January 23.
The first countries to benefit from peace-building funds are Sierra Leone and Burundi. Last December, Ms. McAskie promised each nation $25 million. Last week, the number was raised to $35 million. But according to Ms. John, the donors were not consulted on specific projects, some of which may ‘both duplicate and even undermine’ other international efforts to help the two African countries.
Are peace-building funds used, for example, to finance the ruling party’s campaign in the upcoming July elections in Sierra Leone? According to Ms. John, ‘political risks’ carried by certain Sierra Leonean peace-building projects, “could undermine rather than build peace.’
Aware of the need for extensive scrutiny, Mr. Ban planned to place the peace-building support unit under the control of the political department. That was when Ms. MacAskie — a protégé of a socialist-internationalist Canadian oil tycoon, Maurice Strong — went to work. She told European and Third-World diplomats that peace-builders should not answer to some ‘American neocon’ slated to head the political department.
Since anti-Americanism is an easy sell at Turtle Bay, Mr. Ban’s initiative was blocked at the General Assembly. Mr. Pascoe — not actually a neocon — has tended his resignation as America’s ambassador to Indonesia in anticipation of his U.N. appointment.
Back in the 1990s, Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali consolidated and split departments almost at will. But that was then. To make changes now, a U.N chief must spend huge political capital at the General Assembly. But should he?” …

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