Turmoil continues at UN – no appointments expected until restructuring decided, spokeperson tells press

The UN spokesperson gave the following information to journalists at the UN’s regular Noon Briefing at UNHQ/NY on Thursday:

“Question: There are indications that in the framework of restructuring that the Secretary-General is proposing that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations be divided into two separate parts –- planning and operational. Can you confirm or deny that? 

Spokesperson: Well, I can only say that there is a restructuring project being discussed right now, and, as I’ve said before in this room, there are consultations underway among Member States on the issue of the structure of certain departments. Bilateral contacts are being made with Member States to get their input on this. 

Question:  Just a follow-up on the restructuring question. Is it correct that the Secretary-General has essentially abandoned the idea, under pressure form the “G-77’, of merging the Department of Political Affairs and the Department for Disarmament Affairs?

Spokesperson: I don’t think he has abandoned anything right now. As I said, consultations are taking place, and aside from the “Group of 77” he is meeting with a number of other groups on the subject.

Question: And also the Chief of Staff is meeting the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) this morning, right? Is he briefing them on these restructuring ideas? Is it possible to get a readout on what that briefing is?

Spokesperson:  I will try to get if for you. I think it is just an internal discussion. As you know, the Secretary-General has on his plate a number of issues that he is examining with policy officers in the United Nations, and they are examining those issues.

Question: A follow-up on that: Is the Chief of Staff serving as a liaison between the G-77 and the Secretary-General?

Spokesperson:  The Secretary-General himself is also having direct talks with some Member countries, so this is an effort on the part of his team.

Question: I believe you were in the Oval Office on Tuesday. Did you hear any talk about appointments at the United Nations?

Spokesperson:  No. That was not discussed.

Question: Does the fact that the discussions are ongoing on the restructuring of departments at the United Nations mean that appointments to various posts will be put on hold? Should we not expect any more appointments until all that is sorted out?

Spokesperson:  You cannot expect any appointments until that is sorted out, yes. That’s the answer. 

Question: On the question of restructuring. Has the Secretary-General said why he thinks it would be a good idea to merge Disarmament and Political Affairs? Is he going to make that case, or is he just going to see whether Member States are going to support the idea? 

Spokesperson:  I think he is going to make that case and try to convince…

Question: Can you say what methods he will use to convince..?

Spokesperson:  Well, I was not personally part of the consultation process, so I don’t know what was discussed or what has changed. You will know more about it pretty soon because there will be a decision taken on that.

Question: Secondly, in addition to the disarmament unit, there is also talk about abolishing the fairly new Peacebuilding Office, which has just barely started to function. Does Mr. Ban see that Office as a disappointment? It was touted as one of the major successes of Kofi Annan’s reform agenda.

Spokesperson:  I don’t know how far the process will go or how many groups and departments would be affected by the restructuring. But as I said, you will be the first ones to know.

Question:  But that Office was created only in 2006, and, I mean…

Spokesperson: I don’t think that Office will go away.

Question: You don’t think it will go away?

Spokesperson:  No.

Question:  But do you think it will continue to function as a separate unit?

Spokesperson:  We will see how it will function.”

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