A leaner UN for its own good

#NSTopinion: The United Nations has become overly complex, fragmented and too top-heavy to its own detriment

14/10/2019 7:46:00 PM

NSTopinion: The United Nations has become overly complex, fragmented and too top-heavy to its own detriment

SINCE the beginning of last month, the hallowed corridors of the United Nations (UN) have been abuzz with the cash-strapped status of the world body.

Face it — the UN has just become too big. Its operating budget for the coming year is US$2.87 billion (RM12 billion) and that is not including the peacekeeping budget which is handled separately.Only 70 per cent of the annual budget comes from the assessed contributions of member states. As we know, the United States contributes around 22 per cent of the overall member states’ contributions. This is why when the US is late in its payment, or defaults, the UN starts sweating.

Aiman Tino kesal disaman ingkar PKPB KKM akan laksana protokol baharu rawatan Covid-19 Tanda awal kewafatan Nabi

Let’s put aside the fact that the UN is running low on cash because its members fail to pay their dues on time. After all, the assessed contribution of each member state depends on the overall budget of the UN. The bigger the budget, the more member states have to contribute.

Let’s look instead at the UN budget itself, which has become bigger and much more unmanageable in the past decade or so.In April this year, the Secretary-General’s office issued a report on the size of the UN workforce, mainly its secretariat strength. A total of 37,505 people, from 146 countries work for the UN.

Of that number, 35 per cent are in the professional and senior management category, meaning the UN itself is top-heavy, with more than one-third of its employees in the top tier of its workforce.A good organisational structure is one where top management does not exceed 10 per cent of the total employees, or else there are too many managers and not enough workhorses. This total workforce does not include the actual peacekeepers on the ground, which number between 90,000 and 100,000 military and police personnel.

Next year will be the first year that a new way of budgeting at the UN will be implemented. Normally the UN budget is approved for two years. This year, the ongoing reform of the UN dictated that the budget would be an annual budget, which also means that it would be easier for laymen to analyse and compare.

By the end of last month, when the UN General Assembly for the 74th session started, the UN was owed about US$1.3 billion — about half of what it needs for the next budget year.For an organisation which is dependent upon membership fees and which is supposed to work for the member states, the budget should be: what are the projects to be implemented, and how much will it cost. If the overall salary payments are too high, then perhaps it is time that they think about reducing the number of managers in the system. After all, too many cooks tend to spoil the broth.

Earlier this year, the UN instituted another reform to its organisational structure. The UN Resident Coordinators — a system in place since 1977 — saw an overhaul of the system in 2008. Country coordinators were appointed, meaning they were the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) heads in those country as well as the ceremonial heads of all the UN agencies in that country.

Warga emas lesu berteman sampah Jenazah Ahmad A Talib selamat dikebumikan Dikompaun jual pelitup muka RM2.40

Last May, this system was again reformed. The UNDP heads are now UNDP representatives only, and answer to a new UN Resident Representative who oversees the whole of the UN machinery in that country. So, what has happened is that where there used to be one post, there are now two, and for the 130 posts around the world there are now 260.

The UN needs to focus on the projects it undertakes — to make sure that those projects are viable and short term. Then it can decide on the amount needed to make that project a success. Only then should it think about the personnel needed to carry out that project, preferably without creating new posts, and definitely without creating new undersecretaries-general in New York.

If it reduces its top-heavy personnel force, then perhaps it would not need so much money to do its job. And member states would not have to fork out the moon and stars just for the privilege of being a member.The writer is a foreign service officer who writes on international affairs with a particular emphasis on Africa

Read more: New Straits Times »

Tenom sub-district of Kemabong chosen as UN research centreKOTA KINABALU: The Tenom sub-district of Kemabong has been chosen by the United Nations (UN) as one of its research centres for its information gathering Food Systems, Land Use and Restoration (Folur) Impact Programme.

UN estimates 130,000 people displaced by fighting in SyriaRelief agencies estimate up to 400,000 civilians in the conflict zone may require aid and protection. erdorgan the de facto head of isis

Teacher, CEO among five nabbed in latest LTTE-linked operationPolice: They were arrested for owning LTTE-related items and for helping finance the group's activities. These arrests proves nothing. If the idiots PDRMsia have the guts, then the idiots should charge all these people today using the Penal Code sections for terrorism. What? You get arrested if you own 'items' related to LTTE group? MuhyiddinYassin KDNPUTRAJAYA ? limkitsiang ?They were arrested because they owned items related to the LTTE group and had even helped finance the activities of the international terrorist group, he said...' Well done PDRM

China-US trade war has not affected pacts with M'sia - SaifuddinMinister says the country maintained a good relationship with both the economic heavyweights. Yep but it's all going to Vietnam..and China buying more soy oil from US among other things..the pacts we made just a feel good 'syok sendiri' . We need a strategy base on internalization.

Buyers want rent-to-own scheme to cover homes lower than RM300,000National Home Buyers Association says if price is lowered to RM300,000, more than 30,000 will be eligible to buy the homes.

Man arrested in Jinjang for owning police reflective vestKUALA LUMPUR: Police have arrested a man for owning a police reflective vest with the rank of police commissioner embedded on it.