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Jun 30

Lessons on How the U.S. Can Reform the U.N.

The United Nations is far from perfect. The U.N. and its affiliated funds, programs, and specialized agencies are often opaque and resist efforts to increase transparency. The bulk of most U.N. budgets are dedicated to salaries and administrative expenses, leaving relatively little for on the ground activities. Even then, many activities are of questionable merit or are duplicative, but seldom face rigorous evaluation or termination even decades after being approved. Both elements of the employee-employer relationship in the U.N. system are problematic: the U.N. can be capricious and vindictive to whistleblowers but ineffective at holding employees who perform poorly to account. U.N. budgets are broadly misaligned with current priorities and efforts to calibrate them face political impediments from the bureaucracy and the member states. U.N. peacekeepers are rarely held to account if they commit crimes. The U.S. has tried repeatedly to address these and other problems. But as only one of 193 member states, most of whom do not regard reform as a priority, U.S. efforts often stall. What strategies and circumstances increase the prospects for reform? What pressures, levers and tactics have proven successful and should be employed in the future? Join us as former U.S. and U.N. officials offer their thoughts and advice based on their experiences.

More About the Speakers

Christopher Bancroft Burnham
Under Secretary General of the United Nations for Management June 2005 to November 2006 

Kim R. Holmes
Assistant Secretary for International Organizations, U.S. Department of State November 2002 to June 2005 

Ambassador Joseph M. Torsella
U.S. Representative to the United Nations for Management and Reform April 2011 to January 2014

Hosted By

Brett D. Schaefer Brett D. Schaefer

Jay Kingham Senior Research Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs Read More