Setting Priorities at the United Nations


Setting Priorities at the United Nations

July 22, 1993 25 min read Download Report
Andrew Cowin
Distinguished Fellow

(Archived document, may contain errors)

952 July 26, 1993 SETI'INGPRIORITES AT THE UNITED NATIONS INTRODUCTION S ince the end of the Cold War, many world leaders have urged a large role for the United Nations in international affairs. Some have advocated a bigger U.N. peacekeeping role, while others argue for expanding the U.N.'s responsibilities for environmental p r otection and eco nomic development, particularly in the Third World. Rich and poor nations alike applaud a more activist U.N In the industrialized world, environmentalists hope that the U.N. will save such natural resources as the rain forests, many of wh ich are located in theThird World.

Meanwhile, leaders of poor Third World countries are happy to see U.N. funds for environ mental and development issues flow into their treasuries mental iss ues was last year's United Nations Conference on the Environment and Develop ment (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. One hundred and twenty heads of state attended this "Earth Summit," where they signed agreements on everything from biodiversity to global warming. Although the Bush Administration distanced itself from these unenforceable agree ments, the Clinton Administration on June 4,1993, signed the biodiversity agreement, and has otherwise endorsed the goals of the summit.2 teen active peacekeeping mi s sions around the world, from Angola to Cambodia. More than 80,000 troops are assigned to U.N. missions, which vary in size from 40 (IndidPakistan) to 25,000 (former Yugoslavia The estimated cost of the Cambodia presence alone for 1993 is 2 billion The bes t recent example of plans for an expanded U.N. role in environmental and develop More recently, the U.N. has found itself thrust into the role of world policeman. It has four 1 The U.N.'s peacekeeping role was examined in a previous Buckgrounder. See Andre w J. Cowin Expanding United Nations Peacekeeping Role Poses Risks for America Heritage Foundation Buckgrounder No. 917 October 13, 19

92. Studies calling for an expanded U.N. role include "Rethinking Basic Assumptions about the United Nations," Conference Summary by the World Federalist Association and Johnson Foundation, February 1992; William Durch and Berry Blechman, "Keeping the Peace: The United Nations in the Emerging World Order The Henry L. Stimson Center, March 19

92. See also the final documents from the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development, especially "Agenda 2 1 The agreement was signed by U.N. Ambassador Madeleine Albright. It awaits Senate ratification. 2 1 While there is merit to some U.N. peacekeeping role, the world bodys dramatic expansion into this and other areas since the end of the Cold War demands a thorough review of U.N goals and priorities. In general, a broad expansion of responsibilities is a big mistake for two reasons: 1) poor management, bad organizatio n , and corruption plague the U.N making the successful implementation of its goals unlikely; and 2) the U.N. has trouble with the far easier tasks it already handles, such as economic development assistance in the Third World. There are more than a dozen s eparate agencies, programs, and commissions independently assigned development responsibilities, and tangible results are hard to identify.

Before the U.N. attempts to rescue the environment and eradicate world poverty, it should put its own house in order . It can do this by eliminating the waste and fraud that have crippled many of its operations. For example, studies have shown that even basic print services done in-house at the U.N. cost 40 percent more than they would if performed by private contrac to r s Also, the U.N. needs to set realistic goals. In peacekeeping, for example, the uncon strained growth of operations is clearly unsustainable, yet there is no long-term program short of simply spending more money and establishing yet another bloated burea ucratic structure to manage unrealistic objectives. The post-Cold War U.N should set its sights on attainable so cial goals like efficient international disaster relief and effective refugee assistance.

The U.S. should be a champion of reform of the U.N. I t should promote reforms that elimi nate waste, corruption, and mismanagement, while establishing realistic and achievable proj ect objectives. The Clinton Administration and the Congress should adopt a five-point reform program. They should Insist that t h e U.N. establish the position of inspector general to target waste, fraud, and abuse Press reports, outside audits by management consultants, and even the spo radic internal scrutiny reveal systemic waste, mismanagement, and corruption at the U.N. A perma n ent internal mechanism must be established to insure the U.Ns integ rity and safeguard American taxpayer contributions Support merging all the U.N. economic and social committees and organs into one entity that would operate under streamlined management O n e reason the U.N. is so ineffec tive is that a variety of separate U.N. organizations seek to achieve identical goals in an uncoordinated manner. This causes confusion and wasted effort Recognize that the U.N. has limited capabilities and redirect U.N. ef f orts toward attain able goals The U.N. should function less like an economic development agency that focuses on utopian tasks such as eradicating poverty and ending war, and more like the Red Cross, concentrating on narrower goals such as aiding natural d i saster vic tim and refugees. Through the use of its funding lever, the Clinton Administration should encourage these more limited, measurable, and achievable objectives Continue to pressure U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to live up to his pr o m ises on institutional reform Strong signals from Washington could encourage Boutros-Ghali to revive his interrupted reform efforts 3 CIA Directorate of Intelligence, Worldwide Peacekeeping Operations, 1993; The Washington Times, July 13 1993 p. AS 2 5 T h reaten to withdraw U.S. funding from U.N. economic and social programs if U.N reforms are not forthcoming. America pays about 25 percent of the regular budgets of U.N economic and social programs, or about 640 million in assessments for 1993, plus another 200 million to those agencies which subsist on voluntary contributions from member states, such as the United Nations Development Program. By failing to reform the U.N. wastes money provided by American taxpayers MISMANAGEMENT AND CORRUPTION AT THE U.N Th e U.N. is a poorly managed institution plagued by corruption. It is a haven for political patronage and suffers from a lack of management oversight. Moreover, because the U.N. hiis played only a marginal role in world affairs for forty years, member states have had little in centive to press for management reforms.

U.N. Secretary General Boutros-Ghali claims to understand these problems. He acknowl edges that: Duplication is widespread; co-ordination is often nominal; burpaucratic battles aimed at monopoliz ing a particular subject are rife, and organizational objectives are some times in ~onflict But when it comes to management reform, Boutros-Ghali complains of battling his own staff when he tries to restore discipline in an organization where the negli ge n ce and fragmentation are wide~pread While once visiting the U.N. offices in Geneva where he was championing management reforms, Boutros-Ghali ran into a bureaucratic wall As he said, I was attacked. There are thousands of staff. Half of them do no work.y9 6 form. According to Ronald Spiers an American who served as U.N. Under Secretary Gen eral, There has never been efficient management [at the U.N.].7 Indeed, a complete list of serious management failures and corruption at the U.N. would be quite long. Som e of the more serious are Item 1 Widespread Management Deficiencies. Despite a long history of persistent corrup tion and mismanagement, the U.N. lacks an independent inspector general. Instead it relies on a Board of Auditors, a group of three high-level g overnment financial auditors from member states, who periodically examine the U.N.3 books and operations. This group in June 1992 compiled a long list of management problems in operations run by the U.N. Secretariat.8 Among them d Experts and consultants h ave been hired without receiving the required approval of An experienced diplomat like Boutros-Ghali should not be surprised by this resistance to re supervising U.N. officials. This has made it possible for U.N. bureaucrats to hire their friends without proper authorization 4 5 6 Ibid 7 Ibid 0 Quoted in Report to the Secretary General of the United Nations by DickThornburgh, Under Secretary General for Administration and Management, March 3, 1993, p. 26.

As UN Expands, So Do Its Problems, The Washington Post, September 20, 1992, p. A26, quoting an interview from a London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awat.

Financial Report and Audited Financial Statements for the Biennium ended 13 December 1991 and Report of the Board of Auditors, United Nations, 1992 3 d In violation of U.N. rules and good management practice, from 1990 to 1991,83 per cent of purchases costing 20,000 or more were made without competitive bidding.

The Board of Auditors report states bidding has become the exception rather than the gene ral rule. The report warned that this has been a recurring audit observation yet not much has been done to reverse the trend d For some 70 percent of the goods and services purchased by U.N. Headquarters there is no documentation to prove that the goods a n d services actually were received. The report points out that many of these purchases involved very expensive items. From 1990 to 1991, in fifteen cases lacking documentation, the U.N. spent a total of 8,643,146, or an average of more than $576,000 per un documented item d U.N. office managers have been instructed by superiors to forego taking an inventory of items costing less than $1,5

00. As a result, tables, chairs, filing cabinets, typewrit ers, photocopiers, cameras, and televisions have not been inve ntoried. Lacking a doc umented record of their whereabouts, the U.N. has no way of accounting for these items d Millions of dollars in cash are left in the equivalent of checking accounts instead of being invested in short-term instruments that would cons i derably increase interest in come d A separate, costly, and unnecessary secretariat was established for the International Decade of Natural Disaster Reduction (the 1990s when the same task could have been handled through the already established U.N. Disas t er Relief Office d Supervisors regularly fail to obey U.N. rules that call for a performance review after a staffers first five years d Temporary staffers often continue collecting salaries without the required periodic re view of their contracts Item #2: Corruption at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR A bureaucracy set up to assist international refugees, the UNHCR, long has suffered from corruption and mismanagement. One official was alleged to have run a call girl rin g at U.N. Headquarters in Geneva in the early 1980~9 He subsequently was transferred to Uganda, where he became chief UCR representative in June 19

83. An internal U.N. inves tigation later concluded that after the U.N. officials arrival in Uganda, some $4 00,000 worth of food was sold on the black market instead of being distributed free to the hungry. More over, while this official was in Uganda, more than $1 million worth of goods disappeared from U.N. warehouses, and more than $670,000 of agency vehicle s were either sold or given away. This one individual is believed to be responsible for an estimated loss of $2.4 million 9 10 Ibid William Branigin, Refugee Official Kept Job for Years Despite Allegations, Inquiries, The Washington Post September 2 1,1992 4 He denied that he profited from these management lapses or intentionally engineered them.

During the U.N.s internal investigation, the official was suspended with full pay.

Despite these alleged transgressions, the official enjoyed the support of U.N. associates.

One colleague re ortedly threatened to kill an American U.N. official if the American investi gated too deeply! Apparently as a result of a well-known good old boy network the UNHCR official was reinstated and assigned in 1989 to head the UCR office in Dj i bouti In 199 1, Djibouti became the center of aid programs for refugees from civil wars in neigh boring Somalia and Ethiopia. The pattern of irregularities recurred. Massive shipments of food aid disappeared before they could be distributed to starving re f ugees A U.N. Board of Auditors report indicates that the Djibouti office was responsible for mismanagement and mis appro riation of 689,359, including seven payments worth $346,000 to fictitious compa nies lars wasted because of corruption. In addition, p o or management and corruption at UCR certainly led to unnecessary deaths by starvation in Ethiopia and Somalia Item #3: Corruption and Mismanagement at the Economic Commission for Africa. There is a plethora of U.N. organizations, commissions, and subdivis i ons with murky mandates and elu sive goals. Among these is the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), which is supposed to initiate and partici ate in measures for facilitating concerted action for the economic de velopment of Afri~a With such an ambiguous mission, it is little surprise that the U.N Board of Auditors has documented egregious mismanagement and outright corruption at the ECA 15 This example of U.N. corruption is disturbing. Not only were hundreds of thousands of dol For example, the Board of A uditors found d That an ECA officer amassed at least $125,000 by breaking U.N. rules and the laws d A lack of any system for evaluating the staffing needs of the ECA. Thus neither the of his host country regarding currency transactions management nor the s taff responsible for budget approval has a reliable basis for determining appropriate staffing levels d A hopelessly tangled bureaucracy. The auditors noted that ECA is subdivided into ten divisions, and eleven additional organizational units, creating an unwieldy and ineffi cient bureaucratic structure. They recommended that the units be incorporated into the divisions, and the number of divisions should be reduced dramatically d Unproductive employees. ECA translators work at two-thirds to one-half the e f fi- ciency of other translators within the U.N. system d Unsubmitted annual inventory reports, making it difficult to monitor whether prop- erty is being stolen 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid. 13 United Nations Handbook 1991, p. 73 5 d That most reports issued by ECA p r ograms are worthless because they contain only well-known data and because they lack an assessment of existing problems or sugges tions for remedial action Item #4: Mismanagement at the Off ice of Conference Services. At the behest of former U.N Under Sec r etary General DickThornburgh, one of the few U.N. officials who pushed for real reform the respected international management consultancy McKinsey Co. audited the U.N.s Department of Administration and Management. In the six divisions which comprise this department, McKinsey found that the Office of Conference Services had the worst man agemen t problems.

The Office of Conference Services (OCS) manages the U.N. printshop and arranges meet ings, conferences, translations, and transcribing. The printshops pr oblems were found to be so serious that McKinsey recommended removing it from the OCS altogether. They also pro posed contracting out much of the U.N.s printing operation to private companies. McKinsey found that costs at the U.N. printshop are as much as 40 percent higher than those at compara ble facilities An explanation for this inefficiency is not difficult to find. Workers at the U.N printshop take almost five times as many sick days, are given twice the amount of vacation and take twice as much brea k time during the day than do workers at other print shops. De spite their poor work ethic, they em 40 percent higher wages. l4 BOUTROS-GHALI DASHES HOPES FOR REFORM When he became U.N. Secretary General in January 1992, Boutros Boutros-Ghali claimed to be a reformer, and in the months following his appointment, seemed to be moving in that direction. He reduced the number of departments within the Secretariat from nineteen to five and appeared to be willing to cut the size of U.N. bureaucracy and impose a m o re disciplined work ethic. But a rebellion from within the ranks of the U.N. bureaucrats, caused by their fear of job cuts, quickly bogged down Boutros-Ghalis reform efforts. To placate his workers Boutros-Ghali promised that all staff reduction goals wou l d be reached through attrition U.N. departments-by creating three new departments out of the Department of Economic and Social Development. Taken in response to Earth Summit resolutions which left room for flexibility in staff allocations, Boutros-Ghalis action unnecessarily added to the already sprawling U. N. bureaucracy. This will increase confusion at the U.N. and make reform more difficult.

Even if the U.N. were efficiently managed and there were no corruption, its loose and re dundant bureaucratic st ructure still would undermine its ability to function well. The overlap ping responsibilities of the U.N.s various agencies and organs lead to wasted spending, dupli cation of effort, and a reduction in the number of projects the organization can undertak e ef fectively In December 1992, Boutros-Ghali weakened his only major reform-cutting the number of 14 Memorandum from McKinsey Co. to Under Secretary General Dick Thornburgh, Improving DAMS Performance within the UN Secretariat, June 5,1992 6 BEY For exam p le, to spur economic development, the U.N. has created the U.N. Development Program, the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, the Sustainable Development Commission, the Department for Development Support and Management Services, and the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustain able Development as well as a plethora of regional commissions, such as the Economic Com mission for Africa Zn addition, agencies such as the World Food Program, whose activit i es are not explicitly geared toward development, often undertake development projects such as building dams and roads. Furthermore, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund U.N.-affiliated agencies that also provide funding for economic development, run separate and distinct operations that coordinate with other U.N. bodies only occasionally. None of these bodies can be forced to work with the others.

One drawback to these overlapping responsibilities is that Third World governments seek ing U.N. dev elopment aid for projects approach one organ or agency after another until they find one that approves their request. For example, if a country wants to build a road, it can go to the United Nations Development Program looking for development assistance, o r to the World Food Program claiming the road is needed to haul agricultural products ings at which decisions must be made. Even well-organized and well-staffed missions to the U.N. sometimes take conflicting positions on the same issue in different commi ttees. For ex ample, the American mission is probably better financed and better staffed than any other.

Nevertheless, sometimes the American representative to the economic and social committee of the General Assembly argues in favor of certain programs, w hile the American representa tive to the administrative and budgetary committee demands cuts in the same programs.

During the 1984 Ethiopian famine, this systemic lack of coordination proved tragic. At least four U.N. entities became involved in the famin e relief effort: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Program WFP the International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD and the World Bank. All of these were to be coordinated by a new layer of bureaucracy, called the Office of E m ergency Operations in Africa, set up solely to deal with the Ethiopia famine. Unfortunately, the head of FAO, Edouard Saouma, disliked others encroaching on his bureaucratic territory. He particularly disliked sharing responsibil ity with with which he ha d a tense relationship. As a result, when- urgently re quested 26,000 metric tons of food from FAO, Saouma withheld his ap roval for twenty days. During the delay, at least 34,000 Ethiopians died from starvation The welter of U.N. agencies, bodies, and org a ns leads to an overwhelming number of meet PS DND UTOPIANISM: FOCUSING ON ATTAINABLE GOALS Beyond mismanagement and corruption, though, lies a more insidious problem that further limits the U.N.s effectiveness: its inability to establish limited, attainab l e goals. One utopian goal set for the 1992 Earth Summit was to eradicate poverty. This is reminiscent of some of the more grandiose missions adopted by certain U.N. agencies at their inception. UNESCO 1 for example, was established to remove the causes of war from the minds of man, while the 15 William Branigin, FAO: Length, Style of Long Reign at Issue, llre Washington Post, September 22, 1992, p.


14. See also Doug Williams, The Specialized Agencies and the United Nations (New York St. Martins Press 19 90 p. 1 11 7 16 For World Health Organization set the patently unrealistic goal of health for all by the year 2000 Contrary to these overblown objectives, the best organizations within the U.N. system are those that accomplish clearly defined tasks, satis f ying achievable goals in a professional man ner and without controversy. Many of these are the technical organizations for which the com munity of nations found a need before it even developed the U.N. These organizations, since subsumed into the U.N., in c lude The Universal Postal Union (UPU established in 1875 to promote the organization and im provement of world postal services The International Telecommunication Union (ITU established in 1934 (replacing a similar organization founded in 1865 which alloc a tes radio frequencies and maintains a registry of radio frequency assignments safety and navigation standards, among other tasks; and ogy Organization (founded in 1873 which has developed a network of weather stations around the world to improve global fo recasting.16 able goals: delivering the mail, establishing rights to radio frequencies, drawing aviation maps, and reporting the weather. Each of these functions is of sufficient importance in the modem world that politics rarely interferes.

By contrast, t he economic and social entities at the U.N. address controversial political is sues. Debates over economic philosophy, for example, have paralyzed the U.N. In the 1970s poorer countries wanted to impose a New International Economic Order on the world. Thi s scheme would have called for a huge transfer of wealth from the rich countries to the poor.

Relying on socialist economic theories, theThird World countries argued that sharing the wealth was the best way to end poverty. The U.S. and other Western countr ies strongly op posed the New International Economic Order, arguing that U.N. agencies should support free market solutions This distracting debate paralyzed the U.N. without yielding tangible benefits.

The U.N. should focus its efforts and resources in a reas where there is international consen sus for U.N. involvement. Obvious areas of emphasis are natural disaster relief, refugee assis tance, and the distribution of medicine in poor countries. Measuring achievement of these goals should be relatively ea s y. Observers can determine success by asking very concrete questions Are all the refugees sheltered? How many vaccines have been administered? Once these questions are answered, the U.N and the worlds nations supporting it) will know how effective the pro grams are.

The U.N. has a long way to go before it earns the worlds confidence and respect. It suffers from corruption, mismanagement, poor organization, and an inflated sense of its own poten tial. Before giving the U.N. any additional authority, particul arly sweeping responsibility for such areas as peacekeeping, the environment, and economic development, Americans should The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO founded in 1947, which establishes air The World Meteorological Association, set u p in 195 1 to replace the International Meteorol Most of these organizations have been successful because they have set clear and measur re information on the technical organizations, see Williams, op. cir pp. 36-39 8 insist that the U.N. address its own p r oblems. Thus, the Clinton Administration, with the sup port of Congress, should 1) Insist that the U.N. establish the position of inspector general to target waste fraud, and abuse Despite decades of U.N. mismanagement, corruption, and waste, the world bo d y still lacks any independent investigative officer. Shortcomings are revealed by enterprising news report ers, the occasional aggressive U.N. official like DickThomburgh, sporadic reports from the Board of Auditors, and ad hoc investigations when circums tances get so bad that the need for review cannot be ignored.

This must change. The American taxpayer funds 25 percent of U.N. operations. That money is being wasted. Until the U.N. has an independent inspector general, President Clinton should consider sa ving taxpayer money by slashing the American contribution to the U.N. by 10 percent a year until the inspector general is appointed. Under no circumstances should he contemplate increasing the budget or the power of the U.N. before an inspector general is ap pointed.

Because of the close interaction among various U.N. entities, the inspector general should have system-wide powers. This would require that each specialized agency agree to coope rate with the inspector general. The inspector general should be given a staff of 150 officials who enjoy complete access to all U.N. records and bookkeeping materials, along with the power to question all U.N. officials.

The inspector general should repo rt to the Secretary General and the Security Council, keep ing them informed about problems in program administration and operations. He could inves tigate and publicize sweetheart contracts between U.N. officials and U.N. vendors, and ex pose violations o f U.N. hiring rules. He could thus ensure that U.N. funds are spent as in tended 2 Support merging all the U.N. economic and social committees and organs into one entity that would operate under streamlined management The current profusion of U.N. entitie s causes needless duplication of effort and expense. At the same time, it inhibits rational organization and prevents the U.N. from accomplishing its goals. The more than a dozen economic and social organs should be merged into one body and administered in accordance with modem management principles sion, but none is held responsible if the mission fails. This could prevent the type of bureau cratic in-fighting that needlessly cost thousands of lives in Ethiopia.

Rather than dividing responsibility for the U.N.s economic and social policy among a myr iad of organizations, each mission-health, refugee relief, and disaster assistance-should be coordinated by a single official who would report directly to one U.N. official responsible for economic and social p rograms. The lack of clear dividing lines and hierarchy has allowed too many U.N. officials to expand their fiefdoms while evading blame for their failures.

Another advantage of merging all the economic and social entities into one body is that the member states, which theoretically control the U.N would be better able to keep an eye on what U.N. bureaucrats are doing.The number of important budget and policy meetings would be reduced, saving time and streamlining the work of the various delegations. Moreo v er, the lines of responsibility would be clearer, and funding requests could be better coordinated. No This would put an end to the current situation in which many agencies share a common mis 9 longer would U.N. development agencies and programs be an ove r lapping tangle of indepen dent fiefdoms. Ultimate responsibility would rest with one person answerable to the member states 3 Recognize that the U.N. has limited capabilities and redirect U.N. efforts toward attainable goals Some specialized agencies such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and the In ternational Telecommunication Union are assigned mundane tasks: setting air safety stan dards and allocating radio frequencies. These agencies accomplish their goals and serve useful purposes. Th e U.N. should abandon unreachable utopian goals such as eradicating poverty and health care for all by the year 20

00. Instead, the U.N.s economic and social programs should concentrate on useful but limited activities. Some of these would include efficien tly dispensing vaccines, effectively assisting refugees, and competently providing disaster relief 4) Continue to pressure U.N. Secretary General Boutros-Ghali to live up to his prom ises on institutional reform Boutros-Ghali has managed to talk like a re f ormer but act like the Egyptian bureaucrats he so often decries. Worse, he regularly insults the U.S. by complaining publicly that Washing ton pays its U.N. dues late and plays too small a role in U.N. peacekeeping operations. This criticism comes despite the fact that the U.S. contributes 25 percent of the U.N.s regular bud get and has provided most of the support for high-visibility U.N. operations in Iraq and Soma lia 5 Threaten to withdraw U.S. funding from U.N. economic and social programs if U.N refo r ms are not forthcoming If the U.N. and its specialized agencies fail to accept the authority of a system-wide inspec tor general, and if they refuse to reform by consolidating redundant departments and pro grams, America should cut back its contribution b y 10 percent a year until the reforms are ac complished.

The U.S. will spend about 840 million in 1993 on social and economic programs. With this money America can accomplish more to assist the economic development of the Third World by acting on its own, through the Agency for International Development (AID than by participating in U.N. development programs. Funnelling money directly through AID, the U.S. would retain complete control over projects and receive full credit from the aid recipi ents. ers in the form of fewer government expenditures and lower taxes.

Another alternative would be to cut U.N. funding and give the savings back to the taxpay CONCLUSION For 45 years, the United Nations operated in the shadows of world affairs, eclipsed by the East-W est confrontation. Now that the Cold War has ended, many people want to see the U.N. strengthened and assigned broader responsibility around the world. These expectations are premature. The U.N. is not prepared to handle the open-ended missions that some i n the diplomatic community want to foist upon it. The U.N. can do many things, but it cannot alone stop civil wars, create economic development, or free the globe of pollution 10 Indeed, the U.N. has a long way to go before it lives up to even its limited potential. The pri mary impediments are sloppy management procedures and a haphazard, overlapping organiza tional structure. These prevent the U.N. from efficiently accomplishing many simple tasks, let alone making a lasting contribution in such complex a reas as economic development or envi ronmental protection.

Sound management practices need to be established at the U.N beginning with the accep tance of a system-wide inspector general. The world body needs to be reorganized along lines that make sense. A ll the committees, commissions, programs, and other related entities that deal with economic and social issues should be rolled into one body with streamlined manage ment.

For the time being, many are withholding judgment on the U.N.s role in the post-Col d War world. If the organization can reform itself, reduce its economic and social missions to a man ageable size, and accomplish its tasks efficiently, then its stature in world affairs would be en hanced. If not, the U.N. is doomed to permanent irreleva nce.

Andrew J. Cowin Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs 11 APPENDIX THE UNITED NATIONS SYSTEM According to the U.N. Charter, the economic and social work of the U.N. is supposed to be coordinated by the Economic and Social Council (ECOS OC). Fifty-four countries are members of ECOSOC, with eighteen sitting on the governing council at any one time. The United States always has been a member.

ECOSOC is an umbrella organization with little authority. It interacts with two distinct types of organiza tions 1) specialized agencies and other autonomous organizations, and 2) organs and programs related to ECOSOC The nebulous nature of its coordinating power and lack of explicit authority means ECOSOCs governing council has little direct impact o n what the U.N. accomplishes in the economic and social fields The Specialized Agencies The specialized agencies are part of ECOSOC only in a formal sense. Many of them, including the World Bank and the International Labor Organization, were formed before t he U.N. was founded and were absorbed by it in an attempt by the founders to place all intergovernmental organizations under one roof. Thus, the spe cialized agencies are part of the U.N. system only in a technical sense. They submit regular statements to ECOSOC, enact similar staff rules, send representatives to ECOSOC meetings, and exchange information with ECOSOC staffers Also, most agencies agree to consider recommendations by the U.N. General Assem bly, but are not bound by them.

Each specialized agen cy was formed in much the same manner as the U.N with formal, signed agreements between government leaders. Like the U.N the specialized agencies receive funding from assessments im posed on agency member states. Some agencies, such as the Food and Agricu l ture Organization, receive addi tional funds through voluntary contributions made by wealthier member states. Funding also comes through contracts to render services for the U.N Organs and Programs Related to ECOSOC These organs and programs, such as the U nited Nations Development Program or Economic Commission for Africa are established by ECOSOC or General Assembly resolutions. They do not have their own constitu tions and can be abolished by a resolution of the body that created them. Funding for these entities comes from the regular U.N. budget, voluntary contributions from wealthy U.N. member states, or other sources such as private charities.

The heads of ECOSOC organs serve at the pleasure of the Secretary General. They typically retain enormous inde pendence, however, because the number of bodies, committees, commissions, and other organs within the U.N. make it difficult for the Secretary General, General Assembly, or member states to exercise ade quate oversight. Many are shrewd politicians and hav e found ways to cement control over their organizations and increase their budgets. Tactics include: actively courting important contributing states, establishing a sup port network throughout the powerful U.N. bureaucracy, and promoting oneself as a repre s entative of a re gional or ethnic bloc A minor third category, special bodies, also exists. It encompasses entities such as the U.N. think tank called the U.N. Institute of Training and Research WAR These special bodies are of little practical importance. Aside from WAR, they are: U.N.

International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA U.N. University (UNU U.N. Volunteers (UNV Office of the U.N. Disaster Re lief Co-ordinator (UND R O U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR United Nations Center for Human Settlements HABITAT 13 UMTED "IONS ORGANIZAnON e UNAVEM 0th Military Staff Committee UNDOF U N FlCY P UNlFlL UNMOGIP Main Committees Standing Committees ler Subsidiary Organ s UNRWA UNCTAD UNICEF UNHCR WFP UNITAR UNDP UNEP UNU UN Special Fund World Food Council HABITAT UNFPA Regional Commissions Functional Commissions Other Commissions b ILO r -b FA0 I, I -b UNESCO I UNTAC UNTSO UNIKOM MINURSO ONUSAL UNOSOM UNUMOZ UNPROFO UNOM U R 4EA b IDA -b WHO b IMF. I I I IFC I I -b ICAO b UPU k -b ITU L-b I WMO b IMO b IFAD i- UNIDO 1-b GATT b WIPO I I Source: The United Notions Handbook, The United Nations. I 14 U.N. Agency Acronyms FA0 GATT HABITAT IAEA IBRD ICAO IDA IFAD IFC 110 IMF IMO I TU MINURSO ONUSAL UNAVEM UNCTAD UNDOF UNDP UNEP UNESCO UNFICYP UNFPA UNHCR UNICEF UNIDO UNlFlL UNIKOM UNITAR UNMOGIP UNOSOM UNRWA UNTSO UNU UNTAC UNUMOZ UNPROFOR UNOMUR UPU WFP WHO WlPO WMO Food and Agriculture Organization General Agreement on Tariffs an d Trade United Nations Center for Human Settlements International Atomic Energy Agency International Bank for Reconstruction and Development International Civil Aviation Organization International Development Association International Fund for Agricultural Development International Finance Corporation International Labor Organization International Monetary Fund International Maritime Organization International Telecommunication Union United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador United National Angola Verification Meeting United Nations Conference on Trade and Development United Nations Disengagement Observer Force United Nations Development Program United Nations Environment Program United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization United Nations Force in Cyprus United Nations Population Fund United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees United Nations Children's Fund United Nations Industrial Development Organization United Nations I nterim Force in Lebanon United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission United Nations Institute for Training and Research United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan United Nations Operation in Somalia Unied Nations Relief and Works Agenc y for Palestine Refugees United Nations Truce Supervision Organization United Nations Universrty United Nations Transitional Authonty in Cambodia United Nations Operation in Mozambique United Nations Protection Force United Nations Observer Mission in Ugan da-Rwanda Universal Postal Union World Food Program World Health Organization World Intellectual Property Organization World Meteorological Organization in the Near East 15


Andrew Cowin

Distinguished Fellow