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How to fix the U.N.


By Peter Hulm

The United Nations needs some basic rethinking over the next ten years to improve its work for development.

This conclusion is the result of a survey of 3400 people across the world who know the organization from the inside.

Their recommendations:

Surprised? These are long-time complaints about the U.N. Like most people, the insiders said the U.N. has made most impact in humanitarian relief and peacekeeping. Development, crisis recovery and human rights were not far behind.

Health and kids beat drugs

But bottom of the list of organizations that support development was the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Top, of course, were the World Health Organization and Unicef.

Looking at the reforms required by 2025, the experts want greater use of technology to cut costs and improve effectiveness, an updated systemwide technology platform and a single gateway to all U.N. research and publications.

"The U.N.'s Internet presence is notoriously hard to navigate and poorly indexed for outsiders, " notes PassBlue, the information arm of the Ralph Bunche Institute project covering the U.N.

PassBlue Reporter Barbara Crossette adds: "The zinger question was this: To what extent is the UN development system capable of major reform? Nearly a quarter of respondents replied that the organization was either incapable or strongly incapable of change."

Views go to orgs and donors

The survey was carried out for the independent Future of the United Nations Development System (FUNDS) project. Since 2009 it has been looking at how the 30 UN agencies can respond better, The project is directed by Stephen Browne, former Deputy Director of the International Trade Centre, and Thomas G.Weiss.

The selected participants in the survey included experts in the private sector, the UN, governments, academia and nongovernmental organizations.

Browne told PassBlue the results have been sent to the heads or senior managers of several UN agencies, including W.H.O, U.N. Women and the U.N. Development Programme. The results. he said, are also submitted to donors and particularly to the Swedish, Swiss, Norwegian and Danish governments, who support the project.


PassBlue 26 May 2014

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