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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 02:09 GMT
Annan outlines radical UN reforms
By Susannah Price
BBC correspondent, United Nations

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Mr Annan said the reforms are not a cost-cutting exercise
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has told members that the organisation's management needs a radical overhaul.

His proposed reforms include improving recruitment and training, investing in new technology and relocating or outsourcing certain UN operations.

Some members from developing countries are concerned the new proposals give the secretary general too much power.

Mr Annan said the UN's current working practices - drafted decades ago - hinder the organisation's crucial work.

Mr Annan was called on by world leaders at the UN summit in September 2005 to come up with proposals for overhauling the management.

Our organisation, after decades of piecemeal reform, now needs a thorough strategic refit
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan

Many of the UN's weaknesses were highlighted in the report on mismanagement and corruption in the oil-for-food programme in Iraq.

The secretary general told the General Assembly that everyone had to work together to ensure the organisation provided better value to those threatened by poverty, natural disasters and conflict.

"Just as this building, after 56 years of ad hoc repair and maintenance, now needs to be fully refurbished from top to bottom, our organisation, after decades of piecemeal reform, now needs a thorough strategic refit.

"It can only be achieved if there is a sustained commitment to see it through at all levels of leadership," he said.

'Cost-cutting exercise?'

Mr Annan proposed money-saving measures such as looking at moving certain operations, like printing and translating documents, out of New York to cheaper locations. Other suggestions included setting up a special peace-keeping force that could be sent on urgent missions, giving the secretary general authority to move staff where they are needed and improving the way the UN buys goods and services.

Mr Annan said this was not a cost-cutting exercise or an attempt by the Secretariat to grab power.

However, there are divisions between the UN members about the reforms and how they should be handled.

Some developing nations called for the report to be discussed by budgetary panels but Europeans and Americans fear this could be an endless process and want General Assembly members to consider the report first.

No decision has yet been made and consultations are continuing.

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