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PRIVATISATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
ANNAN PREPARES FOR THE PRIVATISATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS (UN)
from US forces Secretary General to put reforms in place… Annan prepares for
privatisation of UN.
THE United Nations has drawn up plans to privatise the bulk of its staff at its New York headquarters or have their work done more cheaply overseas. The move is in response to mounting demands for reform from the United States, its biggest paymaster.
Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, has commissioned a study into the outsourcing of the department for General Assembly and Conference Management, the main UN decision-making body whose officials issue about 200 documents a day in six languages.
comes as the UN grapples with the oil-for-food scandal in which officials have
been accused of taking bribes from Saddam Hussein’s regime.
report by the end of February on management reforms to the General Assembly.
According to an internal UN document previewing Annan’s report, he will
include “proposals to outsource or off-shore select administrative
processes” – suggesting its New York headquarters may shed staff.
Annan is reviewing the study conducted for the UN by US consulting firms Epstein & Fass Associates and Faulkner & Associates. Their preliminary study makes no firm recommendations. But it examines three privatisation possibilities, from the most conservative to the most radical:
The study gives frank assessments of the risks with privatisation, especially guarding privileged information and interrupting projects if new contractors are hired. It concedes privatisation may not save money.
administration has made an overhaul of management a centrepiece of its UN reform
programme. John Bolton, US ambassador to the UN, once said that if the New York
headquarters lost 10 of its 38 floors, “... it wouldn’t make a bit of
difference”. He is leading an effort to move the UN towards the efficiency of
a private company, including transforming the deputy secretary general into a
chief operating officer and demanding that tasks are done by merit, not
Burnham, a former Bush State Department chief financial officer, was named UN
undersecretary general in charge of management in June 2005 and declared the UN
needed to “... refocus on those areas where we have a competitive
Grenell, spokesman for the US mission, has stated that the Bush administration
had no position on outsourcing. “Our position is that the UN needs to function
better,” Grenell said. “We need to look at all ways to make that better. No
one is talking about cutting jobs or turning out lights. Talking about
outsourcing is way ahead of the game.”
has been growing pressure from Washington on the UN to cut costs. The US pays
22% of the UN’s general budget. France pays 6.4%, the UK 5.5%, China 1.53% and
Russia 1.2%. All five can wield a veto on war-making decisions.
Henry Hyde’s proposed UN Reform Act of 2005 would withhold 50% of US dues
unless at least 32 of 39 proposed reforms are adopted – a clear indication of
pressure intended to break the deadlock.
fear privatisation would cause a cultural shift at the organisation where
international civil servants have been chosen through competitive exams for more
than 60 years.
Lauria in New York - 12
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