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Furthering the Work of the United Nations

Highlights of the Tenure of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 2007-2016

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This volume explores United Nations efforts over the past decade to uphold the values and advance the objectives of the UN Charter. It offers a reflection on the challenges, explains the Organization's approaches, and catalogues both gains and setbacks, as well as suggests avenues for future action. This book highlights the fact that under Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's tenure there has been a dramatic rise in the expectations placed on the UN. Those demands emanate from the world’s people, governments, those caught up in conflict or oppression, and from Mother Earth, suffering so much from decades of misuse. Today’s UN is asked to work in more spheres of activity, more locations and more difficult circumstances. It has deployed more peace operations than ever and now serves the largest humanitarian caseload in history. With the adoption of bold new goals on sustainability and climate change, the UN also has the most ambitious development agenda since its founding.

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Reforms within the United Nations system

Since its inception in 1945, the United Nations has evolved from a primarily Headquarters-based, conference-servicing entity into a largely field-based, operational organization with 41,000 staff facing complex challenges and risks. A large number of non-staff personnel in the field are also supported by the Secretariat. In the decade immediately preceding Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s arrival, the United Nations work had expanded dramatically in a wide range of fields, from human rights to development, and its peacekeeping activities had increased fourfold. Administrative systems and processes needed to be “fit for purpose”, but there was no centralized system for timely and accurate monitoring and reporting of critical managerial information. Human resources policies and supply chain management did not support the rapid deployment of staff and goods to crisis situations. Service delivery was siloed, slow and cumbersome. In short, administrative processes needed to be harmonized and fragmented information technology systems, standardized. Comprehensive management reform was required. Secretary-General Ban saw both the need and an opportunity to create a more efficient, modern and global Organization. Where possible and desirable, his reform efforts have looked to UN system-wide initiatives, as well as to Secretariat-centred ones.

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