The world has been changing. Some say it is in tumult. Globalization continues and different forms of resistance are in play. The international community has been strong in adopting agendas, but not as strong in delivering them. Therefore, I believe we have to ask ourselves, What is it we are doing wrong? Or is this really the first time we are trying to synchronize our global-development efforts, and we need time to work it out? Complex challenges such as contemporary and protracted conflicts, dire humanitarian situations, migration/refugee flows, the spread of international terrorism and violent extremism require an effective, efficient and more relevant UN system. The UN requires strong leadership that will make it fit for said purpose, and to rebuild trust in the Organization. We also need fresh faces within the System to ensure that needed change happens.
At the same time, I truly believe that the role of the next Secretary-General will not be to reinvent the wheel, but to ensure to optimize delivering on agreed-upon agendas, including through mobilizing collective wisdom to make a more effective, efficient and relevant UN. To make ever more value for the money invested in it. However, all this will sound like platitudes, too elusive and vague if we do not come up with certain proposals on how to perform better.
In my vision, we need a more robust position in the Deputy Secretary-General, who should have a leading role in dealing with regional and sub-regional arrangements, as well as in the field of mediation and prevention. If elected, I would appoint a female DSG, in an effort to ensure gender parity. I also believe we need to show further commitment to Africa and the developing world by basing the DSG in Nairobi, as one of the UN’s headquarters. With reference to peace and security, more efficiency and effectiveness can be brought about by setting up the UN Peace Operations Group, closely supervised by the SG and DSG within the Chief Executives Coordination Board, which also has to be strengthened. This modification can make a difference in supplying the Security Council and the Peace Building Commission with necessary and improved insight, enabling better decision-making and improved coordination. A special tribunal to hold UN peacekeepers accountable for human rights violations, like the sexual abuse uncovered in the Central African Republic, should be considered. By doing all that we can to start true implementation of the peace architecture recommendations.
Turning to the development agenda, the SDGs are great work, but an even greater opportunity for the UN. In order to avoid duplication, it is critical to define leading UN AFPs (agencies, funds or programs) for each SDG in a cluster-shaped structure. Cooperation must be strengthened with multilateral partners and the private sector. Regional Economic Commissions should be important players in establishing Regional Fora for Sustainable Development, consisting of different stakeholders. The UN Development Group should be transformed into a UN Sustainable Development Group, co-chaired by the UNDP Chief Administrator and the Human Rights High Commissioner, thus ensuring a new generation of UNDAFs to fully reflect the complementary Agendas related to development and human rights. We need to use the potential of outstanding individuals from different life spheres to bring SDGs closer to the ordinary people. We should not keep the UN detached from young people, thus an Office for Youth should be established. Additionally, the fact that human rights permeate the whole 2030 Agenda but are at the same time in the core of the peace operation gives that pillar a very prominent role. Therefore, necessary budget reforms need to address a frequent mismatch between the mandates, expectations and core budget appropriations. With only 3.5% of the core budget and a growing need, there has to be a process of identifying duplications and economies in order to strengthen the work of the OHCHR.
All the above will still sound hollow unless the SG undertakes a deep review of the current budget in line with the need to prepare to deliver on the vast agenda agreed upon globally in 2015. An independent panel from all the regions should be established to ensure fresh external views. The core budget needs to recognize all the SDGs through appropriate program budgeting in order to mirror adequately the cluster-shaped structure of AFPs responsible for the implementation. This is an important tool to mobilize resources for multi-sector implementation of the Agenda, as it should serve as a lever to attract and better coordinate other donors’ funds.