General Assembly Reform at the United Nations Term Paper

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assembly reform at the United Nations

Ever since the Cold War ended there have been so many problems the world has been faced with; this includes new threats to its peace and stability also. National and international conflicts based on historical, social, economic, ethnic and other factors, pose an extensive threat to the world causing greater instability. These problems are coupled with the problems of an explosive population increase, poverty, and environmental degradation affecting the entire planet. This is international environment the United Nations has to play an important role in to fulfill its responsibilities effectively in implementing the new reforms in all aspects. [CFR Publications: What Future for the UN? A Prelude to the 58th UN General Assembly]

Financial Reform of the United Nations

The financial reform of the United Nations is one of the most serious issues that they face at present. Japan is one country that has actively participated in discussions on the UN financial reform. [CFR Publications: What Future for the UN? A Prelude to the 58th UN General Assembly]

There are three questions that they have posed; the first one is that the issue of cash flow shortage should be resolved with immediate effect. Also the arrearages due to the United Nations by Member States totaled U.S.$1.76 billion at the end of 1999, far exceeding the UN regular budget for one year should be repaid to the UN under their financial obligations of the Charter. Keeping in view the difference between the short-term cash flow shortage and the systematic issue of financial reform, Japan also is of the view that the UN budget needs to be more rationalized. With the member States paying their contributions under different economic and financial circumstances, the United Nations has to conduct its activities with limited availability of financial resources. This is why its obligatory for the United Nations to re-evaluate its priority issues and allocate more for areas that need it the most, and then to rationalize expenses. Japan is of the view that effective budgeting will lead to winning greater confidence from Member States in pursuance of its activities. [[06 Oct 1997] GA/9325: UNITED NATIONS REFORM CONTINUES TO DOMINATE DISCUSSION IN ASSEMBLY, AS GENERAL DEBATE ENTERS THIRD WEEK]

In the summit, Japan also inserted that a sound financial situation of the United Nations should be supported by a well-balanced financial burden sharing amongst its members. Japan also stressed on the fact that the status and responsibilities of Member States in the United Nations should be fulfilled through their financial obligation.

Reform of UN Development Activities

The United Nations activities and its funds and programs and also some specialized agencies have been assessed for their nonaligned status and universality in working towards the goals effectively. However, sometimes the UN development activities sometime cause ineffectiveness of goals. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in 1997, proposed for the establishment of coordinating bodies at the headquarters and at the field level between the related institutions within the UN system. This was expected to be one of the areas of UN activities with the highest expectation from the world. This is why it is necessary for the Organization to continue exchanging views on each agency's priority area so as to enable the UN system to work towards with the developing countries effectively and efficiently. [Statement in the General Assembly on United Nations Reform: Measures and Proposals]

This is why Japan has been working closely in development activities organized by state governments, international organizations and the society for global safety and prosperity. Japan also established a "Human Security Fund" at the United Nations contributing U.S.$84 million since its foundation in March 1999 enabling the UN activities to benefit individual people in developing countries directly and indirectly. [Statement in the General Assembly on United Nations Reform: Measures and Proposals]

Position of the EU in the United Nations

The EU Member States synchronize their actions in the General Assembly, the UN Economic and Social Council and in the functional commissions, such as the Commission for Sustainable Development and the Commission on Population and Development. This entitles them to draw up proposals for strategies, negotiate positions, draft speeches, formulate draft resolutions and, have the 15 Member States participate in negotiations with other UN members. [United Nations OnLine Position Paper]

Relationship between UN and the EU

The European Union is founded on the principles of co-operation, interdependence, human rights and democracy. It uses the principle of co-operation for contributing globally. [United Nations OnLine Position Paper]

Peacekeeping, peace
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building, disarmament and reconciliation

The European Union's foreign policy is solely based on the principles of peacekeeping, strengthening international security and defending human rights. After the crisis in Europe, the EU member states give full priority to peacekeeping.

The Member States of the Union have provided resources and personnel to UN peacekeeping. The Union contributes nearly 37% of the UN peacekeeping budget.

The Union is in the General Assembly to support international efforts in the field of disarmament, arms control. In addition to this, the EU has a strong role in strengthening the non-proliferation regime of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles.

To help achieve the goals in the United Nations, the EU participated in the UN Conference on the Illicit Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapon; it also supports the prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction, and a ban on anti-personnel landmines worldwide.

United Nations OnLine Position Paper]

Russia's stand for Reforms at the United Nations

Russia has held an important place in asserting its views for the reforms of the United Nations and playing a pivotal role in world affairs. Russia is a permanent veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, the organization's decision-making body was forced by the U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq without explicit U.N. backing.

Recently, Moscow reaffirmed their commitment to the world at a meeting with presidents from the six nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which also includes four ex-Soviet states in Central Asia.

The United Nations can and should be reformed in line with the rapidly changing situation in the world, priority being given to the need to solve in an effective way the problems of world politics and security," a post-summit declaration said. [Millennium Declaration]

The crisis in Iraq has given momentum to a very old debate on U.N. reform since many countries have called for the Council to be expanded and for its powers to be changed.

At the moment the Shanghai Cooperation Organization founded in 1996 to solve Soviet-era border disputes, has changed its focus to bringing an end to Islamic militants and also for closer economic ties with China and other UN members. [Russia, China Call for Reforms at United Nations]

Millennium Summit

The drastic changes in the international society today are new and from working with diverse challenges. With the advancement of globalization, the world is increasingly more interdependent, which means that we need to have a feasible multilateral framework to take on challenges. The United Nations is the best tool available today in achieving goals for the betterment of the international community.

In order to enhance the authority and role of the General Assembly, it is best to strengthen the Office of the President and the Secretary-general. According to the summit it was decided in the Millennium Declaration that the Secretariat should assign one or two persons from the present staff members in the Office with preference given to those who possess the expertise and sound solid knowledge of the foundation and working of the General Assembly.

With the United Nations making its impact as the most relevant tool, would definitely depend largely on its ability to effectively deliver its message to the world. This is extremely true in respect to the General Assembly in order to make its opinions heard, since it is the most representative body within the UN, since it comprises of all the Member States. The General Assembly should play a key role when the international community takes key decisions for executing legitimate action. Kofi Annan believes that with this background it is important for the General Assembly to seriously find ways and means to let the General Assembly recover the status the Charter grants it and the role the Millennium Declaration assigns to it.

Now lets see the issues related to the reform and strengthening of the United Nations.

Ever since the General Assembly adopted resolution 57/300, the goals are consecutively being implemented, as per the indications in the Secretary-General's report 58/351.

In the draft program budget for the biennium 2004-2005, the Secretary-General greatly emphasized on resource reallocation and proposes to bring an end to 912 outputs. His efforts are worth praising and with his planning for a more rationalized budget through firm prioritization of activities and redeployment of resources taken away from the irrelevant activities will lead the nations to produce maximum output within the limited financial resources.

Kofi Annan recommended some Task Force recommendations do…

Sources Used in Documents:


At the Plenary Meeting of the 58th General Assembly on the Follow-up to the Outcome of the Millennium Summit (Item 60) and the Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization (Item 10), 6 October 2003, available at, accessed on: March 31, 2004

CFR Publications: What Future for the UN? A Prelude to the 58th UN General Assembly, available at,accessed on: March 31, 2004

Culture and Education, available at, accessed on: March 31, 2004

United Nations OnLine Position Paper, available at, accessed on: March 31, 2004

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