April 20, 2006

Developing states raise questions over UN overhaul

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Developing nations wary of
losing out in a estimated $500 million U.N. management overhaul
have asked Secretary-General Kofi Annan for dozens of reports
the United States and other rich countries fear would torpedo
the proposal.

South Africa drafted a resolution on behalf of 130
developing nations, known as the Group of 77, seeking the
reports for the next General Assembly session, which begins in
September. An assembly committee was discussing the request on

The seven-page draft resolution seeks numerous evaluations
on issues such as how Annan's proposals would improve U.N.
effectiveness and the impact of previous reforms.

The United States, the 25-member European Union, Australia,
Canada and Japan oppose the measure, which they see as a way to
delay or block the overhaul with a mountain of paperwork.

"It would kill the secretary-general's own
recommendations," said Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S.
mission to the United Nations.

Annan, with U.S. support, last month introduced a 33-page
report on overhauling the U.N. bureaucracy, the mainstay of his
reform proposals. He sought more financial oversight,
simplified hiring and firing procedures, career planning, staff
buyouts, training and a modern information system.

The costs could run to $500 million, and some jobs could be
transferred to other countries from New York.

The United States has tied progress on management reform to
a condition for refinancing the U.N. budget on June 30, but
some of the developing nations which comprise a majority of the
191 U.N. members fear the overhaul will steer programs and jobs
to benefit the rich.

Some Western diplomats hope for a quick vote on the
information request, hoping it would be defeated, as opposed to
a negotiations, but others say there may be enough support to
pass the measure as it is and negotiations are needed to water
it down.