UN chief reports on world body’s work in 2013

Secretary-General Addresses Press Conference on SyriaSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon has released his report to the General Assembly on the work carried out by the United Nations over the past year, highlighting new priorities and challenges. In his annual report on the work of the Organization, Mr. Ban says that the UN is adapting to new realities, among them an unprecedented level of interconnectedness, as well as unemployment brought about by the global economic crisis, increasing inequality within and among States, and environmental degradation.

“Member States have recognized the need to adapt the Organization to these new realities, so that it can continue to make a positive difference in people’s lives,” Mr. Ban says in the report, adding that “the work of the United Nations over the past year clearly illustrates these long-term trends.”

The Secretary-General highlights various issues that the UN has been focusing on to address new challenges, including the shaping of a post-2015 development agenda, the need to tackle climate change, democratic transitions, methods to maintain peace and security such as mediation and peacekeeping, the promotion of human rights, disarmament and drug control, among others.

He points to the worldwide consultations on the post-2015 development framework as a way to bring in voices from all over the world and involve them in the drafting of an inclusive development agenda that builds on the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He also notes that over the past year, natural disasters caused more than $100 billion in damage, giving “a sobering glimpse” of what the future will look like if the development agenda does not address the threat of climate change.

Regarding new methods to maintain peace, Mr. Ban notes the world body’s framework in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which was established this year in a joint effort with the World Bank and all the countries in the region with the aim to address the root causes of repeated cycles of violence and deliver peace to people in DRC.

He also emphasizes that more complex threats required the UN to deploy peacekeeping missions in volatile, where hostilities were ongoing and political settlements had not yet been achieved. Such was the cased of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), deployed in May to support a national political dialogue and electoral process, as well as the extension of State authority, to stabilize key population centres and protect civilians.

In the DRC, the Security Council authorized the establishment of an intervention brigade within the UN Organization Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO) which can conduct targeted offensive operations with the aim of neutralizing and disarming armed groups.

“In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and elsewhere, the core principles of peacekeeping will continue to apply on the understanding that impartiality does not mean neutrality in the face of atrocities, and that maintaining consent does not mean that spoilers can prevent United Nations missions from implementing their mandate,” Mr. Ban says. “Moreover, as United Nations peacekeeping deploys into new contexts, appropriate tools are needed to address new or intensified threats, including force enablers and multipliers, improved command and control and more effective information and analysis tools.”

However, Mr. Ban expresses disappointment on developments in Syria, saying that the deaths of more nearly 100,000 people and the displacement of millions are “a stain on our collective conscience and a grim reminder that the costs of war are measured not only in lives lost but in economies and infrastructures shattered, precious historical sites ruined, fragile social bonds sundered and an entire region destabilized with potentially lasting consequences.”

Mr. Ban stresses Member States must act more swiftly and decisively to avert and respond to violence, and added that the UN has “developed an action plan to respond more effectively to serious violations of human rights, drawing on the lessons of our failures in previous cases.”

Another area of priority throughout the year was the coordination of humanitarian assistance, as conflict displaced millions and natural disasters caused $138 billion in economic damage. The UN chief underlines that countries are still better at responding rather than preventing crises, and added that the Organization this year worked to bring resilience at the forefront through closer collaboration between humanitarian and development agencies to manage risks and address the underlying vulnerabilities.

Organized crime was another area of concern, affecting countries in West Africa, Latin America and Europe. Mr. Ban says the UN is helping countries address this threat through an integrated approach that combats drug-related crime, while also ensuring the need for health policies that ensure the protection of human rights.

The Secretary-General concludes that the UN would continue to adapt to a changing global environment and maximize the accountability of the Organization to Member States while minimizing administrative and supportive costs.

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Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization

I. Introduction

The United Nations is committed to remaining present wherever we are needed, in keeping with the values and principles of the Charter, with the mandates given to us by Member States and with the hopes and expectations that millions of people around the world place in us. But we must do so responsibly and with due recognition of the risks involved.

This report details the Organization’s efforts to respond to these many challenges, priority being given to the eight areas of work identified by the General Assembly in the strategic framework for the biennium.

A. Promotion of sustained economic growth and sustainable development

We must build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, persist in the effort to meet them where they have not been met, attend to the gaps and address new and emerging challenges.

B. Maintenance of international peace and security

The past year clearly demonstrated the complexity of contemporary conflict and the challenges involved in mounting coherent, effective international responses.

C. Development of Africa

In recognition of the links between peace, security and economic development, the United Nations adopted a multidimensional approach.

D. Promotion of human rights

Effective implementation of the United Nations human rights instruments remains essential to promoting human rights and preventing violations.

E. Effective coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts

We were reminded afresh of the importance of adherence to humanitarian principles, timely access to affected people and greater protection for civilians.

F. Promotion of justice and international law

It is crucial for international justice to be, and to be seen as, absolutely impartial if its reconciliation purposes are to be fully realized.

G. Disarmament

The effects of the unregulated trade in conventional arms are tragic: brutal crackdowns, armed conflict, rampant crime or violence and resulting human suffering.

H. Drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations

The magnitude of the existing and emerging global threats of organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorism means that there is a need for more concerted efforts.

I. Strengthening the Organization

With the growing number and complexity of our mandates, there is a need to broaden our human, operational and financial resource base.

Conclusion

Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon speaking on the phoneI will continue to do my part to manage efforts to meet our existing mandates while anticipating and preparing for those that may come.

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