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21 March 2016
Statement from UNA-NCA President on UN Reform


Whether it is providing humanitarian assistance to a record number of refugees, facilitating a global agreement on climate change, coordinating the attack on the Ebola pandemic, destroying chemical weapons in Syria, or maintaining peace and security in failing states which are breeding grounds for terrorism, the United Nations is in the news every day.

As the United Nations commands increasing attention for its efforts to address the truly global challenges of the 21st century, inevitably its weakness and vulnerabilities are also revealed. That is the job of the media. And so we read stories of the abuse of UN Peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, a corruption scandal involving the past president of the General Assembly, a seemingly unaccountable and fragmented  bureaucracy, and the failure of the Security Council, subject to the P-5 veto,  to achieve peaceful solutions to intransigent conflicts, atrocities and aggression.

In an organization as complex and diverse as the United Nations, flaws and failures are inevitable.  It is how we address them that counts. I have often said that we at UNA-NCA are not cheerleaders. We work hard for a stronger, more effective and efficient United Nations. In this regard we have a three pillar strategy.

First,  there are many proposals for reform from eminent world leaders, which we applaud, and the UN is adopting some of them.

Second, we strongly advocate for constructive US leadership at the UN, which continues to make a huge difference in advancing human rights, improving peacekeeping operations, promoting merit-based recruiting and promotion, streamlining the bureaucracy, fighting nuclear proliferation, and facilitating sustainable development, among other initiatives.  Engagement through the UN must be fundamental to US foreign policy.

Finally, we must ensure that the next Secretary General, to be selected this year, has the qualities and experience to strengthen the United Nations, to address its flaws and vulnerabilities, to advance human rights, work effectively with the Security Council to maintain peace and security, and facilitate global cooperation by governments, civil society and the private sector in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

In this regard, we invite members of UNA-NCA to submit questions to be asked of the candidates for Secretary General. Questions can be submitted online, to Twitter or Instagram with #UNSGCandidates or emailed to susan@unngls.ccsend.com prior to the March 27th deadline.


Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.)
President, UNA-NCA