Analysis: Addressing issues of efficiency, transparency, and accountability, the UN recently deliberated two new reform measures: 1. The virtual no-growth UN budget for 2000-2001. 2. Reform of the Security Council.
1. The budget for the coming biennium has been set at just over $2.5 billion, approximately the same as the 1994-95 budget. Interesting aspects of this budget are an undertaking to transfer administrative resources to operational projects, and to create a $35 million “contingency fund.”
This fund will be reserved for special political missions that may arise between now and December 2001. Such a fund can be useful in situations where emergency resources are crucial, but Member State interest is not sufficient to contribute to a capital appeal.
Such a fund would be useful for an agency such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, which often confronts spontaneous emergencies, but that does not have adequate, non-earmarked funds at its disposal.
This “contingency fund” is positive provided that accountability and fairness are given due consideration in allotting the money.
2. Once again, there is talk about reforming the Security Council. This time, recommended changes are relatively modest, and concern accessibility. Changes include: conducting more public meetings open to all Member States, making Security Council resolutions and presidential statements available to Member States more quickly, and expanding the substance of Security Council briefings to Member States.
These simple changes should result in non-members of the Security Council being better informed as to Council activities. Improving accessibility of information is important, especially in the context of de-mystifying the Security Council, whose ten rotating seats are so coveted by Member States.
These changes, while modest, are possible. More substantive changes to the Council, such as changing the structure of the permanent five, are not yet in the cards.