Canada staunchly supports efforts to strengthen the United Nations System, and to improve its efficiency, its effectiveness and its capacity to deliver results. Reforming the UN so that it can truly meet the challenges of a 21st Century world is a high priority for Canada.
Renewing the United Nations is an ongoing process. The institution is constantly changing and adapting, as it must. Canada wants all member states to work together to help the UN in this process. All member states, developing and developed countries alike, have a common interest in increasing the effectiveness of the UN.
Canada is a member of the Mexican-inspired Group of Friends of UN Reform and of the similar Swedish-led Carlsson Group, both of which include developing and developed countries. We are also one of the Utstein Group of donor countries working to make the UN development system more effective, and of the Geneva Group (the top 14 contributors to UN budgets) that works to ensure effective management and better oversight and accountability within the UN system.
Humanity’s demands on the UN and its Secretariat, agencies, funds and programmes have grown enormously since the organization was founded. The UN is expected to deliver more services to more people in more places than ever before. Times change, needs change and the UN needs to change with them.
It is up to our generation to renew and regenerate the UN, and Canada is committed to doing its part. The reform process should help enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the UN. Canada’s reform efforts at the UN have focused on making the United Nations more effective, not simply less expensive.
It is critical that the UN manages the funds entrusted to it in an accountable and ethical manner, and deploys its resources in a way that maximizes its impact on development, security and human rights. UN principles, proclamations and papers are not enough for Canada. The UN must be able to translate all of these things into political and social action. It must produce tangible, measurable results.
In recent years we have made significant progress in reforming the UN.
In large measure, the UN’s reputation and the results that it achieves depend on the integrity and effectiveness of the UN Secretariat, the departments and staff members that serve the Secretary-General and help to carry out the decisions of the UN’s political bodies.
Canada has consistently sought ways to modernize the UN and to reform the management systems for Secretariat departments such as human resources and procurement.
The focus of management reform must be accountability, integrity and value for money. Management reform means creating a true international civil service that is flexible, mobile and has the specialized skills and training to respond to the demands of the UN’s global operations. It means making senior management accountable. It means ensuring that the UN has an internal justice system that treats staff fairly, and an effective audit and investigation function that deters those who seek to abuse the system. A new system of protection for whistle-blowers among the UN’s staff who reveal wrongdoing is an encouraging move that Canada has supported, for example.
The taxpayers of member nations, Canadians among them, make significant financial contributions to the UN. They have the right to expect strong and independent oversight mechanisms, robust accountability for how funds are spent, and human resources practices that are based on merit.
Canada recognizes that there is also a need for serious changes in the working methods of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). We have sought a more efficient General Assembly agenda, to reduce the number of resolutions re-introduced each year. We have also stressed the need for a more effective ECOSOC.
In the UN of the 21st century, governments will remain the primary actors, but we can also expect the private sector and civil society to play increasingly important roles. Canada hopes that accountability will be guiding principle for a renewed United Nations. The UN must continue to develop new mechanisms to ensure the accountability of States to their citizens, of States to each other, of international organizations to their members, and of the present generation to future generations. UN reform must be an ongoing process, and Canada will continue to support it.