President Obama is now in full reelection mode and he has set his sights on a relatively easy target to hit. Unfortunately for him his words have no teeth. Obama demanded that the UN get on the ball with reform and cut costs and reform its sprawling bureaucracy. The problem is he specifically said he is not going to any for of punitive measures if they don’t reform.
Obama has appointed U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. for Management and Reform Joseph Torsella to spearhead the campaign for reform. Torsella’s mandate specifically mentions that he is not allowed to threaten to withhold funding or any other kind of action should the campaign fail. He is just to use persuasion.
Some of the key aspects of the reform package are:
- significant future cuts in the fast-expanding, multibillion-dollar U.N. “regular” budget; and a “comprehensive reform” of the U.N.’s “broken” budget process.
- a pay freeze for top U.N. officials and a staff reduction through attrition until the staffing is considered appropriate around 2015.
- a pay cut for UN staffers. This seems a lot easier than it is. The last time the US fought for a pay cut they had to settle with “only” a 3% pay raise.
- a comparative study of “seriously distorted” U.N. pay for senior officials who now earn nearly 130 percent of their U.S. equivalents.
- greater scope and protection for the U.N.’s internal watchdogs to look into waste, fraud and mismanagement, and publicly air the results, along with greater openness in U.N. budget proceedings.
- a louder and more public effort to keep human rights and nuclear proliferation outlaws like Iran and North Korea out of U.N. committee chairmanships and other key positions — roles they have recently won.
These are very noble goals, but I have a feeling that these goals are more tied to a good sound byte than actually getting anything done. Obama has always been one of the world’s biggest supporters of the UN and no one should expect that to change anytime soon.
Do you think President Obama will have any effect on the Bureaucracy at the United Nations?