Wednesday, January 23, 2008

United Nations Agency Reform

Pannasastra University of Cambodia

Faculty of Law and Public Affairs (FALPA)
Major: Law
Course: United Nations
Student: Vandy Rattana
Prof: Stan Starygin
Academic Year: 2008 - 2009

For the output of this term paper I have chose some sources for the reference, Such as websites and some news items. They are:
3 CCC:
4 IMF:
5 The World Bank:
6 International Herald Tribune:
7 Global Policy Forum:


I- Introduction
II- Overlapped Agencies
III- Agencies that should be reformed
IV- Agencies that should gain importance
V- Conclusion

I- Introduction

“The UN is working to make the world a better place”[1]
There are many agencies in United Nations system. The ones that are well-known through newspapers, on TV or on other media are UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), ILO (International Labour, FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), WHO (World Health Organization), World Bank Group, IMF (International Monetary Fund) and WTO (World Trade Organization).

And there are many other agencies that may overlap each other or are superficial, needing a reform or elimination. Some other agencies, on the contrary, deal with important topics, like environment, but they do not have enough power to make significant progresses in that field. In this paper, I will try to propose a reform of the UN agencies.

II- Overlapped Agencies

Some UN agencies are overlapping each other, such as UN-INSTRAW (United Nations International research and training institute for the advancement of WOMEN) and UNIFEM (United Nations development fund for WOMEN).

The roles of UNRISD (UN research institute for social development) may also overlap with UNESCO (UN educational, scientific and cultural organization).

The general missions of UNHCR may overlap with the specific UNRWA (UN relief and works agency for Palestine refugees in the near east).

The United Nations has produced and keeps producing a lot of agencies, that some of them overlap each other. This problem may sometimes lead to a loss of time and especially a loss of money.

Should some of those overlapping agencies being eliminated? It would be a suggestion, but it might be difficult to close agencies, except if the UN decides not to give them funding anymore.

Mr. Men Kimseng, Communications Analyst to UNDP in Phnom Penh, said by telephone that it would be a good deal if the United Nations in Cambodia was able to build a compound to gather all its agencies. It would therefore be very easy for all the organizations to work, to coordinate their work, for example, they can communicate better. Moreover, it would be a substantial saving of money (for the rental fee). But he could not confirm that in the future, the UN agencies will be all at the same place, it is only a rumor.
In Cambodia, according to the secretariat of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC) [2], interviewed on Wednesday 23 January, there are 500 local and 160 international non-governmental organizations who have already registered for a membership. According to the Ministry of Interior of Cambodia, there are about 3000 Local and International non-governmental organizations in Cambodia.

III- Agencies that should be reformed

Two of UN well-known related organizations are the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).

1- The International Monetary Fund
The IMF[3] was established after World War Two at Bretton Woods. Its first goal was to promote international monetary cooperation in order to guarantee the exchange rates stability. However today, as the exchange rates have been liberalized, the role of the IMF focuses more on trying to help the countries after financial crisis (for example in Thailand in 1997). In the recent years, more and more countries criticize the IMF and WB, especially developing countries. They claim that the IMF has not played his job very well because it could not prevent the Asian financial crisis of 1997. After the crisis, the countries which chose to get help from IMF had to open more and more their economy and reduce their deficits, according to the conditions of the IMF, and it sometimes create difficult economic the situation; for instance, the World Bank and IMF trying to formulate countries policies – trade liberalization.

2- The World Bank
Since the establishment 1944, the World Bank[4] has widen its size from a bank which facilitated post-World War Two reconstruction in Europe to an international cooperation body, dealing mainly on reducing poverty, debt relief and on promoting good governance
The World Bank has also recently lost a lot of its credibility to the eyes of some developing countries. It was written in the Cambodia Daily that its president until 2007, Paul Wolfowitz was blamed for corruption (related to the employment of his wife) at the same time that he was declaring that some programs funded by the WB in Cambodia should be stopped because the Cambodian side was corrupted. After all, Paul Wolfowitz resigned.

Those criticisms on the IMF and the World Bank led seven Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela) to create their own collective bank in January 2008, has announced the AFP. [5]The institution is called Banco del Sur (Bank of the South) and has up to $7 billion capital. At the same time president Chavez of Venezuela also mentions that this bank “would be run by Latin Americans for Latin America.”

The creation of this new bank is a proof of the failure of the WB, and may give incentive to this organization to reform itself in order to be more efficient.
With the World Bank and IMF, I personally to have a recommendation to reform the two institutions. The World Bank and IMF should limit its legitimacy on putting condition or policy or new regulations that may abuse countries’ sovereignty as those countries need their helps. For instance, according to the [6]Global Policy Forum, [7] “with hunger and unemployment rampant in Haiti, international lenders, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, pressured President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1995 to adopt to what Haitians called ''the death plan.'' In the proposal, the World Bank and IMF urged Haiti to integrate its economy into global economy by privatizing rice, sugar, and cement production and dropping tariffs on import that may cause a problem to domestic production (….)”
As there are tremendous criticism on the World Bank and IMF, these two big institutions are making some of the countries particularly in Asia more dependent.

IV- Agencies that should gain importance
United Nations Democracy Fun (UNDEF) and United Nations Environment Programme

Myanmar has been running for so long in the process to democracy. There is little significant change by the UN to push Myanmar to another level of democracy. There are also many countries trying to reach a standard democracy.
Not too well-known or seen much on the media – while Security Council or World Bank or IMF is very popular – United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) is one of other agencies. [8]The main purpose of this institution is help democratization throughout the world. UNDEF will finance projects that build and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, and ensure the participation of all groups in democratic processes.
As the world believes that, the democracy is only the system that can prevent society drought and can also encourage civil rights. By its importance which can assure the basic living before reaching advanced living, United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) should be brought to the front row and pushed more activities to democratic developing countries. There should be a wide expansion of UNDEF offices and also libraries for many people that easily access to the understanding of democracy.

The global warming, tree logging, environmental pollution have now become now the hot issue which it has to talk about world environment care. [9]UNEP is doing assessing global, regional and national environmental conditions and trends, developing international agreements and national environment instruments, strengthening institutions for the wise management of the environment, integrating economic development and environmental protection, facilitating the transfer of knowledge and technology for sustainable development, and encouraging new partnership and mind-sets within civil society and the private sector.
However, like UNDEF, UNEP is not gaining much attention by the world society concerning environmental issue. Since I count it as an important agency “to make the world a better place” as the UN has stated, I have a very strong personal view to make these two very important institutions more affective. UNEP should have a power of making decision of putting sanction to those countries that don’t have strong commitment or lack of responsibility of producing harms to world environment. Most importantly, UNEP should grass root the understanding about the importance of environment that how it affects the economical aspect and everyday life in not only universities but also primary schools.

V- Conclusion
“The UN is working to make the world a better place”[10]
A better place, I personally mean, it is not a better place if the legitimacy some of the United Nations agencies does not have the boundary for the need-help countries. As there are lot of things to see in the book called “Lords of Poverty” by GRAHAM HANCOOK.

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