The UN Reform exercise has been the subject of global deliberations and debates for a long long time, but many in the public may not fully understand or be able to grasp or appreciate what has really been achieved thus far and how these have changed the way things are going to be!
No one would disagree that the UN at its 60+ age needs to change and become mature enough to reflect the present day world. It cannot be allowed to suffer from chronic neurosis, of living in the past or the future, totally oblivious of the present, nor should it wear blinkers and confine its vision to a narrow field, nor should it continue with its present culture of too hierarchical, ossified, ritualistic and reverentially theological to make for a truly open and civilized society for its staff and their bosses and partners.
It has to “know thyself”, and its mind-body-senses complex should be attuned to the needs of the time and should be capable of overcoming all obstacles toward achieving real awareness of the human situation within and without and how to address problems. Trying to cull it from the massive amount of documents and overload of information materials on the Internet would only result in more confusion and frustration rather than clarity.
For the sake of simplicity, let me group these reform efforts into three sets of priority sectors:
I. First Sector:
Administrative and operational management reforms, aiming to harmonize, coordinate and integrate operational rules, procedures and functional modalities to reduce duplication, enhance uniformity, and eliminate waste of time and resources; human, material and financial.
Fortunately, much has been accomplished in these areas and much more could be achieved in the future, if we could spend time in learning from experience and keeping personal likes and dislikes under check. As things get done more efficiently and effectively, more funds could be released for humanitarian work and also more rewards to those who deliver most and deserve to be recognized for their contribution.
II. Second Sector:
Reforms in the Human Resources Management or may I refer to as human assets management areas. This has always been the field of many unexploded mines; more the mines are cleared, much more being surreptitiously planted – basically because of undeveloped and underdeveloped human minds, or lack of awareness and coherence in the “mind-body-senses” complex. Another obstacle to “present time awareness” is the habit and routines aided and abetted by non-thinking and perpetually reactive mindsets!
There are probably inter-alia two or three ways this malice can be cured or at least to result in only very minimum repairable damage to the organizational-body:
- Enhancing awareness to the consequences of reactive non-thinking minds, through training and therapy. This path should have a 360 degree performance appraisal system that aims at holistic assessment of both the “Chiefs” and the “Indians” in all work-stations and areas, not as just hierarchically accepted rituals but applied across board without any distinction of status et. al. and should be tied to specific transparent action-consequence matrix. This is the business of being acutely aware of everything within and without – a standard procedure in the Buddhist, Vedic and Zen psychology. Not only it teaches the profound truth of “Tat Twam Asi” (Thou Art That) to enhance awareness of human situation and connectivity of this universe, but also enlivens ones knowledge and capacity to accept the consequences of one’s action (Karma theory).
- Medicine is similar to the “state of world”, “progress of nations” annual evaluation and reporting that challenge the family of nations to understand, without undermining their esteem, as to what is “wrong” within its own socio-economic sectors combined with an understanding and awareness of how such issues are tackled elsewhere and how to replicate, adapt or transplant those proven lessons and solutions for the benefit of their own citizens. Similarly, there should therefore be performance indicators to study, analyze, compare, conclude and agree on how the UN and its octopus agencies are doing in the context of their stated goals, sector wise, both individually and in the constellation with others. One may call these indicators as Performance Development Index (PDI) somewhat similar to the popular Human Development Index of UNDP. Based on such findings and understanding, there should be scope and space for acquisitions and mergers(A&M), as such things take place in the normal world based on competency, capacity and capability. In other words, the most efficient agency will be asked to acquire and gather all the available resources to do what it can do best. When more such A&Ms are done in an atmosphere of transparency, equity and accountability, more understanding and agreement would be generated among member States, hopefully with lesser or smaller stomach for turf wars and control freaks among the plethora of agencies, funds and programmes.
- Albeit MOST important medicine is to improve and strengthen the Internal Justice system as the true embodiment of the virtues and principles of justice, objectivity, equity, transparency, accountability and fairness, so eloquently stated in the UN Charter and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The justice system should be truly independent, knowledgeable and emboldened to point out gaps and flaws in the existing system thus enable corrective actions where the internal systems and procedures deviate from the principles of justice and equality as envisaged in the UN Charter and UNDR – the foundational constitution of the UN itself.
III. Third Sector:
The vitally important reform sector is providing a level playing field for all member States, especially in the Security Council whose responsibility is to monitor the world’s geo-political climate and to use its capacity to act meaningfully. The WW II legacy of “veto” power for the “super” five and rotating membership for the rest is just an indication of continuing paralysis and neurosis due to lack of “present-day- awareness”. All kinds of jumbled-up theories and solutions have been tossed up and deliberated, without any light at the end of the tunnel. It is probably safe to guess that there will be NO solution until after all the mist of egos gets evaporated. Or, maybe there would be a solution coming through back-doors.
Thanks to the recent global financial-economic crisis, wily-nilly the so called super powers and developed economies have silently accepted to sit on the same table for mutual consultations, discussions and deliberations on basis of equality with many of emerging economies (G20). There is every reason to believe that this spirit of accommodation forced by nature will prevail and get expanded. It may not be long before this fresh air starts flowing through the power corridors on the banks of East River, Manhattan.
The simple truth is this: if we all can cleanse our lens of the perception, then the doors of our perceptions will be wide open and everything could be seen as it is: infinite potentials waiting to be tapped.
The good thing about the third reform mentioned above: whether it happens now or later, most countries have already learned the necessity of addressing global problems in a different but somewhat coordinated way. I am sure even the climate issues will finally get resolved in a mutually beneficial manner – because its Karmic effect of not doing anything will be total annihilation and mutually assured destruction, as opposed to cooperation, collaboration and sensible accommodation.
“Love and compassion without knowledge is largely impotent; Knowledge without compassion and love is often inhuman.” Aldous Huxley.
At the risk of being too optimistic, I can say this: the UN’s credibility and esteem will be enhanced IF there is genuine improvement in the area of its internal justice system. The reason is obvious: UN is not its concrete structure sitting on the banks of the East River, but made up of tens and thousands of “body-mind-sense” composites. Only two things can positively impact and move this compact – respect and justice, both in perception and in actual reality of daily work-life everywhere wherever UN is present.
If the Secretary General and his team listen to this primordial lesson and pursue with vigor, then he can aspire to leave a wonderful human legacy and a model of governance for the rest at the end of his term.
Joint Appellant of UNAT Case # 2009-001
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