Non-Charter Reform Process. Since 1945, the General Assembly has authorized reforms of its own processes and procedures — as well as those of the Secretariat — without Charter amendment. The General Assembly has established various fora for discussing reform issues, including a Committee on the Charter of the United Nations110 and a Working Group on the Security Council.111 The General Assemblyhas also implemented reforms on its own byadopting proposals introduced by member states or the Secretary-General.112 The Secretary-General can also implement reform in his capacity as chief administrative officer. For example, as part of his reform proposal in 1997, Annan established a Senior Management Group to “ensure more integrated and cohesive management of the Secretariat.”113 The Secretary-General can also make administrative decisions regarding the organization of some U.N. departments.
Other non-Charter reforms have included the establishment of consensus-based budgeting in 1986; the creation of an Office of Strategic Planning in the Secretariat, authorized by Kofi Annan in 1997; and the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission by the Security Council and General Assembly in 2006. 114
Possible Challenges to Reform
Achieving meaningful and comprehensive U.N. reform is a significant and ongoing challenge for U.N. member states. Congress may wish to take possible reform obstacles into account when considering legislation that exercises oversight or supports a reform agenda.
110 The “Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization,” was established in 1974 to consider “any specific proposals that Governments might make with a view to enhancing the ability of the U.N. to achieve its purposes,” as well as “suggestions for the more effective functioning of the U.N. that might not require amendments to the Charter.” The Committee also makes recommendations for possible Charter amendments. Most recently, in 1995 it proposed an
to delete “enemy state” clauses in the Charter. see [http://www.un.org/law/chartercomm/].
111 The “Working Group on the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other Matters Related to the Security Council,” was established in 1993, and a copy of its most recent report is available at [http://www.reformtheun.org/index.php?module=uploads&func=download&fileId=1757].
112 For example, on March 15, 2006, the Assembly negotiated and approved a resolution replacing the previous U.N. Commission on Human Rights with a new Human Rights Council, which was considered a key component of U.N. reform by many member states and NGOs.
U.N. document, A/52/684, November 10, 1997.
114 An example of a possible non-Charter reform could be the redistribution of regional seats on the Security Council or ECOSOC. For further discussion on possible non-Charter reforms, see article by Louis B. Sohn, “Important Improvements in the Functioning of the Principal Organs of the United Nations that Can be Made Without Charter Revision,” American Journal of International Law, October, 1997.