November 2015

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November 2015 Unsubscribe
UN Reform:

Amid corruption controversy surrounding the office of the General Assembly President, PGA Lykketoft expresses commitment to transparency 3 November 2015

After news broke last month that former PGA John Ashe was facing corruption charges for abusing his office while he served as President of the General Assembly, questions were raised about the adequacy of regulations and level of transparency within the office of the PGA.

Earlier this month, current PGA Mogens Lykketoft issued a commitment to transparency in which he expressed a commitment to conduct all duties in a manner in line with the values of the Charter and to avoid any obligation that might influence his mandate and the performance of his duties. The full commitment is stated on the PGA website.

In his address to the GA on 3 November on the Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly, President Lykketoft emphasized that he would like the Ad-hoc Working Group on GA Revitalization to consider in detail how the checks and balances of the PGA office could be improved. He suggested that "consideration could be given to matters of disclosure, financial independence, staffing and reporting", as well as engagement with external actors. The full text of his address is available here.

The allegations against Ashe have led to renewed concerns about other forms of corruption at the UN. In a new article, Foreign Policy's Column Lynch investigates the extent to which "revolving door" practices continue at the UN.

Review of UN Peace Operations 20 November 2015

On 20 November, the Security Council was briefed by the Secretary-General on his report, "The Future of UN Peace Operations: Implementation of the Recommendations of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations". The Secretary-General's report came in response to the report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO), which was submitted in June.

In his briefing, the Secretary- General focused on the role the Security Council can play in strengthening peacekeeping operations, particularly through political engagement; the design and implementation of UN mandates; and reinvigorating regional partnerships.

In light of the Secretary-General's report as well as the HIPPO report, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement expressing its intent to consider the recommendations which concerned the Council. In particular, the Council highlighted the need to take early and preventative action; enhance strategic partnerships with regional and sub-regional organizations; and deepen cooperation with TCCs/PCCs, and also stated that it would consider implementing sequenced or phased mandates where appropriate.

The statement also addresses the conduct and discipline of peacekeeping personnel, underscoring that sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers is unacceptable and affirming the Council's support for the UN's zero-tolerance policy on all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Abuse by UN peacekeepers has been the subject of increased scrutiny since allegations of sexual violence by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic emerged this spring. In a recent article, Kathleen Jennings analyzes how aspects of the UN's zero-tolerance policy, as well as a general sense of impunity, may contribute to the problem.

Revitalization of the General Assembly 3 November 2015

On November 3, the General Assembly held a joint debate on the "Revitalization of the General Assembly" and "Implementation of the Resolutions of the United Nations". Following remarks by the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly, Member States delivered statements on critical revitalization topics, including strengthening the office of the President of the GA and the selection and appointment of the next UN Secretary-General.

For many states, the appointment process for the Secretary-General remained a vital concern. Speakers remarked on the importance of implementing the measures adopted this September in GA resolution 69/321, as well as the need to consider further proposals such as the recommendation of multiple candidates by the Security Council to the General Assembly and the appointment of the Secretary-General for a single, non-renewable term.

For more information about Member State positions during the debate, see the UN's meeting coverage.


Filippo Grandi Appointed UN High Commissioner for Refugees 12 November 2015

In November, Filippo Grandi (Italy) was appointed as the new UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Previously, Grandi had worked for UNHCR in Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Sudan before serving as the head of UNRWA.

Grandi will assume his duties on January 1st, 2016, replacing former High Commissioner Antonio Guterres. He is expected to remain in office through 2020.

Secretary-General Appoints New Chef de Cabinet and Deputy Chef de Cabinet 27 November 2015

On November 27th, Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Edmond Mulet (Guatemala) as his Chef de Cabinet. Prior to the appointment, Mulet was employed as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. The Secretary-General also appointed Patrick Carey (Ireland), who currently serves as Director of Office in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, as his Deputy Chef de Cabinet. See the UN News Centre for more information.


Ireland Replaces Austria on ECOSOC November 2015

In accordance with an internal rotation scheme, the chair of the Western European and Others group announced that Austria would step down as a member of the Economic and Social Council and that Ireland would take its place. Elections were held this month in the General Assembly in order to formalize the agreement. Ireland will begin its ECOSOC term on January 1st.

Deliberations in the Security Council on Starting the UNSG Selection Process November 2015

Member States and civil society groups have called for the appointment process for the next UN Secretary-General to begin as soon as possible, specifically by implementing the new procedures adopted by the General Assembly in resolution 69/321. The resolution requests that the process begin with a "joint letter" by the Presidents of the Assembly and of the Security Council, which would formally invite candidates to be presented for the post.

As President of the Security Council, the United Kingdom pushed for the joint letter to be distributed in November, convening a session of the Council under "Any Other Business" to discuss the joint letter on November 18th. In consultation with the President of the General Assembly, the UK prepared and circulated a draft text to all members of the Council ahead of the session. However, a few members of the Council expressed concerns about the content of the draft; some even questioned why the letter was being considered this year. Ultimately, it was not possible to finalize the joint letter in November.

However, according to a memo by GA President Lykketoft, the issue will continue to be discussed by the Council this month. As President of the Security Council in December, Ambassador Power stated that she was "engaged to pursue the matter" in a meeting with the President of the GA.

More information about the Council's deliberations on the joint letter is available at What's in Blue.

New Resolution Adopted on the Circumstances of the Death of Dag Hammarskjöld November 2015

Earlier this month, the General Assembly adopted a new resolution regarding the investigation into the circumstances of Dag Hammarskjöld's death.

The resolution follows the 11 June report by an Independent Panel of Experts, which assessed the probative value of new information regarding possible causes of the plane crash. In the resolution, Member States note the "new information... relating to the hypothesis of an aerial attack or other interference" which has emerged since the initial inquiry in 1961, and urge Member States to share any classified records which could illuminate the cause of the crash.

Implementation of the Post-2015 Agenda November 2015

In a new report, the Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB) recommend the creation of a new intergovernmental platform to monitor progress towards the provision of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation services worldwide, two issues targeted by the new Sustainable Development Goals. Inter Press Service reports on how UNSGAB's recommendations would change the way the global community addresses water scarcity and sanitation concerns. Established in 2004, UNSGAB is an independent entity tasked with advising the Secretary-General on issues related to water and sanitation.


11 December 2015: Informal Meeting of the Ad hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly on the Work of the Office of the President of the GA
10-11 May 2016: High-Level Thematic Debate on UN, Peace, and Security
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