The buzz: How to reform the UN

Solana Larsen

day1.jpgThere is a big UN reform process in motion that women’s groups are making
themselves heard on. I mentioned the initiative to create a new women’s agency… Well, that’s tied in with an even bigger plan to reform how the UN works in general.

They’re calling it “One UN” and the idea is to create greater coherence across the board. Countries that today have multiple semi-autonomous UN agencies (some have more than a dozen) would instead only have one agency. This is being piloted at the moment in Vietnam (video) (and 7 others), apparently with good results.

The recommendations related to women follow this unifying trend. The three existing women’s entities would be united in one big women’s agency (like UNICEF but for women) and the head of it would be named Under-Secretary General. She (or he) would be the third-highest ranking member of the UN.

All the recommendations comes out of a group called “The high-level panel on system-wide coherence”. Yesterday, a panel of women involved in the process presented the plans, and told women’s NGO delegates to go to their governments and get them to support it. There’s a nice overview of the process from Global Nomad.

Some of the audience members questioned whether women would lose hard won and critical spaces of power through the unifications at the national level. One women asked whether the recommendations shouldn’t include the demand that at least 30% of the United Nations be made up of women.

“In Beijing we said 50:50!” said Charlotte Bunch, from Center for Women’s Global Leadership who was one of the presenters. There are some good resources on their website on women and the UN.

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