United Nations Reform: Background and Issues for Congress [January 13, 2014]   [open pdf - 930KB]

"Since its establishment in 1945, the United Nations (U.N.) has undergone numerous reforms as international stakeholders seek ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the U.N. system. During the past two decades, controversies such as corruption in the Iraq Oil-For-Food Program, allegations of sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers, and instances of waste, fraud, and abuse by U.N. staff have focused attention on the need for change and improvement of the United Nations. Many in the international community, including the United States, continue to promote substantive reforms. The second session of the 113th Congress may focus on U.N. reform as it considers appropriate levels of U.S. funding to the United Nations and monitors the progress and implementation of ongoing and previously approved reform measures. […] Developed countries, for example, support delegating more power to the U.N. Secretary-General to implement management reforms, whereas developing countries fear that giving the Secretary- General more authority may undermine the power of the U.N. General Assembly and therefore the influence of individual countries. Generally, U.N. reform is achieved by amending the U.N. Charter or through various non-Charter reforms. Charter amendment, which requires approval by two-thirds of the General Assembly and ratification 'according to the constitutional processes' of two-thirds of U.N. member states (including the five permanent Security Council members), is rarely used and has been practiced on only a few occasions. Non-Charter reforms--which include General Assembly action or initiatives by the U.N. Secretary-General--are more common and comparatively easier to achieve. This report will be updated as policy changes or congressional actions warrant."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33848
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