United Nations Secretary-General and Secretariat: an independent authority and an active administration
United Nations Secretary-General
United Nations Secretaries-GeneralTrygve Lie (Norway) 1946-1952
Dag Hammarskjöld (Sweden) 1953-1961
U Thant ( Myanmar) 1961-1971
Kurt Waldheim (Austria) 1972-1981
Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (Peru) 1982-1991
Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Egypt) 1992-1996
Kofi Annan (Ghana) 1997-2006
Ban Ki-moon (South Korea) since 2007
Although Chapter XV of the UN Charter concerning the United Nations Secretariat and Secretary-General (UNSG) only comprises five short articles, the role of these players has taken on considerable importance since the birth of the UN. Under the Charter, the UNSG is the United Nations’ chief administrative officer. In addition to directing the many activities of the United Nations Secretariat, the Charter requires him or her to perform such other functions as are entrusted to them by the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council. In particular, the Secretary-General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his or her opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.
Because of this independence, the UNSG plays a major role in avoiding the emergence, aggravation or extension of all conflicts, by acting as a mediator or appointing personal representatives or special envoys as he or she sees fit.
The UNSG is appointed by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council. The Secretary-General produces an annual report of his or her activities.
In addition to its administrative role (arranging meetings, translations, coordination the work of the agencies, etc.), the Secretariat engages in the production of studies to set standards and circulate information in various fields according to the priorities laid down by the Member States in the decision-making organs, and also produces and publishes statistics. It cooperates with non-governmental organisations and acts in consultation with civil society.
The Secretariat provides humanitarian relief in coordination with the relevant United Nations agencies, particularly for refugees and displaced persons. It promotes international cooperation for economic and social development, human rights and international law.
The Secretariat’s main administration units are the following:
Department of Public Information
Department of Political Affairs
Department of Peacekeeping Operations
Department of Field Support
Peacebuilding Support Office
Office for Disarmament Affairs
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Office of Legal Affairs
Office of Internal Oversight Services
Department for General Assembly and Conference Management
Department of Safety and Security
Department of Management
Three major departments of the United Nations Secretariat
Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)
This Department’s mission is to plan, prepare, manage and direct peacekeeping operations mandated by the Security Council. It was first headed by a British national, Sir Marrack Goulding, followed by Kofi Anan (Ghana), and then by French nationals Bernard Miyet, Jean-Marie Guéhenno and, since 2008, Alain Le Roy.
The DPKO provides political and executive direction to UN peacekeeping operations, and maintains contact with the Security Council, troop and financial contributors, and parties to the conflict in the implementation of Security Council mandates.
The DPKO solicits support from troop- and finance-contributing countries to enable the assembly of a force appropriate to the mission. Once the force is deployed, the DPKO is the link between the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the force commander so that they can implement the mandate of the Security Council. Since 2007, the DPKO has received logistical support for operations from the Department of Field Support (DFS).
At present the DPKO is managing fifteen peacekeeping operations and two political and peace-building missions.
Department of Political Affairs (DPA)
This Department advises the UNSG on matters concerning international peace and security. It comprises geographical divisions (Africa 1 and 2, Americas and Europe, Asia and the Pacific) and thematic ones (electoral assistance, Security Council affairs).
The DPA is the major source of political analysis and advice for the Secretary-General and the Security Council. It coordinates the Secretariat’s preventive diplomacy and “good offices” (dispatch of mediators).
The DPA manages special political field missions.
Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)
This Department provides the link between policy guidelines decided internationally in the economic, social and environmental fields and the policies implemented at national level.
DESA analyses a wide range of economic, social and environmental data for States.
It facilitates negotiations in a large number of intergovernmental organisations to help Member States adopt a collective strategy.
It advises governments how to transpose into national practice the guidelines adopted at UN summits and conferences.
Update : July 2010
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