Panel calls for streamlining of UN programs

A high-level panel called for a radical streamlining of UN efforts to fight poverty, provide humanitarian aid and protect the environement, saying competition among up to 20 or more different UN programs often duplicates efforts and fails in the end, according to a final draft of its report obtained Monday by The Associated Press. While the UN "is an indispensible force" in promoting development, responding quickly to humanitarian disasters and mobilizing help to combat environmental destruction, it has outgrown its post-World War II structure and "is not as effective as it could be," the draft said. "Too often, authority and management responsibility is dispersed among individuals and across organizations, thus limiting accountability for perfomance and results," it said. "Better cooperation between organizations has been hindered by competition for funding, by mission creep and by outdated business practices." Secretary-General Kofi Annan established the 13-member panel in February in response to a call by world leaders at their September 2005 summit for the United Nations to coordinate its disparate operations to maximize its contribution to meeting UN development goals, including cutting extreme poverty by half and ensuring universal primary education by 2015.