Reforming the United Nations

A Chronology


The UN celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2015. In the Volume Reforming the UN: A Chronology by Joachim Müller an exciting story is told describing the evolution of the UN through the main change initiatives applied by each Secretary-General, characterized by political confrontations, crises of confidence and organizational constraints. Initiatives included approving the Sustainable Development Goals, strengthening peacekeeping, enlarging the Security Council, establishing mechanisms to protect human rights, improving aid efficiency, and reforming management practices. This story is completed by a Chronology of Reform Events to enhance the transparency of parallel, multi-layer reform tracks. Lessons learned highlight the main drivers of changes, the interests and constraints, and the dynamics of the reform process: valuable insight for capitalizing on future change opportunities.
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Biographical Note

Joachim Müller is Director for Management and Finance at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Vienna. He was previously with the UN system for 30 years, dealing with resource management. Müller has written extensively on the UN, including the series Reforming the United Nations, 2010, 2006, 2001 (Brill) and is editor of ARUNA (Oxford University Press), an annual series on the UN. He has a doctorate (D.Phil) from Oxford University, Nuffield College.

Review Quotes

“'Everything you ever wanted to know about UN reform and more' could be the subtitle of the book. To my knowledge, this is the first complete chronology of the UN reform efforts since its foundation in 1945. Joachim Müller, a long-time UN practitioner and one of the UN’s few intellectual historians, presents a mine of information."
-Michael Platzer, Liaison Officer for the Academic Council on the United Nations and Chair Vienna NGO Alliance for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

Table of contents

1 Short Introduction to the Structure of the UN
2 Summary of Main Reform Initiatives, 1946 to 2015
1 Trygve Lie (Norway), 1946–1953: Building the Foundation
Organizational Structure, Headquarters and Decentralization New Entities and Subsidiary Bodies
First Experience in Technical Assistance and Peacekeeping
2 Dag Hammarskjöld (Sweden), 1953–1961: Cold War
Peacekeeping Becomes Established
Management Reform with Political Overtones
3 U Thant (Burma), 1961–1971: The Third World
Peacekeeping Financing
New Planning and Budgeting System
Increase in Membership
Focus on Development
4 Kurt Waldheim (Austria), 1972–1981: The North–South Conflict
A New un Structure for Global Economic Co-operation
5 Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (Peru), 1982–1991: Return to the UN
Administrative and Financial Functioning
Rediscovery of the UN
6 Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Egypt), 1992–1996: The New Unity
Major Structural Changes
An Agenda for Peace
Agenda for Development
50th Anniversary of the UN
7 Kofi Annan (Ghana), 1997–2006: Focus on Integrity and Efficiency
The Quiet Revolution
Millennium Summit
Security Council Reform
In Larger Freedom: Integrity and Efficiency
8 Ban Ki-moon (South Korea), 2007–2016: The Limits of the UN
Secretariat: Structure, Human Resources and Change Plan
Peacekeeping: Structure, Policy and Conduct
System-wide Coherence and “Delivering as One”
Capital Master Plan
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
9 Concluding Observations
3 Chronology of Main Change Events

Appendix I: Reform Documents
1 Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
2 The Future of United Nations Peace Operations: Implementation of the Recommendations of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (hippo)
3 Challenge of Sustaining Peace: Report of the Advisory Group of Experts on the Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture
4 The Secretary-General’s Five-Year Action Agenda
Appendix II: Supporting Information
1 Charter of the United Nations
2 Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council
3 Statute of the International Court of Justice
4 United Nations Member States
5 Security Council Membership
6 United Nations Peacekeeping Operations
Bibliography on UN Reform


All interest in the work of the United Nations and its reform and history, including researchers, graduate students, policy makers and the interested public.


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