Noting “a new security environment,” the United Nations General Assembly has approved an appropriation of nearly $54 million to strengthen and unify the world body’s security system.Accepting a recommendation from the Administrative and Budgetary Committee, of the Fifth Committee, the Assembly added $53.63 million to the UN’s regular budget last Thursday to establish a new Department of Safety and Security, requested by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It would have 383 positions, 134 of them temporary.Under the plan Mr. Annan unveiled earlier in the session, three separate entities currently responsible for staff safety – the Office of the Security Coordinator, the UN Security and Safety Services and the security component of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations – would be combined into a new Directorate of Security to be headed by an Under-Secretary-General reporting directly to him.When Mr. Annan presented his recommendation to the Fifth Committee on 1 November for a directorate of security, he said, “Consider the extraordinary number of people we have to protect: 100,000 international and national staff, plus 300,000 of their family members and dependents, serving the world at more than 140 field locations and Headquarters duty stations.”The UN, the humanitarian organizations and other traditional UN partners had become targets of political violence – the UN since 1992 – “challenging the long-held perception that we were protected by our flag and by our status as an impartial, benevolent actor,” he said.With or without the August 2003 Baghdad bombing, which killed 22 staff members and wounded 100 others, the UN had needed a security overhaul, ending its fragmentation and severe shortage of resources, he said.The budget for the 2006-2007 biennium was passed at $3.621 billion, compared with a total for 2004-2005, including inflation, currency fluctuations, additional mandates and unforeseen expenses, of $3.608 billion.Closing what he called a busy and productive session, Assembly President Jean Ping of Gabon said the body adopted 279 resolutions, 208 of them by consensus.Highlighting the efforts to promote collective reform of the UN, he pointed to the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, the publication of the report of the 16-member High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which is designed to make the UN responses more efficient and effective, and the preparations for the high-level meeting of the Assembly next September.Next month’s consultations on the report of the High-Level Panel would be important in finding appropriate solutions to the problems before the UN, as would the report on the Millennium Project from Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to Mr. Annan on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which is scheduled to be released on 17 January.The global report of the Secretary-General, coming out next March, would mark the start of the consultations for the high-level plenary meeting in September, Mr. Ping said.All these efforts contributed to restoring the Assembly’s central role as the universal body where all nations of the world could express their legitimate concerns, he said.Meanwhile, if the international community wanted to achieve real collective security, eradicate poverty, end pandemics, do away with wars, transnational crime, famine and environmental degradation – if it wanted to build a model of ideal society for future generations – it should go beyond the declarations of principle and begin implementing its commitments, especially in socio-economic areas, Mr. Ping said.

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