Irish diplomat to head key UN taskforce

An Irish diplomat has been appointed head of a key taskforce on United Nations reform, it was confirmed today.

David Cooney, the permanent representative of Ireland to the UN, has been appointed as co-chair of the key General Assembly Working Group on reform within the organisation.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern said: “I am confident that Ambassador Cooney will do a first-class job, for Ireland as well as for the United Nations, in this important role.”

The working group on management reform and mandate review has been tasked with preparing UN General Assembly decisions on the reform at the UN and on rationalising and prioritising its work.

Mr Ahern said: “Much has been achieved on UN reform since last September’s Summit. Much, however, remains to be done, especially to ensure that the UN organisation is provided with the right management tools to ensure that it remains capable of acting efficiently and effectively on behalf of all its member states.”

Mr Cooney was appointed to his role by the President of the UN General Assembly, Swedish Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson, whilst the other co-chair will be the Permanent Representative of Pakistan.

Mr Ahern welcomed the decision to appoint Mr Cooney who previously worked as a political director in the Foreign Affairs Department during 2005 whilst the minister was the Envoy of the UN Secretary-General.

“He commands the respect of his peers right across the spectrum for his close knowledge of the issues involved in the complex area of UN Reform. His appointment also reflects Ireland’s long-standing commitment to the central role of the United Nations in international peace and security, development and human rights,” Mr Ahern said.

The task of the two chairs includes finding a broad consensus among the states on issues including oversight and accountability, human resources management, governance and prioritisation of work.

Due to the insistence of the US and other countries, a cap was imposed last December on spending at the UN. This would have left the UN Secretary-General without funds to run the organisation from the middle of this year without further reforms.

The cap was lifted last week but there are still a variety of different opinions over the range of management reports proposed by the Secretary-General.

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