Obama administration urges deep reforms at the UN

The State Department put the United Nations on notice Thursday that it will press the world body to adopt a “more efficient, entrepreneurial culture” during the annual session that started last week.

“Will we choose true reform, or window dressing? Fiscal restraint or business as usual? Sunshine or secrecy?” Joseph Torsella, the U.S. representative for U.N. Management and Reform, said in the opening session of his committee. “The questions facing us are fundamentally similar: Will we choose the easy, comfortable path of the status quo, or take the difficult, ground-breaking path of progress towards a stronger, more effective and more relevant U.N.?”

Torsella went on to urge the U.N. to adopt a pay freeze and approve the public disclosure of audits of the U.N. Secretariat, a proposal that has already been considered twice by the General Assembly. He also said the United States won't accept any additional assessment to pay for the renovation of the U.N. headquarters in New York City, which was $265 million — or 14 percent — over-budget as of March, but instead argued that “every avenue must be explored to bring the project back within the approved budget.”