CSO action holding the UN accountable is already happening on an ad hoc basis. CSO efforts should be organized and mobilized proactively to provide constant and consistent public accountability for UN action or inaction. Based on their areas of competence and interest, CSO's can be identified to take lead on monitoring areas of concern:
- Past IHL/IHRL Violations for Human Rights Screening
- Ongoing IHL/IHRL Violations
- Financial Corruption
- Victims' rights"
While the UN has its own oversight bodies and conduct and discipline units (at HQ and in the field) for cases of individual misconduct, the bigger picture of the Organization's own accountability often goes unaccounted for in the face of apathy by Member States.
The promise is made, the aspiration is oft repeated; the obligation is codified but the implementation is lacking and requires external pressure.
The lack of public accountability contributes to the erosion of the credibility and effectiveness of the Organization and undermines its ability to fulfill its mandates. Ensuring such accountability could therefore restore the credibility of the Organization and its adherence to its own values and principles. Public accountability will ultimately make the UN more effective - not only as a more credible advocate for human rights and the rule of law but also as an operational actor on the ground - as a peacemaker and peacekeeper.
There is a risk that increased criticism and condemnation of UN failures and violations could further undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the UN in the short term. Failure to ensure such accountability, however, will exact far greater damage in the medium- to long-term.
As elaborated above, the proposal is all about accountability for UN action and inaction.
The more organized and mobilized the CSO community is in ensuring constant and consistent public accountability and exposing acts of omission as well as acts of commission, and the more aware and responsive to such accountability the Organization is, the more credible and effective it will be.
Raising the cost and increasing the reputational risk of the Organization will in the medium term incentivize the Organization to internalize and regularize doing the right thing on its own - if only to preempt or to avoid the public accounting.
“Those who seek to bestow legitimacy must themselves embody it, and those who invoke international law must themselves submit to it.” United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the 59th session of the UN General Assembly on 22 September 2004.
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