Ian Richards is a development economist at the United Nations, from the UK and Sri Lanka. He blogs in his capacity as a staff representative, on the many challenges the UN faces around the world as it seeks to reform itself and deliver more on what member states ask of it.
Any organisation that has seen more than 650 of its workers killed or injured on duty in 15 years would need to think hard about how it keeps staff motivated and productive, and how it attracts new talent to replace staff who leave.
The final vote needs to take place before Christmas, because it's a local holiday at our New York office and many others. The irony is that while the General Assembly's delegates have no plans to make Christmas a global UN holiday, they have still chosen it as a good time to go on vacation.
"Father, how far are they from Baghdad?" asks Husam's 14 year-old son as he sees the military helicopters fly overhead, bringing the injured back from battle. It's a question that makes him very uncomfortable. The "they" is the ISIS, otherwise known as Daash or Islamic State, and reputed to have already infiltrated the Iraqi capital with sleeper cells. Husam could leave. Like other UN staff he's been offered evacuation. And having seen fellow workers lose members of their families and having had to three times repair his house for explosion damage, you wouldn't blame him.
Over the past four weeks the world has watched a humanitarian tragedy unfold in Gaza. For UN staff like me it has been particularly tough. Nine of our schools have been attacked, 11 of my colleagues have been killed. They include Ahmed Mohamed Mohamed Ahmed, a school principal, Inas Shaban Derbas, a 30 year-old teacher and the youngest, Abdallah Naser Khalil Fahajan, who at 21 was a school attendant. UN chief, secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called the most recent attack on Sunday, which took place next to a boys' prep school in Rafah and led to nine deaths including that of a colleague: "a moral outrage and a criminal act."
Ending extreme poverty or getting an agreement to reduce climate change means creating complex trade-offs between the interests of countries, companies and citizens and civil society. It involves detailed forecasts, legal texts and new ideas that will galvanise negotiators to agreement.
It means putting the UN back in a position of international leadership.
We're no longer the same UN. We're more and more in conflict zones. And we've taken certain decisions that mean we're no longer seen as neutral. The UN flag is now a target instead of a shield. That means we have to change how we go about things, because right now our colleagues and their families are paying too high a price.
19/08/2013 13:45 BST
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