Rationale of the workshop (seminar 2004)

The workshop on United Nations reform and the need for a corporate culture more adequate to the requirements of today’s global governance, has been held in Turin on 13-14 March 2004. 

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It stems from two basic reasons:

  1. It is now nearly two years since the United Nations System Staff College was permanently set up in Turin as a working reality to trainthe top cadres of the whole United Nations System (on this see the Director of the Staff College’s report to the UN Assembly in the documentation folder). The idea of the Staff College was formulated in 1996 by then Secretary General Boutros Ghali, and has become even more relevant in the context of the Organization’s reform process promoted by Secretary General Kofi Annan since 1997 and confirmed in the Millenium Declaration. “The Staff College at Turin”, writes Kofi Annan in his September 2002 Report Strengthening of the United Nations: an Agenda for further change, “offers us the potential to create a common management culture across the Organization.” Actively supporting the venture of the Staff College in Turin there have been a group of public figures, Authorities, Public Institutions and Associations (notably the Compagnia di San Paolo, a prominent Italian banking Foundation, and the Association Globus et Locus). Turin was already the headquarters of the ILO International Training Centre and other internationally renowned training institutions. This made the town especially suitable for the new UN System Staff College.
  2. The growing awareness among a group of those supporting the Turin Staff College initiative that it was necessary to contribute intellectually, not just through logistics and organization, to its development. Turin and Northern Italy are the centre of the initiative, though a cultural contribution to the Staff College should come from the entire world. This spirit and policy gave rise to the idea of setting up an international network of scholars and public figures, representing territories and cultures across the globe. Their task: to set in motion a top-level review process encompassing the whole project of UN reform and, in this framework, the Organization’s training system, by focusing specifically on the requirements for a common corporate culture. The Turin workshop aims to provide a first opportunity to address this agenda, which may lead to the setting-up of an open and open-ended network.

In methodology and content, the workshop adopts a three-fold approach:

  1. An interdisciplinarybut also multiculturalpanel of intellectuals and public figures closely involved with the workshop issues. Interdisciplinarity is a “must” for a project aiming to address, and seek to improve the coherence of the broad spectrum of domains in which the UN and its Agencies are active.
  2. A functional approachto the multilateral issues of world governance. The need for such an approach has become evident as globalization is rocking the old patterns of state and inter-state mechanisms for dealing with world problems (security, development, health, education, the environment, etc.). Although nation states remain relevant, their action has to be complemented with other processes. UN Agencies and Organisations, as they are present throughout the world, have an immense potential to help with the management of challenges spanning across frontiers. However, that potential remains underdeveloped and underused.
  3. A glocal approach, partly linked to the functional. In the view of the workshop organizers, the problems of the United Nations system and reform should be seen not just top down (from the top of the Organization’s pyramid: Security Council, etc.), but also bottom up. Many issues can be more effectively dealt with at the local level (loci in a physico-territorial, but also virtual, sense – local nodes in global networks) working hand in hand with the global dimension (world institutions, transnational or meta-national entities). This line has been propounded for some time by Glocus et Locus – the promoter of the workshop – in its debates and ventures. Many UN agencies and organizations work directly with civil society in various loci, and have a key role to play in making the Organization more responsive to the demands, expression, and contributions of the world’s peoples.  
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