Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon formally outlined a proposal Monday to divide peacekeeping into two departments, saying the United Nations was struggling to cope with its mounting peacekeeping responsibilities.
The department runs 18 missions around the world with nearly 100,000 peacekeepers. Recent years had seen "an unprecedented growth in the number and scope of peace operations mandated by the Security Council," Ban said.
One of the new departments would focus on planning, directing and providing political guidance to peacekeeping operations, while the other would be responsible for finance, procurement, and logistics. Each would be headed by an undersecretary-general.
Ban on Monday also proposed downgrading the Department for Disarmament Affairs to an office under his supervision. Ban argued for the "need for a greater role and personal involvement of the secretary-general in the field of disarmament and nonproliferation," saying recent international talks on the matter have produced few "meaningful outcomes."
Earlier this month, Ban dropped a proposal that would have merged the departments dealing with political affairs and disarmament because of opposition from the powerful Nonaligned Movement, representing 118 mainly developing countries who account for more than 60 percent of the U.N.'s membership.
Disarmament is a sensitive issue for developing countries that do not possess nuclear weapons. Some complain that the nuclear-weapons states are moving too slowly toward disarmament, which is called for in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. They point to President Bush's rejection of the nuclear test-ban treaty and his administration's pursuit of new nuclear weapons.
The United States insists its disarmament record is good and has called for stepped-up international efforts on nonproliferation to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
Widespread speculation that an American would head a merged department of political affairs and disarmament had complicated Ban's earlier proposal.
Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar first presented the new proposal to a meeting of the Nonalignment Movement earlier this month. Diplomats said there was general agreement that it was better than a merger but that the new proposal must not mean disarmament would be sidelined on the international agenda.