|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-first General Assembly
12th Meeting (AM)
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES SUPPORT, RESOURCES FOR ‘INVESTING IN PEOPLE’ PROPOSALS,
AS HE PRESENTS REPORT TO BUDGET COMMITTEE
Committee Also Recommends $128.5 Million for Burundi Mission
As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) took up human resources management reform this morning, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed to Member States to give strong support to the proposals contained in his “Investing in People” report, which were necessary to achieve a strong international civil service with the highest standards of performance, ethics and accountability. “The return on this investment will be a more productive and accountable organization, at the service of Member States,” he said.
The Secretary-General said that the starting point for his proposals was the recognition that the Secretariat had one global workforce, which had to be managed transparently and fairly. Change needed to begin with the way people were recruited, the conditions of service offered to them and the way their skills were developed. The aim was to speed up recruitment, with targeted steps to find the people the Organization needed, rather than waiting “for them to find us”. Other elements of the reform included introduction of unified contractual arrangements; harmonization of conditions of service at Headquarters and in the field; and designation of 2,500 career civilian peacekeeping positions to ensure continuity and expertise.
Those proposals would only work if sufficient financial resources were put behind them, Mr. Annan stressed. To date, training and other efforts to strengthen the staff and the structures and systems underpinning their work, had suffered from a chronic shortage of funding. The new package was called “investing in people” for a reason. “If we make investments now, we will reap greater dividends tomorrow -- and also realize cost savings. I trust you will keep this in mind as you consider the financial implications,” he said.
Finland’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, agreed with the Secretary-General that a modern, effective human resources system and an organizational culture that enabled staff at all levels to contribute to their greatest potential was needed to maximize investment in people.
She supported a more proactive, targeted and speedy recruitment system needed to reduce the average recruitment times by half, and looked favourably upon greater investment in staff development and career support. The Union called for more systematic training in key areas of resource management to promote common understanding of organizational rules, regulations, procedures and ethical standards, and to contribute to managing risk. Robust monitoring of implementation of measures to strengthen the performance assessment of senior managers was crucial to promoting true management culture change.
While agreeing that effective delivery of more complex and difficult mandates by the United Nations hinged on the quality of staff and the availability of resources, the representative of South Africa, who presented the position of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, supported the primary oversight role of the General Assembly, and did not agree with the Secretary-General’s assertion that the Assembly was constraining him from performing the role of Chief Administrative Officer.
He also reiterated the Group’s concern over the lack of a well-defined accountability framework within the Organization, saying that the current system was fragmented, difficult to comprehend and not fully implemented. For years, programme managers had not been held accountable for failure to achieve targets for appointing staff who met core competencies. Central review bodies needed to be empowered to fully discharge their responsibilities. He also called for fair use of the roster of pre-screened candidates to fill field mission posts, and added that promotion based on performance criteria needed to be complemented by safeguards to prevent discrimination and promotion of personal preferences.
Several speakers, including representatives of Kuwait and the Sudan, also shared the Group’s concern over the failure of the Organization to meet agreed benchmarks on equitable geographic and gender distribution of posts, expressing hope that the proposed measures would reduce the number of under- and unrepresented States. In particular, high-level posts should not be monopolized by some countries to the exclusion of others, the representative of Kuwait said.
Aware that the United Nations needed to have a mobility policy to facilitate implementation of the mandates set by Member States, the representative of Guyana, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, insisted that such a policy should rely on a set of clear and unambiguous principles, including its voluntary basis, non-discriminatory treatment and sufficient means of compensation. The system should be agreed upon by all the interested parties and should fulfil its main purpose, which was to have skilled personnel who could be deployed to different operational environments and would feel comfortable and recognized in doing so.
The staff’s view of the Secretary-General’s proposals was presented by Oleg Kiiamov, representative of the Secretariat Staff, Coordinating Committee of International Staff Unions and Associations, and the Geneva Staff Council, who urged Member States “to patch the holes, fix the leaks and turn the tents into walls of bricks and mortar”. In particular, he highlighted the need for more transparent recruitment processes, the link between mobility and improving conditions of life and work at various duty stations, and harmonizing the conditions of service.
He also called for immediate action on contractual arrangements, which varied greatly, despite the fact that all personnel were international civil servants. That was “an extremely unhealthy situation”. He called for a single, simple contractual arrangement composed of temporary, fixed-term and continuing contracts -- an acceptable compromise that resolved the dysfunctional and dispiriting problems of the existing system.
Also this morning, the Committee approved a draft resolution, by the terms of which the Assembly would appropriate some $128.54 million for the maintenance and liquidation of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007, inclusive of an amount of $78.96 million previously authorized by the Assembly for the period from 1 July to 31 October 2006.
The representatives of Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group) and South Africa spoke in explanation of position after approval of the draft.
Also participating in the debate on human resources management reform were representatives of Togo, Zambia, Myanmar, United States, Pakistan, Cuba and Mali, as well as the Observer for Holy See. Documents before the Committee were also introduced by Jan Beagle, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management; Nancy Hurtz-Soyka, Director a.i. of the Ethics Office; and Rajat Saha, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).
The Committee will take up the renovation of the Secretary-General’s residence at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 31 October.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning was expected to take up its main agenda item for the current session, human resources management, as well as plans for renovating the Secretary-General’s residence.
In his report on the human resources management reform (document A/61/228), the Secretary-General describes major developments in such areas as human resources planning; streamlining of rules and procedures; recruitment and promotion; performance management; career development; conditions of service; contractual arrangements; and administration of justice. According to the document, the focus in the past two years has been on consolidation, institutionalization, improvement and expansion of the main components of the reform. Greater attention was also given to reviewing and addressing the needs in the field.
Among the achievements, the Secretary-General lists introduction of managed mobility, review of administrative issuances, introduction of an organizational competency model, continuous learning, establishment of the Management Performance Board, and a new staff selection system, with its supporting tool, Galaxy e-staffing. All departments of the Secretariat now use the electronic e-PAS performance evaluation system. Measures to promote equitable geographical representation include introduction of resource action plans, establishment of a special roster of candidates from under- and unrepresented countries and inclusion of un- and underrepresented States in national competitive examinations.
The Secretary-General invites the Assembly to take note of achievements to date and planned future activities described in the report, which include further refinement of the staff selection system and streamlining of human resources rules and procedures, as well as development of strategic workforce planning on the basis of supply and demand analysis.
In connection with the implementation of Secretariat-wide mobility, the Secretary-General invites the Assembly to reconsider the policy requiring staff members to renounce permanent resident status in a country other than the one of their nationality after recruitment. Among other things, this policy, due to visa considerations, contributes to instability for families, when family members have to leave a duty station after a staff member moves to a field mission or a non-family duty station.
A recent review of the staff selection system showed that an average of 45 days are currently needed to prepare for the posting of a vacancy announcement; 60 days for advertising of announcements; and 86 days for evaluation of candidates, review by a central review body and selection by the head of department. It also indicated the need for further simplification and streamlining of procedures and enhanced consistency in their application, as only 40 per cent of respondents to a related questionnaire indicated that the policies and procedures were easy to understand, and less than 20 per cent said that they facilitated speedy recruitment. Delays in recruitment have been caused, in part, by the increase in the volume of applications following the introduction of Galaxy.
In view of the above, the Secretary-General is making proposals for a speedier and more targeted and proactive system of recruitment and staffing in his report on investing in people (document A/61/255), which provides details on the new human resources framework outlined in his Investing in the United Nations: for a stronger Organization worldwide report. The document also introduces plans for an integrated approach to mobility; enhanced career development; streamlined contractual arrangements and harmonized conditions of service; strengthened leadership; and staff buyout.
The Secretary-General envisions the Secretariat of the future as an integrated, field-oriented, operational organization. Its multi-skilled, versatile and mobile staff will be working across disciplines to fulfil complex and interrelated mandates in an efficient and cost-effective manner. It will be known for its high standards of ethics, fairness, transparency and accountability, as well as its culture of continuous learning, high performance, managerial excellence and respect for diversity. Headquarters and field staff will be integrated into one global Secretariat with competitive conditions of service.
By some of the 22 proposals contained in the report, the Assembly is requested to approve a reduction of the advertising time for vacancy announcements from 60 to 30 days; eliminate eligibility restrictions based on category, in order to provide greater promotion opportunities for General Service staff; and authorize the Secretary-General to continue the use of the special roster for posts at the P-4 and P-5 levels to improve geographical representation of unrepresented and underrepresented States.
The Secretary-General also recommends establishment of a dedicated recruitment service to support managers in staff selection; revision of examinations and job profiles to match the needs; use of rosters of pre-qualified candidates; elimination of restrictions on staff on assignment to peace missions; support for employment of spouses of United Nations staff; introduction of new contractual arrangements (temporary, fixed-term and continuing); conversion of some field missions from non-family to family status; harmonization of conditions of service for staff serving in non-family duty stations with those of other staff; and strengthening of human resources information technology.
As proposed in the report, the Secretary-General would be given authority to move staff members wherever they are needed. Also envisioned are enforcement of post-occupancy limits; rotation of international Professional posts; and integration of Headquarters and field operations into an Organization-wide mobility programme. The report also addresses the need to build the cadre of senior and middle managers required for the modern complex global operations, and recommends appropriating dedicated resources for staff buyout.
The total amount requested for the implementation of those proposals is estimated at some $36.22 million. Further requirements will be considered in the context of the proposed budget for 2008-2009 and the budget for the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008. The Assembly is also requested to approve six temporary posts (three P-4, one P-2 and two General Service) under the 2006-2007 budget, as well as five temporary posts (two P-4, one P-3 and two General Service) for the Office of Human Resources Management under the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period ending 30 June 2007.
Another request relates to the recommendation to grant the Secretary-General commitment authority for an amount of some $1.4 million for additional costs under the peacekeeping support account for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007. Also by the text, the Secretary-General would be authorized to charge an amount of some $17.42 million to individual peacekeeping missions for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007, as well as some $2.53 million for the conversion of MINURSO from non-family to family status.
The Secretary-General’s report on reforming the Field Service category in United Nations peace operations (document A/61/255/Add.1) requests the Assembly to approve a framework of 2,500 career civilian peacekeepers, to be funded against approved budgets of authorized peacekeeping and special political missions. A comprehensive review by the Secretariat underscored the need to recognize peacekeeping as a core activity of the Organization, requiring a standing capacity within the Organization of multi-skilled, versatile, competent and mobile staff to meet the medium-term and rapid deployment needs of peace operations.
The Secretary-General’s report on the composition of the Secretariat (document A/61/257) for the first time contains information relating to all staff with contracts as of 30 June 2006, irrespective of funding source. According to the document, the global population of Secretariat staff was found to be 30,548, and 25,543 staff hold contracts of one year or more in duration. Almost 62 per cent of staff are nationals of 20 Member States, of which each have at least 400 staff. Six countries had more than 1,000 nationals in the Secretariat: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Kenya, the Sudan, Serbia and Montenegro, and the United States.
Globally, 63.7 per of staff are men, and 36.3 per cent are women; some 79 per cent of local staff in peacekeeping missions are men. Of the 110 staff in the most senior grades, Under-Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General, 18.8 per cent are women. Among the 509 staff at the Director level, 26.1 per cent are women. For professional staff, gender parity has been achieved at P-1 and P-2 levels. In the General Service and related categories, women constitute 35.3 per cent. However, several entities have achieved gender parity or have more female than male staff in the P and higher categories: the Office of the Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict; the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships; the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa; and the Department of Public Information.
In the Secretariat, 13.3 per cent of staff hold permanent appointments. A total of 4,757 staff, or 15.6 per cent of the Organization’s workforce, hold contracts of less than one year. Looking at the 11,894 Secretariat staff holding 100-series appointments of one year or more, the average staff age was 45.9 years old, with 56 per cent of all staff older than 45, and only 4.7 per cent younger than 30.
The report shows that 2,634 staff are assigned to posts subject to geographical distribution in the Professional and higher categories. As of 30 June 2006, 18 Member States were underrepresented, and 21 were overrepresented. The report concluded that 26 recruitments were required to bring all current unrepresented Member States within desirable ranges. To bring all current underrepresented Member States within range, 187 needed to be recruited, of which 162 must come from Japan.
Another report before the Committee provides information on the use of gratis personnel (document A/61/257/Add.1) in 2004 and 2005. The total number of personnel provided to the Organization at no cost by Governments and other entities declined from 2004 to 2005. The number of type I gratis personnel —- including interns, associate experts and technical cooperation experts on non-reimbursable loans -— went from 182 in 2004 to 158 in 2005, with interns accounting for 86 per cent of the total in 2005.
The number of type II gratis personnel -— accepted on an exceptional basis and only to provide expertise not available within the Organization for specialized functions or to provide temporary and urgent assistance in case of new or expanded mandates -- declined from 85 in 2004 to 46 in 2005. The decrease was the result of fewer large-scale emergency and relief operations managed by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which was the only department using type II gratis personnel during the reporting period.
According to the report on employment of retired former staff (document A/61/257/Add.2), the total number of retirees hired in 2004-2005 decreased; however the total number of days worked and the total cost of their employment increased compared with 2002-2003. Retired former staff were used in the areas of language and conference services in major duty stations. The expansion of field operations for peacekeeping and humanitarian activities also resulted in the increased employment of retirees with specialized skills and institutional knowledge. In such situations, the use of retirees was considered to be the most cost-effective way to meet short-term operational needs.
In his report on the use of consultants and individual contractors (document A/61/257.Add.3), the Secretary-General states that, in 2004-2005, as compared to 2002-2003, fewer consultants and individual contractors were hired and contracts granted, the duration of engagements was reduced and the expenditure decreased. While the percentage of women consultants increased until 2004, it decreased in 2005. Consultants were used mainly for programme implementation and advisory services, while individual contractors were used mainly for programme implementation, lectures and training courses, and preparation of meetings.
According to the Secretary-General’s report on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (document A/60/861), the total number of 373 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in 2005 was considerably higher than the 121 allegations reported in 2004. This increase may reflect, in part, greater awareness and use of reporting mechanisms. The Secretary-General emphasizes the importance of continuing to improve reporting mechanisms and to analyse the data received, in order to fully understand the scope and nature of the problem.
The majority of all allegations (340) are from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Of the 123 allegations against United Nations staff and other civilian personnel, 6 related to sexual assault and rape. Of the 217 allegations against uniformed personnel, 19 related to inappropriate relationships with the local population, 12 to paternity claims, 3 to distribution of pornography, 2 to food in exchange for sex, 68 to sex with prostitutes, 43 to sex with minors and 24 to sexual assault and rape.
Measures to stop sexual exploitation and abuse include designation of focal points, training and measures to increase staff awareness. In January 2005, a Task Force was established on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, which developed mechanisms for accountability and for creating a culture of responsibility, including clear guidance and support to managers for dealing with sexual exploitation and abuse. The Task Force also prepared recommendations on the application of the Secretary-General’s bulletin on the matter (ST/SGB/2003/13), as well as a draft policy statement and comprehensive strategy on assistance and support to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations and related personnel. Through strengthening reporting and community outreach, the Secretariat hopes to gain a better understanding of the extent of the problem and improve its own vigilance and response.
The Secretary-General’s report of the Management Performance Board (document A/61/319) summarizes the Board’s activities, particularly in relation to human resource action plans and senior management compacts between the Secretary-General and programme managers, which make department heads accountable for a comprehensive set of indicators covering programmatic and managerial objectives.
In the Board’s review of department performance, 25 departments and offices were measured against 25 indicators that cover nine areas of human resource management and reflect legislative mandates. Several departments experienced difficulty in achieving gender balance, especially at the senior level. Other departments had trouble with geographic targets as well. Department heads seemed to lack awareness that they are responsible for achieving equitable geographical distribution in some cases. Customized reminders were transmitted to those who were not meeting their obligations, including warnings that consistent non-achievement could result in loss of authority for recruitment decisions. Final assessments of performance for 2005-2006 will be undertaken in early 2007.
The Committee also had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Ethics Office (document A/61/274) for the period from 1 January to 31 July 2006. The Assembly approved the creation of the Office at the 2005 World Summit to support management reform initiatives and strengthen a culture of transparency and accountability. The report concludes that the Ethics Office must continue to be an active player in the United Nations management reform, given the clear need to reinforce ethical values, standards and accountability. It must engage in a constructive dialogue with both staff and management. Independence and impartiality of the Office should be actively preserved and strengthened as its final structure is established and as its work evolves.
During its first months of operation, the Office began establishing administrative and operational procedures, and held consultations with relevant entities, such as the Office of Human Resources Management, the Office of Legal Affairs, the Joint Appeals Board and the Offices of the United Nations Ombudsman and Internal Oversight Services. The Office responded to a total of 153 staff requests, 41 per cent of which involved requests for ethics advice and 29 per cent concerned protection against retaliation for reporting misconduct. The Office also coordinated the expanded annual financial disclosure exercise, which covered more than 1,800 staff and generated hundreds of inquiries about filing instructions.
According to the report on the institution of comprehensive policy guidelines for consultants at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (document A/61/201), UNHCR hired 265 consultants in 2005, with an average daily fee of $163. UNHCR introduced a new policy on hiring of consultants in response to Assembly resolution 59/270, which was based on recommendations by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on the need to develop comprehensive policy guidelines on the use of consultants that would be consistent with United Nations administrative instructions.
Among the changes introduced by the new policy are the addition of a new type of consultancy, the locally hired international consultant; limits on the duration of a consultancy; and detailed guidelines outlining the procedure for hiring consultants and monitoring their work. In response to the Assembly’s request that UNHCR make greater efforts to ensure geographical balance in the use of consultants, its new reporting system indicates consultants’ nationality in order to monitor geographical diversity. However, the report notes that the authority for hiring rests with the hiring manager, and that the Division of Human Resources Management, which handles consultancies worldwide, is not actively monitoring the diversity aspect.
The Secretary-General also transmitted to the Committee the report of the Joint Inspection Unit on follow-up to the management review of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) (document A/61/115). The Unit generally found that progress had been made in the implementation of some recommendations, but reconfirmed that imbalanced geographical distribution of staff has not really been dealt with vigorously. The Inspectors pointed out that the skewed nature of the staff’s composition could diminish the effectiveness of the work of OHCHR if it is perceived to be culturally biased and unrepresentative.
Several recommendations relating to improving the geographical distribution of the staff still need work, the report states. For instance, during the 2005 National Competitive Exams, nationals from only 10 countries passed the written exam, and only three are from developing countries. The percentage of staff from the Group of Western European and Other States in 2005 (64.2 per cent) is the highest for the last eight years. Additionally, there has been a considerable increase in the number of posts not subject to geographical distribution. The Inspectors agree this issue can only be resolved in the mid to long term, but the trend should be reversed immediately. The Joint Inspection Unit called on OHCHR to adopt a more proactive approach to identify and recruit candidates from unrepresented or underrepresented countries.
Among the recommendations that have been implemented in full, or required no further action, were streamlining management to avoid duplication; accounting for field assets and developing a field administrative procedures manual; regularizing 200-series contracts into 100-series contracts; and aligning its post-classification criteria with those of the Secretariat. But, implementation of other recommendations remained “work in progress”.
Contained in an addendum to the report, is the administration’s response to the Joint Inspection Unit’s recommendations (A/61/115/Add. 1). Among other things, OHCHR concluded that the recommendation on the limitation of field operations conducted exclusively by OHCHR to cases where no alternative exists, is no longer applicable. The conclusion is based on the fact that organs of the United Nations system have recognized that a greater human rights field presence at times of crisis would provide timely information to United Nations bodies and draw urgent attention to situations requiring action, and that OHCHR should engage in technical assistance and capacity-building.
On geographic distribution, OHCHR concluded that, in some cases, responsibility lies not with OHCHR, which is an organ of the Secretariat, but with the Office of Human Resources Management. A comprehensive and proactive action plan reflecting a strong and continuous commitment by management has been put in place, and will be addressed in the context of the budget for 2008-2009. Some particular steps have been taken, such as compiling a mailing list of approximately 1,270 institutions of all types willing to act as information relays, and going on recruitment missions to targeted countries.
The Committee also had before it a report that outlines the current conditions of the Secretary-General’s residence and needed renovation work (document A/61/377). The last renovation was carried out in 1950, and the building’s age and obsolescence of much of its equipment requires frequent emergency repairs. A major structural renovation is proposed, requiring an estimated additional amount of $4.49 million under the 2006-2007 budget.
Commenting on this proposal in a related report, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (document A/61/352), while agreeing on the need to approve the proposed renovation, suggests that the requirements for the project should be absorbed within the appropriations already approved. Within the current budget, expenditures under alterations and improvements amounted to $13.9 million through 30 September 2006, or approximately 29 per cent of the appropriation of $47.6 million.
ACABQ also notes that the Organization’s Headquarters Agreement with the United States did not include the Secretary-General’s residence, and trusted that this clause would be included in the fourth supplement to that agreement. The Advisory Committee also observed that the proposal to renovate the residence should have been submitted as part of the proposed budget for 2006-2007, rather than as revised estimates in the middle of the biennium, because the condition of the building was known and the Secretariat had sufficient time to prepare the requirements in that regard. It also commented that it would have liked to see more information on what options and alternative solutions were explored and how the cost estimates were arrived at.
Should the Assembly approve the project, the Advisory Committee calls for strict adherence to the schedule, according to which the construction phase would be completed by 30 September 2007. It also expects that contracts will stipulate that the United Nations will not be responsible for any cost escalation caused by delays on the part of the contractor, and that measures be taken to ensure transparency and accountability, including open-bidding procedures. ACABQ also trusted that negotiations would be successfully concluded with the Sutton Place Association to ensure that all necessary security improvements are implemented.
Introduction of Reports
United Nations Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN introduced his reports entitled “Investing in People” (document A/61/255) and “Reforming the Field Service Category” (document A/61/255/Add.1).
“Our people, as we often say, are our principle asset, yet we don’t invest in them or support them properly,” he said. At present, far too many of those splendid men and women were prevented from doing their best, tied up in the policies and processes that had not kept pace with the evolving needs of the changing world. The latest package of proposals before the Committee built on a decade of work and lessons learned. During Mr. Annan’s tenure, the Organization had launched a new human resources framework and had given its managers new authority to select and develop staff. It had streamlined rules and procedures, and strengthened its ability to staff peace operations. It had overhauled its staff security set-up and begun to break down the institutional wall that hindered staff mobility and development.
As a result, the United Nations was more efficient and effective than 10 years ago, he continued. “We deliver more than ever. And our cost-effectiveness rivals or surpasses other organizations engaged in similar activities,” he said. That progress would not have been possible without the backing of Member States.
Regarding the timing of putting forward another set of proposals, further to the blueprint for reform in the Investing in the United Nations report, he said that, while the Organization was on the right track, it still faced important obstacles. Its recruitment practices were reactive and slow; and it still had not reached the targets for gender balance and geographical diversity. And all the while, its mandates grew in number and complexity. Current practices and arrangements could benefit only so much from further tinkering.
Secretary-General recalled that he had been asked by the world leaders at the World Summit to tell them what he needed to carry out his managerial responsibilities, and how to ensure that the United Nations had the right policies, regulations and rules. His initial response had been the report Investing in the United Nations, and now, with “Investing in People”, he was providing the details for achieving that goal.
At its founding, and even 15 years ago, the United Nations had had a stable, mostly static Secretariat, whose main function had been to set norms and service conferences and meetings, and whose staff worked mainly at Headquarters. That vital service continued, but the United Nations of today was much more multidimensional. More than half of the Organization’s 30,000 staff now served in field locations, most of them in peacekeeping. The United Nations was also involved in tsunami relief, criminal justice investigations, electoral assistance and post-conflict assessments of environmental damage. Its human rights presence extended to many more countries than just a few years ago. However, the new reality was not sufficiently reflected in the rules and regulations governing the staff; the systems were fragmented and excessively complex and therefore difficult to administer and understand. That led, in turn, to an absence of trust among staff and diffuse accountability. The Organization’s antiquated technology was ill adapted for managing a global workforce.
The result was an unacceptably high level of managerial risk, he said. The missions were handicapped by high vacancy rates -- typically from 22 to 26 per cent -- and from destabilizing levels of staff turnover. More than 50 per cent of field staff had been with the Organization for two years or less. Across the United Nations, it was difficult to apply policies and standards consistently. It was time to make a deeper, more fundamental change, which would not be possible without the buy-in of staff and managers alike. That was why there had been extensive consultations with them, including elected staff representatives from all duty stations, except New York, at the Staff-Management Coordination Committee. Teams of staff members had also visited duty stations outside Headquarters. Meetings with over 5,000 staff had found great support for what was being proposed. He regretted that the New York Staff Union had remained outside that consensus and had chosen not to participate in the formal process. He hoped they would reconsider and re-engage in dialogue with senior management.
The starting point for his proposals was the recognition that the Secretariat had one global workforce, which had to be managed transparently and fairly, he continued. Change needed to begin with the way people were recruited, the conditions of service offered to them, and the way their skills were developed. The aim was to speed up recruitment, with targeted steps to find the people the Organization needed, rather than waiting “for them to find us”. It was necessary to introduce one kind of contract, rather than the complex arrangements that prevailed at present. Even that seemingly modest change would do much to restore equity and improve transparency, mobility and flexibility.
Harmonized conditions of service for field staff would help the United Nations attract and retain high-quality people who had gained valuable experience, he said. The designation of 2,500 career positions in peace operations would ensure that that core function of the Secretariat gained the continuity and expertise it needed. Managers and leaders, in particular, would be rigorously selected and better trained.
Those proposals would only work if sufficient financial resources were put behind them, he stressed. To date, training and other efforts to strengthen the staff and the structures and systems underpinning their work had suffered from a chronic shortage of funding. The new package was called “investing in people” for a reason. “If we make investments now, we will reap greater dividends tomorrow -- and also realize cost savings. I trust you will keep this in mind as you consider the financial implications,” he said.
“I appeal to you to give strong support to these proposals,” he said in conclusion. “I am convinced they are necessary if we are to have a strong international civil service with the highest standards of performance, ethics and accountability, able to meet evolving challenges. The return on this investment will be a more productive and accountable organization, at the service of Member States.”
JAN BEAGLE, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on human resources management reform (document A/61/228), composition of the Secretariat, gratis personnel, employment of retired staff, consultants and individual contractors, Management Performance Board, and policy guidelines for consultants in UNHCR.
She said that, as in any large-scale change process, particularly in a complex global organization such as the United Nations, human resources management reform must be viewed as a process. Achievements to date had set the stage for addressing significant challenges before the Organization. Those included further adapting human resources management policies and practices so that they were aligned with operational needs and worldwide standards, and having the resources and tools to implement and manage change. In developing the Secretary-General’s proposals, the Secretariat had built on the experience to date, integrated the lessons learned and aimed to produce the most effective human resources framework to meet the evolving challenges before the United Nations and to implement the mandates of Member States.
In closing, she addressed “a dilemma the management has faced at this session with respect to transmitting to you the views of the staff”. The matter was governed by resolution 35/213, which provided for the Assembly “to receive and consider fully the views of the staff as set out by a single recognized representative of the staff of the United Nations Secretariat in a document submitted through the Secretary-General under the agenda item entitled ‘Personnel Questions’”. She had been requested, as the representative of the Secretary-General, to transmit two documents. Moreover, she had been informed by some staff associations that they did not associate themselves with one or other document in question. Bound to transmit the views “as set out by a single representative of the staff”, she had not been in a position to transmit, on behalf of the Secretary-General, a single document to the Assembly. Should the Committee so decide, however, both documents would be submitted to it.
Director a.i. of the Ethics Office, NANCY HURTZ-SOYKA, introduced the first report of the Ethics Office. Among the Office’s recent initiatives, she listed the development of a user-friendly guide to the standards already in place, entitled “Putting Ethics to Work: a Guide to UN Core Values and Standards of Conduct”; a briefing for all senior officials at the Under-Secretary-General/ Assistant Secretary-General level on 9 October; and a forthcoming Secretariat-wide workshop on ethics. As of today, nearly 200 requests for advice and guidance had been received by the Office -- over half of them related to conflicts of interest and other ethics-related questions. The remaining half concerned gifts and hospitality, outside activities and reports of misconduct, as well as use of assets of the Organization. The Office had also set up an ethics helpline and a dedicated e-mail address.
On the financial disclosure programme, she said that the exercise covered more than 1,700 staff, which included all senior officials at the D-1 or L-6 levels and above, all procurement and investment staff, all members of the Ethics Office and those with access to confidential procurement or investment information. As of today, 95 per cent of all staff at Headquarters locations required to file disclosure statements had done so. For those in peacekeeping missions, the compliance rate was currently at 69 per cent. The Office was working closely with senior officials in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the staff in peacekeeping missions who had not yet submitted their statements. It had also been actively engaged in the hiring of external financial experts who would be reviewing the statements.
Regarding protection of staff against retaliation for reporting misconduct, she said that, as of today, the Office had received 53 complaints of retaliation -- 8 more than had been reported by the end of July. While many of those complaints either fell outside the mandate of the Office or were initial complaints of misconduct, six cases had had a final determination. One case had been submitted for investigation and was currently under review. Of the other five, no credible instances of retaliation had been established.
Introducing the ACABQ report on the matter (document A/61/537), RAJAT SAHA, Chairman of the Advisory Committee, expressed appreciation for the Secretary-General’s efforts to reform the management of the Organization’s human resources. The report on investing in people contained a number of innovative ideas. Although some of them required further development, their general thrust and direction were welcome. In reviewing the proposals, ACABQ had sought to clarify which aspects required a policy decision of the General Assembly, which were within the Secretary-General’s purview as Chief Administrative Officer of the United Nations, which should await the results of planned or future studies and which could be acted upon now. In cases where the Assembly had been requested to note future requirements, which could be presented in the proposed budget for the next biennium, the Committee had advised that there was no need for the Assembly to pronounce itself at this time, as it was entirely within the Secretary-General’s authority to include any request he saw fit in the proposed budget.
He added that, in its report, ACABQ had stressed, once again, the relevance of Article 101 of the Charter and welcomed the intention of the Secretary-General to ensure that the Office of Human Resources Management took a more proactive role. It had also reaffirmed the need for clear lines of authority and the requisite accountability, and urged the establishment of a system of incentives and sanctions as an integral part of the personnel management system.
In conclusion, Mr. SAHA stressed the Advisory Committee’s strong view that consultation between staff and management in accordance with Staff Regulations and relevant Assembly resolutions was of paramount importance.
OLEG KIIAMOV, representative of the Secretariat Staff, Coordinating Committee of International Staff Unions and Associations, and the Geneva Staff Council, said that the United Nations staff had grown in quantity and diversity, and the expansion of the Organization had been conducted in an ad hoc manner with a patchwork of human resources policies. He said the agreed upon human resources reforms provided a blueprint that required urgency in response.
Turning to staff career development, he said training was needed to continuously enhance staff skills and competencies, but the current budget was grossly inadequate. He wholeheartedly applauded the Secretary-General’s effort to increase the number of training opportunities. Referring to recruitment, he called for modernization in a system that views field and operations activities and Headquarters as a single global entity. He added that transparency was needed internally and externally in the recruitment process, and it should ensure integrity, professionalism, efficiency, gender balance and geographic representation.
He then said that well-managed mobility between duty stations and within single locations was advantageous to career development. Conditions of service at various duty stations also needed improvement. He, therefore, urged the Fifth Committee to explore all mechanisms for reducing the impact of work/life issues that impeded mobility and were a barrier to achieving gender parity. He was concerned that the 15,000 persons serving in field missions did not enjoy the same benefits as other staff within the Organization, which compounded the difficulties of the conditions in which they served.
Regarding contractual arrangements, he said they varied greatly, despite the fact that all personnel were international civil servants, which was “an extremely unhealthy situation”. He called for a single, simple contractual arrangement, composed of temporary, fixed-term and continuing contracts, and called that an acceptable compromise that resolved the dysfunctional and dispiriting problems of the existing system. He said immediate action was needed, and urged the Fifth Committee to not defer decision-making on the matter. Additionally, all human resources reform needed to be undertaken hand in hand with reform of the internal justice system, as detailed in the report of the Redesign Panel.
DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted his delegation’s support of the Secretary-General’s human resources reform initiatives since 1997, and agreed that efficiency and effective delivery of more complex and difficult mandates by the United Nations hinged on the quality of staff and the availability of resources. The well-being of international civil servants was of utmost importance, and he particularly pledged to strive to find ways to mitigate the concerns of staff in peacekeeping operations.
He supported the primary oversight role of the General Assembly, and did not agree with the Secretary-General’s assertion that the Assembly was constraining him from performing the role of Chief Administrative Officer. He believed that more needed to be done to ensure that United Nations staff met the highest standards of ethics, fairness, transparency and accountability, high performance, managerial excellence and respect for diversity. He appreciated the main achievements of the building-block approach to human resources management reforms: establishment of human resources planning and monitoring; introduction of an electronic performance management system, streamlining of rules and procedures; staff selection through delegation of responsibility to department heads; introduction of a staff mobility policy; and integration of core competencies and values into human resources systems.
He said that programme managers for years had not been held accountable for failure to achieve human resource action plan targets for appointing staff who met core competencies. Central review bodies needed to be empowered to fully discharge their responsibilities, which was an important aspect of ensuring accountability and transparency in the recruitment and selection process. He called for fair use of the roster of pre-screened candidates to fill field missions posts, and added that promotion based on performance criteria needed to be complemented by safeguards to prevent discrimination and promotion of personal preferences. He warned that reducing the advertising time of positions might significantly undermine the ability of qualified and interested candidates from developing countries to fairly compete for vacancies, although he was amenable to discussing ways to relax conditions to enable critical appointments that met urgent needs. He also looked forward to discussing establishment of a dedicated unit within the Office of Human Resources Management to assist programme managers in selection and recruitment of staff.
He then said that staff mobility should apply to all categories of staff including professional and higher posts, and finances, opportunities to promotion and payment of hardship allowances should be used as incentive for mobility. He said all staff should have the equal opportunity to move to and from Headquarters, but warned against the use of mobility as a coercive measure, stressing the need for it to remain voluntary. He attached great importance to training of staff to fulfil the operational and functional needs of the Organization, and noted that training programmes must be externally certified.
He remained seriously concerned over the failure of the Organization to meet agreed benchmarks on equitable geographic and gender distribution in the Secretariat. He urged accountability for programme managers and senior management who failed to implement the benchmarks. He said that senior management positions in important departments seemed to be the exclusive preserve of some Member States, and urged strategic use of the large-scale retirements in various categories in 2010 to improve the international character of the Organization. He also said that the designation of 2,500 career civilian peacekeeping positions needed to be clarified with geographic and gender criteria in mind.
He took note of the proposal to introduce one United Nations staff contract under one set of staff rules, and concurred that it would be prudent to receive the outcome report of the study to be undertaken by the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) on the financial and geographical composition implications before making a final decision. He restated concern over the lack of a well-defined accountability framework within the Organization, as the current system was fragmented, difficult to comprehend and not fully implemented. No further authority should be delegated to programme managers without improved accountability, he said. He agreed that more transparency and fairness was needed in the Organization’s system of internal justice, and he looked forward to considering the recommendations of the Redesign Panel. He concluded by noting that the mistrust between management and staff was regrettable and harmful to the image of the Organization, and trusted that every effort would be made to improve trust between the two sides.
KRISTI LINTONEN ( Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, noted with appreciation the Secretary-General’s significant effort to reform the management of human resources at the United Nations, and concurred that reform was a process, not an event. She agreed with the Secretary-General that a modern, effective human resources system and organizational culture that enabled staff at all levels to contribute to their greatest potential was needed to maximize investment in people. But, she said that much remained to be done in that area, and that key areas in need of reform had been discussed for a long time, but remained unresolved.
She believed that development of a more proactive, targeted and speedy recruitment system was needed to reduce the average recruitment times by half. The recruitment process’s first priority should continue to be efficiency, competence and integrity, and she noted that the European Union attached great importance to gender and geographical balance and reiterated the General Assembly’s request to the Secretary-General to increase efforts in that regard. She welcomed the success of the managed mobility programme for new P-2 staff to create a more versatile and multi-skilled workforce.
She looked favourably upon greater investment in staff development and career support, which required managers to support such efforts and staff members who were committed to continuous professional development. She called for more systematic training in key areas of resource management to promote common understanding of organizational rules, regulations, procedures and ethical standards, and to contribute to managing risk. She emphasized the importance of assuring the highest standards of security at Headquarters and in the field. Robust monitoring of implementation of measures to strengthen performance assessment of senior managers was crucial to promoting true management culture change. She also sought a clear analysis of the tasks, scope and coverage of the proposed e-staffing tool.
She said the Union was open to discussion of the Secretary-General’s proposed streamlining of contractual arrangements, and would appreciate more information on the details of the envisaged contract and its financial implications. Regarding the conditions of service of United Nations staff, she looked forward to the outcome of the review of the International Civil Service Commission working group next spring. She saw merit in the approach of a framework of 2,500 career civilian positions in the United Nations peace operations, and looked forward to hearing further details on the process of recruitment and the cost implications. She said upcoming retirements among senior managers and directors presented an opportunity to realign the workforce with future needs, and she was open to discussion of a limited voluntary staff buyout. Finally, she called for greater transparency at all levels, in particular the need to hold managers more accountable, and agreed that constructive dialogue with staff on human resource issues was needed.
GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, supported the position of the Group of 77 and said that the Group had always supported initiatives aimed at improving the conditions of service for staff. It was equally clear that the current world situation and the complexity of the new mandates required skilled and responsible professionals to deliver effective and efficient service to match the expectations of Member States. The Group, therefore, considered the set of proposals regarding human resources to be at the core of the reforms to modernize and prepare the Organization for the challenges ahead. For that reason, the Group would dedicate special attention to the issue during informals.
Continuing, he said that there had been failures in the recruitment system –- designed many years ago. The Group was willing to engage in a responsible debate over which measures were needed to improve the present recruitment system, in order to guarantee that the Organization was provided with the best people and to respect the diversity and neutrality of its nature. He was also aware that the United Nations needed to have a mobility policy that worked and facilitated achievement of the ambitious goals set out in the mandates established by Member States. However, every mobility policy should rely on a set of clear and unambiguous principles, including its voluntary basis, non-discriminatory treatment, and sufficient means of compensation. The system should be agreed upon by all the interested parties and should fulfil its main purpose, which was to have skilled personnel who could be deployed to different operational environments and would feel comfortable and recognized in doing so.
He also noted the proposals regarding training and building managerial leadership, saying that the Group intended to work constructively to ensure enough opportunities for professional growth and betterment of perspectives for all ranks of staff. Well-planned and directed training was an integral part of career development and should be promoted at all levels. The Group would also devote attention to the proposals pertaining to the simplification of contractual arrangements and harmonization of the conditions of service. Those issues should be closely reviewed in the context of the ongoing studies that were being carried out by ICSC and should be analysed together. The Group would also be willing to analyse all the information to improve and update the current information technology system to match new emerging needs. The Group would attentively review the proposals on the buyout, bearing in mind the current system and the expected achievements from that measure. The ACABQ report raised significant questions and should be carefully taken into account.
YAWO ADOMAYAKPOR ( Togo) said that, since its establishment, the United Nations had seen positive and encouraging results in the various areas of its activities thanks to the skill of its staff. He said that, in an ever-changing world, the United Nations needed a highly qualified staff to fulfil its mission. He pointed to the proposed human resources reforms of the Secretary-General and was pleased that they would make it possible to promote a highly qualified international civil service that was outstanding in its performance and also subject to high levels of accountability.
He emphasized that the problem of human resources management must be tackled in a way that considered periodic renewal of the staff. An ageing staff would lead to high retirement in coming years, he said, and attention must be given to preservation of institutional memory, administrative know-how, and individual experience. Special attention must be given to the issue of staff ageing throughout the system, and the recruitment policy must take into account early separations and retirement, to avoid vacancies that adversely affected the Organization. Finally, he hoped that developing countries with qualified and able people could participate more in all levels of management.
TENS C. KAPOMA ( Zambia) associated himself with the position of the Group of 77 and welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposals on human resources management. Of specific importance was the introduction of a new human resources framework, which held managers and staff accountable to the principles of merit-based recruitment and career development, compliance with geographical distribution and gender balance mandates and ethical standards. He noted the progress made in continuously striving to improve the Organization’s human resources action plan system at departmental level. He welcomed the establishment of the action plan focal points in the departments, whose function was to monitor achievements in the implementation of human resource plans and goals.
He also recognized the efforts by the Management Performance Board in achieving the objectives of human resource action plans, as well as its performance in all aspects of authority delegated to it. In that connection, he expressed concern over the Board’s observation in paragraph 26 of document A/61/228 that, although certain departments had made progress, overall performance in attaining targets in the area of geographical distribution and gender balance continued to fall short of the targets. While some initiatives had been taken to improve efficiency in the worldwide selection of candidates, including the introduction of rosters and Galaxy e-staffing, he was concerned that the selection system was very complex and lacked transparency. It needed to be simplified and based on merit. Geographical consideration -- one of the fundamental principles of the Charter -- must continue to be maintained. The fast-track concept should also be used to fill the posts that became vacant as a result of attrition.
Programme managers must be held accountable for meeting geographical and gender targets, he continued. He welcomed the suggestion that heads of those departments that failed to meet geographical and gender targets must justify why they had selected an external candidate from an overrepresented Member State or a male candidate where there was an equally qualified female candidate, before the recommendation was approved. However, that in itself was an inadequate accountability measure and, therefore, there was a likelihood it would be abused. He urged the Management Performance Board to closely monitor the situation and address the departments that consistently failed to meet their geographical and gender targets. Further measures to improve the situation needed to be explored.
On career support and staff development, he expressed concern that there was a 70 per cent gap between Secretariat-wide training needs assessments and actual available resources. Training needs only amounted to 1 per cent of staff costs, which was far below the average of at least 4 per cent in best practice organizations. That gap needed to be closed. Clearly, there was a case for increasing the allocation of funds for staff training and development. Zambia also supported the Secretary-General’s proposals to develop gender mainstreaming programmes for leaders at middle-management levels and to promote gender sensitivity, diversity awareness and cross-cultural sensitivity among the General Service staff. Since there had been cases of sexual harassment and discrimination, he also welcomed training programmes to address those issues.
Turning to contractual arrangements for peacekeeping staff, he said that long-term contracts had merit, as peacekeeping missions were now of a much longer duration. However, his delegation would seek additional information in that regard and looked forward to receiving the report of the ICSC in the near future. Should there be developments as far as longer-term contracts were concerned, personnel from developing and least developed countries should not be excluded from seeking such contracts, as well as having equal opportunity for career development in peacekeeping. The unfair conditions currently prevailing for married staff in non-family stations also remained an area of concern. He looked forward to receiving the recommendations of the working group on the harmonization of benefits for field staff at non-family duty stations in March next year.
SULTAN ALSOBIE ( Kuwait) stressed the importance of human resources reform for the progress of the Organization and associated himself with the position of the Group of 77 and China. The staff represented a vital pillar of the United Nations and, for that reason, the human resources reform was a basic and important part of the development of the Organization. Supporting the reform measures over the past eight years, he agreed with the Secretary-General’s reports before the Committee. He also paid tribute to the efforts of staff all over the world, particularly in high-risk areas.
Continuing, he stressed that the reform was a process, and not an event. It should take into account the need to ensure equitable geographic representation and achieve gender balance targets. Unrepresented and underrepresented countries should be given an opportunity to participate in the work of the Organization. He hoped that the reform would allow different peoples of the world to participate in the Organization, which was considered a symbol of freedom and fairness around the world. In particular, high-level posts should not be monopolized by some countries to the exclusion of others.
U KYI THEIN ( Myanmar) took note of existing achievements in the implementation of the human resources management reform programme, and commended the Secretary-General’s vision for creation of an independent international civil service. He quoted the Secretary-General’s vision that the Secretariat in the future would be known “for its high standards of ethics, fairness, transparency, accountability, and its culture of continuous learning, high performance, managerial excellence and respect for diversity”. He fully agreed with the need for the United Nations to further reform its human resources management framework to meet the challenges of the future.
MARK WALLACE ( United States) said that the Secretary-General’s presentation underscored the irrefutable link between effective human resources management and the important work of the Organization. Through his tenure, the Secretary-General had continuously pressed for human resource management reform and, in his report, he sought to implement the reforms called for in the World Summit Outcome document, agreed to by the Heads of State, by laying out a human resource management framework for an integrated, field-orientated organization capable of fulfilling current and future mandates. If the United Nations was to be a truly effective world body, it was imperative that its human resource systems be modernized, streamlined and equipped with the necessary resources.
The Secretary-General’s proposals were ones that could be expected from any large, well-managed global enterprise, he continued. He looked forward to working with other Member States on the proposals, giving careful consideration to the report and recommendations of ACABQ. He took note of the Advisory Committee’s concerns regarding the financial and administrative implications of the proposal on mobility; the recommendation that the Secretary-General provide a more complete analysis of the impact of his recommendations on contractual arrangements; and the recommendation that delegations wait for the ICSC’s recommendations regarding harmonization of the conditions of service. He was confident that Member States shared the Secretary-General’s vision of one global Secretariat with competitive conditions of service, and looked forward to working to achieve real human resources reform of the Secretariat in the most cost-effective manner.
IMTIAZ HUSSEIN (Pakistan) said that the United Nations human resources machinery suffered from fundamental weaknesses and deficiencies, including a flawed recruitment system that lacked transparency and failed to address the Organization’s needs; inadequate strategic human resources management planning; perpetual underrepresentation of developing countries and lack of career advancement opportunities for staff from developing countries; lack of incentives for mobility across duty stations; absence of a well-defined accountability framework and mechanisms; absence of a well-defined internal justice system; and inadequate information and communication technology support to the human resources management system.
He recommended a strong role for the Performance Management Board for the accountability of programme managers in areas of delegated authority, with specific reference to equitable geographical representation. He said that undermining merit had harmed the Organization, and supported the use of the pre-screened roster of candidates from unrepresented and underrepresented countries, and continuation of the existing eligibility criteria for recruitment and selection including relevant qualification experience, skills, and gender and geographic benchmarks. He warned that the Secretary-General’s proposal on reducing the advertising time from 60 to 30 days was likely to have a negative impact on the prospects of candidates from developing countries. He said that, with proper terms of reference, a dedicated unit within the Secretariat to facilitate field missions’ recruitment of staff could improve geographic representation and monitoring of progress on human resources action plans.
He said that voluntary staff mobility helped meet emerging needs and priorities, and warned that mandatory mobility could entail unforeseen administrative and management implications. He sought application of mobility across all categories of staff without discrimination, and not as a coercive measure. He called for a cost-benefit analysis of staff-training approaches, as well as career-path development. Developing countries, especially Islamic countries, were underrepresented at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels, as were women, and that problem had increased over the last year. He said parity at senior management levels should be an immediate goal. He noted that equitable geographic representation was a Charter obligation. He sought a quarterly report on progress in achieving targets, especially in sensitive areas such as human rights, political affairs, peacekeeping and conference management.
If 2,500 career civilian peacekeeping positions were to be created, he said that a significant share of this group’s composition should logically belong to troop-contributing countries, which held vast pools of experienced professionals. He supported voluntary staff buyout proposals, and said any that were mandatory and compulsory were expensive and contrary to applicable rules. He was concerned with continuous utilization of retired and present staff as consultants and individual contractors, and sought OIOS monitoring of the hiring of those staff. He said that harmonization of contracts involved large financial resources and impacted on the composition of the Secretariat, and added the proposals should be considered along with the ICSC working group’s report on the issue. Finally, he called for a clear framework and mechanism of accountability on human resources management policies, especially at senior management levels. The absence of a sound internal justice system made the situation for staff in general even more precarious.
OSAMA MAHJOUB HASSAN ( Sudan) associated himself with the position of the Group of 77 and said that the human resources reform must be implemented in cooperation with all the parties concerned. The reform had to include many interlinked elements, as human resources were the very basis of the Organization. It was impossible to consider reforming the United Nations without considering the full potential of its personnel. There had to be full satisfaction for all staff and good contractual arrangements for all personnel.
The lack of equitable geographical representation was a concern for developing countries, which had highly qualified candidates, he continued. According to the documents before the Committee, only a small percentage of bodies in the Organization had reached a satisfactory representation by developing countries. The selection and recruitment system must be improved for the development and inclusion of all the competencies required. However, those competencies must also come with equity to ensure participation by developing countries. He appreciated the efforts made by the Secretary-General in response to General Assembly resolutions that had requested him to continue pursuing the widest possible representation of all countries at the highest levels of administration. He hoped the measures proposed would reduce the number of under- and unrepresented States.
The lack of equitable representation was also reflected in the lack of gender parity, particularly as far as representation of women from developing countries was concerned, he added. Many resolutions had called on the Secretary-General to increase women’s participation, particularly at the highest levels. However, gender parity had not been achieved.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Observer of the Holy See, expressed appreciation for the ongoing overall Secretariat and management reform, aimed at instilling and practicing a culture of ethics, transparency and accountability in the United Nations system. Indeed, the duty of United Nations staff to observe the highest standards of integrity was of the utmost importance. The United Nations was neither a grouping of States, nor a collection of institutions. Rather, it was truly “a family of nations”. Member States looked to the United Nations with trust and respect, as well as high hopes and expectations. Thus, whenever its integrity was sullied and credibility damaged by cases of corruption, partiality and dishonest conduct, all the members felt the pain and a sense of disappointment.
His delegation was, thus, very pleased that the Assembly had decided to create an independent Ethics Office tasked with maintaining the high standards of conduct of United Nations staff, giving them information on ethics issues and helping them develop a greater moral sensibility. The data presented in the report on the activities of the Ethics Office permitted him to look forward with optimism to a comprehensive review of the Ethics Office that the Secretary-General would present at the sixty-second session of the Assembly.
Now he wanted to offer words of encouragement to all United Nations staff members in their pursuit of the highest standards of conduct. Unity, peace and solidarity among States, the progress of humankind and the possibility for all men and women to live in dignity and happiness also depended on the quality of the work of the staff, which was none other than the implementation of the ideals and objectives of the United Nations itself. He wished the Ethics Office every success in achieving its objectives and satisfaction in the performance of its noble mission. “Its success will be our success. Its failure will be our shame,” he said.
PABLO BERTI OLIVA (Cuba) took note of the dilemma within the administration on two reports being submitted, but noted that the Committee had heard the view of one of the parties this morning, and sought to know if on Wednesday there would be an opportunity to hear a statement from the other party that had prepared the second report. He said he had not objected earlier, as he had thought it would be resolved, but, at this point, the Committee had only heard one of the parties.
The Chairman said that the Bureau would meet tomorrow to discuss the question, and hopefully resolve the issue on Wednesday.
ISSA KONFOUROU ( Mali) was convinced that high quality of staff was needed to accomplish the work of the Organization. He sought elimination of duplication of guidelines and procedures. He said that reform in human resources management could be furthered, and he hoped the United Nations could continue to improve itself, especially to promote diversity. He hoped that appropriate measures could be taken to achieve such aims, since equitable geographic distribution, especially at higher posts, was not yet a reality. That problem needed to be remedied to preserve the multinational character of the Organization. The electronic Galaxy system had helped candidates launch their careers, but it was complex and too slow, and the Organization needed a programme that was more transparent and simple.
Adoption of Burundi Draft
The Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division, CATHERINE POLLARD, informed the Committee that, based on the projected expenditures for the United Nations Office in Burundi (UNOB), the Assembly might wish to appropriate an amount of $128.54 million gross, representing a decrease of some $16 million, compared with the proposed budget as set out in the Secretary-General’s report on the matter.
The Committee then approved, without a vote, a draft resolution (document A/C.5/61/L.5), by the terms of which the Assembly would appropriate some $128.54 million for the maintenance and liquidation of UNOB from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007, inclusive of an amount of $78.96 million previously authorized by the Assembly for the period from 1 July to 31 October 2006.
Also by the text, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to encourage strong coordination between ONUB and the planned follow-up mission, to ensure a smooth transition and to reduce potential duplication of activities among members of the United Nations country team. The Secretary-General would also be requested to ensure that the lessons learned from other missions be applied during ONUB’s drawdown, liquidation and transition to the planned follow-on mission.
Speaking in explanation of position, NONYE UDO ( Nigeria), on behalf of the African Group, reiterated the Group’s appreciation to the men and women of the UNOB, whose presence had paved the way to the progress now witnessed. The fact that the Committee could be discussing the drawdown of operations and the transition from a peacekeeping operation to an integrated special political mission in early 2007 was due to their tireless effort. The Group, therefore, attached great importance to the budget of ONUB that had just been adopted and wished to reiterate that the cardinal principle that should continue to guide the treatment of missions’ budgets was that each one was unique and its mandate was equally unique, just as the milieu in which it operated. Their budgets should, therefore, be a reflection of their special characteristics.
Similarly, she could not overstate the fact that adequate time should be allowed for the reflection of the Assembly’s decisions on missions’ budgets and their implementation, she said. Three months could not be considered an adequate time frame. She regretted the difficulties the Committee had faced during the consideration of the ONUB budget, because of such assumptions. She hoped that they would be avoided in the future. Finally, the African Group wanted to underscore the importance of drawdowns being gradual. Adequate care should be taken to safeguard the gains made. In that regard, she reiterated the Group’s earlier call that best practices drawn from the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and other successful drawdowns were relevant. She looked forward to receiving more detailed information on activities undertaken by the mission in the context of its subsequent performance reports.
KAREN LOCK ( South Africa) attached great importance to ONUB and said it was crucial for the General Assembly to complete the mandate of the mission. The draft resolution provided adequate staffing and resources to the drawing down of the Operation and the transition of the peacekeeping mission to a special political mission, as well as the subsequent liquidation phase.
However, she was concerned with the approach followed by ACABQ in promoting a prorated reduction of $25 million based on budget performance data for 2005-2006. It had become clear during informal consultations that the proposed reduction had serious consequences for the scheduled drawdown of troops, she said, and would affect the ability of ONUB to successfully implement its mandate. She agreed that the latest performance data needed to go to ACABQ, but she believed that the information should not be used to propose prorated reductions that led to unanticipated consequences for the operation of any peacekeeping mission. Budgets should be as accurate as possible, but everyone must bear in mind that the unpredictable, fluid nature of peacekeeping missions resulted in unexpected variations. The performance data was still preliminary, and the final information would only come in May 2007. At that time, the Fifth Committee would be able to ascertain the final expenditure for 2005-2006, and the reasons for variances between the budget and expenditures.
She noted that the Assembly had not endorsed the basis for the reduction, and trusted that the Committee would not be placed in a similar position in the future. It was important that ACABQ get the most up-to-date information, but it must ensure that proposed reductions were explained clearly, and that Member States did not undermine peacekeeping operations. Each operation was unique and took place in a different environment; that should be in ACABQ’s consideration of requirements.
* *** *For information media • not an official record