|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-third General Assembly
33rd Meeting (AM)
BUDGET COMMITTEE TAKES UP PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO STAFF REGULATIONS REQUIRED
TO IMPLEMENT NEW SYSTEMS FOR STREAMLINED CONTRACTS, INTERNAL JUSTICE
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today took up a set of proposed amendments to the United Nations Staff Regulations that are required for implementation of a streamlined contractual framework stipulated by two resolutions on human resources management reform and the administration of justice that the General Assembly passed on the last day of the main part of its sixty-third substantive session in December 2008.
The streamlined system of staff contracts mandated by the General Assembly’s 13-part resolution on human resources management (63/250) would replace the current regime with contractual arrangements consisting of temporary, fixed-term and continuing appointments under a single set of Staff Rules. The central mechanisms of the new internal justice system, established by the six-part resolution 63/253, are the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and the United Nations Appeals Tribunal.
Following review of the amendments and a decision by the General Assembly, the Secretary-General will prepare and provisionally promulgate a new set of Staff Rules effective 1 July 2009. He will present the full text to the Assembly for its consideration during the main part of its next session.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the amendments to Staff Regulations, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources stressed that, while the Assembly would decide the specific criteria and eligibility requirements for continuing appointments during its sixty-fourth session this fall, it was critical that the current proposed amendments be approved during the sixty-third resumed session in order to ensure that the new regime for temporary and fixed-term contracts was in place on 1 July 2009.
“Any delay would result de facto in postponing the implementation of the new contractual framework,” she said.
During the morning meeting, members of the Fifth Committee, which will approve the proposed amendments either in whole or in part before forwarding them to the General Assembly, largely applauded the steps made towards human resource management reform.
The United States representative said the streamlining of contracts aimed to simplify what had been an overly complex array of hiring mechanisms and provided clear distinctions between contract types based on the nature of the appointments. While it was a desirable goal for the proposed amendments to address other issues, such as accountability and performance appraisal, implementing the new system of contracts by 1 July 2009 should be the highest priority during the Committee’s deliberations.
But, echoing observations outlined in a report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the Secretary-General’s proposed amendments, several delegations suggested that more information on the rationale behind particular amendments was needed.
The Sudan’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Secretary-General’s report lacked a detailed introduction to the context of the proposed amendments and their drafting and approval process; the legislative basis for existing wording; and the justification for the proposed changes.
Speaking on behalf of the African Group, Namibia’s delegate requested more information on the review of the proposals conducted by the Office of Legal Affairs. She also asked for more details on the involvement of staff representatives during the Secretariat’s consultative process.
While encouraging other members of the Committee not to reopen the lengthy negotiations on the contractual regime nor to prejudge the outcome of the discussions to be held at the sixty-fourth session regarding continuing appointments, Japan’s delegate, nevertheless, said it was unclear how staff currently holding permanent contracts would be regulated under the revised regulations. Permanent appointments had been preserved in the earlier proposals of the Secretary-General and he would like to know why those proposals had now been changed. He also asked how the new criteria on staff selection would be set and how the recruitment process -- including the compendium of vacancies, the role of the central review bodies and the placement authority -- would be regulated.
A number of countries expressed particular concern about the impact on current staff members who were eligible for conversion to continuing contracts, but whose existing contracts would expire during the five-month gap between 1 July 2009, when the streamlined contract system took effect, and 1 January 2010, when the Secretary-General would be allowed to make offers for continuing contracts.
The representative of the Russian Federation suggested that it was unwise for the Organization to shift to quasi-permanent appointments, through continuing appointments, which essentially eroded fixed-term contracts. The General Assembly should carefully consider the shift, which should be in line with effective staff management principles and should also take into account the changing needs of the United Nations.
Responding to several of these concerns, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources said that those who currently held permanent appointments would continue to retain them for their entire period of service. Individuals who qualified for permanent posts before 30 June but were still on probation would be given permanent appointments, even if their probation were to end after 1 July. Those who qualified for fixed-term appointments after 1 July would receive 2-year fixed appointments.
On mobility and performance management, she said “many layers” of the United Nations “policy framework” had laid out various expectations of performance that were not necessarily reflected in the Staff Regulations. Details on performance management and mobility requirements had been laid out in administrative issuances, which would guide managers and staff. Until the Assembly decided on eligibility criteria and modalities, the Secretariat would not be in a position to implement reforms relating to continuing appointments.
Also speaking were representatives of Czech Republic (on behalf of the European Union) and New Zealand (on behalf of Canada and Australia).
The Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions introduced that body’s report.
The Fifth Committee will meet again at a time to be announced.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to discuss human resources management, and had before it the Secretary-General’s report on amendments to the Staff Regulations (document A/63/694) and a related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (document A/63/754).
The Secretary-General’s report contains all of the proposed amendments to the current Staff Regulations and explanations on why they were proposed. Among those amendments are those required to implement new contractual arrangements for temporary, fixed-term and continuing appointments, which would come into force on 1 July, which the report refers to as “a streamlined system of contracts”. Other amendments reflect a variety of changes mandated by the Assembly ranging from a revised eligibility period for education grants for dependent children, to the introduction of paternity leave at the United Nations Secretariat, among others. Some amendments were proposed to reflect updates in terminology, such as using the term “human resources” in place of “personnel”, or “24 months” instead of “two years”.
ACABQ, in its report of the same name, suggests that the Secretary-General’s report should have provided a more detailed commentary on the amendments, including, where appropriate, the legislative basis for the existing wording and/or justification for the proposed changes. Also, since staff representatives had been consulted on the proposed amendments, the Secretary-General should have included an account of that consultative process and its outcome.
The report addresses specific issues of concern to ACABQ, including that some issues mentioned in the General Assembly resolution on “human resources management” (resolution 63/250) were not reflected in the proposed amendments. These include items relating to accountability and the performance appraisal system, for example. ACABQ requests that clarifications be made on other instruments that will be used to address those issues, which should then be provided to the Assembly when it considers the proposed amendments to the Staff Regulations.
With regard to one particular regulation -- by which the Secretary-General would “limit the eligibility…for vacant posts to internal candidates” -- ACABQ suggests that the Assembly give further consideration to the impact of that regulation on the influx of new talent to the Organization, and on efforts to rejuvenate the Secretariat and the number of posts currently subject to the system of desirable geographic ranges.
Regarding the new contractual regime -- which ACABQ notes will result in the discontinuation of the award of permanent, probationary and indefinite appointments to new staff members who join the Organization on or after 1 July 2009 -- ACABQ says it understands that the Secretary-General would include in the Staff Rules a new chapter XIII, entitled “Transitional measures”, to address issues relating to staff holding permanent, probationary and indefinite appointments. The Secretary-General also intended to issue internal bulletins designed to facilitate staff understanding on those measures.
ACABQ adds the transitional arrangements should clarify how the new contractual regime will apply to successful candidates from national competitive recruitment examinations and staff from language services. According to current practice, those individuals are awarded permanent contracts upon successful completion of a two-year probationary period.
ACABQ also recalls a request to the Secretary-General by the General Assembly not to appoint any staff to continuing contracts before 1 January 2010, pending consideration of additional information concerning the implementation of those contracts. ACABQ said it requested, but did not receive, information on the arrangements to be made for current staff members who, once the streamlined system of contracts enters into force on 1 July 2009, are found to meet the requirements for conversion to continuing appointments, but whose existing contracts expire before 1 January 2010. That information should be provided to the Assembly for its consideration of the proposed amendments to the Staff Regulations.
In a section of the Staff Regulations touching on termination of appointments, ACABQ notes the use of the phrase “in the interest of the good administration of the Organization”. ACABQ recalls that the Assembly had provided clarification as to its understanding of the phrase, deciding that it was to be interpreted principally as “a change or termination of a mandate”. In ACABQ’s view, the Assembly’s understanding of that matter should be reflected in the Staff Regulations.
ACABQ adds that, under the current Staff Regulations, termination is permitted only if the action is not contested by the staff member concerned. If the proposed amendments to the Staff Regulations are adopted, terminations of staff members could occur without the staff member’s consent. This represents a change to the current Staff Regulations. Clarification of the basis for this proposed change should be provided to the Assembly for its consideration of the proposed amendments to the Staff Regulations.
ACABQ reminds Member States that the Assembly must decide whether amendments to the Staff Regulations proposed by the Secretary-General accurately reflect the provisions of resolution 63/250 and other relevant resolutions.
Introduction of Reports
CATHERINE POLLARD, Assistant-Secretary-General for Human Resources, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on amendments to the Staff Regulations (document A/63/694), stressing that the review focused on amendments that were required to implement the new contractual framework on 1 July. The report benefited from the review and legal advice of the Office of Legal Affairs, and from consultations with funds and programmes, and Staff Union representatives.
She explained that Annex I contained parts of the Staff Regulations that required modification, where the first column showed proposed deletions to the text, the second column showed proposed new text and the third column contained the rationale behind the proposed change. Annex II contained the full text of the amended Staff Regulations.
She offered clarifications on several specific points. First, she said that amendments to Regulation 4.4 [by which the Secretary-General might limit eligibility to apply for vacant posts] did not change that rule’s “purpose and content”. It only removed the reference to Staff Rules for the 100 series, which were due to be discontinued as of 1 July. The amendment did not preclude Member States from later reviewing its content.
Next, she stressed that the change to Staff Regulation 4.5 [which refers to temporary appointments and the fact that they did not carry any expectancy of renewal], was undertaken to address paragraph 21, section II of resolution 63/250, and that a similar provision was also included for temporary appointments.
On Staff Regulation 9.3 [on termination], she said the introduction of additional termination grounds for staff holding continuing appointments -- in the interest of the good administration of the Organization without the consent of the staff member concerned -- had been introduced as per the Secretary-General’s proposal for continuing appointments, contained in reports A/63/298, A/62/274, A/61/857 and A/59/263/Add.1. That issue had been discussed at length over a series of years. She noted that the Assembly had decided that the Secretary-General’s proposal should be “interpreted principally as a change or termination of a mandate”, and said that that interpretation would be reflected in administrative documents. However, the conditions under which “continuing appointments” might be implemented would be subject to the Assembly’s further consideration of that issue at its upcoming sixty-fourth session.
She said Staff Regulation 11.1 [relating to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal] would be amended to reflect language in the Statue of the Dispute Tribunal as approved in resolution 62/253 on administrative justice.
She added that acquired rights of staff members holding probationary, permanent and indefinite appointments as at 30 June 2009 would be covered by Staff Regulation 12.1, which states that “the present Regulations may be supplemented or amended by the General Assembly, without prejudice to the acquired rights of staff members”.
She said the Secretary-General would not grant any staff a “continuing appointment” until the Assembly approved the implementation of continuing appointments, in line with resolution 63/250. Accordingly, from 1 July 2009 onward, staff members whose fixed-term appointments had expired could be issued a new fixed-term appointment under the new Staff Rules. The Secretary-General would present additional information concerning the implementation of continuing contracts to the Assembly at its next session. After the Assembly approved the implementation of those appointments, those staff members could be considered for conversion to a continuing appointment if they were deemed eligible. In the meantime, candidates from national competitive recruitment examinations and staff from language services recruited from 1 July 2009 onward would continue to be granted a two–year fixed-term appointment; that is, they would continue to be granted open-ended appointments according to the current practice.
Should the Assembly approve the amended Staff Regulations at its current resumed session, she said the Secretary-General would undertake to prepare and complete the new Staff Rules to implement the new contractual arrangements. The new Staff Rules would be promulgated provisionally on 1 July 2009, until the full text had been submitted to the Assembly for review and approval. At that time, the Assembly should take note of the provisional Staff Rules or direct the Secretary-General to withdraw or modify them as needed. Taking into account any modifications/deletions that might be directed by the Assembly, the provisional rules would enter into full force on 1 January 2010.
She said the Secretary-General would present additional information concerning the implementation of continuing contracts with a view to implementing the system by 1 January 2010. It was, therefore, hoped that the Assembly would decide on the implementation of continuing appointments at its sixty-fourth session. It was critical that the Assembly approve the amendments at its sixty-third resumed session in order for implementation to take place on 1 July 2009.
“Any delay would result de facto in postponing the implementation of the new contractual framework,” she said.
SUSAN McLURG, Chairman of ACABQ, introduced the Advisory Committee’s related report. In doing so, she outlined its contents and concluded by saying that ACABQ believed the Assembly to be best equipped to determine whether the amendments to the Staff Regulations accurately reflected the provisions of General Assembly resolution 63/250 and other relevant resolutions.
MOHAMED YOUSIF IBRAHIM ABDELMANNAN (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, reiterated the Group’s support for the Secretary-General’s efforts to continue the transformation of human resources management. The efficient and effective delivery of United Nations mandates hinged on the quality of its staff and the availability of resources, and ensuring the well-being of all international civil servants was of utmost importance. To this end, the General Assembly’s adoption of resolutions 63/250 on human resources management and 63/253 on the administration of justice formed one of the most important achievements in the building block approach to human resources management reforms. A discussion of the impacts of those reforms on the various categories of staff and the staff management process was now required, so their objectives and expected achievements could be explained.
The Secretary-General’s report, however, lacked information on many issues, as the Advisory Committee’s report outlined, he said. Among the missing information was a detailed introduction to the context of the proposed amendments and their drafting and approval process; the legislative basis for existing wording; and the justification for the proposed changes. Temporary appointments were understandably limited in duration and resolution 63/250 also indicated that those holding fixed-term appointments should not have any expectations that their contracts would be renewed or converted. But, it was important that regulations reflected the fact that nothing prevented the holders of those two types of contracts from applying for other jobs within the United Nations and no limitations would apply to the number of future appointments.
He said the Group was also confident that the new Staff Rules, which were anticipated in the reports of the Secretary-General and the Advisory Committee and would be presented to Member States during the main part of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly, would include the Assembly’s previous decisions regarding measures to improve the imbalance in the geographical distribution of Secretariat personnel, particularly in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Group concurred with the Advisory Committee’s recommendation that the new Regulation 9.3 should fully reflect the Assembly’s interpretation of the term “in the good administration” as contained in paragraph 22, of section II of resolution 63/250. This was a key point in the Staff Regulations and in the work of the new system of the administration of justice.
He went on to say that the concept of staff mobility was a useful tool that could be employed to further meet the Organization’s diverse and competing demands. While it was advisable for mobility to remain voluntary, its application should be accompanied by a variety of incentives, such as remuneration, opportunities for promotion and payment of hardship allowance. Further clarity was needed on the impact of the new arrangements resulting from resolution 63/250 on staff mobility. Further, the Group would like to initiate a discussion during informal consultations on criteria and parameters governing the selection process for posts at the D-2 level, where the vacancy rate was persistently high, despite the high managerial responsibilities entailed in positions at that level. A proper framework for consultations with staff representatives on all human resources reform was imperative. The perception of mistrust between management and staff was regrettable and harmful to the United Nations image, and every effort should be made to improve staff management relations.
IVANA KRAHULCOVA (Czech Republic), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that, after years of lengthy negotiation, resolution 63/250 had been adopted in December 2008, thereby approving crucial reforms in the human resources management of the United Nations. The General Assembly had approved new contractual arrangements under one set of Staff Rules, as well as resolution 63/253 that implemented a completely new internal system for the administration of justice within the Organization. Following the Secretary-General’s report on proposed amendments to the Staff Regulations to streamline the system of contracts, the European Union looked forward to discussing the technical changes by the agreed upon deadline of 1 July 2009 for the implementation of the new system of contractual arrangements for temporary and fixed-term contracts. It also looked forward to a more detailed discussion on continuing contracts in the fall.
EVANGELINE HELU (Namibia), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating the Group with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the adoption of resolution 63/250 had created an opportunity for significant review of the Staff Regulations. Yet, the Group was concerned with the Advisory Committee’s observation that the Secretary-General should have provided more detailed commentary on the proposed amendments, including their legislative basis and implications. While the Group noted that the proposed amendments had been subjected to a legal review conducted by the Office of Legal Affairs, and that all stakeholders were duly consulted at all levels, it was concerned that the Secretary-General had not included an account of that consultative process. More information on the involvement of staff representatives in that process was needed. Further information was also needed on the reasons why the issues of accountability and the Performance Appraisal System had not been reflected in the proposed amendments to the Staff Regulations.
The Group would also seek specific information on the Secretary-General’s decision to include a new Chapter XIII, entitled “Transitional measures”, in the Staff Regulations relating to those staff holding permanent, probationary and indefinite appointments, she said. It also requested more information on the arrangements for current staff members who, once the streamlined system of contracts entered into force on 1 July 2009, would meet the requirements for conversion to continuing appointments, particularly those whose existing contracts expired before 1 January 2010. On staff/management relations, she invited the Secretariat and the staff to refer to section I, paragraphs 1 to 5 of resolution 63/250 and consider how any kind of misunderstanding on human resources reform could be resolved. She requested the opinion of the Office of Legal Affairs on the points raised by the United Nations Staff Union in their letter to the President of the General Assembly on 26 January 2009. The International Civil Service Commission could also provide relevant information on the impact on United Nations staff of resolutions 63/250 and 63/253.
PHILLIP TAULA ( New Zealand), speaking also on behalf of Australia and Canada, thanked partners in the Committee for their constructive and practical approach on such a complex issue. He believed the work before them was relatively straight-forward -– to ensure that the proposed technical amendments to the Staff Regulations were consistent with the intent of resolution 63/250. That work should enable the Secretariat to continue its preparations for implementing the new contractual regime by 1 July.
He pointed out one outstanding matter, which related to the modalities for implementing “continuing” contracts. As decided by the Fifth Committee, that issue had been set aside until later in the year. He looked forward to resolving that issue in the fall.
He highlighted the importance of meaningful and constructive dialogue between staff and management. Outreach and communication was particularly important to ensure that all staff fully understood the implications of the changes taking place. There was scope for the Secretariat to do more to address misunderstandings about the reforms. He would encourage the Office of Human Resources Management, the Department of Field Support and other relevant parts of the Organization to monitor the implementation of the reforms, so as to identify and address any unexpected consequences early on.
MICHAEL SCANLON ( United States) applauded the approval during the fall session by the General Assembly of meaningful reform for human resources management in resolution 63/250, which addressed many of the issues raised in the Secretary-General reports on such management. The streamlining of contracts aimed to simplify what had been an overly complex array of hiring mechanisms and provided clear distinctions between the types of contracts based on the nature of the appointments. Indeed, conditions of service went hand-in-hand with the streamlining of contracts. The Fifth Committee now had to consider the proposed amendments to the Staff Regulations, as necessitated by its action on contractual arrangements and conditions of service. The proposed amendments listed in the Secretary-General’s report would affect many of the Organization’s staff, particularly those at field duty stations.
Noting the concerns expressed in ACABQ’s report on the amount of detail provided by the Secretary-General on the context of the proposed amendments, the drafting and approval process, transitional measures, and the explanations and commentary that accompanied the proposed amendments, he said the Fifth Committee’s current deliberations should help determine what further information was needed. While it was a desirable goal for the amendments to address other issues, such as accountability and performance appraisal, implementing the new system of contracts and conditions by 1 July 2009 should be the highest priority. Clearly, some revisions to the proposed new Staff Regulations were needed, and the United States would work with other Member States to ensure that the new regulations could go into effect as scheduled.
He also noted that the draft regulations included language on the issuance of continuing appointments. Recalling that section II, paragraphs 3 and 4 of resolution 63/250 stated that criteria and regulations concerning continuing contracts should be taken up during the forthcoming fall session, he emphasized that the Secretary-General should not appoint any staff to continuing contracts before 1 January 2010. The United States also trusted that the Secretary-General would not grant permanent appointments to any current staff who did not have such an appointment or to any newly engaged staff pending implementation of the new system and taking into account the resolution’s treatment of candidates from the national competitive recruitment examination and from language services. It also trusted that the Secretary-General was implementing the resolution’s provisions dealing with temporary appointments, particularly paragraph 8 regarding the allowances and benefits those staff could receive, and paragraph 14 on the practice of assigning staff from Headquarters to missions on travel status for a period of more than three months.
YASUO KISHIMOTO ( Japan) remarked that the United Nations had come to the stage where it must implement the new contractual arrangements, as outlined in resolution 63/250. It was not appropriate to reopen the lengthy negotiations on that matter. He encouraged other members of the Committee not to prejudge the outcome of the discussions to be held at the sixty-fourth session regarding continuing appointments, and noted that they would be conducted on the basis of the comprehensive report of the Secretary-General, to be submitted at that session.
He then took up the subject of continuing contracts, recalling that the Assembly had requested the Secretary-General not to appoint any staff to continuing contracts before that matter was considered at the sixty-fourth session. The Assembly had requested the Secretary-General to submit concrete proposals on matters concerning continuing contracts, including “rigorous and transparent procedures” and the “role of performance appraisals”, and “financial and management implications”. Thus, amendments to the Staff Regulations in the first resumed part of the sixty-third session should not cover continuing appointments. The proposed article on Regulation 4.5(d) relating to continuing appointments should be established based on the result of the discussion on the criteria for continuing appointments at the main part of the sixty-fourth session.
He noted that it was not clear how staff currently holding permanent contracts would be regulated under the revised regulations. Permanent appointments had been preserved in the earlier proposals of the Secretary-General. He would like to know why those proposals had now been changed.
He also noted that resolution 63/250 requested that successful candidates from national competitive recruitment examinations and staff from language services would continue to be granted open-ended appointments, as was the current practice. While continuing appointments were not implemented, it was logical that, for those staff members, permanent contracts must be retained beyond 1 July. Thus, the current Regulation 4.5 (b) should continue to apply only for that purpose.
Finally, he stressed that the restructuring of the staff selection system (ST/AI/2006/3) should be the most effective way of ensuring transparent, objective and geographically balanced recruitment. Any revisions must comply fully with relevant resolutions. He noted that the current Regulation 4.4 stipulated that “the Secretary-General may limit eligibility to apply for vacant posts to be filled by members appointed for one year or longer, under the 100 series of the Staff Rules, to internal candidates, as defined by the Secretary-General”. Japan was interested to know how the new criteria on staff selection would be set and how the recruitment process -- including the compendium of vacancies, the role of the central review bodies and the placement authority -- would be regulated. The Secretariat must retain ways to ensure geographical balance for posts subject to geographical distribution.
DMITRY CHUMAKOV ( Russian Federation) said that his delegation attached the utmost importance to human resources management in the United Nations and to pursuing a flexible staff policy that ensured the best possible return on the staff. It had considered, and would continue to consider, the Secretary-General’s report on amendments to Staff Regulations, particularly on proposals regarding the effective and efficient functioning of the United Nations, as well as the means of ensuring such functioning within the Organization’s financial constraints.
But, the Russian Federation felt it was unwise for the Organization to shift to quasi-permanent appointments, through continuing appointments, which essentially eroded fixed-term contracts. Further, there should be no expectations of staff as to an automatic transition to permanent contracts. The General Assembly should carefully consider the shift, which should be in line with effective staff management principles and should also take into account the changing needs of the United Nations.
In light of the fact that new parameters for the Organization’s internal justice were being developed, he said it might be possible to forgo putting any additional and excessively protective conditions for staff into the Staff Rules. Measurement indicators to motivate staff to take personal responsibility and to engage in their professional development were also needed. His delegation was ready to discuss in detail the proposals as presented in the Fifth Committee’s informal consultations.
Ms. POLLARD responded to some of the questions raised, saying that she would continue to provide answers to other questions at informals.
First, she addressed the role of the staff in the consultative process. She reported that the Office of Human Resources Management had been diligent in reaching out to staff bodies, so as to receive their views and feedback, including from staff unions at duty stations away from Headquarters, those in the field and those from the funds and programmes. The Office had tried to accommodate all their views, except those that would have gone against the provisions of resolution 63/250. Although the Office had worked under a time constraint and in a “compressed period”, it did not sacrifice time allotted for discussions with United Nations staff.
She said staff representatives had a critical role to play in providing information to be fed into a comprehensive proposal on continuing appointments. Such information would be presented to the Assembly through ACABQ for consideration in the fall.
She said the drafting process had been inclusive and involved the Office of Legal Affairs, which had played a “full role” in developing the amendments. The Office of Human Resources had relied on the Legal Affairs Office on a number of occasions to ensure that the final product met all legal requirements.
She assured the Committee the language on temporary and fixed-term appointments regarding the expectation of renewal would make clear that staff holding such appointments had the ability to compete with any other candidate for a position in the Secretariat, and that that ability to do so would not be limited in any way, although they would be competing as external candidates. No changes to the Staff Rules would affect the implementation of that mandate on equitable geographical distribution.
Turning to mobility and performance management, she said “many layers” of the United Nations “policy framework” had laid out various expectations of performance that were not necessarily reflected in the Staff Regulations. Details on performance management and mobility requirements had been laid out in administrative issuances, which would guide managers and staff. Those circulars were developed through full consultation with staff representatives.
She conceded that there was always room for improvement, in terms of outreach with staff. At the moment, the Human Resources Office was reaching out as much as it could, through Town Hall meetings, at times held with distant offices and field stations via video-link, and by sharing information through iSeek. Also, the Office had a “Mailbox” where staff could send questions, which were being provided with comprehensive answers. She noted that the Office was receiving fewer questions, which seemed to indicate that previous questions were being answered to the staff’s satisfaction.
She stressed several times that the Secretariat was not in a position to implement reforms relating to continuing appointments until the Assembly decided on eligibility criteria and modalities.
Staff below 53 years of age, currently serving fixed-term appointments with five years of continuing service, retained their acquired rights to permanent appointments. In order to proceed with the new framework, the Office of Human Resources recognized that it would have to conduct a one-time review of all such staff, to see who met the relevant requirements for permanent appointments.
Regarding staff assigned to temporary duty away from Headquarters in the transitional period, and who were serving on three-month assignments, current modalities would continue to apply because it was “administratively simpler” and “provided clarity” to managers and staff.
She further clarified that those who currently held permanent appointments would continue to retain them for their entire period of service. Individuals who qualified for permanent posts before 30 June but were still on probation would be given permanent appointments, even if their probation were to end after 1 July. Those who qualified for fixed-term appointments after 1 July would receive 2-year fixed appointments.
She said Regulation 4.4 would not change the status of internal candidates vis-à-vis external candidates when applying for posts. They would be reviewed for any vacancy in the same manner as other candidates. Changes to Regulation 4.4 were designed to ensure that the application process was not “exclusionary” towards external candidates. She would consult with staff representatives on that topic at the next annual staff management committee meeting. She also assured the Committee that changes to that Regulation would not affect the Secretariat’s ability to uphold its mandate on equitable distribution of posts along geographic or gender lines.
She would answer all other questions at the Committee’s informal discussions.
* *** *For information media • not an official record