Budget Committee Continues Debate on Human Resources Management Reform; Continuing Contracts, Geographic Representation of Staff among Issues
Budget Committee Continues Debate on Human Resources Management Reform; Continuing Contracts, Geographic Representation of Staff among Issues
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
12th Meeting (AM)
Budget Committee Continues Debate on Human Resources Management Reform;
Continuing Contracts, Geographic Representation of Staff among Issues
Also Takes Up Recommendations on Conditions of Service for Judges
Of International Court of Justice; Tribunals for Rwanda, Former Yugoslavia
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today wrapped up its debate on proposals to overhaul the management of the Organization’s global staff, as several delegates urged management to boost the ranks of employees from developing countries, while others remained unhappy with the Secretary-General’s plan for issuing continuing appointments.
The delegates also took up the conditions of service and compensation for the members of the International Court of Justice and judges and ad litem judges of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. This was one of the issues falling under the Committee’s discussion of the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011. Catherine Pollard, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on this issue, while Susan McLurg, Chair of Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) introduced the Advisory Committee’s related report.
In the management debate, Pakistan’s delegate, aligning his country with the Group of 77 developing countries, believed an equitable geographic representation of staff, as enshrined in Article 101 of the Charter, was crucial. Pakistan regretted that the Secretary-General’s proposal for a comprehensive review of the system of desirable ranges did not fully meet the General Assembly’s request. These proposals did not consider the important contributions made by many Member States in the form of troops, the hosting of large refugee populations or United Nations Offices, and humanitarian contributions. Algeria’s representative was also deeply concerned with the underrepresentation of developing countries, especially in the Organization’s highest posts.
Egypt’s delegate was unhappy with the Secretary-General’s proposal to reduce the period in which job openings were circulated from 60 to 45 days. It would place candidates from developing countries, with limited access to the United Nations website, at a disadvantage, he said
The disappointment expressed yesterday over the Secretary-General’s proposals on continuing contracts carried over into today’s debate. The United States representative pointed to the landmark Assembly resolution 63/250, meant to streamline contracts and harmonize conditions of service. The Secretary-General’s previous proposal, submitted in document A/64/267, was withdrawn based on Member States’ concerns and the revised proposal had not addressed many of these concerns.
Japan’s representative said the new proposal was even weaker than last year’s. The Secretariat hadn’t thought through the inevitable questions of what continuing needs were for the Organization and what was a core function. “We deeply regret that the Secretariat did not address these concerns,” he said.
Noting that the Secretary-General had been adamantly opposed to placing a ceiling on the number of conversions to continuing appointments, Japan believed the Secretariat’s proposed criteria was not adequate from a management point of view, because by 2015, 27,630 staff members would become eligible for conversion to a continuing appointment. This would be in addition to the 9,000 staff who either already had permanent appointments, or would in the near future. That was out of a total Secretariat staff that numbered 44,134 as of 30 June 2010.
On the issue of conditions of service for the Court and Tribunals, several delegates praised the work of these institutions and supported its vital work. Yemen’s delegate, for example, said the Group of 77 was convinced that the Secretary-General’s report provided a solid basis for addressing the terms and conditions of service for the institutions’ ad litem judges and ad hoc judges. The report, among other things, recommends an increase in the special allowance for the Presidents of the courts.
Also speaking on the issue of human resources management reform were representatives from Cameroon, Honduras, Philippines, Iran, China, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, Thailand, Kuwait, Argentina, Norway and Libya.
On the topic of conditions of service for the Court and Tribunals, representatives from Côte d’Ivoire (on behalf of the African Group), the United States, China and Mexico also addressed the Committee.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday, 4 November, to discuss financing of the peacekeeping missions, including the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), and revised estimates to the programme budget biennium 2010-2011.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budget) met today to continue its consideration of human resources management reform (see Press Release GA/AB/3965).
It also had before it the report of the Secretary-General on Conditions of service and compensation for officials other than Secretariat officials: members of the International Court of Justice and judges and ad litem judges of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (document A/65/134) that contained his recommendations in reference to those conditions of service and compensation, as per General Assembly resolution 63/259.
The Secretary-General recommends in the report an increase in the special allowance of the Presidents, which is intended as compensation for additional duties and responsibilities, to $25,000, and for the Vice-Presidents when acting as President of the Court and the Tribunals to $156 per day, subject to a maximum of $15,600 per year. Further, he recommends extending education and relocation allowances as well as pension rights to qualifying ad litem judges. The report estimates programme budget implications for the biennium 2010-2011 at $16,200 for the International Court of Justice, $467,953 for the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and $1.2 million for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
The Committee also had before it the corrigendum to that report contained indocument A/65/134/Corr.1 that replaces annex III of the report entitled, “Salaries for senior officials in The Hague”.
Also before the Committee was the related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (document A/65/533) considering the Secretary-General’s report (A/65/134 and Corr.1).
The Advisory Committee states that, in general, it has no objections to the proposals made by the Secretary-General and makes just a few recommendations. In respect to the special allowance of the President and of the Vice-President when acting as President, the Advisory Committee recommends that the General Assembly increase the special allowance of the Presidents of the International Court of Justice and the Tribunals and of the Vice-Presidents when acting as President to $25,000 and $156 per day, respectively.
With regard to ad litem judges, the Committee recommends that the General Assembly effect no changes in the current conditions of service in respect to the education grant, relocation allowance and retirement benefits. But, the Committee does suggest a one-time ex gratia payment upon completion of service for those ad litem judges who have served for a continuous period of more than three years. It stresses, however, that if such an arrangement is adopted, it should not constitute a precedent for any other category of judge working within the United Nations system.
MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon) associated with the statements of Yemen and the Côte d’Ivoire on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, stating that geographic representation needed to raise the credibility of the United Nations recruitment system for professionalism, transparency and equity and thus break the trend of geographic representation based on the scale of assessments. It was necessary to launch, he said, negotiations to set up a better formula for geographic distribution of posts in the Secretariat. In that regard, weight had to be given to population and contribution, with emphasis on Africa concerning the higher posts.
Turning to continuing contracts, the proposal to put a ceiling on the number of conversions would be an unjust measure, he asserted, noting that a lack of prospects for peacekeeping operations could compromise recruitment. Moreover, proposals were based on termination rather than flexibility. That could lead to litigation for Member States. It would be wise, he said, to keep the security guarantees that exist in the permanent contracts to avoid a situation whereby staff is left at the mercy of a contractual regime.
On the topic of administrative justice, he stated that, in the case of abuse, there should be exemplary sanctions set down, including financial sanctions. Furthermore, a high number of cases involving the same official should be considered as incompetence. Regarding harmonization of conditions of service, he proposed that a panel of independent experts be considered.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria) aligned his country with the statement of the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, and said that the good management of human resources was essential, and the contractual arrangements of the staff needed to be simplified and unified. The idea of introducing a regime that applied to all staff made sense, and flexibility, transparency and equity were key elements of the reform. Algeria was deeply concerned with the issue of the representation of developing countries, especially in the highest posts of the Organization. Mechanisms were needed to improve productivity and reduce the cases of litigation. It was also necessary to improve conditions and motivate the staff.
He supported strengthening the common system, so that the United Nations could carry out its mandates. He also wanted to pay tribute to the staff in the field.
AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL (Pakistan) aligned with the statement made by Yemen on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, stating that his country attached great importance to equitable geographic representation, as enshrined in Article 101 of the Charter. In that context, Pakistan regretted that the Secretary-General’s proposals for a comprehensive review of the system of desirable ranges did not fully respond to the request made by the General Assembly on that issue. Those proposals, he explained, did not take into account the important contributions made by a large number of Member States in the form of troops, the hosting of large refugee populations or United Nations Offices, and humanitarian contributions.
Turning to the policy on recruitment of qualified external candidates, he said that the requirement for Heads of Department to justify the selection of an external candidate in writing for the approval of the Office of Human Resources Management was “discriminatory”. Further, it raised questions on the credibility of the selection process and served as a “serious impediment in the recruiting of external candidates”. Pakistan, thus, called for the abolishment of that requirement. Concerning the accountability of senior management to meet the key objectives of human resources management, he welcomed the Human Resource Action Plans but expressed concern on the amended procedure. “Senior Managers having tenured posts are unlikely to be accountable to anyone in implementing [human resources management] targets,” he said.
STEPHEN L. LIEBERMAN (United States) said many issues had been presented to the Assembly this session under the umbrella of human resources management. Turning to continuing contracts, he said that was the element of reform that needed to be implemented, as the Assembly had adopted resolution 63/250, a landmark resolution, to streamline contracts and harmonize conditions of service. He recalled that the Secretary-General’s previous proposal, submitted in document A/64/267, was withdrawn based on Member States’ concerns, and he believed that the revised proposal had not addressed many of these concerns. Further, he believed that the primary purpose of the contractual framework was to ensure a professional workforce that was flexible enough to address the needs of the Organization in facing the challenges of today and the future.
He firmly believed that the United Nations’ greatest resource was its staff and he was committed to carefully considering all of the Secretary-General’s proposals. He looked forward to working constructively with all delegations on the many issues.
TAKASHI KANAMORI ( Japan) said Japan was disappointed in the Secretary-General’s proposal concerning eligibility criteria for a continuing appointment. The proposal was weaker than last year’s, in that the Secretariat failed to think all the way through the inevitable questions of what continuing needs were for the Organization and what was a core function, even though those questions had been major concerns for many Member States since at least last year. He deeply regretted that the Secretariat had not addressed those concerns. As the ACABQ pointed out, the Secretariat appeared to justify its own deliberations by challenging the applicability to the United Nations of the Commission’s definition of core functions and continuing needs. Japan would like to ask the Commission whether the Secretariat’s interpretation was in line with its interpretation.
The Secretary-General had been adamantly opposed to imposing a ceiling on the number of conversions to continuing appointments. Japan believed that the Secretariat’s proposal on the criteria was not adequate from the management point of view, because by 2015, 27,630 staff members would become eligible for conversion to a continuing appointment, in addition to the 9,000 staff who either already had permanent appointments or will in the near future. That was out of a total Secretariat staff that numbered 44,134 as of 30 June 2010. Japan recommended that the Office of Human Resources Management adopt a phased approach in implementing continuing appointments, so it would be possible first to establish the reliability and effectiveness of the talent management framework.
Turning to the Young Professionals Programme, Japan shared the concerns of the ACABQ that lowering the age limit would be a disadvantage for candidates whose mother tongue was not English or French. Japan would like to consider abolishing the age limit for the programme. He also agreed with the ACABQ that the special procedures for the selection of external candidates should be deleted.
MARY E. FLORES (Honduras) aligned her country with the views of the Group of 77 and said the economic crisis meant the United Nations had to make a greater commitment to its greatest resources, its human capital. Honduras supported an improved level of communication between staff and managers. Member States were facing financial constraints, and a greater investment was needed in improving the capacity and quality of United Nations human resources and motivating staff.
In an increasingly competitive market, the United Nations needed the best staff possible. Honduras recognized the efforts of the Secretary-General and it would support measures to fill vacancies. As Honduras lagged behind in computer technology, it needed greater time for the circulation of information.
Inspira would help to reduce recruitment time, she said. Regarding contractual arrangements, the purpose of contracts should be to avoid uncertainty for both staff and managers. There had to be a global workforce. The United Nations should be an Organization where a person’s gender or country of origin did not create an obstacle to their promotion and rise. Honduras agreed with the Secretary-General that there had to be a Young Professionals Programme. It was important to the future of the Organization that it remain young.
LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN (Philippines) associated with the statement by Yemen on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, stating “first, human resources are the real assets of our Organization and should be given top priority”. Second, he said the reform process should lead to a more “democratic, effective and representative United Nations”, based on accountability, transparency and responsiveness to the needs of all stakeholders — particularly Member States. Third, staffing of the Secretariat should be “strictly carried out on the basis of equitable geographic distribution and gender-balance”, without sacrificing quality and competence. Fourth, streamlining the types of contracts of service of United Nations personnel, particularly in field missions, would go a long way towards uplifting morale and retaining experienced staff.
MOHAMED IBRAHIM EL SHINAWY (Egypt) said the resolution adopted by consensus at the sixty-third session of the General Assembly on Human Resources Management reform had been an important step. His country was a strong supporter of such reform. Regarding the proposals of the Secretary-General, while Egypt supported a focus on shorter-term operational workforce planning, it was important for an organization such as the United Nations to have long-term planning as well. Reduction of the period for circulation of job openings from 60 days to 45 days should be studied further; the proposal from the Secretariat would put candidates from developing countries with limited access to the United Nations website at a disadvantage. External and internal candidates should be assessed on the basis of the requirement of a post, with due regard to a candidate’s qualifications and competency and the principles of geographic diversity and gender parity.
The Secretary-General should work closely with major troop and police contributing countries to identify candidates with skills needed by field missions, he said, as an equitable representation of Secretariat staff from those countries would be logical. Proposals to harmonize hardship allowances, rest and recuperation and the designation of duty stations as family or non-family on the basis of security assessments should be approved. Freezing the granting of continuing contracts in the absence of an agreement on implementation modalities was unacceptable; the option of reverting to old contractual arrangements should be explored. Finally, Egypt would be seeking clarification on the Young Professionals Programme and the Secretary-General’s intention to recruit and develop young professionals.
RASHID BAYAT MOKHTARI (Iran) said that the issues related to the spectrum of human resources management were of utmost importance to his country and no effort should be spared in improving its management and efficiency and preserving the integrity of the Secretariat. With respect to reports and proposals presented, Iran did not find itself in agreement with the Secretary-General’s view that long-term workforce planning was of limited added value. Rather, such long-term planning was a salient feature of every modern management system, and particularly applicable in the public sector. Iran concurred with the ACABQ that “the staffing of the Secretariat must be dynamic and flexible in order to be able to respond to changing requirements,” and believed that due attention to forecasting requirements for major occupational groups should be an attainable goal for the Secretary-General.
He believed that all possible efforts had not been exhausted to meet the benchmark period of 120 days to fill vacancies, noting with regret that, at a dire time of need for United Nations Program delivery, the period had increased to 197 days. He also considered harmonization proposals by the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) important tools in fostering equality and justice within the United Nations work force. Further, the United Nations Young Professional Program was a “fresh breeze of hope” for States that had always found themselves underrepresented within the Secretariat. The intent to refine this program and integrate it into one centrally managed process, with increased diversity and allocation of 15 per cent of the extra budgetary support, was appreciated. However, Iran believed that the age limit of applicants should remain 32, instead of 26. That way, young applicants whose native tongue was neither of the two official Secretariat languages would have time to familiarize themselves with foreign languages and surroundings. He also expressed hope that, regarding a shift from paper- to computer-based examinations, consideration be given to possible technical gaps that would prevent all candidates from participating on an equal footing. Additionally, Iran said that, given the effort and lengthy process of recruiting candidates, it did not seem reasonable that rosters remained valid for only one year, and that no time limitation should be applied to successful candidates on rosters.
HE YI (China) endorsed the statement delivered by Yemen on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, stating that the number of nationals of developing countries at senior level posts in the Secretariat needed to be improved. “We call on the Secretariat to take into full consideration the protracted critical issue of underrepresentation,” she stressed. On the subject of continuing appointments, those appointments would be a factor in the Organization’s adaptation to external changes. Thus, China suggested that assessments be carried out in an integrated and comprehensive manner, that a cautious approach be taken to every new and expiring contract, and that existing problems in human resources management be addressed.
With respect to the Young Professionals Program, she stressed the need “to set an appropriate limit” in order to employ young professionals with different experience and diverse cultural characteristics. Further, mobility should be implemented throughout the career life of all staff members. Turning to the activities of the ethics office, she called for the formulation of a set of unified ethical norms on the basis of the core values of the Organization, taking into full consideration differences among cultures and with more participation of the specialized agencies and entities.
VLADIMIR N. PROKHOROV (Russian Federation) considered it of key importance to reform human resources policy to render it more effective, flexible, and conducive to obtaining maximum results from the work of staff. The Russian Federation would continue to consider the proposals of the Secretary-General from the point of view of how it enhanced the efficiency of human resource policy, added to qualified staff, improved the efficient and effective functioning of the Secretariat, and how it financially impacted upon Member States. Further, its reform should be considered in the context of Assembly resolution 63/250, as well as previous resolutions.
Above all, he stressed, the guiding principles for the recruitment of the most competent and qualified staff, in accordance with Article 101 of the Charter, should not be diluted. All other criteria, such as geographic distribution and gender balance, should not hinder the Administration in deciding who were the most capable in carrying out the needed tasks. One of the priorities in relation to equality, concerning the so-called internal and external candidates, was to create a transparent and competitive process. With respect to the proposals of the Secretary-General on continuing contracts, it was wise, he said, to limit appointments with clear criteria. The broader use of fixed term contracts would enhance the effectiveness of human resources management through greater production, as was demonstrated by the United Nations funds and programmes.
Aligning with the statement of the Group of 77, NGUYEN DINH HAI ( Viet Nam) said the Organization’s reform of its human resources management had taken a critical step forward with Assembly resolution 63/250. The United Nations faced unprecedented challenges today and it needed a high quality workforce. Human resources management had to play a central role in creating the framework and laying down the foundation to ensure the Organization functioned in an integrated, responsive and efficient way.
Viet Nam reaffirmed its support for the Secretary-General’s reform efforts and agreed in principle with his proposals. Regarding equitable geographic and gender distribution, Viet Nam believed that a truly international civil service had to attract and retain talent from around the globe. Yet, developing countries were still underrepresented at the senior levels and the Secretariat had to reduce those gaps. He welcomed the promulgation of a new performance management and development system in April. It strengthened accountability, created stronger links between performance management and career development and learning, and promoted a positive work environment. He said reform was an ongoing process, and the aim was to have a staff that met the highest standards of ethics, fairness, transparency and accountability, and high performance. “The implications of our decisions on this important item demand a careful consideration by all Member States,” he added.
BENJAPA TUBTHONG ( Thailand), associating with the Group of 77, said reform of human resources management was central to the Organization’s accountability and performance. In that regard, the efforts of the Secretary-General and the Secretariat to that end must continue to be carried out to the fullest extent. An end to considerations of the series of contractual arrangement reforms, as mandated by General Assembly resolution 63/250, was nowhere in sight. She called for a swift agreement and practical solution on the modalities of the continuing contract at the current main session and noted that the prolonged absence of action jeopardized staff morale and the Organization’s overall performance.
The recommendations of the International Civil Service Commission had merit, especially those on the harmonization of conditions of service in non-family duty stations. She went on to point out crucial linkages between the Secretary-General’s proposals and the principles of geographical distribution. The reform process must give due regard to the principles of both gender balance and geographical distribution, as enshrined in the Charter. The selection system, in particular, must be implemented without discrimination and with due consideration of those principles. In closing, she urged the Secretary-General to exert his utmost efforts towards that end.
Mr. AL-TURKI (Kuwait) supported the statement made by the Group of 77 and said Kuwait gave the issue great attention. The real value of the Organization remained in the development of its human resources and the reform of human resources management was very important to the development of the Organization. Kuwait supported the reform process that had started several years ago and urged the Secretariat to carry out its tasks on the issue.
He said the equitable geographical distribution and recruitment of staff was very important. There should be no discrimination among different groups. It was necessary to harmonize the conditions of service inside and outside the system. He supported the recruitment of more young people — and staff, in general — from underrepresented countries. The justification presented by Office of Human Resources Management did not explain why more staff were not recruited from underrepresented states. He paid tribute to the achievements of the staff working in missions and under dangerous conditions.
CLAUDIA CORTI (Argentina) associated with statements made by Yemen and Chile on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and the Rio Group, respectively, stressing that the central objectives of human resources management reform should be career development, planning, and a multi-skilled and mobile work force.
In regards to reducing the amount of time vacancies are published, she said that could jeopardize the hiring of potential external candidates. Focus should be given, instead, she said, to post-hiring steps and to making them more efficient within the context of Inspira. In terms of the requirement regarding additional information on the selection process, she asserted that would result in providing an advantage to internal candidates versus external candidates. Turning to geographic distribution, she said that none of the proposals presented would ensure effective distribution in relation to the total number of staff at the United Nations Secretariat, as required in Assembly resolution 63/250.
On the topic of continuing contracts, she stressed that the General Assembly had committed to a new hiring model, with three types of contracts. That had led to expectations by United Nations civil servants and could not be brushed aside. An agreement had to be arrived at that reflected a stable bureaucracy, not one subject to provisional authority. The conversion of fixed term contracts to continuing contracts should be based on merit and geographic distribution, she continued. Moreover, it should compensate for excellent performance and combine short and long-term planning. Argentina expressed support for ICSC measures to harmonize conditions of staff, emphasizing that they would alleviate high rotation and vacancies in the field.
JULIE M. JACOBSEN TAKAHASHI (Norway) stated that in order to promote coherence across the United Nations system, it should be easier to transfer smoothly between postings within the Secretariat, funds and programmes. Noting that there were challenges related to the recruitment of qualified personnel to certain field postings, she said neither mobility nor harmonization were ends in themselves. In that context, while Norway supported the intentions of the Secretariat to ensure harmonization of allowances and work conditions, those intentions “must not end up solely as a downward harmonization to the lowest common denominator”.
Turning to specific human resource management issues, she welcomed efforts to accelerate the recruitment process, but noted that there was a need to maintain a certain degree of flexibility for complex missions in difficult places. Concerning retention of staff in field positions, Norway called for an impact analysis of the proposal to discontinue the special operations approach, with a particular view on the gender impact. As regarded mobility in the wider United Nations Common System, interoperability was a more urgent issue. In that context, Norway urged the Secretary-General to continue to work with the funds and programs to facilitate the smooth transition between organizational entities without any disadvantage to a future “home organization” career. Although Norway agreed that the establishment of an arbitrary ceiling on the conversion to continuing contracts could be counterproductive, that required due regard to the overall number of staff. A focus must also be maintained on the goal of the reform measures. “We need to continuously ask ourselves if the decisions we take will lead to a greater degree of ‘the right people in the right place at the right time,’” she said.
Mr. ABUABOUD (Libya) said his country supported the statements of the Group of 77 and the African Group. Human resources management was a very important item and it was linked to the improvement of the Organization’s performance. It helped lead to transparency. The harmonization of the conditions of service would help achieve higher standards of performance.
He supported the Advisory Committee’s recommendation that the lowering of the age for the Young Professional Programme was distractive and harmed candidates whose mother tongue was not English or French. He said that underrepresented countries should be exempted from the distinction. The proposal to lower the time period for filling vacancies from 60 to 45 days did injustice to many countries that had little access to United Nations websites.
Further, the Secretary-General had not responded well enough to the need for a review of the geographical distribution. There needed to be a better tool for the staff and he hoped the Secretary-General would achieve the highest possible level of geographical distribution in filling posts.
CATHERINE POLLARD, Assistant-Secretary-General, Office of Human Resources Management, said she welcomed the interest shown by the Member States and looked forward to an energetic discussion on all the issues during the informal consultations.
She then commented on a request for a clarification on the presentation by the Deputy Secretary-General made yesterday, regarding the harmonization of consideration of service, particularly remarks regarding agencies, funds and programmes. The Deputy Secretary-General could not attend today’s meeting, but she stressed that her comments not be taken to mean that there should be a postponement in the harmonization of conditions of service. She endorsed the report of Commission.
Introduction of Report on Judges’ Conditions of Service
Ms. POLLARD introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the conditions of service and compensation for the members of the International Court of Justice and judges and ad litem judges of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (document A/65/134).
On remuneration, she stated that the salaries of the judges and the members of the court had kept pace with comparable courts in select countries and thus the Secretary-General did not propose to change their current remuneration. In view of the fact that the special allowance of the President was at a historic low and the volume of cases had increased significantly, the Secretary-General suggested increasing that allowance to 15 per cent from 9 per cent of salary. In respect to the relocation allowance, she noted that there was a difference in the benefits received by the judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, as compared to those of the International Court of Justice. The Secretary-General thus suggested that this difference be eliminated, she stated.
Concerning retirement benefits, she noted that the Secretary-General had engaged the expertise of the United Nations Pension Fund to undertake a comprehensive review of retirement pensions. But, the recommendations resulting from that review, she said, were not expected to impact the pensions of serving or retired judges. Concerning the ad litem judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, she noted that possible future costs of granting pension rights to those who had served for an uninterrupted period of 3 or more years would be approximately $12 million. She further noted that the Secretary-General also proposed that their remuneration package be made identical to those of the permanent judges in all aspects, including assistance with education and relocation costs.
The Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, SUSAN MCLURG, introduced the Advisory Committee’s report on conditions of service and compensation for officials other than Secretariat officials: members of the International Court of Justice and judges and ad litem judges of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
In terms of the remuneration, entitlements and benefits of all the members of the International Court of Justice and the two Tribunals, she stated that the Committee had no objection to the Secretary-General’s proposals — the financial implications for which would amount to $349,500 in the current biennium. As regarded proposals pertaining specifically to the ad litem judges of the two Tribunals, namely the granting of an education grant, relocation allowance and pension benefits, the Committee continued to believe that the extension of their terms of office did not give rise to any additional entitlements or benefits other than those which already existed. Accordingly, the Committee recommended that the General Assembly effect no change in their current conditions of service, but rather request the Secretary-General to present a proposal for a one-time ex gratia payment upon completion of service. If adopted, she added, that should not constitute a precedent for any other category of judge within the United Nations system.
WALEED AL-SHAHARI ( Yemen), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, said the Group gave great importance to the work of the Court and the Tribunals and always favoured improving the conditions of service commensurate with the responsibilities of staff members and judges. The Group was convinced that the Secretary-General’s report on this matter provided a solid basis for addressing the terms and conditions of service for the ad litem judges and ad hoc judges.
The Group recognized that ad litem judges had contributed immensely to the effective functions of the Tribunals and the success of the completion strategy. The workload of ad litem judges was identical to that of permanent judges and the Group was mindful that the recent Security Council resolution on the matter authorized benches to be composed exclusively of ad litem judges. That decision had given them the additional responsibility of acting as presiding judges and the Group recalled that the service conditions of ad litem judges did not anticipate service beyond three years, including their assumption of presiding roles over multi-accused cases.
The Group believed that the continued differences in terms of conditions of service were a matter that should be addressed only in the interests of equity, in line with Article 13 of the Statues of Tribunals, but also in the interest of the successful implementation of the completion strategy. The Group supported the Secretary-General’s proposals and believed they went a long way towards addressing the challenges faced by the judges of the Court and the Tribunals. Regarding remuneration, the Group believed that decisions on entitlement and other allowances for any category of judges working with the United Nations system should be based on merit. It was critical that the services of all categories of judges be recognized.
BROUZ RALPH COFFI (C ôte d’Ivoire), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the report of the Secretary-General provided a solid basis for a decision regarding the different conditions of service and compensation between permanent and ad litem judges on the two Tribunals. The ad litem judges had jointed the Tribunals on the understanding that they would support specific cases for up to three years and no more, without entitlement to pensions, relocation allowances and education grants. Since the adoption of completion strategies for each Tribunal, ad litem judges had taken on more work, with authorization from the Security Council to serve beyond three years.
More recently, he said, benches composed exclusively of ad litem judges had been authorized by the Security Council, bestowing on such judges the responsibility of acting as presiding judges in multi-accused cases. Seven of the 12 ad litem judges had served for a cumulative period of more than six years. In the interests of fairness, conditions of service should be improved as proposed by the Secretary-General, with ad litem judges recognized and rewarded for their commitment and selfless service. Their workload was identical to that of permanent judges, and their responsibilities nearly identical; it was the view of the African Group that existing differences in terms and conditions of service were unjustifiable. They must be addressed as a matter of priority.
JOSEPH H. MELROSE ( United States) supported and respected the work of the Court and the Tribunals. The dedicated individuals serving with those institutions merited deep appreciation and gratitude. The United States remained committed to ensuring those institutions’ judicial independence in all respects. He said the Secretary-General’s report contained a useful comprehensive historical overview, as well as recommendations to address the Assembly’s concerns. He thanked the ACABQ Chair for the Advisory Committee’s detailed report and reasoned recommendations.
ZHANG WANHAI (China) said it was very important to ensure the work of the International Court of Justice and the two Tribunals was effectively carried out and the relevant trials of the two Tribunals were brought to a smooth conclusion. That could be done by providing appropriate conditions of service for the judges and ad litem judges, in accordance with the relevant provisions on their salaries and allowances, as contained in the Statute of the International Court of Justice and those of the two Tribunals. As for the ad litem judges of the two Tribunals, he took further note of the fact that their service was of a temporary and intermittent nature, for a cumulative period of up to three years. That meant they were not entitled to a pension. Further, he said that the service of some ad litem judges had been continued in order to achieve the Tribunal’s completion strategy goals, in some cases reaching six to seven years. Due to the significance of the strategy and the unique nature of the services provided, due attention should be paid to finding an appropriate solution.
On retirement benefits of the judges of the International Court of Justice and the two Tribunals, he hoped the Secretariat would continue its relevant review by taking advantage of the expertise of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund. He said his delegation had noted the recommendations of the Pension Fund on forming a working group consisting of representatives of the Office of Human Resources Management, ICSC, and the Joint Staff Pension Fund of the International Court of Justice and the two Tribunals, to carry out the review. His delegation requested more information about the feasibility of that recommendation, and the coordination work between different entities and departments involved.
INGRID BERLANGA VASILE ( Mexico) said the work of the Court and the Tribunals had been very important in the application of international law. The Committee had before it a periodic review of the conditions of service for those staff. With respect to the actual regime of remuneration, Mexico agreed with the Secretary-General that it was not necessary to introduce a change in that regime
On the conditions of service that impacted the ad litem judges of the Tribunals, she said it was not justifiable to change the actual conditions of services of those judges with regard to subsidies for education, reinstallation and retirement. Mexico was ready to engage in constructive dialogue during consultations and achieve acceptable results.
* *** *