Delegates at the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) urged the Secretariat to ensure the United Nations staff reflected the diversity of Member States as it better managed thousands of employees around the world and helped them carry out the Organization’s crucial mandates.
Thailand’s delegate, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the United Nations would speak more credibly if gender equality, geographical and cultural diversity were actually reflected in the Organization’s own culture and management. The Secretariat had to advance its efforts to transform the Organization’s staff into a diverse, flexible and dynamic workforce that was motivated, adequately compensated and better able to carry out its goals.
The representative of Chad, speaking for the African Group, aligned himself with the Group of 77, and said the current unfair desirable ranges system had to be revised. “This is the challenge that must be carried by Member States, if we want to preserve a well‑functioning United Nations Secretariat and system,” he said.
Pakistan’s delegate, concurring with the Group of 77’s statement, said disparities in the representation at the Secretariat persisted even with clear direction from the General Assembly. Reform was an unfinished agenda item, even with the recent advances in streamlining contractual arrangements, harmonizing service conditions and a managed mobility framework.
The United States representative said it was time for the Fifth Committee to adopt a human resources management resolution. “Stalling further will not only disservice the current staff, but also future staff,” she said.
The Russian Federation’s delegate also noted that the Fifth Committee had not passed any resolutions on human resources management in several years. He wanted to know if any specific proposals were being developed to create a truly equal system for both external and internal candidates and asked if the Secretariat was planning to hire more external candidates, so the hiring situation would not worsen and turn into a “closed club”.
Yukio Takasu, Under‑Secretary-General for Management, introduced the Secretary‑General’s reports on human resources management under agenda item 139. The Secretary‑General’s human resources reform initiatives remained focused on improving delivery of the mandates entrusted to the Organization by Member States. Numerous Assembly mandates and oversight body recommendations over recent years had provided useful guidance for continued human resource reforms and stressed the need for more global, holistic and integrated approaches.
At the seventy‑second session next year, the Secretary‑General would lay out a more integrated human resource management framework for the Secretariat, he said. It would cover three areas: managing talent, delivering human resource services, and supporting the shaping of the Organization’s culture.
Elia Yi Armstrong, Director of the Ethics Office, presented the Secretariat’s report on the Office’s activities and said that over the past decade it had responded to 7,217 requests for services, and detected and managed 1,256 conflicts of interest cases through the Financial Disclosure Programme.
Also today, the Fifth Committee discussed the pattern of conferences, considering the Committee on Conference’s 2016 report on the subject, introduced by its Vice Chair, Aba Ayebi-Arthur, and the Secretary‑General’s report presented by Catherine Pollard, Under‑Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management.
The Conferences Committee’s report discussed, among other topics, utilization rates of its conference services, digitization of United Nations documents and the Fifth Committee’s second resumed session, scheduled for May, a topic that was also highlighted by several speakers.
The representative of the European Union said he was concerned by the very limited time allocated for Fifth Committee deliberations during the upcoming session, and proposed an extension. Since the Committee on Conferences had not been able to reach an agreement on the issue, the proposal should be raised with Member States, she said.
The United Republic of Tanzania’s representative said that Member States could not allow the session to drag on and at the same time complain about not having enough time to conclude meetings. Asking the General Assembly President for an extension was not a viable option either, as Member States’ problems must be addressed by Member States themselves.
Echoing that view, Thailand’s representative, speaking for Group of 77, recognized the challenge in keeping meeting deadlines, but felt those matters should not to be addressed by the calendar of conferences and meetings. Rather it was up to Member States and their willingness to work effectively.
Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced ACABQ’s reports on the pattern of conferences as well as on human resources.
Rajab M. Sukayri, Inspector of the Joint Inspection Unit, introduced the Unit’s report on succession planning in the United Nations system organizations, which contained a note by the Secretary‑General.
Kenneth Herman, Senior Advisor on Information Management Policy Coordination for the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), introduced the Secretary General’s note, which transmitted his comments and those of the Board on the Unit’s report on succession planning.
Ian Richards, representing the staff unions of the United Nations, also spoke before the Fifth Committee.
Committee Chair Inga Rhonda King (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) also made a statement.
Also speaking today were delegates from Japan, Singapore (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Switzerland (also on behalf of Liechtenstein), Kuwait, Republic of Korea and the Philippines.
The Fifth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 2 November, to discuss construction and property management issues related to the 2016‑2017 programme budget.
Pattern on Conferences
ABA AYEBI‑ARTHUR, Vice‑Chair of the Committee on Conferences, in introducing its report for the year 2016 (document A/71/32), said it had reviewed the draft revised calendar for 2017, and recommended it for adoption by the General Assembly. The Conferences Committee had also discussed the length of the Fifth Committee’s second resumed session and whether the session should be extended in light of its past conference‑servicing usage. The Conferences Committee continued to improve the utilization rates of its conference services, urging intergovernmental bodies that had underutilized their conference‑servicing resources to review their meeting requirements. Client feedback was also sought in order to improve the utilization factor.
Furthermore, she reiterated the Conferences Committee’s request for the Secretary‑General, through the Department of Public Information, to present a proposal for the digitization of older important United Nations documents at all four duty stations. On improvement of facilities and accessibility, the Conferences Committee asked the Secretary‑General to continue to address issues related to the accessibility of conferences facilities as a matter of priority.
CATHERINE POLLARD, Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on the pattern of conferences (document A/71/116), which included information on procedures and activities related to the pattern of conferences in New York, Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi. The report highlighted the challenges facing conference management, such as the 45 per cent increase since 2010 in the number of meetings serviced each year, and the accompanying 10 per cent surge in documentation, with very sharp rises in 2015 of 23 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively.
Another challenge was the worldwide dearth of qualified language professionals, which the Department had been tackling by actively working with select universities to increase its training activities and explore ways to update its recruitment tests to reflect future needs and identify the candidates most suitable to meet them, she said. The report identified opportunities to become more efficient by being more proactive in addressing the underuse, by calendar bodies, of their allocated meeting services and by using technology in document management and processing. The Secretariat was working to exploit eLUNa, the computer‑assisted and machine translation platform developed in‑house with existing resources, and the active participation of the Organization’s own translation staff.
On a global basis, considerable improvement was recorded in the key performance indicators of document management in 2015, she said. Compared to the previous year, the Secretariat’s compliance with processing deadlines and mandated issuance time frames was considerably higher. The Department continued to collaborate closely with the author entities and the secretariats of the Fifth Committee and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) to estimate the issuance dates of all pre‑session documents for the Fifth Committee, based on their length, submission deadlines and historical consideration patterns. As a result, of the 95 reports slotted for the Fifth Committee’s main session in 2015, 60 were issued six weeks before consideration. Yet the lack of a work programme well before the beginning of the main session created serious challenges for the timely submission and issuance of documents.
Looking ahead to the evolving and challenging area of conference management, the Secretariat aimed to preserve the high‑quality services for which the Department was renowned and the core human resources structures that supported them, she said. That would allow the Department continue to serve as a key enabler of multilateral diplomacy.
CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced that body’s related report (document A/71/549). While the utilization of conference services and facilities for Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna and New York continued to be above 80 per cent, he said, the Advisory Committee recommended that information on actual occupancy against existing meeting capacity was included in all future reports on the pattern on conferences. The Advisory Committee also recommended the approval of the proposal to transfer the digitizing of older United Nations documents in full to the Department of Public Information.
DHISADEE CHAMLONGRASDR (Thailand), speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted that the overall utilization factor for all calendar bodies in the four main duty stations had met the established benchmark of 80 per cent in 2015, and encouraged those who had underutilized to optimize their utilization factor. The Group stressed the need for the timely issuance of documents in all official languages to facilitate the deliberations of intergovernmental and expert bodies, especially the Fifth Committee.
While appreciating the funding support from Qatar for the digitization project, the Group expressed its disappointment that the Secretary‑General had not presented the proposal on the matter as requested in paragraph 86 of General Assembly resolution 70/9, he said. The Group noted that more than $4.6 million would be required to implement the project, which was in addition to existing voluntary contributions. On the Capital Master Plan, the Group remained of the strong view that errors and omissions related to physical communication and technological accessibilities had yet to be rectified, and there was a need to receive feedback on the planned activities on those matters before the books of account were closed. While the Group recognized challenges in keeping meetings to their allocated time frames and the request to extend meetings, the Group considered that those matters could not be addressed in the calendar of conferences and meetings, he said, adding that “it is in the hands of Member States on their approach and willingness to work expeditiously and effectively”.
SIMONA PILLERI, European Union, reaffirmed the importance of the timely translation and submission of documents. European Member States also sought a structural and pragmatic solution to the persisting problems facing the resumed session of the Fifth Committee. The Union was extremely concerned by the very limited time allocated for deliberations of the Fifth Committee in May, which had previously led to after‑hour negotiations without interpretation services available. The Union was also aware of the uncertainty United Nations staff faced under those circumstances, as they depended on the budgetary decisions of the Fifth Committee. The second resumed session should be extended, to finish its work properly and ensure full participation, she said, but since the Committee on Conferences had not been able to reach an agreement, the proposal should be raised with Member States
NOBUKO IWATANI (Japan) reiterated that maintaining an appropriate quality of conference services was essential for proper decision‑making by Member States. Those services should be provided as efficiently and effectively as possible. Japan welcomed the measures taken by the Department to increase the use of conference service resources and facilities and to ensure the timely issuance of documents in the Organization’s six official languages in order to further improve the quality of conference services. In that regard, Japan referred to paragraph 29 of General Assembly resolution 70/247, which asked the Secretary‑General to transmit reports to the Advisory Committee no later than two weeks before its scheduled consideration of the agenda items. That would ensure that the Advisory Committee would, in turn, provide its advice to the Assembly no later than two weeks in advance of the formal introduction of an item. An exception would be made for revised estimates and programme budget implications arising during the course of the Assembly’s main session. Japan would appreciate the assessment, by the Department and the ACABQ, of the current arrangement regarding the implementation of that paragraph.
Ms. POLLARD thanked the delegates for their support and their concerns. Regarding some key issues, she said the Department was working with the regional commissions and each year it met with all the organizations in the United Nations system to improve coordination in conference services and management. The Department also met every year with the duty stations to continue to share best practices and policies.
Regarding the timely issuance of documents in all official languages, she said progress had been made in the issuance of the documents yet it remained a challenge. The Department was working with the Fifth Committee and the Advisory Committee. It was working to enforce the word limits on the reports as all the words had to be translated and produced within the capacity available in New York and all the duty stations. She noted that 90 per cent of the meetings were held in Geneva and New York and the sessions were frequently held during the same periods, so Geneva had little capacity for New York during its peak times.
Mr. RUIZ also thanked all the delegates for their comments. Addressing Japan’s point, he said the delivery of the Secretariat reports impacted the Advisory Committee’s ability to produce its reports. There were also other challenges, such as queries and the complexity of the report material. One way to issue more timely ACABQ reports would be production of the Secretariat reports earlier in the year.
JUSTIN KISOKA (United Republic of Tanzania) aligned himself with Thailand’s statement on behalf of the Group of 77. On meeting extensions, he said that Member States could not allow the session to drag on and at the same time complain about not having enough time to complete meetings. Neither should they take the shortcut to go to the General Assembly President to ask for extensions. “If structural changes were needed, Member States should be ready to pay for those changes, as all extensions have financial implications”, he said, adding that Member States’ problems must be addressed by Member States themselves.
Human Resources Management
YUKIO TAKASU, Under‑Secretary-General for Management, introduced the Secretary‑General’s reports on human resources management under agenda item 139.
They included: overview of human resources management reform: towards a global, dynamic, adaptable and engaged workforce for the United Nations (document A/71/323), and its associated addenda on mobility (document A/71/323/Add.1) and the assessment of desirable ranges (document A/71/323/Add.2). The other reports included: composition of the Secretariat: staff demographics (document A/71/360) and its associated addendum: gratis personnel, retired staff and consultants and individual contractors (document A/71/360/Add.1); seconded active-duty military and police personnel (document A/71/257); practice of the Secretary‑General in disciplinary matters and cases of possible criminal behaviour, 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 (document A/71/186); and amendments to the Staff Regulations and Rules (document A/71/258).
The Overview report focused on human resource management reforms implemented or being carried out since the sixty‑third session of the General Assembly, he said. The report highlighted the continued progress made under the Secretary‑General’s “Investing in People” initiative and presented his view on the way forward for a more global, dynamic, adaptable and engaged workforce.
Mr. Takasu said the Secretary‑General’s human resources reform initiatives remained focused on improving delivery of mandates entrusted to the Organization by Member States. To achieve those mandates, the Secretariat had proposed a number of key items, including reducing the 60 day standard posting for position specific job openings for non‑field recruitment to 30 days for positions in the Professional and higher categories, and the implementation of performance management system changes in two phases.
With respect to gender balance, as of 30 June 2016, the percentage of female staff was 34.8, with women making up 42.6 per cent in the Professional and higher categories. Significant gaps remained in senior leadership where women only comprised 29 per cent of staff at the D‑2 level; 31 per cent at the D‑1 level; and 34 per cent at the P‑5 level. The Secretariat had developed a holistic strategy throughout the Secretariat to achieve gender equality, including parity at all professional levels by 2030. Numerous Assembly mandates and oversight body recommendations over recent years had provided useful guidance for continued human resource reforms and stressed the need for a more global, holistic and integrated approaches. Therefore, the Secretary‑General intended to present a more integrated human resource management framework for the Secretariat to the Assembly at its seventy‑second session. The framework covered three areas: managing talent, delivering human resource services, and supporting the shaping of the Organization’s culture.
ELIA YI ARMSTRONG, Director of the Ethics Office, in presenting the Secretary‑General’s report on the Office’s activities (document A/71/334), said that in the past 10 years, it had responded to 7,217 requests for services, and detected and managed 1,256 conflicts of interest cases through the Financial Disclosure Programme. The Office had also completed preliminary reviews of 153 claims for protection against retaliation. During the 2015‑2016 reporting period specifically, the Office had received 1,124 requests for service, of which requests for confidential ethics were the highest, at 622. That growing trend indicated that staff was committed to ethics and integrity. The financial disclosure programme had, during the 2015 filing cycle, achieved an overall submission rate of 99 per cent and a 100 per cent submission rate for the United Nations Secretariat specifically. During the same cycle, the Office had completed reviews of 23 claims of retaliation for protected activities, and had determined six as prima facie cases.
Mr. RUIZ introduced ACABQ’s related report (document A/71/557), which recommended an approval of the Secretary‑General’s proposal to reduce the standard posting period for position‑specific openings for the Professional and higher categories to 30 days. It also recommended approval of the proposal to phase‑out the legacy rosters in place before the introduction of the Young Professionals Programme by December 2018 and an extension of the time that successful candidates could remain on the roster. On the proposal to increase the permissible earnings of retired former United Nations staff members, ACABQ believed that would lead to an increased frequency of engaging retirees, which would run contrary to efforts to improve workforce planning. Additionally, before endorsing the proposals to eliminate the examination requirement for General Service staff to the Professional category, and to lift recruitment restrictions, the Advisory Committee recommended further analysis of the wider implications of those proposals.
On the new staff selection and managed mobility system, the Advisory Committee was in no position to recommend approval of the proposal to allow vacant positions to be included in the managed mobility exercise since the Secretary‑General’s report reflected very limited experience, he said. Concerning the system of desirable ranges, the Secretary‑General’s proposed arithmetic adjustments to the determination of the lower and upper limits of the desirable ranges did not adequately respond to the General Assembly’s request for a comprehensive review of the system.
RAJAB M. SUKAYRI, Inspector of the Joint Inspection Unit, introduced the Unit’s report on succession planning in the United Nations system organizations (JIU.REP/2016/2) contained in a note by the Secretary‑General (document A/71/393). The Unit welcomed the note which reflected on his comments and those of the United Nations Chief Executives for Coordination. The objective of the system‑wide review was to follow up and assess progress in developing a framework for a succession planning strategy and propose solutions; identify and disseminate best practices; and propose benchmarks for succession planning.
The first finding was that the United Nations system organization had not yet adopted any definition of succession planning at the organization level or across the system, he said. “However the alarming demographics in most of the organizations across the system do not allow them the luxury to wait any longer,” he said. “The organizations have to expedite their succession planning. This will enable them to prevent potential loss of institutional memory and interruption of knowledge transfer and business continuity in their leadership positions and other crucial functions.” The Unit should develop and implement appropriate formal succession planning without any further delay, by the end of 2017.
The Unit also recommended that the Secretary‑General, in his capacity as Chair of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, ensure succession planning was reinstated as a main agenda item of the Human Resources Network of the High‑level Committee on Management and give the matter the utmost attention.
KENNETH HERMAN, Senior Advisor on Information Management Policy Coordination for the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), introduced the Secretary‑General’s note (document A/71/393/Add.1), which transmitted his comments and those of the Board on the Unit’s report. Organizations in the United Nations system agreed that succession planning was an important component of the Organization’s management and welcomed the report, which they found informative and useful and offered valuable analysis. Yet some had comments, such as that existing rules and regulations could inhibit the full application of approaches to succession planning presented in the report, as they could require consultations with governing bodies.
IAN RICHARDS, representing the staff unions of the United Nations, said they supported the proposal to allow General Service and Field Service staff to apply to the Professional category positions (P-1, P-2 and P-3) which were not earmarked for the Young Professionals Programme. The staff unions were firmly opposed to raising the earnings limits for retired staff members in receipt of pension benefits to 125 working days of the last salary. The current $22,000 limit restricted double‑dipping and minimized rehiring of retirees at the expense of current or new staff.
Furthermore, the staff unions did not support the proposal to eliminate the six‑month break in service for temporary staff moving to fixed‑term appointments on the same post, he said. United Nations staff also firmly disagreed with the proposal for vacant positions at B, C, D, and E duty stations to be included in a managed mobility exercise, as it laterally would assign staff still on their posts at the end of their incumbency period to a new post that would not be of their choosing. Additionally, the staff unions had concerns with the Global Service Delivery Model, as it was based on the assumption that Umoja worked. “The truth is that it is still struggling, despite its $1 billion price tag, with some colleagues still waiting months to receive benefits and pay,” he said.
On protection from retaliation, the staff unions were concerned that the Organization wanted to revise its policy by reducing the scope of what constituted protected activities. Under what was being discussed, he said, staff reporting minor breaches of the Staff Rules or Charter would not be protected. In addition, actions by the Secretary‑General’s representatives had led to a marked decline in staff‑management relations, including the reluctance of the Administration to share information in a timely manner on the Model and the regrettable tendency to present proposals on temporary appointments, use of retired staff and mobility policy directly to the General Assembly, without any prior discussion with the Staff‑Management Committee. Lastly, the staff unions reiterated their call for the Secretary‑General to prepare a report on the implications of providing stipends to interns at the United Nations
SIRITHON WAIRATPANIJ (Thailand), speaking for the Group of 77, said the United Nations was tasked with coordinating international efforts to address a wide array of global challenges, supported by evolving mandates and closely monitored by a world public opinion with high expectations. It was very important to the Group to enhance efforts to transform the Organization’s staff into a diverse, flexible and dynamic workforce that was motivated, adequately compensated and able to better deliver its mandates. The issue of equitable geographic representation in the Secretariat was of utmost concern to the Group. It was an obligation of the Charter and the United Nations must faithfully reflect the diversity and dynamism of staff from all regions of the world. The Group once again regretted that the Secretary‑General had not responded adequately to the Assembly’s request for concrete proposals to enhance the effectiveness of the desirable ranges and include peacekeeping and extra‑budgetary posts. The Group was disappointed that developing countries remained underrepresented.
The Group noted the Secretary‑General’s intention to develop a comprehensive strategy to achieve gender equality at all Professional levels within the Secretariat by 2030, especially in light of Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, she said. The United Nations would speak more credibly if gender equality and geographical and cultural diversity were actually reflected in the Organization’s own culture and management. Regarding contractual framework initiatives, the Group repeated the importance of ensuring fair and consistent criteria for conversion to continuing appointments as well as the need to closely monitor the overall ratio of continuing and permanent appointments to total staff so as to achieve the appropriate balance needed, she said.
With respect to the implementation of the new staff selection and managed mobility system, the Group noted the limited scope of the first semi‑annual staffing exercise carried out in 2016 and the low rate of placement. It reiterated the importance of ensuring equal opportunities for both internal and external applicants. It also expressed serious concern about the increase in the number of senior professional posts and the reduction of junior professional posts and asked the Secretary‑General to address these issues as priority in his comprehensive workforce and succession planning framework. The Group believed the Assembly should address the duplication and overlapping functions in the Organization, which contributed to the mushrooming of certain senior positions and posts.
JOSEPH TEO (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the Association of South‑East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that the United Nations was diverse and international in character, and there must be balanced representation at all levels. While the best candidate must be selected for any job opening, the Secretary‑General must ensure that under‑represented nationalities, especially those from developing countries, were given fair opportunities and consideration.
Describing the recruitment and management of talent as a key objective of any human resource framework, he noted that several pilot projects and initiatives had been launched to reduce recruitment timelines, including pre‑selection and general cognitive tests. Furthermore, he reiterated ASEAN’s support for an effective performance management system that could support the Organization’s needs. While noting the Secretary‑General’s commitment to ensuring objectivity, transparency and consistency of the system, he stressed that at the management level, there should be continuous assessment of those changes in order to evaluate their impact.
Ms. BAUMANN (Switzerland), also speaking on behalf of Liechtenstein, reiterated that the most valuable asset of the United Nations was its staff. A modern human resources service supporting a high‑performing workforce was required for a more productive, flexible and results‑oriented Organization. The implementation of the mobility framework, as per the recent report, would provide an important opportunity for staff to serve in different functions at different duty stations over the course of their careers. She encouraged the Secretary‑General to continue that implementation, while continuously improving the system by incorporating the report’s preliminary findings and lessons learned. Performance evaluation must be a process in which staff and managers worked together to plan, monitor and review work objectives with a view to boosting employee and Organization performance. She expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s proposal on reforming performance management and she welcomed his intention to present an updated human resources management framework at the Assembly’s next session.
Ms. ADAMSON, (European Union) regretted that the Fifth Committee had been unable to reach consensus on a human resource management reform and pledged that European member States would work constructively with all parties to achieve a resolution during the current session. The Union, noted that the Umoja roll‑out had been enhancing the United Nations oversight of human resources and enabling better data collection and more accurate workforce planning. It looked forward to better understanding the capabilities of the platform and its benefits for the Organization. On performance management, the Secretariat’s figures indicated an ongoing reluctance by managers to identify and address poor performance, she said, adding that underperformance should be addressed promptly. Furthermore, it was unacceptable that gender balance remained a persistent issue in the United Nations workforce, particularly among senior leadership
KEISUKE FUKUDA (Japan) said human resource management was a core element for the Organization’s effective and efficient operation and emphasized the need to recruit the best talent at all levels. The Secretary‑General must continue to facilitate the recruitment of young and diverse talent through the Young Professionals Programme examination, and give them the opportunity to develop their abilities. At the same time, it was essential to fill positions at the P‑3 and P‑4 levels with competent mid‑career staff. “Whether the Organization can accomplish its mandates depends on their performance,” he said, encouraging the Secretary‑General to use both internal and external experts with excellent professional experience. Among other things, he stressed that human resource professionals must provide career development support to each staff member and inform that about promotion opportunities.
Mr. AL-HEBEDAH (Kuwait), supported the Secretary‑General’s report on human resources management and aligned himself with the statement delivered by Thailand’s representative on behalf of the Group of 77. Welcoming efforts by the Secretariat to reform human resource management, he also reaffirmed the importance to reform the Young Professionals Programme. There was a need for the Organization to reform itself internally, ensuring that developing and developed countries were equally represented throughout the system. A robust system to monitor those reforms was also essential to safeguard implementation throughout the entire Organization.
NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that despite the importance collectively accorded to human resource management, its reform remained an unfinished agenda. Streamlining contractual arrangements, harmonizing conditions of service and a managed mobility framework represented significant recent advances. Mobility was a major change process, seeking to respond to the growing imperatives of a field‑oriented Organization, and more specificity was needed on the impact of mobility on the current staff selection system and the treatment of external candidates, among other issues. He expressed concern about the low overall success rate of candidates participating in the Young Professionals Programme, and sought clarification from the Secretariat about the decline in external recruits. He also noted that disparities in the representation of Member States in the Secretariat persisted despite clear direction from the General Assembly for a comprehensive review. There was merit in the proposal to establish an open‑ended working group of the Fifth Committee to consider the formula for determining equitable representation. With regret, he noted that 19 Member States were still unrepresented and 42 underrepresented.
CHERITH NORMAN CHALET (United States) said the United Nations played a crucial role in forging the path to a more just and peaceful world and it had no greater asset then its dedicated staff. Human resources management had to remain a priority for the Fifth Committee and the Organization. It also was crucial to recruit talent expediently and retain that talent, promote career development, reward good performance and establish a system to improve poor performance. Yet a system designed to allow staff to move quickly to meet evolving needs had not been tightly integrated into the greater human resources framework. It had been several years since the United Nation adopted a human resources management resolution and it was time in the current session to do so. “Stalling further will not only disservice the current staff, but also future staff,” she said. It was very important that the Organization continued to cultivate a culture of performance management and United Nations leadership had to be empowered to reward good performance and hold accountable those who fell short. The United States also asked the Secretary‑General to finalize the policy on whistle blower protection as soon as possible and encourage whistle‑blower and ethics perception in future staff engagement surveys to pinpoint potential improvements.
OH YOUNGJU (Republic of Korea) said that human resource management was critical to enable the Organization to effectively meet the needs of a globally changing environment. Progress had been made in placing the most qualified and competitive staff in the right positions; streamlining contractual arrangements; and harmonizing the conditions of service of staff, including the realization of the managed mobility service. Despite those advances, much work remained to be done, he said, underscoring that the Organization needed a more robust performance management scheme, effective workforce and succession planning, and improved gender balance in the Secretariat.
EVGENY KALUGIN (Russian Federation) said the Fifth Committee had not passed any resolutions on human resources management in several years. His delegation was concerned about the new personnel mobility practices as they had far‑reaching consequences for the functioning of the United Nations. Although the mobility initiative had been implemented this year, the Russian Federation had not yet seen any notable improvement, he said, requesting specific proposals in creating a truly equal system for both external and internal candidates. He asked the Secretariat if it was planning any measures to hire more external candidates so that the situation would not worsen further, turning it into a “closed club”. Furthermore, up until now, there had been no financial clarity on the mobility programme or how many Secretariat staff members would fall under the mandatory category. Lastly, he noted that the General Assembly had asked the Secretary‑General to treat all staff that underwent the mobility selection process equally.
NOEMI TAN DIAZ (Philippines), aligning herself with Thailand’s statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and Singapore’s statement on behalf of ASEAN, said that geographic and gender representation in the Secretariat and the United Nations system were of paramount importance. She urged the Secretary‑General to continue increasing efforts to achieve the goal of 50/50 gender balance and to increase the representation of women from developing countries at senior‑level posts. “A global and dynamic United Nations workforce should have gender parity, should reflect the geographic diversity of the membership, and should uphold the highest standard of efficiency, competence and integrity”, she said, stressing that the current system of desirable ranges was impacting efforts to bring about that type of change in the Secretariat
Mr. TAKASU thanked all the delegates for their remarks and the staff of the Secretariat for their hard work. He noted the ceremony that was held this week to remember the 210 colleagues whom lost their lives during the 18‑month period from 1 January 2015 to June 2016. Those losses demonstrated very clearly that staff worked in very dangerous conditions as they carried out their mandates. It was the Organization’s responsibility to ensure their safety and security. It also was the Fifth Committee’s responsibility.
He addressed the delegates varied concerns on human resources, from mobility to recruitment to equitable representation and gender equality. Regarding mobility, he said it had taken many years for the Assembly, Secretariat and staff to develop a mobility policy. Its implementation began in January 2016 on a voluntary basis. So far the number of participants was modest, but there had been lessons learned and that created a system for moving forward. The system would be fully implemented in January 2017 and it would become mandatory.
The Secretariat also was concerned that recruitment was taking too long and while reducing the advertisement of posts from 60 to 30 days would help, more needed to be done, he said. Gender and equitable representation was a priority for the Secretariat. The Secretary‑General had developed a gender equality plan, year by year to reach full gender parity. More details would be provided during the informal discussions. Regarding Umoja, he said there was misleading and inaccurate information being circulated. Umoja was working very well and it had been stabilized. No staff were waiting for payroll. Regarding pension fund payments, any delays were connected with the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund and not due to Umoja.
Ms. ARMSTRONG, Director of the Ethics Office, said that all participants of financial disclosure programmes first participated in a mandatory anonymous process, followed by a second, voluntary and public process. On the topic of protection against retaliation, she said that the Ethics Office had made a lot of effort to take on board helpful suggestion from staff members. She also noted that the policy was important to the newly established anti‑fraud framework. The Office was independent and accountable to the Secretary‑General.
INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), Chair of the Fifth Committee, recalled that it had commenced its consideration of agenda item 145, “Administration of justice at the United Nations” at its fourth meeting on 11 October 2016, and drew delegates’ attention to a letter from the President of the General Assembly dated 26 October 2016 (document A/C.5/71/10).