Secretary-General’s Staff Mobility Framework Should Foster More Career Development Opportunities, Movement at Hardship Duty Stations, Speakers Tell Fifth Committee

GA/AB/4304
20 November 2018
Seventy-third Session, 17th Meeting (AM)

Secretary-General’s Staff Mobility Framework Should Foster More Career Development Opportunities, Movement at Hardship Duty Stations, Speakers Tell Fifth Committee

Delegates speaking at the Fifth Committee’s (Administrative and Budgetary) meeting today urged the Secretary-General to put forward a bold mobility framework to generate a more efficient, nimble Organization while giving staff members expanded opportunities to develop their careers.

The representative from Switzerland said the framework has to be a central element of the Organization’s new management paradigm and should draw on lessons learned from other United Nations entities and from outside the United Nations system.  “Mobility must become an integral part of career development and of a successful talent management strategy,” she said.

The speaker for the Republic of Korea said the updated framework — earmarked for delivery at the General Assembly’s seventy-fourth session — should also encourage greater movement of staff in and out of hardship duty stations to ensure the burden of serving in difficult locations is shared equally.

Nearly five years after the Assembly first directed the Secretary-General to develop a programme for moving staff effectively and efficiently throughout the Organization, the Secretariat paused the programme’s implementation in order to broadly review how it worked when carried out in two networks in 2016 and 2017.

Martha Helena Lopez, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on mobility and said the comprehensive review recognizes that mobility needs to be clearly linked to career development.  The framework also needs to nurture and develop senior staff with a broad skill set and foster a culture of mobility throughout the Organization.

While anchored by centralized policies and oversight, the framework needs to let department heads tailor mobility initiatives to their needs.  “This will need to be carefully balanced as the Organization moves forward,” Ms. Lopez said, adding the proposal unveiled before the seventy-fourth Assembly session will align with the Secretariat’s global human resources strategy.

In introducing the eponymous report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), Vice Chairman Babou Sene noted the Secretary-General’s report has no information on the actual direct and indirect costs emanating from the framework’s application during 2016 and 2017.  The Advisory Committee urges the Secretariat to include this information in its upcoming proposal.

In other business, Remo Lalli, Secretary of the High-Level Committee on Management and Chief of the Geneva Office of the Chief Executives Board Secretariat, speaking by video teleconference, introduced the statistical report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination on the budgetary and financial situation of the System’s entities from 2012 to 2017.

The Fifth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 28 November, to discuss special political missions, revised estimates for the United Nations development system; and Subvention to Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Budgetary and Financial Situation of United Nations System Organizations

REMO LALLI, Secretary of the High-Level Committee on Management and Chief of the Chief Executives Board Secretariat, Geneva Office, speaking by video teleconference, introduced the statistical report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination on the budgetary and financial situation of the System’s entities (document A/73/460).  The ninth in a series, and the first since the General Assembly’s seventy-first session, the report is “the only system-wide source of financial statistics for the organizations of the United Nations system,” he said.  Based on a survey completed in October 2018, it includes an additional six entities – Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, International Criminal Court, United Nations Capital Development Fund, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development and the United Nations System Staff College - with a particular focus on revenues and expenses for the biennium 2016-2017.  In response to requests from Member States, the Secretariat made an effort to provide more details on revenue from non-Member State donors, including inter-agency pooled funds, he said.

Human Resources Management:  Mobility

MARTHA HELENA LOPEZ, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, introduced the Secretary-General reports on mobility (documents A/73/372/Add.2 and A/72/767).  Deferred to the current session, the Secretary-General’s report to the seventy-second session shows how the mobility framework has been laid out.  [This follows the General Assembly’s request in the sixty-eighth session for annual updates.]  The report to the seventy-third session provides a comprehensive review and outlines ways to shape a proposal on the way forward on mobility.  Staff mobility is critical to ensure knowledge and experiences are shared and replicated across the Organization, she said.  “Likewise, staff mobility is a critical foundation for the Secretary-General’s vision for a nimble, effective, transparent, accountable and efficient Organization,” she said.

In order to carry out the comprehensive review requested by the Assembly, the Secretary-General paused the implementation of the mobility framework, she said.  The comprehensive review summarizes the methodology, findings and lessons learned from reviewing how the first two networks were operationalized under the new framework:  the Political, Peace and Humanitarian Network (POLNET) and the Information and Telecommunication Technology Network (ITECNET).

The comprehensive review was carried out through broad consultations across the Secretariat and demonstrates that an organization with such diverse programmes and operations needs a multi-faceted approach, she said.  The review also recognized that mobility needs to be clearly linked to career development and benefit the larger Organization by nurturing and developing senior staff who have a broad skill set and range of experiences.  Over time, the programme should foster a culture of mobility which encourages staff to undertake new tasks and assignments across the entire scope of the Organization’s mandates and duty stations.  Mobility initiatives must be resourced to be successful.  The United Nations also needs to pay attention to the duty of care given to staff serving in hardship locations.  Future mobility programmes should encourage greater movement of staff in and out of difficult duty stations, she stressed.

While based on centralized policies and oversight, a mobility framework needs to be aligned with the Secretary-General’s call for increased delegation of authority and the desires of department heads and offices to tailor mobility initiatives to the needs of their entities.  “This will need to be carefully balanced as the Organization moves forward,” she said.  The Secretary-General’s mobility framework proposal to the seventy-fourth session will be aligned with the global human resources strategy and integrated with the approach to career development, learning and staff selection.

BABOU SENE, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced its related report (document A/73/569).  He noted the Secretary-General’s report lacks information on actual direct and indirect costs arising from the implementation of the mobility framework during 2016 and 2017.  The General Assembly should therefore request that such information be included when the Secretary-General submits his proposal for a new framework during its seventy-fourth session.  The Advisory Committee also trusts that, in preparing his proposal, the Secretary-General will be guided by relevant provisions of Assembly resolutions and take into account lessons learned from implementation in 2016 and 2017.

SANG DEOK NA (Republic of Korea) said staff members are the Organization’s most important resource and must be cared for, developed and used efficiently.  They are also the driving force of ongoing reform initiatives to make the United Nations a more nimble, effective, transparent and accountable Organization.  As clearly set out by the Assembly resolution five years ago, one of the most effective ways to achieve this goal is through mobility.  Managed mobility is meant to help the Organization effectively meet its mandates; provide staff members with broader opportunities for career development; and, most importantly, ensure equal opportunities for staff members by fairly sharing the burden of service in difficult duty stations.  He welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposed global human resources strategy, which identifies mobility as a core element of a proactive talent management strategy.  The new mobility system should not only be a cornerstone of human resources management policies; it should also serve as an integral part of the overall management reform initiatives.  The Republic of Korea trusts the Secretary-General will quickly provide the Assembly with a comprehensive proposal on a new and more robust mobility framework, he said.

CRISTINA VERONES (Switzerland) said a comprehensive mobility framework must be a central element of the Organization’s new management paradigm.  “Mobility must become an integral part of career development and of a successful talent management strategy,” she said, encouraging the Secretary-General to propose a bold framework to the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session.  Switzerland has high expectations for next year’s report, which should take into account lessons learned from other United Nations entities and from outside the United Nations system.

For information media. Not an official record.