New York

15 February 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at signing ceremony for compacts for senior managers

These Compacts are now entrusted to you and the Management Performance Board for monitoring and follow-up.  I know they are in good hands.

Dear Colleagues in New York and in missions. Thank you very much for taking part in this very important event, for signing the compacts.  This is a compact and promise which you are doing, not only [for] me, as head of the Organization, but [for] the people of the world and the whole Organization.

Since its inception, the United Nations has dealt with the toughest and most intractable problems the world faces. Conflict, environmental threats, hunger, poverty, inequality, injustice and more. When disasters strike, the United Nations rushes in. When long-term problems simmer, we stay and search for solutions. Where people are suffering, we bring relief. In all circumstances, we look to the horizon for emerging trends, problems and opportunities.

This is our duty and our honour.

Now we have new challenges. We are getting more and increasingly complex mandates – and at the same time, like families and governments everywhere, we are under severe financial strain.

I have told the Member States that the situation is unsustainable. And I have asked all United Nations staff, starting with senior managers, to rise to the challenges we face. 

To succeed, we have to make the most of our precious resources. We have to maximize our talents and draw out the best in our staff. And we have to find innovative ways to get our jobs done. 

Greater accountability strengthens us all. The compacts you have signed today are a central component of our accountability framework. They are critical to building a performance-driven United Nations.

Accountability starts at the top. Water flows from top to bottom, and you are at the top.  You have to lead by example. The goals you set in your compacts, and the priorities that you have set as heads of the Departments and Agencies, cascade through all levels of staff.  I trust that you will lead by example.

We will publish these compacts on iSeek to demonstrate our commitment to transparency. All staff can read in black and white what the Organization intends to accomplish this year under your leadership. 

When we are clear about our priorities, we can clearly measure and review our performance. I am counting on you to have regular dialogue with staff about the direction of our Organization, about your priorities and how you intend to lead your Departments. I realize you are very busy with your work, but communicating with your staff is not an “extra” task – it is an integral part of your overall responsibilities. Listen closely to their views. They have the creative ideas we need to usher in greater progress.

The staff members who you lead, manage and motivate are on the front lines of our work. Their dedicated efforts make the United Nations great. By signing these compacts today, you undertake to give your staff the principled leadership they deserve. You pledge to answer the calls of our Member States. And you commit to creating a better world for the peoples we serve.

I thank you very much for your leadership and your commitment, and I thank the Deputy Secretary-General for your leadership and also the Chef de Cabinet for making these compacts very meaningful today.