The statement was held on October 27th under Item 114 "Human resources management":
I would like to thank the Secretariat and USG Catherine Bertini for the introduction to the many reports before us on agenda item 114, and Ambassador Kuznetsov for introducing the related reports of the ACABQ. I also thank USG Dileep Nair for his introduction of the OIOS report.
It is not my delegation’s intention to comment specifically on all the reports before us. We will concentrate on matters of particular importance to the ongoing reform process of the human resources management programme and revert to other issues during the informal consultations. In this respect I would like to commend the Secretary-General on his thorough and professional follow-up to report A/57/293 and the subsequent General Assembly Resolutions 57/300 and 57/305.
A solid foundation has been laid for streamlining the Secretariat and the staff of the United Nations and making them more professional. The goal is to create a challenging and rewarding working environment that attracts, develops and retains staff of the highest calibre. To succeed in this endeavour the Organization must have a flexible, up-to-date human resources management system that is attuned to the tremendous challenges posed by the international agenda and in particular the Millennium Declaration.
The Secretary-General’s report A/59/263 on human resources management reform gives a very good overview of how far this process has been taken during the last few years. These are very important innovations and improvements, which my delegation has wholeheartedly supported. But there is no reason to be complacent. The process must constantly be kept on the right track. Every process of change has its detractors and even enemies. All large-scale changes in an organisational culture need a certain amount of time, sustained efforts and commitment to take hold. There must, however, be clear indicators and well-defined time limits for the achievement of new goals. As more authority is delegated to middle management we must make sure that there are checks and balances in the system. Non-compliance with the Organisation's stated goals, such as gender equality, must have clear and concrete repercussions for those responsible.
I would like to comment on certain points in the main report before us, A/59/263. My delegation feels that the conditions of service for UN personnel must be at least on a par with those of other up-to-date international organisations. This is not only a question of a competitive compensation system. The quality of life both in the working environment and in the daily lives of all UN employees and their families is of the utmost importance. In our view more can be done to facilitate the integration and wellbeing of UN personnel and their families in the various parts of the world where they are stationed. In other words, the human resources management system must also contain an up-to-date family policy with clear goals and indicators that take account among other things of nursing mothers, those with young children, spouse employment and the necessity for more flexible working hours. These elements are also of great importance both for recruitment and gender equality.
Document A/59/263/Add.2 on improving gender distribution in the Secretariat reports encouraging advances in gender mainstreaming. But the underrepresentation of women in the United Nations system is still a serious concern, especially at senior level. My delegation appreciates the extensive documentation and the hard work the Secretariat has put into informing the membership of the facts. We also fully endorse the new initiatives and actions taken to improve the situation. This will be particularly important in the next five years, when one out of every three retirements in the Professional category will be that of a female staff member. Thus special action must be taken if a gender balance is to be reached in all categories of staff.
In the report A/59/263 we are asked to endorse two new provisions: shortening vacancy announcements from 60 to 45 days and making more P-2 posts available so that successful candidates from the General Service staff can be promoted to the Professional category.
My delegation supports both proposals. The length of time it takes to fill vacancies is a recurring concern to all of us, and shortening the vacancy announcements will help us in this respect. Statistics also show that such a shortening will not reduce the number of qualified candidates. We also agree that qualified candidates for P-2 posts from the General Service should be given better opportunities to obtain promotion to this level. In the report A/59/263/Add.1 we are asked to endorse new contractual arrangements to simplify existing arrangements through the use of only three types of appointments that would be used for all Secretariat functions, departments, duty stations and field missions. My delegation supports these proposals, as they will better serve the operational needs of the Organisation. We would, however, underscore that proper transitional measures must be instituted for such a major change.
Let me in conclusion commend the Secretary-General on his report A/59/264 "Improvement of equitable geographical representation in the United Nations Secretariat". My country has been among the underrepresented Member States for as far back as the statistics in 59/264 take us, that is for the last 10 years. I can assure you that we have been working hard to persuade the Secretariat to remedy this situation. The permanent mission of Norway has all these years had a focal point in the mission for recruitment to the UN. We welcome the new focal point for this purpose at the P-5 level in the Office of Human Resources Management. My delegation also very much appreciates the proposal to introduce a fast-track recruitment procedure for candidates from unrepresented and underrepresented Member States for P-4 posts and above.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.