Mr. Chairman/Madame chairperson
Let me first thank Deputy Secretary-General, Ms. Asha-Rose Migiro for her statement, as well as Under Secretary-General for Management Ms. Angela Kane and the Director of the Ethics Office, Ms. Joan Elise Dubinsky, along with Chair of the ACABQ, Ms. Susan McLurg for introducing their reports. Let me also thank Vice-President of the Staff-Management Coordination Committee (SMCC), Ms. Paulina Analena along with the President of the Staff Union of the United Nations Secretariat, Mr. Stephen Kisambira for their statements made.
Norway remains committed to supporting the ongoing efforts of the Secretariat and the UN Common System to continue to strengthen the UN’s capacity to deliver as one. A well-integrated and more coherent UN is a more effective UN. This requires an ability to prioritise and to think strategically across sectors and institutional divisions.
Reform of UN human resources management is a key example. In order to promote coherence across the UN system, we should make it easier to transfer smoothly between postings within the Secretariat, funds, and programmes. There are currently also challenges related to the recruitment of qualified personnel to certain field postings. However, neither mobility nor harmonization are ends in themselves, but means to an end goal of better delivery on the ground. We do not want the UN to be one, but to deliver as one. This also requires due regard to the particularities, specific skills and mandates of the different entities in the UN system.
While we support the intentions of the Secretariat to ensure harmonisation of allowances and work conditions, this must not end up solely as a downward harmonisation to the lowest common denominator. The case for creating a more transparent, more harmonised system is well made. We are cautious of unintended consequences resulting from the current process. Maintaining an open dialogue with all the parties affected will be key to understanding the full impact on the ground of the proposals.We would like to see further information and analysis of the expected impact of the suggestions – to UN presence in the field as a whole.
Mr. Chairman/Madame Chairperson,
The Secretary-General’s report reflects that a lot of progress has been made since resolution 63/250. We welcome the increased focus on the field level, complex mandates, integration and coherence. As made clear in the report, many difficult issues remain. Allow me to comment on a few of these issues here:
In our dialogue with UN missions on the ground, the timeline of recruitment is frequently cited as a major challenge as posts often remain vacant for periodes up to 6 months or even a year. We welcome the efforts made to accelerate the recruitment process through upgrade use of rosters and streamlined processes. We have noted the SG’s proposal to reduce the number of days of announcement from 60 to 45 and wish to work with Member States to address this proposal and others that would further enhance the UN’s recruitment process. However, there is also a need to maintain a certain degree of flexibility, particularly for complex missions in difficult places. We would be interested in more information from the Secretariat with regards to the availability and use of waivers and under particular circumstances.
Retention is another key word. How to ensure that staff remains in field positions longer periods of time. It is in particular with this in mind that we call for an impact analysis of the proposal to discontinue the special operations approach. Such an analysis should have a particular view on the gender impact of such a decision.
With regards to issues of mobility. We appreciate ongoing efforts in this regard. While not all positions and tasks require field experience, we do believe that increased mobility between the field and headquarters would provide a more strategic and realistic response on the ground. With regards to the wider UN Common System – while increased mobility could serve to enhance coherence and integration, interoperability is a more urgent issue. We urge the Secretary-General to continue to work with the funds and programmes to enable UN staff to move smoothly between organisational entities without disadvantage to themselves and their future career in their “home organisation”.
The UN, particularly in the field, is seldom better than the quality of its people. We welcome the major efforts and investments that have been made in talent management and performance assessments. We look forward to reports on the impact of these new procedures and tools. Investment in staff is probably the most important investment in the UN’s future. We would encourage a particular focus on mid-level managers and those who are to lead complex and integrated missions.
We recognise that job security, predictability and fairness are important motivational factors and welcome the SG’s account of the process of conversion to continuing contracts. We would agree with the SG that the establishment of an arbitrary ceiling could be counterproductive. However, this requires careful management of the process and due regard to the overall number of staff. We would encourage the SG to keep the 5th committee apprised of the application of the procedures for conversion of continuing contracts.
As we get into the details, we must also maintain focus on the goal of the reform measures; one of the key goals is to strengthen the UN’s ability to recruit the best possible people to serve where they are needed the most. This is key to deliver on increasingly complex mandates in an increasingly complex environment. 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”.