2006.11.01: Item 123: Human Resources Management Reform

Mr. Sul Kyung-hoon, Counsellor, at Fifth Committee of the 61st General Assembly

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

1. First of all, I wish to thank the Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, for introducing his report entitled “Investing in people”, on the subject human resources management reform, last Monday. My delegation appreciates the Secretary-General’s tireless efforts in reforming the UN, and particularly human resources management.

2. I would also like to thank Mr. Rajat Saha, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), for his comments. We likewise appreciated the presentations by the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, Ms. Jan Beagle, the Director of the Ethics Office, Ms. Nancy Hurtz-Soyka, and the President of the Coordinating Committee of International Staff Unions and Associations (CCISA), Mr. Oleg Kiiamov.

Mr. Chairman,

3. As the Secretary-General once again made clear when introducing his report, the United Nations’ most valuable asset is its staff. Reflecting the Secretary-General’s decade of experience at the helm of the United Nations, “Investing in people” presents a persuasive vision of the future direction of the Secretariat. As the ACABQ noted in its report, “Investing in people” contains many innovative and valuable ideas. My delegation endorses the Secretary-General’s vision of a workforce that is integrated, field-oriented, global, multi-skilled and versatile.

4. The ACABQ report also points out that a number of the Secretary-General’s proposals fall within his purview as Chief Administrative Officer of the Organization. My delegation agrees that the Secretary-General should use his existing authority to carry out the mandates set by the General Assembly according to means he considers best suited to each task. The role of the General Assembly, meanwhile, should be to set mandates and hold the Secretary-General accountable for their execution. Indeed, this is the approach advocated by our leaders in the Outcome Document of the High-Level Summit last year. We expect the Secretariat to be more proactive in this regard.

5. In the same vein, we concur with the ACABQ on the need for clear lines of authority and corresponding accountability. Translated into the daily work of the Secretariat, this means that all staff members must be aware of their responsibilities, goals and benchmarks for implementing approved programmes of work. To make this ideal a reality, the Secretariat must make an appropriate performance appraisal system, with meaningful incentives and sanctions, an integral part of the personnel management system. Regular consultations between management and staff should be encouraged.

6. We believe that staff morale is the linchpin of effective performance, and that these reforms have the potential to improve staff morale substantially. Indeed, the underlying culture and work ethic of the Secretariat should be enhanced so that the Secretariat is fully able to respond to the evolving needs of the Organization.

Mr. Chairman,

7. Turning to the issue of recruitment and staffing, my delegation shares the view that the current recruitment process is too slow and too reactive rather than proactive. We believe that the Secretary-General’s proposals will contribute to resolving these problems. In particular, we are encouraged by the emphasis on strategic workforce planning. We hope this approach will enable the Secretariat to attract and retain a world-class staff that can carry out the complex and challenging mandates set by the General Assembly with optimal efficiency and success.

8. We urge the Secretariat to make workforce planning as accurate as possible. For such planning to be meaningful, it must be reflected in a relatively rapid recruitment and placement process so that identified staffing needs are met while they are still relevant. Much greater efforts should be made to ensure that those candidates who pass the National Competitive Examination (NCE) are placed promptly. Otherwise, we will continue to face a costly attrition of qualified candidates because of excessively long waits on the roster. The long waiting times can be traced to delayed decision-making by managers. These delays are unacceptable. They undermine the ability of the Secretariat both to meet its immediate staffing needs and to fill available positions with the best possible candidates.

9. The Republic of Korea attaches great importance to geography and gender balance in the Secretariat. As such, we welcome the Secretary-General’s proposal to strictly enforce compliance with geography and gender targets. As part of workforce planning, the Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) should play a more vigorous and proactive role in monitoring and addressing these organizational mandates. We also support enhanced efforts from senior management in this regard.

10. On the subject of mobility, my delegation welcomes the successes of the managed reassignment programme for P-2 staff. We agree that increased mobility will help Secretariat staff to become the flexible, multi-skilled personnel that the Organization needs. As such, we support the Secretary-General’s efforts to develop a system of meaningful incentives to mobility.

11. Nevertheless, we share the ACABQ’s concerns over the potential administrative and management implications of greater staff mobility. We therefore underline the ACABQ’s requests that the Secretary-General report to the 62nd session of the General Assembly on the first phase of the implementation of staff mobility and also provide productivity and financial projections for future phases, as well as an assessment of the relevant administrative and management issues.

12. Concerning career development, the Republic of Korea has long supported training as a crucial element of staff development. If we are to attract and retain talented, dedicated staff with a high standard of competence and foster the leadership, creativity and versatility that the work of the Organization demands, stronger career development programmes are essential. We also support the proposals for strengthened leadership and management recruitment, training and development.

13. The ACABQ considers it premature to approve the significant addition of funds requested by the Secretary-General prior to receiving his analysis and information on the priorities, results and timetables for career development initiatives. They highlight in particular that the unspent balance of the existing appropriation needs to be taken into account. It would be highly appreciated if the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management could elaborate on this matter and provide the Secretariat’s views.

14. There is an urgent need to improve human resources information technology. A new e-staffing tool should be developed at an early date. My delegation wishes to emphasize, however, that in order to avoid a repeat of our experience with the Galaxy system, we need to begin with a comprehensive, detailed analysis of the scope and coverage of the system to ensure that it meets the needs of all users.

Mr. Chairman,

15. While all UN staff members are international civil servants under one global Organization, they serve under a wide variety of contractual arrangements and are subject to widely divergent conditions of service. The Organization’s need for a truly integrated, field-oriented workforce requires simplified and streamlined contractual arrangements for the fair treatment of all staff.

16. Along with other Member States, the Republic of Korea is open to discussing this issue. To facilitate such discussion, we would appreciate seeing the details of the proposed contract, including the financial implications beyond 2007. Nevertheless, my delegation believes that this proposal relates directly to the issue of conditions of service in the field. As such, it should be discussed next March in conjunction with the report of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) Working Group on compensation packages for internationally recruited staff serving at non-family duty stations and the ICSC’s proposals for a harmonized approach within the United Nations system.

17. As for the proposed framework of 2,500 career civilian positions in UN peace operations, we recognize that establishing such a standing capacity would enhance the professionalism of UN peace forces and strengthen the ability of the UN to respond quickly to peacekeeping needs. As the ACABQ points out, a clear methodology is needed for the apportionment of the related costs among the various sources of funding. Other areas requiring clarification are the mix of skills required, the expected grade distribution, the selection process, the application of staff mobility measures, and the management of the expanded capacity.

Mr. Chairman,

18. According to my delegation’s understanding of the Secretary-General’s report, the Secretariat desperately needs the Member States to provide not only financial investment, but also an investment of encouragement, engagement and political support. In the end, it is not numbers and statistics, but human beings, who carry out the vital work of this Organization. We pledge to bear in mind this important reality as we progress in our discussions of proposals for human resources reform.

19. The Republic of Korea will do its part to provide the Secretariat with the necessary means to fulfil the mandates set by the Member States. We hope that other delegations will share our spirit of proactive enquiry and careful analysis, remembering always the central importance of the UN staff to all our endeavours.

Thank you.