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Statement by Ambassador Liu Zhenmin of China on Agenda Item 123: Human Resources Management at the 5th Committee of UNGA 61st Session
2006/11/01

2006/11/01

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, please allow me to thank Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his report on Human Resources Management as contained in A/61/255. My thanks also go to the Chairman of the ACABQ and the representative of the CCISUA and other officials of the UN Secretariat for their briefing under this item.

The Chinese delegation appreciates the contributions the Secretary-General has made since he took office to the reform of the UN Secretariat, particularly that of the human resources management.

China associates itself with the statement made by South Africa on behalf of G77 and China and wishes to make some comments on the following issues:

1. Representation. We are concerned that the proportion of nationals of the developing countries in posts at the senior and policymaking levels continue to decline from year to year and that there remains an overall imbalance in the distribution of staff members from the developing countries among various departments of the Secretariat. In the coming five years, 1,759 staff members of the Secretariat will retire, of whom 8.6% are at or above D1 level. This presents the Secretariat with a rare opportunity to improve the geographical representation of the developing countries in posts at senior levels and in various departments. We call upon the Secretariat to pay attention to this issue, make careful planning and take effective measures to implement GA Resolution 57/305, thus ensuring equitable representation of developing countries in posts at the senior and policymaking levels in the Secretariat.

As for recruitment under the system of desirable ranges, we note with regret that in the past year, 22.4% of recruitments under this system were from over-represented member states. Recruitment from national competitive examination rosters has been going slowly, with many candidates remaining on the roster for many years. It is our view that the OHRM must enhance transparency in recruitment and in allocation of posts subject to geographical distribution, monitor the actual recruitment situation in various departments and keep the member states informed. We welcome the "fast-track" project initiated by the Secretariat for unrepresented and underrepresented member states. In view of such elements as attrition and reform in the scale of assessment, we propose that the "fast-track" project also cover those member states which are already below the mid-point in terms of their representation and are likely to fall into the category of "underrepresented" sometime in the future, and that a special roster of internal and external candidates from such member states be established so as to substantially improve their under-representation. We welcome the close cooperation between the OHRM and other departments, candidates and member states. We expect that the Management Performance Board will play a substantive role in performance review by formulating clear, transparent and feasible policies and rules and by monitoring the implementation by various departments of the principles of equitable geographical distribution and gender balance as required by the General Assembly.

2. The question of shortening recruitment process. The Secretary-General has pointed out in his report that the objective of the reform in this regard is to cut the present recruitment time of 174 days by half and has proposed to shorten the time-limit for responding to vacancy announcements from 60 days to 30. In our view, for candidates from member states with relatively underdeveloped IT systems and from regions which are lagging behind in this regard, the cut in advertising time will obviously make it difficult for them to participate in the competition and is therefore unfair to them. In the absence of well-defined improvement goals in other links of the recruitment chain, the cut in advertising time alone will not significantly shorten the whole recruitment process. Instead, it may well deprive some qualified candidates of opportunities. In view of this, we are not in favor of the shortening of advertising time. We propose that other measures be taken to speed up the processing of applications, for example, formulating a multi-faceted recruitment strategy and starting the vacancy filling process well in advance.

3. Streamlining contractual arrangements and the policy of managed mobility. The Secretariat has proposed as a way to facilitate management to streamline contractual arrangements by replacing the existing three categories of contract with a single category. Since this proposal will have a direct bearing on the common system, we propose to have the ICSC study it before further consideration. Implementing managed mobility, particularly cross-region mobility, in the Secretariat will give rise to new issues such as financial implications, relevant policy adjustments and necessary strengthening of administration of justice. We believe that this issue should also be studied by the ICSC before any decision is made. Having said that, we believe that a pilot project on mobility can be first carried out at the level of senior management so as to share inter-agency experience and enhance the leadership capacity of senior managers.

4. Improving the staffing structure and the quality of staff members. Regarding the proposal to eliminate qualification restrictions on the application by staff in general service and related categories for junior professional posts, we believe that it should be evaluated from the perspective of optimizing both the overall quality and the age structure of the Secretariat staff. Up until June 2006, there were still 521 candidates on the NCRE roster waiting to be recruited. The desire of these young talents to serve the United Nations should not be neglected. As for age structure, the current average age of 45.9 of the Secretariat staff is not conducive to its future sustainability. China believes that the current practice of G to P examinations should be maintained and that the conditions are not yet there for eliminating qualification restrictions in this regard.

On the one-time buyout as proposed by the Secretary-General, China wants transparency in its actual implementation and the guarantee of an effective monitoring mechanism and is concerned about the financial implications. China hopes to obtain further clarifications in order to better evaluate the benefits of this proposal.

5. Reform in conditions of service of peacekeeping staff. China pays great attention to the benefits offered to peacekeeping staff. In view of the fact that the ICSC has proposed to set up a working group dedicated to re-examining the issue of harmonizing conditions of service in conjunction with contractual arrangements, we suggest that this issue be taken up under the item of common system.

On the Secretariat's proposal to establish 2,500 permanent peacekeeping posts, which will include both field service and posts in the professional category, for the purpose of meeting the basic staffing needs of rapid deployment of peacekeeping operations, we need to learn more about the relationship between this proposal and other reform measures in human resources management, for example, whether such reform measures as mobility policy, streamlining contractual arrangements and harmonizing conditions of service will have a bearing on this proposal. We also need to consider the financial implications of this proposal and whether this proposal will lead to new problems of inequality due to the difference between treatment given to this permanent team and that given to other peacekeeping staff. We are ready to further explore this issue in informal consultations.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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