Statement by Mr. Toshiro Ozawa
Ambassador of Japan
At the Informal Consultation of the Plenary of the United Nations General Assembly on the Secretariat and Management Reform
15 December 2005
Today, we discuss another important issue on the Secretariat and management reform: how the United Nations budgetary, financial and human resource policies, regulations and rules can be improved so that our Organization can function more efficiently and effectively.
In this connection, my delegation would like to recall the remarks of the Secretary-General on August 31st when he addressed the so-called Core Group working on the draft of the Summit Outcome Document. The Secretary-General mentioned that a review of the rules and regulations on budgetary and human resources is necessary "because these rules have been left largely untouched in the last 15 years." He also argued that (, in order to be a more effective chief administrator,) all he was seeking for was authority to manage the Organization similar to that which his colleagues have in the Specialized Agencies, which are also financed through assessed contributions.
My delegation is acutely aware that due to the less predictable, more complicated and dynamically evolving nature of the work of the United Nations in these days, we should review our institutional arrangements in a comprehensive manner, so that we can make the Secretariat a truly effective base for the implementation of the United Nations' operational activities, and achieve maximum results within limited time and resources. We believe that the Secretariat would have the most expertise on such issues, and thus, we will eagerly await the Secretary-General's assessment and recommendations on budgetary, financial and human resource policies, regulations and rules for decision by the General Assembly during the first quarter of next year.
We believe that the Secretary-General, as the chief administrative officer of the Organization in accordance with Article 97 of the UN Charter, must have the necessary authority and means to carry out his managerial responsibilities. At the same time, there must exist a reliable, transparent and effective system of accountability to the Member States. A culture of taking responsibility should be nurtured, so that when serious mistakes occur, high ranking officials actually do take responsibility.
Also, the extent to which the Secretary-General and other senior managers of the Secretariat is required to be accountable to Member States should be commensurate with the extent to which they are given managerial responsibilities. We need to have a common understanding in this regard.
On flexibility, I wish to mention that my delegation has already submitted a concrete proposal in the context of the ongoing budget negotiations. We have seen what has not happened after authority was given to the Secretary-General to redeploy 50 posts during the 04/05 biennium budget period. Two years ago, this authority was granted for the purpose of enhancing the Secretariat's capacity to meet the evolving needs of high priority and urgency. The proposal by my delegation should provide the necessary tools to the Secretary-General for managing human and budgetary resources within and between departments in accordance with certain procedures.
In relation to human resource policies, regulations and rules, my delegation believes that further effective use of the United Nations' valuable human resources is vitally important for the effective functioning of our Organization, and wishes to point out a few observations pertinent to the Secretariat's work on its assessment and recommendations.
With the evolving role of the United Nations, the human resources required in our Organization has also been changing. In our view, the current professionalism based on rigidly defined job description may not be the best way for our Organization to adapt itself effectively to diverse and evolving tasks, and thus should be transformed into a more generic one. We believe such consideration should be reflected in the review of human resources policies, regulations and rules.
Also, regarding rules and regulations on human resource management, we believe it is vitally important to enhance staff mobility. Without staff mobility, it becomes extremely difficult to enact institutional arrangements that would facilitate timely, smooth and effective establishment or elimination of posts so that we can respond to the current needs of the Organization. Without staff mobility, people, by human nature, have less incentive to challenge new and different tasks. This leads to a vicious cycle of ensured rigidity. We believe, therefore, that, enhancing staff mobility and the versatility of the staff are key factors for a more effective human resources management and for a more efficient and effective conduct of work of the Organization. Thus, my delegation believes that the Secretariat's ongoing efforts to enhance staff mobility should be taken seriously and implemented in full. We understand that from May 2007, the tenure of a staff at a certain post will be limited to five years in general and for D1 and above to six years. This is a step in the right direction, and should be implemented on a mandatory basis, with only a few exceptions. Furthermore, we believe that, in order to enhance staff mobility, it is important for the Office of the Human Resources Management to be provided with appropriate authority in the area of human resources management.
My delegation would welcome any other viable measures to enhance staff mobility and the versatility of staff.
Another human resource management issue to which we attach great importance is the staff appraisal system. In the current staff rules and regulations, there is little specificity with regard to the principles, methods and the utilization of the staff appraisal system. We often hear that, in practice, most staff are appraised as "outstanding." We certainly like to think that the United Nations staff are outstanding, but even amongst outstanding staff, you would find above average and below average staff. We would encourage the use of such tools for human resource management.
Finally, on the one-time staff buyout, we urge the Secretary-General to do what is necessary within existing resources, especially for the below average staff. If the Secretary-General wishes to make a detailed proposal for a one-time buy out on a much larger scale, we would certainly give it serious consideration.
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