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Statement by Mr. Yasuo Kishimoto
First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
Agenda item 133: Human Resources Management

Fifth Committee
Sixty-second Session of the United Nations General Assembly
4 March 2008

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like at the outset to express our gratitude to the representatives of the Secretariat for introducing the relevant reports to the Committee. I should also like to thank the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions for its report.

Mr. Chairman,

Human resources management is the core foundation for effective and efficient operations of the Organizations. We acknowledge that, as agreed in resolution 61/244, reform is indispensable to respond more effectively to new and increasingly complex mandates, to meet the needs of an increasingly field-based Organization and to ensure the coherence of UN entities. Meanwhile, structural change in the area of human resources will have a direct effect on the staff and how they work. Contractual arrangements in particular spell out how the staff should be re-categorized. This, in turn, would clearly have significant administrative and budgetary implications for the UN system as a whole over a long period. Once we establish a framework, it would not be easy to revise it thereafter. My delegation, therefore, believes that we should move this reform forward with prudence by identifying specific issues to address and specific measures to solve them.

Now, I would like to extend Japan's views on the contractual arrangements and entitlements for staff in relation to harmonization of conditions of service.

[Contractual Arrangements]

First, permanent contracts are no longer major tools for UN entities that implement dynamic and changeable mandates. When we talk about promoting equality of treatment for all Secretariat staff, we should consider a framework that takes into account the needs of all UN organizations, as this may serve as a model for all UN entities. We should be reminded of the need to ensure coherence and inter-agency mobility throughout the UN common system.

Second, we need to define who the core staff of the United Nations are; to whom we should give continuing appointments. When deciding on granting continuing appointments, we need to have rigorous procedures in place, which are centrally managed, to review both staff performance and the need for the function. As the ICSC recommends, the General Assembly should consider the viability to set a cap on such appointments, taking into account its financial and long-term implications. The authority of granting the continuing appointments should not be handed over to programme managers who are not entitled to consider long term interests of the organization. In the area of peace operations, the proposal to establish civilian career peacekeepers through a competitive process might be considered as a way to define the core staff.

In the case of regular budget posts, the National Competitive Examination is the established means of recruiting qualified core staff who should enjoy long-term career positions in the Organization. The contractual arrangements must not undermine the current NCE with its rigorous, objective, fair and competitive screening process. My delegation will never accept any proposal that deprives the contractual status granted to the successful candidates in the system we now have in place.

Lastly, the mission-specific contract meets the varied and definite needs of peace operations. This also works effectively when liquidating operations in the field. It is a useful method of screening qualified staff for proving further job opportunities in other peace operations. It deserves to be preserved in order to avoid the creation of undue expectations of long-term employment, particularly where the mandate is clearly finite.

[Entitlements for staff]

Now, allow me to turn to the entitlements for staff. First, my delegation would like to call attention to what the conditions of service would be if we were to proceed with the proposed contractual arrangements. The proposals of the ICSC in 2006 contained in its document 61/30 make clear reference to the streamlining of contractual arrangements, but do not describe how conditions of service would have to be rearranged. The Secretariat should make clear what entitlements would accompany temporary appointments, fixed term appointments and continuing appointments. It is indispensable to clarify what allowances will be given to the staff in family and non-family duty stations if we designate the duty stations of peace operations based on the security phase.

Second, my delegation concurs with the ACABQ recommendations on the application of the special operations approach to peace operations. The nature of the peace operations staff is different from that of the staff for funds and programmes. International staff in funds and programmes are subject to a rotation policy that governs the long-term organizational strategy, while peace operations staff are employed to carry out mandates of finite duration at specific times and locations. Taking into consideration the significant difference between funds and programmes and peace operations in the number of international staff and family involved, it is premature to judge the validity of the application of SOA.

In closing, my delegation is committed to consider this important agenda item seriously and in good faith. With a view to achieving the best possible outcome in a very limited timeframe, it would be useful during this resumed session to find a common ground so that we can make some progress towards the main part of the 63rd session in which we would intensively discuss human resources management to achieve concrete results.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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