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Statement by Mr. Takashi Kanamori
First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations

Agenda item 137: Human resources management

Fifth Committee
Sixty-fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly
17 November 2009

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

My delegation would like at the outset to express its gratitude to Ms. Catherine Pollard, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, Mr. Robert Benson, the Director of the Ethics Office, and Ms. Susan McLurg, the chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), for introducing their reports.

Mr. Chairman,

The Secretary-General, in his report (A/64/267), proposes that a continuing appointment may be granted to a staff member who has a minimum of five years of continuous service with the Organization under three provisions: a) a continuing need for the individual's services in the Organization; b) a performance rating of 3 or above in his or her four most recent performance appraisal reports; and c) no instances of the staff member's having been subject to disciplinary measures in the preceding five years. My delegation fears that the Secretary-General's proposal is too ambiguous to be a practical basis for human resources management, for the following reasons: a) there are no clear and transparent criteria for specifying under what circumstances it can be determined that there is a continuing need for a staff member's services in the Organization; b) as pointed out in the ACABQ report (A/64/518, para. 20), there is no information available on which specific skills or functions would be needed by the Organization on an ongoing basis; and c) under the current performance appraisal system, for the biennium 2006-2007, for example, 99.4 per cent of staff were given a performance rating of 3 or above, which strongly suggests that the rating provision is unlikely to prove effective in selecting who to grant continuing appointments.

Mr. Chairman,

The ACABQ recognizes that it will, in all likelihood, be necessary to regulate the total number of staff with a long-term claim on the Organization. My delegation is of the same view, and therefore would like to propose that the Organization develop at least a rough plan of regulating the total number of staff members with long-term status, which includes, for a good number of years, permanent appointees as well as continuing appointees. My delegation is concerned that implementation of continuing appointments without any limitation on the number of long-term staff would have a significant adverse impact on the Organization from the very outset, namely it would impose an ever-growing, long-term financial burden on the Organization. And at the same time, my delegation would like to draw the attention of this Assembly to the fact that this would create a rigid workforce structure of the Secretariat that would prevent young and fresh talent from entering the Organization. It is the essential mission of the Office of Human Resources Management to achieve sustainable, organization-wide personnel management over the long term. We therefore would like the Office to communicate with staff members and Member States, in a transparent and sincere manner, to explain the Secretary-General's proposal on how to operate a quantitatively managed system and in what order of priority continuing appointments would be given to staff members under such a quantitative restriction, based upon various aspects that require special consideration, such as, workforce needs for each occupational group, appropriate age structure of the Secretariat workforce that facilitates succession planning and whether or not staff members are recruited through the competitive examination, while making sure that geography and gender requirements are met.

Mr. Chairman,

The Secretary-General, in paragraph 12 (b) of his report (A/64/267), argues that the mobility requirements of the Organization, the policy on careers and the use of continuing appointments are mutually supportive strategic considerations for his management of the human resources of the Organization. My delegation cannot but wonder why the Secretary-General's proposals do not include mobility requirements, as it is of the view that now that the United Nations has developed into such a field oriented organization, several years of service in offices other than Headquarters should indeed be one condition that must be met before a staff member may qualify for a continuing appointment. Without such a mobility requirement, the United Nations will not be able to achieve its goal of a truly global, integrated and mobile workforce.

Mr. Chairman,

The Secretary-General's report on the composition of the Secretariat (A/64/352) shows that the number of unrepresented or underrepresented countries increased to 45, from 40 last year, while that of the overrepresented countries also increased from 21 to 22. Although the report pointed out that the increase in the number of underrepresented countries was largely caused by an increase in the number of budgeted posts subject to geographical distribution and a peak in retirements among staff members, my delegation is deeply concerned that the gap in the representation status among Member States is widening. My delegation would like to encourage the Secretary-General to address this longstanding issue in a more effective and innovative way. For example, the Secretary-General currently requests that recommendations for appointments at the D-2 level and above in the Secretariat as a whole contain a list of at least three qualified candidates that includes qualified women. My delegation would like the Secretary-General to request that such recommendations also include at least one qualified individual from an underrepresented or unrepresented country, in light of the stipulations in the Charter of the United Nations as well as in a number of resolutions that due regard should be paid to recruiting staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible. Moreover, my delegation expects that the Management Performance Board, chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General, will instruct each head of a department or office to take proper actions to redress the geographically unbalanced situation in his or her department or office through the review of performance results of the annual human resources action plan.

In addition, as the current HR reform aims at a global, integrated workforce, my delegation asserts that international Professional staff members holding permanent, continuing or fixed-term contracts should be made equally subject to geographical distribution, regardless of the sources of their financing or where their office is located. In this connection, my delegation would like to request the Secretary-General to include proposals to this end in his comprehensive review of the system of desirable ranges, which is to be submitted to the General Assembly at its sixty-fifth session, as requested in resolution 63/250, chapter IX, paragraph 17.

Furthermore, my delegation regrets that the National Competitive Recruitment Examination (NCRE), in spite of the Secretary-General's explanation of his intention for its resumption after a unilateral announcement of its suspension last May, is being delayed, and no information on its recommencement has been provided to Member States. Many candidates are also eagerly awaiting the examination's resumption. My delegation reiterates its belief that the NCRE must be maintained as the main driver for redressing geographical disparities in representation status among Member States. To that end, the NCRE 2010 should be conducted in a timely fashion.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, my delegation would like to stress once again that the policies on continuing appointments will have significant implications for the Organization for many years to come. In this context, my delegation would like to reiterate its proposal of an establishment of a redesign panel to properly review the human resources management, as referred in resolution 63/250. Delegations must be given the chance to engage in a thorough discussion of this subject, and any decision that is to be made should be reached on a consensus basis.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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