Cablegate: Un Peacekeeping Harmonization of Conditions of Service: Uk Cool to Usg Proposal
P 151750Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0691
INFO USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 003134
DEPARTMENT FOR IO/MPR/SC - HEATHER WARD, FOR USUN - MICHAEL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/15/2018
TAGS: PREL AMGT AORC APER UNGA UNGA UK
SUBJECT: UN PEACEKEEPING HARMONIZATION OF CONDITIONS OF SERVICE: UK COOL TO USG PROPOSAL REF: STATE 129988
Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Greg Berry for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) William Gatward, Head of the Specialized Agencies Team, and Jacqui Hutchison, UN Management and Finance Officer (both within the FCO's International Organizations Department) told Poloff that while HMG supports the USG in principle it has several concerns with the proposals in reftel demarche. Gatward said that the proposal's primary emphasis is on paying people less in order to encourage them to go to hardship posts: "That just won't work." He said that HMG supports the USG position on costs savings, and that HMG has "been in your corner" on a number of internal reforms; but "in THIS case the additional expense of the Fifth Committee proposal is justified."
2. (C) Drawing from reftel, Poloff discussed the shortcomings of the two other proposals in play, and Gatward said that HMG prefers the proposal that was rejected by the negotiators in March (which Gatward noted, is within a $2 million per year cost of the USG proposal), and that HMG would be open to USG's proposals if, and only if, the USG could demonstrate much more support for its proposal from other countries. He said that HMG favors the cost savings of the USG proposal in principle (and especially likes the career development proposal), but disagrees with the proposition that additional income is not a motivation for hiring (and retaining) staff to serve in hardship posts. He pointed to the example of UNAMA which saw a huge reduction in vacancies after increased benefits were introduced. He also noted that staff leaving peacekeeping positions are accepting positions with UNDP and UNICEF which denotes a concern for stability and guaranteed salary and benefits.
3. (C) Finally Gatward said that he fears that pushing for lower benefits for peacekeeping workers could have a disastrous effect on the UNAMA renewal process. If pushed, the Fifth Committee could take the decision to either eliminate the current package for UNAMA staff along the lines of USG proposals -- which would lead to wholesale departure of staff - or the Fifth Committee could decide to apply Special Operations Approach (SOA) pay to all peacekeeping operations, which would be more costly than the proposals on the table. The bottom line for HMG, Gatward said, was that we need to attract talented people to do difficult work, and lowering pay and benefits "won't allow us to do that." Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX