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New Proposals Aim To Improve UN Operations

Senior UN Official Seeks Support Of States In Changing Way Organization Operates

New York, Oct 9 2008 6:10PM

The head of the United Nations Department of Management has urged Member States to support a series of proposals designed to change the way the world body operates, and in particular to enable it to attract, recruit and keep the high quality staff that it needs.

“We want to make [the UN] better, we want to make it more efficient and we also would like Member States to basically support us in this,” Angela Kane, Under-Secretary-General for Management, told a news conference in New York.

Ms. Kane said she hoped that this year “the final push will come” to enable the General Assembly to accept the proposals put forward by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, particularly to reform human resources management, including streamlining contracts, harmonizing conditions of service and improving the recruitment process.

Streamlining contracts is particularly important given that the Organization currently has 15 different types of contracts. “It’s not only a matter of fairness to the staff but it’s also a matter of making it much simpler to administer and give out these contracts,” said Ms. Kane, noting that the aim is to reduce the types of contracts to three.

Likewise, different conditions of service for staff working in different areas of the Organization – whether it be the Secretariat, peacekeeping operations, funds, programmes or agencies – means that salaries and benefits also vary.

“We are proposing that this all ought to be the same,” Ms. Kane stated. “If we are ‘One UN,’ we ought to be all treated in the same way and that is very important to us.”

Another key element of human resources reform is improving the recruitment process, which the UN management chief acknowledged “takes too long” from the time a vacancy is advertised to when a candidate is selected.

“I will not hide from you that right now it is, I think, 162 days. But let’s be fair about this; this has come down from over 300 days… I think the number was 370 days… just four years ago.”

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro also stressed the need to make the UN administration “more modern and less bureaucratic” when she addressed the General Assembly committee dealing with administrative and budgetary matters, also known as the Fifth Committee, last week.

It was necessary to adapt the UN human resources framework to today’s reality, she stated, adding that the Secretary-General’s proposals are essential for a flexible and dynamic workforce, better able to respond to the mandates entrusted to the Organization.

The proposals to improve human resources management are part of a broad range of measures to build a stronger and more effective UN, which also involves improving accountability and oversight, setting the highest ethical standards and providing staff with access to internal justice, among other things.

ENDS

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