STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MS. MEGAYLA AUSTIN, MINISTER COUNSELLOR OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF GUYANA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, ON AGENDA ITEM 140: HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT, AT THE FIRST PART OF THE RESUMED 74TH SESSION OF THE FIFTH COMMITTEE OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New York, 4 March 2020)
1. I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on agenda item 140. Human Resources Management – Composition report.
2. At the outset, the Group wishes to thank Ms. Martha Helena Lopez, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, for the introduction of the Secretary-General's reports on Composition as well as Mr. Abdalla Bachar Bong, Chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), for introducing the related report.
3. As you are well aware, the United Nations coordinates global efforts to address numerous challenges the world faces, ranging from addressing poverty, settling conflicts, taking care of refugees, vulnerable children, women and gender issues, ending hunger, environmental issues as well as economic welfare and trade among nations, to mention but a few.
4. It is also a well-known fact that United Nations has from its founding been a people-centred Organization and that the contribution by the staff to the Organization is very much intrinsic to the aspirations of the Charter of the United Nations. Often times, these staff put their lives at risk to advance the objectives of the Organization.
5. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that the staff implementing the mandates of the United Nations is doing so in an environment which exemplifies diversity, flexibility and dynamism and that they are motivated and adequately compensated, to enable them put out their best efforts in serving the rest of the world.
6. The acknowledgement and appreciation of the dedication and sacrifice of staff members are reflected in the great importance that the Group of 77 and China attaches to human resources management and its related issues across the United Nations.
7. The Group notes the efforts of the Secretary General to improve the geographical representation, but also notices with concern an increase in the number of the unrepresented countries, amounting to 21, as well as the 40 underrepresented countries. The group believes that a more well-balanced geographical distribution is paramount. We also believe that the secretary-general could use tools similar to those he has been using to address the question of gender balance to tackle imbalanced geographical representation. This would enrich the Organization as it would provide it with better means to deliver its mandates.
8. The Group notes that the number of appointments to posts subject to geographical distribution of staff from overrepresented countries and countries within range is considerably high (45 and 49 appointments, respectively).
9. The Group wishes to also recall Article 101, paragraph 3 of the Charter of the United Nations where due regard should be paid to the importance of recruiting staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible, and also recalls the system of desirable ranges, established in 1960, which measures progress towards achieving a wide equitable geographical distribution of the staff of the Secretariat. There are certainly many ways by which this sixty-year-old mechanism could be improved. We should not shy away from embracing changes that come to the advance of our organization.
10. The Group wishes to welcome the continuous increase of the number of female staff members who stand at 36.8% of the overall global staff of the Secretariat though we note that the overall number of women in senior positions is still less than 50%.
11. We cannot deny the existence of linkages between a dynamic staffing structure and the rejuvenation of the Organization. In this regard the Group is also concerned with the trend in ageing of the secretariat staff, with an average of 45.7 years in 2018. It is important that continuous efforts are made to recruit a younger workforce which shall serve as the basis of a smooth transfer of institutional knowledge and the building of capacity in the wake of retirement and other forms of separation.
12. The Group looks forward to efforts by the Secretary-General to address questions such as the top-heaviness of management, the upward shift in grade structure and the apparent reticence of the Organization to recruit or retain young professionals and reporting progress thereon to the General Assembly.
I thank you Mr. Chair.