STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MR. RICHARD TUR, SECOND SECRETARY, PERMANENT MISSION OF CUBA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, ON AGENDA ITEM 143: HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT, DURING THE FIRST PART OF THE RESUMED SEVENTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE FIFTH COMMITTEE OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New York, 6 March 2023)
1. I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on the Agenda item 143: Human Resources Management, for the first part of the resumed 77th session of the Fifth Committee.
2. Our Group wishes to thank Ms. Martha Helena Lopez, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources in the Department of Management, Strategy, Policy and Compliance at the United Nations, for the introduction of the Secretary General's reports on "Overview of Human Resources Management reform for the period 2021-2022", "Ways forward in the implementation of human resources management reform for the period 2023-2026", "Composition" and "Disciplinary matters", and Ms. Elia Yi Armstrong, Director of the UN Ethics Office, for the introduction of the Secretary-General's report on the Ethics Office. We would also like to thank Mr. Amjad Al-Kumaim, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), for introducing the related reports.
3. The Group notes that the Secretary-General presented an overview of human resources management reform for the period 2021-2022, focusing on three integrated, coherent and interdependent outcomes, namely agility, diversity and accountability with an aim to lead the impact for the Organization.
4. The Group also notes that the Secretary-General has proposed ways forward for the period 2023-2026, while outlining a sample of monitoring indicators aimed at measuring progress towards the long-term outcomes on this matter.
5. We further take note of the Secretariat`s conclusion that the shortcomings of current recruitment process are systematic and structural in nature and notice the Secretariat`s intention to overhaul its current staff selection system through a dedicated "staff selection 2.0" programme, covering the three components of recruitment, outreach and the Young Professionals Programme, with the view of addressing a new system that can be more effective, fair, efficient and agile and can fulfil the letter and spirit of article 101 of the Charter of the United Nations, in recruiting staff on as a wide geographical basis as possible.
6. Noting that this programme is aimed to be completed in 2026, the Group is open to explore the best ways to study and address this proposal in a consistent and thorough manner. At the same time, we look forward to a productive discussion and a holistic consideration of this Agenda item, as a package, in order to ensure that the final outcome will effectively guide the Secretariat in its endeavors to address the persistent challenges, many of which have been recurring over the previous sessions.
7. The Group takes note of these ongoing efforts to reform human resources management in the organization, which is a key component of the overall UN reform efforts. We commend, as well, the progress made thus far, especially with regards to the simplification and streamlining of rules and policies and changes in conditions of service. We also welcome the steps taken to strengthen internal anti-corruption measures and to ensure a safe environment for staff to report misconduct.
8. We underscore that the principles of equitable geographical representation and gender parity are cornerstones to the G-77 and China. While we celebrate the immense progress achieved towards the attainment of gender parity in the UN, we are worried that the efforts in this direction have been not complementary to ensure a wider geographical representation in the Organization.
9. It is hard to understand that while the number of countries within the range of desirable ranges has barely increased, the Organization is about to reach the full gender parity in the coming years. This might lead to an assessment that women from developing countries are far less recruited than those from developed Member States. It is also disheartening to see that the percentage of women from developing countries in senior positions is disproportionately low.
10. We urge the Secretary-General to step up his efforts towards achieving equitable geographical representation across the UN staff, especially at senior levels. Due attention needs to be given to TCC/PCC representation. The Group also recalls the system of desirable ranges, which has remained unchanged for decades, and the fact that currently around 500 posts with geographical status are vacant. We emphasize that addressing this issue will be a priority for the Group during this session.
11. We are concerned that the average age of Secretariat staff members continues to reflect an upward trend, and that the entry level positions, particularly at P1 and P2 levels, continue to fall, which limits the space for achieving important human resources targets, including the rejuvenation of the organization and acquiring fresh talents from the different regions of the world, especially from unrepresented and underrepresented developing Member States.
12. As a last point, the Group of 77 & China wishes to call the attention of the Secretariat´s leadership about the implementation of the flexible working arrangements. While this approach has proved to be effective during the hardest times of the COVID-19 pandemic, currently life is returning to normality. In this regard, we are worried that the presence out of the office might be considered a right, or even a rule, when it is not the case, according to the related Secretary General´s bulletin. This concern is essentially based on the empirical assessment of seeing most of the floors of the Secretariat building at half capacity or even less on any given day of the week.
13. The Group is committed to engage actively in the upcoming consultations with a view to achieve this time a good resolution under this agenda item, in order to contribute to continuous progress in the implementation of the human resources reform initiatives.
I thank you.