Press Releases

    GA/AB/3534
    6 November 2002

    SEVERAL DELEGATIONS ARGUE THAT AGE OF SEPARATION
    BE FIXED AT 62 YEARS FOR ALL STAFF MEMBERS

    NEW YORK, 5 November (UN Headquarters) -- The mandatory age of separation and staff mobility were among the issues highlighted this morning as the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) continued its consideration of issues related to human resources management and programme planning.

    The representative of Ghana said the implications of extending the mandatory age of separation pointed towards a positive picture. The extension could improve staff morale and dovetail, in a beneficial manner, the programme to mentor young professionals under the rejuvenation policy.

    Burkina Faso’s representative was in also in favour of such a reform. The demand for labour depended on security and guarantees provided to workers, he said, and in today’s competitive market, the United Nations was compelled to compete with other organizations in recruiting its staff.

    As much as he appreciated the rationale behind the proposed change, the representative of Malawi also saw it as a fairly short-term solution. After agreeing on the age of 62, the Organization would probably aim for 65, unless a deliberate policy was put in place to attract young men and women into the system. His delegation was disappointed that the current trend did not encourage the entry of young blood into the Secretariat.

    Japan’s representative said that staff mobility was key to human resources reform as it fostered a multi-skilled, versatile staff. He welcomed the measures to promote mobility and hoped that managed reassignment of staff, time-bound post occupancy, generic job profiles and other steps would be applied to staff strictly and uniformly.

    Other speakers also commended the newly introduced mobility concept, as well as its training aspects, as long as the criteria for selecting course participants were implemented in a transparent and objective manner and that no particular divisions or sections were favoured over others.

    Also discussed this morning were issues related to programme planning.

    [Although the United Nations has already adopted a medium-term plan, certain revisions in programme planning components are needed to incorporate programme budget implications of resolutions and decisions by intergovernmental bodies and international conferences. Before the Committee were proposed revisions relating to 19 programmes. When adopted by the Assembly, the revised plan would serve as a basis for preparation of the next budget of the Organization.]

    Denmark’s representative (also speaking on behalf of the European Union), emphasized the responsibilities of programme managers within the Secretariat, especially for the monitoring process, and felt that additional expertise through the training of managers should be encouraged.

    The representative of Saudi Arabia, however, disagreed with the idea of managers being involved in investigations. There should be a clear line between management and investigations, he said, otherwise, there would be more cases of irregularities and fraud within the Organization.

    A representative of the Joint Inspection Unit said that the issue was not whether or not managers should be involved. Managers were already involved in the investigation process, and what the Joint Inspection Unit wished to do was reduce any risk factors stemming from that.

    Also addressing the Fifth Committee this morning were the representatives of Mongolia, Uganda, Morocco, Syria, Mexico, Poland, Cuba, Nigeria, Jamaica, Algeria, Thailand, Egypt, United States and Iran. Ali K.T Basaran, President of the Federation of International Civil Servants Associations; Jiu Othman, Chairman of the Joint Inspection Unit; Rafiah Salim, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management; and a representative of the Office of Internal Oversight Services also spoke.

    The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 6 November, to take up the items on the United Nations common system, the United Nations pension system, and the administration of justice at the United Nations.

    Background

    The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning was expected to conclude its consideration of human resources management reform and continue its debate on proposed changes in the Organization’s programme planning. (For summaries of documents before the Committee, see Press Releases GA/AB/3530 of 28 October for human resources management, and GA/AB/3533 of 4 November for programme planning.)

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