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Statement by HE Ambassador Zhang Yishan, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the UN at the 5th Committee of GA 59th Session on Agenda Item 114 Concerning Human Resources Management

2004-10-28 00:00

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, please allow me to warmly congratulate you on your election to the chairmanship of the Fifth Committee. I am confident that your eminent qualities and extensive diplomatic experience will lead this Committee to success. My delegation assures you of its support. We will actively participate in the discussions to contribute to the deliberations of this Committee.

The Chinese delegation is grateful to ASG McCreery, USG Dileep Nair and other officials of the Secretariat for their introduction of this agenda item. The information provided by them will undoubtedly prove very useful for our discussions.

The Chinese delegation aligns itself with the statement made by the distinguished delegate of Qatar on behalf of G-77 and China.

Here I would like to explain further the position of the Chinese delegation on the following questions.

1. Human Resources Management Reform

China supports the efforts of the Secretariat to reform human resources management. With the support of the general membership, HR management reform as an organic component part of UN reform, has gone through the phases of planning, preparation and implementation. Progress has already been made in some areas, such as introduction of the new staff selection system, streamlined human resources policies and rules, the implementation of the mandatory managed reassignment of junior professional staff and the further expansion of the application of the new PAS. While acknowledging these results, we would like to point out that the overall effect of the reform still falls short of the expectations of the general membership and that new problems that have emerged in the reform process are yet to be resolved. It is our hope that the Secretariat will intensify and speed up its work to further implement the relevant resolutions of the GA on HR management reform, and actively adopt measures to take HR reform to a new stage.

2. Representation in the Secretariat

This is an important question in the management of human resources in the UN. For a majority of developing countries, under-representation is still a problem that is most prominently reflected in the continuous decline of the number of their nationals at the senior and policy-making levels as well as the imbalance in their general distribution in the Secretariat. The share of nationals from developing countries at the D-1 grade and above has declined from 48.5 % in 2000 to 44.7 % in 2004. China's under-representation is particularly egregious, with the number of its nationals in substantive departments on a steady decline and their concentration in low-level posts. In some departments, the Department of Political Affairs for instance, China is unrepresented. This abnormal state of affairs is cause for deep concern on China's part. The Chinese delegation once again calls on the Secretariat to take measures, pursuant to GA resolution 57/305, to ensure that there is a fair representation of nationals from developing countries at the senior and policy-making levels in the Secretariat. We also call upon OHRM to study ways of resolving the problem of under-representation that exists across departments and levels. China welcomes the improvements made by OHRM to its HR action plans aimed at ensuring equitable geographical representation in staff distribution across levels and departments.

3. Career Development for the General Service Staff

The maintenance of a professional team with a reasonable age structure is the basis for sound succession planning and an important condition for attracting and retaining talents. It is also essential for increasing the vitality of the international civil service. China is concerned at the lack of improvement in the age structure of the Secretariat and believes that the optimization of the age structure should be a priority task of the Secretariat in HR management. It should undertake a serious study of the question and present concrete plans for consideration by the next GA. We understand the aspirations of the general service staff for career development and encourage them to actively compete for positions. But we'd also like to remind the Secretariat that close to 75% of the people who passed the national competitive exams in 2003 are still waiting to be recruited. The enthusiasm of these young talents to serve the Organization also needs to be borne in mind. Further preemption of the already limited number of junior officers' posts is bound to result in a waste of these precious, young human resources and further exacerbate the ageing of the Secretariat. We hope that the Secretariat will take this into full consideration when formulating proposals on personnel policies.

4. Contractual Arrangements

Enhanced quality of service and efficiency are important objectives for the UN in its human resources management reform. China supports flexible, balanced and performance-oriented contractual arrangements. It is in the same spirit that China supports a gradual limitation of the number of permanent appointments, an expansion of the scope of fixed-term appointments and a tightening up of conditions for continuing appointments. China believes that the SG's proposal of granting continuing appointment after five years on fixed-term appointment, upon the completion of a one-time review is too generous and does not truly reflect the requirement of performance management. There is supposed to be an essential difference between the proposed new contractual arrangement and the existing permanent appointment, but the former works very much like an appointment for life. The Secretariat therefore needs to revisit the issue, in our view, in close coordination with the ICSC.

5. Recruitment Policy for International Civilian Staff for Field Missions

In recent years, as the deployment of UN peacekeeping operations continues to expand, demand for civilian staff has also seen a corresponding increase. This represents a new challenge for the Secretariat in human resources management, especially in recruitment. As stated in the report of the OIOS, the recruitment of international civilian staff for field missions suffers from high vacancy rates, long recruitment cycles and the lack of transparency and of a balanced geographical distribution, which have affected the effective operation of the missions. There is also a lack of fairness in the recruitment. China is of the view that these problems need to be addressed on an urgent basis. We call upon OHRM to focus on solving existing procedural and substantive issues in their effort to better monitor DPKO recruitment. We also encourage DPKO to enhance recruitment efficiency by using the online recruitment tool offered by the improved Galaxy system. The Chinese delegation welcomes closer contacts between the departments concerned and Member Sates to help develop a civilian staff standby capacity.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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