For information only - not an official document.
  Press Release No: UNIS/SG/2621
Release Date: 28 July 2000
 Secretary-General Says UN Success Hinges on Ability to Attract 
Talented and Motivated Individuals

NEW YORK, 27 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks to the International Civil Service Commission, which were delivered today in New York:

It gives me great pleasure to address the twenty-fifth anniversary session of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC).  As a career international civil servant, I am particularly pleased to explore with you the challenges facing the Commission. 

Member States have in the Secretariat a unique civil service.  Its geographic, linguistic and cultural diversity cannot be matched by any other workforce in the world.  The overwhelming majority of United Nations staff are highly qualified, and bring to the Organization a wealth of experience and diverse perspectives.  You, Mr. Chairman, with your multifaceted background as a delegate and an international civil servant, understand, perhaps better than most, that our staff is our greatest asset. 

Yet, in an era when corporations conduct global searches for talented professionals, and international and regional organizations compete with the United Nations for qualified staff, we cannot afford to be complacent.  Our success hinges on our ability to attract talented and motivated individuals to the United Nations.  In this vital endeavour, Executive Heads need the Commission’s help in improving conditions of service and promoting a results-oriented culture so that the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies attract and retain the most capable personnel. 

As you know, this is a time of renewal and reform throughout the common system.  All of us are engaged in efforts to meet the rapidly evolving needs of the world community.

The “quiet revolution” I launched in 1997 was designed to make the United Nations a leaner and more effective organization.  Since then we have streamlined management procedures, shifted resources from administration to development work, introduced cabinet-style management and greatly improvedcoordination among the far-flung members of the United Nations family.  We are also making progress in the direction of a results-based budgeting system, one focused on outcomes rather than inputs and processes.  When fully implemented this will encourage greater efficiency and flexibility, while at the same time improving transparency and the Secretariat’s accountability to Member States.

 The support and partnership of the Commission in implementing the reform underway throughout the System is crucial to its success.  As the Administrative Committee on Coordination has repeatedly stressed, restoring competitiveness in conditions of service must be viewed as an integral part of any reform process. Appropriate remuneration packages for all staff are critical to fulfilling this goal.  Here, we expect the Commission to provide recommendations for human resources policy that is flexible and innovative enough to make the organizations competitive employers. 

 I am encouraged by your recent work in developing an integrated framework for the management of human resources -— not just in terms of its substance, but also in the tripartite approach adopted in the framework’s preparation.  I also welcome your intention to review the pay and benefits System.  This is long overdue.  We look forward to innovative proposals to assist Executive Heads in their management responsibilities.  At the United Nations we are especially looking for new management tools, greater flexibility, a streamlined and competitive compensation package and the ability to encourage and reward high performance and managerial excellence.

 It was in this context that, in my very first reform proposal, I recommended a review by the General Assembly of the ICSC, including its mandate, membership and functioning in order to increase its effectiveness in meeting the challenges facing the United Nations System of organizations.  The proposal should be seen in the context of the many other reviews underway to strengthen our System, and I trust that the Commission will participate in this spirit.  It is my hope that, as a result of the review, cooperation between the Commission and its partners -- the organizations and staff associations -- will be reinforced so that the Commission can make a more tangible contribution to reform processes throughout the System.
 Two broad strategies will be essential to realize the potential of our System in the years ahead.

 First, while our own resources are tightly constrained, those of the communities we serve are much greater.  We must strive, not to usurp the role of other actors on the world stage, but to become a more effective catalyst for change and coordination among them.  Our most vital role will be to stimulate collective action at the global level.

 Second, the United Nations -- like all other institutions in the world today -— must fully exploit the great promise of the Information Age.  The digital revolution has unleashed an unprecedented wave of technological change.  Used responsibly, it can greatly improve our chances of defeating poverty and better meeting our other primary objectives.  If this is to happen, we in the United Nations need to embrace the new technologies more wholeheartedly than we have in the past.

The potential of the United Nations System is vast.  Our task is to ensure that it has the tools, and the personnel, to realize its promise in the years ahead.  This is a goal well within our grasp.

It is in the context of this broad effort to build a stronger, more flexible and more dynamic international civil service that I wish you a most productive session.

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