15 July 2003


NEW YORK, 14 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette to the International Civil Service Commission in New York today:

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the United Nations for the fifty-seventh session of the International Civil Service Commission.

The task before you is crucial.  As the United Nations faces mounting challenges in its work to build better lives for people everywhere, let us remember the central importance of the men and women who carry out the day-to-day work of this Organization.  They have made it their individual choice to work as international civil servants to try to make a difference.  And as we know, the vitality and strength of this -- or any -- organization depends entirely on the quality and motivation of its staff.

That is why the management of human resources is so important.  And that is why it forms a central aspect of the work to reform the United Nations.

As the Secretary-General emphasized when he addressed your session here last year, this Commission plays a key role in supporting that reform process.  Changes are being made throughout the common system to modernize human resources management, and to create new, results-oriented organizational cultures that promote high performance, continuous learning and managerial excellence.  In a rapidly evolving international environment, in which United Nations organizations are being given ever more complex mandates, frequently in dangerous environments, United Nations staff must be mobile, motivated and multi-skilled.

The United Nations common system needs a pay and benefits system that supports these objectives.  The present system falls short.  It does not contribute to improved performance, productivity or more effective management.  Executive Heads have repeatedly expressed their concern over its lack of competitiveness, flexibility and responsiveness.  Member States themselves have said that a competitive package of conditions of service is a prerequisite to the successful achievement of human resources reform.

It is against this backdrop that executive heads have welcomed the recommendations emanating from your ongoing review of pay and benefits.  They look forward to further concrete proposals.  They also keenly hope that you will bear in mind the need for a package of compensation and benefits that reflects best practices, provides a greater degree of operational and administrative flexibility, and is tailored to the needs of a global civil service.  Given the tremendous diversity in the size, mandates and locations of the organizations in the system, it is essential for the Commission to provide the greatest possible opportunities for new approaches.  We would hope, for example, that members keep an open mind about “broad banding” until we have the opportunity to analyse the results of a number of pilot programmes.

Executive heads also look forward to further proposals from the Commission for updating and expanding the Noblemaire principle.  United Nations organizations are no longer competitive in the international labour market.  The issue is not whether we can recruit someone but, rather, whether we can recruit the best.

I would also ask you to keep the question of competitiveness in mind as you begin reviewing allowances.  The Mobility and Hardship Allowance, for example, which is on your agenda at this session, is extremely important in our efforts to promote mobility and to address problems of recruitment and retention in certain duty stations.  Indeed, we may wish to consider additional incentives to expedite movement within our organizations and around the system.

Finally, as you know, executive heads attach great importance to strengthening leadership and management capacity throughout the system, and have strongly supported the proposal to establish a Senior Management Service.  The organizations have decided to continue the development of a Senior Management Service under the auspices of the Chief Executives Board.

Managing change is a collective endeavour.  Executive heads are working very hard to strengthen and modernize the international civil service, and to sustain and improve staff morale.  They need to be able to look to the Commission as an authoritative source of information on international best practices; as a body capable of crafting innovative human resources policies and procedures; in short, as a proactive partner in helping United Nations organizations provide the best possible service to the world’s people.  I wish you every success with your important deliberations.

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