1 March 2005

Secretary-General Asks Civil Service Commission to do Utmost to Create Conditions which UN System Staff Need to Succeed

Welcomes Paternity Leave Decision, Awaits ICSC Review of Pay and Benefits System

NEW YORK, 28 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the sixtieth session of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) meeting in Bangkok, as delivered today by Kim Hak-su, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP):

It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to all the participants in the sixtieth session of the International Civil Service Commission.  Quite apart from the primary work you have gathered to do, your presence is also an act of solidarity with a region that recently suffered an enormous tragedy.  It is also an opportunity for you to gain greater understanding of the multifaceted work carried out by the UN system’s regional commissions, which occupy a very important niche in the institutional and regional landscape.

The ICSC plays a crucial role in ensuring that the organizations of the UN system can attract staff of the highest competence and integrity, and deploy them when and where their talents are needed most.  Executive Heads look to you for help in compensating staff at competitive rates, strengthening management, encouraging mobility around the UN system, and addressing problems such as the recruitment and retention of staff at difficult duty stations.  They are very happy with the recent decision granting paternity leave, which brings us into line with other organizations that have family-friendly human resources policies.  I would like to thank you for this major step forward, enabling staff to better balance work and family responsibilities.

Executive Heads are looking forward to the results of your review of the pay and benefits system.  They believe that a thorough policy review of the Noblemaire principle must be an integral part of that process.  Indeed, it is unfortunate that such a review has not yet taken place, since United Nations organizations are no longer competitive in the international labour market.

Executive Heads are also looking forward to the General Assembly’s forthcoming discussion on the report of the panel on strengthening the international civil service and the functioning of the Commission. The panel’s recommendations point the way towards a stronger and more effective Commission, and it is my hope that the Assembly will give them serious consideration.

As you know, this is a crucial year for the United Nations. The General Assembly will hold a Summit meeting in September, at which it is hoped that world leaders will enact far-reaching reforms.  The issues that fall within the Commission’s purview are of central importance to that effort.  Just as I have been urging Member States to rise to the occasion, so do I call on you to meet this challenge and do your utmost to create for the staff of the United Nations system, at the more than 500 duty stations at which they serve the world’s people, the conditions they need to succeed.  Please accept my best wishes for a successful session.

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