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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2009

United Nations General Assembly, Fifth committee, Item 139: United Nations Common system

Statement by Anthony Simpson on behalf of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, 20 October 2009

Mr Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the delegations of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand on the topic of the United Nations Common System. 

Firstly, I would like to thank the Vice-Chair of the International Civil Service Commission Mr Wolfgang Stöeckl for introducing the report of the Commission for 2009.  I would also like to thank Ms van Buerle, Director of the Secretariat’s Programme Planning and Budget Division, and Ms Susan McLurg, Chair of the ACABQ, for introducing their reports on this item. 

In addition, I would like to thank the Presidents of CCISUA, FICSA and UNISERV for outlining the views of their members on the issues raised in the Commission’s report.  

Mr Chairman,

CANZ supports the important work of the ICSC in regulating and coordinating conditions of staff across the UN system and providing advice to Member States on the management of human resources within this and other organizations within the common system. 

This report highlights a number of work streams through which the Commission continues to make a valuable contribution to continuing improvements to the quality and consistent of employment policies and practices across the Common System.  We note in this year’s report its consideration of measures to harmonize the job evaluation standards for General Service and other locally recruited categories of staff.  We also welcome its contribution to ongoing discussions on possible changes to the mandatory age of separation; and its work to identify areas requiring further attention within existing standards of conduct and to harmonize these standards with the system-wide code of ethics.

Mr Chairman,

We have also followed with interest the Commission’s work in reviewing separation payments, including its recommendation that an end-of-service severance payment be introduced for staff on fixed term contracts following the involuntary expiration of their contracts.  On the latter we note the differences of opinion expressed by some members of the Commission during its consideration of this proposal. 

Our delegations also have a number of questions about this proposal as outlined in the Commission’s report.  The creation of new entitlements entailing significant ongoing financial obligations should always be approached with caution.  We will therefore be seeking assurances that the proposal is underpinned by clear justifications and built around sound analysis and a robust business case. 

This proposal also needs to be considered in the context of the new staff contractual framework agreed in General Assembly resolution 63/250.  We would note that with agreement still pending on key aspects of the implementation of that resolution, including some with implications for the future respective roles of fixed-term and continuing contracts within this organization, reaching firm conclusions at the present time on the necessity and cost of this proposal may prove challenging.

We look forward to engaging further on the issues raised in the Commission’s report over the coming days.

Thank you.

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