Global Policy Forum

General Assembly Adopts Series of

February 2, 2009

On 23 December 2008 the UN General Assembly (GA) adopted a series of Resolutions on budgetary and administrative matters, including a 13-part document on human resources management reform. By this Resolution the GA approved a shift to new contractual arrangements for temporary, fixed-term, and continuing appointments, which will take effect on 1 July 2009. Human resources management reform was one of the most difficult aspects of the 2008-09 UN budget negotiations, which were finally concluded on 24 December with an agreement to increase the two-year budget by USD 700 million.

The GA took action on other management-related decisions as well, including on Information and Communication Technology, the report of the Office of the Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on its activities, and the Fifth Committee's report on "the review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations." In these Resolutions, Member States reiterated their commitment to implementing management reform. Lastly, the GA deferred consideration of a number of reports, among them on accountability and result-based management frameworks. Member States will address these issues during, inter alia, the Fifth Committee's resumed sessions early this year. The Resolutions adopted by the GA referred to throughout this update are available at this page of

At the 2005 World Summit, the UN Secretary-General and Heads of State stressed the need to improve human resources management. The decisions made by the GA in December followed a series of reports issued by the Secretariat earlier in 2008 on management reform. At its 61st Session (2006-2007) the GA requested the Secretary-General to report back on management reform issues, including recruitment and staffing, rostering, the staff selection system, national competitive examinations, measures to improve equitable geographical and gender representation, human resources action plans and accountability, the implementation of the human resources information technology system, and the activities of the Procurement Task Office (additional background information provided at Annotated Agenda, GA). The Secretary-General was also asked to report on implementation of the GA's January 2007 Resolution on human resources management reform (Resolution 61/244). The Secretariat presented the requested reports for consideration by the Fifth Committee and General Assembly in the fall 2008.

Below are details on each Resolution subsequently adopted by the GA:

Human Resources Management [A/RES/63/250]
The 13-part Resolution on human resources management stressed "the need for rationalizing the Organization's current system of contracts, which lacks transparency and is complex to administer." The decisions address contractual arrangements and harmonizing the conditions of service, recruitment and staffing, career development and support, measures to improve equitable geographic representation, gender representation and other issues.

By the Resolution's terms, the GA:
• Approved new contractual arrangements (temporary, fixed-term and continuing) under one set of Staff Rules, effective 1 July 2009;
• Requested the Secretary-General to follow up on the work of the Office of Human Resources Management on equitable gender and geographic representation and the prompt filling of vacancies;
• Requested the Secretary-General to propose improved staff management mechanisms;
• Stressed the need to rationalize the Organization's system of contracts, due to a weak accountability system as well as lack of transparency; and
• Welcomed the establishment of the UN Ethics Committee and requested the Secretary-General to provide Terms of Reference for the Ethics Office, Office of the Ombudsman, OIOS and related offices, including recommendations on how to avoid duplications with the Assembly, at the 65th Session (2010-2011).

Information and Communication Technology [A/RES/63/262]
The Assembly endorsed the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's report on information and communication technology (ICT) and:
• Decided to establish the office of Information and Communication Technology as an independent organizational unit, to be chaired by the Chief Information Technology Officer;
• Requested the Secretary-General to continue the use of centralized services in ICT activities, but also to "ensure that the centralization and integration of the Office of Information and Communication Technology does not have any negative impact on the support provided to field operations worldwide"; and
• Requested the Secretary-General to report on the matter at the GA's 65th session (2010-2011).
(For background information on the fragmentation of the current ICT system, see Under-Secretary-General for Management Angela Kane's briefing on 9 October 2008)

Report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services [A/RES/63/265]
By its Resolution on the report of the Office of the Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) the Assembly:
• Stressed the need for full implementation of the OIOS' recommendations that were accepted by the GA;
• Requested the Secretary-General to ensure that complete information on the implementation of the recommendations is provided;
• Requested the Secretary-General to ensure that all relevant Resolutions related to the work of OIOS are brought to the attention of relevant managers.
Considering OIOS' report on the Procurement Task Force (PTF) (covering 1 July 2007-31 July 2008), the Assembly recognized that its commitment to preventing and deterring fraud and malfeasance within the UN could not be sustained in the long term by an ad hoc body. It noted the intention of the Secretary-General to transfer the PTF's remaining caseload to the Investigation Division of OIOS at the beginning of 2009, and it requested him to ensure that the Division had the appropriate expertise and capacity to effectively investigate allegations of fraud, corruption and misconduct in procurement.

Agreement on UN Budget Increase [A/RES/63/264]
The following day (and after all-night discussions), on 24 December, the GA approved by consensus an increase in the UN budget for 2008-2009 from USD 4.17 billion to 4.87 billion (an increase of 17% and 700 million dollars). (See UN's summary of budget negotiations.) Among the last elements to be successfully negotiated were the costs for human resources management reform described above and administration of justice. The largest portion of the new funds – USD 500 million – will support peacekeeping efforts in Darfur for the next six months. Rising costs for missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan also will be addressed with the increase. The new funds also will be used to pay for 49 new posts for the Department of Political Affairs and 91 new posts for development programming.

Next Steps
The General Assembly will resume its deliberations on management reform early in 2009, including on the transfer of the Procurement Task Force's caseload to the Investigation Division of the OIOS and the implementation of new contractual arrangements. The resumed part of the Fifth Committee's 63rd Session will begin on Monday, 2 March 2009.

More Information on UN Reform
More Information on Management Reform
Go to the UN General Assembly Homepage


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