Statement at the UN Management and Reform Section Agenda Item 140: Human Resources Management, Main Session of the 74th General Assembly

Cherith Norman Chalet
Ambassador for UN Management and Reform
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 13, 2019

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Chair.

When Secretary-General Guterres outlined his vision to member states on UN reform two years ago, he highlighted human resources management as one of the most critical areas in need of improvement. We couldn’t agree more. The need to improve and shorten recruitment processes, the need to develop a comprehensive workforce planning strategy, and implement an improved performance management system still exists. My delegation fully supports efforts aimed at addressing these shortcomings and encourages the Secretary-General to continue implementing changes within his authority, noting that the paramount consideration in the employment of staff must remain securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity in accordance with Article 101 of the UN Charter which puts merit first and foremost among other considerations.

Member states have unanimously endorsed the Secretary-General’s vision for UN reform in shifting the management paradigm and transforming the Organization’s culture. Key to successful implementation of this reform vision is the UN staff members themselves. And, ensuring accountability of staff performance where good performance is recognized and underperformance is sanctioned would be one of the most important steps.

Mr. Chair, my delegation regrets that the committee was unable to agree on a robust HRM resolution last session, but commends the Secretary-General for putting forward a number of concrete proposals aimed at enhancing the recruitment, development and retention of high-performing staff. Conversely, we are concerned with the slow pace of implementation of a proper performance management system that also should weed out and remove poor-performing staff. These efforts must go hand-in-hand to achieve true accountability and confidence that human resources are being managed properly and enabling better delivery of mandates.

In addition to the specific recommendations before us, the United States further supports efforts of the Secretary-General in preventing and addressing sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment and protecting whistleblowers from retaliation, and we appreciate the work of the Ethics Office and OIOS in this regard and for Ms. Armstrong’s presence this morning and her recommendations to enhance the independence of the Ethics office. We will carefully consider these recommendations.

In closing, the United States recognizes the tireless efforts of the dedicated women and men who serve the Organization, especially those serving in extremely challenging environments. Because the work of the United Nations is so critical in ensuring the peace, security, human rights and development of all the people of the world, member states have the shared responsibility to ensure that the UN is effective, efficient, and accountable for delivering results. To that end, my delegation looks forward to constructively engaging with all delegations on this important agenda item this session.

Thank you.

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