Thank you, Mr. Chair.
1. I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the 10 Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on agenda item 143: Human Resources Management (HRM). ASEAN aligns itself with the statement made by Cuba on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. We would also like to thank Ms. Martha Helena Lopez, Assistant Secretary-General for HRM, and Mr. Abdallah Bachar Bong, Chair of the ACABQ, for introducing their reports.
2. Mr. Chair, ASEAN acknowledges the work of the secretariat, in particular its summary reports on the progress made for the period 2021-2022, and its proposed plan and way forward on the implementation of HR reform mandates for 2023-2026. In addition to that, we would also like to highlight the following points:
3. Despite the continuing efforts by the secretariat towards achieving a diverse organizational workforce and attaining equitable geographical distribution, we note that certain challenges persist.
4. At the 75th and 76th sessions, this Committee has been informed of the secretariat’s planned initiative to overhaul the current staff selection system in the hopes to address the shortcomings of the current recruitment process through changes in policy, processes and technology. ASEAN acknowledges the secretariat’s plan to embark on the Staff Selection Programme 2.0 in order to ensure an effective and agile recruitment process, and address the specific concerns on HRM processes, including in the areas of geography, gender, youth, multilingualism, disability inclusion and anti-racism. Backed up by proactive outreach activities, it is our hope that the programme would be able to promote an efficient implementation of the HRM reform for 2023-2026.
5. In regards to the updating of global human resources strategy, ASEAN agrees that priority should be given to the recruitment and retention of talents with the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, with substantial consideration of Article 101 of the UN Charter; as well as continued efforts to improving gender parity, greater accessibility for persons with disabilities (PWDs), rejuvenation and accountability. We hope that the secretariat will regularly report on these developments through its reform and composition reports.
6. ASEAN also supports the rejuvenation of UN staff, in order to address the ageing trend in the secretariat. We hope that measures to strengthen rejuvenation efforts will not adversely impact equitable geographical distribution and gender balance within the organization. On the Young Professionals Programme (YPP), we agree that the YPP would be helpful in improving the geographical distribution by allowing youth nationals of Member States, which are unrepresented, under-represented, or at risk of becoming so, to be eligible to participate in the Programme, including staff members, who have passed the G- to P- level examinations. This supports career advancement of youth professionals, and as such, we hope that the secretariat will also develop a proposal to reinforce career advancement and progression of staff members at all levels.
7. In terms of achieving gender parity of the organization, ASEAN welcomes the steps being undertaken by the secretariat to achieve gender balance at all levels across the organization by 2030. There has been sufficient progress made, especially in the headquarters on the appointments of female staff at senior levels. However, there is a need for greater efforts to reach gender parity in peacekeeping field operations.
8. On addressing racism, we note the resource proposal submitted to the General Assembly in the context of the SG’s report A/76/771. Consequently, the GA endorsed the ACABQ’s proposal to support efforts to combat racism and racial discrimination through the establishment of eight (8) GTA posts. Noting the long-standing efforts by the UN to address racism, ASEAN calls on the need to refine the proposal and its strategic action plan, based on further analysis and in collaboration with UN system entities.
9. We call for an inclusive workplace, where all staff members are treated with dignity and respect, and which maintains an environment that is free from any form of discrimination, harassment, and abuse of authority, and one which supports work-life balance, health and well-being of the organization’s workforce.
10. ASEAN also welcomes the initiatives, which have taken place in support of the inclusion and empowerment of PWDs, including leveraging partnerships with organizations that promote disability inclusion to disseminate vacancies, raise awareness and ensure that standards are in place so that all segments of the workforce are fairly and equitably treated. We hope that more efforts will be undertaken to promote workforce diversity for PWDs, including concrete measures to facilitate the recruitment process and improve their accessibility.
11. On training and development of staff, ASEAN believes that this should remain the cornerstone of any sustainable organization. While we are cognizant of the UN’s ongoing liquidity challenges, we stress that expenditure in training should not be compromised for short-term savings. We, therefore, encourage the Secretary-General to continue to invest in the necessary training and development of UN staff.
12. As part of the workforce development, there is value in the initiatives that promote mobility of staff members in the secretariat, in particular between headquarters and the field operations. In this regard, we would like to hear about updates on the implementation of the mobility framework, such as information on movements related to hardship posts and duty stations, as well as measures to facilitate inter-agency mobility, in particular for encumbered positions in the UN system.
13. Mr. Chair, ASEAN looks forward to hearing updates on the initiatives and efforts by the Secretary-General to address these issues. We hope that the Committee will have productive discussions this time, towards securing the best policies for managing the human resources of the United Nations. I, thank you, Mr. Chair.