Statement by Eugene B. Chen, Adviser to the United States Mission to the United Nations, on Agenda Item 139: UN Common System, in the Fifth Committee of the Sixty-fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly

U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
Eugene B. Chen, Adviser
New York, NY
October 20, 2009


Mr. Chairman, my delegation would first like to thank Mr. Wolfgang Stockl, Vice-Chairman of the ICSC, for introducing the report of the International Civil Service Commission for 2009. We would also like to thank the Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division for introducing the related report of the Secretary-General as well as the Chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions for presenting the relevant report of the ACABQ.

Mr. Chairman, at the sixty-ninth session of the ICSC, the Commission decided to recommend, inter alia, that the General Assembly establish a new benefit for fixed-term staff who have at least ten years of continuous service and whose contracts are not renewed upon expiration.

My delegation is concerned by this proposed end-of-service grant.  We believe that the legal obligations of the United Nations to individual staff members ends with the expiration of their contract.  Moreover, any payment which serves as a reimbursement to staff members for the non-renewal of their contracts violates the principle – clearly stated in resolution 63/250 – that “there shall be no expectations, legal or otherwise, of renewal or conversion of a fixed-term contract, irrespective of the length of service.”

Regarding the termination indemnity, my delegation would like to remind the Committee that the purpose of severance pay is to compensate staff members for the loss of their expectation of employment.  As such, the amount of reimbursement provided through the termination indemnity must be tied to the unexpired portion of the term for staff on fixed-term contracts. Payment based on any other criteria, such as length of service, changes the actual purpose of an indemnity from compensation for curtailed service to reimbursement for non-renewal.  Making such a correction would bring the termination indemnity in line with the explicit instructions of the General Assembly that there be no expectation of renewal.

Mr. Chairman, the fiscal pressures imposed by the ongoing financial and economic crisis are keenly felt by all delegations present in this chamber.  The United States believes that certain benefits are necessary for attracting and retaining highly-qualified and dedicated staff members, but that these benefits must be both conceptually sound and fiscally responsible.  My delegation wishes to remind the committee that staffing costs already represent a supermajority of expenditures under the biennial budget.  With this in mind, we look forward to working with all delegations on these important issues to adopt fair and judicious decisions that make the most efficient and effective use of resources to ensure the continued promotion of the highest standards within the international civil service.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


PRN: 2009/230