India has expressed concern over regional disparity in the UN Secretariat staff and peacekeeping positions, calling for proactively addressing the issue of equitable geographical representation.
First Secretary in India's Permanent Mission to the UN Mahesh Kumar said on Thursday at a Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) meeting in the General Assembly on 'Human Resources Management' that while the UN Charter puts equitable geographical representation at the heart of human resources management, challenges continue to persist.
He said out of a total UN Secretariat staff of 38,000, less than 10 per cent are covered by the system of desirable ranges. Even for these 3,600 posts, 64 countries are listed as un-represented or under-represented and 50 of these 64 are developing countries.
Further, the number of member states in the category of un-represented or under-represented continues to increase since 2014. In addition, nearly 60 more developing countries are close to the lower level of their desirable range of representation and remain at risk of slipping into the under-represented category, he said.
"These numbers paint a very stark picture of the current inequitable representation," he said.
Mr Kumar also pointed out that currently, a member state's assessed rate of contribution to the UN's regular budget has an overwhelming influence on determining the desirable range for staff representation. "This inherently puts developing economies at a serious disadvantage. These formulae may need to be re-visited," he said.
With Secretary General Antonio Guterres presenting several options to reform the UN system, Mr Kumar said the suggestion regarding the inclusion of troops and police contribution for UN peacekeeping needs to be looked at seriously.
Mr Kumar added that increasing regional diversity of all the UN Secretariat international staff has been identified as one of the strategic actions by the Secretary-General in his global human resources strategy.
Looking at the staff composition of all the UN departments and offices, the Asia Pacific Group with 53 member states - 27 per cent of total, and more than half of global population constitute only around 17 per cent of the UN Secretariat international staff. Mr Kumar said the reasons for this need to be looked into carefully and ameliorative measures must be considered in order to address this disparity.
"Regional disparity remains especially stark at senior level positions," he said adding that in peacekeeping positions also, the regional disparity is glaring.
Nearly half of the Force commanders - six out of fourteen - are from Western European and Others Group, comprising only 14% of total member states.
"The regional disparity indicators point to a issue of serious concern. An effective solution to all these concerns is possible only through reforming the current system of desirable ranges and to proactively addressing the issue of equitable geographical representation," he said.
Welcoming the Secretary General's global human resources strategy presented in continuation of his management reform proposals, Mr Kumar hoped that the strategy will be able to address a range of persisting challenges, including the long elusive goal of equitable geographical representation.
Other delegates at the Fifth Committee meeting urged the Secretariat to ensure the United Nations staff reflects the diversity of Member States as more women and young people are hired to shape a dynamic Organization with a mobile and multi-talented workforce.
Egypt's delegate, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said the Organisation's international character hinges on equitable geographic representation, including the workers coming from troop and police contributing countries.
Its ability to acquire fresh talent from different regions of the world is being limited by the sustained upward trend in the age of Secretariat staff and the fall in the number of entry level professional positions, he said.
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