|Personnel Office Rehashes
old practice with new terminology
WithThe UN office that needs the most serious investigation, "Office
of Human Resources Management", gets to be the least scrutinized,
mainly for two reasons: first, it now comes under the protective
wings of the Under-Secretary-General for Administration and Management,
a brilliant office in-fighter who knows what is right but would
not want any encroachment on his turf; and secondly, several delegates
are inclined to barter on posts for nationals and, naturally,
OHRM is amenable to a deal. This may require a whole survey in
due course. Meanwhile, looking at the new "quiet reform" proposals
gives the impression that, despite so many retreats in Glen Cove
and brainstorming sessions elsewhere, the same old practices are
proposed under what may be intended as updated political lingo.
The only serious and negative proposal is to kill permanent appointments,
thus eroding the anchor of security for international civil servants.
Without it, they would be subject to pressure by powerful Member
States or influential senior officials representing them. That
may be the purpose of the current approach. Otherwise, "indefinite"
appointment will be called "continuing contract". Those holding
it would serve, however, "as long as their services are needed"
(by whom?). If they were no longer required, "every effort will
be made" to identify an alternative post in the Organization (an
arrangement with IFAD in North Korea?) or receive benefits similar
to those payable under current permanent contracts (depending
on the period of service allowed).
In political terms, there will be two other types of appointments:
short-term up to six months and fixed-term renewable to a maximum
of five years; a one-time review would be conducted for those
with such extended service (a positive saving of effort and elimination
of farcical "evaluations"). If deemed satisfactory, contracts
will be converted to "continuing" ones (same as now with some
exceptions, as usual). The proposal indicates with an air of firm
decision-making: all staff (except for short-term) would join
the Organization initially on a fixed-term appointment with a
specified term of up to five years, which would serve as a probationary
period (so, what's new?). Again, with renewed vigour, it is announced
that three central review bodies will advise the Secretary-General
on appointments and promotions: a Board, a Committee and a Panel.
Well, that has been the case at least since the current Secretary-General
headed the Office of Personnel 20 years ago. Ah, yes. There is
one major difference. Placements will now be called "lateral"
mobility, and promotion "horizontal". That would fuel enough entertainment
for "members" of the deliberating "bodies".
Briefly, what it all means is that those currently in positions
of influence would like to get rid of some people so that they
could bring in their own.