Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Susan Rice invites you all to consider United Nations as your employer !

From UNA-USA's World Bulletin, March 3, 2010

By Irwin Arieff

Need a Job? UN Payroll Is a Bright Spot in Bleak Times

A health officer of the UN Mission in Afghanistan in one of the country’s 100 or so hospitals, where doctor-patient ratio is 1 to 10, 000.

March 3 -- The global economy may still be drifting downward, but at the United Nations, spending and jobs are on the rise.

With a regular budget this year of about $2.6 billion—plus an estimated $7.8 billion more for peacekeeping—the UN is busier and bigger than ever, thanks to global economic misery, war and political dysfunction.

“Unfortunately, the situation in the world gives us a lot to do,” said Thomas Ginivan, the first vice president of the UN Staff Union, a voluntary employees’ association.

Demands for the UN’s services are reflected in a growth spurt that could be the envy of the world. Global economic activity shrank an estimated 2.2 percent in 2009, with over 200 million people out of work as of the end of the year, the International Labor Organization has estimated.

In contrast, the main UN budget -- financed by the dues that are paid each year by the world body’s 192 member-nations -- has been set at $5.2 billion for the 2010-11 biennium, 18 percent above the $4.4 billion approved for 2008-09, according to UN figures. (The regular budget cycle covers two years at a time.)

Peacekeeping costs, financed separately, are nearly 11 percent this fiscal year higher than the previous year’s $7.04 billion budget and 24 percent more than the $6.3 billion spent on peacekeeping in fiscal year 2008.

The Secretariat employed about 40,000 people as of June 2009, the latest date for which official figures are publicly available. That’s a 37 percent increase since 2006. The payroll for peacekeeping, peace-building and political missions has nearly doubled since 2006, to 150,000 this fiscal year.

Keeping Tensions From Mounting

Most of the increase is from Security Council orders to intensify peacekeeping efforts in Sudan’s western Darfur region and in southern Sudan, maintain peacekeeping roles in the Democratic Republic of Congo and expand special political missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The Security Council feels that it wants the UN to do more in the trouble spots,” said
Johannes Huisman, a senior official in the Strategic Planning and Staffing Division of the UN’s Office of Human Resources Management.

“The biggest political mission is in Afghanistan, and the second biggest is in Iraq. Almost half of the civilian staff in the field is found in just three peacekeeping missions, in Congo, Darfur and southern Sudan,” Huisman said.

Since staff growth is occurring primarily in the field, “you are providing jobs to local people,” he said. More than 60 percent of employees in the field are locally hired people involved in daily operations rather than professionals, managers, international staffers or headquarters staff, he added.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has championed widespread administrative reforms since taking office in January 2007, has supported spending increases while stressing the need for fiscal restraint in 2010 and 2011.

“Let me stress at the outset how keenly aware we are that our discussions about resources are taking place amid a severe and ongoing global economic and financial crisis,” Ban told the General Assembly’s Budget Committee in December. “Many member states face acute budget constraints. Moreover, we see such elements as inflation and currency fluctuations that are beyond our control. For these and other reasons, the proposals now before you call for only modest increases, based on rigorous scrutiny of priorities.”

The United States, which pays the largest share of the UN budget, has taken a similar line under President Barack Obama, in sharp contrast to George W. Bush administration’s periodic threats to slash its contributions. “Especially during the ongoing global financial crisis, budgetary discipline is imperative since we all recognize that achieving important UN objectives may mean considering proposals that would further increase the financial burdens on member states,” Susan Rice, Washington’s UN ambassador, told the Budget Committee in October.

Reassessed Dues

The spending increases may have been made a bit more palatable by the General Assembly’s latest annual adjustment in each nation’s annual dues. Based on their relative financial strength, wealthy nations were generally asked to pay somewhat more this year to make up for the developing states that have been hit hardest by the financial crisis.

While the US share of the budget remained at 22 percent, Brazil’s rose from 0.87 percent to 1.6 percent while China’s increased from 2.7 percent to 3.2 percent and India’s inched up from 0.45 percent to 0.53 percent. Japan’s share, on the other hand, shrank to 12.5 percent from 16.6 percent, reflecting its stumbling fortunes.

Irwin Arieff covered the UN for Reuters from 2000 to 2007.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please credit this article as follows:
From UNA-USA's World Bulletin, March 3, 2010.
Thanks, Dulcie Leimbach
UNA-USA Publications Director