(Check against delivery)
To begin with, I would like to express my appreciation to Mr. Johnston Barkat, United Nations Ombudsman, Assistant Secretary-General, Ms. Alayne Frankson-Wallace, Executive Director of the Office of the Administration of Justice, and Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, for introducing their respective reports.
The Administration of Justice system has contributed greatly to enhancing the accountability and credibility of the United Nations.
My delegation notes that the number of requests for the services of the Office of Staff Legal Assistance (OSLA) and the Management Evaluation Unit (MEU) increased between 2015 and 2016, while the number of applications and appeals received by the Tribunals, together with the number of pending applications and appeals, decreased over the same period. Though these numbers are expected to fluctuate somewhat, my delegation would like to draw attention to the fact that, broadly speaking, these changes demonstrate a long-term decreasing trend, and the system appears to be stabilizing.
Under such circumstances, my delegation emphasizes the need to address such challenges as the regularization of the voluntary supplemental funding mechanism. My delegation further stresses that the resources necessary for the Office of Staff Legal Assistance should be covered by financial contributions from its beneficiaries. Therefore the Secretary-General needs to raise awareness among staff members of the importance of their financial contributions, so that staff members can access and receive such benefits equally, as well as explore their options to obtain appropriate resources, including the adjustable monthly payroll deduction.
We would like to emphasize the need to foster a cooperative mentality and culture of direct communication between management and staff. For example, many cases before the justice system are a result of poor communication or misunderstandings around human resources policies. Fostering a culture of direct communication and developing consistent and easily understood human resources policies are crucial to avoiding unnecessary litigation and securing a positive work environment.
These challenges must be tackled not only by the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services, but also by other departments and offices involved in human resources management, as these challenges cannot be met in a short time. In order to make further progress, the justice system must continue to work to steadily close the gap between the actual situation¾including systems, practices and culture¾and the ideal one.
The justice system is a safety net to address situations that cannot be resolved by other means. It plays an important role in securing a respectful workplace. The overall goal is a harmonious working environment that allows staff to implement the Organization’s mandate and to bring about positive outcomes from its many programmes and projects.
Finally, my delegation is committed to participating positively and constructively in the negotiations on this important issue.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.