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STU Flash, 10 October 2016

STU Addendum to document 200 EX/5 Part IV (A): Use of consultant and other specialists’ contracts in 2015

STU/67th Council/16/018
10 October 2016


200 EX/5 : Follow-up to decisions and resolutions adopted by the Executive Board
and the General Conference at their previous sessions

Partie IV : Human Resources Issues

A: Use of consultant and other specialists’ contracts in 2015

STU Addendum


First, STU would like to express its deep concern about the abuse of non-staff contracts over the long term, many of them for performing core functions of the Organization.

In order to have a holistic view on this issue, the STU believes that the report should also include statistics on other non-staff contracts (e.g. service contracts, short-term contracts, etc.).

The STU regrets that the use of external consultants continues to grow.

A 21% increase in the overall spending on consultant contracts between 2014 and 2015 clearly indicates that the Organization does not have sufficient resources to implement its core mandate with its permanent resources and raises concerns about sufficient in-house expertise.

35% of these consultant contracts are financed on the regular programme budget, at the expense of the implementation of the programme. Indeed, the total spending on consultant contracts financed by the Regular Programme between 2014 and 2015 rose by 74%, with a 91% increase in the Field!

Loss of institutional memory is increased by the excessive and growing number of staff under precarious contracts, both at Headquarters and in the field. This will mean incurring irreparable losses in terms of continuity of service and competency of the Organization.

What is particularly alarming is that a significant part of non-staff perform functions that are part of the core mandate, priorities and regular programmes of our Organization, and that effective controls to avoid such a misuse of these temporary contracts have not been built by HRM, despite the numerous and repetitive demands of the staff associations.

This situation has to be halted, for several reasons including, inter alia:

  • Ethical reasons. The existence of different categories of staff performing the same functions creates an unacceptable discrimination, contravening even fundamental labour rights and standards to fair remuneration, social security and other rights such as those to sick and annual leave. It also creates a permanent situation of instability that affects the staff morale and the organizational performance alike.
  • Mismanagement of human resources for personal reasons. Furthermore, while the stated and reasonable objective of hiring temporary staff is to cover a need that for reasons of regular staff shortage or non-expertise is not available, in practice there are very numerous cases of managers hiring non-staff to perform regular core functions, even when the regular staff in charge of them are present and available and have the expertise, but for reasons related to personal relations or discrimination are sidelined and put to work on other matters outside of their post description or even completely marginalized. This has the double negative effect of having non-staff performing regular tasks and not being adequately compensated (as described above) and also of discriminating and destroying the morale and expertise of the regular staff marginalized from their duties.
  • Constitutional and governance. The abusive use of non-staff contracts configures a violation of the international character and, consequently, of the independence of the international civil service. Non-staff colleagues do not enjoy the same rights and immunities established for the regular staff, whose purpose is to safeguard independence and loyalty to the organizations. Moreover, recruiting staff on these contracts does not meet the rules on geographical distribution and, de facto, favours local staff to the detriment of staff from countries with little or no representation.
  • Functional reasons. The abuse of non-staff has a destructive impact on human resources management at all levels, since those colleagues are at a disadvantage for career, job security, and mobility, to cite just a few examples.
  • Financial reasons. The abuse of non-staff gives Member States a false representation of the financial appropriations required to manage the human resources of the organizations, paving the way for cheap labour.
  • Legal reasons. We are convinced that solid grounds exist for legal recourse, due to blatant and regular circumvention of the relevant rules and regulations, which should be more thoroughly appraised.

Moreover, as a consequence of the lack of staff resources, programme specialists spend most of their time looking for funds for temporary contractors who can implement the programme rather implementing it themselves.

We believe that the break-even point for adoption of immediate measures to stop this malpractice has come. Therefore, we respectfully request the adoption of measures aimed at rectifying this alarming status quo and return the international civil service to its core function, to better serve our mandate and the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

The STU also requests that an audit be conducted by HRM without any further delay on the current use of non-staff contracts, in the Headquarters and the Field, with the objective to identify those contracted assignments that cover the core functions of the Organization and take immediate measures to find a permanent long-term solution.

STU supports in this regard the recommendation of the External Auditor, demanding “that the Organization standardize the general review of service contract personnel in order to (i) ensure that the use of this type of contract is in conformity with the Organization’s administrative rules and reserved for the temporary situations for which it was designed”.

In the meantime, we shall make our best efforts to ensure that our colleagues defined as “non-staff” are granted access to the fundamental rights of association through the current representational structure.

In addition to the abuse of non-staff contracts over a long term, there exist abuses in the internship programme as well. The STU also believes that interns should be remunerated fairly, as is the case in many United Nations agencies, and that their tasks be clearly defined. Indeed, many of them regrettably carry out core functions, replacing staff members who are on leave, or assist an understaffed team.

Finally, if the number of staff reduces and the number of temporary contractors increases, who will contribute to the Pension Fund in the future?


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