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2  SALARIES
2.1 PROFESSIONAL AND HIGHER CATEGORIES
2.1.10 The Noblemaire principle
1972

At its 27th session, when it decided in principle to establish ICSC, the GA also decided to refer to it the report of the Special Committee for the Review of the UN Salary System.

1974

At the 29th session, the GA requested ICSC in resolution 3357 (XXIX) "to review as a matter of priority, the UN salary system in accordance with the decision in paragraph 5 of General Assembly resolution 3042 (XXVII), and to submit a progress report to the Assembly at its 30th session." [A/10030, para. 25].

1975

1st and 2nd sessions (May and August): In the ICSC review of the salary system the first aspect considered was the principle on which the level of remuneration of the P and higher categories should be based. Having reviewed the history of the Noblemaire principle since it was first formulated in the early days of the League of Nations, the way in which it had been applied in the UN and the deliberations of the Special Committee which led it to the conclusion "that there is no ready alternative" to the Noblemaire principle, ICSC came to the tentative opinion that, for the international civil service, only a global salary system could ensure both equity and the necessary mobility of staff. In line with the principle of "equal pay for equal work", no distinction could be admitted in the remuneration of internationally recruited staff on the grounds of their nationality or of salary levels in their own countries. Since the organizations must be able to recruit and retain staff from all Member States, the level of remuneration must be sufficient to attract those from the countries where salary levels are highest - with the inescapable consequence that the level would then be higher than would be needed to attract staff from countries with lower national salary levels and might appear excessive to the Governments and taxpayers of those countries. In order to determine the appropriate level of salaries for the UN the preliminary conclusion of ICSC, like that of its predecessors, was that no acceptable alternative could be found to the existing practice of comparison with the salaries of the national civil service of the Member State whose levels were found to be highest and which otherwise lent itself to a significant comparison [A/10030, para. 29].

1976

3rd session (March): ICSC noted that the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations had recommended in 1945 that the "salary and allowance scales for the staffs of the United Nations and the various specialized agencies ... should compare favourably to those of the most highly paid home and foreign services, due account being taken of the special factors affecting service in the United Nations". Those factors had been defined by the 1949 Committee of Experts on Salary, Allowance and Leave Systems, basing itself on the report of the Preparatory Commission, in the following terms: "(a) the requirement of the Charter that the staff of the United Nations be characterized by `the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity', due regard being paid to its recruitment `on as wide a geographical basis as possible'; (b) the wide range of remuneration for comparable work prevailing in the government services of the Members of the United Nations and the need, therefore, to ensure that conditions of employment for internationally recruited staff compare favourably with those of the most highly paid home and foreign services; (c) the relatively better position of national, as compared with international, services, to guarantee stability and security of employment; (d) the more limited prospects of promotion to the highest posts in an international secretariat compared with such prospects in most national services; (e) the fact that a large proportion of any international staff is required to incur additional expense and to make certain sacrifices by living away from their own country." [A/31/30, para. 118].

ICSC confirmed its preliminary conclusion made at the 1st session that no acceptable alternative could be found to the existing practice of comparison with the salaries of the national civil service of the Member State whose levels were found to be highest and which otherwise lent itself to a significant comparison [A/31/30, paras. 120 and 121].

ICSC proceeded to consider, first, the way in which the principle should be applied, that is, the selection of the national civil service to be taken as the highest paid; the grades in the two services to be taken as equivalent; the elements of remuneration on either side to be taken into account; and the place at which the comparison should be made; secondly, the resulting level of remuneration; thirdly, the different elements making up the total remuneration [A/31/30, para. 122].

1980

In resolution 35/214, the GA noted with appreciation the continuing efforts of ICSC to review the application of the Noblemaire principle, and invited ICSC to complete its examination as soon as possible, especially with a view to achieving comparability of total compensation of the UN remuneration of the P and higher categories with that of the selected comparator national civil service and to ascertaining whether the present comparator was still the highest paid civil service.

1982

15th session (March): ICSC had before it document ICSC/15/R.3 which recalled the history of the Noblemaire principle. It decided to reaffirm the views that it had expressed earlier that the Noblemaire principle continued to be valid for the determination of P salaries. In view of the evidence that ICSC had collected as part of the comparator country study which it had completed at its 14th session, and given that no additional information relating to the continued use of the US federal civil service as the comparator had been brought to its attention, ICSC decided that the US should continue to remain the comparator under the Noblemaire principle [A/37/30, para. 103].

In view of the fact that ICSC could not reach a consensus concerning the manner in which the Noblemaire principle should be applied, it decided to postpone consideration of the matter to a future date. It also agreed that all other issues concerning the basis for the determination of salaries in the P and higher categories such as the level of the margin, the relationship between salaries and the level of responsibility, would also be considered when it reverted to the entire issue at a later date [A/37/30, para. 106].

1984

The GA reaffirmed in resolution 39/27 the Noblemaire principle as the basis for the determination of the level of remuneration for staff in the P and higher categories in New York, the base city for the PA system, and in other duty stations.

1988

28th session (July): With regard to the basis for determining the level of remuneration: the definition and identification of the comparator(s) in the context of the comprehensive review of the conditions of service of the P and higher categories, ICSC noted that a decision would have to be taken on whether to retain, change or expand the present pay comparison based on the Noblemaire principle. In considering whether the comparison for the determination of the level of remuneration should continue to adhere strictly to the Noblemaire principle or whether it could or should be extended to include more than one national civil service, it was noted that the range of activities in which the organizations in the common system were involved and the nature of the external environment to which they related had changed since 1945 [A/43/30, paras. 52 and 53].

The GA in resolution 43/226 provided the following guidance to ICSC for the conduct of the comprehensive review of conditions of service of the P and higher categories: (a) the Noblemaire principle should continue to serve as the basis of comparison between UN emoluments and those of the highest-paying civil service - currently the US federal civil service - which, by its size and structure, lent itself to such comparison; (b) ICSC should review how best the application of the Noblemaire principle could ensure the competitiveness of UN remuneration without resorting to comparison with the private sector. By the same resolution, the GA provided that ICSC should examine all elements of the present conditions of service, and after identifying problems relating to staff recruitment, retention and mobility should propose solutions to these.

1989

30th session (July/August): In its discussions under the comprehensive review, ICSC recalled that it had on several previous occasions reviewed the Noblemaire principle and its application in the context of remuneration comparisons. As before, it saw no viable alternative to the continued use of the Noblemaire principle. It recommended to the GA that in the application of the Noblemaire principle as the basis for the determination of the conditions of service of United Nations staff in the P and higher categories, the comparator should continue to be the highest paid national civil service. A periodic check of the highest paid national civil service should be made every five years [A/44/30, vol. II, paras. 142 and 173].

On the basis of a detailed analysis by the Working Group on the Comprehensive Review, ICSC undertook a review of the competitiveness of the present UN salary system related to recruitment and retention needs [A/44/30, vol. II, para. 77].

ICSC noted that the need to make UN conditions of employment competitive had been emphasized in various quarters, as had the organizations' increasing difficulties in managing programmes because of their inability to recruit and retain high-quality staff. In addressing recruitment and retention difficulties ICSC noted that organizations had resorted to a number of exceptional measures. They included: (a) the increasing tendency to offer a higher step in grade upon recruitment and, in some organizations, the revision of the grade levels of field posts; (b) the greater use of reimbursable loans and secondment; (c) in one organization whose programme so permitted, Professional staff members worked in their own home countries rather than being required to move to the organization's headquarters; (d) the increasing use of other employment arrangements, such as special service agreements, which, in effect, established a class of non-staff in the system; (e) the more frequent hiring of sub-contractors [A/44/30, vol. II, paras. 96 and 97].

ICSC also noted that the payment by certain Member States of supplements to the UN emoluments of their nationals was in contravention of the UN salary system (see also section 2.1.100). ICSC reiterated its previously expressed view on that issue, noting that supplementary payments to some staff created inequality of treatment and were contrary to the Staff Regulations of all organizations as well as to the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations (see vol. I, paras. 80-90).

ICSC reviewed various analyses showing that: (a) since January 1975, the date of the last salary increase, the purchasing power of P staff at the base of the system had declined steadily; in July 1989, it showed a 7.5 per cent loss as compared with its 1975 level. The loss of purchasing power was even greater at other HQ locations; (b) the gap between full pay comparability under the comparator's Pay Comparability Act, and the level of US federal civil service salaries had increased precipitously in the early to mid-1980s and now stood at over 28.6 per cent: (i) in 1985, when ICSC had recommended a net remuneration margin range of 110 to 120 with a desirable mid-point of 115, the gap had stood at 14 per cent and averaged 6.6 per cent over the same reference period used to determine the margin range (1 October 1976 to 30 September 1984); (ii) since 1984 the gap had averaged over 21 per cent; (c) increases had continued to be granted by other international organizations, the most recent example being a 10 per cent increase by the World Bank, with effect from 1 May 1989 [A/44/30, vol. II, paras. 98 and 99].

ICSC noted that while the problems of recruitment and retention referred to by executive heads were pronounced in the field, they also existed at other locations. While ICSC was making a number of improvements to the GA that would result in significant improvements in the conditions of service of field staff, none would result in a meaningful benefit for HQ staff. If there was no improvement in conditions of service for HQ staff, there would be further deterioration in staff morale and accentuation of recruitment and retention problems. The majority of ICSC members considered that a general improvement in salaries for all staff was justified at this time. ICSC therefore decided to recommend to the GA that a 5 per cent across-the-board increase in salaries for the P and higher categories of staff should be granted in 1990 [A/44/30, vol. II, paras. 115 and 116] (see section 2.1.60 for details of the recommendations and GA action thereon).

Also in the context of the comprehensive review, ICSC noted that the Working Group in its proposals considered the reference to competitiveness in GA resolution 43/226 to mean that competitiveness checks with employers other than the comparator would be made. The Group had accordingly recommended two types of checks for competitiveness to be carried out on a regular basis, for example, every 5 years: (a) with employers of international staff; and (b) with a non-diplomatic expatriate service of the comparator. While some ICSC members agreed that checks for competitiveness on a periodic basis using the total compensation approach should be carried out with other employers of international staff, others were of the view that such checks would not be in accord with the Noblemaire principle. In general, there was agreement that periodic checks with the non-diplomatic expatriate staff of the comparator should be carried out, taking into account other elements besides net salaries, though some members were of the view that caution should be exercised in that regard. Those members felt that the non-diplomatic expatriate staff of the comparator and UN officials were not fully comparable [A/44/30, vol. II, paras. 145 and 146].

ICSC decided to recommend to the GA that in the application of the Noblemaire principle as the basis for the determination of the conditions of service of staff in the P and higher categories, the comparator should continue to be the highest-paid national civil service. A periodic check of the highest-paid national civil service should be made every 5 years.

By resolution 44/198, the GA reaffirmed that the Noblemaire principle should continue to serve as the basis of comparison between UN emoluments and those of the highest-paying civil service - currently the US federal civil service - which, by its size and structure, lends itself to such a comparison.

1992

By resolution 47/216, the GA, inter alia requested ICSC to study all aspects of the application of the Noblemaire principle, with a view to ensuring the competitiveness of the UN common system.

1993

38th session (July/August): ICSC recalled that the GA had made several separate but related requests, at its 46th and 47th sessions for reports in 1994 on a number of long-term matters concerning the basis for determining the remuneration for the P and higher categories. Those requests concerned: (a) the operation of FEPCA (resolution 46/191); (b) margin management over a 5-year period (resolution 46/191); (c) conducting periodic checks to determine the highest-paid civil service (resolution 46/191); US special pay systems (resolution 46/191); (e) the application of the Noblemaire principle (resolution 47/216); (f) the structure of the salary scale (resolution 47/216).

Although the various GA requests were generated separately, ICSC considered that the subject-matter of each was so closely related that it should approach the separate reviews in an integrated fashion at its sessions in 1994. The GA would thus receive a report which was internally consistent between its separate elements. ICSC reviewed preliminary information on the status of studies currently under way for finalization in 1994. It noted that while all studies would be conducted concurrently as separate modules, all recommendations to the GA concerning the studies would be consolidated at the summer 1994 session.

ICSC decided to review the various aspects of the item as follows: (a) developments within the current comparator, i.e., FEPCA implementation and special pay rates, together with margin management under the current arrangements at the spring session in 1994; (b) a report on the organizations' current recruitment and retention difficulties at the spring session in 1994; (c) the study of the highest paid national civil service should receive the highest priority under the item, with work on phase I to proceed immediately for review at the spring session in 1994. If it appeared that another national civil service could replace the current comparator, work should proceed on phase II, so that a complete report could be submitted to the ICSC at its summer session in 1994; (d) the application of the Noblemaire principle would be examined on the basis of a report to be submitted by the ICSC secretariat, in full collaboration with the CCAQ secretariat.

The report should include, inter alia, an examination of other organizations which lent themselves to comparisons in that context; (e) the structure of the salary scale would be examined after other aspects of the item had been fully explored with an initial report on salary scale structure provided to ICSC at its spring session in 1994 [A/48/30, paras. 86-87 and 100].

In resolution 48/224, the GA took note of the ICSC programme of work relating to specific issues regarding the application of the Noblemaire principle, and in this regard, stressed the universal character of the UN.

1994

39th session (February/March): ICSC considered an analysis of recruitment and retention difficulties prepared by CCAQ (ICSC/39/R.4/Add.4) which ICSC had requested in order to assist it in determining whether common system remuneration levels were sufficiently competitive.

The preliminary conclusions drawn from the study were that: (a) common system overall turnover was greater than that of the US federal civil service at comparable grades; (b) approximately one third of all departures were voluntary; (c) voluntary departures - i.e., resignations, non-acceptance of contract renewal and early retirements - occurred on average after six years' service; (d) more than three quarters of all voluntary departures were cases of resignations and non-acceptance of contract renewal; (e) voluntary departures were most critical: (i) at grades P-4 and above, (ii) for nationals from the Western European and other Group; and (iii) in the administrative, technical, scientific and medical areas; (f) an analysis of over 20,000 applications for 455 vacancies in 1992-1993 indicated that, although on average there were 44 applicants for each vacant post, only approximately 3 candidates were deemed to be well qualified for each vacancy; (g) the supply of qualified candidates, especially for positions at levels P-4 and above, was inadequate if organizations were to meet their responsibilities regarding maintaining high standards of competence, efficiency and integrity. That held true for administrative and linguistic as well as for more scientific positions.

ICSC considered that, although the data presented showed that there were some recruitment difficulties at some grade levels in respect of some occupations and nationalities, they did not demonstrate convincingly that the problems were widespread or acute. In particular, it was difficult to establish whether the turnover rates reported were really abnormally high for the international civil service, since no norms had been established in that regard. The inherent difficulties of drawing conclusions from recruitment data were also recognized, given that it was often an exercise in proving negatives. ICSC felt that the data provided a good baseline against which future analyses could be compared and trends established. For future exercises, further data on the reasons for voluntary departures should be provided: in that regard, case-studies such as those given in the document were useful, although they needed to be supported by statistical data [A/49/30, paras. 155-161].

39th and 40th sessions ((February/March and June/July): ICSC considered that in order fully to address the GA request, a fundamental substantive discussion of the application of the Noblemaire principle was required. It considered whether such a discussion should not be completed before examining the details of each sub-item included in its review. It noted, however, that some technical items could be dealt with in the short-term while others required a longer term study.

ICSC noted the inter-related nature of the various sub-items. It considered that it would have been preferable first to address broad policy considerations before considering the detailed issues. Given the need to address specific questions, however, in order to permit studies to proceed, it considered that the broader discussion of this item could only be conducted at a later stage. A number of items, inter alia, the evolution of exchange rates, the role of the expatriation element and supplementary payments would need to be addressed in examining all aspects of the application of the Noblemaire principle [A/49/30, paras. 47-50].

ICSC recalled that according to the schedule of studies it had reported to the GA in 1993, it had intended to study the various interrelated components of this subject concurrently and to provide the GA with a consolidated report in 1994. While it had reviewed studies on all items, it was apparent that some required further work. It therefore decided to report to the GA that: (a) a number of decisions had been made and reported under each sub-item; (b) ICSC intended to continue to study all aspects of the application of the Noblemaire principle; and (c) it would report to the GA on all issues in 1995 [A/49/30, para. 51].

In resolution 49/223, the GA acknowledged that the common system must be a competitive employer in order, inter alia, to equip it to make the necessary management reforms. It: (a) noted with regret that ICSC had not yet completed the studies on all aspects of the application of the Noblemaire principle and all other related studies; (b) requested ICSC to proceed with all urgency with its study of all aspects of the application of the Noblemaire principle and all other related studies which were outstanding and to submit final recommendations to the GA at the earliest opportunity.

1995

41st session (May): ICSC reviewed a document prepared by the ICSC secretariat (ICSC/41/R.4) which recalled the history of the Noblemaire principle and its application. To focus the discussion on the twin elements of the principle and its formulation for application, the secretariat drew a distinction between the two. While the principle expressed an idea which had remained unchanged, the formulation which was used as the instrument for pay determination had differed on the occasion of each review, both before and after the inception of the system and raised a number of fundamental points with regard to the application of the principle with a view to ensuring competitiveness of the UN system. These included: the relevance or otherwise of the international organizations in the application of the Noblemaire principle; changing world realities; comparisons with the public or private sector; home or expatriate civil services; the expatriation factor and the size of the margin. The need to maintain policy coherence in application of both the Noblemaire and Flemming principles in support of Article 101 of the UN Charter was highlighted, as was the issue of supplementary payments by some Member States to their nationals working for the common system [A/50/30, paras. 61-63].

The following options were presented for consideration by ICSC: (a) maintaining the current application of the Noblemaire principle; (b) using international organizations as either comparators or as reference guides to common system competitivity; (c) using the private sector of the country with the highest pay levels as a comparator; (d) using a combination of public and private sectors in a country or group of countries with the highest pay levels; (e) using the highest non-diplomatic expatriate civil service as a comparator; (f) modifying the margin range to reflect fully comparator expatriation benefits [A/50/30, para. 64].

ICSC noted that an unequivocal rendering of the Noblemaire principle had eluded successive reviews over the last 50 years. Members were not sure that ICSC would succeed, where so many others had failed, in decoding that original statement to the intellectual satisfaction of all concerned. Nor was such an exercise considered entirely necessary. Basically, the questions that needed to be addressed were: was it generally agreed that the underlying premise of the Noblemaire principle had been to ensure that UN salaries were competitive? If so, were UN system salaries still competitive and by comparison with which employer or employers? If not, what should be done to rectify the situation? Some members stated that under the Noblemaire principle, conditions of service should be such as to attract nationals from the highest paid national civil service. There was support for the thesis that the UN system was experiencing problems of competitivity.

There then arose the question of the employers with which the UN system was competing and, as a corollary, the formula that should be used to restore competitivity. In this connection, it was reaffirmed that a distinction had to be drawn between the principle itself and the formula for its application. It was recalled that the UN system was nowadays competing on much more diverse markets than it had in the 1920s. A view was expressed that the notion of competitiveness in the labour market for comparable work amounted to an extension of the Noblemaire principle. Others had no difficulty with what they saw as essentially updating the interpretation to make it more relevant to modern-day requirements.

A wide-ranging exchange of views took place on the most appropriate manner of applying the Noblemaire principle. In this connection it was noted that, prior to the establishment of ICSC, the Noblemaire principle had been applied in a relatively flexible manner: moreover, even after ICSC had stated the formulation as being by reference to the highest-paying national civil service, there had not, for a certain period, been rigid adherence to pay levels in the comparator civil service. In the 1970s, salary increases had been granted on the basis of competitivity, using the comparator civil service as a reference point. In the mid-1980s, with the introduction of strict margin management, additional constraints had been imposed.

A view was expressed that the national civil service formulation should not be lost sight of.

Others wondered whether reference to a single national civil service was a workable formula. It was true that the same comparator civil service had been used since the inception of the UN and that formula had worked relatively well for some time because the comparator civil service had been unquestionably the highest paid. However, doubts on that score had been growing for some years and had now reached a crescendo: there was perhaps now a likelihood that the comparator would be replaced. With the synergistic relationship between the two services that had built up over the years, that change might be difficult enought to effect. If, after a few years, another civil service were identified as the highest paid, yet another shift would occur. Those considerations seemed to indicate a more nuanced approach to reference points.

In that connection, it was noted that a basket of national civil services had the conceptual drawback of including employers who paid less than the best. Possible alternatives to this approach included the use of a single comparator in conjunction with a series of reference points. Exactly which comparator and what reference points should be selected might better be left for a later round of discussion. A variety of views was expressed on the use of international organizations as reference points. Some considered these organizations as potentially useful reference points, given their functional congruence with the UN system: in the view of others, the limited membership and/or different mandates of these institutions made them inappropriate reference points for an international workforce like the UN system. Still others had an open mind on the subject. It was generally felt that these institutions should not be used as comparators per se.

It was noted that one of the options put forward in the secretariat paper was adjustment of the margin range, and it was felt that that possibility should not be ruled out. Another element in the equation was the trend in the outside world towards privatization of the public sector, which was rather advanced in some countries. This might suggest the use of a mix of public and private sectors [A/45/30, paras. 73-86].

42nd session (July/August): ICSC resumed discussion on the long-term aspects of the Noblemaire principle after consideration of the other related studies (see sections 1.20, 1.30 and 1.40 below). Time constraints did not permit a reconsideration of all the detailed aspects initially discussed at the 41st session. It was observed, however, in the light of the various other studies that the identification of a comparator civil service had become more difficult over time. Some civil services were easier to compare with than others by virtue of their size and structure. However, those that were easily comparable were not necessarily the best paid. Thus the ideal comparator in terms of structure might well not be particularly competitive, while the best paid might not be particularly comparable. ICSC decided to report to the GA that: (a) the review concerning all aspects of the application of the Noblemaire principle indicated that the principle had been subject to a series of different formulations since 1921. A wide variety of formulations had been used at different times, but the current practice of using the best paid national civil service formulation, combined with a reference check with international organizations, appeared to be sound as long as the process of identifying the comparator civil service was handled on a timely basis and the margin range realistically reflected comparator expatriation benefits;and (b) the GA may wish to consider reconfirming the continued applicability of the Noblemaire principle based upon: (i) the use of periodic checks to determine the highest paid civil service; and (ii) the use of a margin range appropriate in relation to the value of expatriate benefits [A/50/30, paras. 88-89].

In resolution 50/208, the GA: (a) reconfirmed the continued application of the Noblemaire principle; (b) reaffirmed the need to continue to ensure the competitiveness of UN common system conditions of service; (c) decided to defer its consideration of chapter III A of the 21st annual report to the resumed 50th session (see sections 2.1.20, 2.1.30 and 2.1.40 for further details). The GA also: (a) took note of the recruitment and retention problems faced by some organizations in respect of certain specialized occupations; (b) recalled its endorsement in principle of the use of special occupational rates (see section 2.1.140) in organizations with problems of recruitment and retention, and (c) in this context, requested the organizations to collect data to substantiate those problems, and ICSC to make recommendations regarding the conditions for the application of such rates, as appropriate.

1996

43rd session (April/May): In response to resolution 50/208, ICSC reconsidered certain aspects of its review of the Noblemaire principle (see sections 2.1.30 and 2.1.40 for details). It emphasized that in resolution 47/216, the GA had set a clear objective for the review of the Noblemaire principle and its application. When, in the context of that review, ICSC had examined general issues surrounding the Noblemaire principle, there had been general agreement that the intent of the Noblemaire principle had been to ensure competitiveness as well as support for the thesis that the competitiveness of the UN remuneration system had eroded in recent years. It thus followed logically that ICSC's efforts in the review would be focused on honing the system's competitive edge. The set of measures recommended by ICSC under the Noblemaire studies, taken as a whole and in its specifics, had been directed to that end. ICSC considered it significant that, in resolution 50/208, the GA had reaffirmed the continued applicability of the Noblemaire principle as well as the need to maintain the competitiveness of the UN common system as an employer. The two pillars on which ICSC had built its work had thus been reinforced by the GA. It was also considered by some that while the GA in resolution 50/208 had requested ICSC to reconsider its decisions, the basis for the Assembly's request was not clear. ICSC made it clear that the developments that had occurred in the US/UN net remuneration comparison process had been no more than a response to changes that had been introduced incremental over time by the comparator. The response to the incremental changes in the comparator had led to features in the comparison process which the ICSC had never examined in the broader context of the competitiveness of the remuneration package. The review of the application of the Noblemaire principle had provided the opportunity for such a review. The GA had established the objective of that exercise as one of ensuring the competitiveness of the UN common system [A/50/30/ Add.1, paras. 12-14].

ICSC reexamined in detail the two elements (margin methodology and highest-paid national civil service) of the application of the Noblemaire principle to which the GA had drawn its particular attention (see sections 2.1.20 and 2.1.40 for further details).

At its resumed 50th session, the GA decided, by decision no. 50/514, to take note of the ICSC report, including its addendum, and defer its consideration to the 51st session.

In resolution 51/216, the GA: (a) recalled its resolutions related to the study of all aspects of the application of the Noblemaire principle; (b) further recalled its resolution 50/208, by which it decided to defer consideration of the Noblemaire principle and its application and requested ICSC to review the recommendations and conclusions, taking into account the views expressed by Member States at the 50th GA session, in particular regarding the appropriateness of the reduction of dominance and the treatment of bonuses in determining net remuneration comparisons; (c) reconfirmed the continued application of the Noblemaire principle; (d) reaffirmed the need to continue to ensure the competitiveness of the conditions of service of the UN common system.

2004

59th session (July): ICSC recalled that, since its establishment, it had reviewed the Noblemaire principle and its application on a number of occasions. The last review of the principle had been conducted in 1995 and at that time it had concluded that a wide variety of formulations had been used at different times, but the current practice of using the best paid national civil service formulation, combined with a reference check with international organizations, appeared to be sound as long as the process of identifying the comparator civil service was handled on a timely basis. ICSC indicated that the intent of the Noblemaire principle was to ensure that UN compensation was competitive and that organizations were able to recruit from all Member States including the one with the highest-paid civil service. Given this clear objective, ICSC did not see the need to reexamine the principle. On the other hand, the question that needed to be answered was whether the UN was still competitive as an employer and if it was not what should be done to rectify the situation [A/59/30, paras. 263-272].

ICSC recalled that on previous occasions it had stated that comparison should be made to the highest paid national civil service and felt that that approach should be continued. If it turned out that the current comparator was no longer the highest paid civil service under the approved methodology then ICSC would identify another national civil service that would meet the requirements of the methodology in terms of size, job design etc.

ICSC decided to report to the GA that in applying the Noblemaire principle its current practice of using the highest-paid national civil service, combined with a reference check with international organizations, was sound. ICSC had on its work programme for 20052006 a study to determine the highest-paid civil service, including a total comparison between the UN and the US federal civil service [A/59/30, 273].

The General Assembly, in its resolution 59/268, reaffirmed the continuing application of the Noblemaire principle and also reaffirmed the need to continue to ensure the competitiveness of the conditions of service of the United Nations common system. It took note of the decisions of the Commission contained in paragraph 273 of its annual report.



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