Speaking on behalf of the European Union, we welcome the update on human resources.
We express our deep appreciation for the commitment of UNHCR staff often delivering in very difficult circumstances assistance to those in need and upholding the organization’s international mandate. Staff are UNHCR’s asset and they shape its identity. Proper human resources management is necessary to ensure the wellbeing of staff as this translates directly into organization’s ability to deliver and be trusted by those it serves.
We recognize that the safety and wellbeing of staff is even more challenging than usual, due to the COVID-19 challenges and its impact, including on staff physical and mental health as well as security. We very much appreciate your timely report on the steps taken to address these COVID-19 challenges. We also understand that the pandemic has put the new organizational structure under a lot of pressure, especially those regional bureaux where the staff had not fully settled in.
We would therefore appreciate more about the interaction between these multiple challenges and the actions taken to protect and reassure staff affected by restrictions in response to the pandemic, in particular those under lockdown in difficult duty stations. In addition, we would welcome if UNHCR could share preliminary lessons learned regarding teleworking modalities, including staff with children, and possible staff results survey in this respect.
Regarding diversity and inclusion, we welcome UNHCR’s efforts to create a stigma-free working environment, promoting for instance the full participation and leadership of people with disabilities. However, we would welcome more information as to how staff security is guaranteed in those field settings where diversity is stigmatised if not criminalized, such as in the case of the LGBTI community.
We appreciate UNHCR’s engagement in the Taskforce on the Future of the UN System Workforce. We strongly encourage joint-up action by UN agencies regarding human resources initiatives, as this is an important opportunity for efficiency gains and for promoting talent in a changing global context. In this context, we would appreciate more information on the progress made towards a strategic Human Resources Framework. We would also appreciate more details on whether joint initiatives for staff capacity building – for instance on key competencies - have been launched with other UN agencies. We also strongly encourage systematic action to address harassment and abuse and continue raise awareness among staff in this respect. We encourage also strengthening whistle-blower protection, related procedures and follow-up.
In addition, we would welcome more information on possible contingency planning on human resources future deployment in case of new outbreak linked to COVID-19.