FC 107/18

Finance Committee

Hundred and seventh Session

Rome, May 2004

Decisions of the General Assembly on ICSC and UN Joint Staff Pension Board (including Changes in Salary Scales and Allowances)

Table of Contents


1. The purpose of this paper is to report on the decisions of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at its 58th session (2003), which considered the annual reports of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) and of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board (UNJSPB) for 2003, and to inform the Committee on recent developments of the conditions of service of staff in the Professional and higher categories and General Service staff.

I. International Civil Service Commission (ICSC)


2. The General Assembly reaffirmed its commitment to a single unified United Nations common system as the cornerstone for the regulation and coordination of the conditions of service of the United Nations. The UNGA also reaffirmed the statute of the ICSC and its central role in the regulation and coordination of the United Nations common system.


Evolution of the margin

3. Under a standing mandate from the General Assembly, the Commission reviewed the relationship between the net remuneration of the United Nations staff in the professional and higher categories in New York and that of the United States federal civil service employees in comparable positions in Washington, D.C. (referred to as the margin). The Commission reported to the General Assembly the margin forecast of 111.9 between the net remuneration of the United Nations staff in grades P-1 to D-2 in New York and that of the United States federal civil service in Washington, D.C., for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2003.

Base/floor salary scale

4. The UNGA approved the recommendation of the ICSC to revert to the procedure used when the base/floor salary scale had been established in 1989 and to use only the nationwide General Schedule (i.e. to exclude locality pay) of the United States federal civil service as the reference point for the United Nations base/floor salary scale. As a result, the base/floor scale has been maintained at its current level for the time being.

Pensionable remuneration

5. In accordance with article 54 (b) of the regulation of the United Nations Joint Pension Fund the scale of pensionable remuneration for the professional and higher categories is to be revised whenever the net remuneration in New York is adjusted. Effective 1 September 2003, the Chairman of the ICSC announced a 5.2 percent increase in the post adjustment in New York and, concurrently, promulgated a revised scale of pensionable remuneration for the professional and higher categories increased by the same percentage and with effect from the same date. The financial implication of this change for FAO is estimated to be US$1.5 million for the year 2004.

Post adjustment

6. The levels for the Rome post adjustment classification, showing the fluctuation of the post adjustment multiplier relative to changes in the rate of exchange were announced by the ICSC from February 2003 to February 2004 as follows:


Cost-of-living Post Adjustment
(Applying 4-month waiting period)



Exchange Rate
Index Multiplier
Oct. 2002 102.5 Feb. 2003 0.931 123.5 23.5
Nov. 2002 105.9 Mar. 2003 0.929 123.7 23.7
Dec. 2002 105.9 Apr.2003 0.929 123.7 23.7
Jan. 2003 106.5 May 2003 0.868 131.3 31.3
Feb.2002 106.8 June 2003 0.849 134.0 34.0
Mar. 2003 107.0 July 2003 0.875 130.4 30.4
Apr. 2003 107.2 Aug. 2003 0.877 130.7 30.7
May 2003 107.3 Sep.2003 0.922 125.1 25.1
June 2003 107.2 Oct. 2003 0.875 131.0 31.0
July 2003 107.3 Nov. 2003 0.852 134.1 34.1
Aug. 2003 107.6 Dec. 2003 0.842 135.5 35.5
Sep. 2003 108.0 Jan. 2004 0.801 141.7 41.7
Oct. 2003 108.1 Feb. 2004 0.804 141.6 41.6


Rome interim adjustment

7. In line with the procedure for interim adjustments established by the ICSC and approved by the Council2, an across-the-board 2.36 per cent net increase in salaries of the General Service staff came into effect on 1 November 2003, including a 0.17 per cent increase due a change in the Italian fiscal legislation effective 1 January 2003.

8. The annual pensionable remuneration was revised by the same percentage increase applied to the net salaries (1 to 1 interim adjustment procedure) and with effect from the same date.

9. The annual net amount of the children’s allowance was revised from € 1 028.24 to € 1 052.40. As this amount is lower than that in effect from 1 November 1997 (i.e., € 1 077.33 net per annum), staff members on board prior to 1 November 1998 and already in receipt of this allowance will maintain the higher amount until such time as future provisions produce a children’s allowance equal to or higher than that in effect on 1 November 1997.

10. The annual amounts of the first and second language allowances were revised by the same 2.36 per cent increase as that applied to the net salaries and with effect from the same date, 1 November 2003.

11. The financial implication of these changes for FAO is estimated to be US$1.45 million for the year 2004 at the current rate of exchange.


Review of the pay and benefit system

12. The UNGA took note with appreciation of the continuing progress being made by the Commission in the review of the pay and benefit system in the context of the approved framework for human resources management.

13. The Commission continued the review of the pay and benefit system and, having taken into account the views expressed by Member States at the fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly, organizations and staff representatives, took the following decisions with regard to:

    1. Validation and promulgation of the revised Master Standard
      1. Authority for the promulgation of the new system of job evaluation comprising the Master Standard, grade level descriptors and a new job description format should be delegated to its Chairman to allow for internal consultations within the organizations with a view to promulgation as at 1 January 2004;
      2. Its secretariat should report on an annual basis on the implementation of the new standards in organizations, carry out a comprehensive assessment of the job evaluation system after 18 to 24 months and present to the Commission for its review and approval any substantive design changes that may be required and, in consultation with organizations and staff representatives, pursue further research on the proposal to reform the job evaluation system for the General Service and related category and provide the Commission with a report.
    2. Broadbanding/performance pay
      1. To move forward with the pilot study to be carried out by volunteer organizations and requested its Chairman to pursue the recruitment of a full-time project manager, establish a task force involving all organizations and staff representatives and develop a comprehensive project plan to guide the preparation for and conduct of the pilot study.

Contractual arrangements

14. The Commission noted that, although organizations had indicated that they had already begun simplifying their own contractual arrangements, there were too many contractual types across organizations and that the number should be reduced, as already been pointed out by the General Assembly. The Commission concluded that, while there was a wealth of information available on the present situation, more work was needed before making a recommendation to the General Assembly.

15. In order to reach this position, the Commission requested its secretariat, in collaboration with the organizations, for its fifty-ninth session, to prepare a model contract for each of the three categories proposed, namely, (a) continuing appointments, (b) fixed-term appointments and (c) temporary appointments. Details on the conditions of employment, such as duration of tenure; mobility requirements; the requirements for a probationary period; the procedures for progression to other contract types; the compensation package; social security and health insurance provisions; and procedures for extension and/or termination, should be provided for each category.


16. The Commission recognized that mobility was a key element in the reform effort of the organizations and identified four key areas where programmes should be developed to enhance mobility:

    1. Development of strategies to change the organizational culture with regard to mobility;
    2. A clear definition of various types of mobility (e.g. rotation, mandatory or optional mobility and intra-organizational, inter-agency or external mobility);
    3. Terms of contracts, which should state conditions of employment, including mandatory mobility;
    4. Spouse employment.

Mission subsistence allowance/special operations approach

17. The Commission was presented with a note by its secretariat that contained an overview of criteria and practice for mission subsistence allowance (MSA) in the United Nations, information on practices of some other common system organizations with respect to staff assigned to non-family locations and the special operation approach, and the extended monthly evacuation allowance. The information collected showed that there was a variety of practices across the system.

18. The Commission took note of the information presented and stressed the need for further harmonization of practices of organizations with respect to the allowances for staff serving in non-family duty stations, in order to avoid competition and promote mobility of staff. It requested organizations to continue their efforts to develop arrangements that would be applicable to all organizations and to present the Commission with a comprehensive report at its fifty-ninth session (2004). The Commission also requested its secretariat, in cooperation with the organizations, to consider and report on the feasibility of linking MSA rates to the DSA rates established by the Commission.

II. United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board (UNJSPB)

19. The Standing Committee of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board (UNJSPB) met in July 2003, however, no substantive recommendations were made to the UN General Assembly. The full UNJSPB will hold its 52nd session in July 2004 in Montreal, Canada. At this session the Board will fulfil its obligation under article 14 of the Pension Fund Regulations to report to the UN General Assembly on the operations of the Fund at least once every two years. The Board will consider the results of the latest actuarial valuation of the Fund as at 31 December 2003 as well as a number of items that are required under the Fund's Regulations and Rules or in accordance with established practice of the Board. These items include the report of the Medical Consultant; the report of the Representative of the Secretary-General on the management of the Fund's investments; financial statements and audit reports; administrative expenses; the Emergency Fund; election of the Standing Committee; and the date and place of the meeting of the Standing Committee in 2005 and the Board session in 2006.

20. Important additional items to be considered at the Board session in 2004 include a progress report on the implementation of the Management Charter; the report of the Working Group on the size and composition of the Board and of the Standing Committee; proposals for review of the benefit provisions of the UNJSPF, in particular the possible purchase of additional years of contributory service and adjustment of pensions after awards. There will also be an experience review of the provisions in the Regulations dealing with divorced spouses.


1 Index of cost-of-living for international officials in Rome. Please note that the index has been re-based effective 1 October 2000, date of the last cost-of-living survey

2 CL 82/REP, para. 186.187; CL 86/REP, para. 160 (b)