US Proposes Freezing UN Staff Salaries

    Joseph M. Torsella (front, right), United States representative for management and reform to the United Nations during a meeting of the General Assembly’s Administrative and Budgetary (Fifth) Committee. The U.S. has proposed freezing the pay of U.N. staff members. Photo by: Rick Bajornas / UN

    The United States has proposed freezing the pay of U.N. staff members, among other measures, to increase U.N. savings and transform the global body into a “strengthened, renewed, more dynamic and entrepreneurial” organization.

    The pay freeze is key to ensuring the U.N.’s 2012-2013 budget reflects a “significant and sustainable belt-tightening from 2010-2011,” according to Joseph Torsella, U.S. representative to the U.N. on management and reform.

    Citing a report by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, Torsella notes that “74 cents out of every dollar the United Nations spends is related to personnel costs.”

    “The United States therefore calls for a freeze on pay for United Nations staff while the comparator salaries, those of the United States federal civil service, are frozen,” Torsella said in remarks before the U.N. General Assembly’s Fifth Committee, which is responsible for budgetary and administrative concerns at the United Nations. “We also repeat our call for repealing the nearly 3 percent raise given to New York based employees through the cost of living adjustment in August, and we urge the General Assembly to act on this matter.”

    U.S. federal civil service salaries are frozen through 2012.

    But tightening the U.N. budget by saving on personnel costs is only one of three steps the organization can make to show its commitment to reforming how it does business, Torsella said.

    The U.S. diplomat also stressed the importance of passing a binding budget to prevent the United Nations from spending more than what the General Assembly actually approves. The United Nations should also consider overhauling its budget process as a whole, Torsella added.

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    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.