Update on the restructuring at OHCHR

The UNOG Staff Coordinating Council would like to update you on the Change Initiative at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). This restructuring of OHCHR involves the redeployment of a number of posts from Geneva to regional hubs in the field as well as to New York.

In order to provide inputs to the restructuring process, in line with relevant UN human resources policies such as ST/SGB/274, the UNOG Staff Coordinating Council held meetings with the staff of every OHCHR division and service in Geneva and received comments from many colleagues, including those in the field. The Council heard from over 250 colleagues. The final report of the Council's consultation process with staff is here.

Based on the report, the Council prepared this proposal on how the planned lateral reassignments could take place in a fair, transparent and legally secure manner, and presented the proposal in a meeting with the High Commissioner on 8 September. Unfortunately this proposal was not implemented. Nevertheless, given the issues raised around the Change Initiative (for example see below) we believe this proposal remains the best for staff and the organization. 

The Report of the Secretary-General on Mobility” (A/70/254), and the Report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ)(A/70/7) have also been recently issued in the past few days, and are relevant to the Change Initiative process.

On the planned regional hubs, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions is of the view that “there is a need to develop a clear and detailed proposal to be considered by the General Assembly…which should include inter alia (a) the location and geographical coverage of each hub; (b) an analysis of the expected workload and a corresponding staffing structure based on the specific needs for each location; (c) clearly defined reporting lines ensuring accountability and division of labour between country, regional and sub regional offices, if any, and headquarters divisions and branches; and (d) based on the aforementioned, a detailed cost proposal, taking into consideration both one-time and recurring post and non-post requirements, as well as potential contributions from prospective host countries”… and recommended that the Secretary-General be requested to “present a proposal on regional restructuring of OHCHR for consideration by the Assembly.”

A key concern relating to the timing of the restructuring has been whether a head of department can retain the right, beyond the introduction of mobility in 1 January 2016, to laterally reassign staff during a restructuring. We are working with the UN Secretariat Mobility Working Group to ensure this is so. This would allow sufficient time to plan the restructuring in an optimal way.

We will keep you updated.