International Organisations Career Development Roundtable

Oslo, 13 November 2014

State Secretary Hans Brattskar's speech at the International Organisations Career Development Roundtable in Oslo 13 November 2014.

Dear Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure I welcome you all to Oslo and to the 11th International Organisations Career Development Roundtable. We are extremely pleased that you have all taken the time to come here and attend this year’s roundtable. We are honored to be hosting this event together with the UNFPA and other partners. And - I hope you will be able to enjoy some of what the city has to offer in between the important and interesting themes on your agenda.

I understand that the Career Fair the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted yesterday at “Oslo Militære Samfund” was a success. As you may be aware of, Norway is the largest[1] donor to the UN Development System per capita, but is under-represented in the work force of UN organizations as well as other multilateral organizations. The total number of staff in the UN is approximatly 44 000, of whom only some 250 are Norwegians. Let me illustrate: We are among the major donors to UNICEF, but there are only three Norwegians at the D1 and D2 levels in the organisation. Norway is also among the top donors to UNDP, but there are only four Norwegians at the D2 an D1 levels in UNDP. We would like to see these numbers increase, also at the lower levels of international organisations. We hope that yesterday’s career fair inspired Norwegians and other visitors to apply for positions in international organizations. You represent organisations with a wide range of career opportunities in different fields. I am confident you did your utmost to attract good Norwegian candidates, and that you will continue to do so.

Allow me then to touch upon some key elements in Norway’s relation to international and multilateral organisations.

Norway has a fundamental interest in a well-functioning multilateral system and a global legal order where relations between states are governed by binding standards, conventions and legislation. The participation of Norwegian shipping in world trade would not have been possible without international rules. Smallpox could not have been eradicated in Norway without international cooperation in the health field. Respect for the Law of the Sea ensures predictability and stability, which is vital for Norway, especially in the High North. The rules developed by the international community are central for safeguarding Norway’s economic development, but also our security and values.

The United Nations’ normative function means that the UN system plays a key role in upholding and promoting the international legal order, which in turn promotes peace and human rights. The UN is also an important political arena for Norway, as well as an important partner in development, state-building and global crisis management.

However, the multilateral system, and the UN in particular, faces complex challenges in today’s world. These challenges calls for a greater capability to manage complexity and to link agendas with responses. Furthermore, the UN is facing greater competition. New informal groups, regional organisations, civil society and also private actors are becoming increasingly prominent on the international arena.

On the other hand, new tasks are continually being imposed on the UN system, new organisations are being established and the system is growing.

Norway is, and will continue to be, a driving force for strengthening and reform of the UN. We have supported several inititatives to modernise and adapt the organisation to new challenges. Together with other member states we push for reform of the working methods of the Security Council. And, we are working for a strong, efficient and reform-oriented UN Development System with focus on results. We engage actively in the discussion on how to make the UN “fit for purpose” in the new Post 2015 development agenda.

There are, nevertheless, still many parts of the UN that need to be made more effective. Our governement has said that Norwegian support will increasingly go to organizations that can document results. We will continue to engage actively in the governing bodies of the UN organizations and in bilateral consultations to enhance results and efficiencies.

In these efforts there are different kinds of challenges and bottlenecks. But one thing is sure. Recruitment of the right people, and putting the right people in the right jobs, are central factors to make a difference and succeed with reform. Thus, Norway has welcomed Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s reform, the so-called “mobility framework”, which provides for UN staff mobility between headquarters and the field.

Reforming organizations is closely linked to how innovation is designed, developed and executed, which brings me to the theme for this conference; “innovation for excellence”. Rapid changing environments sometimes demands thinking outside the box. The traditional approaches to how organizations are managed may need redesigning to allow for innovation. There are many international organisations that need to innovate to accommodate the changing demands of partners, donors and stakeholders. UNDP is one example. The structural change process in UNDP represents a major effort to align the organisation with its new strategic priorities and adjusting the balance of human resources from the HQ level towards the regional and country level.

Working in Human Resources, which is the case for most of you, may well be the most challenging job in times of restructuring and rapid change in a work place. The Human Resources Management’s role is demanding and complex and often leaves little time for innovation and trying out new ideas. But there is little doubt that organizations that attempt to innovate, gain valuable experience. And the HRM plays a critical role in innovation processes in breaking down existing barriers, i.e. cultural, environmental, structural and in the opening up to new sources of ideas.

People are of course of the greatest importance for any knowledge-based organization. Attracting, retaining and developing your best people is fundamental. How one manages the HR issues in dynamic and non-predictable restructuring processes is absolutely crucial. The work that you do has a direct impact on your organsisation’s ability to reach its goals and objectives. Hopefully one of the outputs of this conference will be that you will have shared between each other ideas, strategies and potential solutions to successfull innovation and change in your organisations.

Your programme over the next two days touches upon a lot of different topics under the umbrella “Innovation for Excellence”. There are a total of 30 clinics taking place, so with such a vast choice of presentations, I’m convinced you will find something that engages your interest.

It is with appreciation that I declare this conference open – and I wish you all the very best in your endeavors.

Thank you.

[1] 2012