Travel rules and standards of accommodation on aircraft etc.

(1)     At its 13th session (September 1952: CO-ORDINATION/R.132) CCAQ adopted certain guiding principles to secure uniformity in many conditions of travel and removal.

(2)     At the first part of its 16th session (April 1955: CO-ORDINATION/R.193/Rev.1) CCAQ began a comparative study to see whether there could be greater uniformity between travel entitlements of regular and technical assistance personnel; travel conditions for dependants; computation of travel time and costs. The Committee also reached agreement on type of accommodation in cases of sea, rail and air travel (paras. 37-39) and stated its views on incidental expenses (para. 40) and special travel arrangements (para. 41).

(3)     At the second part of the 17th session (April 1956: CO-ORDINATION/R.224) CCAQ confirmed its earlier conclusions, in particular that travel rules should apply uniformly to all staff members; that for travel on official business, air travel should be the standard for computing time and cost, subject to certain exceptions (paras. 15(a) and (b)). Paras. 15(c) and (d) deal with deviations from standard routes.

     The Committee further agreed on a number of points tending to increase uniformity as regards rail travel in Europe, air travel and travel by private car (para. 21). No final conclusions were reached regarding accommodation in the case of sea travel (para. 21) and the standard mode of travel on other than official business (para. 22).

(4)     Modification of previous decisions. At its 18th session (March 1957: CO-ORDINATION/R.245, section V, paras. 35-43) the Committee reviewed, in the light of recommendations of the Salary Review Committee, its 1956 decisions. It confirmed its previous conclusion (see CO-ORDINATION/R.224, para. 19) that "in a number of details existing variations in practice are not of sufficient importance to call for standardization".

     As regards travel standards for officials other than executive heads and similar high-ranking officials, CCAQ partially amended the agreements recorded in CO-ORDINATION/R.224.

     Allowable travel time and standards of accommodation. The observations in paras. 40-43 of CO-ORDINATION/R.245 (see (4) above) were referred back to CCAQ by ACC. At its 19th session (March 1958: CO-ORDINATION/R.264, paras. 62-66) CCAQ decided to defer any new formulation of a common statement on travel rules, pending preparation by ICAO of a new comparative analysis of organizations' practices.

(6)     At the 20th session (April 1959: CO-ORDINATION/R.295, paras. 60-64) the Committee considered ICAO's report, which showed the degree of standardization which had existed for some years. New problems had arisen as a result of the introduction of jet aircraft; the organizations had each dealt with these ad hoc. The Committee decided not to attempt a reconciliation of home leave travel practices in view of the transitional circumstances.

     The Committee also discussed the various formulae utilized in determining the allowable travel time on home leave and the variations in the practice of authorizing "sleeper" accommodation on planes.

(7)     At the first part of the 21st session (April 1960: CO-ORDINATION/R.325, paras. 72-76) there was a further discussion on travel standards. For official duty the normal air travel standard was first class, with some relatively minor variations; as regards home leave there were greater variations. Agreement was reached that education travel should be by tourist or economy flights, at student rates where available.

     The Committee noted, with uneasiness, that IAEA had made provisional travel rules under which an official on appointment, separation, home leave or transfer of duty station could be paid a lump sum up to 95 per cent of the travel costs by approved standards, and permitted to travel by lower standards in order (i) to travel by a different route and/or (ii) to meet the travel costs of dependants or members of household who had no travel entitlement on the journey concerned and/or (iii) to meet cost of transportation of effects and/or car.

(8)     At the first part of the 22nd session (January and March 1961: CO-ORDINATION/R.351, para. 50) UN proposed that economy class should be the normal standard for jet travel, below a certain rank. Most other organizations thought that in view of the fluid state of airline policy on the matter of fares structures, it was premature to make any major change regarding standards of accommodation.

[Note. UN subsequently adopted a policy whereby economy class became the normal standard for all officials below P.5 on flights with a scheduled duration of nine hours or less; several other organizations followed suit, with some variations.]

(9)     At the 23rd session (March 1962: CO-ORDINATION/R.391, paras. 67-69) CCAQ noted that five organizations now used economy class for flights of nine hours or less, in the case of staff up to a certain level, that level varying among the organizations. There were variations in the application of this class to staff under different programmes and to different kinds of travel. One organization (WHO) contemplated extending economy class to all travel regardless of duration.

     The organizations generally agreed that whatever standards were used should apply to all staff, irrespective of programme, but CCAQ was unable to reach agreement on the standards themselves, and decided to continue discussion by correspondence and to re-examine the matter at its next session.

(10)     In its report on the UN Budget Estimate for 1963 the UN Advisory Committee (ACABQ) proposed that UN should adopt the travel standard applied by WHO. (Economy class below D.2). ACC then decided to undertake, as a matter of urgency, a further intensive study of the question of travel standards, and requested ICAO, a part of the preparatory work, to complete and make available its survey of existing national practices.

(11)     At its 24th session (March 1963: CO-ORDINATION/R.430, paras. 49-52) CCAQ examined the ICAO study (Appendix F, CO-ORDINATION/R.430). It agreed that in establishing travel accommodation standards for international officials regard should be had to the standards prevailing for national officials of comparable rank and responsibilities. National practices, however, varied, and data which ICAO had obtained from forty-two countries left room for differences of opinion as to where the organizations should draw the line between first class and tourist or economy class in air travel, though broadly speaking it appeared to be at about the P.5 level. As regards air travel on official business, at least, there was general agreement that first class should apply to the Director and Principal Officer category and above. Subject to easements for flights of long duration, a majority also agreed that staff at P.4 and below should travel in tourist or economy class. The position was reported to ECOSOC in the 28th report of ACC (E/3765, para. 199).

(12)     At its XIIIth session in 1965 ICSAB noted the divergencies between the standards applied by various organizations, and urged that further efforts be made to achieve a uniform system. At its 27th session (March 1966: CO-ORDINATION/R.532, paras. 37-39) CCAQ agreed the text of a report to ICSAB on the subject (R.532/Add.2). This was approved by ACC subject to minor drafting changes (see CO-ORDINATION/SR.41/3) and presented to ICSAB as ICSAB/XIV/R.7. ICSAB recommended in its report of its XIVth session (ICSAB/XIV/1) that all officers below the executive head should normally be entitled to economy class when travelling by air.

(13)     ACC, in its comments on the ICSAB report (see Annex E, CO-ORDINATION/R.604) expressed the view that, on the basis of standards applying to national officials of comparable rank, the appropriate standard in the UN common system should be - for all staff at or above the D.2 level, first class, except that on flights of short duration, within Europe, and comparable flights elsewhere, economy class should be used wherever feasible; for all levels below D.2, economy class. The General Assembly at its 21st session (1966) accepted ACC's view.

(14)     At its 28th session (March 1967: CO-ORDINATION/R.604, paras. 32-33) CCAQ, with ICAO dissenting, agreed a common practice with respect to rest periods during air travel, in the following terms:

     "When an official is required to make an official journey by air (or mostly by air):

     (a)     if the scheduled time for the journey is between 6 and 10 hours he shall not normally be required to commence duty within 12 hours of arriving at his destination;

     (b)     if the scheduled time is more than 10 hours he shall not normally be required to commence duty within 24 hours of arriving at his destination; or alternatively at the discretion of the organization, a stop-over period not exceeding 24 hours may be granted. In the case of extremely long journeys additional stop-over may permitted."

     ICAO would follow a different formula which it had recently introduced on an experimental basis, and the two systems would be reviewed in 1968.

(15)     Despite the agreement on rest days reached in 1967 (see para. (14) above) differences of practice on this subject existed among organizations in 1970. After further discussion CCAQ agreed at its 31st session (March 1970: CO-ORDINATION/R.798, para. 38) (with ICAO dissenting) on a modification of the 1967 formula which all organizations other than ICAO said they would be able to apply from 1 January 1971. The formula (Annex E, CO-ORDINATION/R.798) was as follows:

     "(a)     When an official travels at the expense of the organization, by air or mostly by air:

          i.     if the scheduled time for the journey is between six and ten hours, he will not normally be required to commence duty within twelve hours of arriving at his destination;

          ii.     if the scheduled time is more than ten hours, but not more than eighteen hours, he will not normally be required to commence duty within 24 hours of arriving at his destination. Alternatively, the organization may decide to grant a stop-over not exceeding 24 hours. If the final stage of the journey exceeds six hours, the official will not normally be required to commence duty within twelve hours of arrival;

          iii.     if the scheduled time of the journey exceeds eighteen hours the organization may allow either two stop-overs, neither of which shall exceed 24 hours; or one stop-over with a rest period not exceeding 24 hours on arrival at the destination.

     "(b)     In the computation of the travel time described above, scheduled waiting periods not exceeding four hours will be included."

     The rule was to apply to all staff including short-term conference staff.

(16)     At its 37th session (March 1973: CO-ORDINATION/R.984, paras. 58-60) CCAQ noted that, as a result of a report of the JIU, the ACABQ had suggested that ACC should again review and submit recommendations on travel standards, bearing in mind the JIU recommendations and also current national practice. ICAO undertook to ascertain the latter.

(17)     At the same session CCAQ considered the impact of excursion air fares and "package tour" fares on staff travel entitlements. It agreed that (CO-ORDINATION/R.984, paras. 61-66):

     (a)     as regards duty travel (including travel on appointment, transfer or separation):

          i.     "package" arrangements should not be used;

          ii.     travel should be arranged through the organization's travel agents whenever available but this should not preclude car travel when this represented a reasonable convenience for the staff member.

     (b)     as regards any leave travel payable by the organization the staff member was entitled to economy class travel by scheduled flight between duty station and the leave city, by the most direct and economical route, under arrangements made by the organization. He was not entitled to a sum of money, as such, and any savings in travel costs should not accrue to him;

     (c)     for home leave journeys where air was the normal means surface travel should be permitted provided that:

          i.     except where private car was used, travel should be arranged through the organizations' travel agent, if there was one;

          ii.     any extra time needed (as compared with air travel) should be treated as annual leave;

          iii.     reimbursement in respect of private car travel should be designed to cover the real costs of travel;

          iv.     total cost to the organization should not exceed the cost as in (b) and any extra costs or time entailed by breakdown of transport should be the liability of the staff member; most organizations would accept no responsibility for loss, injury or damage occurring during the journey.

     (d)     staff could be authorized by the organization to utilize "package tour" arrangements for home leave. Since organizations' travel agents were unable to indicate what portion of the "package" covered travel and what portion was chargeable to hotel accommodation or other elements of the package, the organizations might bear the full cost provided that that cost in no circumstances exceeded the cost as in (b).

(18)     By decision of the General Assembly at its 28th session in 1973, first class travel accommodation by air was restricted to Assistant Secretaries-General and above, subject to the authority of the Secretary-General to make limited exceptions. ACC at its 61st session agreed that this standard should be applicable throughout the common system (CO-ORDINATION/R.1045, para. 66)

(19)     Subject to a reservation by ICAO, CCAQ at its 39th session (March 1974: CO-ORDINATION/R.1031, paras. 60 to 62) decided to modify its agreement of 1970 concerning rest periods during air travel (see item 15 above) as follows:

  •      the 24 hour rest period should apply to journeys having a scheduled duration of 10 to 16 hours;

  •      the 48 hour rest period should apply to journeys of more than 16 hours.

(20)     In the interest of removing distinctions in rules based on sex, CCAQ agreed at its 39th session that, as regards travel and related expenses, the spouse of an official should be eligible for these benefits, irrespective of his or her dependency status (see also section 2.8, para. (22)).

(21)     In 1974 CCAQ agreed (see CCAQ/SEC/336 (PER), para. 25) that the time had arrived to co-ordinate the fixing of mileage rates for reimbursement of automobile travel. It requested UN and UNDP to develop a specific proposal, for clearance by correspondence, based on the existing UN principle that reimbursement was to be of assumed operating expenses, not capital investment in the vehicle, and that the rates be derived from applying a factor to the cost of petrol.

(22)     In its second annual report (1976: UN document A/31/30, paras. 77, 294-300), and on the basis of its review of the UN salary system, ICSC recommended no change in existing provisions for class of travel on appointment, change of duty station or separation of staff in the Professional and higher categories.

(23)     At part II of its 46th session (February-March 1977: CO-ORDINATION/R.1208, para. 27(f)), following discussion of issues raised by FAO, CCAQ agreed that the approval of travel time for field staff serving at remote duty stations should remain within the discretion of each organization.

(24)     At part II of the same session (CO-ORDINATION/R.1208, para. 27(g)), FAO and IAEA proposed a credit voucher system for home leave travel. Pending detailed examination of the proposal, CCAQ decided to reaffirm its 1973 agreement (CO-ORDINATION/R.984, para. 66 - see item 17 above) that "package tours" could be used for home leave travel provided that the cost to the organization did not exceed the limits established for scheduled flights.

(25)     At its 32nd session (1977), the General Assembly considered a JIU report on first-class travel in the UN organizations (UN document A/32/272). In its resolution 32/198 of 21 December 1977, it decided that in the UN those staff members previously entitled to first-class travel (USGs and ASGs) would henceforth be so entitled only when the duration of a particular flight exceeded nine hours.

(26)     At its 54th session (January 1981: ACC/1981/7, paras. 63-65) CCAQ gave consideration to the use of package tours on home leave and to the effects on official travel of the introduction of business class by many airlines.

(27)     At its 55th session (July 1981: ACC/1981/31, paras. 113-116) CCAQ confirmed its 1973 agreement that package tour arrangements on home leave could be used provided that the cost was limited to the figure that would have been authorized under the usual rules of the organization. With regard to business class, CCAQ agreed that there were good reasons to ensure that staff members travelling on official business should arrive at their destination in adequate shape to carry out their assigned tasks. Business class, by providing additional room and peace and quiet, could contribute to this.

(28)     At its 56th session (March 1982: ACC/1982/5, paras. 96-101) CCAQ agreed that business class (defined as the class immediately below first class) could be authorized for journeys of a duration (or involving a leg) equal to that of a crossing of the North Atlantic, provided that there was no airline on the route which provided undifferentiated service to all economy class passengers for all legs of the journey. The organizations would not normally be prepared to pay a supplement to the full economy fare in order to secure business class standards, except where to not do so would be tantamount to excluding business class altogether.

(29)     At the 56th session on financial and budgetary questions (March 1982), the participants were informed of the results of CCAQ(PER)'s study of the implications of using "business class" for certain type of official travel and of its conclusions on the policy to be followed for air travel standards. It was noted that no common position had so far been developed, although there had been parallel efforts to reduce travel costs. The need to retain flexibility in individual cases, to benefit from reduced fares available in a complex and changing market, and to take account of the standards and conditions offered by carriers used as a matter of necessity at some duty stations, were also important considerations. Subject to such considerations, the majority of participants agreed that it would be desirable to adopt full economy or "business" class as the standard for staff members on official travel where this involved no supplement in the fare payable; in practice, however, it would be difficult to envisage a common policy in the prevailing climate of budgetary austerity (ACC/1982/6, paras. 26-28).

(30)     At the 57th session (September 1982), CCAQ(FB) examined a report by IAPSU on possible savings in the cost of air travel and agreed to study recommendations of system-wide interest in a recent JIU report on organization and methods for official travel by air (JIU/REP/82/7) (ACC/1982/25, paras. 45-46). CCAQ(FB) returned to this matter at the 58th session (March 1983), dealing separately with each of the subject areas covered by the JIU recommendations. It agreed in particular that an ad hoc group of organizations and offices in Geneva, including IAPSU, should be convened by the CCAQ secretariat to study questions that would need to be considered in connection with approaches to airlines or their sponsoring governments to obtain discounts or the relaxation of conditions that prevented the organizations from obtaining the most economical fares. The results of the discussions were to be reported orally at the next session of CCAQ(FB) (ACC/1983/11, paras. 43-44). At the 59th session (September 1983) the Committee was informed of the conclusions reached at the ad hoc Geneva meeting. It also considered views collected from UN and other organizations and observations put forward by IAPSU, which agreed to prepare a detailed written report as recommended at the ad hoc meeting (ACC/1983/21, paras. 37-38).

(31)     Having considered the IAPSU report at the 60th session on financial and budgetary questions (March 1984), the Committee went on to review measures already taken by or available to individual organizations to secure reduced fares, approaches to obtaining tickets at a discount and the potential effects of this procedure on arrangements with travel agents. It was suggested that IAPSU should explore the possibility of issuing a collective invitation to various airlines to tender for tickets to be used on routes frequented by passengers whose fares were met by the organizations, as well as the possibility of obtaining student reductions for fellows. The invitations to tender would need to refer to both business and economy class (ACC/1984/10, paras. 42-44).

(32)     At the 6lst session (September 1984), CCAQ(FB) considered a progress report by IAPSU which drew attention in particular to the possibilities offered by block purchases of tickets, mileage credits and eventual IATA recognition of the organizations of the system as a special group. During the discussions it was agreed that such special group reductions might be more promising than individual approaches to airlines or governments. IAPSU was requested to pursue its work (ACC/1984/17, paras.56-57).

(33)     At the 62nd session on financial and budgetary questions (March 1985), IAPSU submitted a further progress report, together with the latest edition of its Air Travel Guide, which contained data on the relative cost of return and split tickets. The Committee encouraged IAPSU to continue its long-range efforts, and considered that the Air Travel Guide project could now be regarded as successfully completed (ACC/1985/7, paras. 54 and 55).

(34)     A new progress report by IAPSU was considered at the 63rd session of CCAQ(FB) (September 1985), dealing with split tickets, government discounts, discussions with IATA and with carriers, government travel standards and the standards offered by different airlines. IAPSU was asked to pursue its work. The Committee confirmed that its general aim in this area was to obtain reduced fares from IATA and other airlines. It requested UN to assume responsibility for action to this end at the highest possible level vis-à-vis the carrier or carriers most frequently used, having regard to the volume of business represented by air travel in the system as a whole (ACC/1985/17, paras. 44-46).

(35)     CCAQ(FB) considered a further report by IAPSU at its 65th session (September 1986). The report set out the results of action both by IAPSU and by UN to obtain reduced fares from IATA airlines, as well as updated information on savings obtainable through the use of split tickets. The participants examined questions relating to the special conditions obtained, such as the timing of credits and means of ensuring that the economies achieved were actually realized. It was agreed that to the extent possible, carriers offering special conditions should be rewarded by a larger share of the organizations' business. IAPSU was to continue its efforts to secure such conditions and was to advise the organizations about positive results in a timely manner (ACC/1986/12, paras. 64-66).

(36)     A new report by IAPSU was submitted to CCAQ(FB) at its 66th session (March-April 1987), indicating that several discount arrangements with airlines were now operational. It was noted that several organizations now had agreements with carriers for rebates on the cost of tickets. IAPSU was encouraged to pursue its efforts (ACC/1987/6, paras. 42 and 43). Another IAPSU report was considered at the 67th session of CCAQ(FB) (September 1987), at which time the Committee expressed appreciation to IAPSU for the results that it had obtained and took the view that its was now for organizations to follow up on them (ACC/1987/12, paras. 48 and 49).

(37)     For CCAQ work aimed at productivity improvement in travel arrangements and procedures, including the use of lump-sum payments to staff, see section 15.1.

(38)     At their 1990 meeting the Medical Directors recommended that for health reasons all air travel of five hours or more should be in business class. This recommendation, along with a request from UNDP aimed at greater harmonization of practice, led to discussions at both sessions of CCAQ(PER) in that year as well as in CCAQ(FB). The latter at its 72nd session (March: ACC/1990/5, para. 44) noted both the disadvantages of differences between organizations in standards of travel and the difficulty of reducing them. At its 72nd session (February-March) CCAQ(PER) had decided, with UN and WMO reserving their positions, to reiterate the conclusion it had reached in 1982 (see (28) above) under which business class could be authorized in specified circumstances; at the very least there should be no worsening of the arrangements already applied (ACC/1990/4, paras. 130-135). However the Committee returned to this issue at its 73rd session (July) following ACC's request, at its May session, that it be further studied (decision 1990/9). On this occasion a strong consensus emerged - with WMO reserving its position - that economy/tourist class was not an appropriate mode of travel, at least on official business. One solution for organizations with lower standards might be the arrangements recently approved by the Governing Body of ITU (under which business class was authorized in certain cases), though they should be seen as a minimum and in no case lead to a reduction of existing standards. The Committee further asked the secretariat to prepare a report for ACC providing statistical and other data, including practices outside the United Nations system (ACC/1990/10, paras. 71-77). The Organizational Committee of ACC later decided to bring to the attention of organizations - to the extent that they wished or were able to pursue any change in staff travel standards - the approaches put forward by CCAQ (ACC.1990/2/Add.2, para. 14).

(39)     In the light of a decision taken in September 1988 (69th session: ACC/1988/13, para. 48(b)) CCAQ(FB) reviewed at its 73rd session (September 1990) the question of standard payments for terminal expenses. It agreed that all organizations should adopt the increased rate recently adopted by UN, viz. $24 (instead of $18) and $8 for dependants. The Committee would henceforth re-examine the standard rate every year (ACC/1990/12, para. 44). At the 75th session (September 1991) UNESCO reported that budgetary constraints had so far prevented it from adopting the current standard rates (ACC/1991/18, para. 52).

(40)     At its 77th session (July 1992: ACC/1992/23, paras. 86-87) CCAQ(PER) reviewed a note by its secretariat on the practices of organizations regarding the travel and related entitlements of children born outside the duty station and concluded that it was not a matter that required a comprehensive study. It requested its secretariat to compile a compendium of organizations' practices, in the course of which they could be polled to ascertain the level of interest in pursuing the matter on a common system basis.

(41)     At its 77th session (August-September 1992), CCAQ(FB) recommended that organizations consider adjusting their rates of reimbursement for terminal expenses to conform with increases by the UN due to take effect from 1 January 1993, as follows: from $24 to $27 for staff members; from $8 to $9 for each dependant travelling at UN expense; and, where an official vehicle was provided, $9 for staff members and $5 for each such dependant (ACC/1992/25, paras. 40 and 41).

(42)     At its 81st (August-September 1994) and 83rd (August-September 1995) sessions, CCAQ(FB) was informed by the United Nations that no change to the standard rate for reimbursement of terminal expenses was proposed, in accordance with the Committee's decision, taken in 1990, to review this rate annually (ACC/1994/15, para. 32; ACC/1995/20, para. 40).

(43)     At its 87th session (July 1997: ACC/1997/13, paras. 65-78) CCAQ reviewed a report by the ICSC secretariat on the question of travel entitlements of staff. CCAQ concluded that the costs of travel had to be managed but should not be subject to arbitrary standard setting. All organizations were making efforts to introduce alternatives to travel, such as Tele- and Video-conferencing. Travel had to be secure and not to endanger the health of staff. The Medical directors had advised of the harmful effect of travel in cramped conditions for several hours and recommended business class and stop-overs for travel of more than six hours. More information needed to be gathered on travel in the organizations and on daily subsistence allowance and the practice of national civil services, the Coordinated Organizations and other international organizations before the appropriateness of the current standards could be evaluated. ICSC decided to report to the General Assembly that the scope and complexity of the issues involved would require more time and, while it was neither desirable nor feasible to impose a uniform approach on organizations, it gave the organizations broad guidance with a view to ensuring greater uniformity vis-à-vis their travel (A/52/30, paras. 275-276). The Assembly by resolution 52/216 III D took note of the observations of ICSC and invited it to continue its consideration of the matter.

(44)     At its 88th session (April 1998: ACC/1998/5, para. 38) CCAQ expressed doubt at the adequacy of the information on standards of travel before ICSC and requested the Commission to defer consideration. ICSC concluded there was no reason to postpone the matter and decided to maintain the current system of daily subsistence allowance, with supplemental allowances for higher-graded officials. It also took two decisions with respect to home leave travel (A/53/30, para. 247). The General Assembly by resolution 53/209 II D took note of ICSC's decisions.

(45)     At the same session CCAQ noted that the information on mission subsistence concerned only the United Nations and two other organizations using the allowance (ACC/1998/5, para. 39). ICSC noted that the mission subsistence allowance generally responded to the operational needs of special missions and requested the organizations involved to improve the coordination of their related practices. It also requested its secretariat to determine a common approach to disparities in certain locations (A/53/30, para. 260). The General Assembly by resolution 53/209 II E took note of ICSC's decisions.

(46)     At its 91st session (August-September 2000: ACC/2000/6, para. 27) CCAQ(FB) exchanged information on travel matters, including issues of frequent flyer mileage credits, arrangements with travel agencies, commissions and discounts from airlines and the use of corporate credit cards for travel advances. It agreed that travel was an area of great interest to a number of organizations and that the new Bulletin Board would be an appropriate support mechanism for a group of travel specialists to keep each other informed of developments in this area.

(47)     At its April 2002 meeting (CEB/2002/HLCM/8, para. 12) the HR Network expressed concern over a number of inaccuracies contained in a document (ICSC/54/R.10) prepared by the ICSC secretariat particularly with respect to the special operations approach and the computation of extended monthly evacuation allowances and invited organizations to provide written corrections and clarifications to ICSC. It recalled that the determination of mission subsistence allowances in the United Nations had been and remained the prerogative of the Secretary-General and had been introduced to meet in large measure the unique needs of peacekeeping operations. It also noted that some other organizations used the MSA or had introduced approaches based on the MSA which were tailored to meet their specific organizational requirements, particularly at field locations. It decided to inform the Commission that it did not consider it propitious to take up the issue. The Commission requested its secretariat, in cooperation with the organizations concerned, to collect additional information and consider the possibility of harmonizing the approach to the issue and present the updated information on the practices of the organizations at its 55th session (ICSC/54/R.12, para. 117).

(48)     At its July 2002 meeting (CEB/2002/HLCM/14, para. 10) the HR Network, after reviewing the new information presented by the ICSC secretariat, considered that the current arrangements being applied by organizations, which had been developed in a highly collaborative manner, were working satisfactorily and with optimum harmonization. It emphasized the need for flexibility so as to meet the diverse operational requirements of the organizations and decided to inform the Commission that there was need to analyse these arrangements in conjunction with the reform of the pay and benefits systems, particularly with the view to improving the benefits package for non-family duty stations. ICSC deferred the item to 2003 (A/57/30, para. 6).

(49)     At its July 2003 meeting (CEB/2003/HLCM/20, para. 13) the HR Network recalled that the arrangements for the mission subsistence allowance and for the special operations approach had been put in place under the authority of the Secretary-General and other executive heads. It emphasized the need for flexibility in the arrangements in order to meet organizations' diverse operational requirements. Peacekeeping missions had very different requirements from those situations being managed by the organizations carrying out humanitarian mandates. Organizations were cognizant of the need to seek optimum harmonization and for this reason had developed the current arrangements in a highly collaborative manner. This collaboration was on-going, as organizations met regularly to resolve any issues related to the implementation of the special operations approach. The UN Secretariat was currently undertaking a review of entitlements of staff in the field, of which the MSA was just one. The Network decided in light of the above to inform the ICSC that it did not believe that the time as ripe for it to reach any conclusions on the matter. The Commission took note of the information presented and stressed the need for further harmonization of practices of organizations with respect to the allowances of staff serving in non-family duty stations, in order to avoid competition and promote mobility of staff. It requested the 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 (summer 2004). The Commission also requested its secretariat, in cooperation with the organizations, to consider and to report on the feasibility of linking the MSA rates to the DSA rates established by the Commission (A/58/30, para. 154).

(50)     At its July 2004 meeting (CEB/2004/HLCM/25, para. 18) the HR Network agreed that the document presented by the ICSC secretariat did not accurately reflect the different purposes of the DSA and MSA allowances; the latter being used for missions lasting over long periods of time, usually in non family duty stations and often requiring staff to stay in specified accommodation, usually for security purposes. Also, MSA levels, unlike DSA, were often set on a regional basis because of frequent movement of staff throughout a region, particularly peacekeeping personnel. It noted that the disparity between DSA and MSA rates, where it existed, might be attributed to the fact that the accommodation, food and incidentals portions of MSA covered different elements from DSA. The Network recalled, with regard to the proposal of establishing a linkage between MSA and DSA rates, this had been considered at the inception of MSA but was deemed to be inappropriate given the differing purposes and requirements of the two allowances and also recalled that it was the prerogative of the Secretary General to set MSA levels in accordance with operational needs. It further recalled that the MSA was derived from studies of actual costs carried out by the UN Secretariat, in collaboration with other UN organizations and agreed that the Network could not support the recommendations in the document. ICSC requested the organizations, in consultation with its secretariat, to provide to it at its sixtieth session (spring 2005) a comprehensive report on their practices relating to the entitlements of staff serving at non family duty stations and on their efforts to harmonize those practices, with proposals on harmonizing the entitlements provided by different organizations with a view to developing system wide arrangements in order to establish a single common entitlement. The Commission further recommended that the organizations provide their views on the relation between MSA and DSA rates(ICSC/59/R.18, para. 175).

(51)     At its February 2005 meeting (CEB/2005/HLCM/8, para. 16) the HR Network thanked the chair and members of the Working Group for the very comprehensive report (ICSC/60/R.12) and the succinct overview of the current state of affairs with respect to entitlements of staff serving at non-family duty stations and expressed its appreciation to the concerned organizations for their excellent collaboration in harmonizing their practices and approaches. The Network fully endorsed the proposed inter-agency frameworks for the Special Operations Approach (SOA) (Annex 1 of CEB/2005/HLCM/2) and the Rest and Recuperation Scheme (Annex 2). It unanimously agreed in the future to co-ordinate and oversee both the Rest and Recuperation Scheme and the determination of SOA locations through an HR Network Working Group on Non-family Duty Stations. ICSC took note with satisfaction of the information presented by the organizations but considered that certain additional questions needed to be addressed before a final decision on the question could be taken. It therefore requested the organizations to present to it at its sixty-first session additional information, including: (a) The specific rationale for maintaining separately the SOA and MSA for staff at non-family locations versus introducing a single, uniform system-wide arrangement; (b) An itemized tabular comparison of the various remuneration elements received under the two approaches, as well as specific examples showing how the remuneration package under each approach was calculated; and (c) The number of locations at which more than one of the approaches could be applicable at the same time to staff of different organizations. The Commission also requested its secretariat to present to it at its next session the financial implications of the proposed change in the basis for calculating special operations living allowance rates exclusively on the basis of the after-60-days DSA (ICSC/60/R.13, para. 118). (See section 10.2 para. 57 [056] for a discussion of the work of the group with regard to the harmonization of the various remuneration packages offered by organizations to staff at non-family duty stations.)

(52)     At its July 2005 meeting (CEB/2005/HLCM/26, paras. 58-62) the FB Network was briefed on the main conclusions of the report of the JIU entitled “Harmonization of the Conditions of Travel throughout the United Nations System” (JIU/REP/2004/10). The Network expressed general appreciation on the conclusions and recommendations highlighted in the report, and said such recommendations had to be carefully evaluated both for their relevance in the entitlement structure of each organization, as well as for the potential impact on their finances. It was therefore agreed that each organization would consult internally and provide the CEB secretariat with a coordinated and detailed feedback on the JIU report, which would be consolidated and transmitted as a Note by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly.

(53)     At its July 2005 meeting (CEB/2005/HLCM/27, para. 17) the HR Network agreed that the harmonization of practices with regard to the entitlements of internationally-recruited staff serving in non-family duty stations represented an excellent example of close and fruitful collaboration between organizations. The differences which remained were fully justified by the varying operational requirements of the organizations. ICSC agreed with the rationale for maintaining two separate approaches under the SOA and the MSA regimes, which were applied to address the different needs and requirements of different groups of personnel serving under different types of appointments. While the SOA was used with respect to staff members assigned for longer but defined periods and with traditional entitlements, the MSA approach applied exclusively to a specific group of staff assigned to special peacekeeping operations and for political and peacebuilding missions. The Commission also welcomed the efforts by the organizations aimed at harmonizing their practices with regard to the entitlements of staff serving at non-family duty stations and endorsed the proposed change from MSA to the after-60-day DSA rate as the basis for calculating the special operations living allowance under the SOA (A/60/30, paras. 161-162).

(54) At its fifteenth session, Rome, March 2008, (CEB/2008/3, paras. 122-127), HLCM agreed to conduct a system-wide discussion with a view to developing a common recommendation on harmonized standards of air travel, taking due consideration of the specificity of the work and mandates of the different entities of the system on this matter. This task would be carried out through the establishment of a joint HR/FB Network working group, in consultation with any appropriate technical body.
The working group would build on the recommendations and conclusions of ICSC, JIU and Medical Doctors, as well as on comparative analysis of standards applicable in Member States and in other international organizations. Resulting recommendations would have to cover all travel-related entitlements, such terminal expenses and rest and recuperation, and would have to be supported by an analysis of the financial implications.

(55) At the ninth session of the FB Network (CEB/2008/HLCM/FB/18, paras. 133-136), the following organizations declared their interest in participating in this working group and would nominate candidates in representation of the FB Network: ILO, ITU, UN (Anton Bronner), UNDP, UNESCO, WHO (to be confirmed).
The CEB Secretariat would coordinate the organization of a first meeting of the group to launch its activities. The working group would prepare Terms of Reference and present them to the FB and HR Networks for review and endorsement.

(56) At its seventeenth session (CEB/2009/HLCM/HR/27, paras. 52-54), the HR Network noted the progress on the Standards for Accommodation and Air Travel and acknowledged that this will be a large and complex task. It agreed that this work should build on the JIU report and the recommendations from ICSC. The ToR of the Working Group was agreed in principle, though the timeline needs to be amended and other comments can still be sent to the CEB Secretariat. Regular interaction with the ICSC will be required throughout the process, especially because this matter is on the agenda of the Fifth Committee every year.

(57) At its eighteenth session (CEB/2009/HLCM/HR/46/Rev.1, paras.54-56), the HR Network proposed to have two co-chairs, one from each Network, for the working group on travel policies, given the complex tasks which involves both the review of HR related matters and financial costs. It was agreed that the UN would take the lead on the HR side, as of October 2009 and the FB Network would provide the name of the co-chair. The Network also agreed that the CEB Secretariat would continue to do some of the background work until the new Chairs could lead the WG and ICSC would be asked to participate in the WG.

  • Human Resources Network (HRN)