Main outcomes of the special session of the UN Pension Board on governance

The sixty-eighth (special) session of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board was held as a virtual meeting from 2 to 5 February 2021. The Board focused entirely on the issue of its governance, based on the recommendations made by an external entity, a progress report of the Governance Working Group of the Board, inputs received from the different Staff Pension Committees, and guidance received from the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 75/246.

Below is a message from Ms. Martha Helena Lopez, Chair of the UN Joint Staff Pension Board.

The Board reached several important conclusions that should enhance its overall effectiveness, while at the same time issues related to its size and composition will continue to be discussed by the Governance Working Group, with a view to coming to substantive conclusions at the next (July) session of the Board.

  1. The Board reiterated its main principles of tripartite representation and consensus-based decision making. It was recognized that the principle of rotation of seats to reflect the UN system’s diversity should be maintained.
  2. The Board tasked the Governance Working Group to present concrete proposals on the size and composition of the Board based on a number of criteria such as ensure optimum effectiveness, performance and efficiency and respect for the origins and unique nature of the Fund and relevant decisions by the General Assembly. The Governance Working Group is also invited to explore creative and innovative ideas.
  3. The Board looked into the roles of its different committees and working groups to keep the balance of responsibilities between the Board and its committees under review. Here also, the Governance Working Group is requested to present concrete proposals for the next Board in July. The Board also highlighted the importance of dealing with appeals cases in a timely manner.
  4. The Board reiterated the importance of transparency, outreach and effective communication with the different Staff Pension Committees, participants and beneficiaries of the Fund. The Board also recognized the operational need for the Chief Executive of Pension Administration to ensure timely consultations with the applicable decision-making body of the Board. Overall, the Board agreed to have more frequent meetings, which should be based on operational needs and improved strategic planning.
  5. The Board recognized the importance of Board members being fully aware of their fiduciary roles and duties. It was decided that more information and learning opportunities should be provided on this topic. In that regard, the Board encourages all Staff Pension Committees to recognize the importance of selecting Board members that meet the requirements in terms of availability, professionalism and competencies to exercise fiduciary responsibilities on the Board.
  6. The Board also decided to look closely into enhancing the institutional memory of the Board and continuity of its membership, inter alia through nominations by the Staff Pension Committees that take into account appropriate term lengths.
  7. The Board decided to give due consideration to better defining its role, purpose and culture to ensure more effective discharge of its mandate. In that regard, the methodology for its self-evaluation will be reviewed and the adherence to its code of conduct will be considered at its 69th Session in July 2021.

In March, the Board will submit a progress report to the United Nations General Assembly as an update of the discussion on governance.

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