The bulk of the non-Asian professional staff is in the Language Services and the Transport Division - fields in which Asian experts are

rare. The ECAFE Secretariat is not an attractive place for persons of

European stock. There is an evident trend of a declining non-Asian

proportion of the professional staff, as more and more Asian experts have become available."1 The hot and humid climate and high living cost in Bangkok are also partly responsible for this trend.


In 1961 for instance, the number of the United Nations posts distributed among Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, Ceylon, China, India, Indonesia,

Iran, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand were 3» 5» 2,


, 5 2, 62, 9» 7» 26, 0, 1, 2, 12, 10 and 6 respectively as contrasted to their quota of 1-3, 1-3> 1-3> 1-3> 52-8 8, 26-43, 5-8, 2-4> 23-39» 1-3» 2-3, 1-3» 4-7» 4-7 and 2-3 respectively. (G.A.O.R., 16th session 1961, agenda item 6 4, pp«4-5)*


A British scholar has reached the same conclusions ’Though government officials in Karachi believe otherwise, there is really no evidence that Pakistanis have been discriminated against in the matter of staff

appointments and promotions’. Wightman, Economic Co-operation in A s i a ,

00. cit. , p.77. 3

The percentage of the non-Asian staff in the ECAFE Secretariat has been 38 per cent, 33 per cent, and 28 per cent in 1951» 1956 and 1962

As a matter of policy most of the General Service staff is recruited locally; partly as a matter of ourtesy to the host country and partly to avoid the appointment, removal and other such expenses which are not worth incurring for this category of staff. Although over two-thirds of the General Service staff in 1963 consisted of Thai nationals, eleven other nationalities were also represented in the General Service

staff of the Secretariat. Some in the higher level of the General

Service category are internationally recruited but most of the non-Thai General Service staff is also locally recruited either from the foreign residents in Bangkok (as is the case with all Vietnamese and some Indians and Chinese) or from families serving in embassies or foreign firms in

the town.

The professional staff of the Secretariat has largely been recruited

from Government departments. In


, for instance, out of a total

staff of 71 (excluding


vacant posts) seven were from universities,

three from private business, six had no previous appointment before

joining the United Nations and the rest had been recruited from Government departments. This is largely due to the fact that in many cases

appointments are made from among nominees of the governments and the Asian officials have a tendency to forward the names from among their own ranks.

Factors Influencing Staffing Policy:

The Secretary-General and the Director of Personnel at the United Nations Headquarters, assisted by a Selection Committee, are responsible

for all the appointments of the United Nations international civil servants scattered all over the world.

In his choice for a candidate for the Executive Secretary of ECAPE, the Secretary-General has to take into account several political

considerations. Apart from the candidate's qualifications for the post, his nationality, which should he a country of the region, should he acceptable not only to a majority of the regional members hut also to the United States and the U.S.S.R. whom the Secretary-General should take into confidence while making a major appointment like that of the rank of

Under -Secretary.

’//hen the question of the appointment of first Executive Secretary

arose, Trygve Lie's choice was limited to only two regional members - China and India - as the two other regional members at the time - Thailand and the Philippines - did not have to be considered unless neither of the former two was able or willing to agree upon a candidate for the post. China was given the choice between providing the Commission's headquarters and the Executive Secretary. As she preferred the former, the Secretary-

General had to look for an Indian to fill the post. Dr P.S. Lokanathan,

earlier a Professor of Economics at the University of Madras, consultant to the Government of India, and well-known as editor of the Eastern

Economist (New Delhi) was selected by the Secretary-General for the post. The Government of India did not object to it, nor did it forcefully back

Secretariat is an independent body and the Secretary-General has a

right to appoint anyone on his staff, even if the candidate's appointment is strongly objected to by his government, he prefers not to annoy a

member government. This policy is equally applicable to the appointments

for lower category staff.

In 1956, when the problem arose of finding a successor to Dr Lokanathan, Dr Sumitro, Professor of Economics at the University of Indonesia,

Djakarta, and once leader and several times member of the Indonesian delegation at ECAFE annual sessions (and later a leader of the abortive Sumatra revolt of 1958) was a likely choice of the outgoing Executive

Secretary. He could well have been appointed for the post but being

hopeful of a better political career in his own country he did not agree

to this suggestion. Pakistan was also pressing hard for the post but

could not succeed because of the difficulty of that nationality being acceptable to a majority of Asian (particularly non-aligned) governments

and the Soviet Union. India’s quota for an United Nations Under-Secretary,

caused vacant by the retirement of Dr Lokanathan, once again was filled by assigning the ECAFE top post to an Indian in want of agreement on

any other nationality. On request, the Government of India forwarded

three names to the Secretary-General. One of the three nominees was C.V. Narasimhan, who, as an official in-charge of technical assistance matters, was known at the United Nations Headquarters and was offered the post.

In 1958 the Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, needed an Indian

to become his chef de Cabinet, C.V. Narasimhan, therefore, was

transferred to the United Nations headquarters as Under-Secretary for Special Political Affairs. U Nyun, earlier a senior Burmese official, the chief of the Industrial Development Division in the ECAFE Secretariat, and lately Deputy Executive Secretary, was appointed Executive Secretary

(1959) in view of his qualifications and nationality. Pakistan once again pressed hard to secure the post for one of its own nationals but could not succeed because of the necessity of having a national of a state acceptable to the United States, the Soviet Union and a majority of

Asian members, particularly India, It should be noted here that U Nyun

was appointed Deputy Executive Secretary by Narasimhan and it was due to the latter's backing that he got the position of Executive Secretary,

Pakistan's protests notwithstanding. It seems very difficult for a

country to secure this position in the face of Indian hostility. As a matter of fact, Pakistan's record in ECAFE has been consistently that of an obstructionist member favouring universal in place of a regional action in order to limit Indian initiatives as far as possible. Any Secretary- General has to think very carefully before appointing a Pakistani as ECAFE chief.

The post of the Deputy Executive Secretary, which for several years had been filled by nationals of non-regional member states (as the

Executive Secretary is from the region), is now being used to satisfy regional countries who could not be given a chance to provide the

Executive Secretary. For this reason a Pakistani nationaly A. Rashid Ibrahim, was appointed to this post for two years (


) on the advice of Harasimhan. U Nyun did not recommend renewal of his term. For some time the post has been vacant in view of the lack of a politically suitable candidate as the claimants are several.

The appointment of professional grade officers is also made by the Secretary-General and the Director of Personnel at the United Nations headquarters. The normal practice is that the ECAFE Executive-Secretary^ in consultation with his colleagues, especially the Chief of the Division of Administration and the particular Division chief concerned, makes recommendations which are largely accepted, but not always. In selecting candidates the Executive-Secretary, in many cases, writes to the member governments to suggest names for a particular position, but in some cases he specifically asks that a particular official be spared. He has also to keep in mind that his staff must reflect a wide geographical distribution of posts. The General Assembly, from time to time,

determines the quota of each United Nations member on the basis of its contribution to the United Nations budget and other relevant factors.1


The financial contribution as the basis of geographical distribution of the United Nations Secretariat posts is now under review by the General Assembly. See on this point, L.M. Goodrich, 'Geographical

Distribution of the staff of the United Nations Secretariat' International Organisation, vol.XVI, n o.3 (Summer 1962), pp.465-82.

The question of geographical distribution has been a problem

before ECAFE Secretariat for some time. The type of experts it requires are available in countries such as India, China (Taiwan) Japan, Pakistan and the Philippines who are already over-represented in the United

Nations offices and the countries, such as Cambodia or Nepal, whose

quota is still to be filled, and from whom it is advised by the Headquarters to recruit its personnel, are unable or unwilling to provide the experts required. The Soviet pressure for more United Nations jobs for its nationals is being felt by ECAFE also. The Soviet Union has indicated that ECAFE*s Planning Division could benefit by the services of experts from the Soviet Union. The Headquarters also advises the ECAFE's Executive Secretary to take some of its experts from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. But some of the Division chiefs do not like nationals of

communist countries in their Divisions. The result of all this is that 32 established posts and several provisional posts remained vacant in

1963 and many of them may not be filled in the near future. The Secretariat is carrying out its business with short term ad hoc staff which it has

the power to appoint. In 1962, for instance, it had to employ half a dozen experts on a temporary basis from India, Pakistan, Japan, Ceylon and the United Kingdom to prepare the Survey for 1962. A situation like this must tell on the efficiency of the Secretariat.

In the case of the United Nations regional secretariats, where the regionally recruited staff is a necessity in view of the peculiarity of the problems of each region and where, except perhaps in Europe, competent

staff is available only in a few countries, the principle of geographical distribution should be implemented as a subsidiary to the highest

standards of efficiency, competence and integrity. This is precisely

the intent of the United Nations Charter.1 There is no reason why in

the ECAFE Secretariat, when an important field of its activity such as Research and Planning is suffering and where the quota-deficit countries are unable to fill their quota, some of the regional members should not be over-represented so long as the under-represented are unable to be fully represented.


The budget of the Commission forms part of the budget of the United Nations. The amount allocated to ECAFE budget has been steadily

increasing by small amounts, so that in 1963 it is more than 28 times

of its size in 1947» In terms of its proportion to the total United

Nations budget, the ECAFE budget in 1963 consists of 2.8 per cent as 2

compared, to only 00.38 per cent in 1947*


Article 101 (3) of the United Nations Charter which was adopted

without serious debate by the San Francisco Conference.

Beginning with .^88,534 in 1947 ECAFE budget crossed a million mark

in 1954 ($1,123j90O) and is about two and a half million dollars in

1963 ($2,486,300). The total United Nations budget in 1947 was

$27>290,241 and the 1963 estimate is $86,649,500. (G.A.O.R., 3rd session

(1948), Suplt. No.5, Budget Estimates for 1949, pp.219-21; G.A.O.R.,

9th session (1954), Suplt. No.5, p.8; G.A.O.R., 17th session (1962),

The growing cost is due to the ever increasing activities of ECAFE as part of the growing United Nations economic and social

activities and is not peculiar to it alone. ECLA and ECA (which started only in 1958), "both engaged in similar activities in economic development field, cost even more than ECAFE. ECE, which functions in an industrially developed region and which draws on the United Nations Geneva office for a major part of its administrative, financial, information, language and editorial services, costs a little less and the rate of its cost increase for the last several years has "been less than half of the three other regional commissions.

The estimated cost of ECAFE in 1963 as compared to other regional commissions, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the United Nations (as a whole) is as follows:“''

Per cent of the total U.N. Budget

ECAFE $2,486,300 2.8

ECLA 2,7 9 8 ,1 0 0 2.9

ECA 2,5 0 0 ,4 0 0 2.8

ECE 1,846,350 2

Department of Economic

and Social Affairs 8,005,680 9.5

United Nations 86,649,500

The annual budget estimates are prepared by the ECAFE Secretariat in consultation with the United Nations headquarters and on the basis of work-programme approved by the commission. Though subject to formal


G.A.O.R., 17th session (1 9 6 2), Suplt. 5, Budget Estimates for 1 9 6 3, pp.l and 124.

approval by the United Nations Controllers of Accounts and incorporated in the overall United Nations budget, ECAFE budget estimates are seldom modified appreciably by the Secretary-General before submission to the General Assembly where it is approved without difficulty as the delegates of all the four regions adopt an attitude of mutual approval of the budgets of the regional commissions as all, except ECE, receive equal funds.

Integrity and Independence of ECAFE Secretariat:

ECAFE staff members, being an integral part of the United Nations Secretariat, are international civil servants whose responsibilities are

*not national but exclusively international1.^ In the performance of their duties they are not expected to seek or accept instructions from any

government or from any other authority external to the organisation. Although the functions of the ECAFE Secretariat vis-a-vis its


In document The United Nations' Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) and India : a study in the politics of economic co-operation and initiative in Asia (Page 166-175)