Ministry exhorts more young people to work at U.N.

by Daisuke Nakai

Kyodo

The Foreign Ministry hopes a new guidance program will encourage more youths to apply to and successfully join the United Nations, in which Japan remains underrepresented relative to its financial contribution.

Starting Tuesday the ministry, together with the U.N. Information Center in Tokyo, will hold sessions with recruitment managers from the secretariat and several U.N. agencies, giving advice on the recruiting procedures and exams and holding mock interviews.

According to the ministry, Japanese personnel at or above the professional level at the 193-member United Nations numbered just 764, accounting for 2.4 percent of the total as of last January despite Japan being the second-largest contributor to the U.N.’s regular budget for 2013.

Japan’s contribution of $276 million (¥27 billion), comprises 10.8 percent of the budget, putting it behind only the United States, which contributed 22 percent.

As of December, U.S. personnel made up 9.5 percent of the workforce at the United Nations, while France and Britain, although contributing less than Japan, outnumbered it in the head count with over 5 percent each.

Although U.N. staff take an oath to work without interference from the policies of their home countries, in practical terms members are likely to bring their countries’ ways of thinking to the job.

Boosting their representation in the secretariat, regional headquarters and field offices will allow Japanese personnel to take on liaison and coordination roles and act as information points on issues of international policy spearheaded by Japan, such as human security.

If, however, Japan remains underrepresented, “Our international contribution cannot be properly understood with our faces unseen,” a Foreign Ministry official said.

The U.N. Young Professionals Program examinations, held annually since 2010, are designed to recruit staff from underrepresented member states.