Noblemaire principle

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The Noblemaire principle is basis used for the determination of conditions of service of staff in the Professional and higher categories.

Under the application of the Noblemaire principle, salaries of the Professional category are determined by reference to those applicable in the civil service of the country with the highest pay levels (the "comparator"). The United States federal civil service has been used as the comparator since the inception of the United Nations[1].


In 1921, the Council of the League of Nations appointed a committee of five experts "to examine the organisation of the Permanent Secretariat and the International Labour Office"[2]. This committee, chaired by the French diplomat Georges Noblemaire, established what is now known as the Noblemaire principle, to govern the salaries and conditions of service for the Permanent Secretariat of the League of Nations. The same principle was carried over to govern conditions of service for internationally-recruited staff in the United Nations Secretariat.

As noted by the committee in its report,

"We admit that the salaries which we propose we based on those of the highest-paid Civil Services in the world, i.e. those of the British Empire. We do not see how any other course could have been followed since, if lower salaries had been offered, it would be impossible to obtain the service of Britishers of the required standing…On the other hand, it would be difficult, as we point out later on, to pay lower salaries for the same work to members of other nationalities, where work of the kind required by the League is obtainable at lower figures."[3]

Net remuneration margin

The relationship between the remuneration (base salary plus post adjustment) of United Nations staff in the Professional and higher categories and staff in the U.S. federal civil service is measured through the net remuneration margin, which is the average percentage difference in the remuneration of the two civil services, adjusted for the cost-of-living differential between New York and Washington, DC[4].

In practice, the level of remuneration of the Professional and higher categories is maintained within a range above those of equivalent grades of the U.S. federal civil service with a midpoint of 15 per cent; this is based on a decision of the General Assembly in its resolution 40/244 of 18 December 1985, as follows:

2. Approves the range of 110 to 120, with a desirable midpoint of 115, for the margin between the net remuneration of officials in the Professional and higher categories of the United Nations in New York and that of officials in comparable positions in the United States federal civil service, on the understanding that the margin would be maintained at a level around the desirable mid-point of 115 over a period of time;

See also


  1. Glossary of technical terms to accompany A/73/30 Report of the International Civil Service Commission for 2018
  2. League of Nations, Official Journal 1921, pages 113-114 and 651-652
  3. League of Nations A.3.1921: Organisation of the Secretariat and of the International Labour Office: Report of the Commission of Experts
  4. Glossary of technical terms to accompany A/73/30 Report of the International Civil Service Commission for 2018