The salaries for staff members of the United Nations common system organisations in the Professional and higher categories are established on the basis of the Noblemaire Principle, which embodies two rules:
(i) the salaries shall be based on one global salary scale; and
(ii) the salaries shall be sufficient to recruit and retain staff members from Member States where the national civil service salaries are the highest (which has been identified as the US Federal Civil Service).
In addition to the salaries reflected in the global salary scale, an additional amount (Post Adjustment) is paid to account for the difference in prices with New York, local inflation, the normal expenditure pattern of staff members and the exchange rate of the local currency relative to the US Dollar.
To be able to attract all nationals to a UN career, including the highest-paid, the salaries for the Professional and higher categories are set by reference to the highest-paying national civil service of the Member States. The federal civil service of the United States of America is used for comparison; the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) has determined that its size and structure and its pay levels provide a significant comparison with the UN. Periodic equivalency studies are made between the grades of jobs in the UN system and those in the comparator civil service.
The base salary scale for staff in these categories is the same worldwide, and applies across the organisations of the Common System, as approved by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the ICSC.
The salaries of staff in the Professional and higher categories are made up of a base salary and a post adjustment applicable to the duty station where a staff member is serving, both set in US dollars.
Post adjustment is a formula for determining a cost-of-living adjustment in each duty station so that the ‘purchasing power’ of staff members is equivalent across the duty stations (you can afford reasonable housing, goods and services of approximately the same value no matter where you are located). The post adjustment is paid in addition to the base salary.
Living costs are measured through periodic place-to-place surveys conducted by the ICSC at the duty stations every four or five years. The surveys measure the cost-of-living of a duty station relative to the cost-of-living at the base of the system (New York).
Duty stations with higher costs of living than New York have higher post adjustment indices, while those which are less expensive than New York have lower post adjustment indices. If you have a dependent spouse or child, post adjustment is calculated for the duty station where you are posted regardless of where the dependents reside.
Post adjustment classifications specify the number of multiplier points of post adjustment which may be paid in addition to net base salary at any duty station. One multiplier point is equal to 1 per cent of base salary. ‘Net remuneration’ or the total received by the staff member, is the net base salary plus the post adjustment applicable for a given location.
If your annual net base salary is $67,000 and the post adjustment multiplier at your duty station of 68.4%, your salary will be calculated like this:
Post adjustment per year: Net base $ 67,000 x 0.684 = US$ 45,828
Total annual salary:
= US$ 112,828
The ICSC clarifications and explanations can help you to better comprehend the compensation system. The linked document provides concise information about both salaries of staff in the Professional and higher categories and salaries of locally recruited staff.