Questions asked of the UN Secretary General during recently held Global Town Hall meeting.

Dear Secretary General,


Thank you for the opportunity to pose a few questions.


As Staff Unions, we have read your expressed vision for the future UN in your “our common agenda” report. Of particular interest, is the continuing reform initiatives of the UN, in the “People Strategy”. 


During my last visit to UNHQ, in November 2021,  where you met with myself and a few other Staff representatives, we had drawn your attention to a proposal which had been put forward to HLCM as a discussion paper outlining an initiative which we believe to be a long overdue evolution of the UN’s staffing structure. 


Our proposal is based on an intended initiative by the late SG Mr. Kofi Anan, to reform the staffing structure, which in the end only resulted in implementing a change in “nomenclature” of all staff of the UN, to “International Civil Servants” regardless of type of recruitment.


We believe that as part of your further reform of the UN to the proposed UN v2.0, a unified staffing structure that unifies and eliminates the artificial barriers between “P”, “GS”, “FS”, and other staff categories would go a long way in creating the reduction in hierarchy, increase agility and foster a more inclusive organization that is also more “equitable”.


We note that in the UN’s People Strategy there is a lot of mention of “Diversity” and “Inclusion” but the “E” for Equity, which is most common in the “DEI” initiatives in many organizations is glaringly absent. We hope that through this initiative this can be addressed as part of the efforts to establish the UN v.2.0


We ask that you consider this transformative proposal to create a UN v2.0 that is truly people centric and fit for generations to come.


Our next point is on mobility, particularly mobility for our staff in the field. Due to the suspension of the mobility policy and the lack of any rotation policy, we have many staff members who have been serving 5, 10 or more years in severe hardship missions classified as D and E. 


There must be a mechanism that allows staff to rotate in and out of extreme hardship locations to more “friendly” duty stations for the sake of their health and for the sake of the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization. Burned out staff and increased cases of mental health problems do not contribute to a productive environment after all. 


Mr. Secretary General, when can we expect a comprehensive mobility and/or rotation policy that will be applied to our staff?


The last two years saw the drawdown and closure of one of our missions, UNAMID, and while we commend efforts made by the office of OHR in assisting with the placement of staff who were affected by this mission closure, the continued absence of a clear policy on downsizing contributed to a host of issues that might have been easier to navigate if this policy which has eluded us since 2016 would have been published. Even the Board of Auditors observed and noted the absence of this policy and the lack of progress in its promulgation. 


We ask therefore if you could please determine why (yet again) the draft policy appears to be lingering somewhere within the bureaucratic, administrative machinery and request that you please ensure that the policy on downsizing which had been agreed upon between the various unions and management within the SMC is issued without further delay.


Mr. Secretary General, with respect to our staff in Lebanon, can you assist those who continue to suffer due to the banking crisis, where their USD assets are frozen. They are at risk of losing a lot of funds, funds that were paid to UN staff from UN member states assessments!


Lastly, we had raised the issue of access to quality healthcare facilities in our field operations and ensuring that acceptable standards of medical practice and health facilities are ensured, while also ensuring that there are mechanisms to identify and remedy any medical malpractices. 


We had been briefed by USG DOS that efforts to this effect are underway, and we are requesting that the details of these efforts and their progress could be shared with the UNFSU. 


Once again, thank you very much and wishing a wonderful day to all.


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