Ban Ki-moon is Putting UN Staff at Risk
We would like to bring the troubling situation currently faced by the
staff unions of the United Nations (UN) to your attention and ask for your
support in our campaign to defend the employment rights of the UN’s 65,000
On 14 June 2013, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his management team
ended talks with UN staff unions, removing our recognition rights in the
This has had the effect of ending the right of staff unions to negotiate with
management, leaving both sides unable to work together to improve security,
welfare and conditions of service at a time when UN staff are increasingly
becoming targets - in the last ten years 555 staff have been attacked, with over
For large numbers of UN staff this issue will directly affect their safety at
work and place them at greater risk. For example, staff are now unable to
negotiate for UN security officers to protect them in the field and must rely on
unscreened private security companies instead. In addition, they cannot
negotiate on the security of vehicles or buildings in conflict zones. Also, the
UN’s new mobility policy will see staff relocated to hostile locations including
Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq if they cannot find themselves a new posting three
to seven years (depending) after starting in their current position.
For almost 70 years, the United Nations (UN) has existed as an independent
and inclusive organisation designed to prevent world wars, promote dialogue and
During this time UN staff have undertaken vital and dangerous work across the
world. Many have lost their lives to get the job done and despite the risks and
threats to their welfare thousands of skilled, committed people turn up every
day to help people. The workforce of the UN is full of such dedicated people.
From those in the field, working in highly pressurised circumstances to those at
HQ doing the necessary tasks required of a global operation, each is doing their
bit to make the world a more just and understanding place.
This attack has many worrying implications, not least the effect on frontline
delivery. Without a fully motivated and engaged staff, the results on the ground
would change dramatically. Currently there are high vacancy rates (reported in
internal documents to be as high as 20 percent), which affect operational
effectiveness in locations such as Darfur, Afghanistan and South Sudan, and
potentially Mali and possibly a future mission in Syria.
Conditions in the field have become less attractive. Employees who are
re-located to duty stations where their families cannot stay have seen a
reduction in their housing allowance. As a result, if an employee is moved
to a non-family duty station from Geneva, their family will not be able to stay
in Geneva, and they must return to their home country, with the consequent
disruption to their children’s education. R&R periods, including for
countries like Iraq and Somalia, have been cut to five days when before they
could be combined with two weekends to make nine days.
UN staff unions are realistic and sensible organisations. We understand that
change is necessary due to economic circumstances. We know that many countries
have had to make significant budget cuts. However, at a time of major
organisational change, an effective framework for consultation and discussion
with staff representatives is needed more than ever, a fact recognised by the
14,000 citizens around the world who have already written to the
Secretary-General in protest.
Ban Ki-moon has attacked fundamental employment rights in an organization
that unions and human rights defenders from around the world look to in order
uphold those very same rights. This has worrying consequences for all. If the UN
doesn’t respect human rights, why should your government?
Please help us tell Ban Ki-moon he is wrong and must re-open talks with the
UN staff unions now. You can do this by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A suggested wording you may wish to use is provided. Please copy any
communication with Ban Ki-moon to us using the contact details below.
We also need all the help we can get to beat this attack on unions. It would
be fantastic if we could get the support of your organisation and members for
our campaign. Can you help?
More information at: