Monday, May 21, 2007

202 Swiss Work in the UN-Secretariats

'Good Swiss' for the UN: Ambassador Maurer.
Of the same briefing as mentioned below, Matthew Lee also reports the following on Inner City Press. Interesting seems to process of prescreening Matthew writes about. And of course, the quote of the good Swiss, which Ambassador Maurer indeed used:

UN Withholds Nationality and Job Data Which Even Swiss Would Release, As Japan Wants More Posts

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, May 17 -- There is a publication which the UN withholds from the public, which lists staff of the UN Secretariat sorted by nationality. At the UN's noon briefing on May 17, when Inner City Press asked why the document is restricted, the UN Spokesperson replied that "there are things that go to the Member States. You are not a Member State that I know of. Okay?"

Later on May 17, Inner City Press interviewed Switzerland's Ambassador Peter Maurer, and asked if it is the UN's member states that demand that the list of who the UN hires and from where be kept secret. "We are certainly not a member state thinking that this should be secret," Amb. Maurer said.

The Spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon, who said that transparency is one of his major goals, told Inner City Press on Thursday that this list, which only contains names, job rank and location and nationality, "can be consulted by a Member State but not by you." Unsaid is that, while not a solution and within any thanks to the Secretariat, a Member State can make some or all of the list available.

Switzerland had, as of the publication ST/ADM/R.60, 202 UN Secretariat jobs. (The figures in this report tally UN Secretariat jobs in all duty stations, including Geneva, Nairobi, Santiago, Bangkok, Addis Ababa and Vienna, but not including jobs with funds and programs like UNICEF or the UN Development Program, which separately keeps track of each staff member's nationality, reputedly to trade posts for donations.)

While France had 1046 UN Secretariat jobs, Japan had only 213. Inner City Press on Thursday asked Japan's Deputy Permanent Representative Takahiro Shinyo about this. Amb. Shinyo replied that Japan's "is a very small number... we ask the Secretariat to give more chances." He added that job selection is "of course merit-based."

Amb. Maurer used the same term, saying that while a nation being "under-quota" meant that its nationals would be given a leg up in competition for UN jobs, they still have to be qualified. In fact, Switzerland pre-qualifies its nationals who apply to the UN. "We would like to make available to the UN good Swiss," he said. "It is a question of reputation, at the end of the day."

The question remains why this basic information -- names of UN staff members, the job level and location, their nationalities and pay-status -- is being withheld from the press and public. Names and locations, along with telephone numbers and email address protocols, are available in the UN phone book. So why is nationality, so often mentioned under the code word "geographic balance," still so taboo?


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