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STU Flash, 12 October 2022

Oral Statement by the STU, 215th session of the Executive Board

STU/70e Conseil/22/024
12 October 2022


215th Session of the Executive Board of UNESCO

Oral Statement by the UNESCO Staff Union (STU)


Thank you Mr. Chairperson, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

On document 215 EX/5. IV (B) on the contractual conditions of the UNESCO Ethics Advisor, the Administration’s intention to align with the UN system is a welcomed gesture.

Fully supporting the proposed 6-year term, the STU would expect that, in total transparency, a normal recruitment process should now be initiated to bring on board a new Ethics Advisor with a term of 6 years.

For this reason, the STU is highly concerned with the “immediate effect” of the proposed decision, which would de-facto prolong the current Ethics Advisor position beyond its current non-renewable term of 4 years. This would set a very dangerous precedent, and the STU is totally against this blatant maneuver by the Administration.


The New HR Strategy is a nicely presented document. However, the STU is alarmed that it contains very little advancement for staff members already on board.

In order to retain in-house talents, our colleagues need career perspectives, possibilities of advancement, support and guidance in building a career path, to put their expertise, their knowledge and their motivation into the service of this extraordinary Organization.

Regretfully, this whole aspect is reduced to one paragraph (n°13) which clearly states that on-line training is what it boils down to….

Is this really HRM’s vision of career guidance and support for staff members?

Dear Chairperson, Excellencies,

“The true richness and value of our Organization is our staff”: this has been stated for a very long time.

However, facts often show a very different picture!

The situation for our colleagues at the UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics (UIS) in Montreal playing a crucial role in monitoring SDG indicators has deteriorated so much that the STU wishes to draw your attention to the prevailing risks for which the responsibility will lie totally in the hands and on the conscience of the Administration.

The Institute’s persistent financial situation (deficits) raises serious concerns specially knowing that since 2017 staff numbers decreased from 125 to 40. It’s time to have a review performed by external experts to ensure that best financial and administrative practices are in place and that necessary measures are applied before any additional staff cuts take place. Colleagues and their families at UIS Montreal continue to suffer and wait, only to be met by silence and the in-action of the Administration…

On this subject of accountability, in the DG’s report on judgements concerning UNESCO, reading that the Organization has “WON” against a staff member, is both shocking and undignified. It is very inappropriate.

The fact that people go to the internal Appeals Board and then make a complaint to the ILOAT Tribunal is NOT a walk in the park, it is NOT a game... It is a long, painful and costly process and the last resort for colleagues standing up for their rights.

Mr. Chairperson,

Allow me to draw your attention to paragraphs 15 to 20 in the same document, “Remedial Actions from the Secretariat”. There is a fundamental flaw here, there are no provisions for imposing financial sanctions, retaining on salaries and pensions of managers having taken decisions resulting in lost judgements in ILOAT Tribunal with the resulting obligation to pay large compensations.

There must be accountability at all levels, the current in-house impunity of managers cannot continue – IT SIMPLY HAS TO STOP.

Dear Colleagues, Dear Members States,

Our Organization has, in the past years, declined very gradually, and now the decline is gaining momentum. As an example, we are alarmed to note that UNESCO has recently fired, yes, FIRED an experienced, valued and professional colleague without material proof… You need to be aware of this!

This Executive Board will examine a draft budget for the 42 C/5 with a projected shortfall of $30 million dollars which, if not met by increased contributions of Member States, will have an impact on staffing and implementation of the program itself.

In this dire prospect, some Member states have raised the need to prioritize plans, a measure that the STU would strongly support while expressing great concern about the working conditions of those who remain.

UNESCO staff have already demonstrated their dedication and resilience during the COVID-19 crisis; to ask them, once again, to do more and more being less and less would just be unacceptable.

Dear Colleagues,

As President of the STU, I stand here before you today, with just over 6 months in these functions. I will be retiring in December 2022, I regret that I will not be in position to complete my STU mandate which runs until March 2023.

So, I ask for your indulgence to say that it has been a True Honor to serve with you for the past 16.5 years as staff, and 9 months as President of the STU. I sincerely thank the STU Councilors, the Secretariat and the FICSA (Federation) who have stood by my side since I took up office as President.

I wholeheartedly thank the staff, for their confidence and support.

Dear Colleagues, please continue to support your staff associations, the Staff Associations are the only voice you have here…

I thank you for your attention.