Sunday, July 23, 2017

UN Pension Fund seeking new head of investments of assets, 23 July 2017

(Representative of the Secretary-General for Investments)

Representative of the Secretary-General for the investment of the assets of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF)

The Secretariat of the United Nations presents its compliments to the Permanent Missions to the United Nations and has the honour to request the nomination of candidates for the position of representative of the Secretary-General for the investment of the assets of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, at the level of Assistant Secretary-General.
            The Assistant Secretary-General reports directly to the Secretary-General.  The responsibilities and functions of the Assistant Secretary General as stipulated in the Terms of Reference in the Annex of General Assembly Resolution 68/247 B include: 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dear Chairman of the Pension Board: response from UN participant representatives, 13 July 2017

Subject: Re: Message from UN participant representatives to the Pension Fund / Message des représentants des participants de l'ONU au Fonds de Pension

Dear Chair,
Thank you very much for your message, which we have read with great care.

Allow us to start by reiterating our thanks to those who voted for us and we look forward to taking part in this year’s meeting of the Board. 

We are pleased to inform you that we take our responsibilities seriously, including the expectation from our constituents to hold the Fund’s fiduciaries accountable for their performance.
To this end, we are heartened by your point that:

“Usually the participant’s representatives gather suggestions/comments from their constituency (participants/staff members) of their employing organizations and bring these issues to the attention of the respective SPC, who decides which of these issues to be brought to the Board.  You may wish to review past Board reports in order to get an idea of issues addressed by the Board in the past and decisions that have been made. They are available through the Fund’s portal for Board documents.”

Pension Board Chair to Participant Representatives: "It's not discussable!"


13 JULY 2017

At last year’s meeting of the Pension Board, the Chair, Vladimir Yossifov, is reported to have muzzled the UN staff unions, preventing them from making a statement to the Board. He’s actively supported the CEO in blocking two duly elected participant representatives from participating in the UN Staff Pension Committee. 

Now he seems to be again attempting to place a gag order on the participant representatives. On 10 July they sent a letter to all participants (posted below on FCUNS). Note in particular Yossifov’s statement below which raises the question: Has he thought to reprimand the CEO for raising the issue (over which he has no purview) in the first place (at the AFICS/NY annual assembly, video also posted on FCUNS)? Since the matter is not “discussable” as Yossifov says, why did the CEO believe he could discuss it?

Quote from Yossifov's message: “In particular, I would like to state on record the following underlying issues that govern the manner in which the Pension Board conducts its business. First, the UNJSPF has been established by the United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) as a defined-benefit pension plan and this question is not discussable. This is also very clear from the UNJSPF Regulations and Rules. There is no threat or challenge to this status and to raise the possibility of a change in this status with staff is to cause unnecessary concern.”

This message is sent on behalf of Mr. Vladimir Yossifov, Chairman of the Pension Board, 63rd session:

Re: Message from UN participant representatives to the Pension Fund / Message des représentants des participants de l'ONU au Fonds de Pension

Dear Mmes. Abu-Rakabeh, Nyiratunga, Ndiaye and Mr. Richards,
It has come to my attention that you sent a message on 10 July 2017 concerning Pension Fund matters to all UN staff members. As members of the United Nations Staff pension Committee (UNSPC) and the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board (UNJSPB or the Board) you are part of the governance of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF or Fund), and therefore, you have a fiduciary duty to represent your constituency in the best interest of the Fund in discussions and cooperation with the two other constituent groups of the Board – namely the representatives of the Governing bodies and the administrations of the 23 members organizations. Unfortunately, some of the information contained in your above mentioned message is incorrect. Broadcasting inaccurate information outside the governance structure of the Fund on issues that will be discussed in few weeks in the Board session is not conducive to effective deliberations of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Message from UN Participant Representatives to the Pension Fund, 10 July 2017


Date: 10 July 2017 at 10:21:18 PM
Subject: Message from UN participant representatives to the Pension Fund / Message des représentants des participants de l'ONU au Fonds de Pension
Reply-To: "Ian Richards" <>
Dear UN Colleagues,
As representatives of UN staff to the pension fund, elected by you in April, we would like to update you on preparations for the forthcoming annual board meeting, which takes place 24 to 28 July in Vienna.
Issues to which we are devoting particular attention are: the large backlog of payment delays to retirees; proposals to increase the top-heavy nature of the pension fund administrative budget; the need for proposals to speed up the first payment upon retirement; investment underperformance; and in the context of the above, the proposals to renew the current leadership.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Open letter to the Pension Board Chair, 7 July 2017


Open letter to Mr. Vladimir Yossifov
 Chairman of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board

7 July 2017

Dear Mr. Yossifov,

Subject:  Matters of concern before the upcoming Pension Board meeting, 24-28 July 2017, Vienna

With regard to the annual Pension Board meeting, which will take place in Vienna from 24 to 28 July 2017, while we are not privy to the Board’s agenda, we understand that several important topics will be before the Board for discussion.

Specifically, the issues of investment underperformance and the unprecedented backlog in benefit payments, as variously detailed in General Assembly resolution 71/265, Board of Auditors report A/71/5 Add 16, Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) report A/71/621, Pension Board report A/71/9, and Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) audit 2017/2, are among the issues requiring the Board’s attention.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Resist the illegal and self-serving push to exclude elected participant representatives from the UN Staff Pension Committee, 11 June 2017


The Legal Counsel gave an opinion 25 years ago (November 1992, posted below by CCISUA president, Ian Richards). It was overturned by the Joint Appeals Board. Consequently, it was never adopted into the rules and regulations of the Fund.
Suddenly this old and unimplemented legal opinion is brushed off and pushed forward by the CEO – the focus of the OIOS audit into managerial deficiencies -- and his cohorts for purely self-interested reasons. It should be clear to all why this is happening now.
The Fund is experiencing problems of chronic investment underperformance that puts its solvency at risk; and an unprecedented backlog in benefit payments owing to managerial deficiencies, of which a minimum of 10,000 cases, including thousands of widows and orphans, remain unresolved and unreported by the Fund (see details in the OIOS audit dated February 2017, 2017/02).
These problems are extremely serious and are detailed in a General Assembly resolution (71/265), a board of auditors report, an ACABQ report, and the OIOS audit. At last year’s Pension Board meeting, our staff federation representatives were muzzled by the Chair and members of the Board, while they pushed for early renewal of the CEO's five-year contract, and the media was severely criticized for writing about problems in the Fund.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

UN Pension Fund - Update on the petition, 7 June 2017

As you may be aware, elections took place in early April for the UN Staff Pension Committee, whose members, called participant representatives, will also be on the Pension Fund’s Board.
Four members and two alternates were elected from 43 candidates. You may recall that those elected as well as other candidates made clear references in their campaign materials on:
  • the Fund’s failure to meet its performance targets;
  • the Fund’s inability to pay retirees on time;
  • the Fund’s weakening relationship with the UN; and
  • a controversial proposal to renew the CEO’s contract for a further five years.
Possibly unrelated to this, the Secretary of the Staff Pension Committee, Sergio Arvizu, who is also the Fund’s CEO, refused for almost two months to recognize those elected. Staff unions therefore launched a petition on Monday 29 May:
Four days after the petition was published, the CEO recognized four of the six elected.
On the same day, the Chair of the Board, Mr. Vladimir Yossifov, wrote to staff. We believe his message and the CEO’s position to be incorrect both in form and substance.
The Chair stated that as the remaining two representatives work at the Fund they would be ineligible, based on a legal opinion from 1992, to be members of the SPC.
The reality is that there is no rule preventing staff working at the Fund from being elected to the Staff Pension Committee of their own Fund. The legal opinion from 1992, which doesn’t bind the Fund, was overturned shortly after (the Chair neglected to mention this) on the basis that Pension Fund staff cannot be deprived of their rights, and the rules were therefore never changed. Recognizing this, we proposed, based on discussions with the Ethics Office, to work with the CEO to develop guidelines to ensure those representatives do not face a conflict of interest. Our offer remains and we are disappointed that neither the Chair nor CEO has not responded to this.
The Chair noted that the Fund had made the polling officers aware of the legal opinion and they should not have allowed the candidates to run.
The Chair announced that the Board’s standing committee (which meets when the Board is not in session) would make a final ruling on the matter.
The reality is that neither the Chair nor the Board or its standing committee has jurisdiction to rule on this issue. The Fund’s rules are clear that only UN staff, through elections, can choose their representatives, and they have, and in full knowledge that those two representatives were staff at the Fund.
We therefore reiterate the importance of recognizing the choice of the 18,000 staff who voted and the rights of the UN’s 85,000 staff.
Within this we reiterate our offer to work with the Ethics Office to ensure that the participation of elected representatives is above reproach. At the same time, we believe this isn’t the only issue at the Fund for which oversight by the Ethics Office would be advisable. Indeed, the attempts by the CEO and Chair to interfere in the implementation of the election results is also regrettable and may represent a conflict of interest.
The petition remains valid and we encourage you to sign it so as to ensure that your voice is heard on the Board of the Pension Fund. It is your retirement income at stake and there are serious problems to be fixed.