Sunday, January 21, 2018

Today's email purportedly from the UN Pension Fund: Security breach or abuse of power? 21 January 2018

Open communication to FAFICS (Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants) members and associate members

21 January 2018

Dear FAFICS members and associate members,

You may have received the following email, addressed to “Dear beneficiaries”, and signed “UNJSPF”, which appears to have been sent to all UN retirees worldwide, attaching the FAFICS president’s “update” dated 8 January 2018.

“From: DoNotReply <>
Date: Sun, Jan 21, 2018 at 6:59 AM
Subject: FAFICS Letter
Dear Beneficiaries,

This is a “comprehensive update” sent on behalf of FAFICS.

Thank you and Regards

1.         In this regard, I refer you to my note of 14 January 2018 (see below for ease of reference) in which I responded point by point to several instances of distortion of facts in the FAFICS president’s “update”, and noted her consistent “pattern of partisanship, non-transparency, manipulation of information, and attempts to discredit anyone who questions or opposes her actions.”

2.         I also emphasized that “the FAFICS president’s [has] demonstrated unconditional support for the CEO including (i) writing an email to OIOS on 1 June 2016 discouraging the audit of the backlog in pension payments which has caused untold suffering to new retirees and other beneficiaries; (ii) pushing for his advance reappointment in 2016 based on an outdated performance evaluation; and again for a renewed five year term in 2017, while disregarding the accumulated information contained in the reports of UN governing bodies and OIOS audit 2017/002 concerning the role of mismanagement in the Fund.

3.         It is impossible to discern from the email purportedly sent from the Fund today, using its confidential member contact information, by whom this email was sent, and on what authority.   In fact, one has no way of knowing whether this communication, sent on Sunday, a day when the Fund is closed, at 6.59 am, is the result of a breach of IT security.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

FAFICS: the need for effective leadership; comments on the FAFICS president's update of 8 January 2018, 14 January 2018

14 January 2018

Dear FAFICS members and associate members,

Subject: FAFICS: the need for effective leadership; comments on the FAFICS president’s update dated 8 January 2018

Further to my communication of 4 January 2018, I wish to draw your attention to several instances of misinformation and distortion of facts contained in the FAFICS (Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants) president’s “update” of 8 January 2018.

As you’re aware, FAFICS holds four seats (plus two alternate seats) on the Pension Board, without voting rights. The FAFICS president sits on the Board as the representative of UN retirees worldwide. From this position of authority and influence, she has demonstrated, as in this “update”, a pattern of partisanship, non-transparency, manipulation of information, and attempts to discredit anyone who questions or opposes her actions.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Past time for the FAFICS president to resign, 10 January 2018

You know you're on the right track when you're villifed by the FAFICS President (Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants) as she does here in this fact-averse communication dated 8 January 2018 addressed to FAFICS organizations worldwide, who have frequently reported that the FAFICS president does not consult them about positions she takes in the Pension Board.
I proudly wear her criticism as a badge of honor, as should the UN staff unions whom she excoriates and in effect accuses of subversion. The facts, as reported in my open letter to FAFICS organizations dated 4 January 2018, link below) speak for themselves and are unaffected by her consistent dismissal of the facts and plaintive self-justifications. Given her role in the problems that have roiled our Fund, which has been meticulously documented on the blog since 2014, it's past time for her to muster the decency to resign her position. A former colleague and friend just had a bottle of Veuve Cliquot delivered to my door. Cheers.


8 January 2018
Dear Colleagues,
I have been awaiting the outcome on decisions taken on matters of interest and concern regarding the Pension Fund and am pleased to be able finally to update you in a comprehensive way.
The General Assembly adopted on December 24, 2017 Resolution 72/262, a draft advance copy of which you should have received by now, but is also attached to this letter for easy reference. Although last year was a so-called budget year, the resolution did not restrict itself, as had been customary, to budget matters and the Board of Auditors report. Instead, it extended its focus to include other matters such as investments and in particular, a call for a comprehensive review of the governance structure.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Open letter to FAFICS members, 4 January 2018


Dear FAFICS members and associate members,

Please find four articles containing information below of vital interest to participants and beneficiaries of our UN Pension Fund. 

This information concerns the following issues (see corresponding links to the articles):

1) a recent General Assembly resolution (A/RES/72/266, dated 24 December 2017, not yet published) calling for checks and balances between the Pension Board and the Pension Fund leadership and a comprehensive audit of the governance structure of the Fund;

2) A letter dated 7 December 2017 from the Chef de Cabinet to the Pension Board Chair, informing her that the Secretary-General has accepted the Board's recommendation to reappoint the Fund's Chief Executive Officer for a second term of three years, subject to an annual review of his performance, i.e., in effect, placing the CEO on probation.

3) The role of the FAFICS president, who up to last year was also the AFICS/NY president, in pushing back against the  concerns of members, most of which have been  borne out in the reports of UN governing bodies; moving to discourage the UN internal audit of the payment backlog;  and consistently leading the charge in the Board in support of the CEO. 

4) A statement from the UN Staff Unions highlighting the results of two audits conducted by the Office of Internal Oversight Services on a) mismanagement of  IPAS implementation that contributed to the unprecedented backlog in pension payments, 2017/104; and b) contract and procurement irregularities by the Fund, 2017/110. 

Please note that the GA resolution (A/RES/72/266) is not yet publicly available. The letter from the Chef de Cabinet to the Pension Board Chair dated 7 December 2017 is also not in the public domain, and it's been reported that the Pension Board Chair has not yet shared the letter with Pension Board members. Reference to the General Assembly resolution can be found in this document "Meetings Coverage and Press Release, GA/11997.

4 January 2018

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Pension Fund: Thanks to the UN Participant Representatives to the Pension Board, 28 December 2017

As we welcome the draft General Assembly resolution on our Pension Fund (see earlier post), let us recognize and thank our UN staff unions and our UN participant representatives to the Pension Board for their committed action in helping to bring about this most welcome outcome.
Their work to safeguard our Fund in the face of determined opposition and serial challenges has been tireless, and strategic. Attempts by some at obfuscation and intimidation continue as we speak. Someone wise once said 'It isn't over 'til it's over." But let the record show that might doesn’t make right. Truth will prevail -- and there's hope.
It’s a moment to pause to celebrate what's been accomplished so far, and to offer our collective gratitude to our courageous colleagues, who never wavered in their resolve. Thank you, UN staff unions --CCISUA, FICSA and UNISERV.
Thanks, too, to Secretary-General Guterres, the members of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, the Office of Internal Oversight Services, and the UN Board of Auditors, for their actions. Thanks as well to the hardworking staff of the Fund.
And special thanks to our UN participant representatives (pictured here, left to right: Ndeye Aissatou Ndiaye; Bernadette Nyiratunga; Ian Richards; Michelle Rockcliffe; Mary Abu Rakabeh; Ibrahima Faye). Warmest wishes to you, and to all colleagues around the world, for peace, joy and health in the New Year.
Special wishes as well for the continued health of our Fund!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Pension Fund: UN General Assembly calls for checks and balances audit, 26 December 2017

As we move into 2018, the Secretary-General has addressed chronic problems besetting our Pension Fund by replacing the head of investments and placing the Chief Executive Officer on probation (three-year reappointment with continuation subject to an annual performance review).
Now the General Assembly, fed up with slow implementation by the Fund of the recommendations of the 2016 UN Board of Auditors report, zeroes in on lax oversight by the Pension Board, and requests in a year–end draft resolution a review of checks and balances between the Board and the Fund leadership.
Specifically, the GA, in paragraph 8 of its draft resolution “Requests the Secretary-General to entrust the Office of Internal Oversight Services with conducting a comprehensive audit of the governance structure of the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund Board, to include a review of the checks and balances between the Board and the Pension Fund leadership, and to submit its report with key findings to the General Assembly at its seventy-third session ….”.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

UN Pension Fund: If wishes were horses...and the struggle continues, 21 December 2017

UN pension fund: If wishes were horses; and the struggle continues.

Yes, we wanted more. Did anyone who cares about a healthy Fund really hope that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres would reappoint the Fund’s Chief Executive Officer Sergio Arvizu for three more years -- so we could have the pleasure of watching him bungle on, even for a single year, under lax oversight by a complicit Pension Board?

Of course not.  But it wasn’t realistic to expect that the Secretary-General would have sent Arvizu packing on 31 December, given the array of forces determined to force through another outcome. On simply a practical level, had by some miracle the Secretary-General made that decision, Arvizu, for the sake of fairness and decency, would have had to have been informed months ago and a search committee set up to pick his replacement.

We know that didn’t happen; and while I can’t speak for the UN staff unions, in response to some who have expressed dismay about the outcome, on Facebook and by email, my own view is that this is as good as we could have hoped for given the circumstances. Put another way, what we have here is nothing short of an example of shooting for the moon in the hope that if we miss, we’ll land somewhere better than the alternative.

And we indeed landed in a space much better than the alternative: that the CEO would have sailed into another three-year term, albeit with oversight provisions but without an annual performance review to determine whether or not he continued. Thankfully, we already knew we had dodged a new five-year term, the powers arrayed on his behalf having successfully dismissed the preponderance of evidence of mismanagement, perhaps with a promotion to Under-Secretary-General, and full strength to continue business as usual.