Thursday, June 25, 2015

Message to AFICS: we are not sheep (3.6.15)

3 June 2015

"The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same." - Stendhal

Dear AFICS President and Governing Board,

Subject: Pension Fund Matters: We are Not Sheep

As the  AFICS Annual General Meeting approaches, allow me to remind the AFICS President and Governing Board that the AFICS membership, including those of us, AFICS members and other participants and beneficiaries of the Pension Fund, who have raised questions on the Pension Fund matter, are not sheep grazing contentedly in pastures to which we are herded.  

We, who have spoken out on the important issues regarding our Pension Fund, are former and current UN staff who from an early age had questions and opinions that we were not afraid to voice. Throughout our UN careers, we retained our propensity to think for ourselves, which continues to this day.  

I, and others,  have taken note that for more than a year, the AFICS leadership neglected to state its position on the Pension Fund controversy, and that when it did proclaim itself, after the launch of the 8 May petition addressed to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, did so in the form of a confused and confusing letter from the President (dated 12 May and distributed widely through Pension Fund email) alternatively dismissing and supporting the concerns stated in the petition, while discouraging participants and beneficiaries of the Pension Fund from signing it.

I, and others, have also noted that our message to participants and beneficiaries of the Pension Fund, dated 18 May, in response to the President's letter, which was posted on the AFICS website by decision of its Governing Board on 20 May at our request,  was removed from the website the following day, for reasons of an unverified ‘virus’ in the petition, according to the AFICS office. The letter has not been reposted to date, but remains available on the Internet, albeit with the erroneous 'depublished'  link with which it was posted on the AFICS website:

Yet, a letter from the FICSA President, containing blatant inaccuracies about the content of the petition, which CCISUA has suggested that he retract, continues to be posted on the AFICS website, while our request for the response to Mr. El-Tabari (below, dated 20 May) to be also posted remains unacknowledged.  
I am satisfied that despite obvious efforts to suppress our voices while amplifying your own, our actions toward greater transparency on Pension Fund matters have, at the very least, given the relevant actors pause, have slowed the pace, and may yet help to halt, any movement toward weakening the current system of checks and balances that has allowed our Pension Fund to thrive even in conditions where many others have failed.

I am also satisfied that whatever the outcome of the debate, we have managed to shine a light into hidden corners that some would clearly have preferred to remain obscured.

Loraine Rickard-Martin
AFICS Member

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