Monday, June 25, 2018

Calling for an end to complicity of UN retiree representatives, 25 June 2018

Open letter to the AFICS/NY president, members of the Governing Board and to AFICS/NY members, 25 June 2018

Dear colleagues,

Subject: Calling for an end to complicity of UN retiree representatives 

Today, on the occasion of the AFICS/NY annual assembly, we recall that while the issue of chronic underperformance in investments was addressed by the Secretary-General in his appointment of his new Representative for Investments in 2017 and that we must remain vigilant, serious issues related to the Fund Secretariat remain unresolved.

Since 2014 when concerns arose about the leadership of the Fund Secretariat, there have been General Assembly resolutions, internal and external audits, and ACABQ reports[1], that collectively confirm issues of mismanagement in the Fund Secretariat, including in the implementation of the new IT system in 2015; procurement irregularities; massive understatement of an unprecedented delay in pension payments to new retirees, separated staff, and survivors; and severely inadequate client servicing.

Finally, after years of insisting that the backlog in pension payments consisted of a mere few hundred cases, the Fund acknowledged in its March 2018 newsletter that the backlog consists of 15,000 cases related to retirees and separated staff, and survivors.[2]  Yet, selective sharing and control of the flow of information by our retiree representatives continued, as indicated by a letter from the president of AFICS Canada to his constituents dated 7 March 2018.[3]

Following the Secretary-General’s decision in December 2017 to extend the CEO’s contract for three years, instead of five years as recommended by the Pension Board, and with continuation of his contract subject to a one-year review, the FAFICS president insisted in a January 2018 update to AFICS associations that the payment backlog was “largely a thing of the past.”[4]  See a letter from the outgoing president of AFICS Australia dated 20 February 2018 stating that the “FAFICS leadership should be strongly reminded by its members that its task is to protect, defend and advance the rights of all UN retirees, not those of the CEO….”[5]

A broadcast by the UN staff representatives to the Pension Board[6] dated 13 June 2018 reported, as “further evidence of how our pension fund needs to be reformed so that it acts in your interest”, that there are attempts by the Board to stall on the “detailed and in-depth” OIOs governance audit(para. 8 of GA resolution 72/262) that is expected to address issues including “conflicts of interest between Board members and the Fund’s CEO, lack of direct representation for retirees, a weak performance evaluation system for the CEO and retaliation against pension fund staff”.

As UN retirees, we have an obligation to hold accountable those who purport to represent our interests, which may entail a move to direct election of retiree representatives to the Pension Board. We must at the same time give voice to the voiceless by calling for swift and decisive action to end the suffering of those affected by the backlog in pension payments.  

In the meantime, and as we await the results of the governance audit, we must also call for an end to complicity among the leaders of AFICS/NY and other AFICS associations world-wide, and to insist that they ensure responsible and accountable leadership of FAFICS as the current president’s four year tenure comes to an end.

Loraine Rickard-Martin
UN retiree

[1] GA resolutions 70/248, 72/265, 72/262; Board of Auditor reports A/71/5 and A/72/5; ACABQ reports A/71/621, A/72/7; OIOS audits 2017/002, 2017/104, 2017/110
[2] UNJSPF March 2018 newsletter,
[3] Letter from the AFICS Canada president, 7 March 2018,
[4] FAFICS updates dated 10 January 2018 and 18 February 2018 available on the FAFICS website
[5] Letter from the outgoing AFICS Australia president, dated 20 February 2018,
[6] Broadcast from the UN participant representatives to the Pension Board, dated 13 June 2018,

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