REPORT ON THIS YEAR'S PENSION BOARD MEETING: THREATS AND INTIMIDATION, UNPAID RETIREES, RISING COSTS, NEW LEADERSHIP, CHANGES TO INVESTMENT POLICY
You may have read on social media about the chaos, physical threats and intimidation that marked last month’s annual meeting of the Pension Fund’s Board at the UN compound in Nairobi. As your elected staff pension committee representatives and members of the Board, we would like to share with you a full account of the meeting. Please note that while the Fund is actuarially in balance (0.1 percent unfunded), it faces significant governance and legal risks that can negatively impact its sustainability, putting it in a delicate position. Further, based on our own analysis we are unfortunately unable to assign credibility to the performance data published by the Fund.
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- The Fund is beset by governance and legal risks
This year’s session was sadly marred by shouting, banging on tables, intimidatory comments, and a physical threat by the Chair of the Board to remove one of your representatives from the room “involuntarily”. The Board also collaborated in illegally suspending another of your representatives from the meeting. One of your representatives was illegally barred from voting. Two of your representatives were illegally prevented from taking part in segments of the session, despite the UN Appeals Tribunal having three times ruled such acts contrary to the Fund’s regulations. Taken together this prevented us from effectively defending your interests and created an atmosphere of physical insecurity within a UN facility. Additionally the Board’s report to the General Assembly omits some of our interventions and misrepresents certain decisions, and is therefore not a true reflection of the Board’s proceedings, raising important issues of integrity.
Underlying this behaviour is a fear by Board members from certain small specialized agencies that sensible and much-needed reforms from a General Assembly-backed governance review that we pushed for, would reduce their voting weights in line with their organizations’ declining population weights and financial contributions to the Fund. Currently the agencies represent one-third of participants but have retained two-thirds of the votes. Your representatives are therefore outvoted on issues that matter to you, such as legal compliance, promptness of payments and sustainability.
It should be noted that as part of this governance review the Board rejected requests by the General Assembly, and for which we had made proposals, to assign greater voting weight to the UN, to make use of its executive committee, known as the Standing Committee, for dealing with urgent issues that require decisions between annual Board meetings, and to give retirees the right to elect their representatives to the Board. We nevertheless made sure our proposals were mentioned in the report. The Board did approve a proposal for terms of reference for Board members whereby they are now expected to have a knowledge of the Fund’s rules, which is welcome. However, we continue to have concerns about attempts to block transparency about the Board’s proceedings and decisions, and the intimidation we continue to face in communicating with you, our electors.