Inicio Novedades Casos y Estudios Recepción de casos Contactos
Febrero 2017
Honduras: Las lagunas judiciales existentes respecto al asesinato de Berta Cáceres son una advertencia para los activistas
Observatorio solicita acciones inmediatas por allanamiento
Plataforma ciudadana advierte "pasividad estatal" en el caso del hostigamiento a la APDHB
Los mineros anuncian que pedirán informe a Carvajal
La APDHB alcanza más de 2.000 firmas de apoyo y espera recolectar más
Destacan tarea de la APDHB en inclusión y derechos indígenas
UN special rapporteur says UN staff 'cannot afford to be neutral' on some issues
El exsecretario ejecutivo de la CIDH denuncia el allanamiento de sus oficinas particulares en México
Radio PIO XII se solidariza con Amparo Carvajal y exige garantías para la Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos
UNITAS respalda a Carvajal y rechaza intervención de APDH
Pronunciamiento Público en defensa de la Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Bolivia
Corte Internacional pide informe sobre pueblos no contactados
Jurista advierte que Fiscalía incurre en incumplimiento de deberes por no actuar de oficio en el caso APDHB
Defensoría dice que lío de la APDHB es interno y que no puede actuar de oficio
Pronunciamiento del directorio repudio al atropello perpetrado contra la APDHB
Afines al MAS dan plazo para entregar la Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos
Afines al MAS exigen entrega de oficinas de DDHH de La Paz
Senador Joaquino repudia que grupos radicales amenacen a la APDHB
La UMSA y su rector Waldo Albarracín se pronuncian
Rebrota conflicto por control de Derechos Humanos
Mineros encabezan toma de la APDHB y autoconvocan a congreso para cambiar al directorio
Afines al MAS quieren convocar a congreso de la APDHB para cambiar a Carvajal
La CIDH pide informe a Bolivia sobre peligro para indígenas no contactados
El Salvador contará con una Comisión Nacional de Búsqueda de Personas Desaparecidas durante el conflicto armado

UN special rapporteur says UN staff 'cannot afford to be neutral' on some issues

Fecha: 13 de febrero de 2017

UN special rapporteur says UN staff 'cannot afford to be neutral' on some issues

By Sophie Edwards 13 February 2017

Maina Kiai, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. Photo by: Jean-Marc Ferré / U.N. Geneva / CC BY-NC-ND

The United Nations special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association said he is “disappointed” by a move by the United Nations that he says undermines staff’s “obligation and responsibility” to stand up for human rights.

Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai’s comments came in response to an email seen by Devex that was sent by the U.N.’s ethics office in New York reminding staff that taking part in marches, protests and other activities may be “incompatible” with the code of conduct for international civil servants.

The email was sent to staff on Jan. 20, the day before the Global Women’s March, to answer questions raised by staff about whether they can participate in “political activities and social media discussions,” including the Women’s March on Washington. The email concludes that “participating in certain activities, especially those with political overtones, may be viewed as incompatible with our status as international civil servants.”

Speaking exclusively to Devex, Kiai criticized the position outlined in the email.

“It’s very disappointing and it’s clear the email came out at a time when people wanted to support the women’s march and protest against the abuse of women,” he said. “The U.N. cannot afford to be neutral when it comes to human rights. It is staff’s obligation and responsibility to protect and fulfill human rights, it’s the third pillar of the U.N. system,” he added.

U.N. Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric told Devex the Jan. 20 email from the ethics office was “sent out to staff was to serve only as a reminder of the code of conduct of international civil servants. It was not a message to prevent participation in the march.”

However, Kiai said the timing of the missive implies otherwise and criticized the U.N. for discouraging staff from taking part in the women’s march, which was billed by its organizers as a march to defend women’s rights against “rising rhetoric of far-right populism around the world,” and not about the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

Instead of discouraging staff from protesting, the U.N. should be doing the opposite, according to Kiai, in order to protect human rights from a rising tide of populist political movements around the world.

“We are at a time of growing disrespect of human rights and democratic values across the world, and if there was ever a time to stand up and be counted both officially through the U.N.’s work and privately outside of work, then it is now,” he said.

The Standards of Conduct for the International Civil Service states that while civil servants should “uphold and respect” human rights and equality for men and women, they “do not have the freedom of private persons to take sides or to express our beliefs publicly on sensitive political matters, either individually or as members of a group nor can we criticize or try to discredit a government.”

On Jan. 19, the World Food Programme, a U.N. agency headquartered in Rome, also emailed staff advising them it would be “inappropriate” for staff to join the Rome march, which Devex reported at the time. However, the next day, WFP’s Executive Director Ertharin Cousin sent a message to staff saying she had “no objection” to their taking part in the marches in a personal capacity.

Read more about the World Food Programme’s message for staff attending last month’s Global Women’s March

Speaking exclusively to Devex, Kiai, who was appointed as special rapporteur in 2011, said he was “shocked” and “disturbed” to read in Devex about WFP’s initial advisory telling staff not to take part in the women’s march.

He said the U.N. needs a unified position on staff participation in such events, and one that allows staff to respect human rights at an individual as well as institutional level, without contradiction. “If the U.N. is going to work then the values that create the U.N. system and human rights framework must be respected both individually and collectively,” he said.

Kiai also called on the U.N. and also development organizations, to “stop running away” and seeking to be apolitical. He advised any U.N. staff unsure about their position when it comes to taking part in protests, marches and other activities, to consult the High Commissioner for Human Rights. But he also said staff need to “collectively challenge” positions such as the one taken by WFP and the ethics office.

Kiai was appointed by the Human Rights Council as special rapporteur. The position is an honorary, independent and unpaid position with a mandate to monitor, investigate and make recommendations to protect and promote people's rights to assembly and association.

According to the the rapporteur’s website, which is managed by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Special Rapporteurs do not have any legally binding powers to compel governments to take action, but they can raise individual complaints with governments and raise publicity.”

Read more international development news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive the latest from the world’s leading donors and decision-makers — emailed to you free every business day.

About the author
Edwards sopie
Sophie Edwards
Sophie Edwards is a reporter for Devex based out of Washington D.C. and London where she covers global development news, careers and lifestyle issues. She has previously worked for NGOs, the World Bank and spent a number of years as a journalist for a regional newspaper in the U.K. She has an MA from the Institute of Development Studies and a BA from Cambridge University.




Casos y Estudios
Marco legal y normativo
Recepción de casos