UN MEMORIES

A life in protection — to retirement and beyond

Machiel Salomons is Executive Director for the Netherlands branch of United Way, one of the largest charities in the world. And that is only what he has been doing since retirement from the United Nations. He entered the world of international organizations through a...

Language matters

Mother language cannot and should not be replaced: it conveys history, culture, traditions, and sometimes drives political movements. Words also matter when they are linked to human rights: they often represent fights for equity and against unacceptable injustices. I...

Language, culture and a global mindset

When mankind became too pushy, you may recall from the biblical story, they were thwarted in their ambitions by the divine imposition of multiple languages. So, they could no longer understand each other and the Tower of Babel collapsed, together with humanity’s reach...

The discreet charm of quiet UN careers

Not all careers at the UN are adventurous. Not all deal with more or less impossible conflict resolutions, nor with sensitive endless negotiations, even less with exciting ‘Ian Fleming’ style jobs. Most UN staff serve the organization very discreetly, performing...

Memories of Africa: Poverty and other surprises

I was 42 years old when I was transferred from the UN Secretariat in New York to the UN Development Programme (UNDP). Having moved up over 15 years through a variety of jobs in Conference Services, Administration and Management, and the Cabinet of the Director-General...

Interagency coordination should not be watered down!

In 2006, when the “One UN” initiative was launched with trumpets, I was an enthusiastic cheerleader ready to shout: “UN agencies, unite!.” Working at UNCTAD I was well placed to understand that the universe of development issues is like a puzzle with an infinite...

La diplomatie des murmures

1994-Haïti. Après trois ans de pouvoir des militaires, le gouvernement des États-Unis, appuyé par la communauté internationale, avait entrepris de chasser les factieux et de financer les élections constitutionnelles pour rendre au pays ses institutions malmenées par...

How easy is it to be declared persona non grata?

Only animals were not expelled from Paradise My first UN job was as a Junior Professional Officer with UNDP in Lesotho (1976-78). The Assistant Representative was telling me stories about his previous post in Somalia, how he was expelled for spying because he had been...

Can the international civil service thrive without staff unions?

Can the international civil service thrive without staff unions post-COVID? A wave of voluntary resignations of many employees has been reported post-COVID, called the “Great Resignation” in the USA. There is also an increase in strikes and unionisation. These...

UN MEMORIES

A life in protection — to retirement and beyond

Machiel Salomons is Executive Director for the Netherlands branch of United Way, one of the largest charities in the world. And that is only what he has been doing since retirement from the United Nations. He entered the world of international organizations through a...

Language matters

Mother language cannot and should not be replaced: it conveys history, culture, traditions, and sometimes drives political movements. Words also matter when they are linked to human rights: they often represent fights for equity and against unacceptable injustices. I...

Language, culture and a global mindset

When mankind became too pushy, you may recall from the biblical story, they were thwarted in their ambitions by the divine imposition of multiple languages. So, they could no longer understand each other and the Tower of Babel collapsed, together with humanity’s reach...

The discreet charm of quiet UN careers

Not all careers at the UN are adventurous. Not all deal with more or less impossible conflict resolutions, nor with sensitive endless negotiations, even less with exciting ‘Ian Fleming’ style jobs. Most UN staff serve the organization very discreetly, performing...

Memories of Africa: Poverty and other surprises

I was 42 years old when I was transferred from the UN Secretariat in New York to the UN Development Programme (UNDP). Having moved up over 15 years through a variety of jobs in Conference Services, Administration and Management, and the Cabinet of the Director-General...

Interagency coordination should not be watered down!

In 2006, when the “One UN” initiative was launched with trumpets, I was an enthusiastic cheerleader ready to shout: “UN agencies, unite!.” Working at UNCTAD I was well placed to understand that the universe of development issues is like a puzzle with an infinite...

La diplomatie des murmures

1994-Haïti. Après trois ans de pouvoir des militaires, le gouvernement des États-Unis, appuyé par la communauté internationale, avait entrepris de chasser les factieux et de financer les élections constitutionnelles pour rendre au pays ses institutions malmenées par...

How easy is it to be declared persona non grata?

Only animals were not expelled from Paradise My first UN job was as a Junior Professional Officer with UNDP in Lesotho (1976-78). The Assistant Representative was telling me stories about his previous post in Somalia, how he was expelled for spying because he had been...

Can the international civil service thrive without staff unions?

Can the international civil service thrive without staff unions post-COVID? A wave of voluntary resignations of many employees has been reported post-COVID, called the “Great Resignation” in the USA. There is also an increase in strikes and unionisation. These...

La vision de l’autre côté

Un destin international dans la Genève locale Rien, dans ma formation ne me prédisposait à m’intéresser à la Genève internationale. Je suis entré au service de la Ville de Genève d’abord en qualité de juriste du Conseil administratif, puis Secrétaire général adjoint,...

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