March 19, 2008

Update: U.N. Staff Objects to New Ombuds

Less than a week after American dispute resolution expert John Barkat was appointed to lead a reformed and integrated UN Ombuds office, the head of the UN Staff Union has lodged a formal protest. A letter from Stephen Kisambira, President of the United Nations Staff Union, complained that the staff were excluded from the selection process. The Inner City Press provides additional details:
The Staff Union's beef for Barkat's resume is that while they say he claimed to have been ombudsman for 2000 staffers at Pace University in New York, that school only has some 300 staffers. All of the rest are part-time or adjuncts, so they say the use of the number is misleading.

A UN spokesperson said she didn't know what will happen next, if anything. (Kisambira Letter; Inner City Press; UN Press Briefing.)

Prior post: Barkat Appointed U.N. Ombuds

The letter and article raise more questions than they answer. Most significantly, it is curious that the letter does not mention the allegation about Barkat's resume. It is also concerning and surprising that staff would have been omitted from the selection process. Finally, there are some discrepancies with regard to the staff numbers referenced. According to the Pace website, the university employs 1,448 staff (963 full-time and 485 part-time). In addition, 460 full-time and 730 part-time faculty work at Pace. While these issues may blunt the staff's complaint, no doubt Barkat will be mending bridges from the outset.

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