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UN launches hunt for new technology envoy after harassment suits lands diplomat in hot water

Wanted: Tech thought leader, clean as a whistle, preferably a woman.

The United Nations has launched its search for a new technology envoy, who would champion the organization’s tech goals and cement the U.N.’s role as a global platform for digital diplomacy.

The job listing comes as the organization is struggling to conclude a months-long case into U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’s first pick for the $200,000 plus job.

Guterres’s office has granted a one-month extension to Chilean diplomat Fabrizio Hochschild Drummond, the U.N.’s first-ever Envoy on Technology, who is slated to leave his position early next year following the conclusion of a probe into claims of harassment and discrimination, according to a document from the United Nations Dispute Tribunal.

Hochschild was expected to leave his job at the end of December, but he was granted a one-month extension on his work contract after he appealed to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal, the document shows.

In February 2021, Hochschild was placed on leave five days after being appointed to the role amid the allegations, but has continued to receive his annual salary of over $200,000 while being on leave for most of the year. 

POLITICO reported in May that Hochschild — who’d been named the U.N.’s Envoy on Technology in January — was facing an investigation into claims of discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and abuse of authority brought by current and former staffers. The formal inquiry into the allegations was concluded in early August, according to another U.N. document seen by POLITICO.

When contacted by POLITICO in May, Hochschild denied the allegations, but declined to comment further while the inquiry is underway. He called the allegations “unfounded.”

Hochschild was notified in late November that his contract as the U.N. technology envoy would not be renewed upon its expiration on December 31, 2021, according to the document.  

On December 8, Hochschild filed a complaint to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal calling for the decision to not extend his contract to be evaluated, and to “suspend, pending management evaluation, the decision to not renew his appointment beyond its expiration.”

A day later, Secretary-General Guterres’s administration told Hochschild his appointment had been extended for an extra month until the end of January 2022. 

Hochschild “needed to be kept on so we can complete the accountability process for the benefit of all involved,” a spokesperson for the U.N. said.

The U.N. is under pressure from major potential funders, such as the EU, to conduct the investigation swiftly and open a transparent application process for Hochschild’s successor.

As POLITICO reported, EU digital czar Margrethe Vestager stressed to Guterres that, unlike last time, the process must be transparent and the candidate must have the right profile in order to secure “significant” EU funding.

In the U.N.’s job listing for the new technology envoy, the organization said it is looking for a “[r]ecognized global digital thought leader with solid knowledge and experience in the area of digital technologies” such as “digital connectivity and inclusion, digital security, artificial intelligence, digital rights, data and/or digital privacy.” The U.N. said it would “especially welcome the application of women candidates.”

UPDATED: This story has been updated with details of the job listing for the new technology envoy.

https://ift.tt/eA8V8J December 16, 2021 at 09:22PM
Melissa Heikkilä

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