United Nations’ first tech ambassador sets out amid workplace harassment investigation – POLITICO

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A former ally of UN Secretary-General António Guterres will not remain the global organization’s first tech ambassador after a months-long investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct, according to people familiar with the matter.

POLITICO reported in May Chilean diplomat Fabrizio Hochschild Drummond, who was named UN Technology Envoy in January, was facing an investigation into allegations of discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and abuse of power by current and former employees.

While the UN did not disclose the results of the investigation, two people with direct knowledge of the tech ambassador position said Hochschild would lose the title. “What is clear is that it will not continue,” said one EU official with firsthand knowledge. He added that the application process for the UN’s new technology ambassador will be restarted “soon”.

The end of Hochschild’s short-lived tensions as the UN’s tech ambassador encompasses an epic that has given Guterres the leap as he seeks a new term as Secretary-General, delaying the body’s attempts to become an international voice on technology.

As the United Nations seeks a replacement for Hochschild, the harassment investigation also complicates efforts to raise funds for his position, which should likely be funded by outside contributors, including the European Union.

Hochschild, a Chilean diplomat, had been Guterres’ top choice for the newly created tech ambassador role. While Guterres said earlier this year that he was not aware of the harassment allegations at the time of his appointment, POLITICO’s reports showed Guterres had replied to emails about complaints a month before his cabinet chief was appointed.

Hochschild took leave five days after his appointment due to the allegations, but continued to receive his annual salary of more than $200,000 while on leave. Hochschild and the UN declined to comment on the investigation and what Hochschild’s role in the organization would be in the future.

“The responsibility process continues. A UN spokesperson said that, given the confidentiality requirements, no other information about the process could be provided.

AB stretches the muscles

When looking for a replacement for Hochschild, the United Nations has to consider outside opinions about the type of profile that will be required, particularly from countries and organizations that have had a hand in funding the position.

None looks bigger than the European Union, which is seen as an important potential source of funding.

In late September, Guterres received input from EU digital czar Margrethe Vestager during an hour-long meeting scheduled for 20 minutes in New York.

According to a reading of the meeting provided to EU countries and seen by POLITICO, Guterres – uninvited – “communicated his plans to open a call for applications for the UN Technology Ambassador (TE) position towards the end of the year.”

The new tech ambassador will be able to “lead a global discussion focused on inclusivity and connectivity; a regulatory framework; cyber security; and border issues (like AI),” Guterres said.

In response, Vestager stressed the “importance of choosing a person with the right profile” as the next technology ambassador, noting that EU funding for this role will depend on the person’s profile and role.

The Portuguese Guterres described the EU’s technology vision as “by far the closest to the UN vision”.

find someone

The EU’s adoption of the technology vision comes as the United Nations tries to raise money for the business.

A second round of fundraising seems elusive amid media scrutiny of his role as a tech ambassador, and little progress has been made in nearly a year, worrying other donors who are wondering if their investment will return, according to a European diplomat.

“Substantial” EU funding will require “the whole picture, person, task, plan, something we can define”, one EU official said.

In Hochschild’s absence, the technology ambassador’s office was headed by Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, an Italian who is currently the deputy secretary general for policy coordination and inter-agency relations in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Open social mediaHochschild is still listed as a technology ambassador.

In his meeting with Guterres, Vestager emphasized that unlike last time, the process must be transparent and the candidate must have the right profile.

Candidates nominated by EU countries include former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Finnish member of the European Parliament Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, and Dutch politician Marietje Schaake, who is currently international policy director at Stanford’s Center for Cyber ​​Policy.

“If [Guterres] The EU official wants this to be someone who can really push what the UN wants to do, it needs to have someone willing to have the visibility, the knowledge and the warmth,” he said.

The UN spokesperson declined to provide details on the application process for the new technology ambassador, but said the office would continue to be funded from “non-budgetary sources” such as member country donations.

In addition to the EU, Guterres has courted other deep pocket funders such as Switzerland. The Swiss, who also put forward a candidate for the role of technology ambassador, insisted that the role be placed in Geneva.

“The secretary general is aware of the need to put digitalization much higher on the agenda, but he also knows that digital is the new way to talk about human rights and it is more tangible than solutions,” said the EU official.

Closing the tech ambassador’s office would be a huge blow to Guterres, who personally supported the creation of the role.

“If the embassy office is to be closed, it will be because the secretary general has decided to appoint Hochschild. “This would be a huge fiasco and a loss of authority for the secretary general,” said the European diplomat.

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