UN warns its staff to avoid street demos

UN warns its staff to avoid street demos

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
UN warns its staff to avoid street demos

A foreign couple is detained during the protests in Istanbul on May 31. The UN has warned its employees to stay away from the protests. DHA photo

United Nations staff in Turkey should avoid political activities not befitting their status as international civil servants, the U.N. Resident Coordinator Kamal Malhotra has announced in a guidance note distributed to U.N. staff, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

“Although you are all members of civil society and have certain fundamental rights, you should remember that your loyalty as an international civil servant is to the objectives and purposes of the United Nations,” read the guidance.

The political activities mentioned included rallies and demonstrations as well as other acts of public protest, in reference to the ongoing Gezi Park demonstrations across the country. The guidance was prepared as the coordinator had received many questions on whether staff members could become involved in political activities.

“The U.N. recognizes that staff members’ political views are inviolable. However, we ask that you not be involved in any political activity that could reflect adversely on the U.N. or on your independence and impartiality,” it stated.

“For these reasons, you should not be involved in political activities not befitting your status as international civil servants. These activities may include rallies and demonstrations as well as other acts of public protest,” the statement added.

The guidance has also drawn up a framework for staff members who may be members of a political party and asked them to conduct themselves at all times in a manner befitting an international civil servant. “This includes refraining from any activity that is incompatible with the proper discharge of your duties with the United Nations. You are asked to exercise discretion in your support of a political party or campaign, and you should not accept or solicit funds, write articles or make public speeches or make statements to the press,” it added.

Although staff are allowed to participate in local or civic activities, as long as it is consistent with their obligations to the U.N., they must be conscious about how their participation would reflect on the U.N..

“In view of the independence and impartiality that you must maintain as international civil servants, and while retaining the right to vote, you should not participate in political activities such as standing for or holding local or national political office. You should avoid any action and any kind of public pronouncement that may adversely reflect on the integrity, independence and impartiality that are required of us. A public pronouncement is not necessarily only oral, but may be made through carrying placards or wearing articles of clothing that advocate a certain political point of view,” it said.

The guidance is based on the U.N.’s staff regulation and standards of conduct for international civil servants.