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UN Survey on Racism

Two days ago, you will have received a message inviting you to answer an UN-wide survey on racism.

Following the circulation of the survey link many people expressed dismay with the question in which you were asked to identify yourself listing “yellow” among the possible responses as well as” black”, “brown”, “white”, mixed-multiracial and any other. As you may have seen or read this matter has attracted the attention of the international media, for example Reuters and other media outlets, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-race-un/united-nations-removes-survey-asking-staff-if-they-are-yellow-idUSKCN25F2F4

This has subsequently led to the withdrawal and removal of the survey online, some of you will have noticed that when you try to access the survey you get a screen that says the survey is closed.

We would like to confirm that the various staff unions and associations’ views were sought by senior management in UN Headquarters before the survey was finalized. The staff unions collectively had advised management in NY against including this question as well as others on the basis that such categorizations and terminology are outdated and unacceptable. More comprehensive inputs were provided on the survey as well.

Unfortunately, the collective inputs from the unions were ignored, leading to an extremely embarrassing situation for the organization and its staff.

We regret to note that this isn’t the first time that staff representatives’ views have been disregarded, and on equally important issues.
For this reason, a letter was sent to the Secretary-General from all staff unions and associations expressing our dismay and disappointment on this matter as well as with the current status of the staff/management consultative mechanisms and processes with our management counterparts.

The letter is attached for your reference.

Letter to SG August 2020

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