20 November 2014
Association of Former International Civil Servants for Development
La Pastorale, 106, route de Ferney, Geneva,
(First pink building on the left side, 2nd floor in the meeting room used for the Executive committee meetings)
Tuesday, 9 December 2014, 10.30 am
Report by the Executive Committee
December 2013-November 2014
1. 2014 was Greycells’ seventh year of activity.
2. At the time of drafting this report, the Association has received 45 subscription fees for 2014 from its members, as compared to 44 at the end of 2013, 42 at the end of 2012 and 39 at the end of 2011.
3. According to the Statutes, the Executive Committee is elected by the General Assembly. Article 10 states: 10.1- The Executive Committee is composed of members elected by the General Assembly. The Executive Committee appoints its officers, to include at least a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary and a Treasurer. 10.2- The term of the Executive Committee is two years, renewable.
The 2012 GA having elected the Executive Committee, the 2014 General Assembly, according to the Statutes, is invited to elect the Executive Committee members.
It may also renew the decision it took in 2010 and in 2012 to task the EC with recruiting new members to its ranks if and when need be.
The composition of the EC was as follows in 2014:
Fermin Alcoba (ex-WTO)
Yves Beigbeder (ex-WHO)
Alejandro Bonilla Garcia (ex-ILO)
Alberto Campeas (ex-WTO)
Jacques Chabert (ex-WTO)
Magdi Elias (ex-UNHCR)
Jean Erhardt (ex-City of Geneva)
Virginia Humud Guerrero (ex-UNAIDS)
Sylvie Jacque (ex-UN)
René Kirszbaum (ex-ILO)
Catherine Mbengue (ex-UNICEF)
Alfons Noll (ex-ITU)
Paul Rolian (ex-WTO)
Jean-Claude Piers de Raveschoot (ex-ITC)
Christina Schröder (ex-WTO)
Per Sjögren (ex-UN)
Except for Jacques Chabert, the above members would agree, if elected by the General Assembly, to continue to serve on the Executive Committee.
4. Since December 2013, the Executive Committee has held 13 meetings. In addition, the EC established several working groups which met on specific issues such as cooperation with St Gallen University. The records for those meetings, as well as any other documents mentioned in this report, are available to members and may be consulted upon request.
The following officers of the Executive Committee carried out their functions during the whole or part of 2014:
René Kirszbaum, President
Catherine Mbengue, Vice-president
Christina Schröder, Treasurer
Paul Rolian, Secretary
Jean Claude Piers, Assistant Secretary
5. Since the annual report circulated for the General Assembly in November 2013, Greycells has been active in developing new contacts and in carrying out several projects. Among those, emphasis should be placed on the following:
Greycells carried out, for the second year, a seminar at the Masters level as part of the programme: ”International Affairs and Governance”, at the University of St. Gallen. In 2014 the seminar comprised three sessions of eight hours. Topics covered were: working in an international organisation- diversity, recruitment, careers, the rôle of the legal advisor of an I.O., privileges and immunities, personal experiences, the challenges being faced, with emphasis on human and development rights. One session was devoted to work in the field, emergency situations, and humanitarian activities. The last session related to applying for work in an IGO, and was supplemented by practical exercises. All the sessions were delivered by Greycells members.
The Professors in charge of the programme at the University of St. Gallen are coming to Geneva on 28 November 2014 to share with Greycells the evaluation of the seminar based on the views of the students. This important meeting should also provide guidance for the preparation of the Greycells inputs in the 2015 seminar. All Greycells members have been invited to put forward suggestions of topics, issues or problems to be considered for inclusion in the 2015 programme. As in the previous two years, it is intended to highlight the culture of the different organisations, the differences among them, the challenges they face, and the lessons learned from our experiences. This will relate to work at headquarters, in the field, how to get into an organisation, and how to build a career: what needs to be kept in mind in practical terms. However, there is surely room for new subjects, new ideas and proposals to present. Among those put forward to date are, for example,: the Ebola epidemic, the role of WHO and the criticisms it has engendered, as well as to look at the post-2015 Agenda for Development, the discussions surrounding the preparations for it, to define the national and international policies that can lead to improving results in the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG); consideration may also be given to the role of ethics in I.Os., and the role of the Secretariat in governmental meeting and conferences of I.Os. There may be several others.
Greycells also cooperates with UNI-EMPLOI – UNIGE (University of Geneva). Two courses were delivered, in March and October, on Working in International Organizations. These were attended by 25 students at Bachelor and Masters levels. The overall evaluation carried out by the students gave an excellent mark, emphasizing they were highly appreciative of the interactivity and practice sessions. Still with UNIGE, two members of Greycells participated in their mentoring programme, the purpose of which it is to share our experience for successful integration within the IGOs, review career plans and assist in creating a professional network.
A member of Greycells was invited to chair two side events in connection with the Human Rights Council, one on autism acceptance and one on inter-generational solidarity.
6. Greycells continues to maintain very good relations with the Centre d’Accueil de la Genève International (CAGI) and its Service Accueil Délégués. On several occasions, Greycells provided translation assistance; as an example, Greycells is at the moment translating into Spanish a practical guide on the Human Rights Council, which the Service Accueil Délégués wants to make available to NGO delegates coming to attend the HR Council. Greycells also enjoys a good relationship and cooperates with the Swiss Permanent Mission in Geneva. For instance, Greycells found an appropriate interpreter at the request of the Mission and responded positively when asked to help in the installation of the Permanent Mission of Fiji in Geneva.
7. Activities for members is one of the recurring topics dealt with by the EC. Two examples are worth mentioning in this respect. Firstly, Greycells receives invitations to and information about quite interesting activities organized in particular by the UNOG Library and by The Graduate Institute. The EC regularly keeps all Greycells members informed about these, enabling them to participate if they so wish. Secondly, the EC secured agreement to have Greycells members invited recently to attend a rehearsal of the UN Orchestra. More than twenty members attended and described it as a most delightful experience.
8. Other recurring topics dealt with by the EC include recruitment strategy, courses and lectures, and technical cooperation.
In connection with recruitment, an article was published in the AFICS bulletin to encourage retirees to join Greycells. The EC also arranged to be invited and to deliver presentations to pre-retirement seminars in some organisations in Geneva. Individual personal contacts have proven to be most effective in having new members join Greycells, and in particular among young retirees.
The capacity of Greycells to transfer knowledge and experience of international organisations through courses, lectures and presentations to educational institutions is becoming more and more recognized. In this respect, the EC is at present negotiating a programme with Webster University. Contacts are also being made with IDHEAP and HEC in Lausanne and with the European University Business School.
9. In a related area, Greycells has been cooperating with a student association called “Geneva International Model United Nations (GIMUN)”. On the occasion of the 69th Anniversary of the U.N. Charter the GIMUN organized, at the Palais des Nations, a well attended meeting on the topic of “Human Security : trajectories and upcoming obstacles in addressing global vulnerabilities” . One of the main speakers at this meeting was a Greycells member who spoke on “Security, a social protection floor”. His presentation elicited much interest and reinforced the name recognition of our organisation.
10. Technical cooperation is an area which Greycells has as part of its mandate ever since it was established. In this respect Greycells is cooperating with NORLHA, an NGO bringing assistance to Himalayan populations. Our help was also offered to a Tanzanian NGO to set up a fellowship system for students from poor households in rural villages.
As mentioned last year, the Swiss Départment Fédéral des Affaires Etrangères (DFAE) has agreed to give financial support to a pilot project aimed at helping permanent Missions of LDCs in Geneva to manage the documentation from International Organisations. Permanent missions of LDCs have great difficulty coping with the mass of documentation from the organisations. The pilot project is led by a team of Greycells members, and countries enrolled include Central African Republic, Ethiopia and Fiji. It comprises four main phases: first, an analysis of the priorities of the Missions in terms of IGOs, the documents received and how they are managed, the physical and computer means available; second, a coaching programme related to priority organisations of the Mission; third, the provision of IGO meeting schedules and; fourth, the development and setting up of an appropriate but simple electronic filing system of IGOs’ documents, to access and retrieve them easily and rapidly.
11. Last but not least, the Greycells reception organised in February to which all members were invited. This was also an opportunity to meet up with many of the people with whom we work, or wish to work, and with those we rely on and who help us on a regular basis. The reception was well attended and generated many positive comments.
12. This is a summary description, by no means exhaustive, of EC activities. One of its main concerns throughout the year has been to encourage all members of Greycells not only to participate in them but also to initiate several of them. This remains true for the future.
The EC is counting on as many Greycells members as possible to attend the General Assembly.
The Executive Committee
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