UN terminates tech chief after sexual harassment claims
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has terminated the U.N. employment of his undersecretary-general on technology after a yearlong investigation following allegations of sexual harassment, the United Nations announced Wednesday.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said he could provide no other information about the investigation and reasons for Fabrizio Hochschild's termination because “the accountability process is confidential.” According to U.N. officials speaking anonymously because the allegations have not been made public, complaints were initially filed in early January 2021 by three women who worked with Hochschild in recent jobs, including coordinating preparations for the commemoration of the United Nations' 75th anniversary.
The officials said dozens of other complaints against Hochschild were filed afterward, including allegations of bullying and abuse of power.
Guterres said in late January 2021 he only learned of the initial allegations of sexual harassment four days after the announcement that he had appointed Hochschild, a veteran Chilean U.N. official, as the first U.N. envoy for technology at the level of undersecretary-general. According to U.N. officials, the allegations by the three women were known weeks earlier.
A graduate of Oxford University, Hochschild began his U.N. career in 1988 working for the U.N. refugee agency in Sudan. He also held U.N. posts in the Central African Republic, Colombia and Geneva and served as assistant secretary-general for strategic coordination in Guterres' office before taking on the 75th anniversary commemoration, which was limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hochschild had been placed on administrative leave in January 2021 and Dujarric said Wednesday that his leave has ended “and he has been separated from the service of the organization.” He said the position of undersecretary-general for technology has been posted by the United Nations.
Asked whether any lessons had been learned from the case, which reportedly focused more on bullying and the way subordinates were treated, Dujarric said “the secretary-general places civility in extremely high level within his office and within the organization, and he has made that clear to everyone who works for him.”
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