The UNDP, being an extension of the United Nations that eveyone knows is the world’s peace-keeper and guardian of human rights, has been viewed with deep respect here in the Philippines. But grossed out was I when I received an email about a Filipino civil society statement being passed around to generate support for calling on the higher UN officials to act favorably on the case the UNDP Resident Representative herself–Ms. Nileema Noble.
Part of the statement reads:
Ms. Nileema Noble has been the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Philippines for more than a year. We are aware that numerous staff under her, whether temporary or fixed term, have complained and filed cases detailing verbal and physical abuse and arbitrary termination of employment contracts. We are appalled that numerous incidents involving Ms. Noble establish a pattern of systematic abuse of authority and downright harassment.
The UN has set historic precedents in human rights observance over the past decades. Ironically now, the human rights and dignity of UN staff in the Philippines are being trampled. We cannot stand idly by.
We are further alarmed that Ms. Noble’s arbitrariness extends to external partnerships. She unilaterally invalidates existing contractual arrangements between the UNDP and government/academic institutions. Many affected agencies, through sundry statements and letters, have expressed deep concern and disappointment over these actions, citing the lack of consultation, mutual respect and professionalism.
I was even struck by the blow-by-blow account by a friend who worked for a high position in the Philippine office but was meted with inhumane treatment by the Representative. It turned that he was not the only victim of the Representative’s discrimination, abuse of authority and harassment.
Painful truth to tell, 13 Filipino staff took a brazen stance and on July 23 wrote Mr. Kermal Dervis, UN Administrator, about the matter, to the point of asking him to take appropriate actions against Ms. Noble. However, it’s over a month now but sadly the official apparently sat on the complaint. I wonder how the authors manage to work in the office while Ms. Noble must be seething in anger, troubling them even further, unscathed. (Perhaps, each of them has already resigned.)
When the statement reached me, the signatories already totaled 33. I affixed my name, making me 34th. Although, I’m sure that there are much more who would have signed it. If you are interested to sign, please let me know and you’ll immediately be emailed.
The moral lesson here is that one should at least give her parents a big favor by living up to the name given her by them. Besides, can you take telling the world that your name is say Noble when in reality you are its contrast?