The First-Ever UN Tech Envoy Fired After Harassment Probe

The United Nations spokesperson informed on Wednesday that the international body has fired its first-ever technology envoy, Fabrizio Hochschild, after completing an internal accountability process concerning allegations of harassment, abuse of authority, and discrimination against him.

The Chilean veteran diplomat Hochschild was placed on administrative leave in January 2021, just five days after being appointed to one of the highest-ranking roles at the UN – technology envoy to enlist global support for digital cooperation – by UN Secretary-General António Guterres when the internal investigation into accusations of abuse of authority and harassment was initiated.

It turned out that three women had filed complaints with the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services in the two months prior to Hochschild’s appointment, accusing him of abuse of authority and harassment in 2019 and 2020.

According to three sources cited in the media, Hochschild was accused of creating a toxic work environment through aggressive outbursts, bullying, harrasment, inappropriate remarks, and phone calls and messages at all hours.

Hochschild, who confirmed on social media Wednesday that his more than three decades of service to the UN had ended, has denied the allegations, calling the reports of sexual harassment and financial misconduct published in the media false and defamatory.

He also tweeted that since multiple factors undermined his most basic due process rights, he’s considering seeking an independent review at the UN Dispute Tribunal.

Meanwhile, the UN has already started looking for a new technology envoy – with applications set to close Thursday – with Guterres being under intense pressure from major potential funders to find a suitable replacement.

Due to the “significant” EU funding, the bloc insists that the new envoy fits its criteria.

The Finnish MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natriwas jointly nominated for the role by the Nordic countries, but there are also two more European candidates: one Italian and the Estonian former minister of foreign affairs and current MEP Marina Kaljurand.

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