On 24 February 2016, the Director-General met with the College of Mediators composed of Mr Georges Kutukdjian from Lebanon (Dean), Mr Colin Nicholls from Barbados, Ms Eva Sankalé from Senegal and Ms Mania Yannarakis from Greece. The purpose of the meeting was to exchange views on the current status of the mediation function, which is to provide a channel for dialogue and conciliation between staff members, or between staff members and the administration, seeking solutions to the problems submitted to them by staff members or by management, and bringing them to the attention of the Director-General.
The Mediators underscored the improved atmosphere following the difficult period which UNESCO staff had been confronted with over the last few years, resulting from the financial constraints and uncertainties faced by the Organization. They stressed the opportunities that the redeployment and the reform had brought to the Organization combined with the new positive impetus brought by the adoption of the UN 2030 Global Agenda for Sustainable Development from the perspective of the increased relevance of UNESCO in tackling today’s world challenges in the areas of education, the sciences, social transformations, youth engagement, cultural diversity and freedom of expression.
They expressed their wish to further strengthen constructive dialogue with the Director-General and to contribute to the ongoing reform as key partners in providing enhanced spaces of dialogue between staff across the Organization thereby enhancing communication and well-being.
The Director-General commended the Mediators for their strong commitment to the Organization and on their important role in trying to seek solutions to the problems submitted to them from staff so as to improve working relations across the Organization by their efforts to promote dialogue and interaction between staff thereby contributing to creating an environment conducive to enhanced communication on matters that are highly relevant to the staff well-being and professional career.
The Mediators also felt the need to provide greater assistance to individual staff members and to managers, including by clarifying responsibilities with regard to the respective role and responsibility of the mediation function as being uniquely placed to serve staff members in counselling and by offering a number of available resources to address their specific concerns.
In concluding, the Director-General welcomed the frank and open exchange with the Mediators, encouraging them to communicate more widely about the mediation function, including through the UNESCOMMUNITY web space, thereby establishing more regular and direct communication with staff, both at Headquarters and across UNESCO Field Offices.