We want all voices at the table: UN Moldova makes diversity a priority

BY Claude Cahn | October 30, 2015|Comments 1

Moldova may be ahead of the curve when it comes to creating a diversity-friendly UN. Up for review are hiring practices, procurement, public communications and making UN facilities more accessible.
Diversity begins at home

Staff representation is important for reasons of intrinsic justice and fairness. It will also bring diverse perspectives and experiences to our development work – we want all voices at the table. It will also improve how we communicate UN values to the public. We want to be visibly out ahead in promoting and deepening the celebration of diversity in Moldova.

A task force and three commitments

The story starts in 2010, when the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in Moldova began to give serious attention to its own diversity issues. We established a Diversity Initiative Task Force (DITF) to examine hiring and management because we want UN staffing to more closely reflect the diversity of Moldova’s population.  And we made three clear commitments:

  1. We resolved to redouble our efforts to hire persons from groups not sufficiently (or not at all) represented on our teams. Meriting particular attention were persons with disabilities, Roma, and persons from underrepresented regions, in particular Transnistria;
  1. We decided to conduct a mapping exercise to establish a baseline from which to measure improvements;
  1. We started diversity training for staff of the United Nations in Moldova.

Here’s what we did next:

  • Adopt common wording for terms-of-reference documents and public announcements, to encourage persons from marginalized or stigmatized groups to apply for opportunities at UN Moldova;
  • Place public calls for employment in minority-language media;
  • Provide training in this area for UN staff (with seminars in 2012, 2014 and 2015);
  • Carry out an internal survey of diversity issues at the UN in Moldova, discovering that UN staff believe they are diversity-sensitive UN staff and welcome further attention to these issues, though in fact UN Moldova is not particularly diverse;
  • Renovate the UN House ground floor, to render it accessible, using ad hoc contributions from a number of UN agencies (2014).

Picking up speed in 2015

This year we are working with our first serious funding for our efforts, thanks to support from UN DOCO. The majority of funds are for continuing the renovation of UN common premises. It is our commitment that, by the end of 2015, all floors of UN House will be accessible to persons with disabilities. We also intend to make serious progress with the other UN premises.

In addition to renovations, we are committed to taking a number of actions in 2015:

  • Conduct a thorough assessment and improvement of the accessibility of UN communications, including rendering our website accessible (here are some tips for making your website disability-friendly);
  • Review contracting and public procurement and other administrative procedures, to strengthen human rights, gender equality and diversity commitments; and
  • Carry out a second UN diversity survey to see what has changed since 2012.

Our work in this area is far from finished and our 2015 agenda as we have designed it is intense. We do this work happily, with a view to joining in common cause with Government, civil society, religious and belief groups, minority communities and the private sector to move forward Moldova’s human rights-based development.


Claude Cahn Claude was Human Rights Adviser at OHCHR in Moldova from April 2009 to August 2015. Follow UN Moldova on Twitter.


  1. Kanni Wignaraja says:

    This is indeed inspiring to see and a ‘live’ demonstration for other UN locations, communications and team activities around the world. Kanni

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