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UN Internet Fiasco Excludes Low-Bandwidth Young Professional Applicants

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 20, updated -- As recently appointed UN officials and envoys have gotten older and older, the UN's Young Professionals Program which recruits people under 32 years old ostensibly fairly worldwide is viewed a one solution.

  But Inner City Press has received complaints that due to UN Office of Human Resources Management computer problems with its INSPIRA system, deadlines for applications had to be extended -- and then were NOT extended, disproportionately excluding applicants from countries with low Internet bandwidth.

The UN has an office of Information and Communications Technology, and is considering replacing its former chief Choi with Rudy Sanchez or a deputy controller, sources tell Inner City Press.

  Sanchez has headed UN Peacekeeping's computer system, including a large and reportedly under- and mis-used program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the MONUSCO mission which top UN peacekeeper Herve Ladsous refuses to answer Press questions about.

   But OHRM, apparently to keep a pool of money all for itself, decided to (unsuccessfully) administer this Young Professionals Program application cycle itself -- for some reason, from Bangkok.

  After granting extensions, when it should have granted another one due to difficulties of uploading into the system, suddenly no extension was granted.

   This is bad form for the UN, even worse when one considers which countries are now disproportionately excluded.

From the UN's September 20, 2012 transcript:

Inner City Press: This is not a political question, it’s more of an Internet question. There is the Young Professionals Programme that’s run by OHRM [Office for Human Resources Management] and the Inspira system and there were, at least I have heard of a number of complaints by people that the deadline for application was extended because the computer system wasn’t taking any applications, but in the final analysis, it wasn’t extended any further, and there seems to be a concern that this left people, particularly in countries with low bandwidth, unable to submit their applications. And I wanted to know, I don’t expect you necessarily to have it with you, but if there is a response from the UN system to what were the problems with accepting the applications and especially what do they make of this criticism that people in the countries where they don’t have broadband, as some others might, couldn’t apply equally to work for the UN?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, first of all, I am aware, as I think many people in the UN system are, that there was a difficulty with Inspira recently that was tackled and addressed. There was an extension of deadlines; I am also aware of that. I would need to check with our human resources colleagues how widely that extended deadline applied and what provision, if any, has been made for those who might have had difficulties because of low bandwidth or because of the technical problems that I just mentioned. But let me check.

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