UN’s top technology official fired after harassment probe concludes


The United Nations has announced the dismissal of Fabrizio Hochschild, the UN chief’s undersecretary-general for technology, a year after he was put on paid leave pending an internal investigation into accusations of abuse of authority and harassment.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said he could provide no other information about the investigation by the UN’s internal watchdog, the Office of Internal Oversight Services, or the reasons for Hochschild’s termination because “the accountability process is confidential”.

“The UN’s own internal accountability process concerning Mr. Hochschild has been completed. He has been informed of the outcome. He is no longer employed by the UN,” Dujarric told reporters on Wednesday.

Just days before he was placed on administrative leave in January 2021, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had named Mr. Hochschild of Chile as his technology envoy to enlist global support for digital cooperation.

In the two months prior to Mr. Hochschild’s appointment, three women had filed complaints with the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services accusing Mr. Hochschild of abuse of authority and harassment in 2019 and 2020, three sources told Reuters.

In a post on Twitter on Wednesday, Mr. Hochschild said he is considering seeking an independent review at the UN Dispute Tribunal because “multiple factors undermined my most basic due process rights.”

He also said: “My eagerness to deliver led some to see me as an overbearing and over-demanding supervisor, for which I apologise.”

The complaints against Mr. Hochschild accused him of creating a toxic work environment through bullying, aggressive outbursts, inappropriate remarks and phone calls and messages at all hours, the three sources told Reuters last year.

From April 2019, Mr. Hochschild was Mr. Guterres’ special adviser on preparations for the 75th UN anniversary.

Prior to that he spent two years as Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination in Mr. Guterres’ Executive Office. (Source: The Straits Times)