Report on the 80th General Assembly of AAFI-AFICS

Report on the 80th General Assembly of AAFI-AFICS

Category : Message69

(Association des anciens fonctionnaires internationaux/Association of Former International Civil Servants)

On Tuesday 21 June 2022, after a three-year hiatus, AAFI-AFICS held its 80th General Assembly at the Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG).

The Former Officials Section is a member of the AAFI-AFICS Committee through its status as a “sister association”.

Participation in AAFI-AFICS meetings is of interest for several reasons. It allows us to keep in touch with the associations of former officials of other international organizations in Geneva, keep ourselves informed about their activities and familiarize ourselves with the role of the umbrella organization, FAFICS (Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants).

Focusing on the activity report, without going into every agenda item, we should highlight an interesting presentation (especially as a comparison with our own SHIF) on the functioning of the health fund of UN Geneva, UNSMIS (United Nations Staff Mutual Insurance Society). After many years of struggle, AAFI-AFICS succeeded in getting the Executive Committee of this fund to agree that a representative of retired members, who previously had the status of observer, could now sit with full voting rights. This is clear progress, but as if to show that nothing is perfect in the best of all possible worlds, the member in question is chosen by co-option, unlike in the SHIF, where for many years there have been six members, either active or retired, who are ELECTED. We also learned that after a few years as members of the Cigna private fund – whose reputation needs no comment from us – insured staff at the ITU (having quit the SHIF a decade or so ago) noticed the exponential growth in their insurance premiums and the limits on the benefits received and decided to join the rather more solidarity-based and mutual UNSMIS fund. This is good news and brings things full circle.

At this session, in addition to the regular agenda items, participants were able to attend a presentation by representatives of the UNJSPF. An update was provided on the progress of computerization and facial recognition enabling the annual DCE (Digital Certificate of Entitlement) to be introduced alongside the existing system of submission by post or via the internet (Member Self-Service). The DCE app has so far been downloaded by about 11,000 retired staff out of a total of 60,000. To facilitate access, measures to simplify the process are under way: step-by-step videos are available in English and French on the UNJSPF website. For those who do not like the automated approach, the original paper-based system is still available.

Another point of clarification, intended to be reassuring, was also offered by the UNJSPF representatives concerning the controversy last spring (2022) over the possible outsourcing of part of the investment portfolio and the petition circulated against it. This is a thorny issue on which not all current or former staff associations and unions necessarily agree with their elected representatives on the Joint Staff Pension Board: some justify the need for external expertise lacking within the Fund, while others warn of the risk of opaque investments attracting the voracious wolves of finance. As for the Board itself, following its recent reform, it met for the first time in April 2022 and will have its plenary meeting, as usual, this summer. We will follow its developments and decisions closely.

Aperitifs in hand, the meeting ended on a festive and musical note, much appreciated by participants starved of opportunities to get together for the past three years.

Catherine Comte Tiberghien, 28 June 2022