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SHIF Centenary and reception for retired staff: 8 December 2022

Category : News

The afternoon of 8 December 2022 was marked by two notable events at the ILO: the SHIF Centenary and the reception for retired staff, the first since December 2019 due to the COVID pandemic.

One hundred years of the SHIF

The Centenary General Meeting of the Staff Health Insurance Fund (SHIF) took place in the temporary ILO Governing Body room at the Geneva headquarters. Both active and retired staff from the Geneva region were invited to participate in person, with the possibility of also participating online. The meeting was chaired by Tilmann Geckeler, President of the SHIF Management Committee, representing the administration. He spoke several times throughout the meeting, notably recalling his personal involvement in the governance of the SHIF for over 20 years. He particularly thanked SHIF staff, who were all in the room, for their daily work in reimbursing healthcare expenses and their availability to the members of the Fund.

 SHIF News

Scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m., the meeting was divided into two parts: the first was devoted to SHIF news and the results of the satisfaction survey conducted in 2022, and the second was devoted to the Centenary. In his presentation, Florian Léger, SHIF Executive Secretary, mentioned some of the new features introduced, including a new SHIF membership certificate that can be downloaded from the Fund’s website, and a new insurance card. A call centre is being set up to respond to telephone requests for information. He noted that 80 per cent of claims are received electronically (via; some 1,000 out of a total of 2,500 retired staff members now use it. Amendments concerning governance have been made to the Regulations and Administrative Rules, primarily around anti-fraud issues; a 24/7 telemedicine service is expected to be available in 2023. The 2020 and 2021 SHIF annual activity reports are now available in electronic format on the Fund’s website.

Concerning the satisfaction survey, about 1.000 responses were received: 84 per cent of respondents were globally satisfied with SHIF services but 76 per cent bemoaned long delays in reimbursement. In the discussion that followed, mention was made of the SHIF’s basis in solidarity, the number of claims submitted via SHIF Online (10 per cent of which may be rejected in the first instance), the proportion of supplementary/complementary reimbursements, representing about 2 per cent of the total, and the publication in hard copy form of annual accounts in particular.

SHIF Centenary celebration

The SHIF Centenary celebration began with a video message from Gilbert F. Houngbo, Director General of the ILO, absent due to his participation in the Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting. He spoke of the importance of the Fund in protecting the health of staff and thanked the SHIF team for their work.  Dorothea Hoehtker of the ILO Research Department presented the results of her work recounting the history of the 100 years of mutual health insurance in the ILO. The initiative came from the ILO Staff Committee in December 1922 following the Spanish flu crisis.

Initially limited to certain individuals, protection was embryonic but has evolved over the past 100 years, with coverage being extended to technical cooperation staff in the regions, as well as families and retired officials. The Fund has suffered financial crises related to exchange rates, temporary US withdrawals from the ILO, rising healthcare costs and episodes of solutions being sought outside the Organization. But it maintained its course thanks to political will and action by the staff.

The result of Dorothea’s research work is a publication entitled One hundred years of mutual health insurance (ILO, 2022), which is available on the websites of both the SHIF and the Former Officials Section. It can be obtained in hard copy upon request from the SHIF secretariat. Dorothea is to be congratulated for her work of history and memory. The Centenary session ended with a presentation by Adnan Chughtai, ILO Treasurer and Financial Comptroller, representing the Director General, as well as a speech by Catherine Comte-Tiberghien, insured persons’ representative. Each participant was given a copy of the new publication on their way out.

Photos Album :


The reception for retired staff

On 8 December 2022, ILO management had also invited retirees in the Geneva region to attend a reception. The event was organized by Luca Bormioli, Acting Director of HRD, and Fiona Periat, who has worked on organizing retired staff receptions for some years. No reception had been possible since December 2019 due to the COVID pandemic. More than 200 people were present this time. The joy and pleasure of seeing each other again was etched on most faces, and voiced over and over again by a succession of retired staff members. Participants in the Centenary General Meeting joined the reception, and it was an opportunity for direct contact with the staff of the SHIF, which has seen some turnover in recent years due to retirements. Photos of the reception are available on our website (

On behalf of Gilbert F. Houngbo, Adnan Chughtai greeted the participants and recalled the mission and objectives of the ILO, which have remained the same since its creation, especially social justice, which is the common denominator of the programmes of activity. The political, economic and social contexts have nevertheless changed over the years and the world is currently experiencing major crises. The ILO must take into account these new situations. The ILO Treasurer and Financial Comptroller mentioned the financial difficulties of many countries and the resulting need to manage them. New challenges must be met by the staff under the authority of the Director General and the guidance of the Governing Body.

Taking the floor after Adnan Chughtai, François Kientzler, Executive Secretary of the Former Officials Section, spoke about this important moment of reconnection. Referring to the SHIF Centenary session, he recalled that the SHIF Management Committee has been active since its origin in improving the Fund’s operations and benefits. The Fund has gone through turbulent times, including attempts to outsource. There are regular discussions within the United Nations on whether or not retirees should remain in the health insurance schemes of international organizations. However, their exclusion would leave many of them unprotected because a number of countries do not have health insurance schemes.

François Kientzler cited some other issues of concern, notably the difficulty that retirees have in accessing ILO offices in the regions. Retired staff should have the same opportunities and rights as those visiting headquarters in Geneva.  He recalled that Message is a magazine open to all and called on anyone who wishes to propose an article, whether a report on an event or a tribute to a former colleague who has passed away, not to hesitate to contact him. He also expressed the hope that information meetings can be held in the future and that the ILO Arts and Decoration Circle will be able to resume its annual exhibition.

In conclusion, he wished season’s greetings and a happy new year 2023 to all participants and their families.

Photos Album :


December 2022
Bureau of the Former Officials Section

SHIF: One hundred years of mutual health insurance

Category : News

Please download the PDF file produced by the SHIF for its centenary.

Photos Album :

Angela Merkel awarded in Geneva the Nansen Prize for 2022

Category : Message69

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel received the Nansen Prize from UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on 10th October 2022 in Geneva.

The Award is given to an individual, group or organization who has gone beyond the call of duty to protect refugees, internally displaced or Stateless people.

Angela Merkel was named winner of the prestigious Nansen Award, for offering a haven to over 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers fleeing violence at the height of the Syrian conflict, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said.

Each year, the 2022 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award – named after the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, scientist, diplomat and first High Commissioner for Refugees in the League of Nations, from 1920 to 1930, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922.

It is also 100 years since the creation of the Nansen passport, an identity document for refugees that enable holders to move across borders in search of work.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi lauded Ms. Merkel for displaying “great moral and political courage” in helping so many survive and rebuild their lives, who had been forced to flee brutal fighting at home.

In her acceptance speech, Ms. Merkel stressed that that she rejected the selfish instincts of some “with cold hearts”, who wanted Germany to be only for Germans.

“What is important is a future for the country to be self-confident and free”, a Germany which “is open to other human being [… and] can succeed if we do our best”, she said.

The former German Chancellor insisted that the accolade was “also an honour for all the people who have to grips with the tasks we faced.” “My thanks goes first and foremost to all those people”, she said.

Angela Merkel quoted Erich Kästner: “There is nothing good unless you do it.” At the time, many people in the cities and communities as well as many volunteers contributed to meeting the challenges. “From my point of view, this tribute is therefore addressed above all to the countless people who put their hand to the dough at the time, to whom we owe it to have mastered the situation, to have succeeded,” Merkel said.

For UNHCR, this distinction is above all that of “true leadership, appealing to our common humanity, firmly opposing those who preach fear and discrimination. In helping more than a million refugees survive and rebuild, Angela Merkel has shown great moral and political courage,” said Grandi. “Merkel has shown what can be achieved when politicians take the right course of action and strive to find solutions to the world’s challenges rather than simply blaming others,” Grandi added.

Ivan Elsmark
(UNHCR and Internet information)

Nobel Peace Prize for 2022

Category : Message69

The Nobel Peace Prize has this year been awarded to one individual and two to human rights advocates: Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian human rights organisation Memorial and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Centre for Civil Liberties organisations.

The Peace Prize laureates represent civil society in their home countries. For many years, they have promoted the right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens. They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy.  “The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honour three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence in the three neighbouring Belarusians, Russia and Ukraine,” said its president Berit Reiss-Andersen.

Ales Bialiatski was one of the initiators of the democracy movement that emerged in Belarus in the mid-1980s. He has devoted his life to promoting democracy and peaceful development in his home country. Among other things, he founded the organisation Viasna (spring) in 1996 in response to the controversial constitutional amendments that gave the president, dictatorial powers and that triggered widespread demonstrations. Viasna provided support for the jailed demonstrators and their families. In the years that followed, Viasna evolved into a broad-based human rights organisation that documented and protested against the authorities’ use of torture against political prisoners.

Government authorities have repeatedly sought to silence Ales Bialiatski. He was imprisoned from 2011 to 2014. He was again arrested, following large-scale demonstrations against the regime in 2020. He is still detained without trial. Despite tremendous personal hardship, Mr Bialiatski has not yielded an inch in his fight for human rights and democracy in Belarus.

The Centre for Civil Liberties was founded in Kyiv in 2007 for advancing human rights and democracy in Ukraine. The centre has taken a stand to strengthen Ukrainian civil society and pressure the authorities to make Ukraine a full-fledged democracy. To develop Ukraine into a state governed by rule of law, the Centre for Civil Liberties has actively advocated that Ukraine become affiliated with the International Criminal Court.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Centre for Civil Liberties has engaged in efforts to identify and document Russian war crimes against the Ukrainian civilian population. In collaboration with international partners, the centre is playing a pioneering role with a view to holding the guilty parties accountable for their crimes.

Human rights activists in the former Soviet Union who wanted to ensure that the victims of the communist regime’s oppression would never be forgotten established the human rights organisation Memorial in 1987. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov and human rights advocate Svetlana Gannushkina were among the founders. Memorial is based on the notion that confronting past crimes is essential in preventing new ones.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Memorial grew to become the largest human rights organisation in Russia. In addition to establishing a centre of documentation on victims of the Stalinist era, Memorial compiled and systematised information on political oppression and human rights violations in Russia. Memorial became the most authoritative source of information on political prisoners in Russian detention facilities. The organisation has also been standing at the forefront of efforts to combat militarism and promote human rights and government based on rule of law.

By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2022 to Ales Bialiatski, Memorial and the Centre for Civil Liberties, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honour three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy and peaceful co-existence in the neighbour countries Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Through their consistent efforts in favour of humanist values, anti-militarism and principles of law, this year’s laureates have revitalised and honoured Alfred Nobel’s vision of peace and fraternity between nations – a vision most needed in the world today.

Ivan Elsmark
(UNHCR and Internet sources)

List 2022 of former officials who died

Category : Message69

Personnes décédées: informations transmises par le BIT depuis janvier 2022

Le Bureau de la Section des Anciens adressent ses condoléances aux familles des personnes décédées, étant dans l’impossibilité d’envoyer des condoléances plus personnalisées.

Information communicated by the Office since January 2022

In memoriam: The Bureau of the Section of Former Officials of the ILO Staff Union extends its sincere condolences to the bereaved families of the colleagues whose names are listed below, as it is currently impossible to send more personalised condolences.

Mme AMO Mary Elizabeth 09.06.21
M. ANNONI Alberto 13.08.22
Mme AUBRY Suzanne 10.04.22
M. BAKRI Abdullahi 10.07.21
M. BASTARD Thierry G. 02.12.21
M. BONADEI Giovanni 08.10.22
Mme Vve BREDE Ilse 27.01.22
Mme BIGNENS Jacqueline 23.10.21
M. BRUNELLO Antonio 16.11.22
M. CHAPERON Claude 03.07.22
Mme CLARKE Barbara 10.01.22
Mme CRIBELLIER Denise 07.01.22
Mme CUVILLIER Rolande 09.06.22
Mme DAURAU Marguerite 26.12.21
M. DAVERIO Pierre 28.05.22
Mme DE BENEDETTI Agnès 22.02.22
Mme DOSSO Christiane 06.03.22
M. FALAIZE Robert 27.02.22
Mme FINKELSTEIN Caroline 16.07.22
Mme FLATEAU Mildred 15.11.22
M. FRICK Hans-Jürgen 11.07.22
M. FURTH Warren 30.06.22
M. GEMMET Yvon Sr. 01.03.22
Mme GUERTCHAKOFF Marianne 08.10.22
M. HABTE MARIAM Haile Michael 15.01.22
Mme HARTSHORN Judith 06.03.22
M. HOSSENMAMODE Hakim 09.02.20
Mme JENKS Jane 13.07.22
Mme JORDAN Margaret 29.06.22
M. KABELKA Vladimir 24.02.22
M. NARASIMHAN Krishnamurti 04.09.22
M. LESUEUR DE GIVRY Jean-Marie 05.04.22
M. MCDONALD Robert 02.07.22
Mme Vve MEYLAN Jeannine 23.01.22
Mme MITCHELL Monica Th. 27.05.22
Mme MONAT Mariana 17.10.22
Mme Vve PALLUD-GARIN Violette 18.05.22
Mme Vve PANT Bhagwati Devi 01.02.22
Mme Vve PUYSSEGUR Marie-Rose 21.09.22
M. QUINTER FERRO Carlos Arturo 07.06?22
M. RAM Balak 01.09.22
Mme RATAJSKI Charlotte 13.12.21
M. RICHARD KEITH Johanson 06.03.22
Mme RIVA Maria 25.12.21
M. RYS Vladimir 15.05.22
Mme ROSSI Christiane 08.04.22
Mme SHACKLADY Barbara Joan 24.11.22
M. SCHULZ Hans Dieter 01.02.22
M. SCHREGLE Johannes 27.04.22
Mme TAMISIER-CAZELAIS Suzanne 25.05.22
M. TCHAPTCHET Jean Martin 19.11.22
Mme THEVENOT Clorinda 20.02.22
Mme THOMPSON Joyce Mary 04.06.22
M. THUKRAL Tilak Raj 17.02.22
M. THULLEN George 17.08.22
Mme UMPLEBY Evelyne Cécile 03.08.22
Mme URIZAR Patricia 18.09.22
Mme VAN ZWEEDEN Cornelia 16.09.22
M. VITEK Jan 15.11.22
Mme WANNAZ Marie-L. 03.01.22
M. WEDER Gérald 04.02.22
M. ZHANG Jiawang 07.02.22
M. ZWAHLEN Gerald Marcel 19.10.22







Retirees’ reception, Thursday 8 December 2022

Category : Archives

Message from HR/POL:

Dear all,

After 2 years without being able to host this reception, HRD is happy to confirm that the next reception is planned on Thursday 8 December, from 17.00 to 19.30.  The invitation letter will be sent later this month.

Kind regards,

Fiona HR/POL

Tribute to Hélène Pour: EARLY RETIREMENT- More work or something new?

Category : Message69

Coping admirably with complications of a lung disease, Hélène Pour left us on 8 April 2022, shortly after her 81st birthday. Her final message was “Toujours à la recherche d’un monde meilleur” She insisted that there be no ceremony or speeches. In lieu of those formalities, this tribute presents a short recap of her ILO journey and nearly 30 years of her retirement.

Many of us wonder what retirees do after the ILO. Do they (or we) wander from the familiar path followed throughout a career? What particular goals motivate them (or us) to turn to new horizons? This is one story, certainly among many, and a simple way to say adieu to a dear friend and colleague.

Hélène joined the ILO in 1965 in the Press Department. She loved to write – and somehow managed to keep most of her work (philosophical and political musings and poetry) to herself, which we discovered after she died. But as a young official she quickly worked for UNION on the editorial board. Her articles were sprinkled throughout issues of UNION in the late1960s and the 1970s. Her interviews gave the staff insights into the backgrounds and personalities of new high level officials (Bertil Bolin and Albert Tevoedjre) and a personal exchange with David Morse on art in 1970. She organized a round table of “young professionals” to discuss their attitudes to and expectations of work in the ILO, and wrote a long summary (UNION no. 11 & 12). This summary intrigued Francis Blanchard, who later made it a point to seek out the work of young professionals. When equality of treatment and opportunity for women came to the fore in the 1980s, Hélène interviewed Antionette Beguin who had led a task force, which included SUC members, The Task Force recommendations had little impact for many years, but laid the basis for later progress.

On the professional front, Hélène was never far from information, education and communication (IEC). From writing extracts on vocational training and editing reports on management development, she moved to Workers’ Education with a UNFPA funded programme and later to the Employment Department. Developing and producing educational and communication materials on population issues, conducting training programmes in many countries in Asia and Africa and providing technical backstopping to IEC projects in Africa, she considered this work one of the highlights of her career. After a leave of absence for about 2 years with UNFPA /FAO programmes, she returned to the ILO’s Employment and Development Department in 1992. Shortly thereafter she took a gamble: early retirement with a huge cut in retirement benefits at the age of 52.

So what do young retirees do with their “free” time? Like many of her colleagues, for a number of years Hélène continued along the familiar path of IEC, focusing increasingly on communications as a consultant. The horizons widened and she turned to films, always on substantive issues. She produced, for example, the ILO film “Tremors” marking the ILO 75th anniversary. And then older stronger sirens called, linked to the arts, building and antiques. Delving into interior design and ecological questions, Hélène embarked on renovating properties with friends. The result was a lovely cottage in the Touraine (complete with a sculpture garden one summer), an unfinished flat and a large apartment in Thoiry. Along the way she pursued her passion for antiques and “brocante”, going to different fairs, setting up stands, buying and selling. Her last brocante was in Ferney Voltaire in October 2021. The arts took on a bigger role year after year. She would not miss the Avignon Theatre Festival, nor would she miss the annual photojournalism exhibit Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan.

While she never lost her interest in development cooperation and the Third World, she became increasingly indignant about the state of the world and the planet. She channeled some of her combative energy into the Cercle Condorcet-Voltaire du Pays de Gex in which she served as Vice-President and played a large role in identifying and inviting speakers on topical and challenging issues of the day. Indignant about social injustices, political oppression, human rights violations, racism, violence against women and environmental destruction, among others, Hélène also became more and more of an activist. She participated in every march and demonstration that her health would allow, and then some.

Leaving behind the status and decorum of an international civil servant, perhaps many retirees become more militant and speak out more freely. I am not sure this was a rationale for Hélène. But her acts spoke for themselves. It came as no surprise that her final message was “toujours à la recherché d’un monde meilleur”. And it should come as no surprise that she left the bulk of her wealth to a number of human rights, refugee and women’s and feminist organisations.

Sally Christine Cornwell
October 2022

ILO access for retirees – badges

Category : News

Message received from the INTSERV Secretariat:

Dear Retired Colleagues,

Following the announcement made by the DDG/MR through broadcast dated 15 September 2022 (document attached) the ILO Building is once again open for entry to ILO retirees,
To be able to access the ILO, retired officials must update their access badge.
To do so, it will be necessary to go to the Accreditation office to activate the access rights of their respective badges.
Accreditation office’s opening hours: 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. / 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Localization: Parking P1, R2-North.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Best regards.
INTSERV secretariat.