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UN staff demand ouster of controversial WIPO boss Francis Gurry

Protest arrives over alleged mistreatment of whistleblowers and bad management relations

United Nations staff are demonstrating in Geneva this afternoon to demand the ousting of Francis Gurry, the controversial boss of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

The collective action of staff associations in calling for the removal of a UN agency head is certainly irregular, but Gurry's reign at WIPO has been peppered by irregularities.

The director general has been embroiled in controversy ever since he sacked the previous head of WIPO's staff council, Moncef Kateb, after Kateb blew the whistle on the bizarre behaviour of the patent boss and his transfer of computer equipment to Iran and North Korea in apparent breach of UN Security Council sanctions.

Subsequently, Gurry attempted to cement his hold on the UN's global IP group by getting rid of its staff council. The civil servants' trade union FICSA condemned the move, and in a message to members today explained how it "convened a very fruitful round table" in December with its CCISUA colleagues to discuss the shambles at WIPO.

They discussed the results of an OIOS investigation report, obtained by The Register, which investigated allegations of illegal activity and found Gurry had not behaved entirely properly.

Having considered the "retaliation against whistleblowers and the deteriorating staff-management relations at WIPO" FICSA accepted a recommendation to demonstrate in Geneva "to show solidarity with our WIPO colleagues and to call for the removal of the WIPO Director General".

In a statement, FICSA enumerated its complaints that:

  1. Approximately two years ago the WIPO DG fired the President of the WIPO Staff Council.
  2. On the same day the WIPO DG convoked the remaining members of the WIPO Staff Council to say that he had just fired their President and that he hoped the remaining Council members would now work with him. A threat?
  3. As the remaining Council members refused to be bullied, threatened and intimidated, the WIPO DG is now organizing elections of his own staff council to replace the duly-elected WIPO Staff Council.

Its members are gathering this afternoon at the sculpture of the Broken Chair on the Place des Nations, Geneva, to demonstrate and call for Gurry's removal as director general of WIPO. ®

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