Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


Staff Town Hall Meeting

10 February 2020


Dear colleagues,

It gives me great pleasure to be with you today.

It has been exactly a week since I joined UNOV and UNODC.

I feel honoured and privileged to be back in the UN system. I have been a staff member myself in UNDP, back in my country Egypt.

While at UNDP, I have served the most vulnerable people on national and regional projects. Not only was I a staff member, but I also chaired the staff association for four years.

Then I left the UN to serve in government as Minister of Social Solidarity in my country for six years.

Throughout my career I have learned that the power of an organization stems from the power of its staff, and its competence is but a reflection of the competencies of the staff.

So I come back to the UN with a great deal of excitement and an enormous sense of pride, to join you and be one of the staff of UNOV and UNODC.

I am grateful to Mr. Yury Fedotov for his leadership of this Office, and for the results and achievements over the past years that we will build on take forward.

In my work in Egypt, I chaired the anti-drug fund and the criminology research centre, and I was a member of the Supreme Council to combat terrorism.

So I join UNODC knowing very well the nature of these challenges, and how crime, corruption, drugs and terrorism are interlinked, and are a real threat to the SDGs.

I come with many ideas but with no illusions. I understand the global complexities we face and the internal challenges facing the UN itself and UNOV/UNODC.

But I am very hopeful that working together with all of you we will make a difference.

Last week, I have met with the representatives of many Member States. They all expressed commitment to support UNOV and UNODC. They all expressed respect for your work and acknowledge the unique mandate and niche UNODC enjoys.

I promised them, that with your hard work, and with Member States' support and commitment, we would generate lasting improvements to people's lives, and that we will play an even greater role in tearing down barriers to achieving the SDGs, and towards contributing to international peace and security, and protecting human rights.

I have also met with Stefan Brezina, the President of the Staff Council. I agreed with him that we would meet regularly, once a month, to address all staff issues and concerns. This is a commitment that I make to work closely with the Staff Council.

I know that a stronger, more efficient organization has, as its backbone, staff who are satisfied and content; staff who are well trained, who feel stable in their jobs, and who work in an environment of trust, respect and transparency, and a culture of civility and inclusion for all.

I heard we have challenges relating to organizational culture. We will address them firmly and responsibly, and we have ample institutional tools for that.

I have always, and throughout my 30-year career, had zero tolerance for harassment, abuse of power and disrespect.

I encourage you to come forward, raise your concerns, making use of the institutional tools and formal channels, so that together we develop a healthy work environment that emphasizes gender parity, geographical representation and a strong focus on integrity and excellence.

Our devotion to excellence must also encompass work-life balance and opportunities for development and training, to sharpen our skills and capacities so that we can be the 21st century UN that people need.

To our colleagues in the field offices,

I cannot underscore enough the importance of your work. We count on you. I expect you to deliver effectively and with great integrity, and from our side here in HQ, I will analyse, with my colleagues in the divisions, the bottlenecks and challenges.

I look forward to meeting many of you at the upcoming CND, but this is not enough. I hope to organize quarterly meetings, using VTC, to listen to your issues, and to meet all regional and country offices.

The safety and security of all colleagues in the field is very high on my agenda and I will raise the issue when I am in New York next week. I will also ensure adequate inter-agency coordination is in place, so that this reflects positively on your work in the field.

All resident representatives should lead with the highest level of integrity and accountability. I expect from them the highest standards and commitment to the values and principles of the UN.

I am travelling to New York next week to meet with the Secretary-General and the colleagues based there, and to take the oath.

I will take pride in highlighting the importance of UNOV and UNODC's contributions. And I intend to ask for more support for our Office.

I will also discuss in depth issues pertaining to UN reform and our role in support of the SG's reform agenda, as well as our ideas for the Decade of Action. I will reiterate our collective commitment and engagement.

When I come back, we will all be busy preparing for the 63rd CND session. Both UNOV and UNODC will be working together to support Member States to tackle the world drug problem.

Then we will have the Kyoto Crime Congress, a key milestone in strengthening crime prevention, and its results will lead to the session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in May.

We will work very hard to live up to the expectations of our Member States, and I count on your dedication. But, at the same time, I call on all managers to continue to respect and promote work-life balance and staff well-being.

And while we are delivering on current commitments and plans, we will be seeking expansion and extension of our work with national governments, with NGOs, and with other UN organizations. This was my commitment to all Member States last week.

This past week, I also had the honour to meet with the President of Austria and the Mayor of Vienna. We discussed the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the UN, and the celebration of 65 years of Austria joining the UN.

We agreed that this is a great opportunity to promote the values of the UN, to shed light on the important work you are doing, and to showcase the role of UNOV and UNODC in Vienna, and around the world, demonstrating our impact and our strengths.

This will need a stronger communication and advocacy strategy, to make our voice heard and our impact felt.

On this and all other topics discussed, I wish to hear your views and ideas. I would like to carefully listen to your aspirations, your opinions and your suggestions in the coming period.

In order to make sure that I can hear from staff both in Vienna and in the field, I am opening a channel of communication to gather ideas and concrete suggestions on concrete topics that we can deliver on, together. I will be in touch with more information during the course of the week.   

I look forward to working with all of you.