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UN fires tech envoy after probe into harassment claims

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The United Nations said Wednesday it had fired Fabrizio Hochschild, its first-ever technology envoy, after concluding an investigation into allegations of harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination against him.

“I can now confirm that the U.N.’s own internal accountability process concerning Mr. Hochschild has been completed … Mr. Hochschild’s placement on administrative leave has ended and he has been separated from service of the U.N,” the spokesperson said.

POLITICO reported in May that Chilean diplomat Hochschild — who’d been named the U.N.’s envoy on technology last January — was facing an investigation brought by current and former staffers. He was placed on leave five days after being appointed to one of the highest-ranking roles at the U.N. by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.

Hochschild has denied the allegations. He confirmed on social media Wednesday that his more than 30 years of service to the U.N. had ended.

“My eagerness to deliver led some to see me as an overbearing and over-demanding supervisor, for which I apologize,” Hochschild tweeted.

“Multiple factors undermined my most basic due process rights. I am therefore considering seeking an independent review at the UN Dispute Tribunal [sic],” he continued.

In the same tweet, he called media reports of sexual harassment and financial misconduct “false and defamatory.”

The U.N. spokesperson underscored ongoing efforts to combat harassment.

“The secretary‑general made it clear from the beginning that he would not stand for any sexual abuse [or] sexual harassment … He added to the tools that we have, including adding and hiring investigators who would specialize in sexual abuse and sexual harassment. He added a hotline. This is an ongoing process in any and every organization that we know of,” the spokesperson said.

The U.N. had already launched a search for a new technology envoy, with applications set to close this Thursday.

Guterres is under pressure from major potential funders such as the European Union to find a suitable replacement. To score “significant” EU funding, the new technology envoy would have to fit the EU’s criteria, according to one EU official.

According to a European diplomat, the Nordic countries have jointly nominated Finnish Member of the European Parliament Miapetra Kumpula-Natri for the role. Estonia has nominated its former minister of foreign affairs and current MEP Marina Kaljurand. There is also an Italian candidate.

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