FAO 'abolishing paid internships'

GENEVA -- The FAO director general and management are planning to abolish the living allowance for the UN agency's interns, according to the Fair Internship Initiative, an advocacy group based in Geneva, New York and Vienna fighting for fair and equal access to UN internships.

 “Interns groups such as the members of the Global Intern Coalition are extremely concerned about this negative development, since -- as widely documented in the most recent UN internships report -- unpaid internships foster both geographic and socio-economic inequalities,” the Fair Internship Initative said in a statement.

 “FAO has so far been a positive example in the UN system, providing a small stipend to interns in order to favor participation in the programme by youngsters from developing countries and from lower income families. The sudden and unjustified decision to halt this practice, in contrast to the wider UN trend (UNICEF has started paying interns as of 2017, UNHCR will do so as of June this year), will foster elitism and inequality in the organization.”

 The FII added that “as an organization that strives for diversity, equal opportunities and non-discrimination, we find such move extremely hypocritical and at odds with the principles of the Sustainable Development Agenda (SDG 10 and 8 in particular), which should inspire FAO's management practices, especially vis a vis more vulnerable and disadvantaged young people.”

 The Global Intern Coalition already sent to FAO the attached letter, to which it received only a dismissive answer, the FII said.