최근 '열정 페이' 논란의 중심에 선 유엔의 무급 인턴들이 반기문 사무총장에게 편지를 보내 문제 해결을 호소했다.
유엔 인턴과 젊은 직원들의 모임인 '공정하게 보상받는 양질의 인턴십 계획'(QFRII)은 지난주 반 총장에게 편지를 보내 "인턴은 경험뿐만 아니라 재정적, 비재정적으로 필요한 지원을 받아야 한다"며 유급 전환을 촉구했다고 워싱턴포스트(WP)가 18일(현지시간) 보도했다.
이들은 유엔 유럽본부가 위치한 스위스 제네바에서 비싼 주거비 때문에 천막에서 노숙생활을 하다 6개월 만에 사직한 한 무급 인턴의 사연이 전 세계 언론에 소개되면서 여론의 지지를 얻은 데 힘입어 유엔 수장까지 직접 압박하고 나섰다.
인턴들은 '유엔은 주요기관이나 보조기관에 참가하려는 남녀에게 어떠한 제한을 둬서는 안 된다'는 내용의 유엔 헌장과 '모든 사람은 차별 없이 똑같은 일에 똑같은 보수를 받을 권리가 있다'는 세계인권선언 조항을 근거로 "무급인턴제는 재정 지원 없이 일할 수 없는 유능한 젊은이들에게 간접적 제한을 둔 것"이라고 비판했다.
특히 인턴들이 주로 근무하는 미국 뉴욕(본부 소재지)과 스위스 제네바가 물가가 비싼 도시라는 점에서 무급제도가 제3세계 인턴들의 국제사회 진출 기회를 박탈하고 있다고 이들은 지적했다.
QFRII 대표인 디미트리 바르베라는 WP와의 인터뷰에서 "각국의 유엔 대표부를 접촉해 인턴 문제를 9월 유엔 총회에서 의제로 올릴 가능성을 찾아보고 있다"며 "인턴 문제에 대한 국제적인 관심 덕분에 기회가 열리고 있다. 관심을 실제 행동으로 바꾸기 위한 작업이 이제 막 시작된 것"이라고 말했다.
이번 편지에 대해 반 총장으로부터 아직 답장을 받지 못했다고 QFRII는 밝혔다.
다만 반 총장은 18일 유엔 사무국 인턴들과의 사진촬영 시간에 인턴의 재정적 문제에 대해 사과하는 발언을 했으나 바르베라는 반 총장의 발언이 "매우 불만족스러웠다"고 전했다.
* 아래는 워싱턴포스트가 전한 '반기문 총장에게 보내는 편지' 전문.
14th August 2015
His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General of the United Nations
United Nations Headquarters
New York, NY 10017, USA
As a group of United Nations interns, students and young professionals united for the aim of achieving fairly remunerated quality internships within the United Nations System, we are submitting this letter to you with the intention of highlighting our concern with the current organization of the internship programs within the UN.
As the youngest contributors to the United Nations, we strongly believe in and are committed to the values of our organization. We therefore wish to align the working conditions of interns within the System with the values the UN stands for, which in our view are undermined by the status quo.
The UN Charter states that “the United Nations shall place no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs”¹. We strongly believe that the unpaid nature of internships places an indirect restriction on qualified young people who cannot afford to work without any financial and/or other support mechanism. “Candidates from non-developed countries are under-represented in the overall sample of interns […], which is not in line with what the organizations are aiming at under the principles of the UN Charter”². Figures from 2009 suggest that 40% of interns were from developing countries, with only 5% from least developed countries³. These numbers lend strong evidence to our concern.
Moreover, according to Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
“(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.”
With this in mind, and considering that interns in the UN System provide a fundamental contribution to the work of the UN, we believe interns should receive not only a formative experience, but also the necessary support, financial and nonfinancial, to make internships accessible to all. Interning at the UN places a significant financial constraint on individuals and their families. Most interns serve in Geneva and New York, recognized by the UN as two of the most expensive cities in the world⁴. Despite the recommendations of the UN Joint Inspection Unit’s report of 2009⁵, only seven organizations of the UN system provide stipends for interns⁶.
Furthermore, taking into account the current youth unemployment crisis⁷, there is a need to highlight the role of internships as “critical tools to facilitate the transition of young professionals to the labour market”⁸. We wish to see a UN that is a model for the world by offering inclusive, fair and quality internships that give individuals valuable experience to improve their chances of obtaining a decent job.
We believe that a better United Nations is possible, one where the relationship between the organizations and its interns is of mutual trust and respect. We have developed a number of concrete proposals on how to alleviate the current situation, which we hope to share with you.
As a vocal advocate for youth empowerment, your Excellency said at one of many occasions that “young people everywhere deserve the power to get information, connect and ask hard questions – about justice, equality and opportunity. Our job is to listen to youth and answer their calls”⁹. Inspired by your wisdom and support for youth empowerment, we would like to engage in a constructive dialogue with you and your team at your earliest convenience to discuss concrete proposals to improve the quality of internships at the UN.
Looking forward to your response, please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration.
Quality and Fairly Remunerated Internships Initiative (New York) and Pay Your Interns initiative (Geneva)
Geneva Interns Association
WHO interns group
ILO Intern Board
UNHCR intern coordinators
Graduate Institute Students Association
Conférence Universitaire des Associations d’EtudiantEs
European Youth Forum
Interns Go Pro
Intern Labor Rights
Brussels Interns NGO
Repubblica degli Stagisti
Platform Generation Praktikum
Dínamo - Associação de Dinamização Sócio-Cultural, Portugal
Unpaid is Unfair
Canadian Intern Association
1. UN Charter, Article 8.
2. Paragraph 17, Internships in the United Nations system, JIU Geneva 2009 (JIU/NOTE/
3. Internships in the United Nations system, JIU Geneva 2009 (JIU/NOTE/2009/2).
4. According to post adjustment multipliers of 106.2% for Geneva and 65.5% for New York,
respectively 2nd and 6th highest among UN duty stations, UN Careers website.
5. Internships in the United Nations system, Joint Inspection Unit, Geneva 2009 (JIU/NOTE/
6. As of 2009 these were WFP, IAEA, ILO, UNWTO, UPU, FAO and WIPO (JIU/NOTE/2009/2).
7. 74 million youth unemployed in 2014, World employment and social outlook: Trends
2015 / International Labour Office. – Geneva: ILO, 2015
8. Internships: Building opportunities and skills for youth, ILO Washington 2013.
9. Ban Ki-moon, keynote address to the Global Colloquium of University Presidents at
Columbia University, New York, 2 April 2012.