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CSAIO – a progressive tool at the service of staff associations of international organizations and European agencies

Every year in autumn, a two-day CSAIO (Conference of Staff Associations of International Organizations) conference is organized for staff associations of international organizations based mainly in Europe, as well as European agencies.

Creation, objectives and progress

CSAIO, created by the staff associations of CERN and OECD in 2000, invites about 30 staff associations to share their experiences and ideas to better identify the expectations and aspirations of a personnel evolving at the heart of international and European organizations.

Over time, the preparation of the conference has evolved to better accommodate the requests of the staff representatives coming from different horizons. For two years, there has been an initiative to institutionalize the informal follow-up, during the first half-day of the conference, of themes discussed the previous year. This follow-up allows participants to share their experience on the implementation and impacts of certain propositions as reflected in their organizations or agencies. This debriefing should soon become an integral part of the conference.

The three other half-days are reserved for specific themes introduced in the form of three to four 15-20 minute presentations, each followed by a question and answer session, allowing everyone to reflect upon the problems and proposals put forward by the speakers in relation to their respective organizations or agencies. Detailed discussions follow where all participants are encouraged to share their experience and ideas on the themes and proposals presented. Staff associations are often a powerful source of proposals and progress.

All presentations and legal analyses are available on the website of CSAIO (http://csaio.web.cern.ch/), which contains all contributions dating back to the first conference held in OECD in 2000.

17th Edition in September 2016 at the Court of Justice of the European Union

This year, the conference was organized from 22 to 23 September at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJUE) in Luxembourg.

The three main themes discussed were:

Leave for Family Reasons

On the occasion of certain family events (birth, marriage, death, etc.), the staff of international organizations may be absent for a few days up to a few months under specific conditions. These types of leave have, in many cases, seen profound transformations due to societal change. An analytic report of our respective regulations could thus be drawn up.

Career and Professional Development

Is it still possible to build a career in an international organization? The question has been debated many times as the contractual policies have changed significantly. A summary was made of the actions taken by our employers to retain their staff, focusing primarily on the proposed career development and the assistance provided in professional development.

International Organizations in the Digital Age

Much like businesses, international organizations are not oblivious to the arrival of all things digital. The rise of digital technology changes work organization drastically, and the growing number of internal collaboration tools requires the ability to adapt to change for all staff. This digital boom inevitably leads to tension between professional and private life. The experiences and solutions of monitoring the potential adverse effects of these changes were also discussed.

Follow-up on debates of the previous conference (16th CSAIO) – Jurisprudence

During the 17th edition, a novelty introduced during the previous conference on a proposal from the Scientific Committee was reintroduced in a slightly different format. Indeed, in the previous conference, legal aspects related to the three themes were included in the debates through a synthesis of the relevant jurisprudence of past two to three years.

This year, a minor modification was made in proposing a legal approach to only one of the three themes (International Organizations in the Digital Age) but with a thorough overview, making it possible to focus on relevant details.

This legal approach was carried out by Anne-Marie Thévenot-Werner, doctor at University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, lecturer in public law, who has previously made a synthesis of the jurisprudence of several administrative tribunals, such as ILOAT (Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation), UNAT (United Nations Administrative Tribunal), ATCE (Administrative Tribunal of the Council of Europe). During the conference, at the end of the 3rd session, Anne-Marie gave a short presentation followed by questions on the potential interpretation of jurisprudence on the matter. This presentation was more detailed than in previous year and made reference to several judgements. The participants really appreciated this additional information, since they were able to get a better idea on how the judges of administrative tribunals have handled the appeals made in previous years.

Given the framework of discussions that staff associations can have with the management of their organization, it is essential to understand the legal context in order to be prepared to make solid arguments if the management wants to implement regulatory or fundamental change that are not in line with the staff aspirations.

18th CSAIO in Lyon in 2017

The Scientific Committee and the organizers were delighted to see the increased participation of colleagues representing the staff of various international organizations and European agencies, much like in the European Central Bank in Frankfurt the previous year.

Indeed, more than 30 organizations were present with important participation from FICSA (Federation of International Civil Servant Association) and UN agencies with a global specificity that makes their presentations always interesting and their contributions in debates insightful. The meeting of various families of organizations is always an opportunity to compare the improvements or setbacks and acquire large amounts of information based on the experience of different participants.

In 2017, the conference should take place at the headquarters for INTERPOL in Lyon. The Scientific Committee would already like to warmly thank the INTERPOL Staff Committee for proposing to host and organize the upcoming conference.