Exclusive: UNOPS warns staff not to share even UN posts on Ukraine that use ’stronger’ language

The UN’s global agency for operations has warned staff from sharing even official UN posts on Ukraine which adopt strong language. See below the March 7th email from UNOPS communications chief Peter Browne, as reported exclusively by the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch.
UNOPS, based in Copenhagen, implements more than $2 billion a year worth of peace and security, humanitarian and development projects for its partners every year, operating in more than 80 countries.
The deference to Russian political sensitivities in the email below is similar to the email exposed by the Irish Times from the UN Department of Global Communications.

From: Peter BROWNE
Subject: Guidance on communications about the situation in Ukraine
Date: 7 March 2022

Dear colleagues

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine is deeply upsetting and a matter of grave concern.
Although the current situation has affected our ability to deliver, we remain determined to find ways to continue helping the people of Ukraine.
While it is understandable that many of us feel compelled to share views about the events that are unfolding, including in personal fora such as social media, personnel are reminded of their rights and duties which require us to act independently and impartially.

General points:

• UNOPS does not have a political or advocacy mandate within the UN system. We are a project implementer and
service provider, supporting our partners.
• In relation to political crises, conflicts and/or other sensitive, rapidly evolving humanitarian situations: our approach should always be guided by the principle of supporting broader UN system messaging.
• In these situations, UNOPS neutrality is critical. UNOPS does not provide any commentary that could be perceived as jeopardizing our neutrality, which may be considered as going outside of our mandated areas and role within the UN system.
Accordingly, personnel are asked to frame any communications on Ukraine in alignment with the UNOPS approach.
Corporate accounts (including country and liaison offices)
• Messages or information shared on UNOPS social media channels, websites etc. will to every extent possible directly align with the messages that have been developed and communicated by relevant UN units (such as the Dept. of Global Communications), UN Country Teams (such as the Ukraine UNCT and Resident Coordinator), and shared via official UN channels.
• Caution should be exercised when sharing messages from UN channels, which adopt stronger (non-neutral) or politicized language on the evolving situation aligned to their respective thematic and advocacy mandates.
• Bespoke messages on UNOPS channels should focus on how UNOPS is committed to supporting humanitarian needs and responses for those most vulnerable and affected.
Personal/individual accounts:
• UNOPS personnel are also strongly encouraged to consider the above guidance when considering sharing or engaging (retweets, likes etc.) with messages about the conflict in Ukraine on their personal social media accounts.
• Please also take a moment to familiarize yourselves with the policies on outside activities and the use of social media.  Attention is also drawn to guidance from the Ethics and Compliance Office on political activity., and the “2022 Guidance on Political Activities” recently issued by the UN Ethics Office.
• NB: The official Twitter account of the UNOPS Executive Director (@UNOPS_Chief) may be used to provide more direct messages outlining a UNOPS perspective. Any tweets from the Executive Director on the situation may
be shared (retweeted) on UNOPS other official channels, if deemed appropriate considering the primary audiences of those channels (partners, stakeholders) and local context.
Please forward this message to any colleagues who may find this information useful. Should any specific guidance be requested please contact the Communications Group.
Our thoughts are with all of those who are impacted as a result of this devastating conflict.
Best regards,
UN Watch