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U.N. Intern Forced To Live In A Tent With No Pay

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation

United Nations intern David Hyde flew 18,000 kilometers only to end up living in a tent and working for no salary.

Hyde, an ambitious 22-year old from New Zealand, relished the chance to intern at the world’s premier organization for peace and diplomacy but found the experience dramatically differed from his expectations.

The U.N. propagates global standards on what makes a civilized society, including that “everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and for his family an existence worthy of human dignity.”

As an intern of the U.N., Hyde is paid no salary and given no transport assistance or healthcare coverage. The U.N.’s headquarters are located in the Swiss City of Geneva where rents are sky-high and beyond the reach of most interns. Rather than an apartment, Hyde had to spend his six-month internship in a tent on a patch of grass with a handful of other interns.

At times, Hyde was camping next to the U.N. beach club where international officials would unwind after work. After a particularly heavy burst of rain, Hyde was interviewed by the Tribune de Genève and said he “I did not choose the most waterproof tent in the store.”

He added that the U.N.’s policy of not paying interns made him “furious.”

The U.N. has strongly advocated government policies to reduce inequality. In 2013, the U.N. published a report on inequality concluding that “much can be learnt from those countries that managed to reduce inequality even under an uncertain and volatile global environment.”

Before his situation was reported, Hyde packed up his tent and belongings each morning put on a suit and turned up to work storing his tent under his desk. “If I leave before the end, I will not have a certificate,” said Hyde. He has now been offered accommodation with a group of fellow New Zealanders in Geneva.

The Geneva Interns Association (GIA) is said “there is inconsistency by UN that promotes worldwide values ​​such as non-discrimination, diversity and participation, but which does not apply to its staff.”

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