(Im)Mobile Workers: Entangled Regimes of (Im)Mobility within the United Nations System
United Nations; regimes of (im)mobility; UN workers; UN duty stations
This paper explores how the United Nations (UN) system promotes mobilities for some employees while limiting the physical and social mobility of others. To this purpose, we take an ethnographic and comparative approach between four UN duty stations: the UN main oﬃces in Geneva (Switzerland) and Vienna (Austria); and the UN ﬁeld oﬃces in Goma (DR Congo) and Gaziantep (Turkey). UN workers' capital in the Bourdieusian sense has diﬀerent importance in dealing with regimes of mobility in each place of assignment. Drawing on the regimes of mobility approach, we focus on how workers pursue a career in the UN, including a large number of professionals, consultants, interns, and volunteers, internationally and locally contracted, who work in the ﬁeld of development and humanitarian aid. We argue that while promoting a frame of cooperation for global mobility based on human rights, the UN (re)creates mobility regimes for its employees and is thus involved in the reproduction of the inequalities it aims to reduce. By unravelling the power relationships within the United Nations mobility regimes, this article makes an essential contribution to our understanding of uneven mobilities within multilateral organizations.