Ombudspersons gather at CERN

On 30 March, Vincent Vuillemin, CERN’s Ombuds, welcomed twelve of his counterparts from Geneva-based international organisations. The guests enjoyed the visit and asked him to arrange another visit in a year or so, when they will be able to visit the LHC underground experimental areas.


Group photo in the Main Building.

Vincent Vuillemin, former Head of the EN department, was appointed as CERN's first “Ombuds” in June 2010. The Ombuds is one of the first people who can be consulted when it has not proved possible to resolve a potential interpersonal conflict amicably or with the assistance of the competent hierarchy. “My counterparts from the other international organisations come from different backgrounds to me, mainly from Human Resources,” explains Vincent Vuillemin. “It was quite an experience for them to witness the magnitude of the LHC project when they visited the SM18 hall and the ATLAS Visitor Centre. They were extremely curious to understand how matter came into being. They really enjoyed the film in the Globe describing the first moments after the Big Bang.”

The Ombuds of the Geneva-based international organisations that are members of the United Nations And Related Organizations (UNARIO) network meet once a month to share their experience. “Ombudspersons must ensure complete confidentiality in their profession. When we meet we discuss situations that might give rise to the same issues in the other organisations, but this in no way breaks the rules of confidentiality,” explains Vincent.

The monthly meetings are usually held in the area near the UN known as the “quartier international”, and this was the first time that the Ombudspersons had paid a collective visit to CERN. “The visit was an opportunity for me to tell the guests about CERN's various missions in research, education and innovation,” confirms Vincent. “The visitors really appreciated the initiative and asked me to arrange another visit next year, when the underground areas will be open.”

The messages that the guests left in Vincent’s mailbox after the visit confirmed the success of the initiative. “It’s been a fantastic learning experience,” says the WIPO Ombudsperson, Elisabeth Merz. Elena Dumitru, Ombudsperson at the United Nations, agrees: “Let me join everyone in thanking you very much for the fantastic visit of CERN you organised for us. I felt privileged to be there. I can even say that my knowledge in this field has improved as, until Friday, physics and Chinese were on the same level for me.” And Donna Douglas Williams from WHO concludes: “Many thanks for hosting such a phenomenal meeting and tour of the CERN facilities. I was never a science buff, but I feel so much smarter after learning so much from you and your colleagues! “

by CERN Bulletin