Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Russia Accuses UNDP of Funding Georgian President - Lavrov says: UNDP is out of control

By BENNY AVNIStaff Reporter of the Sun | September 30, 2008

UNITED NATIONS — Russia's confrontation with the West is escalating, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accusing the U.N. Development Program of collaborating with the financierGeorge Soros to fund Mikheil Saakashvili's rise to the Georgian presidency.

Rick Gershon/Getty

President Saakashvili of Georgia shakes hands with U.N. Secretary-General Ban at the United Nations on September 24.

Russia has long accused Mr. Soros of financing the 2003 Rose Revolution, and Mr. Saakashvili in particular. Yesterday, Mr. Lavrov called for an examination of the ties between Mr. Soros and the UNDP. "At the time, George Soros was sponsoring members of the Georgian government," Mr. Lavrov told reporters, adding that UNDP "funds and finances" were also used to support Georgian officials.

"We should clearly check and establish clear rules for controlling the spending by international organizations," he said. "We should not allow that such organizations be privatized."

The Columbia University-educated Mr. Saakashvili swept into power in a January 2004 election that resulted from the Rose Revolution, ousting a Russian ally, Eduard Shevardnadze, as president.

Russia's war with Georgia over the independence claims of two breakaway Georgian regions, which began in early August, has ratcheted up tensions between America and Russia. Also, Prime Minster Putin reportedly has declined for weeks to take calls from Secretary-General Ban, whose statements on Georgia were seen in Moscow as one-sided.

American officials have raised questions about the relationship between Mr. Soros's Open Society Institute and the UNDP in the past. And as The New York Sun first reported in June 2006, a former UNDP administrator, Mark Malloch Brown, rented a house adjacent to Mr. Soros's estate in Katonah, N.Y., paying the financier what real estate agents in the area characterized as below market rate rent.

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Mr. Soros's OSI has concentrated much of its pro-democracy activities in former Soviet republics striving to break with their totalitarian past, with local leaders and their nationalist supporters pledging to sever ties with Moscow.

Information about the UNDP's activities in Georgia is available to all the members of the agency's board, including Russia, a spokesman for the agency, Stéphane Dujarric, told the Sun yesterday. Launched in January 2004, the program in Georgia included "salary top-ups for leading officials," he said, and was designed "to enable the government to recruit the staff it needed, and also to help remove incentives for corruption."

The Georgian president, prime minister, and speaker of the Parliament received monthly salary supplements of $1,500 each; ministers received $1,200 a month, and deputy ministers $700, Mr. Dujarric said.

The program was funded initially by Mr. Soros's OSI, which gave $1 million, while the UNDP gave $500,000. A Swedish government agency later added another $1 million. An "exit strategy" was built into the program, Mr. Dujarric said, and the Georgian government assumed responsibility for the salaries after three years.

Mr. Lavrov's contention that the UNDP must avoid being "privatized" came at the end of a week in which Russia significantly sharpened its rhetoric against America.

At a press conference yesterday and in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, Mr. Lavrov repeatedly denounced Washington's disruption of the existing world order by invading Iraq. "The solidarity of the international community fostered on the wave of struggle against terrorism turned out to be somehow privatized," he said in his assembly speech, referring to the Iraq invasion.

Separately, Mr. Lavrov declined yesterday to provide new details about his country's resumption of military cooperation with Syria, amid reports that the Russian navy sent several ships to the Mediterranean port of Tartus. "This cooperation is conducted in the framework of the international law and does not endanger anyone's security," Mr. Lavrov said.

No 'Bailout' for the United Nations

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 29 (IPS) - As a spreading financial crisis threatens to deepen the economic recession in the United States, the news of an unprecedented $700-billion bailout package reverberated through the corridors of the United Nations last week as over 100 world leaders gathered in New York for the annual talk-fest: the 63rd session of the General Assembly.

At a time when the United Nations is seeking increased financial assistance from rich nations to help developing countries meet the faltering Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including a 50-percent reduction in extreme poverty and hunger by 2015, the current U.S. economic crisis and its predictably negative fallout overseas is expected to be a major setback.

Addressing delegates last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the current gloomy outlook threatens the well-being of billions of people, "none more so than the poorest of the poor."

"This only compounds the damage [already] being caused by much higher prices for food and fuel," he added.

Ban has called for $72 billion per year in additional external financing to achieve the MDGs by 2015.

As one Asian delegate put it: "The 72 billion is peanuts compared to the 700 billion the White House wants to dish out to save some of the Wall Street firms from going belly up."

"And the urgent needs of developing nations will now be the least of the priorities of the United States and other Western donors," he predicted.

Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockman of Nicaragua, the newly elected president of the General Assembly, warned that the current financial crisis will have "very serious consequences" that will impede the significant progress, "if indeed any progress is made," towards the targets established by the MDGs, "which are themselves insufficient."

"It is always the poor who pay the price for the unbridled greed and irresponsibility of the powerful," he said, taking a passing shot at the staggering $700-billion bailout proposed by the administration of President George W. Bush to save the high-stakes investment banks of New York from bankruptcy and collapse.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told delegates that "money doesn't seem to be a problem, when the problem is money."

"Let us look for a moment at what is happening on Wall Street and in financial markets around the world. There, unsound investment threatens the homes and jobs of the middle class," he added.

There is something fundamentally wrong, he argued, "when money seems to be abundant, but funds for investment in people seem so short in supply."

Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding told the General Assembly that the crisis currently rocking the world's financial markets reflects the inadequacy of the regulatory structures that are essential to the effective functioning of any market.

"We must not allow speculators' profits always to be privatized, while their losses are invariably socialized."
Celso Furtado, Brazilian economist
But it is more than that. It represents the failure on the part of the international financial system to facilitate the flow of resources into areas where they can produce real wealth -- not paper wealth, he added.

Golding said the world is not short of capital: "What it lacks are the mechanisms to ensure the efficient utilization of that capital."

As the economic meltdown in the United States continues, the casualties are piling up both among commercial and investment banks: Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Washington Mutual (allowed to collapse with no government bailout); American International Group, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley (allowed to survive with emergency financial assistance, including some from the government); Merrill Lynch has been folded into Bank of America and Citigroup has taken over Wachovia Bank.

The outrage against Wall Street, described as the world's financial capital, is also directed at the high salaried chief executive officers and the middle rung bosses who make multi-million-dollar salaries, with stock options and perks that set them up in a privileged class by themselves.

According to one report, the lowest salary on Wall Street was around $280,000 a year in a country where the average low or middle class employee would go home with a pay packet of $50,000 or $75,000 per year.

In 2007, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, was paid $68.7 million -- described as "the most ever for a Wall Street CEO."

As the entire U.S. economic edifice is in danger of collapsing, the White House has been called upon to save some of the biggest financial institutions in the country and, at the same time, redress the excesses of Wall Street business tycoons who earned multi-million-dollar salaries and extravagant bonuses.

The greed factor in the crisis is that these same tycoons, who are responsible for mismanaging their companies, still insist on continuing with their same lavish lifestyles and lofty salaries even after the massive taxpayer-funded bailout.

But these salaries and bonuses are likely to be curbed as part of a return for the bailout package.

Addressing the 192-member General Assembly last week, the President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the economy of any country is "too serious an undertaking to be left in the hands of speculators."

Ethics must also apply to the economy, he said. But, unfortunately, in the race for profits, the ethical factor has ceased to exist.

The president quoted the Brazilian economist Celso Furtado who once said: "We must not allow speculators' profits always to be privatized, while their losses are invariably socialized."

And as a postscript, the Brazilian president added: "We must not allow the burden of the boundless greed of a few to be shouldered by all."

In the 1987 Hollywood movie "Wall Street," Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas plays the role of a ruthless corporate raider, Gordon Gekko, who forsakes all business ethics to climb to the highest echelons of the business world.

His speech to a meeting of stock traders is still considered a classic on Wall Street: "The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works."

"Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind."

Douglas, who is the United Nations' goodwill ambassador for disarmament and a "messenger for peace," was at the United Nations last week to participate in the International Day of Peace.

Responding to a reporter who asked him: "Are you saying, Gordon, that greed is not good?" a visibly annoyed Douglas shot back: "I am not saying that. And my name is not Gordon. He's a character I played 20 years ago."

Low-Profile U.N. Chief Struggles as Diplomatic Peacemaker


U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has encountered some setbacks in his more than 20 months in office.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has encountered some setbacks in his more than 20 months in office. (Frank Franklin Ii - AP)
  Enlarge Photo    
Washington Post Staff Writer 
Monday, September 29, 2008; Page A15

UNITED NATIONS -- In the days after Georgian and Russian troops marched into the separatist province of South Ossetia, Secretary General Ban Ki-moonfrantically telephoned key leaders and offered theUnited Nations' diplomatic help in stemming further violence. But Russian President Dmitry Medvedevrefused to take his calls for more than a week, say senior U.S. and U.N. officials.

The rebuff highlighted Russia's displeasure with Ban, who had clashed with Moscow over Kosovo's independence drive and riled it again by issuing a statement supporting the territorial integrity of Georgia, a nation Russia intended to carve up. It also provided another example of the humbling struggles of the world's top diplomat to prod foreign leaders to embrace peace.

After more than 20 months in office, Ban is straining to make his mark as a diplomatic peacemaker as his efforts to stem bloodshed in Sudan's Darfur region have faltered and Burma's political players refuse to meet with his special envoy. The United Nations has been relegated to a supporting role in many of the world's diplomatic flare-ups, including in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Ban convened a meeting of key foreign ministers Saturday on the sidelines of the General Assembly session to energize efforts to press Burma's generals to democratize the country and to secure the release of nearly 2,000 political prisoners, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

But the meeting, which Secretary of StateCondoleezza Rice did not attend, produced no breakthrough, and Ban canceled plans to speak to the media. Instead Ban issued a statement, pressing Burma to release the prisoners.

Behind the scenes, Ban has resisted calls from the United States, Britain, Singapore and other countries to travel to Burma to meet with military ruler Senior Gen. Than Shwe in December, fearing it might end in failure. There is a risk of Ban "going and coming back empty-handed," a close aide said.


"No one is going to make a case that we are in the middle of a big diplomatic breakthrough on some of these cases you've mentioned," said Robert Orr, a special adviser to Ban. "But the fact is that is not the nature of this business. These things move quietly until they break into the open. The secretary general's style is to work very hard, persistently, behind the scenes" to achieve that.

Orr and other U.N. officials say Ban has had far greater success in prodding governments on some long-term threats such as climate change and the global food and energy crises and in helping to secure billions of dollars in commitments to fight poverty during the world's worst financial crisis in a generation. They say his persistence paid off after Tropical Cyclone Nargis in May, when he traveled to Rangoon, the former Burmese capital, to persuade Than Shwe to pry open the borders for relief workers.

But Ban has been pushed into the background in Africa, where local powers have taken the lead in solving regional problems. South Africa effectively blocked a U.S. and British initiative to grant the United Nations a more central role in mediating an end to an election crisis in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe cracked down on opposition leaders to prevent his more popular rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, from winning the election.

At the height of the crisis, Mugabe told Ban to butt out of his country's affairs and accused him of carrying water for the region's formal colonial power. But Mugabe ultimately agreed to a compromise that gave the United Nations a supporting role in a diplomatic process led by his friend Thabo Mbeki, who was South Africa's president at the time.

Ban's low-profile diplomatic style contrasts with the activism of his predecessor, Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian national who sought to expand the authority of the office. At a similar stage in his tenure, Annan had carried out a high-profile trip to Baghdad, where he temporarily averted a U.S.-led air war by persuading Saddam Hussein to open his presidential palaces to U.N. inspectors. That peace was short-lived, and the United States and Britain launched Operation Desert Fox, a four-day air war againstIraq, several months later in 1998.

"It is possible that Ban's decision, for whatever reason, to keep away from those extremely melodramatic settings may be prudent," said James Traub, author of "The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power." "But it also has the effect of reducing his size in the world. There can't be any question he is a smaller figure than Kofi in his secretary generalship. That's just a fact," Traub added.

When violence erupted in Kenya after a disputed presidential vote, the African Unionrecruited Annan to help restore calm. He assembled a team of former aides and helped hammer out a power-sharing deal.

"To his credit, Ban asked Kofi what he needed, and Kofi said, 'Staff.' Ban said, 'Take what you want,' " said Fred Eckhard, a former U.N. spokesman brought in by Annan to handle the media during the Kenya crisis. "It was indeed an all-U.N. effort but led by Kofi."

In Darfur, Ban has been in control, cultivating a relationship with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to help secure support for a U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission and a political settlement. But fighting has resumed, political talks have stalled, and the peacekeepers' deployment is months behind schedule.

Ban's ability to engage in direct talks with Bashir, meanwhile, has been curtailed since the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor requested an arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Ban's attorneys have instructed him to limit contact with Bashir unless it is urgent, a senior U.N. official said. "We have to be very careful about our dealings with him," the official said.

The setbacks have begun to take a toll on Ban, who lashed out at his senior advisers during a retreat in Turin, Italy, for failing to make the organization more responsive to the challenges of the day.

"Our job is to change the U.N. -- and through it, the world," Ban told his staff members last month. "This is the big picture. I am frustrated by our failure, so often, to see it."

Monday, September 29, 2008

U.N. Liaison Offices: Secretive and Out of Control?

FOX News.com

Monday, September 29, 2008

To the many secretive parts of the sprawling United Nations system around the world that have been tarred by financial scandal, irregular management practices and lack of credible oversight, add a new one: the offices that link the major parts of the sprawling U.N. bureaucracy with the central headquarters and with each other.

Compared to the vast staffs and billions of dollars that the U.N. spends each year, the offices involved, some of which date back to the 1950s, are minuscule. According to a report that will reach the U.N. General Assembly today, they employed only about 170 people and spent less than $50 million in the two-year U.N. budget that ended in 2005 (the most recent figures in the document).

Yet according to the same report, that network of 26 outlying liaison offices (known as LOs) has been the focus of increasing frustration over the past decade on the part of the U.N.'s member states, as they have tried — without success — to find out what those offices do, how they interconnect, what resources they use, and who actually supervises them.

During that period, the liaison offices have also become vital connections between a sprawling global network of giant U.N. agencies, such as the Rome-based World Food Program, the Geneva-based World Health Organization and the United Nations Development Program. The LOs link many if not most of the numerous U.N. organizations with each other and with the headquarters offices of the U.N. Secretariat in New York and Geneva.

Moreover, they are still growing rapidly in importance — and apparently in autonomy, as the U.N. bureaucracies increasingly talk more among themselves about their plans and joint ventures than with the member states that ostensibly run and fund them.

In a sense, the offices seem to have evolved into a system of nerve cells within the U.N. that operate with a still-unknown degree of internal independence.

As the new report puts it in typical United Nations bureaucratese: "The most striking of all the evolving features of the work of liaison offices is the inter-agency coordination role which is today at the forefront of, even sometimes taking precedence over, the intergovernmental representation function."

But at the same time, the report asserts, those LOs also operate without adequate oversight, either internally or from U.N. member states, and without clearly expressed priorities. They are frequently leaderless, have sometimes followed bizarre staffing policies, and are in many cases not audited — in one case, "for many years."

The report also notes there have been "known cases of serious mismanagement" in the liaison offices in the past. But it does not go into details.

Click here to see the report.

Those lapses are far from the only mystery about the LOs. It appears from the report that U.N. member states, in particular, do not necessarily know the full scope of what the offices do — except that in many cases the work extends beyond any normal definition of "liaison." One reason for the ignorance, the report notes, is that "no system-wide study had ever been conducted on the subject."

Another reason, which the report acknowledges only through a series of footnote references to other U.N. reports dating back to 1997, is that repeated requests by member states for information on staffing, budgets and activities of the liaison offices have been systematically ignored, blunted or stonewalled.

The study that tries to fill at least some of that gap was compiled by the United Nations Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), a small, independent branch of the U.N. that reports to the General Assembly and is mandated to improve the organization's efficiency and coordination through its inspection process. The findings are based on a questionnaire sent to 26 LOs around the world, buttressed by about 150 confidential interviews.

The inspectors were finally moved to action, it appears, by the "repeated" calls for investigation of the funding and staffing of the LOs, which have come principally from the General Assembly Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), which represents the entire U.N. membership.

Those calls are referenced only as a single dry footnote at the bottom of the first page of the JIU report. But when the source documents referred to in that footnote were examined by FOX News, they revealed a remarkable history of frustrated inquiry on the part of U.N. members, and an equally remarkable history of stonewalling on the part of top U.N. administrators.

In other words, the U.N. membership itself is having a tough time finding out what exactly is going on.

Originally, it was supposed to be a lot simpler than that.

The U.N. liaison offices were established, in most cases, on behalf of U.N. agencies like the International Drug Control Program, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Environmental Program and others that existed outside the main U.N. headquarters in New York and Geneva, to keep the U.N. member governments and the central bureaucracies informed of what they were doing.

As the JIU puts it, they were intended to ensure the "representation and coordination" of U.N. bureaucracies "on issues and activities of common interest."

But not any longer. According to the JIU document, the LOs have mutated into a "striking diversity" of operations, "with different staffing and funding, tools, styles, partners and political impact on the international stage." They have also proliferated, with some agencies maintaining two or even three liaison offices.

Many of the LOs have gone on a hunt for new partners outside the U.N. system, including universities and non-governmental organizations. Along the way, they have picked up new — and sometimes unexamined — sources of funding.

The report takes special note, for example of the activities of the liaison office of the $5 billion United Nations Development Program in Geneva, which has "drastically evolved over the last two decades, from the UNDP embassy in Europe to a specialized business place."

During that time, the report states, "the LO became the umbrella of several (more or less) autonomous units, with various funding sources, and a staff that performs on multiple fronts."

In its full-bore fundraising, the report notes, the UNDP office has gone deeply into the entertainment business, sponsoring star-studded soccer matches in support of anti-poverty efforts, along with "galas, concerts and sports competitions."

What UNDP intended to do with the funds remained, at the time the JIU inspector made his inquiries, something of a mystery. "The use of the major part of these funds had not been yet decided at the time of the inspection," the report notes, "months after income recording."

Indeed, the inspector noted elsewhere in the 23-page document, that UNDP's Geneva office, which he called "the most important in terms of funding," had not been audited at all "for many years."

An attempt by the World Food Program's New York office to try the same private sector funding route apparently met with less success. The report notes that for three years, from 2002-2005, WFP tried to raise cash, then outsourced the function. Hinting at a possible fiasco, the report notes that "Officials responsible indicated that the organization lacked the required in-house expertise to effectively carry out this function."

But while the liaison offices have lurched off in many directions, the report makes clear that they have not done much to turn all that new activity into measurable outcomes. The annual work plans of most of the offices, the report notes, usually lack expected results, or measures of achievement. "As a stand-alone practice," the report notes, "they constitute poor planning."

The report also dryly notes that impact, in terms of the office's work plans, "is not to be confused with the immediate outcome of meetings."

Along with the lack of clear, measurable purpose, the report faults the offices for a variety of confusing personnel issues, the overuse of consultants to perform regular staff tasks, and even "exploitative internships" paying at most 10 percent of the U.N.'s local daily subsistence allowance.

Other strange personnel practices abound. Some staffers have been in place for 20 years, the report notes, while other offices stay vacant for long periods. At the time the inspector made his rounds in New York, four of the 11 offices examined did not have a top boss; another had just filled the job after a ten month vacancy.

Nor do the employment lapses seem to inspire much curiosity. One LO director, the report reveals, learned for the first time of a posted job vacancy in her office from the inspector himself.

Along with weird personnel practices, the inspector also noted widely differing rates paid by the LOs for the same services, especially in information technology. LOs in New York were paying $2,000 per workstation for computer services, the report noted, while those in Geneva cost $1,200 — "a noticeable difference."

The main thrust of the recommendations in the JIU report is that the liaison offices should end their wildly differing methods of financing themselves, and be given resources out of regular U.N. budgets. That, in turn, would allow for correction of the other glaring lack in their operations — meaningful oversight, in the form of "adequate audit and evaluation coverage of liaison offices."

But the JIU recommendation is just that — a recommendation. To be put into effect, it has to be accepted by the top managers of the sprawling U.N. bureaucracy itself, who may have their own reasons for preferring the current arrangement.

Certainly, those top managers have not been swayed much over the past ten years by the repeated calls for a review of the proliferating LO system, to determine whether and how much that system was necessary.

An examination by FOX News of the documents underlying a single terse footnote in the JIU report reveal a long soap opera of frustration on the part of the main U.N. budgetary watchdog committee that represents all of the U.N.'s 192 member states, the ACABQ.

According to those documents, the ACABQ first began asking for a review of the proliferating LO system in 1997. It got nowhere.

Two years later, in March 1999, the same committee noted that "for some offices it is not quite clear what is actually being accomplished," and asked once again for a "thorough review."

The U.N. Secretariat, for its part, apparently stonewalled. In 2000, the ACABQ noted that the Secretariat's response to its 1999 demand "does not address the concerns raised by the Committee." The querulous member states instead got "a descriptive compendium of the various liaison offices without any analysis, nor is there any evidence that a review has actually take place."

Nor did the ACABQ find out whether any money from outside regular UN budgets had gone to the LOs.

In its weak response to the lack of information, the committee merely "regretted" the lack of a "substantive response," and once again called for an LO review.

No such luck. In 2003, the ACABQ tried again, and called for an analysis "aimed at the creation of a consolidated common liaison service" for the entire U.N., rather than the sprawling and mutating network that existed.

Instead, in 2004, the committee got a barebones report from the U.N. Secretariat that mostly totted up staffing and formally outlined the responsibilities of some of the main offices. Evidently, however, it also got the promise of the Joint Inspection Unit report, which examines the system through the U.N.'s 2004-2005 budget biennium.

(The document itself, however, was only written in 2007 and prepared for this year's General Assembly session in July, 2008.)

In 2006, the ACABQ tried again, noting its long history of calling for a review of the LOs, and questioning in particular a move by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) to open a new regional office in Washington, D.C., atop its liaison office in New York.

The committee called for a merger of the two offices. The JIU report makes clear that UNEP successfully resisted the call.

It remains to be seen whether the U.N. member states will continue trying to get additional information on a "liaison" system that seems to prefer inventing itself on its own.

The JIU, however, considers additional oversight "crucial."

"In strict financial terms," the report declares, the level of resources managed by each office may not justify frequent financial audits. On the other hand, the strategic importance of the LOs, and their relative isolation, involve certain risks, which go far beyond the financial resources at stake."

And far beyond, perhaps, the ability of any U.N. member state to know.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hefkens tegen het licht

Cindy Schneider       26 september 2008

In de komende week zal het debat plaatsvinden over Herfkens en de onterecht ontvangen toeslag van totaal $280.000,-. In de beleving van mij en een aantal andere mensen kloppen er bepaalde dingen niet.

Samen zijn wij wat dingen uit gaan zoeken en kwamen uit op wel hele vreemde zaken. Zo blijkt de eigenaar van het appartement dat Herfkens huurde niemand minder dan John Deuss te zijn en ligt de huurprijs van andere appartementen in hetzelfde complex vele malen lager. 

Laat ik voorop stellen dat ik van mening ben dat Herfkens al het geld tot de laatste geld terug moet betalen. Wij kunnen geen genoegen nemen met een regeling waar de Nederlandse staat niets mee opschiet. Mocht onze regering het hier toch bij laten stel ik voor dat alle inwoners van Nederland met een belastingschuld wegens te veel ontvangen huurtoeslag een zelfde soort regeling kunnen treffen. Met een zelfde soort regeling bedoel ik werken voor minder dan de helft van het verschuldigde bedrag plus alle onkosten vergoed. 

Nu is het tijd om al mijn bevindingen eens op een rij te zetten. Ik beperk mij alleen tot de zaken die betrekking hebben op Herfkens en waar een bewijs voor is, alle losse flodders kan ik, helaas, niet gebruiken. Ik hoop dat er zaken opgelost kunnen worden en er antwoorden zullen komen op onbeantwoorde vragen. Allereerst zal ik uitleggen hoe ik aan de link Herfkens - Deuss ben gekomen dit schijnt voor sommige mensen iets onduidelijk te zijn en ik heb zelf ook een hekel aan onduidelijkheid! 

Uit een artikel in Vrij Nederland van de hand van Freke Vuijst haalde ik het volgende stuk ; "6. Waarom betaalde het ministerie een huur voor Herfkens’ appartement die zelfs naar New Yorkse maatstaven exorbitant hoog was? Volgens BZ was de huurvergoeding door een externe organisatie vastgesteld. Wat het ministerie niet vermeldt, is dat de huur werd betaald aan een Nederlands bedrijf, Motjan NV, dat volgens het kadaster in New York geregistreerd staat in Curaçao en sinds de bouw van de Dag Hammarskjold Tower, waar Herfkens woonde, eigenaar is van enkele appartementen. Motjans agent is volgens het kadaster gevestigd in Oregon. Meerdere pogingen om in contact te komen met de agent liepen op niets uit." 

Al vrij snel vonden we deze registratie in het Handelsregister van de Kamer van Koophandel en Nijverheid te Curaçao. Daar is op het eerste gezicht niets vreemd mee aan de hand maar wanneer je iets beter kijkt zie je heel duidelijk dat de bestuurder van Motjan N.V. de heer of mevrouw Curaçao Corporation Company N.V. is. Ook van het bedrijf Citco Curaçao N.V. is de eigenaar de heer of mevrouw Curaçao Corporation Company N.V. Wanneer we voor de grap zo maar even de naam van de beruchte bank First Curaçao International Finance Company N.V. (FCIB) intoetsen zien we dat ook van deze bank de Curaçao Corporation Company N.V. de managing director is. Uiteraard wisten we dat de FCIB bank van John Deuss is/was maar dat is bij deze dan ook bevestigd. 

Daar was de link van Motjan N.V. naar John Deuss. Heel makkelijk te vinden, eigenlijk. Diverse mensen vertelden mij dat John Deuss de "Curaçao Corporation Company is", helaas zonder harde bewijzen. Leuk om te weten is dat Curaçao Corporation Company in 2005 een condo op 5th avenue heeft gekocht en contant heeft betaald. De persoon die de overeenkomst ondertekende was Richard van 't Hof, werkzaam voor CITCO. Wat eigenlijk nog veel spraakmakender is, is de connectie van Curaçao Corporation Company en CITCO naar Hugo Chavez. Nederlands belastinggeld naar onzuivere stemmachines? Niet alleen voor Venezuela maar ook voor de VS! 

Voor het appartement in de "Dag Hammarskjold tower" is schijnbaar veel te veel huur betaald. De gemiddelde verhuuurprijs voor een appartement met twee slaapkamers bedraagt $4500.- en nog eentje en zo zijn er nog veel en veel meer. De vraag blijft open wat er werkelijk aan huur is betaald daar het huurcontract ontbreekt. Zonder huurcontract staat eigenlijk alles open. Waar zit Herfkens fout? Ze zit fout omdat ze haar contract niet is nagekomen, een smoesje "ik wist het niet" gaat nooit op wanneer er dingen in een contract staan die je hebt ondertekend. Het pleit niet voor haar dat zij als armoedebestrijdster (nota bene!!) hoge eisen stelde aan vliegreizen en woonruimte. Op loopafstand van de V.N. vanwege kostbare tijd die verloren zou gaan? Zelfs Bloomberg (de burgermeester van New York) reist per metro naar zijn werk.
Toch beweert Herfkens dat het niet helemaal haar fout is en als zij in het interview met de Volkskrant de waarheid spreekt dan heeft zij een goed punt. Zo zegt ze dat vele Nederlandse VN medewerkers onterechte huursubsidies hebben ontvangen en dat Buitenlandse zaken haar gebruikt om hun eigen straatje schoon te vegen. Ook maakt ze duidelijk dat zij zelf gekozen zou hebben voor een goedkoper appartement. Van een aantal appartementen bleven er namelijk twee over, de ene was goedkoper maar de delegatie vond die niet representatief genoeg. 

Nu blijven er toch nog wat vragen open. Nog altijd missen wij het huurcontract want het is wel interessant om te weten wie er nu achter zit. Waarom persé dit appartement van Motjan N.V.? Was de delegatie op de hoogte van het verhaal achter de N.V.? Als dat zo is dan is dat uitermate vreemd te noemen, waarom in zee gaan met een vennootschap die connecties heeft met duistere zaken? Indien de delegatie niet op de hoogte was dan is het dus duidelijk dat Buitenlandse zaken het Nederlandse belastinggeld klakkeloos uitgeeft en kan het ministerie wel een onderzoeksteam gebruiken. 

Zoeken naar eigenaren van panden kan via de NY Government. Zoeken op naam of bedrijfsnaam of code, de code is te verkrijgen door het adres in te voeren. Via een oud telefoonboek van Manhattan is Freke Vuijst van Vrij Nederland achter het adres van Eveline Herfkens gekomen. Het ging om 240 E 47th st #27D, Buitenlandse Zaken heeft dit adres bevestigd. Via de vorige link zijn veel gegevens te vinden over personen die optraden namens Motjan N.V. en ook wat de Curaçao Corporation Company heeft gekocht alsmede John Deuss en iedereen die je maar wil vinden in New York. Helaas is er niet direct naar documenten te linken en zijn ze ook niet te downloaden. 

Iedereen die mij kan helpen met tips of iets tegenkomt in dit verhaal dat absoluut niet klopt verzoek ik heel vriendelijk om te reageren. Naar mijn homepage

Financial Crisis Casts Pall on U.N. Poverty Goals

By BENNY AVNIStaff Reporter of the Sun | September 26, 2008

UNITED NATIONS — Members of the Black Eyed Peas performed, Bill Gates donated money, and Mayor Bloomberghosted a party for world leaders, all in the name of eradicating half of the world's poverty by the middle of the next decade. But as leaders from the wealthy countries kept a wary eye on the financial markets, some said it was unrealistic — unfair even — to ask them to funnel money to the poor during a financial crisis.

Having dedicated this year's U.N. General Assembly session to fighting world poverty, Secretary-General Ban yesterday gathered heads of state, businesspeople, and cultural icons at the United Nations. Mr. Bloomberg hosted an event for heads of state, launching a campaign to combat poverty alongside Prime Minister Brown ofBritainPresident Mugabe, who was at the United Nations for the first time since Zimbabwe's disputed elections this spring, demanded an increase in Western aid to poor countries.

Two members of the Black Eyed Peas, will.i.am and apl.de.ap, kicked off a star-studded U.N. event yesterday featuring the model Elle Macpherson, actress Kristin Davis, and Queen Rania of Jordan. "It's calling individuals to realize their power in solving global poverty and ending world hunger," will.i.am sang. "Enforcing the politicians to keep what they promised and picking the world leaders that will lead the world honest."

But some leaders voiced skepticism. Right now, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of France said, the financial crisis is confined mostly to America and Britain, while "Europe is protected. But for how long?" Speaking at a breakfast meeting with reporters yesterday, he added, "The talk about the millennium goals at a time of crisis is unfair."

Mr. Brown, who has led a campaign in his country to promote the U.N. program known as the Millennium Development Goals, spent more time on the financial crisis since his arrival in New York on Wednesday than he had planned. Nevertheless, he said that giving up on the goals, known as MDGs, would be the "wrong answer."

Mr. Brown, a former chancellor of the exchequer, gathered seven heads of state — including those from key economic leaders such as Brazil, Australia, and Spain — to discuss ways to combat the banking crisis and related global economic hardships.

The British premier plans to fly to Washington on Friday for a meeting with President Bush. Yesterday, he met with several managers of large Wall Street funds to study details of the crisis here, according to aides.

Mr. Brown also conducted a press conference alongside the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, and Mr. Gates, the Microsoft founder who announced that he would donate $168.7 million to finance research on a malaria vaccine, as part of a new $3 billion World Bank fund to combat the disease.

"While it is true we are not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals, and it is true that you can say at the present rate of progress in some of the areas it will take 100 years to meet the goals, it is also true that the world is now aware of the challenge," Mr. Brown said.

Conceived at the United Nations in 2000, the MDGs call for cutting global poverty by half by 2015 and require the wealthy countries to contribute 0.7% of their gross domestic product to causes such as fighting disease, strengthening financial systems, and improving agriculture and education in poorer countries.

"If the world economy is not going very well," Mr. Gates said, "it's likely to affect the generosity of rich nations."

The financial crisis is also likely to have an effect on the economy of poorer countries already suffering from a decline in agriculture production because of the rising costs of fuel and fertilizer.

While Western leaders have blamed Zimbabwe's descent into poverty in the last decade on the country's poor — and dictatorial — leadership, Mr. Mugabe yesterday put the onus on the world's rich countries. It is "crucial that national efforts," like the one his country is undertaking, "be complemented by appropriate international assistance" from rich nations, he told the General Assembly, demanding that poor nations' debts be canceled.

Mr. Mugabe, 84, spoke during his first U.N. appearance since he refused to cede power to a rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, who won a national election March 29. As a result, several countries, including America, imposed sanctions on Mugabe allies.

At the General Assembly, Mr. Mugabe called for all sanctions against him to be lifted immediately. The countries that imposed the sanctions "are working on what they call regime change, but I call it Mugabe change," he later told reporters.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

President Bush's Farewell to the U.N.: A Call for Reform and Action

WebMemo #2077

President George W. Bush's final address to the United Nations was, in many ways, an encapsulation of America's primary objectives in the U.N over the past eight years. Several issues were featured prominently in the speech, including:

  1. An appeal for the organization and the member states to more forcefully confront terrorism;

  2. A demand for more action by the U.N. and the member states on human rights;

  3. An exhortation for the President's freedom agenda accompanied by justifications for why representative government bolsters international peace and stability; and

  4. A call for the organization to implement reforms.

As is typical for these speeches, details were largely absent. The responsibility now falls to the State Department and the U.S. Mission to the U.N. to follow through and see that the U.N. moves forward on the President's agenda.

A Call for Action

President Bush gave his final speech to the U.N. General Assembly at the opening of the body's 63rd session on September 23.[1] The speech served as a final exhortation for the U.N. to take action on a number of issues that the Bush Administration championed: the fight against global terrorism, human rights, bolstering democracy and freedom, and U.N. reform.

The President is right to emphasize these issues. They are important not just to U.S. interests but to help make the U.N. a more effective, accountable vehicle for advancing the principles outlined in its charter: to discourage conflict, reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, promote justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law, and promote better standards of life in larger freedom.

Unfortunately, many member states have blunted efforts to advance the principles and priorities advocated by President Bush in his address. In the waning days of the Administration, U.S. officials at the State Department and the U.S. Mission must focus on a few critical tasks to realize progress on the themes of the President's speech:

  1. Terrorism. Terrorism is an affront to international peace and security and human rights. "Like slavery and piracy, terrorism has no place in the modern world," the President noted, "A few nations—regimes like Syria and Iran—continue to sponsor terror, yet their numbers are growing fewer and they're growing more isolated from the world." President Bush acknowledged the steps that have been taken to address terrorism in the U.N., including Security Council resolutions "declaring terror unlawful and requiring all nations to crack down on terrorist financing" and a conference to highlight victims of terror. The President warned, "As the 21st century unfolds, some may be tempted to assume that the threat has receded. This would be comforting; it would be wrong. The terrorists believe time is on their side, so they made waiting out civilized nations part of their strategy. We must not allow them to succeed." 

    Unfortunately, in praising U.N. efforts on combating terrorism, the President glossed over the near complete ineffectiveness of the U.N. in addressing the issue beyond meetings and rhetoric. In reality, the "few nations" that continue to sponsor terrorism are members in good standing at the U.N. They were in the U.N. chamber listening to his speech. They seek, often successfully, to block efforts to combat terrorism. The U.N. is hamstrung by their membership on the issue of terrorism. A clear case in point is the fact that the U.N. has failed to adopt a definition of terrorism.[2] How can the organization, even with a number of treaties and committees dedicated to terrorism, be an effective agent to combat terrorism when it will not precisely state what "terrorism" is? 

    Subsequently, the U.N. should adopt an official definition of terrorism that includes—beyond the actions condemned in existing terrorism treaties, the Geneva Conventions, and Security Council Resolution 1566—any action intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population, government, or international organization.[3] This would be the most lasting legacy of the Administration in the realm of the U.N. response to terrorism and would immediately increase the effectiveness of existing U.N. efforts to confront terrorism.

  2. Human rights. Since the birth of the U.N, protecting and advancing fundamental human rights has been one of the organization's primary objectives. U.N. treaties and conventions, such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which the General Assembly passed in 1948, form the core of international standards for human rights. Sadly, the U.N.'s record in getting member states to adopt and protect the fundamental human rights identified in that document has been riddled with failure and inaction. Such shortcomings occurred largely because governments hostile to human rights used their influence to blunt efforts in the U.N. to hold them accountable for their actions, particularly in U.N. bodies like the Commission on Human Rights. 

    The General Assembly voted in March 2006 to replace the discredited Commission on Human Rights with a new Human Rights Council to serve as the U.N.'s premier human rights body. Sadly, governments hostile to human rights have undermined the council's agenda by eliminating scrutiny of states such as Iran and Cuba, constraining the independence of human rights experts, and obtaining passage of a resolution on defamation of religion that condones constraints on freedom of expression. The U.S. has increasingly distanced itself from the council's failings, including refusing to run for a seat.[4] President Bush called for an immediate review of the council which, based on the General Assembly resolution establishing the council,[5] is mandatory before 2011. If the council is to live up to its potential, the review must result in the adoption of substantial membership criteria to prevent it being captured by governments that seek to block scrutiny of human rights abuses or groups such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference that support constraints on fundamental rights like freedom of speech and expression through its proposals on the Defamation of Religion.

  3. Democracy and the freedom agenda. A continuing theme throughout the Bush Administration's two terms has been its determination to spread representative government and liberty. It has sought to advance those principles in the U.N. by supporting popular demonstrations for democracy and initiating the U.N. Democracy Fund. The President rightly derided those who say that some peoples do not desire freedom: 
    From the voting booths of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Liberia, to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia, to the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, we have seen people consistently make the courageous decision to demand their liberty. For all the suggestions to the contrary, the truth is that whenever or wherever people are given the choice, they choose freedom. 
    Unfortunately, the U.S. has been fighting an uphill battle to support freedom in the U.N. Despite a growing number of democracies in the world over the past 20 years, a majority of the U.N. member states remain neither politically nor economically free, according to Freedom in the World 2008[6] published by Freedom House and the2008 Index of Economic Freedom[7] published by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. The U.N. practice of "one nation, one vote" allows the many members with repressive economic and political systems and the worst human rights offenses to vote together to block efforts to promote economic and political freedom. Worse, these repressive governments exert pressure through regional voting blocs and other political groupings—such as the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement—to dissuade newly democratic countries or other countries that may otherwise be positively disposed to efforts to promote freedom from voting in favor of those efforts in the U.N. For instance, even though members of the U.N. Democracy Caucus comprise over 75 percent of the membership of the Human Rights Council, it has ignored ongoing state-sanctioned human rights abuses in Belarus, Cuba, China, Iran, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere while spending an inordinate amount of time criticizing Israel. 

    To counter the influence of anti-democratic, repressive governments, the State Department and the U.S. Mission should seek to build and strengthen coalitions among economically and politically free nations that share America's values and principles. The U.S. should also use its foreign assistance to encourage political and economic freedom in recipient countries and link disbursement of that aid to support for U.S. initiatives in the U.N.[8]

  4. U.N. reform. The U.N. is charged with many serious responsibilities and tasks. Millions of individuals around the world rely on the U.N. for protection and other assistance, but at times the U.N. has proven unreliable or even detrimental in discharging these duties. As the President noted,

    In the 21st century, the world needs a confident and effective United Nations. This unique institution should build on its successes and improve its performance. Where there is inefficiency and corruption, it must be corrected. Where there are bloated bureaucracies, they must be streamlined. Where members fail to uphold their obligations, there must be strong action.
    President Bush is too generous. As evidenced by the well-publicized scandals involving the Iraq Oil-for-Food program, abuses by U.N. peacekeepers, recent revelations of corruption in U.N. procurement, and the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) violating its own rules and regulations in North Korea, the U.N. all too often has proven vulnerable to corruption and fraud, unaccountable in its activities, lacking in transparency and oversight, and duplicative and inefficient in its allocation of resources. The U.N. General Assembly agreed in the 2005 Outcome Document to adopt a number of reforms to address these problems. Despite voluminous reports on reform and additional proposals by former Secretary General Kofi Annan and current Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. General Assembly has failed to implement or enforce a number of overdue reforms to improve oversight, accountability, transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness such as a review of U.N. mandates, enhancing oversight, and outsourcing to reduce costs.[9] 

    While the reforms outlined in the 2005 Outcome Document are hardly sufficient, they represent a starting point—one with the backing of all U.N. member states. The U.S. should continue its efforts to implement these reforms and to work with nations that are committed to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the U.N. through reformed management, human resources, budgetary, and oversight practices. If the U.S.—with its one vote out of 192 U.N. member states—is to be effective, the Administration must work with Congress to use financial leverage to press for these changes. Pressure from the U.S. Congress has been effective in the past and would further increase the pressure for reform.[10]

Overwhelming Need for Fundamental Reform

In his final speech to the General Assembly, President Bush stated that the U.N. and other multilateral organizations "are needed more urgently than ever." He was partly right. The U.S. and the world would greatly benefit from an effective U.N. focused on promoting its founding principles. Unfortunately, that U.N. does not exist.

The U.N. is too often opaque, unaccountable, inefficient, and vulnerable to fraud and corruption. It is slow to act, when it can act at all. It is paralyzed by ideological wrangling that prevents it from even agreeing on a definition of terrorism or acknowledging massive human rights violations when they occur.

The President's speech was a call for the U.N. and the member states to take the steps necessary to make the U.N. relevant and effective. The need for fundamental reform is overwhelming. The difficulties in accomplishing that reform, in the face of widespread opposition among the membership, are even more overwhelming. In its waning days, the Bush Administration and the U.S. Congress should work together to achieve a few key initiatives to realize the reforms outlined in the President's speech.

Brett D. Schaefer is Jay Kingham Fellow in Inter national Regulatory Affairs in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.