Thursday, October 9, 2008

As UN's Ban Tries to Lead Reform, 36 Officials and 172 Staff Say No , Mobility Stalled

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, October 7 -- Speaking publicly at last about UN reform, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said his idea of moving staff from job to job is to stimulate creative, a "fresh wind at the UN," as he called it. But he has a long way to go to sell this plan. Several of his Under Secretary Generals have told Inner City Press they oppose the idea. People with expertise, one USG asked Inner City Press on October 6, why should we send them to an entirely different job? It brought to mind Ban's complaint in his speech to this and other officials in Turin, that he tried to lead by example but no one followed.

  The same applied, despite Ban's protests, to public financial disclosure. While at his October 7 press conference Ban claimed that compliance has been high, the most recent report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers shows that while in 2006 only 34 UN staff refused to submit financial disclosures, in 2007 under Ban Ki-moon, the number of non-compliant staff grew to 172. Click here to see the Report. To see Ban's claim to the contrary, video here.

   In asking questions about UN reform, over the objections of Ban's spokesperson, Inner City Press said it is to Ban's credit that he made a public financial disclosure, how ever minimal. But while he called on other senior UN system officials to follow his lead, an updated review by Inner City Press on October 7 found that of 105 top officials, fully 36 declined to make any public financial disclosure.  The names of these non-disclosers may be surprising to some. 

Ban Ki-moon at CERN: he made disclosure, 36 top officials did not, now what?

The following officials chose not  to follow Ban's lead, click to view their statements that "I have chosen not to disclose the information" --

  • Ahmed Obaid, Thoraya – Under-Secretary-General, Executive Director, UNFPA
  • Arrukban, Abdul Aziz – Special Humanitarian Envoy, OCHA
  • Belka, Marek – Executive Secretary, ECE
  • Cheng-Hopkins, Judy – Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, UNHCR
  • Costa, Antonio Maria – Director General, UNOV and Executive Director, UNODC
  • da Costa, Luiz Carlos – Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, MINUSTAH
  • Diarra, Cheick Sidi – High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (Africa post and familial connections not disclosed)
  • Dieng, Adama – Assistant Secretary-General/Registrar, ICTR
  • Djoghlaf, Ahmed – Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), UNEP
  • Eliasson, Jan K. – Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Darfur
  • Ennifar, Azouz – Acting Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Eritrea and Ethiopia
  • Gaye, Babacar – Force Commander, MONUC
  • Grandi, Filippo – Deputy Commissioner-General, UNRWA
  • Graziano, Claudio – Force Commander, UNIFIL
  • Haq, Ameerah – Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan
  • Holthuis, Hans – Registrar, ICTY
  • Houngbo, Fossoun Gilbert – Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant  Administrator and Regional Director, UNDP Africa (since left, also without anti revolving door standards, to the government of Togo)
  • Jomo, Kwame Sundaram – Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development, DESA
  • Machinea, Jose Luis – Executive Secretary, ECLAC
  • Mahmoud, Youssef – Executive Representative of the Secretary-General for Burundi and Head, BINUB
  • Mattsson, Jan – Executive Director, UNOPS 1
  • Moleko, Lebohang K. – Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Ethiopia/Eritrea
  • Moller, Michael – Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief of Mission, UNFICYP
  • Mountain, Ross – Deputy Special Representative for the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Moussa, Abou – Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, ONUCI
  • Obeng, Seth – Representative to the United Nations, Greentree Agreement
  • Obiakor, Chikadibia – Force Commander, UNMIL
  • Reed, Joseph – Special Advisor to the Secretary-General
  • Reske-Nielsen, Finn – Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Governance Support, Development and Humanitarian Coordination
  • Riza, Iqbal – Special Adviser to the Secretary-General
  • Ruecker, Joachim – Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission, UNMIK
  • Simonen, Mari – Deputy Executive Director (Management), UNFPA
  • Sutherland, Peter – Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Migration
  • Titov, Dmitry – Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions, DPKO
  • Veness, David – Under-Secretary-General, DSS
  • Yuge, Akiko – Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau of Management, UNDP

  In fairness, below is the UN's transcription of Inner City Press' question and Ban's answer in full. Notable is the non-response to the question about the so-called accountability report on the Algiers bombing of December 2007. Later on October 7, outgoing UN Security chief David Veness indicated that the report might suddenly come out on October 8, we will cover it on this site.

Inner City Press: Yesterday in the General Assembly, the Indian Ambassador made a critique of this Annual Report that you had made about the work of the UN. He said it lacked vision, and it didn't address enough the financial crisis, and he specifically took issue with this idea that you have articulated about the Member States should be accountable to the UN. He said, on accountability, just to give you a chance to respond to that, first of all, where is the so-called accountability report about the bombing in Algiers? It is quite a bit late now; if you can say where that is?

Also, you yourself personally did a public financial disclosure, to your credit, but many of your senior officials did not. In fact, there is a recent report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers for the UN that said that 172 people that were required to disclose did not, versus 34 in the previous year. So what is going to be the accountability there?

And finally, some of your senior officials have been saying that this idea that you have of forced mobility, of taking 20 percent from DPKO, they are saying that this might not be a good idea, that you might lose expertise. So what is your idea behind that, and how can it help the problems that you have been discussing today?

S-G Ban: I am glad that you have raised this very important reform, management reform agenda, while everybody seems to be interested and focusing on regional conflict issues. Accountability is a very important priority issue for me, as Secretary-General. I think, throughout this organization, including the Secretariat and Member States and all related organizations in the UN family, they should stand on the very firm and strict principle of accountability. You may remember that I had been speaking out on accountability. I termed it full accountability. When you think about accountability there is a tendency of asking [for] accountability [by] the Secretary-General or Secretariat, but I think as I said in my report to the 63rd session of the General Assembly on September 23rd, the Secretariat and the Secretary-General will always be fully accountable to the Member States. At the same time, Member States should also be accountable to the Organization, as said in the Charter. I went ahead by saying that, in more specifics, the Member States cannot continue just adopting resolutions and giving mandates to the Secretariat all the time without providing the necessary funding and troops and resources. This would be an impossible, impossible mission in such a case. Therefore Member States should be accountable to the Organization, and Member Sates should be accountable among themselves. Whatever they have committed, they should keep this promise.
Now, coming back to the accountability of the Secretariat, I think I made great strides and progress in terms of accountability of senior advisers. This was the first time in the history of the United Nations that a Secretary-General has disclosed his financial assets, to which I hoped that the senior advisers would follow. At the beginning of my tenure last year, the progress was not impressive, but at the end of last year you will see the record, that most senior advisers, I think almost all, have submitted their financial disclosure [forms]. This is spreading [through] even lower ranks who are required to submit their financial declaration. This will continue.
But accountability does not limit itself only to the financial declaration. This is just one small part. Whatever has been said and promised should be kept. That is part of accountability.
Now, mobility, when I said I would like to have as a pilot, 20 percent, this is something which I set as an example. I have asked the Under-Secretary-General of Management to submit to me a pilot project to, first of all, to facilitate this mobility among the staff. I know that there is some resistance and reluctance among the staff. This is again new. But without mobility you cannot expect that our staff will be multi-functional, multi-skilled, and you cannot expect anybody who had been working in the same place for 10 years, 15 years, even 20 years - you cannot expect from those people any creativity or any motivation. They will just be doing their job as a daily routine. From a daily routine you cannot expect this Organization working under “business as usual” all the time. We really need some fresh wind, some impact on the motivation, just to make our staff more motivated. Then from motivation you have some creativity. 

I begin every day as if this is my first day as Secretary-General. I hope that our staff will really do their job as if they are beginning their first day, all the time, every morning, when they come to the office, they should be able to come with a great sense of expectation and commitment. It's not like a 9 to 5. This is not what the international community expects from us. I need to meet the expectation of the international community, Member States, so you have my firm commitment. 

Then, how to promote this mobility, this is a very difficult job - I know that - because of all the different conditions of services. That is why I have proposed to the General Assembly the proposals for harmonization of these conditions of services. It is different from the Secretariat to UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, Funds and Programmes and specialized agencies. Even the head of a mission abroad gets a minimum of 20 per cent less salary than his or her deputies when somebody comes from Funds or Programmes. This is again an unacceptable situation. I have been making this case to Member States. Let me have this harmonization of services of contract. We have all different types of contracts – therefore it is extremely difficult to have smooth mobility among 15 different contracts. I am not aware why this system has developed in this way. That is what I am going to change.

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs.

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