Friday, February 29, 2008

SMCC President Goethel brings impartiality and independence to his position (i-Seek story, 13 February 2008): Response from the Staff Union



The timing of the i-Seek article on the SMCC President could not have been better; a few months before the beginning of a new SMCC session which will require the appointment of the President of SMCC for another year (see ST/SGB/2002/15, section 3.1(c)). Already, the incumbent President has held that post for three years. But then again, SMCC is wont of subverting its terms of reference; it has also been used to subvert the staff rules and regulations and to mislead the Secretary-General.

The President’s claim of impartiality is belied by the quote attributed to him that in “SMCC it takes three to tango; all United Nations staff unions, the management and myself.” His feeling “that Management has lived up to expectations during the last three sessions, which is the only period I can judge”—right after the recently botched attempt by a Working Group to address the concerns that SMCC is flawed—exudes a bias towards Management. A participant in that Working Group has informed our Staff Council of Management’s patronizing attitude during the inconcludent WG meeting.

The President of SMCC agrees that there have been difficulties in the past but he is quick to dismiss the past because “We are not living in the past, we are living in the present and we have to look forward.” He does not, however, offer any suggestions for the roadmap ahead. He concedes that dialogue between staff and management needs to be strengthened but he offers no concrete suggestions that would support a more meaningful relationship. His perception of the SMCC mechanism is that it provides a unique opportunity for Staff to bring their grievances to Management and for Management to listen to the concerns of Staff from around the globe. We can only assume that he is content with maintaining the bogus SMCC mechanism which we have denounced and demanded that it be overhauled.

The SMCC President calls upon the United Nations Staff Union to “take a fresh start and to join the process because a new chapter has been opened in SMCC’s work.” We do not know which chapter he refers to, for nothing has changed – one party has all the power and the other party is powerless. The specification in ST/SGB/2002/15 that the SMCC is a “mechanism for negotiation in good faith between staff representatives and the administration” is undermined by the deliberate non-implementation of outstanding agreements on substantive issues.

The President’s observation that “while Management speaks with one voice, the Staff side is often divided on important issues and struggling to speak with a single voice” is dead-on. Instead of addressing the concerns that led to the boycott of the SMCC, Management found it convenient to pit staff associations against one another; Management has propped the leaderships of some staff associations that have rejoined the SMCC circus with incentives, even to the extent of violating the staff rules and regulations.

The United Nations Staff Union is fully cognizant of the importance of the SMCC. Thus far, however, the SMCC has not lived up to its promise. The underlying concept of SMCC has merit but the tools or mechanisms that would realize the full potential of that concept are inadequate.
The United Nations Staff Union has taken the stand that the SMCC remains a bogus mechanism until the fundamental flaws of the SMCC mechanism are addressed by all parties concerned. There was a glimmer of hope following the establishment of the Joint Negotiation Committee (JNC) at Headquarters in June 2007. Our Staff Union wants a global staff-management negotiation body that allows for our effective and equitable participation in negotiations, where consensual agreements are binding and implemented, along the model of the new JNC. This aspiration is contained in the minutes of the JNC meeting on 10 October 2007 which states:
“The committee considers the establishment of the new JNC mechanism as a major step forward …and agrees that a similar reform of the Secretariat-wide body’s term of reference would now seem desirable in order to build on the JNC model…”

The United Nations Staff Union has proposed changes in Terms of Reference (TOR) for the SMCC that would make it more effective in the future, without prejudice to outstanding agreements that remain to be implemented. Our proposal to discuss the SMCC TOR in the JNC has been blocked by the USG/DM, in contravention of the terms of reference of JNC and SMCC. We forwarded our proposals, several months ahead of the 28th session of SMCC to the USG/DM and the SMCC President to solicit comments from both the administration and fellow staff representatives; we are yet to receive any comments.

The SMCC Working Group on the Institutionalization of the Staff-Management Dialogue was convened in New York from 28-31 January 2008 ostensibly to review the SMCC terms of reference. We had hoped that the SMCC President would use the article posted on i-Seek on 13 February 2008 to report on the outcome of that Working Group which, we have learnt, was a disappointing experience and a complete waste of time.

The United Nations Staff Union is undeterred by the SMCC President’s concern that our boycott of the SMCC mechanism will lose its strength and that we may become marginalized. Upending the gamesmanship of Management in SMCC is long overdue. We are resolute in our quest to bring credibility and integrity to “the Secretariat-wide mechanism for negotiation in good faith between staff representatives and the administration” as provided for in staff regulation 8.1 and ST/SGB/2002/15. We await the report of the just concluded SMCC Working Group on the Institutionalization of the Staff-Management Dialogue.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

UN Staff Union Seeks Accountability for Algiers bombing



22 February 2008

His ExcellencyMr. Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General of the United Nations

cc: Mr. Dimitri Samaras

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

The United Nations Staff Union wishes to express its alarm and disappointment that you appear to have no interest in seeking a determination of accountability for the 11 December 2007 terrorist attack on the United Nations premises in Algiers.

During a press conference on 7 January 2008, you were asked whether you thought it was "imperative for the credibility of the United Nations that there will be an independent investigation that is not being done by the person who was in charge of security, to see whether security procedures were actually followed."

Your response was, "I will see; I will reserve my judgment until I have a full report from DSS."
Following the receipt of the "full report from DSS," which specifically did not seek to establish accountability, on 14 January 2008 you were quoted in the media as saying "We are now going to try to find out more facts, and it's not only limited to the Algiers case" and that "We'd like to engage other member states, and other international experts on this issue, and try to find out ... what we can do more to strengthen our measures against all these possible attacks against the United Nations."

We fully agree that it is imperative to "find out more facts" and to "do more to strengthen our measures against all these possible attacks." We would expect the involvement of the staff in such measures. On 5 February 2008, however, you appointed a chairperson to lead a panel to review United Nations security worldwide in response to the attack in Algiers, without the involvement of staff.

We find it disturbing that on such an important matter no consultations with the staff were made prior to the announcement. There are many questions regarding the appointment of the panel and the definition of its terms of reference that must be answered before staff can find it acceptable. The panel, as presently announced, raises issues regarding lack of accountability and possible conflicts of interest.

We implore you to direct that the team led by Mr. Brahimi also examines, under its terms of reference, lapses in the UN security system which may have led to an increase in the loss of life in Algiers on 11 December 2007, compared to the loss of UN staff at the Canal Hotel attack in 2003.

Following the Canal Hotel attack, your predecessor commissioned the "Report of the Independent Panel on the Safety and Security of the UN Personnel in Iraq" to, inter alia, "examine the adequacy of UN security policy, management and practices in Iraq prior to the attack." This report recommended that "In the case of Iraq, the Panel believes that the seriousness of the breaches in the security system by the UN managers in charge at Headquarters and in the field warrants the setting up of a separate and independent audit and accountability procedure to review the responsibilities of key individuals in the lack of preventive and mitigating actions prior to the attack on 19 August."
Your predecessor acted on this recommendation, and created the Walzer Panel which in fact found that several UN officials were responsible for their lack of preventative and mitigation actions. We respectfully request that you direct the Brahimi Panel to have the same responsibility that was given to the Waltzer Panel.

Unfortunately, the impression created by your public statements and those by your Spokesperson is that the Brahimi Panel will not examine the facts of the United Nations security system prior to the Algiers bombing, but rather will be a global examination of security threats. While there is merit in such an examination, it must not be allowed to overshadow the imperative question of accountability for Algiers.

On 10 January 2008, you stated to representatives of Member States that you "will work to deliver results; to create a stronger UN through full accountability of all parties." By avoiding the question of accountability for security failures in Algiers, you are not following your own words, and you are not leading by example.

On 4 February 2008, you stated that your "overall goal is to develop an accountability framework that outlines clear roles, responsibilities and authorities for all levels and stakeholders of the Organization."

We believe that without accountability, there is impunity. We ask that you not be complicit in a cover-up of what happened prior to the 11 December attack. The staff is sick and tired of the impunity extended by the office of the Secretary-General to senior managers for their failings especially in situations where it has led to death and disability.

We request for an immediate and public clarification of your intentions. Please accept, Sir, the assurances of our highest consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Kisambira
President United Nations Staff Union

Welzijnsmaffia en ander links tuig

Welzijnsmaffia en ander links tuig
John Witkamp
De twee oudjes op de foto hiernaast laten er geen misverstand over bestaan hoe ze over Wouter Bos en zijn bejaardentaks denken. De zoveelste poging van diefstal door de fiscus blijkt deze week als een zeepbel uit elkaar te spatten om een aantal redenen. Zo is de vergrijsde achterban van de CU er inmiddels ook achter dat spaarzaamheid tot inleveren leid en zal het niet lang duren voor de geronte achterban van het CDA dezelfde conclusie gaat trekken. Na al zo'n zes keer belasting betaald te hebben over je salaris, wil men immers ook nog een deel van je pensioen opeisen. Tegelijkertijd zorgt de linkse welzijnsmaffia dat haar eigen kroost er natuurlijk warmpjes bij zit. Vandaag werd duidelijk in een bericht in de Elsevier dat Ad Melkert hoogst persoonlijk betrokken is bij het schandaal van de huursubsidie van Armoede Keizerin Herfkens. Staatsecretaris De Jager heeft inmiddels aangegeven dat onuitvoerbare maatregelen vanuit het regeeraccoord niet zullen worden uitgevoerd, maar dat soort uitspraken heb ik de laatste decenie al te vaak gehoord waarbij de uitwerking weer anders werd om nog serieus te nemen.

Juridisch advies !
Maar dat is nog niet alles, want een vooraanstaand lid van de gereformeerde Gristengemeenschap hield er wel bijzondere normen en waarden op na. De volgens zijn omgeving strengelovige Peter F. wordt niet alleen van miljoenenfraude bij zijn voormalig werkgever Ballast Nedam verdacht, nu stond vandaag in de krant ook te lezen dat hij hetzelfde bedrijf zijn bezoek aan prostituees liet betalen en deze post wegboekte onder de noemer "Juridisch advies" . Dat wordt hilarisch natuurlijk in de komende tijd. Want als Andre Rouvoet per ongeluk in een debat verteld dat hij eerst juridisch advies moet inwinnen, hoe moet je dat dan duiden. Maar goed, fraude blijkt wat wijdverbreid deze dagen, want de gemiddelde frauderende industrieel of politicus zal zijn centen gewoon weer in een grote sok onder het bed moeten leggen. Naar Lichtenstein kan ook al niet meer, omdat het bankpersoneel daar je gegevens graag verkoopt aan de diverse fiscussen in Europa en Amerika. Zo zie je maar dat er iedere keer weer iets opmerkelijks opborreld.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Turkish Salvage Tycoon in War-Torn Iraq Says U.N.D.P. Owes Him Millions

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

By Michael Y. Park


Kahraman Sadikoglu remembers the day in May 2003 when a U.N. agency asked him to move forward with a business deal that would make the world a better place — and help him earn a tidy profit.

"I was very proud to be working for the U.N., because the U.N. is the best in the world, and it solves the problems," the Turkish shipping tycoon said in a recent interview. "I thought we were going to help the Iraqi people."

Sadikoglu was asked by the U.N. to clear from the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr several sunken ships that were blocking this major supply artery into the war-torn country.


But nearly five years later, the colorful billionaire insists he’s out more than $50 million — with the meter running on another $100,000 a day in interest and expenses — and has been blocked from providing life-saving aid by the very agency charged with overseeing the project, the U.N. Development Program, or UNDP.

That’s not all. Dozens of crew members living on a virtual armada of Sadikoglu’s salvage ships — nine in all — remain stuck in limbo at an Iraqi port, unofficially held hostage, he claims, in a stalemate the UNDP seems uninterested in or unable to resolve.

The strange impasse may even have extended its reach into domestic Turkish politics and personalities. UNDP boss Kemal Dervis, a Turk, was a member of Turkey’s parliament from the center-left Republican People’s Party. Sadikoglu, meanwhile, has supported center-right causes in his country and was not a big supporter of Dervis’ political career.

Sadikoglu’s saga began in 2001, when his Tuzla Tersanecilik ve Turizm A.S., also known as Tuzla Shipyard, reached agreement with Saddam Hussein’s government to clear shipwrecks from Umm Qasr, the country’s largest commercial port. Most of the ships had been sunk there during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.

The project languished before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. But Sadikoglu says just two months after coalition forces landed, UNDP officials asked him to go forward with his plan to clear 19 sunken ships from the harbor. Salvaging Umm Qasr apparently had become a priority to coalition forces looking to bring in badly needed military and material supplies.

John Curley, the UNDP project director for Iraqi ports and salvage removal from 2003 to 2004 and overseer of Tuzla’s work, says Sadikoglu could not have been happier.

"It was like a children's storybook," Curley says. "All over the news at the moment was the war and the reconstruction program, and all of a sudden [the UNDP] calls Kahraman and says, 'We want you to come and work for the U.N. Will you come? We need your support for the reconstruction.' Kahraman was very excited. He said, 'John, when the U.N. calls, you go.'"

For a time, there was progress. Tuzla’s crews cleared the 19 wrecks at a pace that earned praise from the UNDP and the Coalition Provisional Authority, or CPA, the U.S.-led interim government in Iraq.

Umm Qasr "was the only United Nations project in Iraq at that time that was completed end to end. We were like movie stars in the U.N.," Curley recalls. At the request of the CPA, the UNDP in 2003 expanded the contract with Tuzla from 19 to 32 wrecks.

"It was of critical importance, because you can't bring everything in over land," says Peter Bingham, the ports and maritime adviser to the CPA at the time. The UNDP "ran it by us, and we said, 'Yes, it's fine,' and didn't expect to see any problems."

But there was a catch: UNDP higher-ups in New York never had provided Sadikoglu with an explicitly worded contract covering the expanded project; he says they told him one would be provided later. Curley, acting as the UNDP representative on the ground in southern Iraq, says he was instructed to make only an oral agreement with Sadikoglu.

Sadikoglu and the U.N. agree he was paid for the main part of the contract. But Sadikoglu says he hasn't been compensated for the millions of dollars in bills that piled up quickly thereafter because of what he calls UNDP incompetence and neglect.

From early on, he charges, the UNDP offered little more support than the supposed protection of a robin's-egg-blue flag. In fact, Sadikoglu and one of his ship captains were kidnapped in Iraq in December 2004; they were released only after his company paid a ransom of about $500,000.

The details of the kidnapping remain murky. Some reports speculated that Sadikoglu’s shadowy competitors — his company is well-known throughout the Middle East — were behind the plot. His detractors whispered that Sadikoglu himself had staged the affair in an effort to draw attention to his situation. He denies those charges.

Other problems had started piling up well before the kidnappings.

"There were literally people dying inside and outside of the ports every day," Curley says. "Lootings, kidnappings. Most of the transports that Kahraman sent to get fresh vegetables from Basra were all full of bullet holes. And the U.N. gave him no guarantees other than 'You can fly the U.N. flag on your mainmast.’ When Kahraman was footing the bill … he just looked at that U.N. flag and said, 'There's no way these guys are going to let me down.'"

But despite Sadikoglu's optimism, Iraqi officials complained in October 2003 that scrap metal the UNDP had ordered Tuzla to leave on a jetty had not yet been carted away. Sadikoglu says that job had been contracted out to a Kuwaiti company that he insists never showed up to do the job.

According to Curley, the Iraqi officials were little more than thugs who saw Sadikoglu as an easy mark for extortion and used their veneer of governmental authority as a useful bludgeon. They told Sadikoglu the scrap was his problem and refused to let his vessels and crew leave the port, under threat of imprisonment, while the mess remained.

Four years later, those ships remain in Iraq.

Yet more problems cropped up. Sadikoglu says it became clear the UNDP would not pay him for special services and equipment he says they had expressly ordered from him as part of the salvage operation.

He says these included the $600,000 cost of bringing in special anti-pollution equipment from Holland in June 2003 — another provision that wasn’t covered by any contract. Curley says unequivocally the UNDP had promised Sadikoglu it would "pay him directly" for the equipment. It never did.

At the time, Sadikoglu says, he chalked up the problems to post-war chaos and continued the work. But the security situation continued to deteriorate, and the cost of the job continued to skyrocket.

One of the ships Tuzla salvaged, the Medilli, had to be re-raised twice after looters kept re-sinking it. Once again, Sadikoglu says the UNDP promised to pay for the added service. And once again, he says, it didn’t come through.

Both Curley and Bingham — the officials directly responsible for oversight of Tuzla’s efforts — agree Sadikoglu always did everything he was asked to do by the UNDP. They also agree the UNDP never paid for the extra work.

"They owe him a huge amount of money," says Bingham, the Coalition Provisional Authority ports adviser. "They've owed him this money since 2004, for the best part of three, four years, and they keep prevaricating and making excuses. And still nothing."

Finally, in January 2006, Sadikoglu hired lawyers to force the UNDP into arbitration on three unresolved issues: the impounding of his nine ships in Umm Qasr, the cost of the $600,000 anti-pollution equipment and the re-raising of the Medilli.

Sadikoglu also sought relief from Dervis, his fellow Turk, who as UNDP administrator certainly has the authority to push through a settlement in the case. But Sadikoglu says his repeated efforts for a meeting with Dervis in New York were politely ignored.

Two years later, very little is resolved.

"They've responded in several ways, with a lot of delaying tactics," says George Irving, Sadikoglu’s New York attorney. "I just don't understand why it's taken this number of years to proceed to an arbitration when most of their standard contracts call for arbitration to commence in a six- or eight-week period. They're dragging their feet, and I don't know why."

Irving says he's gotten mixed messages from the UNDP. On one hand, he says, citing the lack of a properly written contract, the organization denies responsibility for the extra work. On the other hand, Irving maintains, they say they recognize Tuzla’s work and must address the claims.

UNDP attorney Lawrence Newman, in an e-mail to FOX News, argues that Sadikoglu’s contract was with the former government of Iraq, and not the UNDP. Further, Newman writes, because Sadikoglu's claims fall outside the scope of the original contract, the facts have to be assessed carefully, meaning the case will take time.

"As a publicly funded international organization accountable to its member states, UNDP has an obligation to scrupulously evaluate the merits of any claim brought against it," Newman writes.

"The claim of Tuzla is no different," he continues. "In accordance with the established practice of the organization, UNDP has retained the services of outside counsel that is assisting UNDP's analysis of Tuzla's claims and that is in regular contact with Tuzla's counsel."

Curley has his own theory about what’s taking so long to pay Sadikoglu for the millions he's owed for salvaging the additional ships and accruing costs.

"The U.N. just sat on him and said, 'This guy will go away and eventually give us no hassle,’" he says. "Three years down the line, he still hasn't received a penny of what he was supposed to get. It's a very sorry case."

Sadikoglu, meanwhile, says he won't give up.

"I still believe in the U.N.," he says. But, he adds, "I will go to the ends of the earth for this."

Eveline Herfkens; waarom de Nederlandse overheid fout zit


01-03-2008
Door Freke Vuijst

Het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken meent dat Eveline Herfkens de huurvergoeding die de overheid betaalde voor haar appartement in New York niet terug hoeft te betalen. Het onderzoek naar de betalingen aan Nederlanders bij internationale organisaties rammelt aan alle kanten. Een analyse in zeven punten.

1.
De overheid heeft toegegeven dat de betaling van een huurvergoeding aan Herfkens en andere Nederlanders in dienst van de VN in strijd was met de VN-regelgeving. De vraag of het ministerie de regels moedwillig heeft overtreden, gaat de overheid uit de weg. Was het ministerie wellicht niet op de hoogte van de regels? Dat is buitengewoon onwaarschijnlijk. Buitenlandse Zaken verwees eerder al naar het Handvest van de Verenigde Naties. Dat dateert uit 1954 en het is mogelijk dat het, opgeborgen in een stoffig archief, nooit is geraadpleegd. Maar in 2001 is de regelgeving, bekend als de Standards of Conduct for the International Civil Service, geamendeerd.

Het ministerie geeft toe dat het hiervan op de hoogte is. Ook Vrij Nederland citeerde uit deze Standards of Conduct in het eerste artikel over Herfkens. Het herschrijven van de Standards was een langdurig proces. De Algemene Vergadering gaf daar in 1999 opdracht toe. Lidstaten konden bij de desbetreffende commissie opmerkingen en aanbevelingen indienen. Twee jaar later, op 24 december 2001, werden de nieuwe Standards of Conduct door de Algemene Vergadering aangenomen als resolutie 56/244. Heeft Buitenlandse Zaken deze resolutie ‘gemist’ vanwege de kerstvakantie?

2.
Buitenlandse Zaken schrijft dat de Standards of Conduct spreken over ‘vergoedingen en/of toelagen in algemene zin; huren en/of verhuizingen worden niet specifiek vermeld’. Een formulering waarmee BZ blijkbaar de indruk wil wekken dat het de regels niet goed heeft begrepen. Dit is misleidend. De reden dat huren niet met name genoemd worden, is omdat de Standards categorisch alle soorten giften door overheden aan onderdanen werkzaam bij de VN verbieden: ‘Elk eerbewijs, onderscheiding, gift, vergoeding, gunst of economische hulp van meer dan nominale waarde.’

3.
Kan Nederland uit de Verenigde Naties worden gezet voor het schenden van de Standards of Conduct? Nee. De Standards is geen juridisch document. Het is een richtlijn, lidstaten worden geacht zich hieraan te houden. De politieke consequenties voor het overtreden van de regels liggen dus in Nederland. In een eerder schrijven aan de Kamer (25 januari) verklaarde Buitenlandse Zaken dat de toenmalige minister ‘de politieke verantwoordelijkheid’ droeg voor Herfkens’ tegemoetkoming in de huisvestingskosten. Hetzelfde geldt dus voor de meer recente betalingen die in de Kamerbrief worden gemeld.

4.
Nederland eist niet dat Herfkens de huurvergoeding (190.000 euro) terugbetaalt omdat terugvordering ‘in strijd’ zou zijn ‘met het beginsel van rechtszekerheid’. Het ministerie houdt echter een slag om de arm. Als Herfkens zich ervan bewust was geweest ‘dat het ontvangen van de vergoeding in strijd met de VN-regels was’, dan ligt de zaak wellicht anders. Het ministerie ziet dit niet gebeuren, ‘de beschikbare informatie geeft geen aanleiding tot een dergelijke stellingname’, concludeert de kamerbrief. Is dat zo? Toen Herfkens in 2002 werd benoemd om de campagne voor de millenniumdoelstellingen te leiden, heeft ze een papier getekend dat zegt: ‘I also solemnly declare and promise to respect the obligations incumbent upon me as set out in the Staff Regulations and Rules.’

Het tekenen van deze verklaring is een voorwaarde voor een contract bij de VN en wordt na ondertekening in het dossier van de desbetreffende persoon bewaard. Blijkbaar heeft Herfkens de verklaring getekend zonder ooit de Stafregels te lezen. Want daarin staat (regel 1.2(j)): ‘Geen staflid zal enig eerbewijs, onderscheiding, gunst, gift of vergoeding van enige overheid accepteren.’ Sinds wanneer is onwetendheid van de wet, een excuus voor overtreding van de wet?

Het UNDP heeft Herkens' contracten online gezet:

UNDP
UNDP, Letter of Appointment, 2002 - 06

UNDP, Letter of Appointment, 2006 - 07

5.
Buitenlandse Zaken laat een definitief oordeel over Herfkens afhangen van het onderzoek van de VN. David Morrison, woordvoerder van UNDP waar Herfkens werkt, bevestigde tegen Vrij Nederland dat het resultaat van dit onderzoek eind maart verwacht kan worden. Erg moeilijk behoeft dit onderzoek niet te zijn. UNDP, in een schrijven van 1 januari 2004, stelt dat onder ‘wangedrag’ dat in aanmerking komt voor disciplinaire maatregelen valt ‘het verzuim om de ontvangst van giften, vergoedingen of andere voordelen ontvangen door de stafmedewerker van een externe bron te melden’. Dat Herfkens een huurvergoeding ontving, vernam UNDP uit het artikel in Vrij Nederland.

Disciplinaire maatregelen voor ‘wangedrag’ kunnen ontslag en of een boete zijn. Een onderdeel van UNDP’s onderzoek waar BZ geen melding van maakt, is Eveline Herfkens’ aanvraag voor een permanente verblijfsvergunning in Amerika, de zogenaamde Green Card. Herfkens’ aanvraag van een Green Card leidde tot haar arbeidsconflict, de aanleiding voor Vrij Nederland om Herfkens’ positie bij de VN te reconstrueren. Woordvoerder Morrison bevestigde dat Herfkens op 14 juni 2007 haar Green Card heeft gekregen. Onderzocht wordt nu of Herfkens de regels heeft overtreden door UNDP niet tijdig op de hoogte te stellen van haar aanvraag. Een permanente verblijfsvergunning betekent namelijk dat Herfkens niet langer onder de diplomatieke immuniteit van de VN valt. Heeft Herfkens wellicht ook de regels van de Amerikaanse immigratiedienst overtreden? Vrij Nederland raadpleegde een immigratieadvocaat die concludeerde dat er wellicht sprake was van een technische overtreding. In ieder geval is duidelijk dat het Nederlandse diplomatieke paspoort van Herfkens haar niet langer van dienst kan zijn in de VS.

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.

7.
De huursubsidies en andere vergoedingen – zoals bijdragen voor onderwijskosten en gescheiden huishouding – vloeien volgens BZ voort uit de gedachte dat ‘het in Nederlands belang is dat landgenoten werkzaam zijn op strategisch belangrijke posities bij internationale organisaties’. Dit ‘uitgangspunt’ is eigenlijk het meest tragische van de hele affaire. Het toont dat de Nederlandse overheid zich niet bewust is van de onafhankelijkheid die Nederlandse staatsburgers in dienst van de Verenigde Naties behoren te hebben. Zowel de Standards of Conduct als de Staff Regulations voor stafleden van de VN benadrukken dat stafmedewerkers de belangen van de VN dienen en niet de belangen van hun overheid.

Niettemin presteerde minister Van Ardenne (Ontwikke­lingssamenwerking) het om in een persbericht op 17 januari 2006 over de benoeming van Ad Melkert als tweede man bij UNDP te verklaren: ‘Het is goed dat Nederland op het hoogste niveau vertegenwoordigd is bij de VN.’ Maar Ad Melkert ‘vertegenwoordigt’ niet de Nederlandse belangen bij UNDP. Dat zou indruisen tegen de regels van niet alleen UNDP, maar van de VN. Een dergelijk ‘uitgangspunt’ van de Nederlandse overheid is niet alleen een aanfluiting van de ‘geest en letter van VN-regelgeving’, het roept ook vragen op over corruptie. Is elke benoeming van een Nederlands staatsburger een gevolg van een Nederlands belang? Is elk contract van de VN met een Nederlands bedrijf (en er zijn veel Nederlandse bedrijven die contracten hebben met de Verenigde Naties) te danken aan Nederlanders die hoge posten bij de VN bekleden?

Vrij Nederland heeft sinds de publicatie van de affaire-Herfkens al van meerdere bronnen vernomen dat Nederlandse consultants en bedrijven gunstige contracten zouden hebben afgesloten dankzij Nederlanders in topfuncties bij de VN. Zelfs als dergelijke aantijgingen ongegrond blijken te zijn, is het evident dat betalingen van de overheid aan Nederlanders bij internationale organisaties in naam van het ‘Nederlandse belang’ een klimaat scheppen waarin dergelijke beschuldigingen niet onder de tafel geveegd kunnen worden. Met de affaire-Herfkens heeft de overheid moedwillig de regels ontdoken. In andere landen heet zoiets corruptie. Dus wie heeft er schuld? En wie moet boeten?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

'Melkert betrokken bij rel rond Herfkens'

dinsdag 26 februari 2008 11:15

Ad Melkert, tweede man bij VN-ontwikkelingsorganisatie UNDP, heeft bij het Nederlandse ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken een zware lobby gevoerd voor Eveline Herfkens. Hij overtuigde het ministerie ervan dat ze echt niets afwist van de VN-regels, zodat ze de onterecht verkregen huursubsidie niet hoefde terug te betalen.

Dat meldt het Amerikaanse Inner City Press, de website van de bekende VN-blogger Matthew Russell Lee. Deze journalist behoort tot een van de weinige verslaggevers die de UNDP nauwgezet volgen.

Herfkens werkt sinds 2002 voor de UNDP. Drie jaar lang ontving zij elke maand 7.000 dollar huursubsidie van de Nederlandse regering, bovenop haar VN-salaris van '18.000 dollar' per maand. Volgens de regels van de VN had zij geen giften mogen aannemen vanuit haar moederland.

'Keizerin van de armoede'
Melkert en twee andere hooggeplaatste UNDP-functionarissen zouden voor 'keizerin van de armoede' Herfkens in de bres zijn gesprongen en het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken ervan hebben overtuigd dat ze niets afwist van de regels, zodat zij de onterecht verkregen huursubsidie (in totaal bijna 200.000 euro) niet terug hoeft te betalen.

Het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken ontkent dat Melkert iets te maken heeft gehad met het besluit om het geld niet terug te vorderen. 'Er is geen enkele sprake geweest van een lobby door de heer Melkert. Wij hebben een besluit genomen op basis van intern onderzoek en extern juridisch advies. Functionarissen van de UNDP hadden hier niets mee te maken,' zegt Peter Mollema, plaatsvervangend directeur voorlichting, tegen elsevier.nl.

Borrels
Inner City Press meldt dat Melkert regelmatig aanwezig was op borrels, feestjes en etentjes in het luxueuze en chique appartement van Herfkens, en zich dus allang had kunnen afvragen hoe Herfkens aan het geld kwam. Een woordvoerder ontkent overigens dat Melkert ooit bij Herfkens thuis is geweest.

De UNDP wil nog niet reageren, maar plaatste maandag wel het contract van Herfkens online, om openheid te geven over haar salaris en te bewijzen dat zij niet 216.000 dollar per jaar verdiende, maar 'slechts' 134.331 dollar bij een dienstverband van 100 procent. Uit haar contract blijkt dat zij een dienstverband had van 80 procent, maar de UNDP verklaarde vorige maand dat zij 75 procent werkte. Dat zou betekenen dat zij maandelijks 5 procent meer loon kreeg.

Het contract maakt ook haar bewering dat ze niets afwist van de regels erg twijfelachtig. In het contract staat namelijk duidelijk dat de VN-regels zijn overhandigd en zelfs besproken. Herfkens heeft daar netjes haar handtekening onder gezet.

Bekijk ook Wynia's Week: Zaak Herfkens stinkt nog meer dan gedacht


Door Claudia van Zanten

Melkert lobbyde voor Herfkens


di 26 feb 2008, 14:46 0 reacties

AMSTERDAM - Ad Melkert blijkt achter de schermen PvdA-partijgenote Herfkens geholpen te hebben om onterecht gekregen huursubsidie van de VN niet terug te betalen.

Melkert, die tweede man is bij VN-ontwikkelingsorganisatie UNDP, heeft bij het Nederlandse ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken een zware lobby gevoerd voor Eveline Herfkens, zo meldt het Amerikaanse Inner City Press. Melkert overtuigde het ministerie ervan dat ze echt niets afwist van de VN-regels, zodat ze de onterecht verkregen huursubsidie niet hoefde terug te betalen.

Herfkens ontving drie jaar elke maand 7.000 dollar huursubsidie van de Nederlandse regering, bovenop haar VN-salaris van '18.000 dollar' per maand. Dat was in strijd met VN-regels waarin staat dat giften uit het moederland verboden zijn.

Melkert en twee andere hooggeplaatste UNDP-functionarissen zouden Buitenlandse Zaken ervan hebben overtuigd dat ze niets afwist van de regels, zodat zij de onterecht verkregen huursubsidie (in totaal bijna 200.000 euro) niet terug hoeft te betalen.

Inner City Press meldt dat Melkert regelmatig aanwezig was op borrels, feestjes en etentjes in het luxueuze en chique appartement van Herfkens, en zich dus allang had kunnen afvragen hoe Herfkens aan het geld kwam. Een woordvoerder ontkent overigens dat Melkert ooit bij Herfkens thuis is geweest, zo meldt Elsevier.

Onlangs is het arbeidscontract van Herfkens openbaar geworden. Daarin staat duidelijk dat ze de VN-regels onderschrijft. Onder het contract staat haar handtekening, aldus Elsevier.

Sri Lanka: “D”rama Mani

Sisira Pereira, Panadura

What an interesting drama this "Mani" episode has been.

I was quite amused the other day to read a letter by SCOPP chief Professor Rajiv Wijesinghe to the effect that the notorious Rama Mani episode has yet again produced some more deception stories that this “lady” had “engineered” to remain in Sri Lanka. Seems like Mani had been so dexterous in underhand maneuvering.

Come to think of it, of course, why not, she is an “expert” on issues on “justice” among many other, according to the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) website!!

And what a lot of justice she had done to the chief of the UNDP regional centre in Colombo!

The UNDP chief is demanding nothing less than a downright apology from Mani for covertly implicating him in a petition!! Whether or not the due apology would be coming from Rama Mani, would be a good watch to look forward to. This Indian lady could have kicked all Bolywood actresses out of business had she chosen that line, I suppose.

DBS Jeyaraj had earlier alleged in an article that some writers who alleged Rama Mani had a gender bias, while, at the same time, admitting that he, himself was both biased and unbiased. Hey, why not, I might say. Mani does have the looks and, in addition, she does seem to be possesing the skills of an actress to "portray" different "faces" to suit the scene!!

The letter by Mr. Omar Noman of the UNDP makes a good reading to everybody who had been very correct in alleging that Mani was up to no good. Yet it may be a slap on the face for all those people who tried every trick under the sun to re-instate her Visa and also for those who tried to whitewash her damaged reputation by writing articles in favour of her in various media, while branding the people behind her eviction as the villains.

There is an adage that implies that having no shame has no boundaries (lejja nethi kama maha mudali kamatath wadaa lokuyilu). The Ancient wisdom has obviously foreseen individuals like Mani!! Rama Mani may have studied in the so-called best of the best of institutions in the West and may have earned degrees, fellowships, honourary memberships (and who knows what) to project herself as a Western advocate of justice for humans in need. I would say, "Nice cover!"

Now that Mani, the masquerader, has proved once again beyond doubt that she has soiled herself in the process of her covert operations in Sri Lanka, with allegations of her (many) treachery coming to light from unexpected quarters, there is also ample opportunity for her associates and followers to wallow in the mess and adorn themselves with the dirt, if they care to lean on Mani more and more.

As for us, we will sit back, relax, watch and enjoy the “dung bath drama” by Mani and her accomplices! Good Show!!

While UN's Dutch Poverty Czar Is Allowed to Keep Illegal Money, Brooklyn Woman Was Jailed in Similar UN Case

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

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 24, updated Feb 25 -- The receipt of $7000 a month in free rent by the director of the UN Development Program's anti-poverty Millennium Campaign has been the subject of heated debate in the Dutch parliament. UNDP's Administrator Kemal Dervis, asked about it by Inner City Press, admitted that the payments were improper. So has the Office of the Spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. But now should Evelyn Herfkens, to whom the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs paid the housing subsidy in violation of UN rules, be required to pay the money back? Should there be any punishment at all?

After extensive lobbying on Ms. Herfkens behalf by UNDP's two top executives, and a senior advisor from the UN Secretariat, it is reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sees no reason to reclaim the money from Herfkens "as it is not clear if Herfkens knew she was not allowed to take the money and she never asked for it."

This is in stark contrast to a case earlier this decade in which a single mother in Brooklyn through a clerical error received hundreds of thousands of dollars into her Chase Bank account that had been intended for a UN Environment Program trust fund. Susan Madakor, who used the part to for example set up an education fund for her son, not only was required to make restitution of the money, under a legal theory of unjust enrichment -- she was also prosecuted and convicted of a crime. So why the kid's glove treatment for Ms. Herfkens?

In order words, why would the UN prosecute a low-income woman for the type of windfall that it allows, with impunity, for a politically-connected ex-diplomat who was already getting paid $225,000 a year by the UN for part-time work ostensibly for the poor?

Ms. Madakor, who found the money erroneously deposited in her account, said she thought she had won an international lottery. Nevertheless, then UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said that the UN would employ "all legal options available" because "this money does not belong to Ms Madakor." Eckhard's deputy Manoel de Almeida e Silva later told the press that "Susan Madakor, a Brooklyn resident who had received wire transfers mistakenly credited by Chase Manhattan Bank that were intended for the United Nations Environmental Program, was convicted of bank larceny and bank fraud. Last week she was sentenced to two years in prison. United States District Judge Shirley Kram ordered her to begin serving her sentence by May 16, and also ordered her to pay restitution to Chase."

So what legal options are being considered given Ms. Herfkens improper receipt of hundreds of thousands of dollars in housing subsidy from a government while ostensibly working for the UN? None, apparently. Rather, senior UNDP and UN officials have put their credibility on the line to insist that Ms. Herfkens never knew that the housing subsidy was against the rules.

This is questionable: records show that Herfkens was intimately knowledgeable about UNDP's rules for such things as the authorization to fly business class rather than coach. She asked to be allowed to fly business class even after she shifted to part-time contractor status in order to appear eligible for a U.S. green card. Significantly, the prohibition on receiving housing subsidy or benefits from a government is included in employment contract she signed.

Inner City Press is also told that UNDP Associate Administrator Ad Melkert attended numerous social events in Herfkens' posh Dag Hammarskjold Towers apartment. Apparently it never occurred to him to wonder, or ask, how this apartment was being paid for.

[Update of Feb. 25: UNDP spokesman David Morrison writes to state that "Mr. Melkert never set foot in the apartment," and deny any "impropriety or negligence" by Melkert. Duly noted. Apparently, UNDP does not contest that Melkert (and Kemal Dervis) lobbied Dutch officials to reach a finding the Eveline Herfkens didn't know she was breaking UN rules, and UNDP sees no need (or no way) to explain the disparity of low-income Brooklynite Susan Madakor being prosecuted and jailed for inadvertently receiving funds, as well as being required to make restitution, while UNDP's Director of the Millennium Campaign faces no prosecution and, apparently at UNDP's lobbying, is not required to pay back a single cent. We will continue to follow this.]

Once exposed for receiving the subsidy, Herfkens told the press that she needed a nice apartment. Note to Herfkens, from / in the spirit of Susan Madakor: they are cheaper in Brooklyn, to say nothing of The Bronx.

While UNDP has loudly claimed that Melkert never received housing subsidy from the Dutch government while employed by UNDP, or even before that at the World Bank, testimony in the Dutch parliament raises questions about other improper payments to UN officials by the Dutch government. It has been acknowledged that Dutch government payments were also made, as employer, into Herfkens' ongoing Dutch pension, even while she was employed by UNDP. Such payments also violate UN rules and the Charter. As with housing subsidy, and particularly in light of the asserted defense that Ms. Herfkens never asked for the payments, there is no reason to believe that she was the only Dutch UN official improperly receiving governmental benefits.

Three weeks ago, Inner City Press approached former Dutch diplomat Peter van Walsum, who is employed by the UN as its envoy on Western Sahara. A staffer cut off access to van Walsum, who is known to avoid the press. Inner City Press asked, are you his spokesperson? No, he doesn't have one, was the response. Inner City Press asked if van Walsum received any benefit from the Dutch government, and was quickly (and in a whisper) told that he doesn't live in New York, making housing subsidy unlikely. His public financial disclosure form, for the record, lists no outside activities or payments. But what about pension or other benefits?

Inner City Press was directed to ask a specific person in the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, who was said to know whom to call on van Walsum's staff to get the answer. Inner City Press immediately made the request and was told that inquiry would be made. Three weeks later, nothing. There is also a Dutch Assistant Secretary General employed by the UN's anti-avian flu unit, and numerous Dutch D-1s and D-2s. Will senior UNDP and UN officials lobby for all of them? Will Eveline Herfkens ultimately face anything like Brooklynite Susan Madakor? Will Herfkens face justice in court? Watch this site.

* * *

New UN/UNDP Ethics Guidelines Greatly Misleading


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Bea Edwards, International Director
Phone: 202.408.0034 ext 155
Email: beae@whistleblower.org

Contact: Shelley Walden, International Program Associate
Phone: 202.408.0034 ext 156
Email: beae@whistleblower.org

Contact: Dylan Blaylock, Communications Director
Phone: 202.408.0034 ext 137, 202.236.3733 (cell)
Email: dylanb@whistleblower.org



New UN Ethics Guidelines Greatly Misleading

Whistleblower Retaliation Protections Weakened, Up to 15 Agencies May Enact Lower Standards

(Washington, D.C.) – The codification of ethics standards and policies for various UN agencies detailed in the December 1st bulletin issued by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon complicates and confuses the issue, creating an entirely new level of bureaucratic dispute, delay, cost and inefficiency for those who report corruption in UN operations and suffer retaliation as a result, in the opinion of the Government Accountability Project (GAP).

The policy in question is the United Nations System-Wide Application of Ethics: Separately Administered Organs and Programmes. The United Nations announced the new measure by stating: “Employees working in the Funds and Programmes of the United Nations are now covered by the same system of ethical protections and programmes as their colleagues in the UN Secretariat.” In fact, Ban Ki-moon’s new bulletin accomplishes exactly the opposite by effectively exempting the Funds and Programmes from the jurisdiction of the UN Ethics Office.

“This bulletin replaces a single Ethics Office, structurally independent of management in the Funds and Programs and responsible for applying a uniform set of ethical standards, with proliferating ad hoc internal ethics offices, operating at the pleasure of the heads of these agencies,” said Bea Edwards, GAP International Program Director.

In December 2005, then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan issued a bulletin establishing an independent UN Ethics Office, with a staff responsible for receiving appeals from whistleblowers in need of relief from retaliation. As whistleblowers from UN Funds and Programs came forward, assuming they were protected by the 2005 bulletin, Ban Ki-moon allowed for ‘separately administered agencies’ to exempt themselves from the UN Ethics Office’s jurisdiction. Effectively the new Secretary General allowed agencies to opt-out of the agreed-upon ethical guidelines. Whistleblowers from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) who had reported serious corruption and fraud in their agency were badly hurt, as this inaction left them in legal limbo for nearly a year. Although the UNDP Administrator reports directly to the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon has behaved as if he had no authority over UNDP.

With this latest development, the Secretary General sets out a second policy explicitly restricting the established Ethics Office to cases originating in the Secretariat and the peacekeeping forces, and relegating cases from UN Funds and Programs to recently, or not-yet, established ad hoc ethics offices in each agency. These new offices will hear retaliation cases according to yet-to-be-elaborated ethical standards, which will then be ‘harmonized’ by a UN Ethics Committee.

“This bulletin states that a committee will now negotiate definitions of ethics to be applied system-wide,” said Edwards. “Such a dubious process could take years and does not bring justice to whistleblowers. Nor does it protect them from retaliation or address the issue of corruption.”

The new bulletin is flawed by glaring omissions. First, it sets out no parameters for establishing the new ethics offices. To ensure objectivity, a credible ethics officer must have legal training in the field, be recruited by an objective search committee from outside the institution, and have a secure position not subject to dismissal or harassment. The offices must be adequately staffed with similarly secure and trained officers. Above all, ethics personnel must be insulated from internal pressure and retaliation themselves.

The already operational UN Ethics Office was set up in this manner, and could therefore evaluate whistleblower cases from the Funds and Programs with genuine impartiality. The 2005 policy protecting personnel from retaliation when reporting fraud and corruption also provides protection for witnesses, assurances of confidentiality, measures of interim relief, and modern burdens of proof. The new offices, to be set up in the next three to six weeks, will operate under no such obligations.

The new bulletin does allow whistleblowers from Funds and Programs who claim unfair treatment from the new internal ethics offices to subsequently appeal to the UN Ethics Office. But any measure that adds cost and delay to the investigation and hearing process seriously damages the position of the whistleblower, who, in many cases, is dismissed, demoted, marginalized and harassed without relief.

The number of UN “separately administered agencies” that will establish separate ethics offices is unclear at this point, but it could be as many as fifteen. Already the UNDP and World Food Program (WFP) have appointed ethics officers (without impartial search committees), and UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have also moved in this direction. With at least two legal professionals and support staff and infrastructure, the minimal cost per new office would be US$300,000 per year. The UN system is poised to assume extra costs of about $4.5 million per year for the purpose of avoiding the application of meaningful ethical standards.

The understanding of Christopher Burnham, the Under Secretary for Management who wrote the 2005 bulletin with technical assistance from GAP, was that the bulletin applied across the UN system. Likewise, a panel of independent jurists evaluating the UN justice system in 2006 strongly recommended that the Ombudsman’s offices be merged into a single system-wide jurisdiction. But when the UN Ethics Office designated a UNDP whistleblower as a victim of retaliation, UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis declared that the Funds and Programs were not subject to the UN Ethics Office, effectively evading any future investigation.

“By allowing Dervis to retaliate with impunity, Ban Ki-moon is now promoting a Potemkin Village of costly ethics offices throughout the system without independence, credibility or standards,” said Edwards.

A copy of the new UN bulletin can be found on GAP’s Web site here: http://www.whistleblower.org/doc/2007/BKM%20Bulletin.pdf

Government Accountability Project

The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization with offices in Washington, D.C. and Seattle, WA.

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If the UN Had A Media Censorship Program, Is This What It Would Look Like?


While most mainstream media outfits go light on coverage of the epic vistas of corruption, malfeasance and conflicts-of-interest that are the United Nations, one of the most dogged and prolific reporters in recent years on UN in-house doings and mis-doings has been Matthew Russell Lee of Inner-City Press (referenced on this blog earlier this month for his terrific coverage of what might best be called the UN’s Financial Cover-Up Program). But as of last week, you won’t find Lee’s latest Inner-City Press articles by searching Google News. Following a complaint from an unnamed malcontent, Google removed Inner-City Press from its list of Google News sources. You can read about it in this dispatch from Fox News, or on Inner-City Press itself, in this article which Google evidently did not deem worthy of treating as news.

Much of the blame for this outrage has fallen on Google. But we should not forget the role in this story of the UN itself. UN officials — and in particular, the UN Development Program, on which Inner-City has broken many highly unflattering stories — have denied making any complaint to Google about Inner-City. Unless Google discloses the name of the confidential complainant, there may be no more chance of getting to bottom of this than there is of seeing the financial statements of all the husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters third cousins and business pals of UN senior officials who refuse to disclose even their own finances to the public.

Even so, the setting for this drama is the UN, where hundreds of millions of tax dollars are spent every year on “public information,” on “oversight,” on “investigations,” on “good governance” initiatives, on “media” programs… on promises and glossy brochures and pricey conferences all purporting to support free speech and integrity and UN reform and transparency. Despite all that, the main impetus for UN reform — if such we should call it — has been the result of media exposure of the sleaze behind the UN’s public facade.

In this, Inner-City Press in recent years has been playing an important role. Ban Ki-Moon (the Secretary-General who, despite his promises way back in January, 2007, has somehow failed for more than a year to get UN auditors into North Korea to check on site into the Cash-for-Kim scandal) should be thanking Matthew Russell Lee of Inner-City Press for his astounding toil in the evidently doomed cause of trying to keep the UN honest.

Regardless of where that mysterious complaint to Google originated (let’s be generous and assume it came from a disgruntled internet cafe proprietor on Mars), it’s a disturbing scene in which one of the best-informed news outlets on backroom shennanigans at the UN — and not coincidentally, one of the most critical of these intrigues — has now been sidelined on the web. Not that the UN has an official, taxpayer-funded program to censor its critics. But if it did, this sure does seem an illuminating sample of what it would look like.

Hillary Should Get Out Now !!


Clinton has only one shot—for Obama to trip up so badly that he disqualifies himself.

By Jonathan Alter
NEWSWEEK

Updated: 1:39 PM ET Feb 23, 2008

If Hillary Clinton wanted a graceful exit, she'd drop out now—before the March 4 Texas and Ohio primaries—and endorse Barack Obama. This would be terrible for people like me who have been dreaming of a brokered convention for decades. For selfish reasons, I want the story to stay compelling for as long as possible, which means I'm hoping for a battle into June for every last delegate and a bloody floor fight in late August in Denver. But to withdraw this week would be the best thing imaginable for Hillary's political career. She won't, of course, and for reasons that help explain why she's in so much trouble in the first place.

Withdrawing would be stupid if Hillary had a reasonable chance to win the nomination, but she doesn't. To win, she would have to do more than reverse the tide in Texas and Ohio, where polls show Obama already even or closing fast. She would have to hold off his surge, then establish her own powerful momentum within three or four days. Without a victory of 20 points or more in both states, the delegate math is forbidding. In Pennsylvania, which votes on April 22, the Clinton campaign did not even file full delegate slates. That's how sure they were of putting Obama away on Super Tuesday.

The much-ballyhooed race for superdelegates is now nearly irrelevant. Some will be needed in Denver to put Obama over the top, just as Walter Mondale had to round up a couple dozen in 1984. But these party leaders won't determine the result. At the Austin, Texas, debate last week, Hillary agreed that the process would "sort itself out" so that the will of the people would not be reversed by superdelegates. Obama has a commanding 159 lead in pledged delegates and a lead of 925,000 in the popular vote (excluding Michigan and Florida, where neither campaigned). Closing that gap would require Hillary to win all the remaining contests by crushing margins. Any takers on her chances of doing so in, say, Mississippi and North Carolina, where African-Americans play a big role?

The pundit class hasn't been quicker to point all this out because of what happened in New Hampshire. A lot of us looked foolish by all but writing Hillary off when she lost the Iowa caucuses. As we should have known, stuff happens in politics. But that was early. The stuff that would have to happen now would be on a different order of magnitude. It's time to stop overlearning the lesson of New Hampshire.

Hillary has only one shot—for Obama to trip up so badly that he disqualifies himself. Nothing in the last 14 months suggests he will. He has made plenty of small mistakes, but we're past the point where a "likable enough" comment will turn the tide. When Obama bragged in the Austin debate about how "good" his speeches were, the boast barely registered. He has brought up his game so sharply that even a head cold and losing the health-care portion of the debate on points did nothing to derail him. Hillary's Hail Mary pass—that Obama is a plagiarist—was incomplete.

So if the Clintonites were assessing with a cold eye, they would know that the odds of Hillary's looking bad on March 4 are high. Even Bill Clinton said last week that Texas and Ohio are must-win states. If she wants to stay in anyway, one way to go is to play through to June so as to give as many people as possible a chance to express their support. While this would be contrary to the long-stated wish of many Democrats (including the Clintons) to avoid a long, divisive primary season, it's perfectly defensible.

But imagine if, instead of waiting to be marginalized or forced out, Hillary decided to defy the stereotype we have of her family? Imagine if she drew a distinction between "never quit" as it applies to fighting Kenneth Starr and the Republicans on the one hand, and fellow Democrats on the other? Imagine if she had, well, the imagination for a breathtaking act of political theater that would make her seem the epitome of grace and class and party unity, setting herself up perfectly for 2012 if Obama loses?

The conventional view is that the Clintons approach power the way hard-core gun owners approach a weapon—they'll give it up only when it's wrenched from their cold, dead fingers. When I floated this idea of her quitting, Hillary aides scoffed that it would never happen. Their Pollyanna-ish assessment of the race offered a glimpse inside the bunker. These are the same loyalists who told Hillary that she was inevitable, that experience was a winning theme, that going negative in a nice state like Iowa would work, that all Super Tuesday caucus states could be written off. The Hillary who swallowed all that will never withdraw.

But in her beautiful closing answer in the Austin debate, I glimpsed a different, more genuine, almost valedictory Hillary Clinton. She talked about the real suffering of Americans and, echoing John Edwards, said, "Whatever happens, we'll be fine." She described what "an honor" it was to be in a campaign with Barack Obama, and seemed to mean it. The choice before her is to go down ugly with a serious risk of humiliation at the polls, or to go down classy, with a real chance of redemption. Why not the latter? Besides, it would wreck the spring of all her critics in the press. If she thinks of it that way, maybe it's not such an outlandish idea after all.

URL: http://www.newsweek.com/id/114725

Monday, February 25, 2008

'Miljoenen Koenders aan Herfkens erg dubieus'

maandag 25 februari 2008 12:32

Niet alleen de enorme huursubsidie die oud-minister Eveline Herfkens (PvdA) ontving van het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, maar ook de miljoenensteun die minister Bert Koenders (PvdA) voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking gaf aan haar VN-programma, deugt van geen kanten.

Dat zegt VVD-Kamerlid Arend Jan Boekestijn maandag in het AD. De belangrijkste ambtenaren van Koenders hadden hem geadviseerd het ontwikkelingsgeld direct aan projecten te besteden, en niet aan de lobbyorganisatie van Herfkens.

Koenders ging tegen dat advies in en maakte de miljoenen toch over aan zijn partijgenoot Herfkens. ‘Ik vind het raar dat Herfkens eerst ‘nee’ te horen kreeg bij de voorganger van Koenders, maar wel haar miljoenen kreeg zodra een partijgenoot minister voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking was geworden,’ aldus Boekestijn.

Huursubsidie
‘Het zit me niet lekker, zeker omdat ik er waarschijnlijk niets meer aan kan doen,’ vervolgt het Kamerlid. Ook erkent hij dat de huursubsidie die Herfkens onterecht kreeg, moeilijk kan worden teruggevorderd.

De SP wil dat Herfkens de huursubsidie van bijna 190.000 euro onmiddellijk terugbetaalt. De oproep van de SP wordt echter alleen gesteund door de PVV.


Bekijk ook Wynia's Week: Zaak Herfkens stinkt nog meer dan gedacht

Eveline Herfkens - You belong to Jail !!

Yesterday the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, based on three written testimonies from Kemal Dervis, Ad Melkert and Amb. Frank Majoor of Nederland to the UN, reached the conclusion that Ms. Eveline Herfkens was wrong in receiving the money, but she don't need to return them since she unknowingly accepted the quarter of a million dollars in rental subsidy.

It seems that now it wasn't the fault at all of poor Eveline Herfkens, she would have never accepted the 250,000 USD, it was the Dutch Government who sent that money into her accounts.

But wait,we all remember Ms. Susan Madakor of Brooklyn-New York, a single mother and a receptionist at a Manhattan textile firm, eking out a living and wading through credit card debt, until a bizarre windfall in 1998 led her to make grand plans.

Like Eveline Herfkens is claiming today, she walk a cold winter morning to her Chase Bank to negotiate once more on how to pay all her credit cards debts, when the cashier congratulated her on the 700,000 USD she'd received over night.

Claiming that she believed she had won an international lottery that deposited hundreds of thousands of dollars directly into her account, Ms. Madakor bought a laundry business for $100,000, set up a college fund for her 10-year-old son, paid off $30,000 in credit card debt, furnished a new apartment, leased a minivan and began negotiating to buy a liquor store.

Unlike Eveline Herfkens, the only problem was that Ms. Susan Madakor was BLACK with dark eyes, a single mom from the Brooklyn and no friends in Washington or at the United States Mission to the UN.

Immediately the United Nations said that it would take all necessary legal action to recover the money, and certainly did so by contacting the US Authorities and State Supreme Court in Manhattan. At the time Justice Cozier said the case represented "unjust enrichment" and that Ms. Madakor had evidence that she was not the legitimate owner of the funds.

Well poor Susan Madakor, now in jail, with her only son who had to grow without his mother, because someone else made the mistake to send them the money to their account, paid dearly for that.

Not so for Eveline Herfkens, her American dream is working perfectly. She had a 250,000 USD part-time job as Assistant Secretary General for helping the poor, and on top of that she was receiving an extra 250,000 USD in subsidies from her own country. Well while she still claims she never knew, than why she shouldn't go to jail for "unjust enrichment".

Wait we know the answer. The top Democrat at the United States Mission to the UN, Mr. Khalilzad will never allow that a fellow social-democrat, and an quasi-illegal immigrant in the US return illegal money to Netherland, she's a green card holder now.

Ms. Eveline Herfkens, was receiving the subsidy for being Dutch, while she secretly filed for US Citizenship and GreenCard.

But all the above doesn't count. This white, blonde and blue eyes Ducth cannot go to jail. She is highly connected in Washignton, and back home.

While a poor, working afro-american woman goes to jail for same mistake, Herfkens have to enjoy her millions because she unwillingly enriched herself.

SHAME SHAME SHAME ON NEDERLAND POLITICIANS !!!
SHAME SHAME SHAME ON USUN and MR. KHALILZAD for double standards !!!
SHAME SHAME SHAME ON UNITED NATIONS AND BAN KI MOON !!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

SP wil dat Herfkens geld zelf terugstort

DEN HAAG (ANP) - SP-Tweede Kamerlid Ewout Irrgang wil dat oud-minister Eveline Herfkens de ten onrechte aan haar uitbetaalde huursubsidie, uit zichzelf terugbetaalt aan de staat.



Hij vindt het onbegrijpelijk dat zij dat nog niet heeft gedaan en meent dat PvdA-leider Wouter Bos hiertoe een moreel appèl op zijn partijgenote moet doen. Dat heeft Irrgang zaterdag laten weten. Herfkens ontving als medewerkster van de VN-organisatie UNDP van eind 2002 tot eind 2005 een vergoeding van Buitenlandse Zaken voor haar huisvesting in New York. Dat was in strijd met de regels, zo werd recent ontdekt. Het ging omgerekend in totaal om 190.000 euro. Niet valt te achterhalen of Herfkens zelf om het geld heeft gevraagd of niet, zo schreven de ministers Maxime Verhagen (Buitenlandse Zaken) en Bert Koenders (Ontwikkelingssamenwerking) vrijdag aan de Tweede Kamer. Terugvordering is vooralsnog niet aan de orde, omdat dit in strijd is met het beginsel van rechtszekerheid.

'Herfkens moet geld terugstorten'

Den Haag - SP-Kamerlid Ewout Irrgang vindt het onbegrijpelijk dat oud-minister Herfkens (PvdA) haar ten onrechte uitgekeerde vergoeding bij de VN nog niet heeft teruggestort. Formeel hoeft zij dat voorlopig ook niet te doen, staat in een brief van de ministers Verhagen en Koenders aan de Tweede Kamer.

Onlangs werd bekend dat het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken vier jaar lang de huurkosten voor de flat van Herfkens in New York heeft betaald, in strijd met de regels van de VN. Herfkens werkt voor de VN aan ontwikkelingssamenwerking. Verhagen en Koenders schrijven dat niet valt te achterhalen of de oud-minister zelf om het geld heeft gevraagd, waardoor terugvordering van de ruim 200.000 in strijd zou zijn met de rechtszekerheid.

Ewout Irrgang vindt dat een formaliteit en snapt niet waarom Herfkens nog niet uit zichzelf het geld heeft teruggestort. "Zij had duidelijk geen recht op dat geld, waarom heeft zij dan niet het fatsoen om het gewoon onmiddellijk terug te storten?" Irrgang vindt dat Wouter Bos, als politiek leider van de PvdA, een moreel appèl moet doen op zijn partijgenoot. "Dat doet hij altijd als het gaat om dubieuze topinkomens, dus waarom nu niet?"

Geen steun voor oproep SP aan Herfkens !!

DEN HAAG (ANP) - CDA en PvdA zijn het niet eens met de oproep van de SP aan Eveline Herfkens om de onterecht gekregen vergoedingen onmiddellijk terug te betalen aan de Staat.

SP-Kamerlid Ewout Irrgang vindt het onbegrijpelijk dat zij dat nog niet uit zichzelf heeft gedaan terwijl nu wel duidelijk is dat zij het geld ten onrechte heeft gekregen.

Maar CDA en PvdA vinden dat de voormalig PvdA-minister dat alleen hoeft te doen als blijkt dat zij moedwillig de regels heeft overtreden. De Kamerleden Chantal Gillard (PvdA) en Kathleen Ferrier (CDA) wijzen erop dat er nog een onderzoek loopt van de Verenigde Naties dat hierin inzicht kan geven.
Herfkens ontving enkele jaren als medewerkster van de UNDP in New York een vergoeding voor haar huisvesting van Buitenlandse zaken, omgerekend bijna 190.000 euro. Dat blijkt in strijd met de regels van de VN.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

SCANDAL IN SRI LANKA: Parliament emergency hearing on UNDP's illegal fundings and vote riggings

It seems that the house of Kemal Dervis can't be saved. This time the Parliament, the President and the Prime Minister's office of Sri Lanka have expressed grave concerns about UNDP Regional Center of Colombo involvement in the internal political affairs of Sri Lanka.

The scandal is simple, once again the UNDP's illegal hiring and nepostism in positioning friends, girlfriends, gay-friends and even non-existing friends in posts, have led to UNDP's reputation to go to the lowest levels ever in Sri-Lanka and South Asian Region.

Corruption, derailing of funds from Ford Foundation and other Trust Funds aimed at assisting and building capacities of Sri-Lankan Government, politicising and siding with various political fractions, illegal funding of political parties, are among issues now involving the office led from Omar Noman.

Well what can you expect when a person from a speech-writer of Hafiz Pasha is made director of a Regional Center ?

Here we are publishing a statement on the official website of the Sri-Lankan Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka - Geneva - Switzerland

20th February 2008

The appalling situation at ICES continues to reverberate, with yet more articles claiming that it is essentially an internal dispute that has spilled over into the public domain. It is even argued that those who had for many months tried to bring honesty into the system were somehow traitors. One writer introduced the metaphor of civil society activists being trees that should stick together to survive, disaster occurring when a woodcutter has an axe with a wooden handle, i.e. one of the trees has betrayed the group to government.

But what happens when trees get diseased? Surely they have to be cut down, before the disease spreads and kills off every tree. In such a situation, the axe has in fact saved the species.

The question is, was ICES so deeply diseased that culling was essential? The answer can be seen in a letter sent recently by Omar Noman, Chief of Policies and Programmes at the UNDP Regional Centre in Colombo. His name had appeared second in the list of those who had signed a petition protesting at the removal of Rama Mani. It was sandwiched between the names of Sithie Tiruchelvam of the Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust and Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu of the Centre of Policy Alternatives. Mr. Noman’s affiliation too was given, as though to suggest that these three worthy institutions, including the UN, stood together in this brave struggle.

But Mr. Noman had been deceived, and he said so in no uncertain terms to Rama Mani. His letter is attached. Rama Mani’s attempt to involve the Resident Coordinator of the UN, along with ambassadors of countries who had research projects with ICES, is symptomatic of the low methods employed by those who have rallied to her defence and presented the issue as a battle between ‘authoritarian tyranny and individual liberty’. As far as ICES was concerned, the truth was that this was a battle between honesty and dishonesty, accountability and irresponsibility, due procedure and culpable carelessness.

It involved differences between those who thought that a contract had to be honoured and those who cared not a damn for whose money they were using for what. It involved a contrast between those who do not tell lies and those who lie, deceive and cheat.

Bradman Weerakoon has claimed that ‘An appeal by me to the President’s office involved a small relief of 5 days more’ and that he and Sunil Bastian would deal with remaining issues including ‘liaising with the President’s office re inquiries commencing there on events leading to the security decision to remove Rama immediately from the country.’ Radhika Coomaraswamy has claimed that the Foreign Ministry assured her Rama Mani would be granted her visa. It is inconceivable that such claims could be true, in view of the categorical assertion regarding the matter by the Prime Minister on the floor of the house.

But those who, as the UNDP Regional Centre Chief puts it, care nothing about any 'awkward and embarrassing position’ they put others into through deceit and deception, need to be guarded against through forthright language such as Mr. Noman uses, to ensure that such tricks are not repeated.

Prof Rajiva Wijesinha
Secretary General
Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP)

UNDP Staff Council: - David Morrison is a liar and staff do not support current management practices!!!

Recently UNDP has published a site made-by David Morrison entitled FOR-THE-RECORD, where Mr. Morrison publishes the latest bla-bla-bla-lies about: "How Great our Leaders are and how UNDP staff members have recently expressed their support for current management in the annual Global Staff Survey 2007"

While UNDP Watch doesn't comment anylonger on Morrison's infinite lies, it does wish to highlight herein the Staff Council address (Nov 2007) to the UNFPA Global meeting in Princeton.

The speech was delivered by the Chairperson of UNDP/UNFPA Staff Council and speaks for itself. We are publishing it as is (No censorship):

Staff Council's Address to the Global Staff meeting


I would like to thank the Executive Director and the Director of DHR for giving the UNDP/UNFPA Staff Council the opportunity to address the UNFPA staff.

This morning's topic was accountability, a topic of great concern to all staff. Unfortunately, it has become a standard staple in virtually all speeches outlining strategies, responses and new approaches. There is an abundance of accompanying strategies such as fraud prevention, internal control framework, results based budgeting, etc. However, the implementation of accountability and transparency remains selective at best. We urge the Senior Management to implement these important goals. For us, there is a simple way to implement accountability, i.e., compliance with the code of conduct and the staff rules.

Concerning the regionalization, I would like to reiterate our appreciation for the HR procedures implementing the move of the geographical divisions to the regions. The Executive Director and the Director of DHR were very receptive to our suggestions and in our discussions with UNDP and UNOPS we refer to the UNFPA procedures and the open and constructive discussions with DHR as a model to be adopted. We look forward to a transparent implementation of these well designed procedures.

As previously said, our discussions with DHR are very positive and productive and we very much appreciate the DHR Director's constructive approach to staff management relations. However, according to the latest staff survey, few staff consider the reassignment and promotion process as fair and equitable. Job satisfaction decreases significantly with length of service and long serving staff, in particular permanent contract holders, often feel marginalized with no career options left. Thus, a stronger focus should be put on career development. Recruitment and reassignment policies should be implemented consistently under the institutional accountability of DHR as the guardian of staff rules and regulations. Therefore, we believe the DHR role and mandate should be institutionally strengthened. Similarly, the Ombudsperson recommended this too in his latest report, "All organizations should ensure that the role played by human resources offices in appointments and reassignments strikes an appropriate balance between the offices and substantive units in decisions concerning human resources". While our criticism may seem harsh, I would like to point out that UNDP and UNOPS face similar problems but the extent of those problems are much smaller in UNFPA than in the other organizations and we would like to commend UNFPA for its leadership and for keeping a human face of DHR's policies.

UNFPA has been generally generous in allowing staff to take advantage of work life options. Nevertheless, I would like to take some time to reflect on working conditions. We seem to subject ourselves to the pressure of e-mail and cell phones. In the same time zone, supervisors give assignments, comments and reactions well after working hours sometimes after midnight or at 5 a.m. Such a practice exercises pressure on staff to continuously check their e-mails because an immediate reply could mean a critical incident or a lack thereof. I would like to urge supervisors, while in the same time zone, to restrict e-mails after office hours to truly urgent issues. After leaving the office staff should normally not be expected to keep in touch with office matters. It is important that staff have some uninterrupted time for their families and loved ones. At the same time we should discontinue the practice to expect staff to travel through time zones and to start working without sufficient rest. There is enough medical evidence that working without appropriate recuperation is unproductive. The general service Staff is the backbone of the organization and they are often not appreciated accordingly.

It has come to our attentions that in a significant number of cases, General Service Staff are not compensated for working after office hours. I would like to urge concerned managers to discontinue such practices. Overtime for General Service Staff is not an option; it is mandated by staff Rule 103.12 , which states that staff who are required to work in excess of the working week shall be given compensatory time off or may receive additional payment.

The most recent report of the Ombudsperson notes:

All organizations of the United Nations system need good managers, who are able simultaneously to provide leadership, manage people, oversee excellent programmatic performance and outcomes, and help their organizations to compete in a fast-changing environment. The four organizations served by the Office of the Joint Ombudsperson need to ensure that this is a minimum acceptable standard for managers of the future since the image of all organizations is reflected in the managers who represent them. Too often these minimum acceptable standards for manager are not met and we call on the managers to abide by the code of conduct.

On abuse of authority the report notes:

Abuse of authority is found in many country offices as well as in headquarters units. It consists of bullying; shouting and screaming; humiliating staff in front of others; arbitrary decision-making concerning tasks, contracts, performance reviews, recommendations for promotion and posts.

The Staff Council has received numerous complaints from staff concerning inappropriate and sometimes abusive management style of senior mangers. This is not acceptable, we are civil servants at all levels. We gratefully acknowledge that DHR has made great improvements in dealing with formal request on abuse of authority. However, the situation is still far from perfect. As the Ombudsperson notes too, few staff feel confident/fearless to submit a formal complaint. We encourage DHR to continue its efforts to further improve this very difficult process.

Often the members of the United Nations system rightfully look at the private sector for solutions to operational problems. The private sector indeed provides solution and best practices for IT and logistics. However, while looking at the private sector managers often forget that as international civil servants we are bound by the UN Charter, GA resolutions, staff regulations governing our conduct and the use of public funds. In this context I would like to quote from a famous speech of a former SG.

"The international civil servant must keep himself under the strictest observation. He is not requested to be a neuter in the sense that he has no sympathies or antipathies, that there are to be no interests which are close to him in his personal capacity or that he is to have no ideas or ideals that matter for him. However, he is requested to be fully aware of these human reactions and meticulously check himself so that they are not permitted to influence his actions. This is nothing unique. Is not every judge professionally under the same obligation?

If the international civil servant knows himself to be free from such personal influences in his actions and guided solely by the common aims laid down for, and by the organization he serves and by recognized legal principles, then he has done his duty and the he can face the criticism which, even so, will be unavoidable. As I said as the final last, this is a question of integrity, and if integrity in the sense of respect for law and respect for truth would drive him into positions of conflict with this or that interest, then that conflict is a sign of his neutrality and not of his failure to observe neutrality - then it is in line, not in conflict, with his duties as an international civil servant."

That speech, of course, was delivered by Dag Hammarskjöld in Oxford in 1961. Too often, we tend to forget that we operate under principles and ideals set out for the system and as a whole and not under objectives of a particular division or agency. We see the concepts of 'delivering as one' as an attempt to reaffirm the principles so eloquently expressed by the former SG.

Before closing, I would like to reiterate our sincere appreciation for the Executive Director and her team including DHR Director Sean Hand, for the openness and the constructive approach to address any issue we raise.
-------

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

VICTORY Nr.# 6: Google Reinstates InnercityPress - Mathew Lee

NEW YORK — Google News quietly reinstated Tuesday the articles of a news service that routinely exposes U.N. corruption, a day after FOXNews.com ran a story about the Internet giant's decision to remove Inner City Press from its search engine.

Inner City Press returned to the Google News search late in the day, but much sooner than the "couple weeks" a Google representative had promised. The week of stories the news service ran since Google News dropped it on Feb. 13 were not restored.

The news outlet, run by journalist Matthew Lee, has been critical of the U.N. and internal corruption within the organization. Lee was informed that Google News would drop his organization in a Feb. 8 e-mail.

Click here to read more at Inner City Press.

Someone complained to Google early this month that Inner City Press was a one-man operation, violating the Google News ground rule that news organizations listed must have two or more employees, according to Gabriel Stricker, a Google spokesman.

Lee, who insists his organization has appropriate staff, believes someone within the U.N. pressured Google to drop him. The U.N. denies the charges.

Journalist Who Exposes U.N. Corruption Disappears From Google Speaking at a press briefing Tuesday, Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General said, "The Secretary-General has often spoken out in favor of press freedom and will continue to do so, but that insinuating that he, or his staff, is linked to the decision taken by Google News to de-list Inner City Press is blatantly false and misleading."

Since 2005, Lee's been focusing almost entirely on stories that deal with internal corruption inside the U.N., posting several stories online almost daily.

He's been especially interested in the inner workings of what could be called the practical-applications arm of the international organization, the United Nations Development Programme.

Google said the "de-listing" was due to a misunderstanding and agreed to restore Inner City Press stories to the Google News service.

The reaction to the de-listing, however temporary, had been furious. The non-profit Government Accountability Project lambasted the company, calling Inner City Press "the most effective and important media organization for U.N. whistleblowers."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ban Ki-moon should force Kemal Dervis out!!

With the recent developments inside UNDP, and the exposure of major internal corruption, transferring funds to terrorist organizations, awarding contracts to suspended vendors, miss-management of human resources, one question is bothering many member states and UN staffers here in New York: - Should Mr. Kemal Dervis leave UNDP?

Well...many staffers as well as donors are now convinced that the answer to that question is "yes".

But will Mr Dervis leave UNDP on his own? The answer to that question is unkown. The UN Secretary General appointed Mr Dervis in his position and is only him who can really decide whether he is to stay. While many describes Ban Ki-moon and Kemal Dervis's relation as "excellent" and "Dervis as a loyal friend", we wonder if Ban Ki-moon could find the strength to get rid of this loyal henchman. But with all the trouble Dervis has brought to him, he should do so, none the less.

After the recent meeting of UNDP's Executive Board, it's evident that leaving such decision to them would be absurd. The executive board is made of former colleagues of Mark Malloch Brown and for them retaining Mr. Dervis is imperative to cover-up the corruption and the myriad of Trust Funds that they (executive board) and Mark Malloch Brown have set-up in past years, and which have flourished under Mr. Dervis's regime. But now many developing countries seating in the board have grown skeptic to the effectiveness of oversight, and groups like G77 have raised their voice on this regard. As one G77 Member said recently: "It will be difficult to bring normalilty in UNDP's operations and restore the trust of staff - with current leadership.."

But nevertheless Ban Ki-moon should decide what he wants to do with this trouble-maker agency which have tainted his tenure since the very first days of his arrival in January 2007, and continue to raise clouds of concerns on the capacity of Secretary General's Office to ensure effective oversight and take preventive measures instead of trying to cover-up and patch situations.

Ban Ki-moon as a Korean tends to be loyal to those he regards as loyal to himself. It is not surprising, therefore, to hear his Spokesperson declare that Mr Dervis continues to have "SG's full confidence". That then would seem to be the end of the matter: Mr Dervis will survive because the UN Secretary General has decided he should.

Yet this ought not to be the end of the matter. To place loyalty above all other virtues is the ethics of a mafia boss not of the leader of the only World Body. The UN Secretary General also needs to consider what is both right and in the interests of the United Nations.

That the United Nations, after the oil-for-food scandal, has lost a great deal of moral credit around the world is undeniable. But one area where the present UN Secretary General has claimed that he would restore, was the internal accountability and transparency and the way the UN would deal with growing internal corruption and budget deficits. Ban Ki-moon in his acceptance speech said that he would: "put much weight on the need to tackle corruption and improve coordination of all UN agencies and bodies."

The best justification for having Mr Dervis at the the helm of UNDP and One-UN System, was his past experience as Finance Minister and his proclaimed determination to give transparency and accountability inside UN/UNDP overriding priority. It is possible to debate the wisdom of this, since the quality of governance, albeit hugely important, is not the sole determinant of development. But one point nobody can debate: if the UN Secretary General has decided that this is what he wants UNDP to achieve and deal with, it cannot sustain an Administrator who is no longer a credible spokesman for that cause. Allowing Mr. Dervis to continue in his current post, would only further destroy Ban Ki Moon's authority and ultimately his decision making power.

Loyalty is indeed a virtue. But loyalty is not the overriding virtue. The United Nations and Secretary General needs to perceive its true interests in having an effective and credible UNDP as its only operational presence in the ground. It needs also to preserve its own credibility as a campaigner for good governance, ethics, professionalism and most importantly transparency and accountability. Mr Kemal Dervis now needs to go.

The choice for Ban Ki Moon has become as simple as that.