Wednesday, April 1, 2009

With Clark at UNDP, Melkert Is "Expected" to Leave, Dervis' Stealth Service

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

UNITED NATIONS, March 31 -- A game of musical chairs has begun in the UN system, starting with today's confirmation of New Zealand's former prime minister Helen Clark as the replacement for Turkey's Kemal Dervis at the top of the UN Development Program. Hours before the General Assembly meeting to cap Clark's selection, it emerged that Dervis had quietly been named a Special Adviser to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for the upcoming G-20 meeting in London. 

  The UN had never announced Dervis' appointment, but when Inner City Press asked about a quote from Dervis in the Turkish Press about the appointment, Ban's spokeswoman Michele Montas confirmed it. Video here, from Minute 20:26. Like the ill-fated appointment of Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler as Ban's envoy to Niger, where he and a colleague have been kidnapped, it was never announced. Inner City Press asked, are there other stealth envoys? While the answerseemed to be "no," in today's UN one never knows.

 An African diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity to Inner City Press Tuesday afternoon moments before the GA vote on Clark, said it was unfortunate that no expert from a developing country had been found, even to be a serious candidate for consideration by Ban Ki-moon. He added, "hopefully for the deputy post at UNDP." When Inner City Press asked if that meant current Dutch deputy Ad Melkert would be leaving, the diplomat said that is to be expected. Especially after Ban Ki-moon's still-protested ouster of Tanzanian Anna Tibaijuka from the top spot at the UN in Nairobi in favor of Achim Steiner,  from now on "if the top spot goes to the developed world, the deputy should be from the developing world," he said.

Helen Clark and George W. Bush, circa 2002, Dervis and UNDP not shown

While a newspaper in New Zealand put Clark's prospective pay at $500,000, by Inner City Press' calculation it is $287,000 -- the $189,000 that all Under Secretaries General make, plus a 68% "New York post adjustment" of over $98,000. There's talk of housing subsidy and “other perks,” with a reference to the former director of the UN Millennium Campaign Evelyn Herfkens, who said she couldn't live or entertain appropriately in New York on an Assistant Secretary General's salary, and so illegally took housing subsidy from the Dutch government. Exposed for violating UN rules, she left her post, only to re-surface as a consult or special envoy, still getting Daily Sustenance Allowance and other perks. 

  Meanwhile, UNDP still declines to state how much it pays each member of Somalia's parliament, in a purported response to precisely this question, referred to it by the UN's envoy to Somalia. Other long standing questions remain unanswered. One UNDP insider wondered if Helen Clark, whose husband has said he will not be moving to New York, will be part of the calculation of Ms. Clark's benefits. Watch this site.

Footnotes: In an "only at the UN" moment, at a reception at the Libyan mission on the eve of Clark's confirmation, excited word circulated thatClark had while prime minister criticized Israel for its (mis) use of New Zealand passports, several missions' level of support for Clark went up....

UNDP, which run democracy and voting programs, for example in Kenya, put out a press release on Tuesday saying the UN "General Assembly this morning unanimously approved Helen Clark of New Zealand as the new Administrator." Apparently UNDP jumped the gun, since the vote was held in the afternoon...

While Dervis never explained why he left UNDP -- and now resurfaces still working for the UN -- Turkish sources maintain it was “family reasons,” that his wife did not like him traveling so much. Now he has three jobs, one in Turkey, one at Brookings in Washington and, quietly, with the UN. Few ever truly leave the UN: as they say of a certain type of five cent coin, the UN musical chairs never stop.

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