Friday, August 14, 2009

UN's Ban Expects Nepotism Report Aug. 18, As His Daughter's and Son in Law's Promotion Questioned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 14 -- Questions about nepotism at the UN have multiplied this summer, now leading directly to the top. The efforts by Alan Doss, the Special Representative to the Democratic Republic of the Congo of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, to procure a job for his daughter Rebecca with the UN Development Program, documented by an e-mail obtained and first published by Inner City Press in which Mr. Doss requested "leeway" from applicable hiring rules, has triggered an investigation on which a report is now expected on August 18.

On August 14, Mr. Ban's Spokesperson's Office in a message to Inner City Press disputed that they have been dodging questions and said that Ban "takes this matter very seriously, and expects to see a report upon his return to New York" on August 18. This was reiterated on camera in response to follow-up questions from Inner City Press, here.

But Mr. Ban himself has been subject to nepotism related questions. His son in law Siddath Chatterjee, already given a promotion by another SRSG Staffan de Mistura, in May obtained an even higher job with the UN Office of Project Services in Copenhagen. Inner City Press, which happened on the story while in Copenhagen covering Mr. Ban's trip to Sri Lanka, asked Ban's Spokesperson's Office to confirm the rank and hiring. The Office refused until, four days later, Inner City Press published the story.

Even then, UNOPS refused to state how high a promotion Ban's son in law was given. Internal UNOPS e-mails subsequently obtained by Inner City Press and published below show that it is at the D-2 level, the rank immediately below Assistant Secretary General. Also below is a detailed message concerning Ban's son in law's work in Iraq which calls the promotion into question.

Now despite Ban's Spokesperson's Office referring the question to yet another UN agency, UNICEF, Inner City Press has obtained confirmation that Ban's daughter in late June was given a Temporary Fixed Term contract by UNICEF, in Copenhagen where her husband in May got the promotion. Throughout the UN system, Inner City Press has met spouses who are unable to obtain jobs in the same city, country or even continent.

So, some ask, how seriously can or will Ban take the Doss affair?

UN's Ban and and his DRC envoy Alan Doss shaking hands: sharing a POV?

When last month Inner City Press asked a senior Ban advisor to confirm UNOPS' hiring and promotion of Ban's son in law, the response was that it is a "sensitive" matter but that Ban's Spokesperson should answer. After posing the question, no response was given for four days.

Similarly, when Inner City Press from July 31 on asked about Ban's envoy Alan Doss' e-mail asking for leeway in the hiring of his daughter, Mr. Ban's Spokesperson's Office repeatedly referred all questions to UNDP, even though Doss works for Mr. Ban and the Secretariat.

At the UN's noon briefing on August 14, before publishing this story, Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe to respond to those who question if how Ban views and deals with the Doss matter may be impacted by Ban's own "sensitivity," as the Ban advisor put it, to questions about the UN system hirings of his daughter and son in law. "Absolutely no connection between the two," Ms. Okabe said. Video here, from Minute 10:48. Watch this site.

Regarding Mr. Ban's son in law Siddarth Chatterjee, first from a whistleblowing source anonymous due to fear of retaliation, and then official but internal UNOPS e-mails:

To Inner City Press

I hope you succeed in drawing this level of nepotism to the attention of all, both within and without the UN system. The Iraqis deserved better. UNOPS, for all its faults, deserves better.

Overview of Sid Chatterjee:

Sid was a junior MOVCON officer in northern Iraq during the 986 (Oil for Food) program. Staffan de Mistura was with WFP in northern Iraq, and this is where they met. Sid went on to become a security officer for UNICEF (Somalia), ending up as P4. When de Mistura was appointed SRSG Iraq, apparently Sid called, asked if he could work for him as Chief of Staff, and was immediately given the job. The COS post is a D2 appointment, but Sid was brought in, and ‘performed’ the role, as a D1. He has moved to Regional Director with UNOPS as D2 (see below):

...Never made a decision as COS in Baghdad – never did anything which might be used against him in some way in the future. Kept a clean slate throughout – the problem being, of course, that the mission virtually ground to a halt, as no decisions were made, and no direction given.... In essence, an over-promoted, under qualified, totally ineffective individual, concerned only with getting as high as possible within the system, while conditions are in his favor. (That may seem very subjective, but I can assure you it is the opinion of the vast majority of people in Iraq, especially those working in UNAMI itself. When one international member of UNAMI staff heard Sid had been recruited as Regional Director for UNOPS, he shouted: “D2? D2? He’s not even a f***ing P2!)

Overview of Jan Mattsson:

Came to UNOPS, from UNDP, in 2006... Not field orientated, which is a shame for a UN entity which is predominantly field based. Built a huge empire in Copenhagen, with ludicrous senior staff levels (at P5 and above level). UNOPS, of course, is unique in the UN system, as it is the only entity which is entirely project funded (no core funds whatsoever). Those in the field now have to work harder to fund the bureaucracy which has been established in Copenhagen. Has very weak interpersonal skills, and is utterly hopeless (embarrassingly so) when engaging in conversation with others (including donors, national government representatives etc). His only concern, it is felt by many, is to achieve USG rank before he retires. Of course, only the Secretary General can appoint USGs. Hence Sid to Copenhagen, on promotion.

Sent: 01 May 2009 06:49
Subject: Appointment of Siddharth Chatterjee as Regional Director for Europe and the Middle East (EMO)

Dear Colleagues,

UNOPS is pleased to announce the appointment of Siddharth Chatterjee as Regional Director for Europe and the Middle East (EMO), stationed in Copenhagen. Starting today Sid will be responsible for UNOPS operations in this new regional office set-up, developing business and delivering a full range of quality services to clients. He will explore partnerships within and outside the UN, including the private sector. And as part of UNOPS senior management team Sid will, like the other Regional Directors, help shape the future direction of the organization. Sid will report directly to Vitaly and myself.

A national of India, Sid is a graduate of the National Defence Academy of India and obtained a certificate in Social Policy from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. For more than 12 years he has held positions of increasing responsibility in UN peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Iraq, and with UNICEF in Sudan, Indonesia and Somalia. Previously he served 12 years with distinction in the Indian Army Special Forces, rising to the rank of senior Major.

Sid’s familiarity with multi-sector programmes in emergency, transition and development environments, combined with leadership experience in the military and the UN will be a real asset to UNOPS.

Sid is a poet, a keen golfer, enjoys long distance running and scuba diving, and when time allows he willingly jumps out of perfectly good airplanes.

Please give Sid your strong support in our shared efforts to strengthen UNOPS for the benefit of our partners and the people we ultimately serve.

Warm regards,


Jan Mattsson | Executive Director | Copenhagen, Denmark |

[From Inner City Press' well placed source] Several things are of note about the recruitment. Was it transparent? Nobody thinks so. Is he qualified for a D2 post? Certainly not. His previous experience within the UN was mostly as a junior international staff. The e-mail refers to him having gained a ‘certificate’ in Social Policy from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands – which is a weak attempt to cover up the fact that he does not have a degree (I don’t think he has a first degree, and certainly hasn’t got a Masters degree – a usual requirement for any Professional (P) post, whether junior or senior (and certainly Masters required for D level posts).

...In essence, he is officially totally under-qualified for a D2 post. Not only under-qualified, but his qualifications would, in normal circumstances, actually preclude him from even being short-listed.

For the record, here is what UNOPS, to which Ban's Office of the Spokesperson referred Inner City Press when weeks ago Inner City Press first raised the issue, said in response to a request to know whether the S-G's son in law's post was at the D-1 or D-2 level:

Subj: response from UNOPS to your question
From: [Deputy Spokespeson at]
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 7/24/2009 11:48:20 A.M. Eastern Standard Time

Response from UNOPS on the selection of Siddharth Chatterjee as UNOPS Regional Director for Europe and Middle East

Siddharth Chatterjee, was appointed in May 2009 as UNOPS Regional Director for Europe and the Middle East (EMO). He was awarded the position after competing successfully in a routine and transparent recruitment process independently managed by UNOPS.

Mr. Chatterjee met or exceeded all the criteria for the post. UNOPS totally rejects any suggestion that he gained the position due to family connections.

For 12 years Mr. Chatterjee held positions of increasing responsibility in UN peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Iraq, and working for UNICEF in Sudan, Indonesia and Somalia. Earlier he served 12 years with distinction in the Indian Army Special Forces, including duty as a military observer for the UN, rising to the rank of senior Major. During the recruitment process he impressed the selection panel with his 24 years of leadership and experience handling UN tasks in conflict and post-conflict settings.

The post of regional director was advertised on UNOPS website and in prominent international media. UNOPS received 121 applications, and short listed five candidates based on their specific experience and their match to the competencies sought for the position. UNOPS conducted a formal panel interview with these five, asking identical questions of each. The candidates were ranked based on their interview scores. References were checked and the successful candidate offered the position.

This response does not state Mr. Ban's son in law's new rank nor compensation, nor describe "any safeguards in place" nor "confirm that the spouses of the Secretary General and Mr. Mattssson met in late May, describe all use of UN system personnel in this regard and the cost. Please describe and disclose all communications between the Bans and the Mattssons, in connection with the hiring, with S-G's decision to increase UNOPS' autonomy in hiring and the increase in D-1 and D-2 positions and otherwise."

These questions were reiterated to UNOPS and the UN Spokesperson's Office on July 24, but were never answered. In the interim, Inner City Press has obtained an internal UNOPS email documenting that Mr. Ban's son in law's post is at the higher, D-2 level:


Sent: 03 March 2009 11:09


Subject: Welcome to the new mailgroup

As you know, yesterday EUO and MEO formally merged into a new regional office called EMO (Europe and the Middle East) based in Copenhagen...I will be acting Regional Director of EMO until we have recruited a “permanent” replacement. In response to our advertisement for the D-2 regional director job, we received some 130 applications. Five candidates were short-listed for interviews: four were interviewed last Friday and the last interview is scheduled for Thursday this week. We’d like to make a decision by mid-March.

From Ms. Okabe Friday morning:

From: Deputy Spokesperson at
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 8/14/2009 7:57:02 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: your latest entry

What I said was that queries on the biting incident should be directed to the NY County DA Office.

On the allegations, we take the matter very seriously.

"The Secretary-General is aware of the situation. He has been assured that a thorough independent investigation is underway, He takes this matter very seriously, and expects to see a report upon his return to NY."

Before the August 14 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked, among other things, "please confirm that the report you refer to will be the one by UNDP's Office of Audit and Investigation. As the article you're responding to reports, sources in UNDP say the investigation is being compromised by its leadership's long time friendship with Alan Doss. (1) Any response? More important and on deadline: following up on my questions about the hiring of the S-G's son in law by UNOPS, which your Office after not providing any answers about for four days ended up referring to UNOPS only after publication and public raising, (2) please confirm this morning that the S-G's daughter has also obtained a UN system job on a Fixed Term Contract in Copenhagen, and how it should be viewed as above board given the son in law's getting a UNOPS there."

Ms. Okabe did not comment on the credibility of UNDP's investigation, nor the other matter. Rather, she referred Inner City Press to UNICEF, from which

Subj: Answers your queries re: employment status Ms. Ban
From: Spokesman at
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 8/14/2009 10:25:42 A.M. Eastern Standard Time

Hi Matthew,

Answers on Ms. Ban.

Ms. Ban commenced work with UNICEF in January 2003 as a JPO. After completing her term as a JPO and serving the obligatory period away from service, she competed for and won a P2 position in our Sudan office in January 2005.

Currently, she is employed on a 12-month temporary contract (TFT) with UNICEF (at the P3 level) based in Copenhagen which started on 29 June 2009. Her title is "Project Manager: Supply Web Catalogue" in our Supply Division's Knowledge Management section.

From Feb 2006 to 2008, she held a post as a UNICEF staff member based in Nairobi. In 2008, she requested (and was granted) special leave from her staff position in Nairobi. After a period on special leave without pay, she resigned from that post.

Earlier this year she applied for the temporary position mentioned above in Copenhagen. Candidates were reviewed according to our normal procedures, she was gauged the best candidate and she was offered the job.

The work she is undertaking for UNICEF has no relationship whatsoever with the position her husband occupies in UNOPS. It is not uncommon for married couples to apply for positions that allow them to live in the same city/country.

A Ban adviser after Friday's noon briefing argued that married couples should be allowed to be posted together. Inner City Press does not disagree, but has met many couples in the UN system forced to be apart. Shouldn't all UN staff be treated equally? As one source asked, isn't preferential treatment for relatives of high officials the definition of nepotism? Watch this site.

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