Monday, August 31, 2009
By Judi McLeod
Canada Free Press
Original Source: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/328
Qualifiers bound to get you a “jammy job” at the high-handed, diplomatic immunity protected United Nations? Other than being a bureaucrat down to the core, it helps if you are mealy-mouthed, politically correct and good at hiding when challenging times demand decisions. Think Kofi Annan in Rwanda.
Well, as the French would say, the more things change the more things remain the same at the world’s largest bureaucracy.
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s son, Kojo used Daddy’s name to get his green Mercedes sent back home to Ghana on the cheap, and somehow landed himself a job with a firm then connected to the Oil-for-Food scandal
According to UN watchdog Inner City Press, rookie UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s son-in-law Siddarth Chatterjee has been announced as his wife’s father’s chief of staff.
Inner City Press picked up “a small item” about this latest UN nepotism from the Washington Post and ran the gamut on it.
That’s Ban’s fancy footwork in the looking after the family department.
In the Getting by with a Little Help from my Friends Department, there’s Ban’s former colleague in the South Korean foreign ministry, Choi Young-jin, recently named Ban’s envoy to the Ivory Coast.
The UN, which relies more on the media communique than even the U.S. government, teaches all “spokespeople” how to handle embarrassing questions from the media.
“For weeks it had been rumored that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s son-in-law would get a high post with the UN in Iraq, and that Mr. Ban’s former colleague in the South Korean foreign ministry, Choi Young-jin, would be named Ban’s envoy to the Ivory Coast.” (Inner City Press, Oct. 19, 2007). “About the latter, Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesperson Michele Montas, after hearing from Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo that the envoy had been mutually selected. Ms. Montas had no comment at the time. Then on October 18, the Choi appointment was announced, and the following morning’s Washington Post carried a small item noting that Ban’s Iraq envoy Steffan de Mistura is naming Ban’s son-in-law Siddarth Chatterjee as his chief of staff. There are stories behind each, portions of which we’ll endeavor to tell in this end-of-week column.
“On Friday Inner City Press asked Ms. Montas about Chattterjee’s appointment in Iraq, and she responded that it is strictly a matter between Mr. de Mistura and Chatterjee, that it is a lateral move and not a promotion, and that “we feel the publication of any information that increases the risk to any staff member and to the mission as a whole is not very helpful.”
”Inner City Press asked, “Are you saying that the Washington Post’s publication puts the mission at risk?”
“I’m saying what I said,” Mrs. Montas replied.
“An aside: Inner City Press often takes and presents UN Spokesperson Montas’ objections to the legitimacy of questions at face value. But in this case, we have reason to believe, and have decided to report, that the responsibility for the above-quoted dig at press freedom lies on the 38th Floor, and not the third (where the Spokesperson’s Office is housed). Apparently from the highest levels, attempts were made that this widely-rumored story not be published.
“But since it is journalistically legitimate, even imperative, to report on what some are calling possible nepotism in public institutions, security concerns would have militated (sic) against this assignment of the Secretary-General’s son-in-law to Iraq.
“`It’s a big world,’” as one source fearing retaliation put it, adding that Chatterjee was initially going to be promoted from P-5 up into the “D” ranks, but that it was decided to forego this for now, to present the move as lateral.
“The subtext to Ms. Montas’ statement that this was a matter between Mr. de Mistura and Mr. Chatterjee is that these fearful insiders report that Mr. de Mistura made the appointment in order to curry favor on the 38th floor, just as, the sources say, he previously hired the son of Kofi Annan’s close aide Iqbal Riza. What makes it unrealistic to expect this story not to be explored is that de Mistura was so recently given the Iraq envoy post.
“The new envoy to the Ivory Coast, Choi Young-jin, assumes a difficult position. The previous two envoys were essentially thrown out by president Gbagbo after they pushed to compliance with the elections time-table and spoke about corruption. While it is said that Gbagbo initially rejected the suggestion of Choi as the new envoy, his subsequently changed position leads many to question how assertive he will be about compliance with the revised elections time-line, to say nothing of corruption.”
The United Nations has proven it is the kind of place where, when the first sign of corruption raises its ugly head, friends are called in to investigate.
Paul Volcker, who headed up the Independent Inquiry Commission into the Oil-for-Food scandal, held a seat on Power Corp’s international advisory board. Power’s founding father, Paul Desmarais is a major shareholder and director of TotalFinaElf, the biggest oil corporation in France, which has held tens of billions of dollars in contracts with the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein--originators of the largest scandal in world history.
Meanwhile over at Turtle Bay, the age-old axiom “like father, like son” could have added, like Kofi, like Ban.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
If you don't have something nice to say, you probably shouldn't say it at all. And if you're a senior diplomat at the United Nations, you certainly shouldn't write it.
But write it she did. Mona Juul, Norway's No. 2 at the U.N., wrote a confidential internal memo slamming Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's leadership as weak, ineffective, lacking in charisma, and—more often than not—just plain absent. Yesterday, the memo leaked to the Norwegian press. Ms. Juul, on vacation with her husband, was unavailable to mop up the mess.
It's sure to be an unpleasant episode for all involved, but it's about time someone said it. As the memo's juiciest tidbits point out, this opinion has been the word on the street at the U.N. for some time. It's no secret that the previous U.S. administration was more than content to have an ineffective leader steering the U.N. ship. That may not be the case anymore. In the most noteworthy paragraph, Ms. Juul reveals rumors that Washington may not be keen to keep Mr. Ban on for second term. They may run into opposition from China, which is perfectly happy to maintain the organization's status quo. If President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and U.N. Ambassador Rice are serious about engaging with the U.N., this is a development to keep an eye on.
Ban Ki-moon isn’t having a good year for public relations. Halfway through a five-year term as U.N. secretary-general, he’s been hit with a wave of negative assessments by the Financial Times, The Economist, London Times, Foreign Policy and other media organizations. In a March 2009 editorial entitled “Whereabouts Unknown,” the Times said Ban was “virtually inaudible” on pressing issues of international security and “ineffectual” on climate change, the one issue that Ban claims he has made the biggest difference on. The Economist gave him a mixed report card, assigning him two out of 10 points for his management skills while praising him on climate change (eight out of 10 points).
This week, Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper made an unpleasant situation much worse. It published a confidential memo assessing Ban’s 2-1/2 years in office from Oslo’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Mona Juul, to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. Juul’s report is scathing — and it comes from a representative of one of the world’s body’s top financial contributors. She says the former South Korean foreign minister suffers from a “lack of charisma” and has “constant temper tantrums” in his offices on the 38th floor of the United Nations building in midtown Manhattan.
She describes Ban as a “powerless observer” during the fighting in Sri Lanka earlier this year when thousands of civilians were killed as government forces ended a 25-year civil war against Tamil Tiger rebels, trapping them on a narrow strip of coast in the country’s northeast. In Darfur, Somalia, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Congo, she wrote, Ban’s “passive and not very committed appeals seem to fall on deaf ears.” She says that his recent trip to Myanmar was a failure and that some people in Washington refer to Ban as a “one-term” secretary-general.
Juul’s letter could hardly have come at a more inopportune time. Ban is planning to visit Norway in the coming weeks, where he intends to meet with government officials and visit the Arctic circle to see for himself the effects of global warming and the melting polar ice. Now U.N. officials fear reporters will be more interested in what he says about Juul’s memo than climate change.
So far Ban has not reacted to the letter. However, a Norwegian diplomat told Reuters that Ban’s press office had been instructed to hold off on confirming his visit to Norway shortly after the news of Juul’s memo began to spread.
Ban’s PR difficulties didn’t start this year. In March 2008, his chief of staff Vijay Nambiar sent a memo to U.N. employees explaining how to say his boss’s name. “Many world leaders, some of whom are well acquainted with the Secretary-General, still use his first name mistakenly as his surname and address him wrongly as Mr. Ki-moon or Mr. Moon,” Nambiar complained.
Then came Ban’s own speech to senior U.N. officials in Turin, Italy last year, in which he described how difficult it was to improve the working culture inside the United Nations. The secretary-general seemed to acknowledge that his internal management style had failed. “I tried to lead by example,” Ban said. “Nobody followed.”
Ban’s aides vehemently defend him, saying he’s being treated unfairly by the press. One senior U.N. official suggested privately that Ban could very well turn out to be “the greatest secretary-general ever.” They complain that people continue to compare him to his predecessor Kofi Annan, who was a very different U.N. chief and relied less on “quiet diplomacy” than Ban. Annan became a hero to many people around the world for standing up to the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush over the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Annan called the March 2003 invasion illegal. U.N. officials also complain bitterly about the indefatigable blogger Matthew Lee, whose website Inner City Press regularly accuses Ban and other U.N. officials of hypocrisy and failing to keep their promises to reform the United Nations and root out corruption. (Some U.N. officials accuse Lee of not always getting his facts right, but his blog has become unofficial required reading for U.N. staffers around the world.)
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, diplomats in New York say, is among those supporting a campaign against a second term for Ban. Juul’s memo said Helen Clark, New Zealand’s former prime minister and current head of the U.N. Development Program, “could quickly become a competitor for Ban’s second term.” But diplomats say they expect the United States, Britain and other major powers to reluctantly back a second term for Ban, if only because there appears to be no viable alternative whom Russia and China would support.
A recent article in the Times of London said the best U.N. chief in the organization’s 64-year history was not Swedish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dag Hammarskjold but the Peruvian diplomat Javier Perez de Cuellar, who held the top U.N. post for 10 years until 1992. Nicknamed “mumbles” because he was so difficult to understand, Perez de Cuellar kept a low profile and, like Ban, preferred backroom diplomacy, not Annan’s bully pulpit. Among the Peruvian diplomat’s successes were managing the end of the Cold War, leading a long-delayed revival of U.N. peacekeeping and encouraging member states to back a U.S.-led military operation to drive Iraq’s invading forces out of Kuwait in 1991.
Whether Ban’s preference for quiet diplomacy will produce similar successes remains to be seen.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The officials and diplomats said that the International Atomic Energy Agency under Director General Mohamed ElBaradei was refraining from publishing evidence obtained by its inspectors over the past few months that indicate Iran was pursuing information about weaponization efforts and a military nuclear program.
American, French, British and German senior officials have recently pressured ElBaradei to publish the information next month in a report due to be released at the organization's general conference.
"We expect the details to appear in the new report and to be made public," a senior Western diplomat told Haaretz.
The efforts to release the allegedly censored report is being handled in Israel by Dr. Shaul Horev, director general of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, and the Foreign Ministry. Asked about this sensitive subject, several Israeli diplomats declined to comment. The Prime Minister's Bureau also declined to comment, but the report was not denied.
Israel has been striving to pressure the IAEA through friendly nations and have it release the censored annex. It hopes to prove that the Iranian effort to develop nuclear weapons is continuing, contrary to claims that Tehran stopped its nuclear program in 2003. A confirmation of these suspicion would oblige the international community to enact "paralyzing sanctions" on Iran.
Throughout his term, Israel has accused ElBaradei of not tackling the Iranian nuclear issue with sufficient determination. As the end of his term in December nears, Israeli diplomats are concerned that he will become less responsive and continue to hide the classified report.
Jerusalem is hoping, however, that his successor, Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano, will take up a tougher line on the Iranian nuclear program.
In its recent references to Iran, the IAEA criticized Iran for barring inspectors from its nuclear facilities, but did not accuse Tehran of developing nuclear weapons. Most of the reports were concerned with efforts to enrich uranium or to produce heavy water, without making conclusions as to where these resources might be applied.
The international community is expected to examine the issue of nuclear proliferation during three major international conferences over the next six months.
On September 14, the IAEA general convention will commence in Vienna, where the next report on the Iranian nuclear program will be officially presented.
On September 24, the UN Security Council will meet for a special discussion of weapon control and nuclear weapons proliferation, at the initiative of U.S. President Barack Obama. Obama is also calling an international conference on the security of nuclear installations in Washington on March 9, 2010.
UN Ambassador Mona Juul believes that the top manager in the world organization is suitable as a bad leader. In a secret letter to UD hudfletter she UN commander.
Juul, who is one of the two Norwegian ambassadors at the UN delegation in New York, describes in the letter to a top Foreign Ministry as "struggling to show leadership" and that "the enduring rage outbursts," which makes it difficult to work with him.
Ban Ki-moon is coming to Norway 31. August. The report from the Norwegian UN envoy is not the best welcome.
Aftenposten has acquired all of the secret command temp document, as Juul sent to the Foreign Ministry a month ago. It is an evaluation of Ban Ki-moon in connection with that he is halfway through his first term as Secretary General of the United Nations.
-In a time when the United Nations and the need for multilateral solutions to global crises is more necessary than ever, Ban and the UN are outstanding with their absence, writes Juul.
Point for point, she elaborates on the argument. In relation to the financial crisis, she writes that Ban has not managed to make the United Nations to the main arena, and that the so-called g20-group has filled the "vacuum".
On the environmental front "struggle with the United Nations to be relevant," says Juul, who adds that "Bans vote on behalf of the poor hardly NOK have been registered."
Political crises are not Bans force, according to UN ambassador, describing the Secretary General's trip to Burma in the summer as "a shining example" for his lack of "leadership and ability to deliver on the world body's behalf."
Neither trip to war-torn Sri Lanka in May impresses Juul, which refers to him as a "powerless observer" if "moral voice and authority have been absent."
And slaughter continues. Juul draw a picture of Ban as both irresolute, not engaging, not willing to share the limelight and ukarismatisk. In addition, the UN chief to have a mentality that makes it very difficult to work with him:
-Ban has enduring rage outbursts, that even sober-minded and experienced workers have to cope with problems, she writes.
Ban Ki-moon has had to endure criticism about since he was appointed for two and a half years ago. As foreign minister of South Korea, he was known as "bureaucrats", and his soft-spoken style is in contrast to the dedicated predecessor Kofi Annan.
Bans low profile was also one of the reasons why the U.S. wanted him as UN chief. But now even the Americans have probably received NOK, Juul writes, which suggests that many in the Obama Administration is already talking about that Ban will not get a new five-year term as Secretary General.
Sources BBC has spoken to referred to as "embarrassing" for the Foreign Ministry that the UN delegation's positions on Ban is known, but that the large problem lies in the consequences of the contents of the note.
-The United Nations has always been a very important arena for Norway. A weaker UN makes it more difficult for Norway to maintain its image as a peace nation, "said Eli Stamnes senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.
Mona Juul desired yesterday to comment on the matter to Aftenposten.