Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Top UN Security Council Staffer Removed Without Notice, Diplomatic Fiasco by Ban Ki-moon Team, Members Say

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 20 -- In a sudden shake up of the UN Secretariat's interface with the Security Council which has left several Council member states baffled, the head of the UN's Security Council Affairs unit, Horst Heitmann, has during his vacation been transferred from the post.

Heitmann's position, Director of the UN Security Council Affairs Division, is not an unimportant post, providing advice to each month's Security Council president and in some months essentially running the Council.

Heitmann had previously dueled with his boss, Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe, about insubordination in hiring for the Council's sanctions committees, as Inner City Press exclusively reported. Clickhere for Pascoe's “memo to file” against Heitmann, and here for further background.

Because no one is ever fired from the UN, a Permanent Five member of the Council tells Inner City Press Heitmann may be parked in another UN Political Affairs job, in the Middle East and West Asia Division, previously held by Lisa Buttenheim. UN staffers told Inner City Press that the change was “like a decapitation” and hurt morale.

They said the news of Heitmann's ouster was e-mailed to them on Friday, July 16 at 5:40 p.m.. The first time they could meet and ask questions, in the Council chamber, was the Tuesday, July 20 meeting. Several staff members expressed shock. Later on Tuesday, Lynn Pascoe convoked Heitmann's interim replacement to meet with him. A “Temporary Vacancy Announcement” will be published on Friday.

Ambassadors from several Security Council member states asked Inner City Press, regarding the sudden move on Heitmann, “what is going on?” Combined with the Council's move this year to exclude the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General from attendance at consultation meetings, the failure to explain the move to the Council member states represents another managerial and diplomatic screw up by the Ban Ki-moon administration, they say.

Heitmann claps, Norma Chan and Loraine Sievers behind, in better times

Will Loraine Sievers, Heittman's deputy, be promoted to replace him? Probably not, sources say, since she only recently was promoted from the P-5 level to D-1. Another name, perhaps more realistic, being circulated as Heitmann's replacement is Pascoe's current Special Assistance Karin Ann Gerlach of Venezuela. She is currently at the UN's D-1 level, but seeks a promotion to D-2, which she would get if she takes Heitmann's post.

Another answer was surprising: a rumor that long serving Norma Chan, who retired amid a slew of congratulations and awards from P-5 members, may return to Heitmann's place. But, the Council source asked, wouldn't the awards be a conflict of interest? We hope to hear from the retired Ms. Chan on these topics, and will report what we hear.

Inner City Press waited outside Pascoe's office before publication of this story; his spokesman has rarely answered questions, for example about corruption at the top of DPA's Affair II division, and Center in Turkmenistan. Whatever we hear from Mr. Pascoe we will also report. Watch this site.

Update of 6:38 p.m. -- Lynn Pascoe emerged from his wing of the North Lawn building and issued a no comment, an affable no comment but a no comment nonetheless. Perhaps Security Council members states will belatedly be told more information? Watch this site.

No comments: