As UN Chiefs Sign Contracts, Only
Some Can See Them, Transparency Still Lacking
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, February 12 -- In
a quirky but strangely endearing ceremony on Thursday, UN
Ki-moon signed compacts with two dozen
of his senior staff members, taking a photo shaking hands with each and
group photo like in elementary school.
In his prepared remarks, Ban said that "the compacts
signed will all be published on our intranet site, iSeek. This means we
only talking about transparency, we are practicing it." But this web
is not available to the public or even member states that UN ostensibly
Under Ban's predecessor Kofi Annan, there was talk
of a freedom of
information policy for the UN system. It was entrusted to
Management chief Alicia Barcena. It was never implemented. Thursday
back, on a brief visit to New York from her new posting with ECLAC in
Chile. Her successor Angela Kane held a thick binder. Inner City Press
Ms. Kane, "So you're the master of ceremonies?"
"My department organized this," she answered. "Write
nicely about our Organization."
In that spirit, we'll note that the UN's envoy on
children and armed
conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, chatted about Gaza and the Congo with
John Holmes. Deputy chief of staff Kim Won-soo, who didn't sign a
moved to sit next to American Department of Political Affairs chief
one surmised that Sri Lanka was discussed.
Mister Disarmament, Sergio Duarte, came over to wait
to speak with Mr.
Kim. Vijay Nambiar, the chief of staff last seen strolling 42nd Street
p.m. Wednesday night, help organize the final picture. Why aren't you
compact, he was asked. Because I am staff, he answered, this is for
managers. Nambiar has been mentioned to
perhaps move laterally to the top post at the UN Development Program,
list for which Team Ban is also keeping secret, unlike Kofi Annan's
UNDP post is described as third-highest in the UN system. The list
UN's Ban and his chiefs, their contract only on the
Nor did the UN's Number Two, Deputy
Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro,
sign a compact, though at the ceremony's end, after first they appeared
the compact were entrusted into her custody. Then, after photographer's
instructions moved the group back behind the desk -- "the Secretary
General said to say something when something's broken," the UN
said, and this is broken" -- the group snap shot was taken.
Public Information chief Kiyo Akasaka and Mr. Ban
bowed to each other
after the signing. Four tall men, Messrs Costa, Diarra and Kubis, and
lesser degree Shaaban Shaaban, towered over Mr. Ban. Mr. Sha was said
to be on
official travel, and did not appear by TV like Achim Steiner with his
or the trio from Geneva. In from the field were Noeleen Heyzer,
and Anna Tibaijuka, still famous for her critique of Operation
Take-Out-the-Trash in Zimbabwe, carried about by Robert Mugabe's
Missing from the UN's Compact ceremony was acting security chief David
or any replacement.
Inga-Britt Ahlenius, last seen chatting at a party
for Iran, was the
first to sign her Compact. To the surprise of some, technology chief
Assistant Secretary General Choi Soon-hong signed a Compact. The other
Under-Secretaries General were encourage to sign contract with their
Alain Le Roy, then, should draft one with his deputy Edmond Mullet,
have participated in Ban's meeting later on Thursday with Sudan's
That meeting broke up to allow a private tete
a tete. One hopes Ban didn't read from notes. Click here for
Press' Sudan coverage of later in the day.
Later in the hallway -- Inner City Press has been
told, "this is
not a press conference, just a photo op" -- the UN's top lawyer
O'Brien committed to take a look at seeming abuses of the UN's logo and
corporations. We hope to have more on this, and on the USGs who have
still not followed Ban's urging to make at least some minimal public
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
Click here for Inner City
Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
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for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
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