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At Ban's UN, Ivorians Against UNCTAD Second Term As OIOS Complaint, E-mails Surface

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

UNITED NATIONS, July 6 -- Despite complaints pending before the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services, the nomination by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of Supachai Panitchpakdi for a second term atop the UN Conference on Trade and Development was confirmed July 6 by the UN General Assembly.

  Before the vote, the representative of Cote d'Ivoire, which fielded a candidate who as documented by Inner City Press was smeared by Supachai's senior advisor Kobsak Chutikul, read a speech expressing "reservations" at the process, stating that the "ethical values that should inspire our Organization were overthrown" by "defamatory practices against our candidate." Video here, from Minute 6:23.

   Today, while Ban Ki-moon is in UNCTAD's headquarters city of Geneva, Inner City Press publishes an additional July 3 e-mail by Kobsak Chutikul, and another complaint pending unacted upon before the OIOS.

   Inner City Press asked Mr. Supachai on June 24 to respond to his advisor's documented "game plan" of having UNCTAD staff lobby particular Ambassadors and spread negative information about the Ivorian candidate. Supachai said that because the complaint was before "the Office of Internal Oversight... we may have to defer to OIOS." Video here, from Minute 54:04.

   He denied that he had campaigned, characterizing it as a mere "re-nomination," essentially an automatic second term. On July 6, the Ivorian representative in the General Assembly dispute that this should be automatic, an argument that may be raised again in two years in New York. As Inner City Press has reported, this argument was made to Team Ban, that to allow the African Group to deny Supachai a second term would be a bad precedent for Ban.

   While Supachai on June 24 dodged questions about listening devices hidden in the UN in Geneva as well as the acts of his special advisor, while claiming that whistleblower protections are in place at UNCTAD, Kobsak Chutikul has since sent out the e-mail below.

UN's Ban and UNCTAD's Supachai: when was the former aware of the OIOS complaints?

--- Forwarded by xxxxxxxx/UNCTAD/GVA/UNO on 03.07.2009 14:49 -----

Kobsak Chutikul/UNCTAD/GVA/UNO

03.07.2009 13:54


Subject Allegations of misconduct

Dear Colleagues,

Upon return from mission, I realise that recent press stories relating to me, as well as copies of emails attributed to me that have been widely circulated, have caused concern and bewilderment in the house.

In my opinion, the context of those emails have clearly been distorted. Investigations will have to establish the facts.

However, while awaiting the outcome of the investigation, at this point in time, I would like on my part to apologise for the damage that this matter may have caused to the good name and reputation of UNCTAD. I also deeply regret the embarrassment that has been caused to innocent third-parties outside the organization. Over the next few days, I shall be seeking to meet individually with those affected to apologise to them personally.

Colleagues whose names have been associated with me all acted in good faith in what they must have perceived to have been the best interests of the organization, with no malicious intent.

It has been a sobering experience. I shall strive to repair the harm done to this organization by the public disclosures of a complaint that was accompanied by incomplete and misleading information. I'm confident, nonetheless, that the organization will eventually emerge stronger from this period of relative trial and tribulation, as has been the case so many times in the past.

Sincerely yours, Kobsak.

    That despite the disclosure of the "Game Plan" e-mail, no disciplinary action has been taken continues to amaze many within and outside of UNCTAD and the UN. Inner City Press now publishes another complaint earlier filed with the OIOS:

Subject: Integrity issues in UNCTAD management
To: investigationsoios [at]
Dear Sir/madam,

I am an UNCTAD staff member with a wholly satisfactory UN service record, and I feel obliged to report a blatant recent example of poor management at UNCTAD, which is seriously troubling to many colleagues. While this issue may not concern me in the strict sense of my immediate employment or contractual conditions, it could have a bearing on the general matter of personnel issues at UNCTAD, something that all of us, programme managers and staff, have a stake in.

I considered the options of either addressing myself to the Under-Secretary General for Management or the Secretary-General of UNCTAD himself, but I am concerned that such a formal open approach could subject me to retaliation, or otherwise be ignored. And as the Ombudsman's Office seems ill-equipped to understand and address such a matter, I feel that the safest, correct route to bring this to the attention of the concerned offices in the Organisation is through OIOS. Please find below the full explanation of this matter and attached some relevant documents.

1. I wish to bring to your attention the deep dissatisfaction among many UNCTAD staff-members with the decision announced on 19 September 2008 by the Acting Deputy Secretary General of UNCTAD to appoint Mr. Angelo Galindo as Officer-in-Charge of UNCTAD Human Resources Management Service (HRMS), effective 6 October. Mr. Galindo has acted since 2007 as Special Assistant to the Secretary General (for personnel and related administrative matters).

2. This appointment comes in the wake of a series of staffing re-assignments and appointments at UNCTAD that were arbitrary and undertaken without proper consultation with programme managers and concerned staff members or consideration of the impact on their morale and career prospects. This most recent appointment confirms that a pattern of faulty administrative decision-making at UNCTAD is tolerated, if not institutionalized.

3. This has created an environment perceived by many staff members to feature the same managerial impunity to which the Under-Secretary General for Management, Ms. Angela Kane, took exception in her recent UNOG Town Hall meeting. Regrettably, the various administrative, oversight and inspection mechanisms intended to uphold good management and safeguard staff-member's rights that Ms. Kane stressed at that meeting are not working as they should or else I would not have felt obliged to report this confidentially to the Ombudsman.

4. This appointment is problematic because of the official public record of the staff member's service with the United Nations. Mr. Galindo brought a case to the UN Administrative Tribunal (UNAT) appealing against disciplinary action taken against him by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, following a 2002 ruling by the UN Joint Disciplinary Committee (JDC) (UNAT Judgment 1151, Galindo- copy available on the UNAT website).

5. In 2003, the Tribunal accepted that part of Mr. Galindo's appeal that contended that the penalty to which he was subject was disproportionate to the offenses that the JDC concluded he committed. The Tribunal did not pronounce itself on the offenses ascertained by the JDC nor did it accept other parts of Mr. Galindo's pleas. But it did conclude that Mr. Galindo "should be granted priority consideration for any position at the level for which he applies and for which he is qualified".

6. The JDC had found in 14 January 2002 that Mr. Galindo should be subject to disciplinary action because he had demonstrated unsatisfactory conduct:

"…the staff member has failed to comply with his obligations under the Charter of the United Nations, the Staff Regulations and Staff Rules... ";

"…evidence that the staff member committed unlawful acts…";

"…evidence that the staff member abused the United Nations privileges and immunities …";

"…evidence that the committed acts discredited the United Nations…";

"….a blatant lack of integrity and that the staff member's position as Chief of Personnel of UNCTAD constitutes an aggravating factor".

7. When he informed the staff-member of the disciplinary action that he decided in March 2002, the Secretary-General of the United Nations stated that he had "given careful consideration to the findings of the Committee and has concluded that the charges that (he) committed theft and discredited the United Nations are well founded and that (his) conduct constituted a serious violation of the standards of conduct and integrity expected of each staff member of the Organization, aggravated by (his) official position as Chief of Personnel of UNCTAD".

8. The Secretary-General decided that "due to the nature and seriousness of (his) misconduct, (his) demotion will be with no possibility of promotion and would entail a reassignment to an environment where (he) shall no longer exercise decision-making and managerial responsibilities…"

9. UNAT subsequently determined this disciplinary action to have been disproportionate to the offense, despite acknowledging his "bizarre behavior" under stress. While, UNAT ruled that Mr. Galindo should be considered for any post "for which he is qualified", the other facts of his record are not disputed, in particular his proven lack of integrity and other attributes especially important for the incumbent of such a position.

10. Notwithstanding Mr. Galindo's special skills in the area of human resources "management", the official observations about his competencies which are part of the public record do not reflect the qualifications and standards of integrity and leadership expected from somebody placed in charge of personnel matters in any United Nations Department.

11. While everybody should be given a second chance even when they fail, this staff member has been compensated fairly for any unfair decision to which he might have been subject, first by being returned to his former (P-4) grade, not to mention having been promoted to his current post at the P-5 level.

12. However, awarding this staff-member line functions in areas where he can exercise decision-making and managerial responsibilities flies in the face of the standards that we are all expected to observe as United Nations staff members and to which the Secretary-General of UNCTAD personally committed at the outset of his term in the form of an "Integrity Statement". Indeed, UNCTAD staff find it difficult to believe that the Secretary-General of UNCTAD is aware of the specifics of Mr. Galindo's record, or else he would not have approved his assignments since 2007 in the area of human resources management at the recommendation of his senior advisors.

    Of Mr. Galindo, another UNCTAD whistleblower states that "the Dr. Supachai/ Chutikul-administration did its best to revert a tacit understanding that he must not be allowed to handle (again) personnel matters. He paid back by helping Mr. Chutikul to recruit Mr. Bautista, former First Secretary at the Mission of the Philippines in Geneva, now one of the gentlemen of the game plan e-mail exchange, to a senior post at UNCTAD and thus saved him from a pending reassignment to Vietnam."

   Is this any way to run an Organization? Some now question, when, even before Inner City Press asked Ban's Spokesperson and wrote about them, was Team Ban aware of these pending complaints and what has been done about them? Watch this site.

UN E-mails Allege Plot to Deny Ban a Second Term, Trick for Supachai at UNCTAD?

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

UNITED NATIONS, June 24 -- Weeks after the filing with the UN investigative unit of emails showing a dirty tricks campaign by staffers of UN Conference on Trade and Development chief Supachai Panitchpakdi to get a second term, on Wednesday UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon nevertheless announced he is supporting Supachai for another four years.

   Inner City Press, which exclusively reported the filing on June 22, asked Ban's spokesperson if Ban had considered its contents, and acknowledged any connection between them and the reappointment.

  The most explosive part of the emails, being published for the first time today by Inner City Press, are the arguments made in a May 8, 2009 email by Supachai's special adviser Kobsak Chutikul, that African and other countries were supporting Ivory Coast's former trade minister to deny Supachai from Thailand a second term in order to set a precedent to deny Ban Ki-moon a second term as Secretary General, due to "his perceived Western backers."

  Ban's spokesperson declined to comment on the filing, saying it is before the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services. Video here from Minute 10:45. But senior Ban officials including Management chief Angela Kane and Ethics Officer Robert Benson have had the complaint since June 4. Meanwhile, the complainant has reportedly been demoted.

  Inner City Press asked Supachai if his UNCTAD has any whistleblower protection provisions. Yes we will follow those, Supachai answered. He claimed he "never campaigned," despite what the emails show his special adviser Kobsak Chutikul doing. He claimed he only "responded to some countries' remarks." Video here, from Minute 56:18.

  Given these statement, Inner City Press is today publishing some of the emails at issue, here.

In a May 8, 2009 email marked Attachment E and headlined, "NAM Note Verbale," Chutikul wrote to three senior UNCTAD staff, including the subsequent complainant:

"Gentlemen, please see attached NAM Note Verbale sent out to all NAM Missions today. In light of this new development, it is the assessment of Thai and some ASEAN Ambassadors that the picture has become clear -- UNCTAD SG post has become an innocent bystander caught in the middle of a bigger struggle... The goal seems to be to insist on geographical rotation of posts, and undermining the practice / tradition of two continuous terms, with the real target being the UN SG (and his perceived western backers)."

  This argument raises the issue, for some interviewed by Inner City Press so far: did Ban have something of a conflict of interest in overriding (after working to override and change) African Group resistance and giving Supachai a second term? In fact, that too is laid out in Supachai's special adviser's Mach 8 e-mail, referring to telling Team Ban "things like 'you are the real target' or 'you are next.'"

  The emails point to several other improprieties, and it is extraordinary that Team Ban wants or wanted to ignore them and simply reappoint Supachai.

  Following Chutikul's"all hands on deck" e-mail, the press was on to get Ban to announce his referral of Supachai's renomination to the General Assembly. A Chinese staff member conferred with Beijing, and that asked for evidence of which way Ban was leaning (Attachment G). Another UNCTAD staffer questioned why the African Group targeted the second term of Supachai and not Frenchman Pascal Lamy at the World Trade Organization -- "because he's white"? The e-mails are replete with racial references.

  Now what will happen? Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, Complaint of Hiring of Mistress at WTO, Tricks in UNCTAD Election Battle

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

UNITED NATIONS, June 22 -- The seamy underbelly of UN system politicking is laid bare in a filing to the UN's top investigator Inga-Britt Ahlenius from the Officer in Charge of the UN Conference on Trade and Development Division on Management Khaililur Rahman.

   Describing the campaign by UNCTAD's senior advisor against a Ivory Coast diplomat competing to head UNCTAD or to beat out Patrick Lamy for the next term at the World Trade Organization, Rahman quotes that Lamy "has campaign funds from the French" and hired the Ivorian diplomat's "mistress at the WTO."

  Inner City Press has obtained a copy of the UN document, and places it online here.  On June 4, Rahman asked Ahlenius' Office of Internal Oversight Services to take action. But UN Spokesperson Michele Montas on June 19 told Inner City Press she and the UN are unaware of the complaint.

    In the memo, Rahman recounts how pressure was brought to bear on UN staff to lobby for the incumbent at UNCTAD Supachai Panitchpakdi to get a second term. Mr. Supachai's special advisor Kobsak Chutikul wrote a "Game Plan e-mail" which identified the Permanent Representatives to the UN of Sudan, Cuba, Libya and Nicaragua as "undermining the practice / tradition of two consecutive terms" for the top job at UNCTAD.

   Rahman recounts to the Office of Internal Oversight Services that "Mr. Chutikul also mentioned he would 'continue to press the Executive Office of Secretary General' [Ban Ki-moon] while noting that 'we can't just wait for them to act.'"

   The African Group was pushing as a candidate Ambassador Gauze of Cote d'Ivoire to replace Mr. Supachai. That campaign appears to have ended. On June 19, Inner City Press was shown by one of the above-mentioned Permanent Representatives a message from Ban Ki-moon's senior advisor, leading to the dropping of the competing African candidacy. Ban and his advisor previously moved to cut the Office of the Special Advisor on Africa, a decision the General Assembly has ordered Ban to reverse.

   The seamy side is contained in Paragraph 6 of Rahman's memo to OIOS, in which he writes -- in a UN document about which Inner City Press asked the UN spokesperson on June 19 -- that

"an email from Mr. Chutikul dated 29 May 2009... made a number of allegations against Mr. Gauze, a former Minister of Trade of Cote d'Ivoire and currently Permanent Representative of Cote d'Ivoire in Geneva as a contender for the post of SG of UNCTAD along with Mr. Supachai, as well as against Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director General of the World Trade Organization. Mr. Chutikul alleged in this email that Mr. Gauze 'in fact last year offered to be on Lamy's campaign team.' Mr Chutukul also alleged that Mr. Lamy 'had campaign funds from the French' and got Mr. Gauze's 'mistress in the mission hired by WTO.'

 He alleged further that Mr. Gauze 'is now facing a paternity suit for child born to another Ivorian mistress. The woman is married to a white man but the baby was born completely black.' He adds: 'Seems Gauze in desperate need of source of income to settle the suit and pay upkeep.'"

   Mr. Rahman's memo refers all of the above -- beyond the UN's total denial, let us take item by item denials for granted and at face value -- "to OIOS for appropriate action." But is OIOS the right venue?


  Copies of the complaint were alsosent to Department of Management chief Angela Kane and her Human Resources Assistant Catherine Pollard, as well as UN Ethics Officer Robert Benson, Jan Beagle in Geneva, Ms. A. Djermakoye and Mr. I Koulov.

   Despite all this, the UN in New York, through its spokesperson Michele Montas, purports to know nothing about this formal complaint. Inner City Press asked at the June 19 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: there’s this controversy about UNCTAD, about reappointing or not reappointing Mr. Supachai. And it said that the G-77 there has written in support of him, but the African Group within that has said they didn’t support the recommendation, that they have other candidates from the Ivory Coast and Kenya, and finally, it’s been written to miscellaneous of OIOS that there’s been pressure put on staff to support the current head to be reappointed. One -- has the Secretary-General gotten this letter from G-77, and does he acknowledge it as the position of the full group, or does he know of this African Group counter-position?

Spokesperson Montas: He has received the different letters and the different positions and, as you know, he still supports his reappointment.

Inner City Press: And what about this claim that staff are being pressured as a condition of keeping their jobs?

Spokesperson: Pressured by whom?

Inner City Press: Pressured by senior members within UNCTAD.

Spokesperson: I’m not aware of that. I’m not aware of that at all.

   Note that the "miscellaneous" in the transcript is Ms. Ahlenius. And that no update has been provided by the Office of the Spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, including his view on Supachai's future and special advisor's campaigning as reflected in the must-credit exclusive above. Watch this site.

* * *

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

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

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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