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UN's Congo Chief Doss Won't Explain Nepotism E-mail, Dodges Cook as Engineer Question

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 16 -- The UN's envoy to the Congo Alan Doss declined comment Friday on his leaked e-mail asking that the UN Development Program show him "leeway" and give a job to his daughter, and on allegations by UN staff in the Congo that he brought his cook from his previous assignment in Liberia to Kinshasa as a UN engineer.

  The nepotism scandal broken in July, when Inner City Press obtained and published the e-mail which openly asked that the UN's rules be bent or broken to hire Doss' daugther Rebecca. Click here for that.

   Friday in front of the Security Council, after relegating questions about his own conduct to the tail end of a stakeout question and answer session with the Press -- we follow his logic and will report on the Lord's Resistance Army and Kivus elsewhere -- Doss claimed that the e-mail line was taken out of context. But Inner City Press published the entire email.

  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, those his deputy spokesperson, said he was concerned and expected to receive a report, when he returned to New York. That was two months ago. Now Doss says he won't comment until the report, half down by UNDP itself, is finished. Thus it is at the UN, several observers have opined, there is no accountability, internal investigations are just a way to bury problems.
  Similarly, when Inner City Press asked Doss about the letter by the head of the MONUC national staff union in the Congo to Ban Ki-moon about problems at MONUC, including his being barred from MONUC premises and threats against his life, all Doss responded was, that too is under investigation. There is a pattern here.

Alan Doss and supine press, via MONUC, answers not shown

  Doss' answer on the allegation, by UN staff in the Congo, that he brought his cook from Liberia to the Congo was that he didn't bring anyone from Liberia "under false pretenses." But what does this mean? That he told someone, even sotto voce, that this was a cook?

  Inner City Press asked the UN to confirm or deny this more than two weeks ago. A spokesperson for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations told Inner City Press she sought a response from Doss' MONUC office, repeatedly, but couldn't get one. Friday at the stakeout Doss asserted that MONUC had in fact answered: he did not bring anyone under false pretenses. What does that mean? Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, Biting Incident Reveals Nepotism of UNDP and Congo Envoy, Whistleblower Maced

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 30 -- The biting incident at the UN, on which Inner City Press exclusively reported one week ago, has its roots in a glaring case of nepotism in which the UN's top envoy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mr. Alan Doss, lobbied to get his daughter the UN Development Program job effectively held and applied for by alleged biter, Mr. Nicola Baroncini.

   When Mr. Baroncini was suspected of knowing of the nepotism, documented by an e-mail to UNDP from Mr. Doss, he was fired, forcibly removed, with pepper spray, from the UN compound and arrested by NYPD on the basis of false accusations. Doss' daughter Rebecca is now ensconced in the disputed UNDP job, while Mr. Baroncini is due in Criminal Court on August 10 on charges of third degree assault.

   The case is an early test of UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, in the job for 100 days now, and new UN Security chief Gregory Starr, with whom Mr. Baroncini is asking to meet in order to withdraw the criminal charges against him. Also in question is how Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will react to documented allegations of improper requests and nepotism by his personal envoy to one of the UN's largest and most controversial peacekeeping missions.

   Documents filed with the US Department of State, obtained by Inner City Press, show the lead-up to the June 22 pepper spray. On March 16, 2009, after several other UNDP posts ranging from Cambodia to New York, Mr. Baroncini began functioning as assistant to Ms. Ligia Elizondo, Deputy Director of UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBAP).

  According to the complaint Mr. Baroncini was "managing her personal agenda; screening inbound and outbound communications; organizing meetings; reviewing documents and other material; distributing tasks within the bureau. I had unlimited access to her UNDP email account. My tasks also included email filing (in my hard drive)."

  A month later in April according to the complaint, Mr. Baroncini "witnessed that Ms. Elizondo received several phone calls from Rebecca Doss. Her CV was permanently in Ms. Elizondo’s in-tray. Also while filing Ms. Elizondo’s UNDP email inbox I came across several emails from Rebecca Doss to Ms. Elizondo. In one, Rebecca made reference to the position of 'Special Assistant to RBAP Deputy Director' and said that she would contact Ms. Elizondo at home."

  Subsequently, Mr. Baroncini applied for and was one of four short-listed candidates for this post, whose functions he was already performing. Other candidates included Violeta Maximova and Rebecca Doss, whose father Alan Doss, in charge of the UN's billion dollar peacekeeping mission in the Congo, wrote on April 20 to Ms. Elizondo

"Dear Ligia,

This is just to inform that I have advised UNDP in writing that I will transfer to DPKO effective 1 July 2009. I have also spoken to Martin and advised him that I cannot transfer before that date because the new DPKO contractual arrangements only come into effect on the 1 July. He informed me that the ‘deadline’ for the ALD contracts is 15 May so the period of overlap would only be 6 weeks (assuming Rebecca’s ALD would come into force on the 14th May at the latest). I have asked for some flexibility, which would allow a very long serving and faithful UNDP staff member a little lee-way before he rides off into the sunset.

Becky is very excited about the prospect of going to work for you so I hope that it will work out. With my warm regards and thanks,


Alan Doss
Special Representative of the Secretary-General United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo"

E-mail in docx text format - download

  When Inner City Press asked the UN spokesperson's office on July 27 about the and biting incident and the underlying recruitment, Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq said "it had to do with a frustrated jobseeker. The only thing I can say is the information I got from UNDP on this is that the hiring process regarding that particular vacancy at UNDP was filled in accordance with their rules." Transcript here, video here.

  But as Doss' email in the complaint shows, since it is illegal for the child of a UNDP staff member, as Doss then was, to be hired by UNDP, Doss asked for "a little lee-way" -- to ignore what he called a six week overlap. The propriety of a UN Under Secretary General making personal contact and applying pressure to waive rules and award a job to his daughter has not yet been addressed.

UN's Doss, at right, with Kouchner and Clooney: Doss is connected

  Next, Ms. Maximova and Ms. Doss were declared the top two candidates. Ms. Maximova suddenly was offered and accepted a job at the Clinton Foundation / Initiative, and Ms. Doss was given the job.

  Mr. Baroncini spoke with the Director of RBAP, Mr. Ajay Chhibber, on July 19. Initially, Mr. Chhibber took an interest in hearing out Mr. Baroncini, offering him advice. But once Ms. Elizondo realized that Mr. Baroncini might, in the course of his duties, have become aware of the improper influence in the hiring decision, Mr. Baroncini had his email access terminated and was told to no longer come in to UNDP.

  Subsequently, according to the complaint filed by Mr. Baroncini:

I voiced my complete disapproval and said that I will challenge this decision with the appropriate personnel.

I handed to Mr. Chhibber a print-out of Alan Doss’ email to Ms. Elizondo of April 20, 2009 and told him, “In case you do not know, this is the way human resources selection works in UNDP.” I repeated that I will challenge this course of events.

Within a couple of minutes a man arrived. He asked for my UN badge and requested that I leave the building. I began collecting my personal belonging. The whole process took several minutes.

Three UN Department of Safety and Security Guards approached me. Immediately, Peter Kolonias, one of the guards, ordered me to enter office 2312 of DC-1. I complied immediately.

I entered the office and sat down escorted by two UN DSS Security Guards. The door was shut. Shortly, my wife joined me (she works elsewhere in UNDP).

After waiting for some time, I asked the guards about the procedures in place and why we had been waiting for so long. In several instances I was told that Ms. Elizondo was giving a written statement and that once she had completed it would be my turn.

I began asking for access to a lawyer and my consulate. I repeated this request frequently (I would say every 15 minutes) both to the guard inside office 2312 and to other officials that entered the office.

I asked my wife to leave office 2312 and look for Mr. Chhibber and ask him to speak with me. I wanted to understand if he had any control concerning what was happening, and I wanted to share my concerns about this absurd escalation of events.

My wife left the office, but the guards outside invited her to join Ms. Elizondo and Ms. Jovita Domingo, a UNDP human resources advisor, inside Ms. Elizondo’s office. There, they questioned my wife about our private life until a UN official wearing a white uniform came in and my wife was invited to leave by Ms. Elizondo.

Once my wife left Ms. Elizondo’s office, they shut the door and had a meeting. My wife returned to office 2312.

The UN official wearing a white uniform along with the third UN DSS guard, Peter Kolonias, joined the two other UN DSS guards inside office 2312. They asked my wife to leave and shut the door.

The UN official wearing a white uniform swiftly informed me that I had two options: leave the building with them or be handcuffed.

I felt that something very wrong was happening and again I requested access to a lawyer, the Italian consulate and to give a statement.

The second or third time I repeated my requested I was assaulted.

First, Peter Kolonias put me to the floor. The two other guards followed immediately. They tried to immobilize me using every sort of technique. I was kicked repeatedly on the leg, stomach and neck. I was punched repeatedly on the neck, head and face. Twice, at close range, I was sprayed a pepper spray on the face. Immediately, and for about two hours thereafter, I was blinded and suffered tremendous pain on the face and eyes. Other than limited access to water, I was denied proper medical treatment despite my repeated requests.

Eventually I was handcuffed. UN DSS guards brought me outside office 2312 and I waited there for about 1½ hours, handcuffed, sitting in a chair in RBAP Directorate area.

At 2:35 pm, NYPD officers arrived and I was officially arrested

Eventually I was escorted outside DC1 building where an ambulance was waiting

I waited handcuffed until approximately 7:40 pm in a waiting room of Bellevue Hospital. After meeting with a Dr. Falck, I was immediately discharged.

I was brought to a police facility where NYPD took my fingerprints, and I awaited transportation to 100 Centre Street.

After routine procedures, I was jailed until 9:30 am of the following day. The jail was no more than 17-18 square meters. The number of detainees kept changing between 18 and 20 men. No restroom. Primitive sanitation. No hygiene facilities.

My case was reviewed, and I was immediately released without any bail payment. I am set to appear in Court on August 10, 2009."

   These techniques -- the pepper spraying of those who ask questions, pressing of criminal charges as retaliation -- are the type of tactics that the UN and officials like Alan Doss criticize in places like the Congo. But the UN engages in them right on First Avenue in New York. What will Ban Ki-moon, Gregory Starr and Helen Clark each do? In the case Ms. Clark, she was officially informed of all of the above on July 27, and her closest advisor Heather Simpson a full week before that. Now what? Watch this site.

  UNDP has told Inner City Press first that

"There was an unfortunate and isolated incident involving an employee of UNDP on 23rd June 2009. UN Security and the New York Police Department responded, and it is now being handled by the authorities of the host government."

  Then after a follow up request by Inner City Press to UNDP spokesperson Stephane Dujarric that UNDP "provide the requested description of the recruitment process, the name of the post and the person awarded, and whether they have any family or personal relationship with the supervisor or selector," UNDP Administrator Helen Clark's spokesperson Christina LoNigro responded that "we cannot comment further on this case at this time as the legal process is ongoing."

* * *

At UN, Complaint to EU After Man Bites Man, Biter Seeks Meeting and Consular Protection

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 29 -- In the wake of the UN macing and calling the NY Police Department to arrest a UN Development Program staffer who complained and bit a UN Security Officer, the UNDP staffer has complained to the European Commission. Click here for Inner City Press' first exclusive report.

 Mr. Nicola Baroncini has written to the Legal Counsellor to EC Delegation to the UN, asking for assistance in obtaining a meeting with the head of the UN Department of Safety and Security, Gregory Staff.

   The EC's Roland Tricot, calling it a "consular protection" matter, has urged Baroncini to write to his Italian mission. Mr. Baroncini, citing another report by Inner City Press, which beyond reporting exclusively on the biting incident last week continued reporting this week, says he see no reason to meet with Starr's subordinate Bruno Henn, to whom UNDP referred him. Baroncini writes that "Mr. Henn is under investigation and is about to leave is position with UN DSS."

  Below is the pertinent portion of a message Mr. Baroncini has sent today to numerous officials in the EC and Italian government, as well as to Inner City Press.

UN's Ban and DSS' Starr, biting incident and consular protection not shown

Subj: Re: Asking for EU assistance
From: Nicola Baroncini
To: Roland.TRICOT [at]
Sent: 7/29/2009 9:26:16 A.M. Eastern Standard Time

Dear Mr. Tricot,

Thank you very much for your concise and very clear message. Also thank you for confirming my position. European institutions are run and shape their culture upon Treaty not common sense even when the two do not get along. I also acknowledge that none of European Institutions is willing to use their "moral suasion" for my case, i.e. asking for a meeting with UN DSS USG or somebody senior and get down to what really happened. UNDP told my lawyer to contact Mr. Bruno Henn. I do not know who he is. I know however from the media that Mr. Henn is under investigation and is about to leave is position with UN DSS therefore I do not think he will ever reply and if he will I doubt it has any leverage.

Still looking forward to receive a copy of your organization policy and procedure about how staff has to handle relation with the public.

   On July 27, after publishing the first exclusive story about the  biting incident, Inner City Press asked UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you if you can either provide information on or comment on an incident that took place last week in which a UN security officer was apparently bitten by a staff member who had a contract terminated in DC-1. What was the cause of that?

Associate Spokesperson: That wasn’t last week. That was actually several weeks ago, unless there’s a more recent biting incident. But I assume what you’re referring to took place about a month ago, roughly. The basic point is, yes, I can confirm that that did happen. It had to do with a frustrated jobseeker. The only thing I can say is the information I got from UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] on this is that the hiring process regarding that particular vacancy at UNDP was filled in accordance with their rules. And beyond that, I’d refer you to UNDP.

Inner City Press: Just to make sure we’re talking about the same biting, was the biter maced and taken to the Seventeenth Precinct?

Associate Spokesperson: I know that UN security, and then outside security, handled the situation. I am not aware of any sort of use of mace. I can’t imagine that we’re talking about more than one biting incident. This doesn’t happen all the time!

Inner City Press: When you say outside security, you mean like the New York City Police Department? What do you mean?

Associate Spokesperson: I think outside security was brought in eventually after the initial response by UN security.

  Inner City Press then asked UNDP in writing:

Please provide all available UNDP information on the biting incident I asked about at noon: Farhan says UNDP tells him the biter was a job SEEKER, and that the recruitment was transparent. Please name the underlying job, the job seeker, and what happened.

Six hours later, UNDP's Christina LoNigro replied:

There was an unfortunate and isolated incident involving an employee of UNDP on 23rd June 2009. UN Security and the New York Police Department responded, and it is now being handled by the authorities of the host government.

  Inner City Press, now naming the bitee, asked for confirmation and explaination:

"On the biting incident, while UNDP did not provide the name as requested, now I'll ask you to confirm or deny that the the biter (and macee) was Nicola Baroncini, and to provide the requested description of the recruitment process, the name of the post and th person awarded, and whether they have any family or personal relationship with the supervisor or selector."

  UNDP responded, "unfortunately we cannot comment further on this case at this time as the legal process is ongoing." UNDP suggested to Mr. Baroncini that he speak with Bruno Henn, of whom Mr. Baroncini writes, he "is under investigation and is about to leave is position with UN DSS."

  Henn, after the UN's rejection of his request to become security chief for the Capital Master Plan renovations of the UN, is said to be seeking outside employment, on information and belief with an energy company in New Jersey. The UN has repeatedly be requested to produce Mr. Henn for a press conference or other Q & A, but has not. Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, Man Bites Man as Contracts Cut, Snafus of Relocation, Flushing Out the Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 24, updated July 27 -- A UN security officer was bitten earlier this month, not by a dog but by a just-terminated staff member. Special Operations officer Peter Kolonias, responding to a disturbance in the UN's building on the west side of First Avenue and 44th Street, was confronted by an individual distraught by his contract's termination.*

  The UN sources who told Inner City Press about the biting, which has not been reported by the UN at its noon briefing nor in any other media, said that further adverse reactions by staff are to be expected, with the UN having eliminated the so-called permanent contract as of July 1, and now moving remaining staff members out of its headquarters to locations as far west as Madison Avenue and as far east as Long Island City.

   In the course of Inner City Press' reporting on July 24 to confirm the man bites man story, a range of staff members complained about their moves, in connection with the UN's Capital Master Plan renovation. Members of the Office of Human Resources Management, after being told there would be no more changes to the relocation plan, were recent told they will move across the East River into Queens.

   Longtime Conference Management staffers have been told they will relocate to "above the liquor store" on Second Avenue. "Whiskey for breakfast," one staffer said, questioning moving his unit four blocks away from the meeting rooms they service.

UN Security with dogs, human bites not shown

   The UN's Under Secretary General for Management Angela Kane told the Press earlier this week that the temporary General Assembly building rising on the UN's North Lawn will not have a bar, as the current building does in its second floor Delegates' Lounge. Ms. Kane spoke rosily of the contract changes that resulted in the elimination of permanent contracts -- and, the Staff Union says, in the death of the independent international civil service -- and of progress with the Capital Master Plan.

   CMP chief Michael Adlerstein, who along with Ms. Kane changed previous plans for enclosed media work space to an "open office" system in which whistleblowers could not approach the Press, is said to be angered concerned about a Dear Colleague letter circulated in the U.S. House of Representatives about this aspect of the CMP, and a Kane-led meeting to target the Press. But this reporting on events at the UN will continue -- particularly when man bites man. Watch this site.

Update of July 27 -- Three days after Inner City Press published the above, UN Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq confirmed the a biting incident took place in the DC-1 building, and stated that the biter was, according to the UN Development Program, a job seeker, and argued that the underlying recruitment process was transparent. Haq referred all other questions - including whether the individual was maced and taken to the local police precinct - to UNDP. Inner City Press has asked UNDP, which has declined in the past to answer basic questions, and any update will appear on this site.

Update of July 27, 6:35 p.m. -- Inner City Press asked UNDP in writing:

Please provide all available UNDP information on the biting incident I asked about at noon: Farhan says UNDP tells him the biter was a job SEEKER, and that the recruitment was transparent. Please name the underlying job, the job seeker, and what happened.

Six hours later, UNDP's Christina LoNigro replied:

There was an unfortunate and isolated incident involving an employee of UNDP on 23rd June 2009. UN Security and the New York Police Department responded, and it is now being handled by the authorities of the host government.

  But what of the biter's name, the specifics of the post and recruitment, and what happened at and after the 17th police precinct? Watch this site.

* * *

UN Moves Staff Out and In, Ripert and Henn to Leave, On Adada and Verbecke No Comment

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 15, updated July 16 -- At the UN these days, everything must go. Hundreds of staff were moved out of Headquarters to the top floors of a rented building on 46th Street. But with only two elevators, the staff now waste time waiting to get up to their offices, where they say the furniture is cheap, the desks too high, not ergonomic.

  Meanwhile Department of Political Affairs staff are leaving rented space in Uganda House -- and returning to just vacated space on the 14th floor of Headquarters. It is an expensive game of musical chairs.

  This coming weekend, "the Chinese" in the Department of General Services and Conference Management are slated to move out. There is grumbling that the small refrigerators that some staff members used -- particularly in these text preparation units with their minimum numbers of words that must be typed -- will not be used by the UN to the new work space. Some have suggested that a small business spring up to offer just this service.

   And some people will be left out. From the Security Council, French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert is being pushed out by Sarkozy's political advisor, in favor of Gerard Araud.

   From UN Security, Bruno Henn is said to be losing out on the Capital Master Plan job, and now looking for employment outside of the UN. His right hand man Albert Lyttle, exposed some say by Inner City Press in the DSS pre-decided promotion scandal, is said to be under investigation.

At Council on Georgia, speech by Ripert, one of many leaving the UN

    From the Media Liaison Unit, Gary Fowlie has finally confirmed that he is leaving, over to the ITU, where he used to work, for a promotion. Whether the UN press corps will be given any input into the identity or at least qualifications of the person who will replace him is not yet known.

  CMP chief Michael Adlerstein wrote last week to the UN press corps that there will be no walls or doors for any print reporter in the swing space he's preparing. The UN as a no whistleblower zone, some are calling it. Ironically, broadcasters will get private, soundproofed offices. But investigative reporters need to talk on the phone, meet whistleblowers, even tape online debates about the UN.

   There are other envoys on the way out. On July 14 Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe about reports that UN - AU envoy to Darfur Rodolphe Adada's job is being shopped, to a range of other African UN envoys. Okabe declined to comment.

   On July 15, Inner City Press asked Ban's chief Spokesperson Michele Montas -- herself said to be leaving in or before November -- if the UN would replace Johan Verbecke as envoy to the talks on Georgia if, as Inner City Press is told, Verbecke returns to the Belgian foreign service, specifically as Ambassador to the UK. Montas said it was too early to say. But at the UN, it's getting late. 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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