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At UN, Jobs for Sale in Haiti & DRC, Of Myanmar & Nambiar, Accountability

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 13 -- When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon signed 29 “compacts” with senior UN officials in his 38th floor conference room on February 13, there was an elephant in the room.

  Herve Ladsous, in charge of UN Peacekeeping, has overseen and seemingly covered up a scandal in which position in the missions in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo were sold for money. See Inner City Press exclusive report here.

   Ladsous has refused, since Inner City Press asked about corruption, to answer any Press questions. Video compilation here, most recent here. But on February 13, as Inner City Press rode a UN elevator up to the 38th floor chatting with another Under Secretary General, Ladsous got on the elevator. Silence descended.

   In the conference room, as Ban's officials assembled, outgoing Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said, “Where are all the women?”  (Later the envoys on Children and Armed Conflict and on Sexual Violence in Conflict arrived, group photo here.)

  Amos is leaving in March, and the UK proposed as her replacement -- thinking it owned the position in the same way France owns UN Peacekeeping -- Andrew Lansley, now opposed by more than 70,000 people, see Inner City Press story here.

  During the signings, Yuri Fedotov by video made the first or best joke - he signed two contracts but “only one salary,” he quipped. Joan Clos of HABITAT from Nairobi, too, made a joke, saying “Okay” then being told his Compact hadn't yet been signed.

   At the UN noon briefing two hours later, Inner City Press asked why Vijay Nambiar, Ban's Special Adviser on Myanmar and presumably still an Under Secretary General, had not signed a compact. Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Nambiar might be on travel.

  But in the side room Inner City Press was led through, a table was set with Nambiar's name on it. We'll have more on this - and on Nambiar's praise of the Burmese government but silence so far on its revocation of voting rights for the Rohingya Muslim minority.

  On Ban's side of the table was his senior adviser Kim Won-soo, whom Inner City Press has reported is in the running, alongside Dmitry Titov, for the Department of Political Affairs position vacated by Oscar Fernandez Taranco (who after meetings in DC about Bangladesh was present Friday and signed his compact).

   Ban in his speech emphasized that journalists can see these Compact and will hold the UN accountable. That is in part the reason this report is being written this way. Inner City Press notes that in Ban's “public financial disclosures,” Ladsous' name goes to an error message: no file.

 Accountability, the new Free UN Coalition for Access posits, inevitably must involve answering questions. Watch this site.


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