All-UN Panel Praises Corruption Unit, Inaction on Child Porn and Waste,
Questions Not Answered
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, October 15, updated
-- The UN's investigative body, the Office of
Internal Oversight Services, had a standing room only 15th birthday
party in a small room in the UN's basement on Thursday morning. OIOS
chief Inga Britt Ahlenius, who has not held a press conference in
more than a year, sat near Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, separated
only by the New York representative of UN University, which sponsored
and some say mishandled the event, with a UN-only panel in an overly
were, among others, a bow tied representative of the U.S. Mission to
the UN -- which under the new administration has removed copies of
OIOS audits from its website -- a representative of the UN Staff
Union, and the Capital Master Plan's Michael Adlerstein. The CMP is
under fire, including by Mexico and the Rio Group, for budget
chicanery. Adlerstein's name still surfaces in litigation about his
past job in New Jersey.
claiming that the Ethics Office is offering whistleblower protection.
But the first high profile applicant for protection, the UN
Development Program's security chief in North Korea who uncovered
irregularities there, was deemed outside of the Office's protection.
UNDP refused even to comply with the Ethics Office's finding it
denied due process and should pay back wages. Since then, other
whistleblowers have been rebuffed. So what whistleblower protection?
talked up the so called transparency resolution 59/272. But her
reports are generally withheld, and she refuses to answer questions
from the press. Meanwhile, as simply a few examples, findings of
procurement irregularities at the UN in Timor Leste and the UN's IT
unit, of child pornography users in DESA and in the Department of
Safety and Security, go unacted on.
has asked Ban's Spokesperson about these OIOS findings, and others in
Myanmar and about $252 million unaudited at the UN's refugee ageny
UNHCR, without any answer. So, what transparency? What oversight?
UN's Ban and Ahlenius, before booths from which
Press was excluded
simple sample case, in which Ban's
envoy to the Congo Alan Doss was found to have in writing asked UNDP to
show him "leeway" -- break to rules -- to give his daughter a job,
which occurred in June 2009, is still as of October 14 "under OIOS
investigation," despite Ban supposedly having expected a report on
August 18. So what work is OIOS doing?
the entrance to
the event, to which Inner City Press had RSVP-ed and to which it
arrived on time, a UNU representative said sorry, the room is full.
Can the Press be present if and when questions are taken? He
shrugged, and suggested Inner City Press go and sit in a translation
booth. Once there, listening to Ms. Ahlenius and seeing inside the UN's
own "state media," another UN official
came in and said, you cannot stay, people are complaining. And there,
on a panel ostensibly about fighting corruption, is transparency at
of 1 p.m. -- near the end of the event, a UNU staffer came
the cramped hallway outside the empty translation booths, where Inner
City Press and others were standing trying to hear. Inner City Press
asked how, having RSVP-ed, it was supposed to participate. The
staffer said to go back to the front door, past a table of cookies
and fruit, and try to get in. It was still standing room only, but at
least entrance wasn't blocked.
and answer session, which was cut off well before the listed noon
ending time, involved a speech by a representative of the Joint
Inspection Unit and of European OLAF, and questions from staff
members in DESA, Office of Administrative Justice and and intern from
Peacekeeping. This last asked what it being doing to protect
peacekeepers in Somalia. Ms. Malcorra replied that it is a African
Union mission, but that the Security Council is discussing it.
intern was not convinced and went away muttering that it is a hybrid
mission, and the 11 Burundian peacekeepers have recently been killed.
While he may have been thinking of UNAMID in Darur as the hybrid
mission, the lack of transparency about what the UN is and is not
paying for in Somalia is a topic to which we will return.
asked Ms. Ahlenius and Ms. Kane about transparency, using two
examples: $7 million overpaid in Timor Leste, and the DESA staff
member who pleaded guilty to possession child pornography. Ms. Kane
said that she cannot comment -- or apparently act -- because of due
process. But the OIOS' own report recites that the staff member
pleaded guilty. That is, his guilt is not in doubt.
there was no
response to this at the UN event, at the day's noon briefing Inner
City Press asked Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq about the case, or
more generally the import of a guilty plea to the UN, whether there
was any thought that this plea in Canada was coerced or involuntary.
Haq would not comment; Inner City Press asked for a briefing by
Ahlenius -- it's been more than a year -- and Kane on this topic. Haq
said he would ask.
asked the OLAF representative about this agency's investigation, on
behalf of the UN, into the missing hard drive of previous PTF chief
Robert Appleton. No answer was given.
transparency, Ms. Ahlenius dodged the questions. The second time,
Inner City Press asked point blank what harm if any came from the
U.S. Mission in the past publishing investigative reports with the
names redacted. Ahlenius merely repeated that the reports are given
to member states. Afterwards another attendees said, "She didn't
answer, that's disappointing." No she did not, and yes it is
disappointed. To be continued.
* * *
UN, Biting Incident Reveals Nepotism of UNDP and Congo Envoy,
Matthew Russell Lee
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.
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
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).
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)."
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."
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
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,
Special Representative of the Secretary-General United Nations Mission
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo"
in docx text
format - download
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
that particular vacancy at UNDP was filled in accordance with their
rules." Transcript here,
But as Doss'
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
and Ms. Doss were declared the top two candidates. Ms. Maximova
suddenly was offered and accepted a job at the Clinton
Initiative, and Ms. Doss was given the job.
with the Director of RBAP, Mr. Ajay Chhibber, on July 19. Initially,
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.
according to the complaint filed by Mr. Baroncini:
voiced my complete disapproval and said that I will challenge this
decision with the appropriate personnel.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
my wife left Ms. Elizondo’s office, they shut the door and had a
meeting. My wife returned to office 2312.
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.
UN official wearing a white uniform swiftly informed me that I had
two options: leave the building with them or be handcuffed.
felt that something very wrong was happening and again I requested
access to a lawyer, the Italian consulate and to give a statement.
second or third time I repeated my requested I was assaulted.
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.
I was handcuffed. UN DSS guards brought me outside office 2312 and I
waited there for about 1½ hours, handcuffed, sitting in a chair
RBAP Directorate area.
2:35 pm, NYPD officers arrived and I was officially arrested
I was escorted outside DC1 building where an ambulance was waiting
waited handcuffed until approximately 7:40 pm in a waiting room of
Bellevue Hospital. After meeting with a Dr. Falck, I was immediately
was brought to a police facility where NYPD took my fingerprints, and
I awaited transportation to 100 Centre Street.
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.
case was reviewed, and I was immediately released without any bail
payment. I am set to appear in Court on August 10, 2009."
-- 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.
has told Inner City Press first that
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."
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
* * *