UN Ban's Africa Office, Japanese Official Who Abused Rental Subsidy
Set for High Post
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, August 21 -- While the talk this week at the UN has centered
leaked critique of the leadership of Ban Ki-moon, what is
the place of Africa in this current UN administration? Mr. Ban
without General Assembly approval moved to merge the Office of the
Special Adviser on Africa with another office for "Landlocked
Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States." The
General Assembly pushed back, and directed Ban to re-name a separate
Special Adviser on Africa.
tell Inner City Press that even the few posts in the post-merge
Office of the Special Adviser on Africa are going to non-Africans.
They say that Ms. Mieko Ikegame of Japan, who has previously
been criticized in the UN system's Administrative Tribunal for abusing
the rental subsidy system, is on the verge of
being given one of the few high posts in OSSA. The basis? She
accompanied SSA Cheick Sidi Diarra on a trip to Japan which helped
with his profile there.
City Press has
been reporting, scandals of improper hiring have been proliferating.
Ban's Deputy Spokesperson said Ban takes these seriously and expected
to get a report upon his return to New York from South Korea. He
returned on August 19. But when Inner City Press on August 21 asked if
he'd gotten the report, Ms. Okabe said he had come and gone, and she
would look into it.]
marvel that not only would this post in an already "dissed"
Office on the Special Adviser on Africa go to a non-African, but one
with a UN recited record of abusing the rent subsidy system, click here
for that, Administrative Tribunal / Decision / 1175.
UN's Ban and Diarra, dubious promotion not shown
16 February 2001, FAO,
wrote to the Applicant [Mieko Ikegame]
regarding an investigation which had been conducted into her claim
for rental subsidy. She was advised that her actions constituted
unsatisfactory conduct under paragraphs 330.151 and 330.152 of the
FAO Administrative Manual, and that her dismissal for misconduct was
being proposed to the Director-General. On 19 February, the Applicant
was advised that the charges of misconduct had been reviewed and were
deemed commensurate with the disciplinary measure of dismissal. She
was asked to reply to the charges. On 28 February, the Applicant
denied all charges of misconduct.
Thereafter, she was asked to
explain various discrepancies in her statements with respect to a
specific cheque made out to a third party (BCI No. 866664). The
Applicant responded that she had initially issued cheque BCI No.
866661 to her real estate agency and had attached it to her claim for
reimbursement of the agency fee. Her landlord subsequently returned
that cheque to her and she provided him with a second cheque (BCI No.
866664), which may have been “blank”. When the Applicant received
the cancelled cheque (BCI No. 866664), “[she] realised that the
[cheque] had been cashed directly by [the landlord], and assumed that
he had paid in cash the agency fee to the employee [of the real
estate agency]”. The Applicant explained:
thought that I should give Audit a photocopy of the [cheque] under
the name of the employee, knowing well that such a document could not
in any event be qualified for my entitlement. This action was
probably wrong, but I did it in good faith without realizing the
importance of this matter as in my mind the matter had been closed
for a long time and it had no financial implications to [FAO]”.
4 March 2001, the Applicant was promoted to the D-1 level post of
Chief, Governance and Public Administration Branch, Division of
Public Economics and Public Administration, Department of Economic
and Social Affairs (DESA), with effect from 1 June 2001. On 18 May
2001, FAO informed the Applicant that she had been found to have
committed specified instances of misconduct....
being the UN,
Ms. Ikegame was (only) demoted. Now she is at the P-5 Level, in line
for a promotion in the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa. We're
all for due process. But particularly with Ban Ki-moon already under
fire for trying to merge out of existence the Office of the Special
Adviser on Africa, and with his claim to be in favor of a cleaned-up
UN of the highest ethical standards, why is this move being
contemplated? Yeah, Japan is a big donor. But so is Norway...
* * *
UN, Norway's Trashing of Ban Stirs Rumors of Endgame: Full Text
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, August 20 -- The indictment of the administration of the UN
by Ban Ki-moon signed by Norway's deputy ambassador Mona Juul [full
gathered strength and supporters on Thursday. Inner City Press asked
Ban's deputy spokesperson Marie Okabe on August 19 for Ban's view of
Juul's memo and "how does it impact his planned trip to Norway
at the end of this month?"
Ms. Okabe answered that "We do
not know the veracity of the reports to which you refer... we have
not announced the Secretary-General’s next travel plans." Transcript here.
emerged that the plan had been to announced Ban's Norway trip on
August 19, but that the announcement was pulled back in the face of
news of and questions about the Juul memo. Inner City Press has
interviewed two senior Ban administration officials, both of whom
acknowledge that Juul's critique is devastating, even debilitating.
is a big donor, one of them said, noting that Sudan, on the
other end of the spectrum, has also protested Ban. "Who will
stand up for him?" the other official asked rhetorically. Of the
reheated rumors in the memo, including that top humanitarian John
Holmes might replace Vijay Nambiar as Ban's chief of staff, as Inner
City Press has previously predicted, the official said that Holmes
might do a better job. But India, then, would need another post.
administration officials both said that a new communications strategy
is needed. They speculated who will takeover as spokesperson in
November. While one has been predicting another outsider from
Newsweek, the better placed official now predicts a French speaker
from within the Outreach Division of the Department of Public
Information. It's been a disaster, both conceded, of recent and
reduced UN noon briefings.
actually worse that Juul
presents them, in that her memo does not touch on the brewing
nepotism and corruption scandals at the UN.
under-reported aspect of Juul's memo are eye catching: her
description of Deputy Secretary General Migiro's limited scope of
responsibility, her diplomatic dismissal of Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann
as a "rather special President of the General Assembly." She hits Ban even on
his signature issue, climate change. Juul describes "a
culture of decision-making which is marked by
information both up and down the system being filtered by the
omnipresent assistant chief of cabinet Kim" Won-soo.
Norway-) servingly, Juul wrote that "Ban has consistently chosen
special representatives and leaders in the Secretariat who don’t
distinguish themselves, except for the case of Afghanistan" --
the SRSG is Norwegian, Kai Eide. One wonders why Juul didn't in the
memo praise her husband, USG Terje Roed Larsen.
was Juul's quip that "As a woman from that part of the world,
[UNDP's Helen ] Clark could quickly become a competitor for Ban’s
second period." New Zealand may geographically be in Asia, but
politically at the UN it is part of the WEOG (Western European and
Other Group). More likely is the scenario
first laid out by Inner
City Press, that China in
exchange for getting to head the World Bank
in 2012 allows another group -- possible WEOG or an Eastern European
-- to take over the UN Secretary General's post. Click here for
that Inner City Press exclusive; see below for full text of Juul. Watch
Team Ban on 38 last month, Mona Juul not shown
translated by the "Group of Friend on Inner City Press," is
Ban Ki-moons fruitless visit to Burma at the beginning of July was
emblematic of a Secretary-General and an organization that is
struggling to show leadership. At a time where the UN and the need
for multilateral solutions to global crises is more necessary than
ever, Ban and the UN are conspicuous by their absence. In the last
half-year, follow-up to the many crises that dominated last fall’s
General Assembly should have brought the Secretary-General and the UN
fully into the fray, but the opposite seems to have occurred.
relation to the financial crisis, neither the Secretary-General nor
the General Assembly – despite the major meeting on the financial
crisis at the end of June – have distinguished themselves as the
most important arena for discussion, and the vacuum has been filled
by the G-20 and other actors. Ban's voice on behalf of the G-192 and
the poor has hardly [there’s a misspelling in the original; “kapt”
is not a word but “knapt” means “hardly”] registered. An at
times invisible Secretary-General in combination with a rather
special President of the General Assembly has gone far to sideline
the UN, and the organization hasn’t realized its limits. On the
environment/energy area the UN is also struggling to be relevant,
despite the planned high-level meeting on climate change at the
opening of the General Assembly this fall. Even though the
Secretary-General to the point of boredom repeats that Copenhagen is
supposed to “seal the deal,” there is widespread worry that the
UN-high-level meeting won’t contribute notably to the process
leading up to Copenhagen.
the many political/security crises around the world, the
Secretary-General’s leadership and ability to deliver on behalf of
the UN is still being sought. Burma is a shining example of this.
There was no lack of warning that the Secretary-General shouldn’t
go at this time. The Americans were among the most doubtful to his
trip, but the British thought he should go. Special Representative
Gambari was initially also doubtful, but Ban insisted. Gambari
pointed to the fact that recent negative press coverage (headlines
like “Whereabouts unknown in The Times and “Nowwhere Man [sic]”
in Foreign Policy) had made Ban even more set on visiting Burma.
After an apparently fruitless visit by the Secretary-General, the
UN’s “good offices” will become even more problematic. Special
Representative Gambari will have big problems continuing after “the
top man” has failed and the generals in Yangoon [sic] no longer
want to meet him.
example of weak handling from the Secretary-General’s side is the
war in Sri Lanka. The Secretary-General was a powerless observer to
civilians in their thousands losing their lives and being driven from
their homes. The authorities in Colombo refused to receive the
Secretary-General while the war was going on, but he was an honored
guest -- and he accepted the invitation -- once the war had been
“won.” Even though the UN’s humanitarian effort had been active
and honorable enough, the Secretary-General’s moral voice and
authority have been absent.
in other “crisis areas,” for example Darfur, Somalia, Pakistan,
Zimbabwe and not least Congo, the Secretary-General’s passive and
not very committed appeals seem to fall on deaf ears. Many would also
claim that the handling of the inquiry commission after the war in
Gaza ended up with an unsteady and too-careful follow-up.
surprisingly, and therefore more disappointingly, Ban Ki-moon has
been almost absent on the disarmament and non-proliferation area.
This was a field he himself presented as one of his priority areas
before he started his post. The reorganization of the department of
disarmament to an office directly answerable to the
Secretary-General, led by a High Representative indicated a big stake
in this area, also given the Secretary-General’s own background on
the Korean peninsula. With a new nonproliferation treaty review in
2010 and an American administration which has put the team much
higher on the agenda, it’s cause for concern that the
Secretary-General isn’t more committed.
common thread in all these cases is that an unclear Secretary-General
with a lack of charisma is not compensated for by high-profile and
visible colleagues. Ban has consistently chosen special
representatives and leaders in the Secretariat who don’t
distinguish themselves, except for the case of Afghanistan.
Furthermore, he seems to prefer to be in the center himself, without
competition from his colleagues, and lets it shine through pretty
clearly that commenting to the media is a privilege belonging to
himself. The result is that the UN becomes a less visible and
relevant player in areas where it would have been natural and
necessary for an active UN-engagement. A notable exception is the
selection of Helen Clark as the new leader for UNDP. She has in her
short time on the job shown promise. It will be interesting to follow
if she is given room to distinguish the UN’s development side. As a
woman from that part of the world, Clark could quickly become a
competitor for Ban’s second period.
was common knowledge that it was a conscious choice [NB! The
Norwegian word “bevist” which is written here means “proven,”
but in this context it appears to be a misspelling of the word
“bevisst” meaning “conscious.”] from the then-current
American administration that an activist Secretary-General was not
wanted. The new American administration hasn’t yet signaled any
change in their attitude to Ban, even though there are rumors that
some people in Washington are now referring to Ban as “a one-term
SG”. It’s said that the people around both Susan Rice and Hillary
Clinton are very negative to Ban, but the two are yet to speak on the
matter. China is probably pretty happy with him and it’s primarily
China which holds the key to whether Ban will be renewed for a second
term. Russia has for a long time been dissatisfied with the
Secretary-General both in terms of his handling of Kosovo and
Georgia, but also because of a lack of recruitment of Russians to
important positions. At the same time, Russia is well served by a
Secretary-General who isn’t too interventionist.
the remainder of the member states one notices that the perception of
Ban at the midway point is growing steadily more negative. Among the
many who thought he should be given some more time, that everything
would get better once he warmed up, and that the comparison to his
predecessor’s charisma was unfair, the tune is now that the
beginner’s goodwill [direct translation: “learning potential”]
appears to be spent and that a lack of charisma is actually a
problem. The Secretary-General seems to function well enough when he
sticks to the script, and shows up to a lot of meetings and other
events. The problem arises when he’s “on his own” where he
can’t manage to set the agenda, create enthusiasm and show
leadership – not internally either. Ban’s lack of engagement and
lack of interest in mastering the issues means that he doesn’t
become an effective player or negotiator in the many conflict
situations he is expected to handle.
mood at “the house” is still characterized as not very motivated,
with a culture of decision-making which is marked by information both
up and down the system being filtered by the omnipresent assistant
chief of cabinet Kim. After recent negative media stories about the
Secretary-General, the mood on the 38th floor is said to be pretty
tense. Ban has constant temper tantrums [direct translation:
outbreaks of rage] which even levelheaded [the Norwegian word
“sindig” is untranslatable and describes a quality of being
capable and calm as well as having common sense] and experienced
colleagues have trouble handling. The relationship with
next-in-command Migiro is as strained and her sphere of action
appears to have shrunk even further. There are constant rumors of
replacements and switch-overs. In addition to rumors that Migiro is
on her way out, it’s rumored that OCHA-boss Holms [sic], who is
roundly praised, is taking over as Chef de Cabinet, and that Nambiar
is quitting. The same is said about the head of the political
department, Pascoe, and that Holms [sic] is also a candidate to
taking over his job. The British are probably still very concerned
about getting that post back. These are, however, only rumors and
most probably, Ban will continue with the same crew – at least
‘till the end of this year. If that’s good enough for a second
term only time will tell.