At the UN, Justice Reform Progress is Delayed a Year,
Money Fight Delayed, Favoritism Continues
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
UNITED NATIONS, April 2 -- While the UN preaches the
rule of law and right to remedies to its many member states, its own internal
justice system is widely acknowledged as "broken." Staff can't sue in national
courts, and in the UN's own system, cases remain pending for years, and results
can be overturned or ignored by management. There are proposals for change, and
on March 30, there was progress and little-noticed changes on a draft
resolution, reportedly with momentum, entitled "Administration of Justice at the
Even the Secretary General has supported
the plan for reform, which includes additional staff posts. Some have speculated
that the new jobs are a poison pill, added in order make the vote-down of the
resolution more likely. Already the U.S. and Japan are complaining about costs.
But as one staff member asked Inner City Press Friday in the UN cafeteria, how
can the UN put a price on justice? And the waste occasioned by the current
broken system can hardly even be counted.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a
formal note, dated Feb. 23, agreeing with the Redesign Panel on the UN System of
Administration of Justice that "there are significant problems with the existing
system of internal justice." That said, Mr. Ban's note disagrees that in the
proposed new system, any punitive damages could be awarded, and urges that
instead of "specific performance" -- ordering the UN to do something -- "the
Dispute Tribunal should be required to set an amount of compensation that could
be paid as an alternative to specific performance." In terms of consistency,
it's worth noting that the International Labor Organization's Administrative
Tribunal has to the power to order specific performance, without providing a
merely monetary alternative.
On the evening of March 30, meetings on
the draft resolution spilled out into the smoke-filled Vienna Café in the UN's
basement. A nine-page resolution was produced, which sketches a two tier system,
of appeals from a UN Dispute Tribunal to a UN Appeals Tribunal. On the informal,
alternative dispute resolution side, it proposes a "single, integrated and
decentralized Office of the Ombudsman for the UN Secretari8at, Funds and
Programs," on which we hope to have more. Close readers noticed that in its 36th
and final paragraph, the date for "implementing the new system of administration
of justice" was moved back a full year, to January 2009. Perhaps it will be like
the Capital Master Plan to repair the UN Headquarters building, stretching now
Most telling, for a resolution coming out
of the UN's budget committee, there were no dollar figures attached to the
resolution. This means, in essence, that nothing has yet been resolved.
Ki-moon on Feb. 1, 2007 at the Int'l Court of Justice (external) - but UN's
internal justice reform now pushed back to 2009
And so for now the broken and arbitrary
system will continue. Take for mundane example the case of Nicholas Christonikos,
UN Administrative Tribune Judgment # 1250. The case concerned the
classification, and thus remuneration, of Mr. Christonikos. While in most
disputes reported to date by Inner City Press, the staff member lost out, here a
favored staffer, who did not prove his case, was nonetheless awarded nine
month's pay and $21,000 in so-called ex-gratia payments. While the stated
approver was Netta R. Avedon, who previously appeared on this site signing off
on bogus relegations to Medical Services for
whistleblowers, the hidden power awarding this money, sources say, was none
other than OHRM chieftain Jan Beagle.
The internal UN politics surrounding Ms.
Beagle continue to amaze. From the staff union there has been a vote of no
confidence, a request for action from Ban Ki-moon. Insiders note that Ms. Beagle
It was said, for a time, that Mr. Ban intended to move Ms. Beagle over to the
Department of Economic and Social Affairs, DESA. Recently, Inner City Press
asked Under Secretary General for Management Alicia Barcena if DESA's Guido
Bertucci was suspended and then had the suspension revoked. An answer was
promised; for now the wait continues.
When the people supposed to set human
resources rules themselves are the biggest rule breakers, a system can truly be
called broken. The same is true on the west side of First Avenue at UNDP. There,
human resources chief Brian Gleeson is reported to have sold job and promotions.
Sources also encourage inquiry and disclosure on who in these offices have the
requisite degrees, and for whom without the requisites the rules are being bent,
including by Ms. Beagle.
If the UN is broken, how can it preach?
To be continued.
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540
As Somali Mortars Fly, Ban Ki-moon Waits for April 16
Summit, While Some Clans Are Excluded
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
UNITED NATIONS, April 2 -- As mortars fly
in Somalia, now with the
involvement of mercenaries,
the UN continues to point toward an April 16 summit which most predict will not
be inclusive. Alongside the fighting in and flight from Mogadishu, doubts have
increased about the Transitional Federal Government's commitment to involvement
any of its perceived opponents, or now-disfavored clans.
at UN headquarters, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon about Somalia:
Press: On Somalia, it was
reported that Egyptian Foreign Minister has written to the UN, AU and Arab
League, asking for immediate intervention to stop the conflict in Mogadishu. I
wanted to know if you have received that, what your thinking is?
Ban Ki-moon: On Somalia, during the
Riyadh Summit meeting, we had a mini-summit to discuss this issue, which was
convened by the Saudi Foreign Minister. It was very useful. We hope that the
Somali government will be able to convene the national reconciliation congress,
which is scheduled for April 16th. The international community should continue
to encourage the Transitional Federal Government’s efforts. (Click
While sidestepping the request for
response to today's fighting in Somalia, it is also unclear what efforts by the
TFG are being supported. For more than a month, the UN has been asked, what is
being done to encourage the TFG to reach out to its opponents?
Ki-moon on April 2, hoping Mogadishu can hold for a fortnight
On March 7, Inner City Press
submitted questions, including a request for response to a detail critique of
the TFG's inclusiveness, to the spokesman of the UN Political Office on Somalia,
Ian Steele, and to the address OCHA Online provides for its Somalia coordinator,
The latter bounced back, and Mr. Steele has yet to respond. The
web site, at least its front
page, has not been updated since January.
In the midst of all this is the affable
Francois Lonseny Fall. He at least took questions from the rostrum, at the UN on
March 14. He said, "4.5 is very important," but only defined it out in the hall.
Posts in the Transitional Federal Institutions should be given out equally to
the four main clans in Somalia, with an additional "point five" to the
remaining, smaller minorities.
But Inner City Press has received, and
provided to UNPOS and then DPA for comment, the following message and list of
appointments, which is decidedly top-heavy with one particular clan:
creates a dictator in Somalia while condemning others elsewhere
withheld in this format]
11:32:04 PM Eastern Standard Time
reports on Somalia and the incompetent role of the UN. A good question to ask
the UN is if they have monitored the basis of the TFG charter i.e. 4.5 power
sharing. This power sharing is the result of the UN sponsored meeting that
culminated in the formation of the TFG. The TFG's claim to legitimacy is derived
solely from the UN's endorsement of that agreement. Did the UN compare the
diversity in clans of the current president's staff, appointments to the
military, police, secret service, ambassadorships etc. and that of his immediate
predecessor Abdiqasim Salad Hassan. The government forces are over 90% Puntland
militia members. An op-ed article on one of the Somali websites noted that the
appointments to high military, police, security positions etc are almost all
from the President's clan. Below is an excerpt from the article...
Police Appointments: Position, Name, Clan Affiliation
1. Chief of
Staff of Military Axmed Mahdi Cabdisalaan Ogaadeen- Darood
2. Chief of
Police Ali Madoobe - Mareehaan - Darood
3. Chief of
Staff of Military Abdullaahi Ali Omar (Ina libaaxsankataabte) Majeerteen / Carab
Saalax - Darood
4. Head of
National Security Service Col Maxamed Darwiish Majeerteen- Darood
6. Head of
First Division Abdirisaaq Afguduud - Majeerteen - Darood
7. Head of
Second Division Abdullaahi Fartaag Mareehaan
8. Head of
Third Division Hiif Ali Taar Majeerteen- Darood
9. Head of
Fourth Division Col Abdullaahi Arays Majeerteen- Darood
10. Head of Sea
Port and Airport Mogadishu Joocaar - Majeerteen -Darood
On March 14, Inner City Press re-posed
these questions and demographics to the spokesman for the UN's Department of
Political Affairs. Five days later, this response arrived:
Subj: Qs, & the
follow-up on Jan Egeland, thanks
Spokesman at] un.org
11:35:03 AM Eastern Standard Time
regarding your question as to the UN's position regarding a statement issued on
6 March by a group in Somalia, I've consulted with UNPOS and can give you the
"We have no
specific reaction to the statement you refer to, which was dated several weeks
ago, but SRSG Fall and other members of the international community have
repeatedly expressed the view that an all-inclusive dialogue is essential to
peace and stability in Somalia. They continue to encourage the TFG to include
all national stakeholders who have renounced violence in the National
Reconciliation Congress planned for 16 April in Mogadishu."
Maybe, just maybe, the April
16 Congress will cure all previous missteps. Meanwhile, the UN has stood by
while Ethiopian troops took over, at least temporarily, Mogadishu, while the
U.S. bombed in the south and now sends
and while even the UN-annointed Transitional Federal Government excludes major
clans contrary to the "4.5" system that the UN calls important, without really
defining. It means that the four major clans each were supposed to get equal
numbers of government posts, with the remaining minorities in Somalia getting a
"point five" share. It has fallen out of whack, as now helicopters are shot out
of the sky. Questions will continue to be asked.
At the UN, Six Hours for Two Paragraph on Iran, Spin
Over Kosovo and Zimbabwe
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
UNITED NATIONS, March 29 -- After Zimbabwe was
discussed Thursday in the UN Security Council, the Council's president for
March, South African Ambassador Dumisani S. Kumalo, said the briefing should not
have taken place. Inner City Press asked him about a statement, just made, by UK
Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, that the situation in Zimbabwe represents "a
potential problem for regional stability."
"We held the briefing just to hear that?"
asked Ambassador Kumalo. He said no one in Zimbabwe was helped by the briefing
or the politicization. Sources tell Inner City Press that inside the closed-door
meeting, Amb. Kumalo apologized to the UN Secretariat's briefer, Rashid
Khalikov of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, for having
him in the Council instead of some other, purely humanitarian venue.
asked for the Zimbabwe briefing, which was scheduled for last Thursday, March 22
but got bumped by the Iran nuclear sanctions resolution. The rescheduled time
ended up not working, Amb. Jones Parry said, because the requested briefer was
"away on mission." Therefore Rashid Khalikov on March 29 was the choice, under
the rubric "Other matters."
his briefing, Mr. Khalikov took questions from reporters. Surprisingly, he said
that he does not view the situation in Zimbabwe as a threat to international
peace and security. Most briefers decline to opine on such political questions,
since the jurisdiction of the Security Council turns on precisely this test.
Khalikov's (new) boss is John Holmes, previously a UK diplomat, it is foreseen
that Mr. Holmes, upon his return from his visit to Sudan, Chad and elsewhere,
will be asked for his views on the briefing, and on Zimbabwe more generally.
Speaking of Chad, Mr. Holmes on Thursday was quoted both that the international
community is underestimating the problem, and that no UN force can be sent in
absent a political solution and a "peace to keep."
not Zimbabwe (or Chad)
discussion of Zimbabwe in the Council is viewed as controversial, so too is
review of Myanmar, on which Russia and China most recently cast vetoes. Inner
City Press asked, at
UN noon briefing:
Inner City Press: I saw that the Deputy
Secretary-General is slated to meet with the Permanent Representative of Myanmar
later this afternoon. And I'm wondering what's on the agenda, and whether, in
Special Rapporteur [Paulo Sergio]
Pinheiro's call for the release of political prisoners,
whether Ms. Migiro will be raising that or other human rights issues?
Associate Spokesperson: We don't often
get readouts of meetings that are held with the Permanent Representatives here,
of which there are many. But I'll see whether we can get some information once
[He later told the correspondent that it
had been a courtesy visit.]
Inner City Press: I know there's been a
request for some time to have Ms. Migiro either do a briefing here or maybe they
were going to do it at the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA)
Club. Where does it stand, to actually hear from Ms. Migiro?
Associate Spokesperson: She's certainly
willing to meet with you in a number of venues. I don't know what the
arrangements are, whether it's here or in UNCA for the next one.
Inner City Press: I guess I would like to
reiterate that invitation, on behalf of UNCA. I just think it's time. The other
question I have is: there were these announcements about what they call the
mobility posts. There's about a dozen, maybe, that were announced with some
fanfare. Mr. [Vijay] Nambiar said there were 1,200 applications. What is the
status of those? Some people are saying that some of the posts have been given
out. Is that the case?
Associate Spokesperson: I'm not aware
that any of them have been given out. Certainly none of them have been
announced. I know that I've been looking with interest, to see whether those
posts have been filled. But as far as I know, they're not.
Inner City Press: Will they be announced
when they are filled?
Associate Spokesperson: I imagine so,
yes. I don't think all of them will be announced, because many of them are
fairly low-level. I imagine the higher-level ones would be announced, as we
normally do with high-level posts.
Secretariat can issues statements and calls on human rights and suffering in
member states, but not bring the issue up or talk about it when these states'
Ambassadors come in for meet and greet. Earlier this week, DSG Migiro told Inner
City Press she wants to do a briefing. This would be the time.
Security Council action, most of Thursday was spent negotiating a mere
on the 15 UK soldiers in custody in Iran. In the late afternoon, the U.S.
mission's Rick Grenell said, on the record, "we are irritated," that if anyone
questioned the need for Security Council reform they should consider this
example, and to expect the U.S. Ambassador to come out and call the whole thing
Jackie Sanders emerged and predicted that nothing would be accomplished or
resolved any time soon. Minutes later, the press statement was agreed to. To one
reporter, Jackie Sanders subsequently explained that things got easier once she
left. After six hours on two paragraphs, some said they could understand this
apparently breakdown in communications.
was also discussed, specifically Russian Ambassador Churkin's proposal for a
Council members' visit to Pristina and Belgrade. Inner City Press asked Amb.
Kumalo if Russia's request for a report on the implementation of previous Kosovo
resolution 1244 was also in the mix. The answer is yes, but it is not clear who
will write the report or when. Slovakian Ambassador Peter Burian confirmed to
Inner City Press that his country's position, as adopted by its legislature, is
that independence for Kosovo could destabilize the region. So Russia is not
alone. Game on, as they say....
Other Inner City Press
reports are available in the ProQuest service and some are archived on
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