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Top UN Security Council Staffer Removed Without Notice, Diplomatic Fiasco by Ban Ki-moon Team, Members Say

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 20, updated -- In a sudden shake up of the UN Secretariat's interface with the Security Council which has left several Council member states baffled, the head of the UN's Security Council Affairs unit, Horst Heitmann, has during his vacation been transferred from the post.

  Heitmann's position, Director of the UN Security Council Affairs Division, is not an unimportant post, providing advice to each month's Security Council president and in some months essentially running the Council.

    Heitmann had previously dueled with his boss, Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe, about insubordination in hiring for the Council's sanctions committees, as Inner City Press exclusively reported. Click here for Pascoe's “memo to file” against Heitmann, and here for further background.

Because no one is ever fired from the UN, a Permanent Five member of the Council tells Inner City Press Heitmann may be parked in another UN Political Affairs job, in the Middle East and West Asia Division, previously held by Lisa Buttenheim. UN staffers told Inner City Press that the change was “like a decapitation” and hurt morale.

  They said the news of Heitmann's ouster was e-mailed to them on Friday, July 16 at 5:40 p.m.. The first time they could meet and ask questions, in the Council chamber, was the Tuesday, July 20 meeting. Several staff members expressed shock. Later on Tuesday, Lynn Pascoe convoked Heitmann's interim replacement to meet with him. A “Temporary Vacancy Announcement” will be published on Friday.

  Ambassadors from several Security Council member states asked Inner City Press, regarding the sudden move on Heitmann, “what is going on?” Combined with the Council's move this year to exclude the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General from attendance at consultation meetings, the failure to explain the move to the Council member states represents another managerial and diplomatic screw up by the Ban Ki-moon administration, they say.

Heitmann claps, Norma Chan and Loraine Sievers behind, in better times

  Will Loraine Sievers, Heittman's deputy, be promoted to replace him? Probably not, sources say, since she only recently was promoted from the P-5 level to D-1. Another name, perhaps more realistic, being circulated as Heitmann's replacement is Pascoe's current Special Assistance Karin Ann / Karina Gerlach of Venezuela. She is currently at the UN's D-1 level, but seeks a promotion to D-2, which she would get if she takes Heitmann's post.

Another answer was surprising: a rumor that long serving Norma Chan, who retired amid a slew of congratulations and awards from P-5 members, may return to Heitmann's place. But, the Council source asked, wouldn't the awards be a conflict of interest? We hope to hear from the retired Ms. Chan on these topics, and will report what we hear.
  Inner City Press waited outside Pascoe's office before publication of this story; his spokesman has rarely answered questions, for example about corruption at the top of DPA's Affair II division, and Center in Turkmenistan. Whatever we hear from Mr. Pascoe we will also report. Watch this site.

Update of 6:38 p.m. -- Lynn Pascoe emerged from his wing of the North Lawn building and issued a no comment, an affable no comment but a no comment nonetheless. Perhaps Security Council members states will belatedly be told more information? Watch this site.

Update -- the UN has since provided this:

This is to inform you that Under-Secretary-General Pascoe informed staff that, with the appointment of Ms. Lisa Buttenheim as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Cyprus, he has decided to laterally move Mr. Horst Heitmann to the post of Director for the Middle East and West Asia Division (MEWAD) effective 16 August 2010. His post at Security Council Affairs will be circulated shortly.

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As Iran Bombing Condemned by UN Council, Jundollah Not Named
By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 16, updated -- The bombing in Iran claimed by Jundollah, like that in Uganda claimed by Al Shabab, will be condemned by the UN Security Council on Friday afternoon.

 Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State of the U.S. which Iran has accused of supporting Jundollah was quick to condemn the bombing, and to name Jundollah.

  Now the Security Council will echo Hillary, using the same boiler plate statement it applied to the carnage in Kampala -- not naming the perpetrator, even after credit has been claimed.

The Council's Uganda statement on Monday did not blame Al Shabab by name. Inner City Press was told that the statement was circulated to Council members before Al Shabab had taken credit. In this case, Jundollah took credit more quickly, and Hillary Clinton named the group in her statement.

  But the decision is made, not to name the perpetrator. A Council diplomat who confirmed the absence of Jundollah from the statement as of 3:30 p.m. shrugged when asked no blame was being cast.

Hillary Clinton in front of Security Council, Jundollah not shown

  Friday, the Council is engaged in a day long debate on “conflict prevention.” As such, the Iran bombing statement could more easily be amended to include the name Jundollah and still be circulated and approved before this month's Council President, Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, reads it out loud at the stake out.

At the stakeout, even though it is now July 16, the placement of the flags has yet to be changed. When May turned into June, with the Council in a marathon meeting about the assault on the flotilla to Gaza, the flag and name plates were changed at the stroke of midnight. This month, it has taken sixteen days and counting.

Update of 5:11 p.m. -- with the “conflict prevention” debate over, there is a lull. The Iran bombing press statement will not be read out until 6:05 pm, Inner City Press is told, “to give time for members if they want to object.” But no one will, we predict. The statement is pure boiler plate and does not mention Jundollah. A pro-Iran reporter mutters, why so late, I want to go home.

Update of 6:18 p.m. -- the Iran bombing statement has been read by Council president Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, echoing the Uganda bombing statement of four days ago. Inner City Press asked, since Jundollah has taken credit, Iran has accepted the claim and blames two Permanent Council members - the US and UK - for supporting Jundollah, why not name or at least discuss it? She answered that due process and investigation are necessary. Investigation by who? The Iranian authorities, she says.

Nigeria is feting its foreign minister tonight, not at Nigeria House on 44th Street but 13 blocks north. We have to get out and about, they say...

* * *

In Wake of Uganda Bombing, UNSC Statement Does Not Assign Blame, Even After Al Shabab Takes Credit

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 12, updated -- A day after the Kampala double bombing which killed more than 60 people, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had yet to issue any kind of statement. In front of the Security Council on Monday morning, one non-permanent member's spokesperson wondered under what agenda item the Council might issue a statement: Somalia?

Another spokesperson said moves were afoot for the issuance of a press statement, later in the day. Would it say who is responsible? After the bombing of trains in Madrid, the Council issued a statement blaming it on ETA. When Al Qaeda later took responsibility, the Council's statement was never retracted.

Here, nearly all speakers including Uganda authorities are pointing the finger at Islamist Somali insurgents. They had vowed retaliation for the Ugandan and Burundian AMISOM peacekeepers' shelling of a market in Mogadishu. Others pointed out the targeting of "Ethiopian Village," given antagonism between irridentist Somalia and Ethiopia. Motive is certainly there-- and, the media pointed out, opportunity.

  As the draft text of the press statement was distributed to members, a Council diplomat told Inner City Press it did not assign blame, only the Council's "standard terrorist attack language." Might that change?

Update of 3:20 p.m. -- Nigeria's Ambassador, the Council's president for July, read out a four paragraph statement. As Inner City Press predicted this morning, it did not assign blame. But in the interim, the spokesman for Al Shabab has taken credit for the bombings, saying they were months in the planning.

  Inner City Press asked Nigeria's Ambassador on camera why blame was not ascribed, and if this might not discourage countries from sending peacekeepers to Somalia. She declined the first, and to the second question said “there is a peace to keep in Somalia.” Video here.

   Afterward, Inner City Press was told that Al Shabab's confession came after the statement was circulated and concurrence obtained. They didn't want to delay it. But wouldn't it have been stronger if more specific? An Ethiopian diplomat spoke about Eritrea. If ten Taliban are coming off the 1267 Al Qaeda sanctions list, does that mean there's room for Al-Shabab? Watch this site.

In Kampala, the Ethiopian Village - UN statements not yet shown

Incoming UN envoy on Somalia, Tanzania's former Ambassador Mahiga, spoke to Inner City Press at the UN in New York last week, including about the peacekeepers' use of “long range artillery” and the civilian casualties caused. Will Mahiga take this so-called “collateral damage” more seriously than Ould Abdallah did? Watch this site.

Footnote: Inside the Council on Monday morning, there was a minute of silence for the dead of Srebrenica. What there thought of the UN's role?

 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.

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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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