Inner City Press


In Other Media-e.g. Somalia, Nepal, Ghana, Azerbaijan, The Gambia   For further info, click here to contact us          .

Home -

Search is just below this first article

BloggingHeads 2/08

Top 10 '07 UN Stories

These reports are also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07 7/19/07 6/29/07 6/14/7 6/1/7

How to Contact Us


Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"

Inner City Press Podcast --

UN Officials' "Compacts," Withheld from Public, Skirt Issues of Security and Procurement

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, February 4 -- On Monday Ban Ki-moon signed 28 agreements with his senior managers which will, his Under Secretary General for Management Alicia Barcena told reporters, commit these officials to measurable targets for their work in 2008. Ms. Barcena said the agreements were being placed on the UN's intra-net so that UN staff can see them. Since the UN is an international organization, Inner City Press asked Ms. Barcena why they shouldn't be in the internet, available to Member States and to the public at large. Staff first, Ms. Barcena said, adding that later, "nothing precludes them from being public."

            Later on Monday, Inner City Press asked one of the officials, Carolyn McCaskie, Assistance Secretary General for Peacebuilding Support, if she would object to her agreement being made public. "I see no reason why not," Ms. McAskie said. Click here to view. ASG McAskie's agreement, called a Compact, is representative of most of the other agreements Inner City Press has seen. (The Compact by Antonio Maria Costa in his capacity as head of the UN Office in Vienna was not, a spokesperson told Inner City Press, complete in time for Monday's launch, despite Ms. Barcena's statement that all 29 were ready.) In fact, most parts of the Compacts are identical boilerplate, committing to no more than 5% vacancies, and 100% compliance with the Performance Appraisal System. Among the mandate-specific commitments in Ms. McAskie's Compact is to have ready a strategy for Guinea-Bissau by mid-2008.

            A notable Compact is that of UN Security chief David Veness, which mentions reducing vehicle accidents -- perhaps in light of the serious accident at Headquarters in 2007, which sources tell Inner City Press resulted from a lack of training provided by the Security Department -- but says little about the elephant in the room, the deadly bombing of UN premises in Algiers in December 2007.  Sources tell Inner City Press that the UN and UN Development Program facilities in Rabat, Morocco and in Sana'a, Yemen are even less secure that Algiers was, and that in Sana'a, no barricades have been built under the Algiers-like theory that it might anger the local government. But you won't find this in Mr. Veness' Compact for 2008.

UN talking Compacts on February 4, straight to intra-net

            Rather, under Drugs and Crimes, you'll find reference to a "Turkmen Border Initiative." Under Children and Armed Conflict, there's the very specific output of a legal brief for the trial of Thomas Lubanga in 2008. Peacekeeping's Jean-Marie Guehenno promises vaguely to comply with Security Council mandates, while using his Compact to complain that the UN's rules for procurement are no good, a post-facto justification for having worked around the rules to issue a $250 million no-bid contract to Lockheed Martin for the Darfur Mission.

            Humanitarian chief John Holmes commits himself to passing, or seeing passed, two General Assembly of ECOSOC resolutions concerning climate change. The nearly defunct Office of the Special Advisor on Africa mandate says repeatedly, support OSAA as appropriate. Investigator Inga-Britt Ahlenius commits to very little, saving meeting regularly with the Secretary General.

            It is said that the Deputy Secretary General personally reviewed these Compacts; while only Ms. Barcena briefed on the process, the DSG should still be heard from on. Ms. Barcena's Compact commits her, among other things, to coordinating the UN's Funds and Program, something that appears to be a problem, not only in light of UNDP's Kosovo-like unilateral declaration of independence from the whistleblower protection scheme of the UN Ethics Office, but most recently in light of UNICEF's failure to implement the most basic of safeguards in offering up the UN's North Lawn to "celebrate" the opening of a Gucci store on Fifth Avenue. This was criticized Monday by Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambair, who was visible during the signing ceremony, which was broadcast on UN Television. These Compact are presented as a big deal for the UN. Then why not make them public? If they don't, we will. Watch this site.

* * *

These reports are 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

  Because a number of Inner City Press' UN sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep the information flowing.

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Search WWW Search

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540