UNHCR's Johnstone, Of Failing Anti-Africa
Relocation, Decamps for USA at Half Pay
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
March 23 -- The UN's Deputy High
Commissioner for Refugees L.
Craig Johnstone, architect of a money-losing
relocation of jobs to Budapest instead of Africa because, he said,
couldn't find qualified Africans, is now himself relocating to the West
of his native USA.
this month, UNHCR sources told Inner City Press Johnstone was trying to
convince UNHCR boss Antonio Guterres that he should get full pay to
the West Coast. Inner City Press, which had previously covered
ill-fated shift of jobs to Budapest instead of Africa, made inquiries.
word leaked out, Guterres counter proposed that Johnstone get only half
salary, and pay the extra travel costs on his own. To some, it's a rare
victory for accountability within the UN system. Others wonder why
who admitted his post is reserved for the United States, can still draw
Johnstone engineered, from Geneva to Budapest, has resulted money
lost and not
saved. At the time of the move, Inner
City Press interviewed Johnstone who said, on the record, that
workers could not be found in Africa.
Press asked why Africa
hadn't even been one of the four locations considered . (The others
Bucharest, Chennai and Kuala Lumpur.) "Is Africa the right place to
establish a procurement center?" Johnstone asked. "A payroll center?
What are the capability of the local people to carry out the functions?"
City Press reported
this, Johnstone back pedaled, bad mouthing Inner City Press
in the process.
whistleblowers have provided Inner City Press with an Excel spreadsheet
the less than stellar performance of the Johnstone-designed move from
Geneva. The sources say "Budapest
costs 17.8 million and 19.9 estimated for 2009 NOT the 7.9
are basing the savings on." Inner City Press
asked Switzerland's Ambassador to
the UN Peter Maurer for comments, and Ambassador Maurer said that often
moves do not result in the promised savings. In this case, UNHCR lost
UNHCR's Craig Johnstone, pitches Google, disses Africa, heads home
intra-UNHCR scandals have included irregularities
in Staff Union elections, reported failure to
have insurance on UNHCR staff members in Algeria, where UNHCR and the
UN were bombed in December 2008 (UNHCR began dodging questions at
that point), and the trading of jobs for
UNHCR sources tell Inner City Press
that former UNHCR controller, Colin Mitchell, an Australian who retired
2008, was reprimanded by UNHCR in April 2008 for reopening 2006
to soak up excess funds so that it would not appear that UNHCR had not
all its donor funding in 2007. He was then
his reprimand by Guterres to grade D-2, retroactive to 1
January 2007, one week before his retirement -- a
nice golden handshake in his pension package.
These sources say
that at UNHCR, as in many other locations in the UN system, rewards are
doled out in contravention of rules in order to buy silence and keep
skeleton closets closed.
Antonio Gutteres, fresh from his recent visit to Myanmar where he
about the Rohingya but not sufficiently about the Karen people,
the press today as being displaced and slaughtered by the army, on
issued the following whitewash e-mail to his staff:
Sent: lundi 23 mars 2009 14:07
Subject: All Staff Message from
the High Commissioner on the Deputy High Commissioner
Craig Johnstone joined UNHCR as
Deputy High Commissioner in June 2007. In the ensuing almost two years
discharged the duties of that office in an exemplary manner. I have relied on him to spearhead
structural reform to include introduction of results-based
management and, most recently, to
introduce needs-based planning and budgeting (GNA) and to undertake
human resources reform. He has also
provided invaluable advice in responding to the current global
crisis, so far allowing the organization to avoid capping exercises or
reductions in the resources available to our beneficiaries.
At the beginning of this year,
Craig advised that for family reasons he would have to return to the
and therefore, with regret, asked to resign. In view of his leadership
ongoing reforms I was reluctant to accept his resignation.
After consulting with the UN Secretary-General,
I asked Craig to continue in the exercise of his Deputy High
functions on a half-time, half-pay basis until at least after the
Committee’s consideration of the new GNA-based budget in the fall of
we would review these arrangements.
In order to see through the
successful conclusion of the reforms for which he is primarily
Craig agreed to remain on this basis. Indeed, he offered to do so
compensation whatsoever. I did not think
that appropriate but I do wish to clarify that all expenses for travel
his family in the United States and Geneva will be borne entirely by
Prior to Craig’s final departure
we will commence the process for the identification of his successor,
on the methodology used for his own selection.
fact that Inner City Press has been told by well-placed sources that
tried to keep his whole salary, if as Guterres white washes it
Johnstone now offers
to forego compensation, like the executives of failed Wall Street
pay him? Is Guterres performing his
duties? He was recently in New York at UN Headquarters, but made no
availability. Here's hope for one, soon. Watch this site.
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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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