At UN, Transparency Debated in Secret, Labor Discussed in the
Basement, Arnault in DPKO Mix
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
April 10 -- At the UN
these days, there is talk of accountability and reform. A closed-door
was held on the topic on Wednesday; the press was not allowed t hear
management said to member states or vice versa.
was to be had
Thursday in the basement, when Under Secretary General for Management
Barcena took the podium to speak to the UN Staff Council, and to take
She acknowledged that the Compact that she signed with Ban Ki-moon,
the UN's internal website under the heading Accountability, blurred to
May 1 a March
1 deadline set by the General Assembly.
the Staff Union's critique of
of the UN's new Ombudsman. She implored not only the Union,
however, but also Inner City Press to help her with reforms. "I don't
always like what you write," she told the Press, "but you help raise
the visibility." So here goes.
Staff Council says Management wants only to consult, not negotiate,
that as in
the case of the tour guides, it responds only to negative media
in that case, a sick-out by the guides. A member asked if the Union
allowed to make a presentation directly to the General Assembly, saying
was blocked under the tenure of the previous head of the Office of
Resources Management, Jan Beagle. On accountability, he said that
should roll" over the failure in the implementation of the UN's system
at the level of UN Management, heads never figuratively roll; there is
accountability. Ms. Beagle was rewarded with an assignment to Geneva,
UNCTAD deputy chief post the work of which she is not doing. (It is
the Thai chief of UNCTAD Supachai Panitshpakdi now wants this post
this space.) There's not even accountability on the failure to move the
accountability proposal. With much fanfare, the Department of
it would create a ten-person Office of Accountability, with at the top
D-2 post. Cynics said this post was specifically created to reward, a la Jan Beagle, long time official
Nancy Hurtz-Soyka. Then Inner City Press
was told, the report on the new Office is coming out soon, no questions
be answered until the report came out.
even during the March resumed
session of the UN's budget committee, no report on the proposal came
the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. Ms.
confirmed this Thursday afternoon in the basement. So the question is,
going to be accountable for this failure to move even this
Mr. Ban and some of Staff Council, UN Reform
present Thursday in the basement was the new Assistant Secretary
General of the
Office of Human Resources Management, Catherine Pollard.
previously reported, prior to her being
named to the post, Inner City Press e-mailed Ms. Pollard a copy of a
complaint against her, seeking in fairness her comment before
did not respond, then or since. Thursday she spoke only briefly, and
generally greeted with openness, and a hope she will at least be more
her predecessor. A cynic in the room opined that perhaps given the
leadership of the Group of 77 this year, Ms. Pollard being Guyanese was
as politically savvy.
Barcena also confirmed that even Ban's proposal to move the UN to one
contract (Barcena put it at three forms) would not break down the wall
General Services and Professional staff. She showed Inner City Press a
of a binder of color-coded proposals, some that the Secretary-General
implement on his own, the rest requiring General Assembly approval.
Wednesday's session on reform, some commitments were obtained. This is not known, because the discussion on
transparency was held behind closed doors. And, despite Ms. Barcena's
statements for more than a year now about implementing a UN Freedom of
Information policy, nothing has been done. Perhaps this, too, was
discussed Wednesday in secret. Only at the UN...
Footnotes: while the topic was not
mentioned at Thursday's basement session, rumors continue to circulate
Barcena will leave, either to ECLAC in Santiago or the UN's University
in Costa Rica, and that her successor may be the German Joaquim Rucker,
said to have recently threatened, along with his deputy Larry Rossin,
from the UN Mission in Kosovo, but was told if he left UNMIK, there
could be no
USG of Management post. Other rumors have UN Georgia mission chief Jean
being considered to replace his fellow Frenchman Jean-Marie Guehenno as
UN Peacekeeping. Unlike Ruecker,
Arnault at least has filled out his
public financial disclosure, noting a country house in Guatemala.
Coming full circle, it's said
Guehenno is being considered as a special envoy on Northern Kosovo, to
"pull a Bosnia," as one insider put it, meaning to negotiate some
form of cantonization or even de facto partition. We'll see.
* * *
These reports are
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
here for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
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
UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA
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earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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