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UN Gender Entity Stalled on Posts, Palestine and Cuban Pride, Ban Waits to Take Credit

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 25 -- The UN negotiations on the so called Gender Entity continues Friday into the evening, with three issues outstanding. Each was a UN classic. Syria was championing a special mention for women under occupation: that is, Palestine.

  Cuba disagreed with a paragraph suggesting that countries submit their national programs for UN system review. And the donor countries and the Group of 77 different on the distribution and number of posts, that is, jobs. Follow the money.

  And follow the posts. Inner City Press is informed that while many still hope that former Chilean president Michele Bachelet would accept the Gender Entity post, she had wanted UNICEF, which was given to American Anthony Lake. Now the Gender post may go to a Rwandan minister.

  Earlier on Friday, Inner City Press asked the chair and staffer of the Economic and Social Council if, in exchange for the new Under Secretary General post, the underlying Assistant Secretary General posts would be eliminated. No, two would remain, was the answer.

DSG Migiro and Hamidon Ali, Gender Entity and day care closing not shown

  Of the Secretariat, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: this has been set by the President of the General Assembly, something of a deadline to get a draft done. So I’m wonder… I understand that the Secretary-General is going to the G-20 and all, but what is the role of the Secretariat? Not just the Secretary-General personally, but Migiro, you know, the [Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose] Migiro...

I am sure that the Secretariat is going to say, you know, this is a reform that we brought about, this gender entity. What, in this critical time, what’s the role of the Secretariat in sort, providing I guess, you know, leadership on this gender entity? There are some outstanding issues, and I just wonder whether the Secretariat is chiming in, in terms of how this entity will deal with the developed world or countries in which there is not a presence on the ground? And then, you may not think it’s related, but have you found out whose decision it was to close the UN day care center on two days’ notice? The issue that arose yesterday? I see them as related. Maybe you don’t.

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, starting with the big picture, gender empowerment, gender equality, these are major priorities for the Secretary-General, and for the United Nations as a whole. Indeed gender empowerment is one of the key priorities of the Secretary-General for this year, not least because he and the Deputy Secretary-General have been pushing extremely hard for this new gender entity to come onto being. And so, obviously, we’re watching this very closely. We’re not just watching; I know the Deputy Secretary-General in particular — this is something the Secretary-General has asked her to focus on — he’s very much involved in seeing how this passes through during the course of the day and into next week.

And I would anticipate that the Deputy Secretary-General would want to speak to the media once we have a clearer picture of what happens. It is a major priority; it’s something that the Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretary-General have been pushing extremely hard because they believe that it’s essential for us to be able to make progress on many other areas of work, not least, development. And as for the micro-picture, which is not to belittle it at all, because child care is extremely important, I do not have an answer. We’ve asked for an answer but we do not have an answer at the moment.

We'll be waiting for that day care center closing answer -- and for the Gender Entity denouement. Watch this site.

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UN's Closure of Day Care Center Raises Questions of Hypocrisy, Gender Entity End Game

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, June 25 -- As at the UN talks on the “Gender Entity” resolution are convened today, and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon heads to the G-20 meeting to speak of the importance of women to the MDGs, the hypocrisy of closing the UN day care center on only two days notice to parents has not gone unnoticed.

  Earlier this week Inner City Press exclusively reported on the June 18 closure, which working parents using the center were informed of only on June 16.

  Inner City Press is now informed that the UN Department of Management run by Angela Kane has been asked about decision, how it was taken and even if it can be re-considered.

    The hypocrisy is just too obvious. The Department of Management's Office for Human Resources Management has as a stated goal “to support the development and implementation of policies and programmes concerning staff welfare and employee assistance..." and "(f) to develop and implement policies on work/life issues to assist staff in balancing professional and personal lives" (ST/SGB/2004/8).

   A Secretary-General's report on “Improvement of the status of women in the United Nations system” (A/63/364), for example, identified the existence of child care facilities as one of the most effective means of facilitating work/life balance in the workplace, and notes the small percentage of these facilities as a “notable gap” in the United Nations.

   What was already a gap was made a gapping hole by a unilateral decision by an out of touch bureaucracy which didn't even purport to consult with those impacted.

Angela Kane claps while DSG Migiro holds the scizzors, ASG Pollard on side

On June 24, Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesperson:

Inner City Press: Some staff members have raised concern that the UN day care that they’ve run here for 38 years, at least that’s the number that’s put on it, is now being discontinued on two days’ notice to the affected staff members. And they seem to think this is inconsistent with everything that’s been said about work-life balance and making it easier for women to work in the UN. What’s the reasoning, particularly for the limited notice given to the staff members using that day care center?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: What I can say, I can’t really address the question of notice. That’s something that we could seek further guidance on. But what I can say is that it’s clearly linked to the renovation that’s going on in this building and the lack of appropriate space for children to be looked after.

Inner City Press: These staff members have pointed to an unused, or virtually unused space in [building] DC-1, and said that it seems from the notice that was put on i-Seek that the only concern is that they’d have to have licenses and somehow be up to New York City standards if they held it off premises. Does this imply that for 38 years it was somehow sub-par? I guess they view there was no dialogue given and there seems to be space. I’m just wondering, I don’t know, you didn’t make a decision to close it, but I’m wondering…

Spokesperson Nesirky: That’s for sure, that’s for sure.

Question: Who did, actually? Who did make the decision?

Spokesperson: Let’s find out.

   While as of this writing some 22 hours after the question was posed Mr. Nesirky had not named the decision making official, Inner City Press has been informed that the Department of Management, run by Angela Kane and overseeing “power broker” Michael Adlerstein's Capital Master Plan, has been asked about decision, how it was taken and even if it can be re-considered.

Footnote: Ironically, at the same time as this reporting, Mr. Adlerstein and Ms. Kane sent threatening messages to Inner City Press related to the Capital Master Plan. So it goes at the UN. Watch this site.

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UN Closes Day Care on Two Day Notice, Offers Gender Entity Post to Rwandan

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 22 -- As the UN talks about establishing a new "Gender Entity," offering the top post first to Chile's Michelle Bachelet and now a Rwandan minister, Inner City Press is told, it has this month unceremoniously eliminated the after school day care it for years had offered to staff.

  "It's hypocrisy," says one impacted working mother. "They talk about work life balance and advancing women, then cut this program on only two days' notice."

  The day care, in the UN Secretariat building, was discontinued on June 18. The impacted parent only learned of it on June 16, too late to put up a fight. The rationale is that with the UN's renovation, the day care could only continue out in the "real" New York west of 1st Avenue, where permits would be required.

UN's Ban and Ms. Bachelet, closure of UN day care not shown

  On June 22 the UN posted this notice on its intranet:

After-school recreation and study programme for United Nations children Posted: Tuesday, 22 June 2010, New York | Author: Department of Management

Because the UN Secretariat building is currently a construction zone, it is not possible to house the After-school Recreation and Study Programme on the premises due to lack of available space. Therefore, we regret to announce, ST/IC/2010/17, that we are not in a position to offer the Programme as of the end of the 2009/2010 school year, and we regret any inconvenience that this will cause to parents.

If we were to move the Programme to a rented building, we would be subject to New York City laws and code compliance. In reality, this means that the children participating in the Programme would have to be housed preferably on the ground floor, but not above the third floor. The child care space would also have to meet a number of other code requirements including certain exit criteria and access to play areas. Such a space is not available at this time. In addition, the operator of this service would have to be fully licensed and certified.

  Several readers found the UN's admission that has been below code compliance, and less safe than certified, strange. They point out, for example, that in the UN's DC-1 building on 44th Street and 1st Avenue there is a barely used room next to the third floor cafeteria. "They just don't think this is important," the working mother said. "And yet they're naming a new Gender Entity." She laughed, but bitterly. Watch this site.

 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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