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UN-HABITAT Tried to Move Center Out of Africa, As Ban Gives Top UN Africa Posts to Son in Law & Norway

By Matthew Russell Lee

UN SYSTEM, September 11 -- Despite how much money the UN raises on its Africa operations, there have been increasing attempts to remove agencies from the Continent, or in the alternative to give the UN's highest positions in Africa to non-Africans.

   Today's example is UN-HABITAT, in the run up to the Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador. The agency is based in Nairobi, Kenya -- but it recently quietly published a “Call for expression of interest to host the UN-Habitat Urban Center of Excellence,” not limited to Kenya, much less Nairobi. Click here to view photo tweeted by @InnerCityPress. The underlying issues have been well-covered by Citiscope, here and here.

   This follows attempts to either move the UN Environment Programme, or  in a similar end-around, to set up another parallel UN Environment agency based in Europe. Under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Kenya's Ambassador to the UN Macharia Kamau was passed over to head UNEP, in favor of Norway's Erik Solheim.

   More troublingly, Ban Ki-moon appointed his own son in law (as first reported by Inner City Press) Siddharth Chatterjee to take over as UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya from the previous Coordinator, Nardos Bekele-Thomas. Now, in Ban's UN system, comes this stealth and similarly amateur attempt to take from Africa.

While the Call for Expressions of Interest was removed from the Internet, Ban's son in law Siddharth Chatterjee not only remains in place - he has endorsed attacks on the Press that reported it by his former Indian Army military commander. The rest of the UN system, has not fallen quite this low under Ban. And what will the Next SG bring? Watch this site.

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Within the UN system there are racial tensions, some time at the fore, often under the surface. Now comes a complaint concerning the head of UN-HABITAT Joan Clos, that at a staff retreat at a restaurant in Nairobi he held forth, in English and Spanish, about “a good White man looking for a poor 'Negro' to help.” See complaint, here, and embedded below.

 On February 16, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about the complaint; he said to just ask HABITAT. But isn't Ban Ki-moon, and OIOS, going to review it?

On February 17, Inner City Press asked lead UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric the same question, Video here. UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: Yesterday, I'd asked Farhan about this letter from staff in Kenya to Ban Ki-moon and OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] about Joan… Joan Clos of Habitat, complaining about things that he said that had a… they believe a racial nature.  He said to ask Habitat.  So Habitat has confirmed they received the letter.  But I still want to ask.  Since the letter was, in fact, addressed to OIOS and Ban Ki-moon, particularly in the OIOS case, does OIOS have jurisdiction over Habitat?  Is the… has a decision been made that this letter will only be considered by Habitat itself who’s run by the…

Spokesman Dujarric:  Yes, OIOS, if I'm not mistaken, has jurisdiction over Habitat.  We're obviously very much aware of the allegations in the letter, and we're examining the claims according to due process.

  Tick tock. Clos appears to have been quoting the title of a book by author Gustau Nerin, “Blanco Bueno, Busca Negro Pobre.” But Clos' other reported comments at the HABITAT retreat, held at the Lord Errol Restaurant, also gave rise to the complaint, including a reference to Nairobi, that “there are no serious people here who can think.”

   UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the addressee of the complaint, has been asked to act on this. In his UN system, it is usually politics and not the facts that determine the outcome.

  Ban has for example continued the pattern of giving the post position at UN Peacekeeping to France (now in the person of Herve Ladsous, who as Inner City Press has reported and asked about linked peacekeepers' rapes in the Central African Republic to “R&R,” here).

 Ban kept the UK atop the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the US in charge of the Department of Political Affairs.

   That Ban did not discipline Ladsous for linking rapes to R&R, the type of comment which would get a military figure fired or demoted in many countries, may be well for Clos. Or does Spain have so much less political juice in the UN system that the outcome will be different?

Reporting Misconduct against Mr Joan Clos,Executive Director Un Habitat by Boniface Mwangi

 The complaint was also addressed to the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services, which is currently engaged in an audit of NGOs affiliated with Macau based businessman Ng Lap Seng, Frank Lorenzo and Sheri Yan, indicted in the US for bribery at the UN.

It was also sent to UN human resources and the UN Ethics Office, which along with OIOS was implicated in the cover up of (French soldiers') alleged rapes in the Central African Republic. This is Ban's UN.

  Clos also reported criticized the Japanese development agency JICA; Japan is not only a large UN donor, but current has an elected seat on the UN Security Council.

Inner City Press has been sent multiple copies of the complaint, which was sent to 37 countries' missions; we note that an image of the complaint was Tweeted on February 11 by a Kenyan activist. Contrary for example to Reuters, whose UN bureau chief at first sought to minimize or discredit, and then simply stole, Inner City Press February 12 exclusive about new UN rapes in CAR, we note all that. The point now is, what will the UN do? Watch this site.


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