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In Doss Nepotism Scandal, UNDP Denies Whistleblower Status, No Appeal Possible, It Says

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 23 -- In another showing of the UN system's weak or non-existent protections for whistleblowers, Inner City Press learned Wednesday that the UN Development Program has ruled against Nicolas Baroncini, whose job was given to the daughter of the UN's top envoy to the Congo Alan Doss after Doss asked for "leeway" so she could be hired.

  Baroncini, who was aware of Doss' request for leeway from an e-mail Baroncini opened in the course of his work, was told to leave UNDP. When he asked to speak to his consulate, he says, he was tackled and maced, after which Security Officer Peter Kolonias emerged with bite marks requiring medical attention. There is no doubt, however, that Baroncini was asked to leave after he complained and showed evidence about nepotism. That is retaliation, and makes Baroncini a whistleblower.

  UNDP, however, seems to have an insurmountably high definition of whistleblowers. Baroncini was informed that there has only been one whistleblower acknowledged in UNDP in the past two years. When UNDP refused even to follow the findings of the UN's Ethics Office with respect to a whistleblower, then UNDP chief Kemal Dervis argued that UNDP was independent from the UN Ethics system. Dervis set up his own ethics system, and Ban Ki-moon and his spokespeople said that those adversely ruled on could appeal to UN Ethics Officer Robert Benson.

  But Baroncini has been informed that there is no appeal of UNDP's ruling that he is not a whistleblower. It seems to give an agency like UNDP an incentive to fire before a person files a formal complaint, and then internally deny whistleblower status to avoid any appeal across the street to the UN Ethics Office.

UNDP's Helen Clark and "her" PM, Key of N Zealand, answers to wider press not shown

 It is a system in need of near total reform, and we will follow up on this.

Footnote: While Rebecca Doss remains in place in UNDP's Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, sources speak to Inner City Press about an annual leave, a failure to yet pay, an attempt to find job(s) outside of New York to relieve the pressure, including across the street on the Secretariat. Meanwhile, UNDP's Admininistrator Helen Clark has yet to answer any questions about the scandal, or even to hold any press availability in UN headquarters, despite routinely making herself available to the New Zealand press. Who, some ask, is she working for? Watch this site.

* * *

UN Stonewalls as Alleged Biter Rejects Deal, Doss To Meet Hillary Clinton

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 10, updated -- In Criminal Court in lower Manhattan Monday morning, former UN Development Program contractor Nicola Baroncini, who states that his job was stolen by the UN's top envoy in the Congo Alan Doss for his daughter Rebecca, rejected an offer of reduced charges and anger management in the assault case against him. His next court date is October 28.

  At the UN's regular press briefing later on Monday, UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe was peppered with questions about the pepper spray used on Mr. Baroncini, and from Inner City Press about about jurisdiction for investigation of Alan Doss, who is slated  in the midst of this development nepotism scandal to meet today with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

  Half an hour after the briefing, Ms. Okabe told the Press that UN Security, "as part of standard operating procedures, is looking into the incident" in which Officer Peter Kolonias was bitten, but only after Mr. Baroncini says he was tackled, handcuffed and pepper sprayed.

   Two months before the June 22 incident inside UNDP's building in which Mr. Baroncini was pepper sprayed and then bit UN Security Officer Peter Kolonias, Alan Doss wrote an email about awarding Baroncini's post as assistant to the Deputy Director of UNDP's Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific to his daughter.

   As first reported by Inner City Press, Doss asked to be shown "leeway" so that he could transfer from a UNDP to a UN Peacekeeping contract before or on the day she got to job, to evade anti-nepotism rules. Inner City Press first published the email on July 30, here.

   On August 10 in the courthouse at 100 Centre Street, Baroncini told the Press that July 1 was the last day Rebecca Doss could be given a UNDP contract that would not have to be reviewed by a higher panel. He insists, however, that for Rebecca Doss to have been considered and offered the job while her father was still with UNDP violated the rules. For 16 days now, the UN and UNDP have repeated that the matter is under review.

Alan Doss in the Congo, pepper spray and NY courthouse not shown

   The question arose Monday if immunity applies to Baroncini, or to the testimony that would be required later in the case from UN Security Officer Peter Kolonias. Some opined that Baroncini's immunity was lifted, by operation of law or by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, who after more than 100 days in the post has yet to hold a press conference.

   Others named Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, himself sensitive to questions about nepotism following the promotion of his son in law Siddarth Chatterjee at the UN in Iraq and this year at the UN Office of Project Services in Copenhagen. Inquiries among the press corp have begun into the related hirings of Mr. Ban's daughter. It is all coming to a head. Watch this site.

Update of  1 p.m., August 10 -- at Monday's UN noon briefing, all of the questions were about the man bites man story originated by Inner City Press more than two weeks ago. Reuters, which is now preparing a piece on the matter, asked if Mr. Baroncini had been pepper sprayed before any biting took place. The Times of London, which reported on the story over the weekend, asked about immunity. Inner City Press asked how Alan Doss, the UN's envoy to Congo and an employee of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, can evade full investigation of his conduct by limiting the review to the Office of Audit and Investigation of UNDP, which no longer has jurisdiction over him. Inner City Press requested (again) in person media availabilities by UNDP's Helen Clark and the head of the UN Department of Safety and Security Gregory Starr. Watch this site.

Footnotes: the proceedings Monday morning in Room 405 of the courthouse at 100 Centre Street involved, one after the other, a defendant in a Miami Heat "Wade" jersey, handcuffed behind his back; another defendant, female, with a baby strapped in front; a defendant named Mamadou Bah with a seemingly disinterested assigned counsel; the removal of a camera from the Press, and admonitions to those in the courtroom not to wear caps, eat, drink or talk.

   One wondered how documented nepotism by the UN's top Congo envoy could devolve into retaliation against a whistleblower down this level. Don't call me the biter, Baroncini asked. I don't want my child (now two years old) to have that impression in twenty years. Okay then. We will continue reporting this story, with an array of related puns: the whistleblower's mordant critique of the UN's toothless protections against retaliation, the gnawing problem in the UN of nepotism, leading to an open and shut case.

   Received on Saturday:

From: [Alan Doss]
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 8/8/2009 2:32:11 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: Re: Hi, Press(ing) Q re Alan Doss [and Rebecca Doss, UNDP]

Dear Mr. Lee,

In reference to your email, I can only say that UNDP is currently reviewing the matter. It would be premature therefore for me to make any public comments at this stage. I can confirm, however, that I transferred to DPKO on 1 July 2009.

Alan Doss

* * *

At UN, Biting Incident Reveals Nepotism of UNDP and Congo Envoy, Whistleblower Maced

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 30 -- The biting incident at the UN, on which Inner City Press exclusively reported one week ago, has its roots in a glaring case of nepotism in which the UN's top envoy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mr. Alan Doss, lobbied to get his daughter the UN Development Program job effectively held and applied for by alleged biter, Mr. Nicola Baroncini.

   When Mr. Baroncini was suspected of knowing of the nepotism, documented by an e-mail to UNDP from Mr. Doss, he was fired, forcibly removed, with pepper spray, from the UN compound and arrested by NYPD on the basis of false accusations. Doss' daughter Rebecca is now ensconced in the disputed UNDP job, while Mr. Baroncini is due in Criminal Court on August 10 on charges of third degree assault.

   The case is an early test of UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, in the job for 100 days now, and new UN Security chief Gregory Starr, with whom Mr. Baroncini is asking to meet in order to withdraw the criminal charges against him. Also in question is how Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will react to documented allegations of improper requests and nepotism by his personal envoy to one of the UN's largest and most controversial peacekeeping missions.

   Documents filed with the US Department of State, obtained by Inner City Press, show the lead-up to the June 22 pepper spray. On March 16, 2009, after several other UNDP posts ranging from Cambodia to New York, Mr. Baroncini began functioning as assistant to Ms. Ligia Elizondo, Deputy Director of UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBAP).

  According to the complaint Mr. Baroncini was "managing her personal agenda; screening inbound and outbound communications; organizing meetings; reviewing documents and other material; distributing tasks within the bureau. I had unlimited access to her UNDP email account. My tasks also included email filing (in my hard drive)."

  A month later in April according to the complaint, Mr. Baroncini "witnessed that Ms. Elizondo received several phone calls from Rebecca Doss. Her CV was permanently in Ms. Elizondo’s in-tray. Also while filing Ms. Elizondo’s UNDP email inbox I came across several emails from Rebecca Doss to Ms. Elizondo. In one, Rebecca made reference to the position of 'Special Assistant to RBAP Deputy Director' and said that she would contact Ms. Elizondo at home."

  Subsequently, Mr. Baroncini applied for and was one of four short-listed candidates for this post, whose functions he was already performing. Other candidates included Violeta Maximova and Rebecca Doss, whose father Alan Doss, in charge of the UN's billion dollar peacekeeping mission in the Congo, wrote on April 20 to Ms. Elizondo

"Dear Ligia,

This is just to inform that I have advised UNDP in writing that I will transfer to DPKO effective 1 July 2009. I have also spoken to Martin and advised him that I cannot transfer before that date because the new DPKO contractual arrangements only come into effect on the 1 July. He informed me that the ‘deadline’ for the ALD contracts is 15 May so the period of overlap would only be 6 weeks (assuming Rebecca’s ALD would come into force on the 14th May at the latest). I have asked for some flexibility, which would allow a very long serving and faithful UNDP staff member a little lee-way before he rides off into the sunset.

Becky is very excited about the prospect of going to work for you so I hope that it will work out. With my warm regards and thanks,


Alan Doss
Special Representative of the Secretary-General United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo"

E-mail in docx text format - download

  When Inner City Press asked the UN spokesperson's office on July 27 about the and biting incident and the underlying recruitment, Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq said "it had to do with a frustrated jobseeker. The only thing I can say is the information I got from UNDP on this is that the hiring process regarding that particular vacancy at UNDP was filled in accordance with their rules." Transcript here, video here.

  But as Doss' email in the complaint shows, since it is illegal for the child of a UNDP staff member, as Doss then was, to be hired by UNDP, Doss asked for "a little lee-way" -- to ignore what he called a six week overlap. The propriety of a UN Under Secretary General making personal contact and applying pressure to waive rules and award a job to his daughter has not yet been addressed.

UN's Doss, at right, with Kouchner and Clooney: Doss is connected

  Next, Ms. Maximova and Ms. Doss were declared the top two candidates. Ms. Maximova suddenly was offered and accepted a job at the Clinton Foundation / Initiative, and Ms. Doss was given the job.

  Mr. Baroncini spoke with the Director of RBAP, Mr. Ajay Chhibber, on July 19. Initially, Mr. Chhibber took an interest in hearing out Mr. Baroncini, offering him advice. But once Ms. Elizondo realized that Mr. Baroncini might, in the course of his duties, have become aware of the improper influence in the hiring decision, Mr. Baroncini had his email access terminated and was told to no longer come in to UNDP.

  Subsequently, according to the complaint filed by Mr. Baroncini:

I voiced my complete disapproval and said that I will challenge this decision with the appropriate personnel.

I handed to Mr. Chhibber a print-out of Alan Doss’ email to Ms. Elizondo of April 20, 2009 and told him, “In case you do not know, this is the way human resources selection works in UNDP.” I repeated that I will challenge this course of events.

Within a couple of minutes a man arrived. He asked for my UN badge and requested that I leave the building. I began collecting my personal belonging. The whole process took several minutes.

Three UN Department of Safety and Security Guards approached me. Immediately, Peter Kolonias, one of the guards, ordered me to enter office 2312 of DC-1. I complied immediately.

I entered the office and sat down escorted by two UN DSS Security Guards. The door was shut. Shortly, my wife joined me (she works elsewhere in UNDP).

After waiting for some time, I asked the guards about the procedures in place and why we had been waiting for so long. In several instances I was told that Ms. Elizondo was giving a written statement and that once she had completed it would be my turn.

I began asking for access to a lawyer and my consulate. I repeated this request frequently (I would say every 15 minutes) both to the guard inside office 2312 and to other officials that entered the office.

I asked my wife to leave office 2312 and look for Mr. Chhibber and ask him to speak with me. I wanted to understand if he had any control concerning what was happening, and I wanted to share my concerns about this absurd escalation of events.

My wife left the office, but the guards outside invited her to join Ms. Elizondo and Ms. Jovita Domingo, a UNDP human resources advisor, inside Ms. Elizondo’s office. There, they questioned my wife about our private life until a UN official wearing a white uniform came in and my wife was invited to leave by Ms. Elizondo.

Once my wife left Ms. Elizondo’s office, they shut the door and had a meeting. My wife returned to office 2312.

The UN official wearing a white uniform along with the third UN DSS guard, Peter Kolonias, joined the two other UN DSS guards inside office 2312. They asked my wife to leave and shut the door.

The UN official wearing a white uniform swiftly informed me that I had two options: leave the building with them or be handcuffed.

I felt that something very wrong was happening and again I requested access to a lawyer, the Italian consulate and to give a statement.

The second or third time I repeated my requested I was assaulted.

First, Peter Kolonias put me to the floor. The two other guards followed immediately. They tried to immobilize me using every sort of technique. I was kicked repeatedly on the leg, stomach and neck. I was punched repeatedly on the neck, head and face. Twice, at close range, I was sprayed a pepper spray on the face. Immediately, and for about two hours thereafter, I was blinded and suffered tremendous pain on the face and eyes. Other than limited access to water, I was denied proper medical treatment despite my repeated requests.

Eventually I was handcuffed. UN DSS guards brought me outside office 2312 and I waited there for about 1½ hours, handcuffed, sitting in a chair in RBAP Directorate area.

At 2:35 pm, NYPD officers arrived and I was officially arrested

Eventually I was escorted outside DC1 building where an ambulance was waiting

I waited handcuffed until approximately 7:40 pm in a waiting room of Bellevue Hospital. After meeting with a Dr. Falck, I was immediately discharged.

I was brought to a police facility where NYPD took my fingerprints, and I awaited transportation to 100 Centre Street.

After routine procedures, I was jailed until 9:30 am of the following day. The jail was no more than 17-18 square meters. The number of detainees kept changing between 18 and 20 men. No restroom. Primitive sanitation. No hygiene facilities.

My case was reviewed, and I was immediately released without any bail payment. I am set to appear in Court on August 10, 2009."

   These techniques -- the pepper spraying of those who ask questions, pressing of criminal charges as retaliation -- are the type of tactics that the UN and officials like Alan Doss criticize in places like the Congo. But the UN engages in them right on First Avenue in New York. What will Ban Ki-moon, Gregory Starr and Helen Clark each do? In the case Ms. Clark, she was officially informed of all of the above on July 27, and her closest advisor Heather Simpson a full week before that. Now what? Watch this site.

  UNDP has told Inner City Press first that

"There was an unfortunate and isolated incident involving an employee of UNDP on 23rd June 2009. UN Security and the New York Police Department responded, and it is now being handled by the authorities of the host government."

  Then after a follow up request by Inner City Press to UNDP spokesperson Stephane Dujarric that UNDP "provide the requested description of the recruitment process, the name of the post and the person awarded, and whether they have any family or personal relationship with the supervisor or selector," UNDP Administrator Helen Clark's spokesperson Christina LoNigro responded that "we cannot comment further on this case at this time as the legal process is ongoing."

* * *

At UN, Man Bites Man as Contracts Cut, Snafus of Relocation, Flushing Out the Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 24, updated July 27 -- A UN security officer was bitten earlier this month, not by a dog but by a just-terminated staff member. Special Operations officer Peter Kolonias, responding to a disturbance in the UN's building on the west side of First Avenue and 44th Street, was confronted by an individual distraught by his contract's termination.*

  The UN sources who told Inner City Press about the biting, which has not been reported by the UN at its noon briefing nor in any other media, said that further adverse reactions by staff are to be expected, with the UN having eliminated the so-called permanent contract as of July 1, and now moving remaining staff members out of its headquarters to locations as far west as Madison Avenue and as far east as Long Island City.

   In the course of Inner City Press' reporting on July 24 to confirm the man bites man story, a range of staff members complained about their moves, in connection with the UN's Capital Master Plan renovation. Members of the Office of Human Resources Management, after being told there would be no more changes to the relocation plan, were recent told they will move across the East River into Queens.

   Longtime Conference Management staffers have been told they will relocate to "above the liquor store" on Second Avenue. "Whiskey for breakfast," one staffer said, questioning moving his unit four blocks away from the meeting rooms they service.

UN Security with dogs, human bites not shown

   The UN's Under Secretary General for Management Angela Kane told the Press earlier this week that the temporary General Assembly building rising on the UN's North Lawn will not have a bar, as the current building does in its second floor Delegates' Lounge. Ms. Kane spoke rosily of the contract changes that resulted in the elimination of permanent contracts -- and, the Staff Union says, in the death of the independent international civil service -- and of progress with the Capital Master Plan.

   CMP chief Michael Adlerstein, who along with Ms. Kane changed previous plans for enclosed media work space to an "open office" system in which whistleblowers could not approach the Press, is said to be angered concerned about a Dear Colleague letter circulated in the U.S. House of Representatives about this aspect of the CMP, and a Kane-led meeting to target the Press. But this reporting on events at the UN will continue -- particularly when man bites man. Watch this site.

Update of July 27 -- Three days after Inner City Press published the above, UN Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq confirmed the a biting incident took place in the DC-1 building, and stated that the biter was, according to the UN Development Program, a job seeker, and argued that the underlying recruitment process was transparent. Haq referred all other questions - including whether the individual was maced and taken to the local police precinct - to UNDP. Inner City Press has asked UNDP, which has declined in the past to answer basic questions, and any update will appear on this site.

Update of July 27, 6:35 p.m. -- Inner City Press asked UNDP in writing:

Please provide all available UNDP information on the biting incident I asked about at noon: Farhan says UNDP tells him the biter was a job SEEKER, and that the recruitment was transparent. Please name the underlying job, the job seeker, and what happened.

Six hours later, UNDP's Christina LoNigro replied:

There was an unfortunate and isolated incident involving an employee of UNDP on 23rd June 2009. UN Security and the New York Police Department responded, and it is now being handled by the authorities of the host government.

  But what of the biter's name, the specifics of the post and recruitment, and what happened at and after the 17th police precinct? 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.

* * *

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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