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UNV Job of Choi Young-kin's Nephew in Ivory Coast Was Falsely Denied or Evaded, Ban Questions Still Pending

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 21 -- At what point does a misleading answer become a lie? On the topic of nepotism in the UN, a whistleblower back from Ivory Coast told Inner City Press of the employment in that country by the UN system of the nephew of Mr. Choi Young-jin, the Special Representative of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

  Inner City Press approached Mr. Ban's deputy chief of staff but was told he'd never heard of it. By email in late 2009, Inner City Press told Mr. Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky that

"I asked Mr. Nambiar's deputy about something I'm told, that the nephew of the SRSG to Cote d'Ivoire has been employed in Cote d'Ivoire by UN Volunteers. I had sought Mr. Choi's email address to ask him directly, but it unlike other SRSGs it is not available. Therefore I am asking your Office about Mr. Choi's relatives, specifically including but not limited to his nephew: 1) are they or have they been in Cote d'Ivoire? 2) if so, in some UN system (including UN Volunteers) capacity? Which capacity, what dates and one what basis? "

  The response from Mr. Nesirky's office was, "Regarding SRSG Choi Yong-jin, please contact Hamadoun Toure in UNOCI, or Kenneth Blackman." While this seemed strange, Inner City Press sent the request to the UNOCI mission in Cote d'Ivoire, sending a copy to Mr. Nesirky.

  Twelve days later, UNOCI's spokesman Hamadoun Toure replied that "To the best of my knowledge, SRSG Choi is the only international civilian staff from Korea in the mission." Of course, this evades the question -- intentionally, as it turns out.

Inner City Press immediate wrote back to UNOCI and Mr. Nesirky, that the "source states that SRSG Choi's relative was with UN Volunteers in Cote d'Ivoire, not UNOCI. And the question was and is not limited, unlike your answer, to the present tense," and reiterating the question. This was not responded to.

  Rather, when Mr. Choi went to the Security Council stakeout on January 21, Inner City Press after asking about controversies further delaying the long promised Ivorian elections asked Mr. Choi, with all due respect, if his nephew worked for UN Volunteers in Cote d'Ivoire.

Yes, Mr. Choi answered, "my spokesman told me one month ago [so] I looked into... I have an American nephew" -- a graduate of Harvard, he emphasized -- who had left a well paying investment banking job to apply to work in Cote d'Ivoire through UN Volunteers, from "early 2008 to December 2008." Video here, from Minute 11:14.

  Since Inner City Press' question, to Mr. Nesirky and then ONOCI specifically mentioned UN Volunteers, this makes the answer given false, seemingly intentionally so. Clearly, the evasive answer sent to Inner City Press, that "SRSG Choi is the only international civilian staff from Korea in the mission" was designed to not disclose what Mr. Choi had been asked about, and had "looked into."

UN's Ban and Choi Young-jin, UN disclosure of relative hiring issues not shown

  Inner City Press asked Mr. Choi, again with all due respect, if he believed his nephew working for the UN system in the country where he is the top UN official complied with UN rules.

Yes, Mr. Choi responded, because UN Volunteers has a different recruitment and decision making structure.

Less than an hour later, Inner City Press asked Mr. Nesirky how this arrangement complied with UN rules. Nesirky gave the same answer, the UN Peacekeeping Missions have no say over UN Volunteers.

But as Inner City Press has been told by UN Peacekeeping sources, with the UN spokespeople being unwilling to confirm, Alan Doss, now the SRSG in the Congo (embroiled in his own nepotism scandal having told UNDP to "show leeway" by giving a job to his daughter) but then the SRSG in Liberia, brought in close family members as part of UN Volunteers.

  Inner City Press began to ask Nesirky about this, but was cut off.

  Nepotism questions have been raised, always with respect, to and about Ban Ki-moon himself, specifically the hiring of his son in law Siddarth Chatterjee, first by Stafan de Mistura in Iraq -- who's now in line to become Ban's envoy to Afghanistan -- then by Jan Mattsson at UNOPS in Copenhagen. Since 2009, Inner City Press has had pending with Mr. Nesirky a simple question:

"This is a request for a response to the circulated report that 'Ban Ki-moon's Son-in-Law, Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee... was a P4 employee with the United Nations. If Ban Ki Moon would not be his father-in-law, it would have taken him 12.5 years to reach to the level he is today.' Also, relatedly, please state from where the S-G's son in law Mr. Chatterjee got his degree(s), and the status of his case(s) with [name redacted for now]."

  Nesirky has repeatedly refused to answer this question. Now that the response to which he referred Inner City Press about Mr. Choi turned out to be false, seemingly intentionally so, isn't it time to come clean? Watch this site.

UN's Afghan Selection Colored by Nepotism and No-Show Jobs, Karzai Veto Threats

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 1 -- With the short list for the UN's top post in Afghanistan reportedly narrowed down to three, UN sources confirm to Inner City Press that the push is on to get approval for Staffan de Mistura, currently in a virtually no-show job with the World Food Program.

  What many in the UN but few outside it talk about is di Mistura's previous choice of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's son in law Siddarth Chatterjee as his deputy in Iraq, and the role they think this plays in de Mistura's frontrunner status.

  While Mr. Ban has shown discomfort and anger about any questions concerning the fast promotions his son in law has received since he became Secretary General, few explanations have been given.

  That UN officials like de Mistura and now Jan Mattsson of the UN Office of Project Services, where Chatterjee has been given a D-1 position that is quietly being upgraded to D-2, ingratiate themselves with UN Headquarters by promoting the Secretary General's son in law has also not been addressed.

  Inner City Press, which covered both of these Chatterjee promotions, the latter exclusively, was chided by Mr. Ban's previous Spokesperson Michele Montas to stop asking about Chatterjee in the UN's noon briefings, but rather to get answers from Ban's senior advisor Kim Won-soo.

   This meeting was quickly changed to be "off the record," and then canceled. South Korea's Deputy Permanent Representative then took Inner City Press to lunch and provided a detailed defense of the promotions and of Mr. Ban. (Later, he claimed the lunch was only about September's UN General Debate.)

   Chatterjee himself took to calling and making legal threats to journalists who had picked up on Inner City Press' reports on his promotions, and getting them removed from the Internet, at least from web sites hosted in his native India.

  It is not clear if Chatterjee made these calls during time he was being paid by UNOPS. It is clear, however, that UNOPS devoted staff time to media strategies to defend Chatterjee's promotions and Chatterjee himself, work it hard to imagine being done if he was not the UN Secretary General's son in law.

  In the week between Christmas and New Year, Inner City Press submitted to Mr. Ban's new Spokesman Martin Nesirky questions about Siddarth Chatterjee, including about his promotions, qualifications and fitness.

  While on the afternoon of Christmas Eve Mr. Nesirky's office provided at least cursory answers to other questions asked, including referring questions about possible nepotism by a Ban appointee to another spokesperson, the questions about Ban's son in law not only were not answered, they were not mentioned. But they will not go away. The responses are being sought only in fairness, explicitly on deadline. Watch this site.

UN's Ban and de Mistura, son in law answers and Karzai veto not shown

   The other two named candidates are Jean Marie Guehenno, strangely with the backing of the New York Times, and Ian Martin, currently in an ill-defined role with the UN Department of Political Affairs. What the Times did not mention about Mr. Guehenno, in fairness, is that after he was replaced by fellow Frenchman Alain Le Roy, he was given a no show UN Under Secretary General position for "Regional Cooperation."

  While that post should have involved liaising between the UN and NATO, for example, or ECOWAS or even the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, months into the job Guehenno candidly admitted to Inner City Press that he had done no work at all. He was shut in writing a book. How its publication, or the timing of its publication, may be related to the current campaigning for the Kabul post is not clear.

  Following his candor, Guehenno clammed up. At a recent forum about illegal mining in the Congo, at which questions about the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Congo's involvement with rogue Army units who mine and massacres, Guehenno explicitly refused to answer any questions from Inner City Press. While in the midst of his campaign for Kabul he perhaps felt he had nothing to gain, ham handed rebuffing of the press would not make Guehenno that different front Kai Eide, outgoing in only one of the word's two senses.

  Ironically, Guehenno is also mentioned by human rights groups as a candidate to take over from Alan Doss at the UN Mission in the Congo. Doss is himself embroiled in a nepotism scandal since Inner City Press received and published his e-mail telling the UN Development Program to bend and break UN rules and give a job to his daugther.

  Mr. Ban five months ago promised an investigation, but some attribute the delay to Ban's own resistance to nepotism questions. Doss may be allowed to serve out his contract then Guehenno, if still available, be given the Congo job.

  Ian Martin appeared to go a good job in Nepal, although it appears now to be unraveling. When Inner City Press asked him in a UN hallway about Kabul, Martin laughed. Later he clarified he was not laughing with Inner City Press, only laughing. And laughter may be one of the many things there is not enough of in Kabul.

Footnote: Inner City Press is also told that the U.S., not wanting to be upstaged in Afghanistan, has joined Ban in pushing President Hamid Karzai to accept de Mistura. But Karzai, who previously vetoed the proposal to make Paddy Ashdown a "Super Envoy" to Afghanistan, is near to issuing a similar veto of di Mistura. 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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