At UNESCO Previous Promises To Stay On The Public Dime Collapse Amid Dollar a Year Echo

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At UNESCO Previous Promises To Stay On The Public Dime Collapse Amid Dollar a Year Echo

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive series; Video

UNITED NATIONS, July 2 - At UNESCO, the chickens are coming home to roost. Following the recent reporting by Inner City Press, Director General Azoulay's previous promise to her Deputy Getachew Engida that he could stay on two more years has come to naught. UNESCO sources tell Inner City Press of Getachew Engida's involvement in and covering up of several cases of conflict of interest, including when in his capacity as chief comptroller of the Organization, Engida validated payments to the partner of the Assistant Director General for Education at that time. She was heading a consultant firm hired by the ADG with no bidding exercise. First the ADG left, now the DDG who covered up.

   Now set to leave UNESCO in August, the sources say, is Director of the Legal Affairs Seagal, followed by the Ethics Adviser Rebeca Trott who will be remembered by staff her ruthlessness against the victims of harassment and persecution.

    Azoulay is trying to save her haltingly started mandate. A Francophone source says, ipsi dixit, “Azoulay is actually clueless about what to do and this is becoming a problem for France and its credibility as the host country.” In a ham-handed crackdown some analogize to those of France's longtime partners on the Continent, Azoualy is assisted by her Director Human Resources Hong Kwon, whose one and only priority is not to ensure the respect for human resources rules and laws, but to  please her and her senior team so as to have a chance to keep his job after the departure next year of his current protector the Ambassador of Korea, and Chair of the Executive Board of UNESCO.  We will have more on that - and on this: the former UNESCO director, now staying on ostensibly for a dollar a year, is said by some to be int he running to replace Prince Zeid at OHCHR. Inner City Press last week asked the head of UN Women if she is running she said, on Periscope, No - I have a job. Previously, June at UNESCO again demonstrated the institutional and intellectual weakness of the current administration, sources tell Inner City Press. The supposed reform document prepared by Director General Azoulay and her team drew opposition both at UNESCO headquarters in Paris and in Kenya where the National Commissions for UNESCO had a consultative meeting. Inner City Press already wrote about the reform proposed by Azoulay, and sources at UNESCO say many member states there share this view with the notable exception of her France, Italy which got the ADG position of the biggest sector of UNESCO dealing with education, and Brazil -- the sources say that a relative of the Ambassador is about to get a high position at UNESCO. Others including from the EU questioned the “reform,” and it seemed, Azoulay's lack of interest in UNESCO. They noted that she did not even bother to come to the meeting room and herself present the proposal for reform - the most important goal of her mandate - to the representatives of the Governments paying her salary. The newly appointed DDG from China, after the ousting of the former one, the Ethiopian Getachew Engida following the recent Press publications, seemed flabbergasted  by the debate, leaving the thankless task of support to the Director of the Africa Department.

Now some Ambassadors are asking not whether but when will Azoulay step down so that she ends what seems to be an unpleasant job for her but also to stop bringing shame to the host country. UNESCO insiders are wondering why is she paying so little attention to UNESCO and is rather concentrating on French politics agenda and events. 
They say the budget of 20 million dollars requested by Azoulay for a reform that according to the proposed outline document is to be done by the staff of UNESCO and some external experts is extremely high. Even by the UN standards this is far too expensive for consultants and rather makes it up to the "salaries of Silicon Valley CEOs" as underscored by one Ambassador from Latin America.

  At the end of the meeting member states also asked about the list of all beneficiaries of the “one dollar contract” scheme that was exposed by the Press. The representatives of the Director General ignored this request and refused to provide it. This is today's UN - as the UNESCO and UNHQ sources confirm, a fish rots from the head.

Like this: in the UN system of Antonio Guterres on sexual harassment, despite the rhetoric of “zero tolerance” the pattern is to cover up as long as possible. It happened with Luiz Loures at UNAIDS under Michel Sidibe. It is happening now with Tero Varjoranta, the suddenly “retired” leader of the Iran Deal team at the International Atomic Energy Agency under Yukio Amano, Inner City Press exclusive series here.

   At UNESCO the ousting of Assistant Director General Frank La Rue for severe misconduct and sexual harassment was the exception confirming the rule. Instead of maintaining the hope for justice and fair dealing, the current ruling of UNESCO is rather confirming the opposite and this clearly is a bad news for UNESCO and its staff. For example, a week ago on May 23, 2018 one of the two staff associations ISAU announced the suspension of “all relationship with the Bureau of Human resources” led by Hong Kwon, the good friend of Ban Ki-moon who was promoted almost every year thanks to him [Inner City Press was first to expose this, here and then here - and was evicted, still restricted in UN.]

    The text of the communiqué of the Staff association reads as follows: “Dear Colleagues, in view of the difficulties of communication and the inability of the Bureau of Human resources to solve the various problems that have persisted form months, ISAU has no choice but to suspend all relations with HRM”! This says it all about the quality of dealing with staff issues at UNESCO, while the #MeToo is shaking again UNESCO at the highest level. the Director General (DG) Azoulay  spoke in her opening speech at the last Executive Board about her "zero tolerance" about sexual harassment. Similar to Antonio Guterres. But with the same difficulty to put acts in line with words.

In the case of La Rue, we wrote already about the retaliations and pressures on the victim . We also promised to have more on that – and here we go:
According to the internal sources, the Organization is powerless to undertake any investigative action until the departure of current corrupted Deputy DG Getachew Engida from his position. Despite all efforts for months he blocked all possibilities to investigate the Ethics Adviser Rebecca Trott and the CI senior officials perpetrating relentlessly acts of retaliation against the victim, including the CI Chief Executive office appointed by La Rue a year ago and a CI Director, another close friend of La Rue for many years.

The deeds of retaliation against the victim by the friends of La Rue still in office are put on record but with no effect. The Chief of the CI Executive office appointed by La Rue is still left in place and has a direct link of supervision with the victim. Appointed by La Rue, affected directly professionally and humanly by the ousting of La Rue he now has the professional fate of the victim in his hands. And the DG is fully tolerating it by not taking any measures despite the facts put on record and brought to the attention of her Cabinet - "zero tolerance" indeed. Thus, the pressure and retaliation against the victim of La Rue are not only encouraged, but continuously strengthened, heightened and intensified. Even member states are getting concerned about it. An Ambassador asked why this is yet to be dealt with properly instead of being immediately stopped in a public meeting of member states with the DG Azoulay but got no answer. No one can understand  why this is still tolerated by a woman Director-General.

The victim after suffering great moral damage, sees all her efforts to bring the case to an end is a just and fair manner annihilated by the omerta and vendetta surrounding the concerned officials, who remain fully protected - while nobody was protecting the victim. We will have more on that after the ousting of Engida from the DDG position in few days only.

The La Rue case is unfortunately not the only one at UNESCO. At least two more Assistant DGs had issues of the same kind but because of their close relationship with the current DG of UNESCO Audray Azoulay, their deeds were covered by all concerned sevices including the Medical Service.

Still, the Director General Azoulay issued last March a circular Note to all Staff members affirming her commitment to fight against sexual and other harassment in the most decisive way. She went beyond the possibility for punishing the direct perpetrators by  stating that disciplinary measures will even be “imposed in the light of the results of the investigations into an official who deliberately tolerated such acts after becoming aware of them.”  So why, if so, not taking into account the case brought to the services who did everything possible to discourage another victim of sexual harassment working in the Africa Department so as to not to fill in a file with an official complaint against the supervisor? Because the concerned Assistant Director General is a close friend of Azoulay and is fully protected by her.

   There is a second case involving the “Club echangiste” in Paris...

In other UNESCO news, failures directly on its purported mandate: beyond the censorship exhibited on World Press Freedom Day in UN Headquarters, from the Alliance of Civilizations to the continuing lack of content neutral media access rules by the UN Department of Public Information's Alison Smale and extension of restrictions on the Press, UNESCO's Director Audrey Azoulay didn't even both to go to the launch of the Day, in Ghana. Instead, she left that responsibility to her Deputy the Ethiopian Engida, his country of origin being a better paragon for free press.

Several Nordic states' Ambassadors questioned Azoulay's decision not to attend the celebrations this year. Some linked it to what they say is the desire of Azoulay to conciliate with the Egyptian government as per Macron’s instructions, after UNESCO's award to Shawkan and with Egypt still digesting both the lost elections for UNESCO Directorate General last November and the subsequent decision of Azoulay to push aside the Egyptian candidates for senior management positions in UNESCO. Others say it was simply contempt. The Director of the Division for Freedom of Expression at UNESCO Guy Berger himself is an example of intellectual self-censorship and unashamed deceitfulness as exposed by Inner City Press during the press conference by Berger at the UN. His direct former boss and good mate Frank LaRue got ousted early this year for sexually harassing a UNESCO staff member. Still, Berger managed to keep his job despite all his woeful efforts to protect La Rue to the hilt by mobilizing member states and demoralizing the investigation process behind the scene. We will have more on this.


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