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UNESCO Executive Board Ends With Conflicts And Scam of Member States Like Guterres NYC

By Matthew Russell Lee & UNESCO sources

UN GATE, July 24 – Inner City Press has been reporting regularly on the messy situation of UNESCO and on the countless embezzlement schemes proliferating under the French administration of DG Audrey Azoulay.

 Since the beginning of her mandate, following a totally unanticipated election, the French DG and her team deal with the organization as if it were her private shop or her family property.

 Despite this exposure and the criticism expressed by a limited number of member states during the 209th session of the executive board that ended only a week ago, the majority of the board members remained tone-deaf to the legitimate requests of both the staff unions and few honorable member states to redress this state of affairs. The governance vacuum that was observed during this board session and the passivity of member states will let DG Azoulay to continue undisturbed with her privatization deals and Quai d’Orsay led policy. 

 During DG Azoulay's term in office, corruption is spreading around unpunished. Not only have measures not been taken to fight fraud, but even worse, those involved in the corruption schemes are getting generous UNdeserved promotions and cushy jobs, while those exposing the corruption are under constant threat of punishments like in the UN of Antonio Guterres.   Following the exposure by Inner City Press of several internal scandals, the administration of the French DG Azoulay got severely shaken. But definitely not enough.

In reality, the COVID-19 crisis accelerated the processes of Azoulay’s privatizing grasp over the organization.  Following her explicit instructions, the Assistant DG for Management, Nicholas Jeffreys and the Director for HR Kazumi Ogawa, are proudly following the filthy path of their predecessor in the murky HR business, Hong Kwon, who got sacked from UNESCO for too much of obvious misinterpretation of rules and regulations and above all for all the cases lost by the agency in Geneva’s ILO Tribunal.  Both Jeffreys and Ogawa are playing the same role of executing the instructions of the Cabinet of DG Azoulay without any respect for rules and regulations.

The two of them zealously approved the appointments of dozens of French nationals and covered-up harassment and retaliation against staff members. In the absence of any action against those practices by influential member states, they will both continue to violate the rules and the basic rights of staff without batting an eyelid in order to please their boss and keep their jobs.  Still, the criticism in public during the executive board against Kazumi Ogawa, in front of the Japanese ambassador, made her lose face and nerves. She later complained to her staff about the pressure on her to follow instructions blindly and to keep her mouth wide shut. At the executive board, Ogawa got also severely criticized on the geographical distribution policy.

As a result of this heavy criticism, she diligently approved, in the days following the board, the appointment at UNESCO of two members of the former cabinet of Azoulay at the French ministry of culture. Job well done, and in order to please even more the French administration, Kazumi Ogawa could fanatically go for substituting the UN flag at the entrance of the agency for the French flag.  As one of her direct subordinates pointed out: “…it is appalling to see how little dignity she has for a Japanese. She must have some other mixed blood”.

Actually, Kazumi Ogawa went as far as she could in perverting the human resources unit of UNESCO.  “Cases of contestation against this administration expanded, a disastrous recruitment policy was implemented and the political mess surrounding the mobility policy was masterminded by Ogawa”, added the internal source.  All the unprecedented breaches of the rules by DG Azoulay and serious misconducts of the senior team are covered up as well by the Assistant-DG for Administration Nicholas Jeffreys who enthusiastically put his head on the block in order to please his boss.

This led to the total absence of respectfulness for Jeffreys, considered as an administrative disaster; “He couldn’t manage last June even the problem with the security guards extra-time in office and their performance evaluation, but at the same time he instructed to manage the whole admin processes for the Agency”, a source said to Inner City Press. Calamity and corruption everywhere at the UN.  The staff unions are definitely appalled by the level of disrespect for rules and regulations and of any effective internal control. Still, as both staff unions have less and less power and influence on the dealings concerning the internal misconducts, limited sanctions can be expected even after the public exposure of serious cases of corruption, abuse of power and embezzlement. 

Furthermore, the UNESCO programs that DG Azoulay decides to implement are reviewed and adapted in order to align with the French priorities. The Program of the organization adopted by its general conference is ignored and all efforts are directed towards communication and public relations.

It fully confirms also what Inner City Press had been told more than a year ago by an ambassador from group one : "The French clearly have an agenda to reduce the scope and the impact of UNESCO in the future. The links between the leaver(s) and Azoulay’s both pere et fille are well known in our capitals."  The recent session of the executive board revealed this new reality – less and less countries actually do care about UNESCO’s role and position in the world. The fundamental question therefore is why member states keep paying their dues and misuse tax-payers money since they are so reluctant to take strong actions on the disclosed cases of corruption, traffic of influence and embezzlement. Obviously, the European Union rich-countries-club solidarity is playing a role so as to pledge institutional impunity to the French DG Azoulay and her top managers. Imagine for a moment their political stance if the Director General had been elected from a developing country...!

Inner City Press will have more on that.


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