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In Censoring UN of Guterres DG of UNESCO Covering Up Retaliation by Top Manager

By Matthew Russell Lee & sources, Exclusive

UN GATE, Sept 8 – Inner City Press, banned from the UN 1264 days by UNSG Antonio Guterres, has exclusively reported on the appalling situation at UNESCO when it comes to the DG's application of anti-harassment rules in the case of the proven serious misconduct of the former Tunisian Assistant Director general for communication and information, Moez Chakchouk (see here and here).

   The confidential IOS report 2019/35/INV/10, detailing Moez Chakchouk's misdeeds was submitted to UNESCO DG Audrey Azoulay for appropriate sanctions. However, in order to cover up this affair with one of her senior team members at that time, DG Azoulay preferred to turn a blind eye to the seriousness of the misconduct proven by the investigation and took the decision to impose on Moez Chakchouk the lightest possible disciplinary measure a "written censure".  The total protection given to Chakchouk, because of Azoulay’s family ties to Tunisia, has been severely undermined by this IOS investigation report. It discomposed Azoulay’s plans to have a spotless senior team with which to fly over towards her reelection later this year.  

Moez Chakchouk had to leave and since then, he has effectively left the Agency. His case, however, is a perfect example of UNESCO's fraud under the French DG Azoulay when it comes to dealing with cases of moral harassment and retaliation by senior officials.  On September 3, UNESCO’s administration of issued the usual ‘Information Circular on the Disciplinary measures taken by the Director-General in 2020,' now on Inner City Press' DocumentCloud here.

What does this circular tell us? First, that “UNESCO’s zero tolerance for fraud, corruption and all forms of harassment is reflected in its commitment to prevent, identify and address breaches of the standards of conduct by its staff and other personnel”.  Second, that “this information is provided in order to recall that staff and other personnel must act with integrity at all times, and are fully responsible for complying with all regulations, rules and policies”.  Third, and by far the most important, this circular tells us that some senior staff members at UNESCO are less responsible and accountable than others. And that for some of them, the rules applied and for others, they simply did not.

This is established by the case of Moez Chakchouk which is presented on page 4 of the circular: “D. Moral harassment A staff member was found responsible for moral harassment and acts of retaliation with mitigating circumstances. Sanction: Written censure paired with a mandatory training”.  All cases of harassment had led to the normal and usually imposed sanction of ‘summary dismissal’. But not for the transgressions of Moez Chakchouk, the good friend of DG Azoulay. There was, however, a risk, well identified by Azoulay and his team, that staff would wonder why Chakchouk's case had resulted in such a light sanction, compared to the other cases in the circular where people had been severely sanctioned for identical faults.  In an effort to hide from staff but also from member states the extent of the bias that guides their DG in her decisions, and this is by far the best part of the story of DG Azoulay's deception and trickery, her HR Director Kazumi Ogawa, in consultation with LA Director Santiago Villalpando, and new IOS Director Bernardin Assiene, found the innovative solution of adding at the end of the description of the Moez Chakchouk case in the circular, the three words out of nowhere ‘with mitigating circumstances’. 

All of this could have worked out without the information revealed by Inner City Press in this article. The administration will now have to consider answering questions such as: What mitigating circumstances could be characterized in this proven case of harassment and retaliation? Why does the IOS report not contain a single word about these circumstances? Why didn't the HR and IOS Directors mention at that time - during and after the investigation - any "mitigating circumstances"?  An honest answer would be to say that the administration had to urgently find a way out of this mess created by the DG herself by refusing to impose the standard heavy sanction on Moez Chakchouk. So, the three therefore invented the ‘mitigating circumstances’ to protect the tarnished reputation of DG Azoulay.  This is how, in just a few years, UNESCO has shifted from its traditional priority of protecting historical monuments to the one of protecting the hysterical monument DG Azoulay.  The next session of UNESCO's Executive Board begins in a month. This is the right place to ask the right questions.

Even if Chakchouk had left the UN Agency, as in previous cases of serious misconduct, member states can still request to access the IOS report and submit it to the Executive board for consideration and accountability check of DG Azoulay’s role and decision to cover up everything. They could also ask why DG Azoulay applies sanctions measures ‘a la carte’? Why was she so protective of the Tunisian ADG? Because of the full support of the ambassador of Tunisia Ghazi Gherairi to her weak administration? Because of family businesses? Is UNESCO totally a private store now?

 DG Azoulay being herself an expert in empty statements and general incompetence, she feels rather comfortable appointing weak senior managers, demonstrating straightforwardly since the beginning of her mandate that cronyism is the only standard of recruitment at UNESCO.    Indeed, since 2018, DG Azoulay has set aside the HR manual and exempted most of the recruitments from HR rules. These include the one of ADG for culture (Ernesto Ottone Ramirez), of the DDG appointed directly by China with no recruitment per the rules (the semitransparent Xing Qu, who still seems to be wondering what he did wrong in his life to get himself into this mess), as well as of more than two dozen French nationals who got cushy positions in the Paris based UN Agency as the “best” ever candidates.  

Covered and orchestrated by Director HR Ogawa, the appointment of so many of Azoulay's French compatriots is of course an embarrassment and a disgrace to all but only the member states can put a stop to it.   This is UNESCO today - a UN agency propitious to the flourishing of anti-democratic governance, corruption, anti-constitutional political moves, sexual performances-based promotions, abuse of power and nepotism. We will have more on that.


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