At the UN, Mobility on Hold, ASGs Extended, Melkert
Spins Wolfowitz Back
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, April 18, updated April 20 -- With Ban Ki-moon, it was
all supposed to be about movement. Mobility was the word: that to reinvigorate
the UN, staff should be able to apply for jobs in other parts of the system, in
different countries, and merit would rule. Fresh blood, too, was solicited. Mr.
Ban asked over 50 senior officials to submit their resignations. As a symbol of
mobility, twelve jobs were advertised for on the UN's online Galaxy system,
including a speechwriter's post. Anyone could apply, and merit would rule.
Thus far none of the 12 mobility posts
has been filled. Mr. Ban's chief of staff told Inner City Press last week that
more applications are being sought, "for better geographical balance." A
particular D-1 post in the Secretariat, to replace Lilia Amores-Mantas (may she
rest in peace) as Executive Officer, has been re-opened for applications, while
keeping the original "date of issuance." During the initial 15 day period, two
candidates were technically qualified, were interviewed but the decision was
made to seek more applicants. The job includes... helping the chief of staff,
and that one
actions are in compliance with established operational procedures for
recruitment, transfer, placement and separation of staff, promotions as well as
mobility and career development; gender equality and staff-management relations
etc, taking into account also the discretionary power of the Secretary-General
provided to him by the General Assembly as per Resolutions 51/226, Section 2,
paragraph 5 and 57/305, paragraph VIII.... Handle administrative arrangements
for appointment of senior advisers or special envoys, and the setting up of
high-level panels, advisory groups or other temporary arrangements as requested
by the Secretary-General... Provide support in the maintenance of the
Secretary-General's official residence, on the utilization of hospitality
resources, and on any other ad hoc matters that may arise."
While the official residence remain empty
and under repair, this last part of the job is easy lifting. On "envoys," Ban Ki-moon
has yet to review or re-appoint Kofi Annan's Special Representatives to various
UN missions. The Cote d'Ivoire post, for example, is open. Insiders say it was
offered to Sashi Tharoor but he turned it down, with an eye on the private
sector, reportedly a Dubai-based company going business in India. The higher
profile Sudan post has sat empty since the blogging envoy Jan Pronk was
Most interesting about the job
announcement above is who reportedly applied for it: the acting head of the
Ethics Office, Nancy Hurtz-Soyka. Why would the head of ethics be looking to
decamp? Recently a UNDP staffer went to the office, complaining he was about to
be fired for speaking to the press. He was told that the Ethics office was too
busy, under-staffed. Now the head is jumping ship? Whither ethics at the UN? [See
April 20 update, below.]
and Ethics staff -- Nancy Hurtz-Soyka is fifth from left, and on the move?
Wednesday afternoon word began to spread
that many of the Assistant Secretaries General on tenterhooks have been given
two year extensions. Names including Controller Warren Sach and the head of
Human Resources Jan Beagle, long in the crosshairs of the Staff Union, but still
apparently hanging on. And so they say, what about mobility? What about
nobility? Neither has been implemented.
UNDP's Associate Administrator
Ad Melkert, who hired an assistant from his political party, the Dutch Labor
Party, and who is in the chain of command which strikes at whistleblowers, has
now issued more formally his version of his role in
Statement by Ad
Melkert, 17 April 2007
As the former
Chair of the Ethics Committee, I reject any direct allegation or suggestion that
the Ethics Committee was aware or should have been aware of the terms and
conditions of Ms. Riza’s contract for her secondment outside of the World Bank.
facts are relevant for clarification of different roles and responsibilities.
Committee of the Executive Board, on the basis of established procedures,
advises on ethics matters involving Board members, including the President of
the Board. It is an exclusively advisory body that cannot assume
responsibilities belonging to individual Board members or the Executive Board or
the Board of Governors as statutory organs. The responsibility to advise on
staff issues resides with management and other bodies at the Bank.
In the case
involving President Wolfowitz and his partner, the precise role of the Ethics
Committee was to advise – not instruct -- Mr. Wolfowitz, as a member of the
Board, including in his responsibilities as Executive Head of Management, on
options for terminating professional contact between himself and the staff
member concerned. Given its remit, it was never expected, nor would it have
been appropriate, for the Ethics Committee to have had any involvement in the
terms and conditions of any arrangement for the staff member.
Committee did not consider sufficient Mr. Wolfowitz’s proposal to recuse himself
from dealing with Ms. Riza. It advised him to ensure that she would not any
longer be under the scope of his authority and to consider different options for
the staff member: either a position within the Bank beyond the scope of his
authority (such as the Evaluation Group) or a secondment outside the Bank or a
separation -- in all cases with a possible arrangement that might take into
account compensation for the interruption of the staff member’s career at the
As the Ethics
Committee can not and should not deal directly with staff matters, its
responsibility was to advise the President on options, and it was then up to the
President to instruct relevant managers on how to proceed. Technical documents
provided by Bank management to the Ethics Committee had given rise to the
expectation that in pursuing any of the potential options, normal practice and
relevant staff rules would be taken as the guideline for implementation. It was
Mr. Wolfowitz’s decision not only to instruct the Vice President of Human
Resources to settle the matter, but also to direct the terms and conditions.
informed me on 12 August 2005 that he had decided that the potential conflict of
interest would be solved by having the staff member detailed outside of the
Bank. After and because this had been implemented, I informed him on 24 October
2005 that the Ethics Committee considered the matter closed. At no time did Mr.
Wolfowitz or anyone else in Bank management disclose to the Ethics Committee the
terms and conditions of the external assignment. Whether or not the terms and
conditions were reasonable, in the context of the Bank’s standing practice, was
entirely management’s responsibility.
The advice of the Ethics Committee (to consider
having the staff member redeployed beyond the authority of the President and to
take into consideration appropriate compensation for the interruption in her
career) was a good faith effort to meet some of the personal concerns (of Mr.
Wolfowitz in his personal relationship) whilst saving the Bank from a damaging
ongoing debate on the potential conflict of interest.
There are also different perceptions on the role of the Ethics Committee
relating to anonymous emails received by all Board Members in January and
February 2006. The Ethics Committee reviewed the matter as follows
In the case of Ms. Riza the Ethics Committee was not in a position to comment
on any salary increase for the same reason that led to its earlier conclusion
that it could not become involved in the original negotiation of her terms and
conditions, i.e. these were the responsibility of management.
The cases of
Ms. Cleveland, Mr. Kellems and Mr. Jackson centered on management decisions
vis-à-vis staff and therefore did not pertain to the Ethics Committee’s role.
For that reason the Ethics Committee informed Mr. Wolfowitz that they did not
appear to pose ethical issues appropriate for further consideration by the
As some some folk wisdom has it, if it
takes you 700 words to say "I didn't do it," maybe you did it... Click here for
Inner City Press' previous story on Melkert's role, none of which the above
contradicts or even contests. But it sure is long. And mobile, too. It has....
Update of April 20: Regarding the UN Ethics Office staffing and statement(s),
the following has been received from UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq:
Ethics Office, which opened its doors on 2 January 2006 has been fully staffed
and effectively implementing the policy areas under its mandate. At no time did
a UNDP staff member approach the Ethics Office with this complaint and no such
response was ever given to any staff member seeking the assistance of the Ethics
We will have more on this, some of it goes back to a question posted to UNDP on
March 25 and re-posed to the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary
General on April 14 and still not answered -- watch
Again, because a number of Inner City Press'
UN and World Bank
sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while
it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this
installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the
UN system agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone
calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep
the information flowing.
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540
UNDP, Ad Melkert's Political Hiring Rivals Wolfowitz's, World Bank Documents
Byline: Matthew Russell
Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, April 14 -- The World Bank
has released documents which show that Ad Melkert, then chairman of the World
Bank Ethics Committee and now Associate Administrator of the UN Development
Program, was, contrary to last week's claims deeply involved in the granting of
promotions and pay raises to Paul Wolfowitz' girlfriend Shaha Riza. Click
for the documents.
In last Saturday's edition of
the Financial Times, which has called for Wolfowitz' resignation,
Melkert's spokesman was
that it was "entirely up to management to determine the specific terms and
conditions of the placement" and that Melkert and the other members of the
ethics committee "were not aware of, nor did they approve, the details of the
But a July 22, 2005 document since released by the World Bank
Committee therefore decided that the best possible option to be conveyed to the
Requestor would be one in which the staff member concerned is reassigned on
external service or to a position beyond the potential supervision of the
Requestor and, at the same time, due to the potential disruption of the staff
member's concerned career, an in situ promotion should be considered.
This advice would be communicated by the Requestor to the Vice President, MNA
and the Vice President, Human Resources. The Committee believed this was an
appropriate course of action , especially since this matter could be
potentially damaging to the interests of the World Bank Group. It was agreed
that the Chairman would continue informal discussions with the Requestor with
the view to finding an appropriate solution to the matter."
Inner City Press understands that Mr.
Melkert and his spokesman, left unnamed by the FT, were last week presented with
a choice between accepting blame for the Riza raises or, in essence, throwing
Wolfowitz under the bus. Melkert not surprisingly chose the latter route,
apparently in the hopes that contrary documents would not be released, or would
emerge only after a Wolfowitz resignation. Melkert must also have hoped that no
one would consider his own unexplained human resources irregularities.
Prior to his time at the
World Bank, Ad Melkert was a
politician with the Dutch Labor Party. Having lost out to Kemal Devis to head
UNDP, Melkert took the slot as Dervis' second in command. Melkert was assigned an assistant, Georgina Fekete. This wasn't enough, so
brought into UNDP as Mr. Melkert's second assistant was Mr. Eelco Keij, who just
happens to be the New York secretary of the Dutch Labor Party. Click
for that, and
Mr. Keij's Labor Party blog.
It was raised to Inner City Press
by UNDP staff that there are ethical issues with Mr. Melkert hiring with UNDP money, and
outside of the normal, competitive channels, the New York secretary of
the political party he used to serve. In March, Inner City Press directed an e-mail
requesting an explanation to Mr. Melkert, Mr. Keij, UNDP's spokesman David
Morrison, Administrator Kemal Dervis, and others, stating that the question was
on deadline. There was no response, even after the question was reiterated to
Mr. Melkert and Mr. Keij, and request was made at a subsequent UN noon briefing
on March 26 to
put the question to Mr. Melkert in person before or after he met with UN Deputy
Secretary General Migiro.
Melkert: living in a glass house
From the March 26 UN noon briefing
Press: And the other thing is: I noticed on the Deputy Secretary-General's
meeting with Ad Melkert of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) this
afternoon... I guess I want to know the purpose of that, and whether we could
speak to either or both of them before or after, given the North Korea-UNDP
situation, and we also have a question for the UNDP about some hiring by Mr.
Melkert. So, it would be very timely if you could at least put in a request for
a brief stakeout.
Melkert declined to speak with the press that day. Two days later, Inner City
Press broke a story about UNDP senior officials being summoned to the U.S.
Attorney's Office in
UNDP's North Korea
hard currency and counterfeit scandal. Since then, including in response to
a detailed written request submitted to Melkert and others on April 12, Melkert
and his spokesman David Morrison have refused to comment not only on Melkert's
hiring of Eelco Keij of the Dutch Labor Party, and on developments in UNDP's
North Korea scandals, but also on UNDP's alleged support of controversial gold
mines in Romania and on
UNDP acceding to Gambia's president's mystification of HIV / AIDS.
Prior to this 2007 stonewalling from Melkert, he had previously tried to
position himself as a force for transparency within UNDP. In a December 15,
2006, press conference at the UN, Melkert answered Inner City Press that "I'd
like to bring our transparency in line with the UN procedure." This answer came
after UNDP had refused to provide copies or even summaries of audits of its
troubled Russian Federation office,
and after Inner City Press
that the UN Secretariat at least provides full copies to any of the 192 member
states which make a request. Mr. Melkert added, "That should be normal...
Talking about transparency, the best criteria for me is my own transparency..
I'm looking into that right now." Video
from Minute 45:46.
Inner City Press inquired into a meeting Mr. Melkert held on December 1 with the
staff of UNDP's Poverty Group, concerning steps taken to bend or break UNDP
hiring rules. Having just referred to transparency, Mr. Melkert nevertheless
began with the "hope you are not going to ask me about all the meeting that I've
had." He continued that "for this exception case, yes, this First December
meeting, I was... It was a managerial decision to merge, it's my responsibility,
everybody can and should work with that. With respect to staff rules, we have
tried to make the best out of that."
hiring of Eelco Keij of the Dutch Labor Party is another example of Melkert
"making the best" of the UNDP rules -- that is, bending or breaking them, as is
alleged of Wolfowitz at the World Bank. While on December 15 confirming much of
what Inner City Press
sources have said
about the December 1 meeting, Melkert denied that he has told staff not to speak
to the press. Now he himself avoids the press, while dissembling through a
spokesman about his role in human resources irregularities at his previous
employer. Will it work? Time will tell.
On 4th Day of N. Korea Audit, UNDP Spins From Leaked
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, March 22 -- As the delayed "urgent
audit" of the UN Development Program's operations in North Korea went into its
fourth day, UNDP spokesman David Morrison dismissed the leaked minutes of a
meeting of UN Operation Management Team in North Korea, which specifically asked
that cash payments in hard currency stop.
"We are clear on the record that we don't deal in cash," Mr. Morrison said.
Minutes of a December 8, 2005
meeting in Pyongyang involving local officials of UNDP and five other UN
agencies clearly stated that "CASH payments should be eliminated." Click
view. While in the online version of the minutes, the names of meeting
participants were whited-out, Inner City Press today in this article, below,
publishes the names of operations managers. All of these individuals, each of
whom, unlike spokesman David Morrison, has direct knowledge of UN practices in
North Korea, has yet to be interviewed by the UN Board of Auditors.
Meanwhile, for two weeks after UNDP ostensibly ordered the suspension of its
operations in North Korea, staff members seconded by the Kim Jong Il government
were still allowed access to the computer files and ATLAS financial records
needed for the audit. As acknowledged Thursday by UNDP's Morrison, four such
seconded staff still have access to UNDP's computer system. These include
ostensible drivers, who according to published reporters cash checks into hard
currency, so such access may be hard to defend. Concerns about destruction of
and tampering with evidence have been raised to the agencies and to the
auditors. The response has been retaliation.
1st of 2 press conferences in 19 months
Since UNDP sent its spokesman
David Morrison to the UN's televised noon briefing on Thursday, Inner City Press
asked that he take questions on camera. From the
Press: I noticed the Spokesman for UNDP is here and I'm assuming this is about
these memos that have surfaced showing that requests were made earlier than
previously recorded about cash payments and seconded staff. Is he going to come
to the podium?
I understand that we do have Dave Morrison here and he is willing to take
questions. I actually don't know whether he is coming to the podium but we do
have a guest first. So, maybe you can talk to him immediately after the
Press: I guess I just want to say on the UNDP thing, it will work much better
that Morrison come to the podium, whatever we're calling it, just because on
procurement, I know that you did... by Friday, they came, but they did it in the
hall and today they’re coming back. So it just seems it’s just more efficient
to just do it on the record or whatever.
Okay, well let's ask him after we finish.
Despite a second request, David Morrison
declined to speak on camera, but rather waited in the hall. At 1 p.m., Inner
City Press asked him if UNDP fires or suspends staff for providing documents to
the press. Mr. Morrison responded, "I don't know, I don't know enough about the
intricacies of UNDP's human resources policy.... I can look into it." Ten hours
later, no information had been provided.
those ten hours, UNDP management continued on what staff describe as a "witch
hunt," demanding to know who has spoken to the media, to Inner City Press, by
name. Ban Ki-moon has spoken of transparency and of rooting out corruption.
Suspending and threatening to retaliate against those who blow the whistle on
irregularities is inconsistent with this -- it is "criminal," in the words of
one UNDP staff member.
The local UN staff in North
Korea raised their concerns about cash payments and seconded staff to the UN's
Resident Coordinator Timo Pakkala in
Thursday Inner City Press asked David Morrison how and when
was conveyed further up inside UNDP. "I don't know what is our standard
procedure with minutes of country team meetings," he said. "Can we find out?"
There was no answer. Meanwhile, the practice is that minutes of country team
meetings go to Regional Directors of each UN Country Team member -- in the case
of UNDP, to Hafiz Pasha.
Inner City Press is told that the warning
was conveyed to officials including UNDP Director of Finance Darshak Shah, to
Treasurer Julie Anne Mejia and to Jan Mattsson, the head then of UNDP's Bureau
of Management and now the Executive Director of UNOPS. Thursday, Inner City
Press asked again that UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis take questions. Morrison
said that he is the spokesman, and that "Kemal Dervis, as I think is
established, meets with the press on a very regular basis."
headquarters, Dervis last took questions in December 2006, before this North
Korea scandal broke, and before that not for sixteen months. Even to the UNDP
Executive Board session about the North Korea issues, Dervis did not appear.
Sources say that Dervis will not last long on the job. But the scandal will not
The attendees of the December 8, 2005 meeting in
Pyongyang, calling for reform:
Lorraine Lamtey (WFP); Tony Shkurtaj (UNDP), Charles Lolika (UNICEF); Toe oung (WFP);
Umesh Gupta (WHO); Withers U (UNFPA).
Other, earlier Inner
City Press are listed here, and
some are available in the ProQuest service.
Copyright 2006 Inner City Press, Inc. To request
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