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With Congo Elections Approaching, UN Issues Hasty Self-Exoneration as Annan Is Distracted

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the UN

   UNITED NATIONS, July 28 (updated 7/30, below) -- Two days before the elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN hastily issued a six-paragraph statement that allegations of abuse and negligence by UN asserting that allegations of abuse and complicity by its mission in the DRC "have been thoroughly investigated and found untrue."

   Hours before this exoneration was given to reporters, the day's New York Times appeared with an op-ed by the television journalist who had filmed the underlying events and their aftermath in Kazana village in April. He wrote that "United Nations investigators never asked to see the many hours of footage we took."

            While the UN's Kofi Annan attended a Security Council briefing on Lebanon, his spokeswoman Marie Okabe was asked by Inner City Press about the op-ed. Video here. On June 19 and July 18, Inner City Press had also asked about the UN's investigation of events at Kazana, and on July 26 Inner City Press asked the UN's head of peacekeeping in Africa Dmitry Titov about the status of the investigation.  Mr. Titov called the investigation "ongoing," and added that "we are interested... to come out of this as clean as we can."

            Less than 48 hours after Mr. Titov's statement about the ongoing investigation, the investigation was ostensibly concluded, and all allegations deemed "untrue."

Mr. Annan in DCR, March 23, 2006

 The UN's one-page statement, provided to Inner City Press full of typographical errors andnot even on letterhead, states that "fighting against militiamen is not an easy task, as demonstrated by the recent death of a Nepalese Blue Helmet in a 28 in operation" [sic; full MONUC statement is below].

            The referenced UN peacekeeper from Nepal was killed on May 28, when East Congo militiaman Peter Karim took hostage seven other UN peacekeepers. Earlier this month after negotiations involving Peter Karim and the UN, the peacekeepers were released and Mr. Karim was offered the post of colonel in the Congolese Army. After initial waffling by the UN spokesman's office, Dmitry Titov on July 26 acknowledged that the offer of "a post" to Peter Karim was "as a result of the deal" to release the UN peacekeepers.

            Kofi Annan took questions from the press on Friday afternoon. Inner City Press asked about the hastily-issued exoneration of the Kazana allegations, without the UN having asked to see the underlying video, and about Peter Karim being offered a colonel's post in the Congolese army. Video here, at Minutes 16:45 through 18:18)

         "With these two as the backdrop, is the UN system so committed to the elections that it is issuing half-dash exonerations" and "why would Peter Karim, who you said would face personal accountability, be allowed into the Congolese army?"

         Mr. Annan answered, "I do not have details on the issues you've raised... I was not aware that Karim had been abducted, recruited into the Lebanese, Congolese army."

         "But Mr. Titov--"

         "Titov. But I am not aware of it. I will have to follow up."          

            But on Monday Mr. Annan was provided, in hand, a Reuters article describing the offer of a colonel position to Peter Karim. Inner City Press waited more than an hour outside a meeting between Mr. Annan and the chief executives of large pharmaceutical companies, endeavoring to ask Mr. Annan about Peter Karim. When Mr. Annan emerged, he said his mind was too full with the pharmaceutical and other issues, but he took the Reuters article, in the margin of which was written, "Personal accountability? May 30, 2006. Or impunity?"

            The May 30 reference was to Mr. Annan's answer, at another stakeout interview, to Inner City Press' question about the then just-kidnapped peacekeepers. Mr. Annan said

"we have been in touch with Karim's group Ė we think that is the group holding them, and demanding their release. And hopefully, we will get them released. But Karim and others who get involved in these sort of activities, must understand that they will be held accountable... They will be held individually accountable for these brutal acts."

            On the afternoon of July 28, two months later, Mr. Annan said: "I will have to follow up." We'll see.

Update of July 30: During the afternoon of Friday, July 28 in New York, Kofi Annan answered Inner City Press' stakeout question -

"I do not have details on the issues you've raised... I was not aware that Karim had been abducted, recruited into the Lebanese, Congolese army."

   Further cursory web research shows that earlier on July 28, Kofi Annan's Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General in the DRC Haile Menkerios said, in an interview on the UN's Monuc.org, that " the agreement with Peter Karimís group and the MRC is very positive not only for the elections, but for the future extension of state authority." Click here for the interview, at http://www.monuc.org/News.aspx?newsID=11944, click here for SRSG William Lacy Swing's letter to the IHT, which among other things doesn't specify just when this investigation was completed; Developing...

Resources:

UN MONUC statement as distributed July 28, 2006

"There are media reports alleging that a number of civilian casualties may have resulted from a military operation by the Congolese armed Forces (FARDC) with the support of MONUC troops on 22 April 2006, in the village of Kazana, Ituri District, in North East DRC. These allegations have been thoroughly investigated and found untrue.

KAZANA OPERATION

"On 22 April 2006, a joint MONUC (1 Pakistani company, 1 company South African) FARDC (3 companies) operation was launched against militia positions in Kazana. After being fired upon by hostile elements, MONUC and FARDC forces engaged the militia positions with mortar fire from 0600 to 1000hrs. At 1200hrs, MONUC and FARDC troops entered the village which was condoned and searched. During the operation which lasted was over [sic] at 1600hrs, 1 FARDC soldier was killed in action, 3 others were wounded, and 4 dead bodies were recovered.

OPERATION ITURI EXPLORER

"On May 20 the operation ITURI EXPLORER was launched in Tchei, 65 kilometers south west of Bunia, to clear it of the presence of militiamen. Approximately 1000 MONUC soldiers as well as 3000 FARDC were involved in this operation.

"Ex-FPRI militia armed groups had stepped up their activities and presence in the territory of Irumu since the beginning of the year. MONUC, in support of the FARDC, conducted operations in order to re-establish the authority of the state in this territory. These actions culminated with operation ITURI EXPLORER which removed the militia from Tchei. Isolated groups of militiamen, who managed to escape, were on rampage, killing and robbing civilians in the vicinity of Komanda and Marabo, North of Tchei. Operations were conducted to make the area more secure.

"MONUC forces do not open fire indiscriminately and investigations are conducted in case of alleged infringement of their rules of engagement. Fighting against militiamen is not an easy task, as demonstrated by the recent death of a Nepalese Blue Helmet in a 28 in operation [sic]. Armed men in civilian attire often take position in villages, don't hesitate to hide among the population and use it often as human shield. Moreover, women and children have, oftentimes, been among combatants engaging MONUC and FARDC troops.

"In spite of challenges and often facing greater number of hostile elements, MONUC forces try to put an end to the impunity of the armed groups they are battling and help re-establish the authority of the state in Ituri, in order to allow the coming elections to take place. Collaborating with the FARDC is a necessity, as it is the Congolese national army which has the primary responsibility for the security of the country and its people. Any FARDC wrongdoings are brought to the attention of their command."

* * *

June 19, 2006 briefing Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary General

 ...Question:  Over the weekend, on British television Channel 4, there was a documentary, or kind of exposť, about MONUC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) having provided support to Government troops in razing a town called Kazana -- torching of huts and deaths of civilians -- so it seems like a pretty serious charge.  Itís also in the Observer newspaper of the Guardian.  I donít know if the UN has checked into thisÖ if there is a response from the UN?

Associate Spokesman:  In fact, we are checking into this.  I donít have anything for you on it now, but the Department of Peacekeeping Operations did inform me today that they are looking into this, and so we will examine what these charges are and whatís behind them.

Question:  Can we expect some kind of update in this room?  How will this be handled?

Associate Spokesman:  Weíll provide you an update when we have some more information.

* * *

July 18, 2006 briefing Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary General

Associate Spokesman:  Matthew.

Question:  Two questions about the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Itís reported that Peter Karim, who kidnapped seven UN peacekeepers that were since released, has now been made a Colonel in the Congolese army.  So, I guess my question is: was the UN deal to get the peacekeepers released -- did it envision Mr. Karim being incorporated into the Congolese army?

Associate Spokesman:  Release of the Nepalese peacekeepers was unconditional.  We did not try to have any conditions attached to their release.  No ransom was paid and no other arrangements were made.

Question:  Was the UN aware that this would be the end-game of that?

Associate Spokesman:  Well, this is something that has happened afterwards.  And this is, frankly, news.

Question:  The reason I am asking, and I am asking you, I guess, to respond to this: given what Mr. Karim did, and other reports about it, it seems like a setup for further abuse of civilians.  Whatís the UNís position on the individual who kidnapped UN peacekeepers being made part of the Congolese army?  Thatís my question.

Associate Spokesman:  I have no specific guidance on this, and, you know, it is not my place to comment on decisions that are made by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  But, at the same time, the basic point is, as a principle, we donít believe that people who kidnap out personnel or any others are to be rewarded for their actions.

Question:  Four weeks ago, MONUC said it was going to investigate a documentary on English television about the burning down of the town of Kazana with UN troops standing by -- is there any update on that?

Associate Spokesman:  The latest is simply that our investigation into that is continuing.  When we have something more, we will share it with you.

  [Note that the MONUC self-exoneration was not read out as part of Kofi Annan's spokeswoman initial presentation on July 28, but was only raised once inquiry was made into that morning's NYT op-ed].

Feedback: editorial [at] innercitypress.com

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Spinning the Congo, UN Admits Hostage Deal with Warlord That Put Him in Congolese Army

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, July 26 -- Four days before the first elections in Congo in forty years, the head of the UN Peacekeeping's Africa Division Dmitry Titov acknowledged that as part of the deal with East Congo warlord Peter Karim that led to the release of seven kidnapped UN peacekeepers, "Karim agreed to avail himself of the amnesty" and "was promised... to have some rank."

            Less than two weeks after releasing the last five of the UN peacekeepers he had held hostage for more than a month, it was announced that Peter Karim would become a colonel in the Congolese army.

UN as colonelizer?

    On May 30, Inner City Press asked Kofi Annan about the peacekeepers, and the Secretary General answered that "Karim and others who get involved in these sort of activities, must understand that they will be held accountable...They will be held individually accountable for these brutal acts." See, video at Minutes 13:40 - 15:25, and the transcript.

  Wednesday Mr. Titov implied that Karim may later be indicted, by the International Criminal Court or the "national criminal system." Mr. Titov said, "We are not in a prosecuting business" but "justice should take its course, eventually." This same approach to time is being taken with the UN's investigation of televised allegations that its peacekeeping force stood by while the Congolese army destroyed the village of Kazana. Asked by Inner City Press when the investigation's results will be released, Mr. Titov was non-committal. Asked if the intent was to wait until after the election, Mr. Titov said no.

            Mr. Titov characterized the protesters outside the UN as lacking in credibility, in light of their "U.S. out of Congo" call. "The U.S. is not there," Mr. Titov said. The protesters point at Kofi Annan's American envoy William Lacy Swing, and at the involvement in resource extraction in the Congo of U.S.-based Dodge Phelps, along with South Africa's AngloGold Ashanti and Australia's BHP Billiton, among others.

            In a wide ranging briefing on the UN's 37th floor, Mr. Titov recounted one version of the run-up to the July 30 elections, on which he said the UN has spent almost half a billion dollars. There were thirty-three presidential candidates, approximately half of whom, those Mr. Titov characterized as minor candidates, have since dropped out. Until asked by reporters, Mr. Titov did not mention the abstention from the election by major UDPS opposition figure Etienne Tshisekedi, nor the calls earlier this week in churches throughout Congo for a boycott of Sunday's vote.

            Asked by Inner City Press about the threat to withdraw of Anatole Matusila, the church-favored candidate, Mr. Titov pointed out that the bishop of Bukavu is supporting Sunday's election. Mr. Titov characterized those who are calling for a postponement of the vote as spoilers and nay-sayers. If the vote is not held on time, said Mr. Titov, we will have suffered a major failure.

            From the UN system's statements, including those from the World Bank and UN Development Program as well as Kofi Annan's envoy William Lacy Swing, some observers diagnose a strain of wishful thinking. More specifically, the UN became some time ago so invested in this election being held on July 30 that now any calls for delay are viewed and portrayed with disdain, including those based on the killing and imprisonment of journalists for such crime as "insulting the head of state."

            Asked by Inner City Press about the unsolved murder of reporter Bapuwa Mwamba, the expulsion of Radio France International's Ghislaine Dupont and the arrest, for insulting President Kabila, of editor Patrice Booto, Mr. Titov said that these are of concern, but that the "scale" was not such that it merited any call for delay of the election.

            Mr. Titov's peacekeeping colleague Kathryn Jones spoke of the UN's concern at reports of demonstrators tear-gassed and beaten by Congolese authorities, but said that the media doesn't report the more positive stories.  For different reasons, the Pentagon and State Department in Washington also wish to downplay the diminished but continuing lawlessness in the DCR. That U.S. government agencies are 100% committed to certain outcomes and time frames, and to spin in their furtherance, is understandable. Such non-objective focus is less appropriate at the UN, and sometimes seems contrary to the genuine commitment of UN staff like Ms. Jones to those Congolese still victims of the often-downplayed lawlessness. A theme continued on this site.

Kofi Annan Questioned about Congolese Colonel Who Kidnapped Seven UN Soldiers

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.

UNITED NATIONS, July 24 -- When does allowing a warlord who kidnapped UN peacekeepers to become a colonel in the Congolese national army scream of not only of impunity but distraction, disinterest and lack of attention? At what point does hoping for the best become denial and sweeping under the rug? 

          On Monday the UN's Kofi Annan was asked about the Congo, as he rushed by in a hallway to a meeting with corporate executives, and from there to Rome to discuss the Middle East.  Over the weekend in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Mr. Annan's envoy William Lacy Swing said that the UN is "not overly anxious" about violence in Ituri in Eastern Congo in the run-up to the July 30 election. But the problems have gone beyond violence. One week before the vote, churches all over Congo began to preach of boycott, if concerns of vote-rigging for current president Joseph Kabila are not addressed.

            At Monday's noon briefing at UN Headquarters, Kofi Annan's spokeswoman was asked what the UN is doing in the face of the churches' boycott calls, and about the reported stoning of UN vehicles accompanying Kabila in the southern province of Kasai. Very gently, the spokeswoman recounted Kofi Annan's visit to the DRC some weeks ago, including speaking with the churches. But if the churches, now a week before the vote, are calling for boycott, past communications may be not guarantee of future success, as they say.

            Inner City Press asked pointedly if the UN Mission has spoken with the churches which are preaching about boycott. The spokeswoman said she would check.  Near deadline the following was received:

"Matthew, The SRSG in the DR Congo has commented on the call by local priests that Congolese boycott the elections. Mr. Swing has called that move 'untimely.' He has also said that tremendous progress has been achieved in preparing for the election and that the DRC 'is arguably the only sub-region in Africa that has always lacked any centre of political stability and because of the size of this country, with nine neighbors, it is the only country that can give it that stability.'"

            It remains to be seen what Mr. Swing means by "untimely." There is a legalistic meaning, meaning "raised too late." Or he may mean, "raised at an unfortunate time." But the criticisms have long been raised. Wanting stability is not the same thing as achieving it.

Seven UN blue helmets in Congo

            Inner City Press last week asked if the UN was aware, when its seven kidnapped peacekeepers were released earlier this month, that the warlord who took them hostage would be made a colonel in the Congolese army. The response included references to "no ransom" and "we did not try to have any conditions attached." Written requests for on-the-record comment from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations remain outstanding. The election is six days away...

            In that context, Inner City Press waited more than an hour outside Conference Room 7 in the UN Headquarters basement, hoping to ask Secretary-General  Kofi Annan if he knew about Peter Karim.  On May 30 at a then-more-frequently stakeout by the Secretary-General, Inner City Press asked about the peacekeepers, and Kofi Annan named Peter Karim, saying he would be held "personally accountable. From the video at Minutes 13:40 - 15:25, and the transcript:

Inner City Press question: "On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, what's being done for the 7 peacekeepers that were taken hostage in Ituri? And also, over the weekend, the UN military head in Bunia said elections can't really be held in this type of circumstance? What can be done in the run-up to elections to make it more?"

Secretary-General answer: "It is tragic what happened in Bunia and we lost one Nepalese and three are wounded and about seven are missing. And we have been in touch with Karim's group -- we think that is the group holding them, and demanding their release. And hopefully, we will get them released. But Karim and others who get involved in these sort of activities, must understand that they will be held accountable, as Lubanga has been picked up and is now in the hands of the ICC [International Criminal Court]. They will be held individually accountable for these brutal acts."

            Fifty four days later, as Mr. Annan left the Conference Room where he'd been meeting with pharmaceutical executives for more than an hour, Inner City Press approached with a "Congo question." One of two bodyguards motioned to stay back. As Mr. Annan exited from the bathroom, Inner City Press gave him wide latitude, only asking "Peter Karim?"

            Mr. Annan gestured that he was otherwise occupied, that his mind was full. "I've got the pharmaceutical," he said.

            Inner City Press provided Kofi Annan, directly in his hand, a copy of the prior week's article, "Congo Rebel to Lay Down Arms, Become Army Colonel."  The question in the margin: personal accountability? (May 30, 2006). Or impunity.  And contact information. 

  Inside Kofi Annan met with executives from, among others, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck (which for those counting was up fully 4.6% on the day, higher than absent rival Pfizer's 3.4%. One wag said perhaps the trip to the UN was too arduous for Pfizer.

            While waiting, rudimentary research shows that Peter Karim was described as a thief of the DRC's resources in the 2002 UN Report " Uganda's illegal resource exploitation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo," S/2002/1146, at Paragraphs 98 and 116 --

"98. The elite network operating out of Uganda is decentralized and loosely hierarchical, unlike the network operating out of Rwanda. The Uganda network consists of a core group of members including certain high-ranking UPDF officers, private businessmen and selected rebel leaders/administrators. UPDF Lieutenant General (Ret.) Salim Saleh and Major General James Kazini are the key figures. Other members include the Chief of Military Intelligence, Colonel Noble Mayombo, UPDF Colonel Kahinda Otafiire and Colonel Peter Karim. Private entrepreneurs include Sam Engola, Jacob Manu Soba and Mannase Savo and other Savo family members. Rebel politicians and administrators include Professor Wamba dia Wamba, Roger Lumbala, John Tibasima, Mbusa Nyamwisi and Toma Lubanga. 

"116. Trinity Investmentís local transporters in Bunia, the Savo family group among others, carry agricultural products, wood and cattle from Bunia to Kampala exempt from UPDF toll barriers and export taxes. Trinity investment also works with another front company under the name of Sagricof to fraudulently evacuate wood from North Kivu and the Ituri area. Tree plantations have been raided in the areas of Mahagi and Djugu along the north-eastern border with Uganda. Concerned citizens and research by local nongovernmental organizations have identified Colonel Peter Karim and Colonel Otafiire, in addition to the Ugandan parliamentarian Sam Ngola, as key figures in the illegal logging and fraudulent evacuation of wood."

            The UN has other, even more personal and damning information on Karim. So, when does allowing a warlord who kidnapped UN peacekeepers to become a colonel in a national army scream of not only of impunity but distraction, disinterest and lack of attention? At 5:15 p.m., after having devoted an hour and forty-five minutes to corporate executives, Kofi Annan swept away through the hall, bound for Rome and not Bunia, head filled with GlaxoSmithKline not the Congo, with an article and question. We'll see.

At the UN Poorest Nations Discussed, Disgust at DRC Short Shrift, Future UN Justice?

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.

UNITED NATIONS, July 20 -- The plight of the 50 least developed countries on Earth was the topic of discussion Thursday at the UN, at the margins of dueling stakeouts between the Ambassadors of the U.S. and Lebanon, Israel, Peru and Kofi Annan's band of three envoys to the Middle East.

  In from the Palais des Nations in Geneva, the UN's Charles Gore spoke with passion and at length about how countries in Africa are now inundated with food exported by more developed countries which subsidize its production and export.

  While not responding directly to Inner City Press' request for his analysis of the World Trade Organization regime and protectionism and subsidies by Europe and the U.S., Mr. Gore noted that fully 47% of aid actually transfers capital to the beneficiary nation. For the U.S.'s aid, said Mr. Gore, only 10% involves capital transfer. The rest is debt cancellation, emergency and food aid and "technical assistance," which is often just a transfer to the donor nation's own technocrats, as Ugandans have complained of the UNDP's aid.

Afghan Herat per UNHCR

          The reported increase in aid is largest attributable, Mr. Gore said, to Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC. Out on the second story's main floor, the DRC and its looting for resources for armed insurgent groups was on the Security Council's agenda. Due to the Lebanese crisis and briefing by Kofi Annan, the DRC agenda was by all accounts rushed through. A three page draft resolution was perfunctorily dropped by the head of the sanctions committee Oswaldo de Rivero, the UN envoy from Peru.

            Amb. Rivero also came to the stakeout, to speak of Lebanon. He sounded suspiciously Boltonesque, stressing that it is impossible to negotiate a ceasefire with a terroristic group. Earlier Amb. Bolton went further, asking what a ceasefire would mean to any non-elected government. Given the number of UN member states, including U.S. allies, which are not democracies, it seemed a loaded question.

            At Amb. Rivero's stakeout, Inner City Press asked what countries were pushing-back on the proposals for a ceasefire or cessation of hostilities in Lebanon. He answered non-committally that the Council is united, at least on matters humanitarian. After the stakeout, at he re-entered the Council chamber, Inner City Press asked him why Peru had abstained from the Gaza resolution on July 13.  "Because these two are connected," Amb. Rivero answered, gesturing into the Council.

            "Gaza and Lebanon?"

            "Exactly. They have to be solved together," he said.

            "It wasn't that you thought the resolution should be directed less at Tel Aviv?"    "No, no," Amb. Rivero insisted. "It was because Lebanon had to be included. That's the only reason we abstained."

            Perhaps... Substantively on the Congo, while still awaiting straight answers, more information emerged Thursday about the UN's negotiations with Peter Karim, who parlayed the kidnapping of seven UN peacekeepers into a job as a colonel in the DCR army. Not only did Karim demand shoes, and lots of them -- he also insisted that his motorcycle be returned to him by Congolese authorities. The bike was returned. And then, Peter Karim was offered a position as colonel in the Congolese national army.

            Improvements in staff justice? Thursday afternoon there was a sparsely attended briefing by the Redesign Panel on the UN Internal Justice System. Five of the members of the Panel presented their proposal, which would they said provide faster and more professional justice. Inner City Press asked if the cases and results would be public, unlike the current system. Mary Gaudron, currently a judge for the International Labour Organization Administrative Tribunal, answered the hearings would be public as would be results, unless the judge "in the interest of justice" decided otherwise.  Inner City Press asked about some current cases; a colleague correspondent of shall we say school boyish charm asked about bringing the corrupt to justice. With questions still unasked, the briefing was brought to a close. One of yesterday's questions, however, received a one-line answer. "In response to your question from yesterday: the Deputy Secretary-General met with members of the Iraq Revenue Watch as part of his briefings to understand better the issues related to the preparation of the International Compact for Iraq." Alright, then. To be continued.

Feedback: editorial [at] innercitypress.com

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile: 718-716-3540

Conflicts of Interest in UNHCR Program with SocGen and Pictet Reveal Reform Rifts

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the U.N.

UNITED NATIONS, July 12, 11:45 am, updated 7 pm -- Eager to "team up" with banks Societe Generale and Pictet & Company, the United Nations' refugee agency allowed SocGen to use the UN logo in a way subsequently criticized by UN legal staff, and to invest Kashmir Relief Notes funds in a Pictet & Cie fund despite owner Ivan Pictet being a member of the UN Investment Committee. Criticized by other UN units, UNHCR agreed to cease renting out the UN logo, but said nothing can be done about the investment with Pictet et Cie.

    Inner City Press first raised these matters in April 2006. Earlier today UNHCR in Geneva finally responded, confirming but defending the investment in a Pictet fund.  UNHCR's Ron Redmond wrote to Inner City Press that

"based on the information available to us, there is no conflict of interest created for Mr. Ivan Pictet, managing partner of Pictet & Cie, and ad hoc member of the UN Investments Committee, by the fact that Pictet Funds Indian Equities is one of the funds in which KRN funds are invested. Societe Generale, the issuer of the Note, is solely responsible for choosing the funds and this selection is based on recognized risk management and hedging criteria; UNHCR plays a purely passive role as the recipient of a donation and has no interest in the performance of the Note. Moreover, Mr. Pictet's membership in the UN Investments Committee was unknown to all parties involved in drawing up this investment product, and we trust therefore that the decision to include a fund managed by Pictet & Cie was taken in good faith."

         Whether this is in keeping with current and proposed UN standards of ethics and transparency will be seen in coming days. Whether the stated lack of knowledge of Mr. Pictet's membership on the UN Investment Committee comports with minimal corporate or competence standards is also in question. The problem is a wider one: in a defensive internal memo reviewed by Inner City Press, UNHCR lawyer Helmut Buss argues that UNICEF similarly partners with FIFA and NIS Petrol Co, and that the World Food Programme does the same with TNT Airways and the World Rugby Board. Nevertheless, UNHCR has agreed to drop the logo use and the "teams up" language deployed in its April 5 press release.

            The investment in a fund controlled by a member of the UN Investment Committee UNHCR defends, including by pointing out that Morgan Stanley's Francine Bovich is also on the UN Investment Board, while the UN does much business with JPMorgan Chase. (Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase, despite the comment reference to Pierpont, are not related companies.) The UNHCR memo's argument is that it's too complicated or burdensome to avoid conflicts of interest. UNHCR's earlier justification to Inner City Press argued that "we are not talking about the usual procurement procedure," when talking about an investment in a fund controlled by a member of the UN Investment Committee.

            This conflict-or-reform debate has included at least in the carbon copies Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch-Brown, who appears to have agreed that UNHCR's actions were improper. The paper trail may be important. The story began with a UNHCR press release on April 5 of this year, headlined "New corporate investment scheme helps fund UN quake relief efforts" and stating that "the United Nations refugee agency has teamed up with two Swiss investment companies in a scheme that will benefit its earthquake relief operation in Pakistan. The joint project launched by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Zurich-based Societe Generale Corporate & Investment Banking, and derilab s.a., a derivatives company, will allow investors to participate in a financial product that affords a unique opportunity to support reconstruction and relief efforts."

   Inner City Press inquired into the release and published a round-up article on April 11 questioning the partnership: "It might well be on the level. But it's not yet clear that if it weren't, the scheme would not proceed. It would help if the follow-up questions were answered."

Other Inner City Press reports are archived on www.InnerCityPress.org

At the UN, New Phrase Passes Resolution called Gangster-Like by North Korea; UK Deputy on the Law(less)

UN's Guehenno Speaks of "Political Overstretch" Undermining Peacekeeping in Lower Profile Zones

In Gaza Power Station, the Role of Enron and the U.S. Government's OPIC Revealed by UN Sources

At UN, North Korean Knot Attacked With Fifty Year Old Precedent, Game Continues Into Weekend

UN's Corporate Partnerships Will Be Reviewed, While New Teaming Up with Microsoft, and UNDP Continues

Gaza Resolution Vetoed by U.S., While North Korea Faces Veto and Chechnya Unread

BTC Briefing, Like Pipeline, Skirts Troublespots, Azeri Revelations

Conflicts of Interest in UNHCR Program with SocGen and Pictet Reveal Reform Rifts

At the UN, A Day of Resolutions on Gaza, North Korea and Iran, Georgia as Side Dish

UN Grapples with Somalia, While UNDP Funds Mugabe's Human Rights Unit, Without Explanation

In North Korean War of Words, Abuses in Uganda and Impunity Go Largely Ignored

On North Korea, Blue Words Move to a Saturday Showdown, UNDP Uzbek Stonewall

As the World Turns in Uganda and Korea, the UN Speaks only on Gaza, from Geneva

North Korea in the UN: Large Arms Supplant the Small, and Confusion on Uganda

UN Gives Mugabe Time with His Friendly Mediator, Refugees Abandoned

At the UN, Friday Night's Alright for Fighting; Annan Meets Mugabe

UN Acknowledges Abuse in Uganda, But What Did Donors Know and When? Kazakh Questions

In Uganda, UNDP to Make Belated Announcement of Program Halt, But Questions Remain (and see The New Vision, offsite).

Disarmament Abuse in Uganda Leads UN Agency to Suspend Its Work and Spending

Disarmament Abuse in Uganda Blamed on UNDP, Still Silent on Finance

Alleged Abuse in Disarmament in Uganda Known by UNDP, But Dollar Figures Still Not Given: What Did UN Know and When?

Strong Arm on Small Arms: Rift Within UN About Uganda's Involuntary Disarmament of Karamojong Villages

UN in Denial on Sudan, While Boldly Predicting the Future of Kosovo/a

UN's Selective Vision on Somalia and Wishful Thinking on Uighurs

UN Habitat Predicts The World Is a Ghetto, But Will Finance Be Addressed at Vancouver World Urban Forum?

At the UN, a Commando Unit to Quickly Stop Genocide is Proposed, by Diplomatic Sir Brian Urquhart

UN's Annan Concerned About Use of Terror's T-Word to Repress, Wants Freedom of Information

UN  Waffles on Human Rights in Central Asia and China; ICC on Kony and a Hero from Algiers

At the UN, Internal Justice Needs Reform, While in Timor Leste, Has Evidence Gone Missing?

UN & US, Transparency for Finance But Not Foreign Affairs: Somalia, Sovereignty and Senator Tom Coburn

In Bolton's Wake, Silence and Speech at the UN, Congo and Kony, Let the Games Begin

Pro-Poor Talk and a Critique of the World Trade Organization from a WTO Founder: In UN Lull, Ugandan Fog and Montenegrin Mufti

Human Rights Forgotten in UN's War of Words, Bolton versus Mark Malloch Brown: News Analysis

In Praise of Migration, UN Misses the Net and Bangalore While Going Soft on Financial Exclusion

UN Sees Somalia Through a Glass, Darkly, While Chomsky Speaks on Corporations and Everything But Congo

AIDS Ends at the UN? Side Deals on Patents, Side Notes on Japanese Corporations, Salvadoran and Violence in Burundi

On AIDS at the UN, Who Speaks and Who Remains Unseen

Corporate Spin on AIDS, Holbrooke's Kudos to Montenegro and its Independence (May 31, 2006)

Kinshasa Election Nightmares, from Ituri to Kasai. Au Revoir Allan Rock; the UN's Belly-Dancing

Working with Warlords, Insulated by Latrines: Somalia and Pakistan Addressed at the UN

The Silence of the Congo and Naomi Watts; Between Bolivia and the World Bank

Human Rights Council Has Its Own Hanging Chads; Cocky U.S. State Department Spins from SUVs

Child Labor and Cargill and Nestle; Iran, Darfur and WHO's on First with Bird Flu

Press Freedom? Editor Arrested by Congo-Brazzaville, As It Presides Over Security Council

The Place of the Cost-Cut UN in Europe's Torn-Up Heart;
Deafness to Consumers, Even by the Greens

Background Checks at the UN, But Not the Global Compact; Teaching Statistics from Turkmenbashi's Single Book

Ripped Off Worse in the Big Apple, by Citigroup and Chase: High Cost Mortgages Spread in Outer Boroughs in 2005, Study Finds

Burundi: Chaos at Camp for Congolese Refugees, Silence from UNHCR, While Reform's Debated by Forty Until 4 AM

In Liberia, From Nightmare to Challenge; Lack of Generosity to Egeland's CERF, Which China's Asked About

The Chadian Mirage: Beyond French Bombs, Is Exxon In the Cast? Asylum and the Uzbeks, Shadows of Stories to Come

Through the UN's One-Way Mirror, Sustainable Development To Be Discussed by Corporations, Even Nuclear Areva

Racial Disparities Grew Worse in 2005 at Citigroup, HSBC and Other Large Banks

Mine Your Own Business: Explosive Remnants of War and the Great Powers, Amid the Paparazzi

Human Rights Are Lost in the Mail: DR Congo Got the Letter, But the Process is Still Murky

Iraq's Oil to be Metered by Shell, While Basrah Project Remains Less than Clear

At the UN, Dues Threats and Presidents-Elect, Unanswered Greek Mission Questions

Kofi, Kony, Kagame and Coltan: This Moment in the Congo and Kampala

As Operation Swarmer Begins, UN's Qazi Denies It's Civil War and Has No Answers if Iraq's Oil is Being Metered

Cash Crop: In Nepal, Bhutanese Refugees Prohibited from Income Generation Even in their Camps

The Shorted and Shorting in Humanitarian Aid: From Davos to Darfur, the Numbers Don't Add Up

UN Reform: Transparency Later, Not Now -- At Least Not for AXA - WFP Insurance Contract

In Congolese Chaos, Shots Fired at U.N. Helicopter Gunship

In the Sudanese Crisis, Oil Revenue Goes Missing, UN Says

Empty Words on Money Laundering and Narcotics, from the UN and Georgia

What is the Sound of Eleven Uzbeks Disappearing? A Lack of Seats in Tashkent, a Turf War at UN

Kosovo: Of Collective Punishment and Electricity; Lights Out on Privatization of Ferronikeli Mines

Abkhazia: Cleansing and (Money) Laundering, Says Georgia

Post-Tsunami Human Rights Abuses, including by UNDP in the Maldives

Who Pays for the Global Bird Flu Fight? Not the Corporations, So Far - UN

Citigroup Dissembles at United Nations Environmental Conference

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