UN, Man Bites Man as Contracts Cut, Snafus of Relocation, Flushing Out
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, July 24, updated July 27
-- A UN security officer was bitten earlier this month, not
by a dog but by a just-terminated staff member. Special Operations
officer Peter Kolonias, responding to a disturbance in the UN's
building on the west side of First Avenue and 44th Street, was
confronted by an individual distraught by his contract's termination.*
UN sources who
told Inner City Press about the biting, which has not been reported
by the UN at its noon briefing nor in any other media, said that
further adverse reactions by staff are to be expected, with the UN
having eliminated the so-called permanent contract as of July 1, and
now moving remaining staff members out of its headquarters to
locations as far west as Madison Avenue and as far east as Long
the course of
Inner City Press' reporting on July 24 to confirm the man bites man
story, a range of staff members complained about their moves, in
connection with the UN's Capital Master Plan renovation. Members of
the Office of Human Resources Management, after being told there
would be no more changes to the relocation plan, were recent told
they will move across the East River into Queens.
Management staffers have been told they will relocate to "above
the liquor store" on Second Avenue. "Whiskey for
breakfast," one staffer said, questioning moving his unit four
blocks away from the meeting rooms they service.
UN Security with dogs, human bites not shown
Secretary General for Management Angela Kane told the Press earlier
this week that the temporary General Assembly building rising on the
UN's North Lawn will not have a bar, as the current building does in
its second floor Delegates' Lounge. Ms. Kane spoke rosily of the
contract changes that resulted in the elimination of permanent
contracts -- and, the Staff Union says, in the death of the
independent international civil service -- and of progress with the
Capital Master Plan.
Adlerstein, who along with Ms. Kane changed previous plans for
enclosed media work space to an "open office" system in
which whistleblowers could not approach the Press, is said to be
angered concerned about a Dear
Colleague letter circulated in the
U.S. House of Representatives about this aspect of the CMP, and a
Kane-led meeting to target the Press. But this reporting on
the UN will continue -- particularly when man bites man. Watch this
Update of July 27 -- Three days
after Inner City Press published the above, UN Associate Spokesperson
Farhan Haq confirmed the a biting incident took place in the DC-1
building, and stated that the biter was, according to the UN
Development Program, a job seeker, and argued that the underlying
recruitment process was transparent. Haq referred all other questions -
including whether the individual was maced and taken to the local
police precinct - to UNDP. Inner City Press has asked UNDP, which has
declined in the past to answer basic questions, and any update will
appear on this site.
of July 27, 6:35 p.m. -- Inner City Press asked UNDP in writing:
provide all available UNDP information on the biting incident I asked
about at noon: Farhan says UNDP tells him the biter was a job SEEKER,
and that the recruitment was transparent. Please name the underlying
job, the job seeker, and what happened.
hours later, UNDP's Christina LoNigro replied:
was an unfortunate and isolated incident involving an employee of
UNDP on 23rd June 2009. UN Security and the New York Police
Department responded, and it is now being handled by the authorities
of the host government.
what of the biter's name, the specifics of the post and recruitment,
and what happened at and after the 17th police precinct? Watch this
* * *
Moves Staff Out and In, Ripert and Henn to Leave, On Adada and
Verbecke No Comment
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, July 15, updated July 16
-- At the UN these days, everything must go.
Hundreds of staff were moved out of Headquarters to the top floors of
a rented building on 46th Street. But with only two elevators, the
staff now waste time waiting to get up to their offices, where they
say the furniture is cheap, the desks too high, not ergonomic.
Meanwhile Department of Political Affairs staff are leaving rented
space in Uganda House -- and returning to just vacated space on the
14th floor of Headquarters. It is an expensive game of musical
This coming weekend, "the
Chinese" in the Department of General Services and Conference
Management are slated to move out. There is grumbling that the small
refrigerators that some staff members used -- particularly in these
text preparation units with their minimum numbers of words that must be
typed -- will not be used by the UN to the new work space. Some have
suggested that a small business spring up to offer just this service.
will be left out. From the Security Council, French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert is being pushed
out by Sarkozy's political
advisor, in favor of Gerard Araud.
Security, Bruno Henn is said
be losing out on the Capital Master Plan job, and now looking for
employment outside of the UN. His right hand man Albert Lyttle, exposed
some say by
Inner City Press in the DSS pre-decided
is said to be under investigation.
At Council on Georgia, speech by Ripert, one of many leaving the UN
Liaison Unit, Gary Fowlie has
finally confirmed that he is leaving, over
to the ITU, where he used to work, for a promotion. Whether the UN
corps will be given any input into the identity or at least
qualifications of the person who will replace him is not yet known.
CMP chief Michael Adlerstein wrote last week
to the UN press corps
that there will be no walls or doors for any print reporter in the
swing space he's preparing. The UN as a no whistleblower zone, some
are calling it. Ironically, broadcasters will get private,
soundproofed offices. But investigative reporters need to talk on the
phone, meet whistleblowers, even tape online debates about the UN.
envoys on the way out. On July 14 Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy
Spokesperson Marie Okabe about reports that UN - AU envoy to Darfur Rodolphe Adada's job is being
shopped, to a range of other African UN
envoys. Okabe declined to comment.
July 15, Inner
City Press asked Ban's chief Spokesperson Michele Montas -- herself
said to be leaving in or before November -- if the UN would replace Johan Verbecke as
envoy to the talks on Georgia if, as Inner City
Press is told, Verbecke returns to the Belgian foreign service,
specifically as Ambassador to the UK. Montas said it was too early to
say. But at the UN, it's getting late. Watch this site.
* * *
UN, Voiceless Chissano Ends "Useless" Outreach to LRA,
Looks to Madagascar
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, July 15 -- Despite former UN humanitarian coordinator Jan
Egeland and others calling for the UN to remain involved in trying to
mediate between Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army rebels, on
Wednesday the UN's envoy to the LRA affected areas Joaquim Chissano
gave a final briefing under the mandate to the Security Council, and
"stepped down" from his post.
After the closed down Council
session, Inner City Press and BBC Afrique asked Mr. Chissano to
explain his reasoning. I am voiceless, Chissano said, pointing at his
throat. A UN official with him, Africa I Deputy Director Margaret
Vogt, told the Press "we can deal with that later."
the Council's President
for July, Uganda's Ambassador Ruhakana Ruganda, came to read out an
oral press statement by the Council, he was asked how Chissano
briefed the Council if his voice was so weak. He was clear, Ruganda
replied. Inner City Press asked Ruganda to respond to what another
Council Ambassador told the Press earlier, that ending Chissano's
mission sent the message that the military solution to the LRA is
viewed as the only solution. Video here,
from Minute 1:40.
the military action of DRC and Uganda takes place alongside efforts
to make Kony sign a peace agreement, "to remind" him of the
need to sign. Inner City Press asked
if it is true that Kony demands that the ICC and its chief prosecutor
Moreno Ocampo come and explain what will happen on the ICC's warrant
against him, before he considers signing.
Kony would gave accountability mechanisms in Uganda. Inner City Press
asked, Not the Hague? Ruganda repeated, in Uganda.
noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Michele Montas
if Chissano's UN office in Kampala will close. Yes, Ms. Montas said,
adding that Chissano had felt ill and couldn't speak at the stakeout.
What about Egeland's critique -- does Chissano still have a role?
from Minute 14:12.
at this point,
Mr. Montas said. Who in the UN if anyone is reaching out to Kony,
Inner City Press asked. Why end the effort at this time?
Montas said the
UN "stopped what had become useless." If so, it would be a
UN's Ban and Joaquim Chissano: not men
of words, LRA solution not shown
Ambassador to the UN told Inner City Press last week that at least
Chissano stopped, closed the office and save the UN money, "unlike
Obasanjo," he said, referring to the other Great Lakes mandate
for the UN of the former Nigerian president....
one would have liked to ask Chissano about any relation between his
stepping down on the LRA and accepting another mediation job, for
SADC, regarding Madagascar, trying to convince persuade what on
Honduras is called "coup leader" Rajoelina and his Prime
Minister Albert Zafy to meet with deposed President Ravalomanana and
with his predecessor, Didier Ratsiraka. It is worth comparing the
UN's stance on Madagascar's coup with that it has adopted on
Honduras. Watch this site.
UN, Uganda Promotes Its Action on LRA, Affably Dodges on Kenya and
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, July 2 -- Uganda still has "scouts and intelligence
people" working with the army of the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, six months after their ill-fated joint action against the
Lord's Resistance Army, Ugandan Permanent Representative to the UN
Ruhakana Ruganda told the Press on July 2.
Ambassador Ruganda, as
the Security Council's rotating president for July, affably took four
questions from Inner City Press, two about the LRA, one about Kenya
and another about the recently disbanded UN Mission in Georgia, a
vote on which Uganda abstained.
Ruganda described the joint DRC - UPDF action in December 2008
against Joseph Kony's LRA as a "positive thing" that
"liberated captives." Video here,
from Minute 36:02.
observers called it ill-conceived, in that once Kony got away, the
LRA slaughtered scores of Congolese civilians. It is said that the UN
Mission in the Congo, MONUC, was told about the operation only
moments before it began.
Ruganda about his quoted statement that he will use his month
as Council president to vigorously promote such "regional
cooperation." Ruganda answered first about the Hutu rebels
partially repatriated from DRC to Rwanda, 500 of whom he said the
Council visited during its recent mission to the region.
Amb. Ruganda on July 2, on LRA, Georgia but not Kenya
did not say is that the remaining FDLR in the Kivus are now killing
villagers in retaliation, as denounced July 2 by Human Rights Watch.
UN's Mission to Georgia, on which Uganda voted with China, Vietnam
and Libya, Inner City Press asked if the Council will at least still
monitor the mission of past and present envoy Johan Verbecke, whom
Ban taps to continue to participate at the Geneva talks involving
Russia and Georgia. Video here,
from Minute 22:04.
We haven't discussed that very specific question,
Ruganda answered. Sources tell Inner City Press that Verbecke's
Georgia gig will soon terminate, as he'll be named Belgium's
Ambassador to the UK.
Press asked about the long-delayed briefing to the Council about
Kenya, called for in the Council's own February 2009 Presidential
Statement, Ruganda opined that "I don't think the Security
Council should be involved in everything." Video here
from Minute 39:02. But the Council
issued statements on Kofi Annan's mission, and called for his report.
Some say that
because the UK and US took different sides in Kenya --
and because Ban Ki-moon does not like to be compared with Kofi Annan
-- the called for briefing will never take place. Even though Annan
has now set an August deadline for Kenya to try suspects for inciting
violence at the time or he'll refer them to the International
Criminal Court, Ruganda's answer makes it appear that for all these
reasons, the Council will not revisit Kenya. Just as the Council
never officially put Sri Lanka on its agenda, despite tens of
thousands killed there.
affability portend a more open Council month in July. Watch this
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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