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UN Guterres Has Sold to Japan Top Post on Disaster Risk Staff Say Mizutori UNqualified

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive CJR PFT

UNITED NATIONS GATE, April 14 – How corrupt has Antonio Guterres made the UN? Even on "disaster risk reduction," Guterres' UN has been a disaster. With his spokesman Stephane Dujarric and communications chief Alison Smale refusing to answer basic questions from the Press that they have banned, now for 284 days, we publish this account granting the request for anonymity due to the pervasive retaliation in Guterres' UN: "Dear Matthew,   Thanks for your coverage of UN issues, including grievances of staff.  I would like to get your interest to look at the situation of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and its HQ office in Geneva. Similar to UNEP and CBD, it went through a turmoil of reorganization in the past few years (2015-2017) that led to several serious issues with leadership and staff but no one has the will to address them including the UN legal office and the Ombusman.  Below is summary of information:  The previous head of office Mr. Robert Glasser, under which the reorganization took place, was disengaged and left it all to the Director and mostly focused on representation, traveling to conferences and giving talks and interviews and writing op-ed in journals. He served in the post for only 2 years (2016-2017) in the UN! The shortest many believe…  The re-structuring of the office was led by the newly appointed then Director at D2 level Ms. Kirsi Madi, which consisting of getting rid of all technical staff and managers who had been associated with precedent head and SRSG Ms. Margareta Wahlstrom, who led the office for long time. The affected staff believe they were targeted through the re-organisation process and forced out, some of them simply by using the argument they had UNOPS contracts although legitimate fixed term staff contracts , not consultants or contractors. No one in the UN System was willing to do something about it including the UN Legal Assistance Office and the Ombudsman which many of the staff approached for help citing that the HR process took legal steps…  the HR person of UNISDR who oversaw this process, under the director guidance, even nominated by the office and won the UN SG award on “her efforts in the major organizational change process with the greatest degree of integrity and efficiency” !  In total 25 out of 100 employees where either resigned, took early retirement or were let go in the name of efficiency. While this small secretariat have an ASG, D2, and 3 D1 but that seem efficient use of resources to some in the UN! keeping in mind that UNDP, UNEP and UNFCCC already take care of the issues under this office mandate.   The latest straw was the appointment of the new head of office Ms. Mami Mizutori on 1 March 2018 by the UN SG who has no experience in disaster risk reduction or any related areas. The appointment read that 'Prior to joining UNISDR she was Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, University of East Anglia, UK since 2011. 2018/sga1785.doc.htm  Many say this came about due to the pressure of the Japanese government that is eager to control a UN office with a bargaining chip of donation to its activities. They already managed to appoint a Japanese at D1 level for intergovernmental, inter-agency and partnership branch of the office, who originally seconded from OCHA at P5 level and promoted to D1 within months from a roster without advertising the post properly. They also have a liaison office in Japan, which was suggested to be abolished in the reorganization process then stayed on." This is how Guterres has put the UN up for sale, not only to China (which to him is personally, through CEFC China Energy and the Gulbenkian Foundation) but also to Japan. We'll have more on this.

  On the environment, Guterres has a Deputy Secretary General who signed thousands of back-dated certificates to try to legalize the illegal export of endangered rosewood to China from Nigeria and China - and who never answered Inner City Press' questions about it, preferring to have it roughed and banned. As Executive Secretary of the UN Biodiversity Convention Guterres has Cristiana Paşca-Palmer; consider this, exclusive to Inner City Press: "Cristiana Pasca-Palmer is more corrupt and abusive than the man who was instrumental for her appointment  When Erik Solheim introduced Cristiana Pasca-Palmer as the new Executive Secretary of the CBD at the high-level segment of the 13th meeting of the Parties to the Convention (COP 13) in Cancun, Mexico, on  1 December 2016, he unwittingly admitted that her appointment was political, not merit based. He proudly declared that her appointment was the Secretary General's response to a wider call to assign a woman from the Eastern European region at a senior UN position.  Two years into her term now, Ms. Pasca-Palmer proved her former benefactor's admission of the absence of merit in her appointment. When he recommended Ms. Pasca-Palmer for the job, Mr. Solheim himself was just few months old on his own post as the Executive Director of UNEP. He was forced out of his job on 22 November last year (in just a two-year time) after thorough investigation which confirmed his contempt to UN rules, abuse of authority and wastage of scarce budgetary resources on excessive travels.  Ms. Pasca-Palmer is a copycat of her former boss in her disregard to the UN rules and her addiction to travelling around the world. But she is worse in exercising her authority in abusive manner.  Ms. Pasca-Palmer lacks aptitude for learning how to adapt to a multicultural environment. After two years, she could not build a cohesive multi-disciplinary team. She shuns a number of staff with good experience and good ideas while she brings few others closer to her for their demonstrated loyalty to her. She has constantly been condescending on many others. She has not yet realized the distinction between an intergovernmental process and a national, or even worse, a privately-run undertaking. She cannot stand people who do not agree with her. Her strong desire to be surrounded by people who show absolute loyalty to her and do not question her actions, has put her in a constant conflict with a number of staff, and with UN rules. Her hawkish personality and impunity brought to endless need to respond to management evaluation review requests, talks with UN ombudsperson, and to UN ethics and dispute tribunal investigations. UNEP seemed to have chosen to stand by the side or to collaborate with her instead of taking appropriate measures to reign in some of the excesses such as constant modifications of job descriptions of some staff members who have trouble with Ms. Pasca-Palmer.  The following are some of the major failures and incidents that illustrate the abusive leadership styles of Ms. Pasca-Palmer that brought fear, anxiety, fragmentation, and low morale to most of the staff of the  secretariat of CBD.  1/ Ms. Pasca-Palmer lacks coherent vision for the biodiversity agenda and for the secretariat that supports it. Whatever ideas she brings to the table are borrowed from experts that she hired as consultants. Even then, the ideas shift constantly as they become tasted to be inapplicable to the CBD situation. She does not appreciate or trust the in-house knowledge and advice that she receives from staff, especially from those who have been with the Secretariat for some longer period of time.  2/ Ms. Pasca-Palmer's adversity to experienced members of staff and her heavy-handedness has led to a string of resignations. The first to leave was the Chief of Administration and Finance who chose to take early retirement after briefly working with her and assessing the difficult times to come. Her successor who has rich experience working with the UN in New York might have already felt the strange taste of working with Ms. Pasca-Palmer. In the last one year alone, more than four, all of them women, senior staff members and program officers left the Secretariat. Her own secretary left due to the harassment  and discrimination that she has felt. From the early days of her arrival, Ms. Pasca-Palmer was trying to transfer her secretary to another work unit in the Secretariat - It was a kind of hate on the first sight: One of the program officers to leave the Secretariat in the last one year, also felt the same. According to the story that she shared with her closest colleagues, renewal of her contract took unusually long, and when she sought explanation from Ms. Pasca-Palmer, she was told that, as an African, she should rather feel proud of herself to have worked in the UN, and not complain about the delay in the renewal of her contract.  Racism, much? Guterres and his spokespeople refuse to answer any Press questions, so corrupt are they. 3/ Ms. Pasca-Palmer takes things personal and her retaliation is immediate and ruthless. She seems to get gratification from humiliating and abusing any staff member who dares to question her actions and stand on her way. For example:  She abolished a division under the cover of restructuring just to punish the head of the division, D1. The D1, who has now lost her post, and eventually her job, had differences of views with regard to some of Ms. Pasca-Palmer's managerial actions that she took against the division and the staff. There was also another hidden motive by Ms. Pasca-Palmer when she abolished the division. Her decision to restructure part of the Secretariat came in September last year. At the same time, she was preparing a budget document to submit to COP 14 held in November last year in Egypt. The budget document included a request for a chief of staff post at a D1 level. She thought that the COP would approve her request as long as she used an existing D1 post. But the COP did not approve her request for a chief of staff. All other new positions she asked for, including a senior communication officer was rejected. Instead, the COP downgraded the D1 post vacated by the head of the defunct division. In the same vein, the senior legal officer who questioned some of Ms. Pasca-Palmer's judgement has now been effectively stripped of his role as the senior legal officer. She decided to abolish the legal unit and to change his reporting line, again, in the name of restructuring. A legal officer at P-3 level who was hired by Ms. Pasca-Palmer herself and who joined the Secretariat at the beginning of this year is now the de facto legal advisor of the Secretariat. He was supposed to report to the senior legal officer. However, as soon as he joined the Secretariat, he was instructed by Ms. Pasca-Palmer that he would report to her directly and he should not have any communication with the senior legal officer. His terms of reference is being revised and his post reclassified, accordingly. Like her former boss and to some extent similar to some of her predecessors, Ms. Pasca Palmer attaches highest priority to communication. The Secretariat has a well-qualified communication officer and a team. However, the officer did not seem to satisfy Ms. Pasca Palmer's wishes. He does not take orders without raising some pertinent questions. She did not like him for that. As a result, she striped him off his responsibility as the head of his team. She assigned her special advisor (who has no expertise on communication) as the head of the communication team and the communication officer is obliged to report to her. Ms. Pasca Palmer hired a communication consultant who is now doing (mostly remotely) much of the work that was traditionally been done by the communication officer and his team. This consultant who claims to be one of the members of the former Obama Administration communication team is now writing every speech that Ms. Pasca-Palmer delivers at different forums and, effectively, he is the de facto supervisor of the communication work of the Secretariat. Perhaps, owing to his experience working in a highly partisan political  environment, the speeches or other "communication materials that the communication consultant prepares lack relevance to biodiversity issues and miss political sensitivities. Last month, he made a presentation, on behalf of the Secretariat, on communication approaches and needs for the biodiversity framework beyond 2020, in a workshop held in Germany. Participants of the workshop were CBD parties and stakeholders from Western Europe and other developed countries. The participants were baffled when the presenter began his presentation by a quote from Winston Churchill's war time statement during Second World War. It was a pure demonstration of ignorance of UN values and arrogance for political sensitivities. One can also see his unfitness from his profanity filled Twitters trashing his political opponents which is antithesis to the values of the UN. Associating herself with such a person is another proof on the poor judgement of Ms. Pasca-Palmer. For Ms. Pasca-Palmer raising the biodiversity agenda means raising her personal and professional profile through flowery speeches and the use of social media to publicize all her high-level engagements. What she sees in the work of a communication officer is just colorful prose. Ms. Pasca-Palmer has been unhappy about the COP 14 budget decision that denied her all her requests for new positions, especially the one of chief of staff for herself. That is why, she is still trying to hire a chief of staff by all means. She is exploring all slant avenues despite the fact that the COP has rejected it and that Secretariat has about 80 regular staff, a size that does not justify the need for a chief of staff.  (iv)  4/ Like her former boss, Mr. Solheim, who allowed one of his senior managers to work (telecommute) from a location in a different continent for no justifiable and administratively defensible reason, Ms. Pasca-Palmer too designated one of her staff members as her special advisor and allowed her, for over a year now, to function from the United Nations office in New York for no clear organizational reason. The Secretariat pays for the frequent travel of the special advisor who shuttles between Montreal and New York. This is a cost on top of part of the salary that the Secretariat pays for one liaison officer placed in New York for the last several years and shared with the Secretariat of UNCCD.  5/ Like her former boss, Ms. Pasca-Palmer does not like to stay grounded in her Montreal office for more than few days and in rare cases, few weeks. She likes traveling. Her travel expenditure is high. She frequently modifies her itineraries at the last minute and as a consequence causing huge financial loss to the Secretariat. Mr. Pasca-Palmer knows also when would be a good time to go to certain places such as the one she had last summer to Southern African countries – the visit to the safaris and the diamond mining sitesil it was all well planned. The results of such travels range from nothing to negligible political visibility, while the costs are in tens of thousands of dollars, especially when accompanied by one or more people.  SCBD is currently in a difficult spot. It is expected to deliver so much during this biennium. Yet, the resignation of experienced staff members is continuing and the moral of the staff is at its lowest. Allowing the mismanagement to continue will be a huge disservice to the Parties of this important treaty which is at an important cross road, and to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda of the UN and to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Urgent rectification is needed!"  This is Guterres' UN.

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