Withholds Nationality and Job Data Which Even Swiss Would Release, As Japan
Wants More Posts
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
UNITED NATIONS, May
17, updated May 23 -- There is a publication which the UN withholds from the public, which lists
staff of the UN Secretariat sorted by nationality. At the UN's noon briefing on
May 17, when Inner City Press asked why the document is restricted, the UN
"there are things that go to the Member States. You are not a Member State that
I know of. Okay?"
May 17, Inner City Press interviewed Switzerland's Ambassador Peter Maurer, and
asked if it is the UN's member states that demand that the list of who the UN
hires and from where be kept secret. "We are certainly not a member state
thinking that this should be secret," Amb. Maurer said.
Spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon, who said that transparency is one of his major
goals, told Inner City Press on Thursday that this list, which only contains
names, job rank and location and nationality, "can be consulted by a Member
State but not by you." Unsaid is that, while not a solution and within any
thanks to the Secretariat, a Member State can make some or all of the list
Switzerland had, as of the publication ST/ADM/R.60, 202 UN Secretariat jobs.
(The figures in this report tally UN Secretariat jobs in all duty stations,
including Geneva, Nairobi, Santiago, Bangkok, Addis Ababa and Vienna, but not
including jobs with funds and programs like UNICEF or the UN Development
Program, which separately keeps track of each staff member's nationality,
reputedly to trade posts for donations.)
France had 1046 UN Secretariat jobs, Japan had only 213. Inner City Press on
Thursday asked Japan's Deputy Permanent Representative Takahiro Shinyo about
this. Amb. Shinyo replied that Japan's "is a very small number... we ask the
Secretariat to give more chances." He added that job selection is "of course
Maurer used the same term, saying that while a nation being "under-quota" meant
that its nationals would be given a leg up in competition for UN jobs, they
still have to be qualified. In fact, Switzerland pre-qualifies its nationals who
apply to the UN. "We would like to make available to the UN good Swiss," he
said. "It is a question of reputation, at the end of the day."
question remains why this basic information -- names of UN staff members, the
job level and location, their nationalities and pay-status -- is being withheld
from the press and public. Names and locations, along with telephone numbers and
email address protocols, are available in the UN phone book. So why is
nationality, so often mentioned under the code word "geographic balance," still
Pay-status means that the List distinguishes "staff appointed on a 'when
actually employed' basis" and "staff serving on one-dollar-per-year special
agreement." Since the beginning of the year, Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson's office
has repeatedly refused requests by Inner City Press and other journalists for a
list of dollar-a-year UN officials, and more recently for those paid "when
actually employed." The List makes clear that the Spokesperson's office could
easily have provided such information, but chose not to. What was that again,
Ban and (some) member states: doling out the jobs? But even some states say end
the following exchange on this topic took place at
Thursday's noon briefing:
Press: Thereís a United Nations document or publication called "List of Staff of
the United Nations Secretariat" that's sorted by nationality. Iíve heard this
document, publication exists. Today I went to the library and asked to see it
and was told it was a restricted document. My question, I guess, is why is the
information collected by nationality, and if itís restricted, why is it
restricted from the press and public? Who can see it? Whatís the purpose of
Well, itís for people in this building. Not everything in this building is
available to the press. You are aware that this is an organization made of
Member States. There are 192 Member States, and the 192 Member States are first
given information which they need for their own work, which are not necessarily
given to the press, which means it is restricted. This is what it means.
Inner City Press:
Yesterday, Ms. Barcena said something
about transparency. Thatís why
I guess Iím just wondering whether the nationality of individuals is something
thatís considered private.
Absolutely not. It is not considered private. However, a table like this is
reserved for Member States and there are a number of documents in the house that
are restricted, like in any institution in the world.
Press: Iím just asking what the basis of the restriction is and if the purpose
of providing it to Member States is to somehow gauge contributions to posts?
Whatís the goal?
Well, the goal essentially is that we have to... As you know, there are quotas
per nationality. Okay? In this institution. Okay? This has always existed
and so you have to know how many people are over quota, under quota. This is a
Press: Why is it restricted?
Well, there are things that go to the Member States. You are not a Member State
that I know of. Okay? There are certain documents -- like at any regional
organization, any international organization, any Government -- that are part of
the working process, documents which are part of the working process of an
institution, which are not necessarily open to the press.
Press: Is that document restricted because of the listing of nationality or is
there some other category of information that makes it so? I thought the
presumption was that a document should be made available unless there is some
reason it should be withheld. So, all Iím asking for is the reason for the
restriction. I donít disagree that there should be some documents that are
Well, Iíll ask for you what the reason is but there are thousands of documents
Which, in any institution.
Which are just for working purposes for the staff.
Press: Itís in the library, itís just restricted.
Press: Fine, okay, I donít want to go on.
...which means it can be consulted by a Member State but not by you.
Press: And if you could just...
I can find out for you, sure.
Subsequently, one hour after deadline, this was provided in writing by the
"The document you mentioned, 'List of
staff of the United Nations Secretariat,' contains a list of names, with ranks
and nationality and is restricted most obviously for privacy reasons. This has
nothing to do with any lack of transparency. These statistical data are used by
member states that make up this organization and oversee the work of the
Secretariat. The quota system is devised by OHRM [the Office of Human Resource
Management] and is linked to geographical representation, population, etc."
the noon briefing, the Spokesperson had said that nationality and rank
information is not private. But then this information is described by Ban Ki-moon's
Office of the Spokesperson as being withheld "most obviously for privacy
reasons." Which is it? And how is it, that they can still claim that this
withholding "has nothing to do with any lack of transparency?"
after Thursday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's Spokesperson for
data concerning monetary contributions by Japan, and hiring information. While
no such information has yet been provided -- the request was ignored in the
written response quoted from above -- we will have more on this issue.
Update of May 23,
2007 -- a week after declining to provide the name, on Wednesday evening
Associate UN Spokesperson Choi Soung-ah wrote to Inner City Press that
Secretary-General brought five Koreans with him to the Secretariat. The five
were with him during the transition period as well. Of the five, three are on
the 38th floor as you have previously been informed, myself (you know who I am)
assigned to the Spokesperson's office, and Mr. Kweon Ki-hwan assigned to the
Office of the Under-Secretary General for Management."
Along with thanking Ms. Choi for this response, how
ever belated, Inner City Press has asked among other things, "what post
in the UN Department of Management was
Kweon Ki-hwan put into, and what process was followed to put him in this
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