Ban's UN, Withheld List of Staff Shows 51 South Koreans As a Baseline, Series
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: 3rd
UNITED NATIONS, May
22, updated and voluntarily redacted on May 25 -- Despite the UN being a public institution, and
despite Ban Ki-moon having run for Secretary-General on a platform of
transparency, his Spokesperson on May 22 for the third time in five days denied
access to a list of UN staff sorted by nationality.
Associate Spokesperson who came along with
Mr. Ban's transition team declined to provide even the name
of another new hire from the transition team but now in the UN Department of
face of this stonewalling, Inner City Press has put in a formal freedom of
information-type request to the chief of the DM. Inner City Press has also,
without the assistance of the UN Department of Public Information, reviewed a
copy of the presumptively public data in the List of Staff of the UN
Secretariat, and sets forth below, including as a sample to review Mr. Ban's
"managed mobility" plan, a list of the 51 South Korean UN staffers in mid-2006.
It should be noted that while the Spokesperson began, on May 17, by saying the
List is only for member states, "and you are not a member state," the Swiss
Ambassador, for example, has been clear that the List should not be kept secret.
forward, in the spirit of transparency, this list should be periodically
updated, beginning now, specifically with the name of the still-unnamed person
brought into the UN along with Mr. Ban's transition team and placed in the
Department of Management. Team Ban refuse to provide the name; in five days, the
only argument advanced is that since the person is not technically on the 38th
floor, unlike the other three the name need not be provided. This argument is
inconsistent with the platform Mr. Ban ran on. Practically speaking, given Team
Ban's (non) response, it appears that the only way to proceed is by comparing
the list below, from mid-2006, to current, real-time information and identifying
the new staff members. Consultants, as noted, are in their own gray zone.
Ban is nearly entirely free to hire nearly whomever he wants. But to decline to
provide names of senior appointments and people brought in with the transition
team, and to withhold in full this basic information, militates for an ongoing
on May 17
chided Inner City Press for being interested in names, when "other
correspondents here are interested in burning political questions." Inner City
Press does cover political questions -- but generally directs its questions in
this regard to members of the UN Security Council, which acts on questions of
international peace and security. Mr. Ban ran on a platform of managing the UN
better, and not speechifying as much as his predecessor.
year in, there are daily statements about far away issues, many of which the UN
Secretariat has very little influence over. On political items directly in his
control, such as whether to
expand the use of peacekeepers from Fiji
despite December's military coup,
a question has gone unresponded-to for two days. And basic management
information is being withheld. Despite attempts to dissuade, including by
holding reporting on UN management and reform to a higher standard than other UN
reporting, Inner City Press intends to continue to pursue the Ban management
story. The publication today of this baseline list is part of that coverage, but
only part. This series will continue.
Ban and staff in a (data?) warehouse
preliminary analysis of the List, the South Korean staffers at the UN in 2006
appear clustered, for example in the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and
the Pacific, ESCAP, which is headed by a South Korean, Kim Hak-su. In the
following list, the names in bold are new, and did not appear in the 2005 List.
There is a separate list of those who appeared in 2005 but not 2006.
While the Spokesperson has not said which of the information is the basis of the
withholding, Inner City Press is for now redacting the column on "contractual
status," including not only "dollar a year" but also whether "subject to the
system of desirable ranges," even though there is no reason such information is
private in a public institution. Whether a staff member is P-3 or P-4, etc.,
cannot be confidential: for example, Mr. Ban has advised journalists not to take
their impression of the UN from "P-3s." While Inner City Press disagrees, how
does Team Ban expect even compliant journalists to try to follow instructions if
P-3 status is withheld? We will be reporting further on this and other lists.
2006 Republic of Korea -- 51
L-5 x Regional
Office for Asia and the Pacific, Senior Program Officer
Human Rights Officer OHCHR 
P-4 Legal Officer,
P-4 Economic Affairs
/ Mr. P-4 Economic Affairs
Officer, ECA (Africa)
/ Mr P-5 Chief, Health and
Dev't Section, ESCAP
/ Mr. P-3 Civil Affairs
Officer, UNMIK (Kosovo)
/ Mr. P-3 Accountant
/ Ms. P-2 Associate Program
/ Mr. D-1 Chief,
Environmental and Sustainable Dev't, ESCAP
/ Mr. P-4 Political Affairs
Officer, DDA (Disarmament)
/ Mr. P-5 [2005=P-4]
Cartographic, DPKO (Peacekeeping)
/ Mr. P-5 [2005=P-4] Transport
/ Miss P-2 Associate Finance
/ Ms. P-4 Seconded to Int'l
Atomic Energy Agency
/ Mr. P-5 Chief, Central
/ Mr. P-3 Economic Affairs
/ Ms. L-2 Associate Expert, DESA
/ Mr. USG Executive Secretary, ESCAP
/ Ms. G-4 General Service,
/ Ms. P-3 Program Officer,
Special Advisor on Africa
/ Ms. L-2 Associate Expert, DESA
/ Mr. P-4 Accounts Chief, UN
Pension Fund (Permanent contract)
/ Ms. P-4 Chief Civilian Personnel
Officer, UNOCI (Cote D'Ivoire)
/ Mr. P-3 Human Resources, OHRM
/ Mr. L-3 Expert, DESA,
/ Mr. P-2 Info Systems, DPKO
/ Mrs. P-4 Social Affairs,
/ Mrs. P-4 Legal Officer OLA
/ Mr. P-4 Accountant,
/ Ms. P-3 Librarian DPI
/ Ms. P-4 [2005=P-3] Human
Rights Officer, OHCHR
/ Mr. L-5 Senior Program
Officer, UNEP, Nairobi
/ Mr. P-4 Auditor ECA
/ Mr. G-4 General Service,
/ Mr. G-3 General Service, GA
/ Mr. P-4 Environmental
/ Mr. P-3 Engineer, UNOCI, Cote
/ Mr. P-4 [2005=P-3]
Auditor, Internal Audit Unit [2005 was auditor DPKO Haiti]
/ Mr. P-3 Finance Officer,
/ Mr. L-3 Associate
Expert, DESA Vienna
/ Ms. P-3 Scientific, UNEP
/ Ms. P-3 Engineer, DPKO
/ Miss P-4 Officer, UNAMA
/ Mr. P-4 First
Officer, Special Leave without Pay
/ Mr. P-3 Human Rights
/ Mr. G-4 General Service, ESCAP
/ Mr. G-5 General Service, UNEP
/ Ms. P-4 Program Officer, UNEP
/ Ms. G-3 General Service
/ Ms. P-5 Chief, ICT, ESCAP
As noted, 10 of the
51 in 2006 were in ESCAP, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the
Pacific. It was stated that now there are five South Koreans in the Executive
Office of the Secretary-General, and that the five names would be provided.
However, instead of five names, on May 17 only three were provided, handwritten:
Kim Won-soo ASG
Yoon Yeocheol Chief of scheduling, D1
Lee Sang-hwa P4 - first officer,
connection with the provision of these names, Ms. Choi Soung-ah came into the
Spokesperson's office. Ms. Choi stated that five people, herself included, had
come over with the transition, and she named journalists who she said knew all
five. Who then is the fifth, Inner City Press asked. A person in the Department
of Management, Ms. Choi said, and declined to provide the name, stating that he
has nothing to do with the Executive Office. Staff tell Inner City Press he is
working on "mandate review," although the OSSG has refused to name the
individual or provide other information. One might infer from this series that
withholding information and trying to dissuade inquiry and reporting may not
attain the objective that is intended.
the Q&A at the
May 22 UN noon briefing,
and the (non) follow up thereto:
briefly, this public document, the copy from the Secretariat that you referred
me to, it seems to not include consultants or dollar-a-year or
when-actually-employed people. They're not included in the count.
Which count? What document are you referring to?
public composition of the Secretariat document doesn't include in the count
consultants, and explicitly excludes dollar-a-year officials and
when-actually-employed people. So I was wondering, first of all, if there's
some reason why they're excluded but also, how many consultants the Secretariat
or Secretary-General has?
If they're dollar-a-year people, they would not be included here. We're talking
about people who are employed on a regular basis with the Secretariat.
Well, I guess with consultants, that's where it seems... It seems that somebody
who's a consultant can be working for the UN virtually full time but they're not
going to show up in these places. It's just a factual question. I wanted to
know how many consultants there are.
I can check for you but you can always check for yourself.
That's what Iím saying. The public document doesn't have that information.
Thatís why I can't check.
Okay, we'll check on that. But you know, we've spent a lot of time on that
If it were released, we wouldn't be spending any time on it.
No, you would spend a lot more time on it because as I mentioned to you, the
list you want to see is simply a directory of people with simply, next to them,
their nationality and their level...
Okay, final question. To whom should the request be addressed that the list of
staff of the United Nations Secretary-General be made a public document? To who
should such a request be made, because I'm not going to keep --
It's not going to be made a public document. If you want to consult it and you
need permission to consult it, we'll give you the necessary information.
Ms. [Alicia] Barcena
said there's a movement afoot to put in a freedom of information policy at
the United Nations. Even in the absence of such a policy, is there a place
where one can make a formal request that a document that seems like it contains
all public information be released? I don't want to keep doing it here. I
agree with you. So to whom is such a request made?
Iíll find out for you. I think thatís really enough on the list. ...
And I think it should be made public.
That's your opinion. And it's for reasons of privacy, as I said, that it's not
public... it does not circulate publicly, it is for background information
only. Okay? Thank you very much.
statement that the List does not include a code for dollar-a-year and When
Actually Employed is not the case. In an attempt to obtain an answer to the
questions asked, including how many consultants are employed, and to whom in the
UN Secretariat to make a formal request that this List be released to the
public, Inner City Press reiterated both in writing to the Office of the
Spokesperson early Tuesday afternoon. Despite deadline, no response at all was
received by 11 p.m. on Tuesday.
public institution like the UN provides no mechanism to challenge the arbitrary
withholding of presumptively public information, it appears that the only way to
proceed is by moving forward with what information is available.
date: no information about consultants, not even to whom to make a request. A
request has nonetheless been sent, in the style of a freedom of information
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
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
Update of May 25, 2007, explaining the voluntary redactions above:
Subject: Fw: Michele - Noon question(s) in
writing as request: who can see The List, S-G/Bashir communications, and Fiji
peacekeepers follow-up, thanks
From: Michele Montas [at] un.org
To: matthew.lee [at] innercitypress.com
Sent: Fri, 25 May 2007 1:39 pm
Matthew, One clarification:
The five staff members from the Republic
of Korea ,who were appointed by the Secretary-General, were appointed to the
Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG). Two of them, Choi Soung-ah and
Kweon Ki-hwan, have been assigned to other departments -- the Department of
Public Information and the Department of Management respectively. But they
remain staff members of EOSG, and perform tasks that are closely related to EOSG
While we recognize your right to report,
the publication and singling out of UN staffers simply because of the passport
they carry is unfair to these international civil servants. It is especially
unfair to have targeted nationals of the Republic of Korea who were in the
organization before Ban Ki-moon became Secretary-General.
As requested and in accordance with UN
policy on staff privacy, we would appreciate it if you removed that list from
your website. I specifically told you that the document listing the names of all
UN staffers was strictly for background information and could not be published.
I am truly disappopinted [sic] that once more you did not respect the
journalistic norms on background information. Michele
"once more" reference is to a briefing given to dozens of UN correspondents by a
person who insisted on only being identified as "a senior UN official," and who
proceeded to repeatedly state that a white plane used by the Sudanese government
in Darfur, with "UN" on its wing, came from Kazakhstan. Later, Inner City Press'
research, still not contested by the UN, matched the number on the plane's wing
with a Russian airline, and after deliberation,
Inner City Press did not name the UN
briefer, but stated his nationality,
City Press was approached by an individual in the UN Department of Public
Information -- apparently no one in the UN is supposed to be named -- and had
what seemed to be a clarifying conversation. Among other things, Inner City
Press advised that particularly in light of the UN's position that as an
inter-governmental body they must defer to member states (most recently
canceling a human rights film about the Hmong at the request of Vietnam, click
here for that),
the UN should not be requesting anonymity in order to accuse, as it now appears
falsely, a member state. The conversation seemed productive.
Now Ms. Montas bootstraps on the "white plane" situation to claim that Inner
City Press' use of the List of Staff of the UN Secretariat, which Inner City
Press did not access in Ms. Montas' office in light of her demand that this only
be on "background" and could not be used. Inner City Press was provided with the
information by a source, without any restriction, just as the Sudan white plane
story originated by a leak of a then-confidential UN report to a UN
Montas and DPI did not ask that the white plane information not be published, or
be retracted. But now the claim is that since the UN made an offer of the List
on background -- an offer that was rejected -- the UN can now state that it is
disappointed that information that it characterizes as background was published.
Inner City Press -- and the
Swiss mission to the
UN, as previously reported -- dispute that the List should be withheld, and
Inner City Press obtained it from another source, and even then redacted a
portion of it, contract status.
worth noting, as simply one example, that the U.S. State Department phone book
of names and posts is on its Web site. In fact, public UN information lists
names, and the definition (by "grade") of posts. So apparently the claim is that
nationality is confidential, even though the UN has a hiring system (called
"desirable ranges") that is explicitly based on nationality.
accommodate this request, however, Inner City Press today redacts from its
May 22 article the
names of the 51 South Koreans employed in the UN Secretariat in mid-2006,
pre-Ban. Inner City Press has asked that this number be updated; there has been
no response yet to that request. To be clear, the number at December 31, 2006
may have been higher than 51. Inner City Press is told by well placed sources
that the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, DESA, noticeably started
hiring South Koreans after Mr. Ban's selection as S-G, but before the end of the
that should in the interim be answered: what was the number on December 31,
2006; what is the number now, and when and how frequently will updates be
And as to
the claim at Friday's noon briefing that there was an interview and evaluation
process for the post, the vacancy announcements should be produced.
statement made at Friday's noon briefing was that "all posts on the 38th floor
were staffed through a competitive process." Video
from Minute 12:35.This has elicited laughter from several of Inner City Press'
sources, distilled to a question: was there a competitive process for the posts
of Messrs. Kim, Lee and Yoon? But we'll assume that the "all" was mis-spoken.
And we'll hope for -- and invest time in -- a better question-and-answer process
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