UN's Ban, the Hits Just Keep On Coming, Bad First Half Reviews Trigger
UN, Questions of Ban's Son in Law's Hirings and Promotion Unanswered,
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, July 23, updated --
In today's United Nations, questions of possible nepotism
and family connections have become taboo. Few pose or pursue them and
if asked, they are not answered. The lack of transparency starts at
the very top.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's son in law Siddharth
Chatterjee, well placed sources tell Inner City Press, has recently
transferred with a promotion from the UN Mission in Iraq, from which
patron Staffan de Mistura has left, to the UN Office of Project
Services in Copenhagen, Denmark, under a new patron, Jan Mattsson.
Inner City Press traveled with Ban Ki-moon and senior advisors
including his speech writer to Sri Lanka and back. On the return leg,
after photo opportunities including a scene in the government run
internment camp in Vavuniya in which detained
children sung the name
of Mr. Ban, the UN plane stopped in Copenhagen. An environmental
conference for business executives was taking place in the Bella
which will host December's climate talks.
the Center, Inner City Press met and interviewed an official from the
Development Program. He said his job that Sunday was to drive Mr.
Ban's wife to meet with the wife of UNOPS chief Jan Mattsson. He
added incongruously that he'd been told to wait off to the side of
these meeting of spouses. Inner City Press alluded
to this in its
dispatch from Copenhagen, wondering but not directly asking if this
was an appropriate use of UN money and staff time.
New York this
month, well placed UN sources told Inner City Press that Siddharth
Chatterjee had quietly shifted from the UN in Baghdad to UNOPS in
Copenhagen back in early May, once it was clear Staffan de Mistura
was leaving his post of Ban's envoy in Iraq to take the number two
post in the World Food Program. (Inner City Press was the first to
report de Mistura's departure and replacement by UNDP's Ad Melkert, here
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity due to express
fear of retaliation, said that Ban's son in law was getting a
Chatterjee took the Baghdad job as de Mistura's chief of staff, he
was slated for a promotion. After Inner City Press and then the
Washington Post wrote about it, the UN quickly and some felt
defensively announced that Chatterjee would not be moving up a grade
in UN pay scale. The Post reported that "This
has greatly upset the U.N. rank and file, who are fretting that maybe
Chatterjee is trying to leapfrog other qualified staff to get the
When Inner City Press asked about it,
Montas replied on
video that "we feel the publication of any
information that increases the risk to any staff member and to the
mission as a whole is not very helpful." (Apparently this
argument is now being extended from Baghdad to Copenhagen). Team Ban
hastened to argue that since Chatterjee had known de Mistura before,
no nepotism was involved and again that the hire should not have been
reported at all.
de Mistura, as
a savvy UN player, has a history of hiring the relatives of powerful
Headquarters officials. He hired the son of Kofi Annan's chief of
staff Iqbal Riza, even creating a middleman for payment to skirt
rules or scrutiny. The source opine to Inner City Press that
Mattsson, until recently criticized in the UN system for UNOPS' lack
of audit and then identified system flaws, is emulating de Mistura.
It is a fact that during the recent New York meeting of the executive
board of UNOPS and UNDP, Ban issued a ruling that gave Mattsson
greater freedom in staffing decisions, used to increase the number of
higher level D-1 and D-2 positions at UNOPS in Copenhagen.
UN's Ban partially unveiling with UNOPS'
Mattsson on May 25, 2009
backdrop, Inner City Press on July 20 asked Ban's speech writer, who
is also the Director of Communications, about what whistleblowing
staff had said of Chatterjee. Under Kofi Annan, Inner City Press
would simply have gone to then UN spokespeople and asked a factual
question, as it once did about a trust fund controlled by the family
of Annan's wife. Such factual questions deserve factual answers;
counter interpretations of the facts can be offered too, and included
as quotes in stories. On this story, all that Team Ban has said is
that Ban is concerned about safety, and sensitive to family.
on June 20,
Inner City Press put factual question about Chatterjee to Ban's chief
Spokesperson Michele Montas. She said she would get the answers.
Inner City Press said, in light of Team Ban's argument that Ban is
sensitive to family matters, that it would choose to question and
await answers outside of the UN's formal noon briefing. At the June
21 noon briefing Inner City Press asked about Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and
Afghanistan but not the
Chatterjee questions, choosing instead to approach Ms. Montas
afterwards expecting response to the simple factual questions. But
none were given.
Nor the next
day, June 22, on the eve of Ban's and
his Spokesperson's trip to China and Mongolia. On July 23 a 10 a.m.
debate on the "Responsibility
to Protect" hosted by General
Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann will not include Ban due
it's said to his trip. A source on Ban's 38th floor, long after
working hours, nodded despairing, "why don't they just answer
the questions? To refuse to just makes Ban look worse," adding
hopefully that management,
relations and communications
changes may be made "for
the good of the UN" during Ban's time in his native country in
Office of Internal Oversight Services appears to do nothing in this
regard. Even in the face of the President of the General Assembly's unexplained
with UN money of two relatives, reported first by Inner City
Press and then the Times of London, OIOS has not acted. Inner City
Press asked and was told that jurisdiction is being "looked
into," but that complaints by anonymous sources, even those fear
retaliations, should not be given weight.
issue arose at
a recent UN noon briefing, where Inner City Press was told that no
more questions about the hirings would be accepted. At much lower
levels of governance, questions about boss' son in law being hired
and promoted within the Organization would be asked and answers
given. Why is it different within this UN? Watch this site.
Four days after Inner City Press off-camera asked the UN Office of
the Spokesperson to confirm that Mr. Ban's son in law got a promotion
at UNOPS, still with no answered the question was asked at the July
23 noon briefing. The question was dodged, but after the briefing
Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe quietly confirmed that yes, Ban's son
in law now works at UNOPS. She would not state how many ranks he'd
been promoted, saying despite its relevance to the Secretariat that
all questions should be directed to UNOPS's spokesperson. He is out
of the office into August, but half-responded below the following
I have been directed by the UN Spokesperson's Office, Marie Okabe, to
direct questions to you about UNOPS' hiring of Siddarth Chatterjee,
the Secretary General's son in law:
is his current position: D-1 or D-2? What was his position before:
P-5? Please state and confirm or deny. Please state what will be Mr.
Chatterjee's compensation. was the vacancy announced? what was the
vacancy number? many applicants for the vacancy were there? beyond
specific responses to the questions above, please describe the UNOPS
recruitment and hiring process, and any safeguards in place.
confirm that the spouses of the Secretary General and Mr. Mattssson
met in late May, describe all use of UN system personnel in this
regard and the cost. Please describe and disclose all communications
between the Bans and the Mattssons, in connection with the hiring,
with S-G's decision to increase UNOPS' autonomy in hiring and the
increase in D-1 and D-2 positions and otherwise.
next day, just
before the noon briefing, the following arrived, responding to some
but not all of the above questions:
response from UNOPS to your question
[Deputy Spokespeson at] un.org
Inner City Press
7/24/2009 11:48:20 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
from UNOPS on the selection of Siddharth Chatterjee as UNOPS Regional
Director for Europe and Middle East
Chatterjee, was appointed in May 2009 as UNOPS Regional Director for
Europe and the Middle East (EMO). He was awarded the position after
competing successfully in a routine and transparent recruitment
process independently managed by UNOPS.
Chatterjee met or exceeded all the criteria for the post. UNOPS
totally rejects any suggestion that he gained the position due to
12 years Mr. Chatterjee held positions of increasing responsibility
in UN peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Iraq,
and working for UNICEF in Sudan, Indonesia and Somalia. Earlier he
served 12 years with distinction in the Indian Army Special Forces,
including duty as a military observer for the UN, rising to the rank
of senior Major. During the recruitment process he impressed the
selection panel with his 24 years of leadership and experience
handling UN tasks in conflict and post-conflict settings.
post of regional director was advertised on UNOPS website and in
prominent international media. UNOPS received 121 applications, and
short listed five candidates based on their specific experience and
their match to the competencies sought for the position. UNOPS
conducted a formal panel interview with these five, asking identical
questions of each. The candidates were ranked based on their
interview scores. References were checked and the successful
candidate offered the position.
not state Mr. Ban's son in law's new rank nor compensation, nor
describe "any safeguards in
place" nor "confirm that the spouses of the Secretary
General and Mr. Mattssson met in late May, describe all use of UN
system personnel in this regard and the cost. Please describe and
disclose all communications between the Bans and the Mattssons, in
connection with the hiring, with S-G's decision to increase UNOPS'
autonomy in hiring and the increase in D-1 and D-2 positions and
questions were reiterated to UNOPS and the UN Spokesperson's Office
on July 24. Watch this site.
* * *
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: Media Analysis
NATIONS, July 1 -- Halfway through a torrent of less than favorable
reviews of the first half of his five year term as UN Secretary
General, Ban Ki-moon and those around him have suddenly sought more
and more tightly controlled press coverage. Outlandish claims of
accomplishment are made, that Ban saved 500,000 people in Myanmar,
that he is the second most trusted leader in the world, and number
one on climate change.
The strategy is viewed as risky, even by UN supporters. On June 30 a
senior Security Council diplomat told Inner
City Press that Ban should just "lie low" for the rest of
the summer and use the time to replace some of the advisers and
officials who have brought him to this point, who "don't seem to be
able to tell Ban what is really going on."
While the first part of
this advice is not being followed, perhaps the latter will be, or
some officials will simply leave for their own reasons.
of reviews of Ban's performance began with a report
card in The
Economist, ranking Ban three out of ten for "speaking truth to
power" and two out of ten for management. Inner City Press asked
Ban to respond, during his last press conference.
passion, Ban lashed out at his critics, saying he needs more
resources, he needs more support. What followed were even more
negative reviews, in the Financial Times and Foreign
publish counter offensive. Ban appeared on the Charlie Rose
television show, where he made his claim to have saved half a million
Burmese. This exact phrase had earlier been deployed in interviews
with publications now preparing their own Ban first half reviews.
major newspapers are now competing on who will come out first, while
a third -- a ailing West Coast daily which no longer covers Ban's UN
day to day -- has been brought in on little notice with the
expectation that its verdict will be more positive. In the interim,
UN supporters have been countered with mostly online
trip beginning in Japan then Myanmar, Ban did a separate sit-down
with Japanese reporters. Rather than tell the whole UN press corps
about the Burma trip, his Spokesperson's Office pre-selected not only
the organizations which would be allowed to come, but even
fear, as one of Ban's 38th floor advisers
told Inner City Press, is that Burma may become "Sri Lanka Two,"
an embarrassment in which the re-imprisonment
of Aung San Suu Kyi,
like the bombardment then internment of Tamils, is legitimated by a
seemingly hapless UN Secretary General. But if that is what happens,
who can it be reported differently?
Ban dealt with Kosovo -- going silent when asked about the legality
from the UN perspective of recognizing the theretofore Serbian
provinces' unilateral declaration of independence -- and then with
Abkhazia and South Ossetia are fodder for forthcoming reviews, as is
Ban's claim to have been responsible for the deployment of UN
peacekeepers in Darfur. There are pieces in the works, unless
destructive deadline competition curtail them, to assess and take
apart even Ban's claims on climate change.
recently reach-out to selected media is undermined, meanwhile, by
anti-press initiatives by his management and Capital Master Plan
officials. These were summarized in a "Dear Colleague"
letter circulated to the 435 members of the House of
earlier this week, the text of which is below.
At UN, Team Ban's anti-Press strategy going goodbye?
by past and continuing media reports of corruption, mismanagement and
inaction at the United Nations, the UN is again seeking to cover up
evidence and stifle freedom of the press.
on May 8
about 'reporting by the press,' high level UN officials discussed
sending threatening letters to several press agencies and other
bodies, as well as complaining to Google News about a small,
independent news agency that has uncovered numerous UN scandals. Last
year, a similar complaint resulted in that agency's temporary removal
from Google News. In response to a question about that meeting, the
Secretary General's spokeswoman furiously retorted, 'I don't have to
account to you for meetings I participate in.'
of Management is also reportedly pushing to obstruct press coverage,
seeking to charge media outlets $23,000 to maintain office space, and
to move journalists covering the UN into open, un-walled offices --
deterring whistleblowers from coming forth and preventing oversight.
restrict press freedom and oversight directly contravene the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognized that
'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression... and
to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media
and regardless of frontiers.' Once again, the UN is actually
undermining the principles on which it was founded."
May 8 meeting,
involving Under Secretaries General Angela Kane (Management), Kiyo
Akasaka (Public Information) and Patricia O'Brien (Legal Affairs), as
well as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's speech writer Michael Meyer
and Spokesperson Michele Montas, was memorialized in a
memo from Ms.
Kane to Ban.
City Press was shown the memo, wrote
asked Ban's spokeswoman Michele Montas about it by email, along with
the three USGs, none of whom has yet to explain how their
participation is consistent not only with the First Amendment, which
they say does not apply, but even to the cited Article 19 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Michele Montas is widely reported to be leaving in November. His
speech writer is said to still review to his previous employer,
Newsweek, as "we." Angela Kane, who convened and summarized
the anti-Press meeting, is said by Staff Union sources to be leaving.
The UN's top lawyer is rarely if even seen in the building, having
done only one press conference in all her time on the job.
senior adviser Kim Won-soo has yet to do any on the record press
conference, although he speaks extensively on background for the
forthcoming Ban reviews. He and Ban are joined at the hip. Whether
the press strategy adopted by the 38th floor is working is in serious
doubt, as is whether Ban will take the symptomatic advice offered
Tuesday, to in essence lay low, shake up and start over. Watch this
* * *
E-mails Allege Plot to Deny Ban a Second Term, Trick for Supachai at
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: Exclusive
NATIONS, June 24 -- Weeks after the filing with the UN investigative
unit of emails showing a dirty tricks campaign by staffers of UN
Conference on Trade and Development chief Supachai Panitchpakdi to
get a second term, on Wednesday UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
nevertheless announced he is supporting Supachai for another four
Inner City Press, which exclusively
reported the filing on
June 22, asked Ban's spokesperson if Ban had considered its
and acknowledged any connection between them and the reappointment.
most explosive part of the emails, being
published for the first time
today by Inner City Press, are the arguments made in a May 8, 2009
email by Supachai's special adviser Kobsak Chutikul, that African and
other countries were supporting Ivory Coast's former trade minister
to deny Supachai from Thailand a second term in order to set a
precedent to deny Ban Ki-moon a second term as Secretary General, due
to "his perceived Western backers."
spokesperson declined to comment on the filing, saying it is before
the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services. Video here
10:45. But senior Ban officials including Management chief Angela
Kane and Ethics Officer Robert Benson have had the complaint since
June 4. Meanwhile, the complainant has reportedly been demoted.
City Press asked Supachai if his UNCTAD has any whistleblower
protection provisions. Yes we will follow those, Supachai answered.
He claimed he "never campaigned," despite what the emails
show his special adviser Kobsak Chutikul doing. He claimed he only
"responded to some countries' remarks." Video here,
these statement, Inner City Press is today publishing some of the
emails at issue, here.
UN's Ban and UNCTAD's Supachai: a snub of latter hurts former?
In a May 8, 2009 email marked Attachment E and
headlined, "NAM Note Verbale," Chutikul wrote to three
senior UNCTAD staff, including the subsequent complainant:
please see attached NAM Note Verbale sent out to all NAM Missions
today. In light of this new development, it is the assessment of Thai
and some ASEAN Ambassadors that the picture has become clear --
UNCTAD SG post has become an innocent bystander caught in the middle
of a bigger struggle... The goal seems to be to insist on
geographical rotation of posts, and undermining the practice /
tradition of two continuous terms, with the real target being the UN
SG (and his perceived western backers)."
argument raises the issue, for some interviewed by Inner City Press
so far: did Ban have something of a conflict of interest in
overriding (after working to override and change) African Group
resistance and giving Supachai a second term? In fact, that too is
laid out in Supachai's special adviser's Mach 8 e-mail, referring to
telling Team Ban "things like 'you are the real target' or 'you
emails point to several other improprieties, and it is extraordinary
that Team Ban wants or wanted to ignore them and simply reappoint
Chutikul's"all hands on deck" e-mail, the press was on to
get Ban to announce his referral of Supachai's renomination to the
General Assembly. A Chinese staff member conferred with Beijing, and
that asked for evidence of which way Ban was leaning (Attachment G).
Another UNCTAD staffer questioned why the African Group targeted the
second term of Supachai and not Frenchman Pascal Lamy at the World
Trade Organization -- "because he's white"? The e-mails are
replete with racial references.
Now what will happen? Watch this site.
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
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