UN's Ban Shielded from Nepotism Questions, Scandals Brew, Defenses
Outsourced to Mission
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, September 17, updated twice
-- While questions having swirled all
around Ban Ki-moon's leadership of the UN, Mr. Ban belated held a
pre-General Assembly press conference on September 17. But the
management, human rights, nepotism
and even corruption short falls in
Ban's UN that have been discussed in diplomatic circles and in the
media were scarcely mentioned.
allowed on two human rights short falls, Sri Lanka
less on the nepotism scandals festering at the highest levels of the
UN. It's as if these issues were censored out, after having been
strangely outsourced to South Korea's Deputy Permanent Representative
to the UN, who recently invited Inner City Press to a lunch with only
one topic: the integrity of Ban Ki-moon. [See Amb. Kim Bong-hyun's
reply, in full below.]
it's not that
Team Ban is unaware of the questions. After a leaked e-mail by Ban's
envoy to the Congo Alan Doss surfaced and was first published by
Inner City Press, Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe told
Press Ban was very concerned and expected a report on the matter when
he returned to New York from his vacation in South Korea.
month ago but when Inner City Press, denied a chance to question by
Ban's Spokesperson Michele Montas, asked Ban on his way out about the
case of Alan Doss, Ban muttered "that is still going on,"
presumably referring to the investigation.
who previously referred Inner City Press to Ban's main adviser Kim
Won-soo about the issue (Mr. Kim subsequently canceled the meeting),
should at least have allowed a question about Ban's actual management
of the UN.
Ban's lack of
action is attributed by some, including
prospectively a major U.S. newspaper, to questions about two recent
hirings of Ban's son in
law Siddarth Chatterjee. First he was hired,
without any competitive process, by Ban's envoy in Iraq Staffan de
Mistura to be his chief of staff, a position for which many said
Chatterjee did not have the diplomatic and political background.
had previously hired the son of Kofi Annan's chief of staff Iqbal
Riza, many saw a pattern, of the hiring of top UN leaders' children
as a way for far-flung officials to be viewed favorable in
de Mistura left
Iraq, Ban's son in law resurfaced hired by the UN Office of Project
Services to head a whole regional bureau. While UNOPS refused to
answer the simple question of whether Chatterjee's job is at the D-1
or D-2 level, it has since emerged that the post was upgraded to D-2
in connection with a process in which Ban gave UNOPS more freedom
over its human resources practices. While it is said Chatterjee for
now is at the lower of the two Director levels, he can be upgraded at
any time, without public announcement.
supposedly lateral moves resulting in reality in a meteoric rise up
two levels," as one observer wryly puts it, "only at the
UN." Meanwhile Chatterjee
has taken to telephoning Indian
newspapers which have picked up Inner City Press' coverage of the
issue and telling them to remove articles and comments from the
Internet, in the face of legal threats.
adviser Kim Won-soo canceled the meeting, which it was emphasized would
be off the record or on background, about the still unanswered
Chatterjee questions, Inner City Press received a lunch reach-out
from the Deputy Permanent Representative of South Korea's mission to
the UN, Kim Bong-hyun. Over a sizzling bowl of beef and noodles, the
Kim repeated again and again that Ban is a man of integrity, although
from an earlier generation of Korean diplomats.
UN's Ban on Sept. 15, report and action on nepotism
Kim made detailed
arguments about Ban's son in law's promotions and threats for
censorship; that seemed to be the purpose of the lunch. On the Alan
Doss matter, he first expressed concern about the "leeway"
e-mail, then recovered and argued that Ban's hands are tied by rules
making it difficult to fire UN staff. But Doss is Ban's personal
envoy to the Congo. There is no way to pass the buck. DPR Kim nodded
and said Ban would be sure to know and do something about the Doss
issue. But it hasn't happened yet.
DPR Kim gave no indication that his outreach was off the record or even
on background, normally these
indirect defenses of Ban would not have to be used or reported, if
Ban himself would address the issues in at least one of the fifteen
largely scripted answers he gave on Thursday. A weak communications
strategy has helped get Ban into the situation is his, entering this
General Assembly. And thing do not appear to be getting better.
Ban's Spokesperson, as Inner City Press first publicly reported, is
set to retire in November. Those who multiple
sources say are vying to replace
her include Eric Falt of the UN Department of Public Information [but see below], two
journalists who have covered the UN, and an official of the UN
mis-hiring scandal, which Inner City Press asked
about in writing on August 27 has still not been answered to or even
Watch this site.
of Sept. 17, 4:45 p.m. -- For the record we have received this
denial from Mr.
Falt: "I wish to inform you that I am very happy with my job as
Director of Outreach in DPI and am not currently applying to any
communication has been received from the South Korean Mission to the
UN, clarification has been sought, but has not yet been received. Watch
-- we have received the following from Ambassador
Kim of Korea and
publish it in full:
from Amb.Kim of Korea
Matthew Lee [at] innercitypress.com
just read your article titled "with UN's Ban Shielded...."
of Sept. 17, 2009. I found that facts of the article were distorted
and I was misused. My purpose to invite you to the lunch the other
day was to exchange views about agenda of the new session of the GA.
message to you was that the press should listen to both parties
concerned, otherwise the press would lose its balance and
on the contray to my intention, you initiated to explain the stroy of
Alan Doss to me, including the biting rumor of a staff of UNDP and
quoted me as making detailed arguments about SG's son in law.
did not know the story of Alan Doss at all and I din not know the
details on the stroy of the son in law of the SG. I answered to your
questions as to the two cases based on my common sense as a career
diplomat. I answered that there were rules and regulations for hiring
and firing staff in any organization. I added that I knew there was a
commission for the appeal of staff in the case of infringement of
interest. Also I urged you to look into the rules and regulations
about the prodedure of promotion in the UN.
said that the procedure of promotion regarding to the son in law of
the SG was supposed to be transparent and based on merits. I further
expressed my view that answers related to those questions should be
sought in the framework of the legal institution of the UN and
advised you not to try to personalize the issue.I strongly request
you to carry the above explanation in your blog as an exercise of
right of reply.
Deputy Permanent Representative
Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations
with the right to reply, we nonetheless note that very little was
said about the upcoming General Assembly session, while much was said
about the Mona Juul memo, the possible motives and the "Asian"
style of diplomacy. Detailed arguments were made about whether the
Secretary General's son in law was initially a P-4 or P-5, and is now
a D-1 or D-2 (the post has been upgraded to D-2). If nepotism is a
problem in the UN, as many think it is, it is difficult to report on
and address the issue without giving specific example: that is,
personalizing the issue.
seems significant is that while the Secretary General and his team
are reticent to address or even take questions on these nepotism
issues, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Secretary
General's native South Korea made the arguments, with detailed
information about the Secretary General's son in law.
this may be
a credit to Ambassador Kim Bong-hyun, these arguments should be
coming, on the record, from the Secretariat itself, and they should
not be evading or not allowing questions on the issue. Frankly, it is
unclear if Ambassador Kim Bong-hyun disagrees with this analysis of
the weakness of the Secretary General's current Office of the
Spokesperson. But we appreciate his right of reply and so publish the
above in full. Watch this site.