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Inner City Press Podcast --

At UNU, Swiss Grab Rector Post, It's Konrad Osterwalder, To Sell UNU Press, $1 a Year in New York

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, May 9, 11 am (confirmed by UN at noon) -- Even when it comes to learning, the UN is all about jobs. High jobs for major donors, this is the decree. Even before taking office on January 1, Ban Ki-moon started with the game. He or his office faxed out a number of letters, Inner City Press is told, including one to Tokyo, the seat of UN University, whose Rector, Hans van Ginkel, had a contract long ago expired. "Stay on," the fax commanded. Because the vacant seat was meat with which to placate donors.

            And now it is complete. In mid-May, soon that is, the new Rector of UNU will be named. Inner City Press is told by sources that the post goes to Switzerland -- which already has Nicholas Michel as head legal officer -- and that the person is Konrad Osterwalder, currently the head of ETH Zurich, click here.

Osterwalder, previously in Japan

            The pitch, it is reported, was made to Ban Ki-moon and chief of staff Vijay Nambiar by the Swiss undersecretary of state for education and research, Charles Kleiber (and not, as previously literally auto-translated, "Nuthatch" -- oops!).

   Earlier this year, Inner City Press asked Swiss Ambassador Maurer about Switzerland's post at the UN. "There is really only Michel," Amb. Maurer answered, adding that keeping him in the legal office post was one of Switzerland's priorities during the transition from Annan to Ban. Maurer's statement ignored a number of high places Swiss in the agencies, UNDP and UNICEF, the World Food Program and the like. But the head of UNU, that's something.

            As Inner City Press previously reported, there's much to be cleaned up at UNU. A seemingly small example, but telling because nothing has been done or even said about it, is the moonlighting in broad daylight of UNU-NY's technology procurement officer Ramon Ray, who teaches $99 seminars cross-town in Times Square, click here for that story.

            Now we can report that UNU grants "Dollar a Year" status, office space and G-4 visas to former staffers, including since 1992 former NY office head Nathan Chidambaranathan.

            UNU-wide, there are financial problems, leading now to a proposal to sell-off the UNU Press. UNU's satellite campuses have proliferated, most recently by taking a grant from Malaysia to open a center in, yes, Malaysia, and to move some jobs over there. Tokyo and Japan have been losing, and stand to lose yet more. Developing.

[Update Wednesday afternoon -- the above, published at 11 a.m. Wednesday, was confirmed by the UN an hour later...].

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