Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Home -

Follow us on TWITTER

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


ICP on YouTube

Video on NY Times

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

Torsella Claims Reforms Doubted at UN, Preaches Open Slates While US Controls DPA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 20 -- When the US Mission to the UN's ambassador on management Joe Torsella chose to speak publicly about UN reform, he did it in Washington, taking only six questions including from lobbying law firm Akin Gump.

  The Council on Foreign Relations had a listen-only telephone line, but questions from the press which actually covers the UN were not taken.

  In Torsella's speech and the six questions, while the UN's "credibility" was mentioned, there was no discussion of UN mis-performance which destroys its credibility, such as alleged sexual abuse and in the introduction of cholera into Haiti, or this month failure to protect civilians in South Sudan due to lack of planning after the UN was told in mid November it had no more helicopters.

  Torsella made much of his claimed $100 million in savings in the UN budget negotiations in December. But he could not address how this compares with the $100 million the US gave back to the UN, in an untransparent manner, the so called "Tax Equalization Fund."

  Inner City Press submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the State Department about TEF more than 10 months ago, without yet getting any documents. What was that about transparency?

  In his speech and in response to a question, Torsella attacked so called "clean slates" in elections to UN system posts. But he did not explain, and was not asked, why it is OK for the US to control posts like the World Food Program (where an Obama selected American replaced Bush's Josette Sheeran), UNICEF (and the World Bank) and even the UN Department of Political Affairs.

  Or, in an example related to the mis-performance in South Sudan and Haiti listed above, why it is OK for France to be given ownership of the top post in UN Peacekeeping: four Frenchmen in a row, culminating in the least qualified, Herve Ladsous?

  In fairness, Torsella made some good points, for example that it is ridiculous that December's budget negotiations devolved into micro management of the grade of particular posts.

  Inner City Press was there covering the negotiations, saw and later learned more about how extra posts were given to for example Swahili Radio, while the UN's radio programs for the Arab world saw no increase.

  An African official well placed in the negotiations laughed and said, Kenya advocated well, even overestimating the number of people who speak Swahili.

This official, in an interview with Inner City Press, ridiculed Torsella's claim that the International Civil Service Commissioner has been tasked with coming up with ways to match the US salary increase freeze. That wasn't agreed to, the official said, noting that a letter to that effect has already gone to the ICSC.

Torsella criticized overspending in the UN's technology "upgrade," named UMOJA by the UN, and mentioned some "bureaucrats" that hold on. In charge of UMOJA, until removed, was current Under Secretary General for Management Angela Kane.

Is the US trying to recapture the Department of Management, which it controlled under Bush appointee Chris Burnham? Or will it allow Germany to appoint a successor to Kane (who is being urged to shift to Disarmament, Inner City Press is told), or let Japan have the post?

(c) MRLee
Torsella preached reform at USUN October 12, no real Q&A at UN since

  For all the talk of reform, the US is happy to control the Department of Political Affairs, and as Inner City Press has exclusively reported nominated Jane Hall Lute of the Department of Homeland Security (who while at the UN pushed a $100 million set-aside contract in Darfur for Lockheed Martin: wonder what Torsella'll say about that) and Alejandro Wolff, Ambassador to Chile, as successors to Lynn Pascoe.

  This undercuts Torsella's claimed opposition to clean slated and "owned" positions. He said watch his twitter feed in October and November. But he should answer questions from the press at the UN well before then. Watch this site.

Share |

Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-253, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2011 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]