Ban Hit With Staff "No Confidence" Vote, on Asbestos, G
to P, Tamil Protest
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press: News Analysis
UN GC City, June 16 -- Reeling from low
grades from the Economist and
questions of viability in the Financial Times, UN Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday was hit with a vote of "no confidence"
from the UN Staff Union regarding implementation of the Capital
Master Plan and the management of human resources.
The resolution criticizes
Ban and his team for relocating staff to "swing space buildings
before the security risk assessments were done," for the manner
of asbestos removal and for stifling meritocracy and "career
advancement including the leap from G to P" -- from general to
of these issues has been festering
for months, and most can be
attributed back to the UN Department of Management, headed by Angela
Kane. Ms. Kane herself has acknowledged a failure to communicate
about the postponement of the National Competitive Exam, but similar
issues exist around the G to P exam.
The resolution was voted for by over 200 staff members at a meeting on
June 16, with no opposition, one abstention. According to one attendee,
"the mood was one of distrust, of Angela Kane, Michael Adlerstein and
Ban Ki-moon. It was stated again and again that Management is not
acting in a responsible, safe or appropriate manner."
CMP chief Michael Adlerstein
first said the security risk assessments were done, then referred all
questions to the Department of Safety and Security, whose Bruno Henn
"no commented" the issue.
Ms. Angela Kane, beyond an icy relationship with the UN Staff Union,
has lashed out at the press,
specifically and generally, first proposing for the first time in
the history of UN Headquarters to charge journalists money to cover it,
to subject whistleblowers to exposure. The pretext is an open
office plan which the resolution notes was "never negotiated with the
Ms. Kane has complained that the UN's responses are not published,
while telling the Press that she has no time to answer questions.
UN's Ban stares into (swing) space, staff (union)
Economist magazine gave Mr. Ban a failing
grade of two out of ten on
Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban for his response, his
statement was passionate, but largely laid the blame elsewhere. But
this new "no confidence" vote does not bode well.
as Inner City Press previously reported, Ban may be subject to a rare
street protest on the night of June 17, when he and Bill Clinton are
slated to receive a "global humanitarian award" at the St.
Regis Hotel. Tamils who watched the bloodbath on the beach in
Northern Sri Lanka and the UN withholding casualty figures and
satellite photos blame Ban.
While the Security Council and members
not only from China and Russia, but also for lack of true commitment
to protection of civilians by the UK, France and US, share much of
the blame, it is Ban who is targeted for protest, as his advisors
know. Watch this site.
* * *
Ban Questioned on Record, on Sri Lanka, Half Time Pep Talk
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 11 -- Half way into the five year term as UN Secretary
General he was awarded in 2006, Ban Ki-moon on June11 tried to defend
low grades he has received for his management of the UN and not
"speaking truth to power."
At Mr. Ban's press conference
for June, his spokesperson Michele Montas pointedly did not call on
Inner City Press. Only a week before she had
said the UN should be
able to regulate the Press, after a memo revealed her attendance at a
May 8 meeting at which legal threats and "complaining to Google
News" about Inner City Press was discussed. On June 11, she
looked elsewhere to award the right to question.
But CNN's longtime
correspondent, characteristically classy, yielded his question to
Inner City Press. Video here,
from Minute 42:41. To inquire into Ban's views on his Spokesperson's
and top officials' seeming underlying of freedom of the press, while
necessary and to later be asked, had to take a back seat to a bigger
picture question. From the UN's
transcript, the question and then
Ban's annotated answer:
City Press: There is an article
in today's Economist, called “Ban
Ki-moon - the score at half time”. It reviews half of your first
term. I want to ask you to respond to it. Under the rubric “truth
to power” they give you a three out of ten, and they use the
example of Sri Lanka - they say that Mr. Ban denied that the UN had
leaked grim civilian casualty figures. On management they give two
out of ten. There are some better grades, I acknowledge. On
management, they say there is a problem with communicating with
senior staff, that you have to show more leadership in drumming up
might add to that, protection
of whistle-blowers and free press.
I just wanted to know, do you agree with any of this
critique, are there things you intend to do better in a second term?
What do you make of this piece in the Economist assigning those two
I would regard it as the judgment of the Economist. There may be a
different judgment on my performance. First of all, during the last
two and a half years, I had three priorities. First of all, to
catalyze a global response to critical global issues – like climate
change, managing the consequences of the international economic
crisis, global health and global terrorism. On climate change, you
may agree with me that from almost dead - if not dead, a dormant
status - this issue has risen to the level of leaders of the world.
It has become a top priority issue of this world. I am going to
really work hard to seal the deal in Copenhagen in December. I am
working for all humanity, for the future of Planet Earth.
Ban is clearly passionate about climate change, but some might also
mention Al Gore in this role. Ban appointed a mentor and former boss
in South Korea as a UN climate change envoy, then added the past
General Assembly president Srgjan Kerim to his climate roster. These
are patronage appointments, many feel, that do no credit to the
environment and provide support for the grades the Economist gave.
To deliver results to those most in need, you should know that I have
been working very hard to represent the well-being of the most
vulnerable people. I have been working as the voice of the voiceless
people, and defend those people who are defenseless. You see my
performance on the record.
Most recently Ban went to Sri Lanka, and saw Tamils locked up in
internment camps. Since returning to New York, Ban's Spokespeople
have resisted commenting on the plight of these defenseless people,
who are being locked up with UN funds.
UN's Ban, a world of worry, officials' anti-Press
moves don't help
Inner City Press asked, what
about the outgoing Sri Lankan chief justice's comment that the people
in the camps have no legal protection, cannot get the jurisdiction of
Sri Lankan court? Ban's Associate Spokesperson dryly called this a
"national issue." So much for voice for the voiceless. Some
say, apologist for governments.
On reform, you should understand that this has been accumulating over
the last sixty years. During the last two and a half years, I can
proudly say that I have made significant changes in the working
culture of the United Nations, to make this most transparent,
accountable, efficient and mobile and effective. I don't claim that I
have finished the job. There are much more things to be done in the
reform process of the United Nations. Look at these accumulated, very
cumbersome, bureaucratic systems of the United Nations. I am also in
a very difficult position to move these reform processes ahead. Have
you ever seen somebody who has been, as passionately as I have been
doing, to change this working culture of the United Nations? There
will be some complaints. People just love business as usual. They
simply don't want to change. This is what I really wanted to change.
Ban could have made his top officials file public financial
disclosure, or face non reappointment. He didn't. He is viewed,
perhaps because of those around him, as unapproachable by many. His
top management official, Angela Kane, barely speaks with the Staff
Union. Therefore few things have been reformed.
You should look very closely and follow me, what I have been doing,
what I have in my mind. I have never left climate change [or] reform
of the United Nations. I will continue to do that, whatever somebody
may say. But be sympathetic, and just try to closely follow what I
have been doing, not just based on conventional wisdom. Fix your
eyesight and vision on the 21st [century]. Don't look at the 1950s,
1960s., where the United Nations was the only universal body. Now you
have so many international actors – the European Union, the African
Union, the OAS, ASEAN – the United Nations must work together in
close coordination with all these organizations. And we need the full
support of the Member States.
Ban appointed former peacekeeping chief Jean Marie Guehenno as his
Under Secretary General for Regional Cooperation, that is on all
these grounps. Then, Ban did not assign Guehenno a single piece of
work. It was a patronage appointment, apparently designed to keep
Guehenno's visa status. This is not a new way of doing busines.
Without the political support, without resources provided by the
Member States, it is difficult, however capable a person may be the
Secretary-General. It is just impossible. I need more political
support. I need more resources by the Member States. Then judge my
support on the basis of that. The mandate should be supported and
accompanied by the resources and political support. Don't just look
at my performance on the basis of just vague or conventional
perceptions of the United Nations.
Is it too conventional to think that the UN Secretary General should
speak up for members of a minority group interned by a majoritarian
government using UN money? Is it vague to think that a CEO who has he
wants those whom he appointed to make public financial disclosure
could easily bring it about, by conditioning appointment or
re-appointment on disclosure? We could go on and on. The point is,
what improvements will there be? Watch this site.