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At UN, Ban's Compacts Only on Intranet, No Disclosure from Ladsous

By Matthew Russell Lee

  UNITED NATIONS, February 15, updated – Thirty eight stories above Manhattan, more than a dozen UN officials signed “compacts” for their work on Friday morning. Photos here.

  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told them it was an agreement not only with the UN but with the world's people.

  But the documents will not be published on the UN's external website, only the UN's in-house intranet. Why? [UN response below.]

  What is published on the UN's external site are the supposed “public financial disclosure” forms of the senior UN officials. But many of them have filed a form saying only “I have chosen to maintain the confidentiality of the information disclosed in my financial disclosure statement.”

   Seated across from Ban Ki-moon at Friday's ceremony was his chief of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous -- who refused to make public financial disclosure, click here to view.

  After the signing Ban Ki-moon genially came over to Inner City Press, which asked about the public financial disclosures. Ban said the next round will be filed in March. Will Ladsous disclose then?

  Several officials appeared by video; to Yuri Fedotov, Ban joked, “two compacts, one salary.” Then he signed for other officials. Navi Pillay and Valerie Amos (who also declined public financial disclosure) were listed as “on official mission.”

The ombudsperson was “on annual leave;” Jeffrey Feltman, not yet listed on the public financial disclosure page, was said to have a “private appointment.” Will he disclose in March?

  Ban's chief of staff Susana Malcorra said there had been no ceremony last year due to changes among the senior officials. But there are imminent changes this year as well.

  Patricia O'Brien of the Office of Legal Affairs, for example, signed a compact even though she has been named Ireland's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva. Who will Ban's next chief lawyer be? And will they not only make public financial disclosure, but hold press conferences, as Patricia O'Brien refused to do?

  After the ceremony, Inner City Press headed to the North Lawn Building for an “Arria formula” meeting on climate change. (Click here for Feb 11 Inner City Press story.)

  Despite the morning's call for transparency, there was no notice of this meeting in the UN Journal or even the sign in front of Conference Room 2. A range of diplomats asked Inner City Press, “Where is it?”

  A small island state's Permanent Representative left in disgust, telling Inner City Press, “They are not even letting us speak, and we sponsored it. They are downgrading it, it's not even in the Journal.”

  Germany's Deputy Permanent Representative Miguel Berger was more emphatic, telling Inner City Press of the secrecy, “This should not be.”

  Berger is chairperson of the Fifth (Budget) Committee. There he could raise not only this excessive secrecy, but also some oversight of those refusing to make public financial disclosure but still seeking big money for their Department's budget -- like Ladsous and DPKO. Watch this site.

Update of 3:30 pm -- Inner City Press at Friday's noon briefing asked why the compacts will only be on the i-Seek intranet and not the UN's external website. This came back:

The Senior Managers Compacts and end of year performance assessments together form unique management tools at the disposal of the Secretary-General and Senior Managers themselves. Their publication on iSeek is an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability for public sector institutions. These tools are work in progress; the Secretariat continues to improve and fine-tune them each year. The Secretariat will use lessons learned from this experience to determine the pros and cons and whether and how to publish them externally in the future.

  While appreciating the response, we ask: What was that again, about the compacts being agreements not just with the UN but the public at large? Watch this site.

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