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Sept 24, 2013

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Brexit's UN Fall-Out, UK Less Likely to Veto Malcorra, Scottish P5 Q? 

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 24 -- With the world awash in Brexit punditry, how will the UK vote to leave the EU impact the UN? Ban Ki-moon came out with a wishy-washy statement from his meeting with six ad agencies in Cannes, linking the EU with humanitarian and the UK with development.

   The UK's Stephen O'Brien, said by other senior UN humanitarian officials to be trying to stay on atop OCHA under a Next SG, may find it more difficult.

   And speaking of Next SG, how might this impact the chance of Susana Malcorra, campaigning for Malvinas only this week as Argentina's foreign minister? A trusted Inner City Press British observer opines Brexit helps Malcorra, moaking the UK more reluctant to veto or openly oppose her, amid questions of its Permanent Security Council seat if Scotland breaks away.

Malcorra this week chaired a meeting about sexual violence in conflict, which some found ironic. We'll have more on this. For now, Inner City Press entrance Periscope here. In the UN system, UNHCR and IOM rushed this video out, and UNTV broke out the reading of Ban's statement, here.

Later on June 24, the UK Mission to the UN issued a transcript of its PR Rycroft's remarks to the press, without saying where it occurred:

"Let me say 3 things about the British Referendum on Europe.
First and most important the British people have spoken. They have decided to leave the European Union, and that is what the UK will do.
Secondly, the process of leaving the European Union will be lengthy and complex. It will take 2 years from a date set by the British Prime Minister in the coming months. Throughout that period of over two years, the UK will remain an integral and full member of the European Union with all of the rights and responsibilities that that entails.
And thirdly, even beyond that period of time the fundamentals of the UK’s strength in the world will endure. Our economy, our world class diplomacy and armed forces, our commitment to international development – helping the world’s poorest – and above all, here at the United Nations, our permanent seat on the Security Council.
Q. So following up on that last point, I know this is getting ahead, it’s a question that has to be asked. If Scotland and even Northern Ireland were to decide to go their own way, to remain in the EU, would Britain remain committed to its permanent seat on the Council and being a diplomatic power?

The UK is and will continue to be a diplomatic power. The UK is and will continue to be a permanent member of the Security Council. We take those responsibilities incredibly seriously. We will carry on doing so. That commitment will endure.
Q. Are you expecting a loss of influence within the Security Council or in the UN in general?
No. I’m confident that the UK will continue to play a constructive, responsible, leading role on the Security Council, in the General Assembly and in every other organ of the United Nations.
Q. So you don’t see any kind of an impact here at the United Nations on the UK’s role, your activities here? Things are going be just like they were yesterday and earlier this week?
This is a significant moment for the UK, for the British people and for the UK’s role in the world. What I’m saying is that the period of continuity will carry on for over two years while the UK negotiates exit from the EU. But even beyond that, even once the UK has actually left the EU, the UK will continue to be a world power, with significant strengths at our disposal, including here at the United Nations.
Q. Will it affect your relationship with other European countries at the UN?
Well, we’re about to begin what I said will be a lengthy and very complex two year negotiation between the UK and the other 27 members of the European Union. That will be based in Brussels with a huge amount of work from my colleagues in London and around Europe. I don’t anticipate that having an effect here. What I anticipate here is that the UK will continue to be a full, integral member of the European Union throughout that negotiation.
Q. One last question, what sort of reaction have you had from other colleagues here at the UN with the result?
Well, I’ve had a huge number of messages, as you can imagine. Some of them were very shocked and surprised by the result. But as I’ve been saying to them, and to you, that is the voice of the British people and one of the things that I’m proud of is that we live in a democracy and when the government of the day chooses to hold a referendum it respects the results, whatever those results are. Thank you very much."

   At the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, a Functional Review circulated on June 10 by USG Stephen O'Brien, and exclusively published by Inner City Press here, lays bare (some of) the problems at OCHA. Examples below.

On June 15, Inner City Press wrote to Ban Ki-moon's two top spokespeople and asked them for the UN's response to or comment on this report that the UN - that is, global taxpayers - had paid for. Neither similarly UN paid spokesperson ever confirmed receipt of the Press questions.

So on June 16, Inner City Press at the noon briefing asked Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it - and he refused to comment, calling it a "leaked" document, akin to internal email (on which, of course, comments are often made.) Vine here.

Now we publish the response by many OCHA officials and experts, some of whom Inner City Press has previously reported about and supported, when for example they faced de facto expulsion from a country. Some tell Inner City Press O'Brien is trying to angle to stay one when Ban Ki-moon leaves. Here is the letter, exclusively published by Inner City Press:

From:                     Vincent Lelei/OCHA/FD
To:                          Stephen O'Brien/OCHA/NY@OCHA
Cc:                         many
Date:                      14/06/2016 01:12 PM
Subject:                 Critical observations by the Heads of Office on Functional Review Outcome
Dear Stephen,
We would like to thank you for sharing the Summary of Preliminary Findings of the OCHA Functional Review and welcome your leadership in having called for the Functional Review and taking on the difficult task of making OCHA more fit for purpose.
We have many detailed comments to offer on the diagnosis and look forward to providing them and engaging in discussions on possible solutions in the coming weeks. However, as some of the preliminary findings appear to us to have been heavily influenced by the HQ dynamics, we thought it may be useful to share our most immediate and important observations ahead of any next step in the review process, including ongoing engagements.
As we are sure you can imagine, we were very disappointed to read of the degree of dysfunction at the HQ management level. We have found it immensely frustrating that key issues affecting our field operations - such as UMOJA and mobility - have not been responded to with one voice from HQ, and that we have been left at field-level to deal with incoherent messages on OCHA's direction. However, while the morale and motivation of our organisation may have suffered, as field leadership we have gratefully been spared the most part of the HQ dynamics and been able to implement our field operations - which after all represent the bulk of OCHA’s staff, work and branding of the organization - in line with the vision and trajectory laid out in the Strategic Framework.
First and foremost, we appeal to you to fix HQ through rationalising and realigning structure with function. From a field perspective, there are simply too many disconnected entities - indeed, this is why many colleagues put forward the concept of a Functional Review several years ago. To this end, we were deeply concerned to read the diagnosis that "formal connections between the field and relevant functions in HQ would allow for improved quality and consistency throughout the organisation".

We in the field believe that there is clarity around what is expected from us and how best to achieve this from our line management, and such clarity empowers us to lead our teams and enables effective engagement with our partners in the discharge of our duties. Under no circumstance should we countenance a return to the notion of multiple reporting lines from the field to HQ. Many of us have painful memories of that chaotic experience in past years - it disempowered field management and made it highly difficult for us to deliver on the outputs expected of our offices when our staff were being tasked by, and reporting to, different units in HQ, creating diffused and confusing accountability arrangements. We can already see this happening in some instances in the absence of formal reporting lines, as with the management of pooled funds.
What we need is more disciplined and coordinated engagement with the field to achieve the vision outlined in OCHA's Strategic Framework, not more reporting lines. We are fully committed to continue to be held to full account for the performance of our offices - through our direct reporting line to CRD and CRD's reporting line to you - but will be unable to deliver if we are unable to oversee the performance and tasking of our teams.
In the same spirit, we are having difficulties understanding the logic that informs the recommendation from the review team about the need to ensure an “appropriate span of control and balance within the organization”. We trust that this is not implying that there is a need to somehow arithmetically balance the relative size of the different parts of the organization, as this would seem to run counter to the imperative of ensuring that form follows function, and to the stated need of keeping a single reporting line for maximum accountability for field operations both of which we feel are imperative.
We enthusiastically welcome the reference to decentralization of decision-making, and hope this translates into immediate implementation of the long-standing commitment from the 2013 Global Management Retreat to delegate meaningful administrative and budgetary authority to Heads of Office. We also welcome the proposal to have additional surge capacity and expertise placed at regional level, in support of country-level requirements. However, we would like to encourage you from the outset to ensure that no additional reporting lines, structures, layers or complications are introduced for us at country-level under the rubric of decentralisation. Our current direct reporting line to CRD allows us to function with the pace, flexibility and delegated authority (with the exception of finances and administration) demanded by the high-paced emergency settings we operate in. We are able to seek and obtain guidance and support from our Section Chiefs in real-time – regardless of the hour or day – when needed, and hope this light and effective structure will remain in place moving forward. We are all acutely aware of the lessons from the Ebola crisis, where one of WHO's biggest obstacles was its cumbersome regional structure, and sincerely hope we avoid such challenges in OCHA.
While we welcome and very much support your efforts to overcome the dysfunctional HQ dynamics, we were concerned to read the EMC described as an inclusive body when it has no direct field representation. We have not seen any agendas, readouts or outcomes circulated from EMC meetings, which used to be the case with SMT meetings. We are of course eager to know the direction of the organisation and to be able to represent this, and your vision, faithfully. We therefore hope that, whatever comes next, keeping field management engaged and informed in key decision-making processes will be a priority.
We welcome the strong emphasis in the report on a revitalised and refocused human resources management services. However, we were of course very disappointed that the exceptional challenges faced with UMOJA roll out was not mentioned even once in the report. We highly appreciate your personal leadership on this issue since our Head of Office workshop in December. However, we are compelled to remind the authors that without an effective and efficient administrative services, supported by an effective platform to facilitate field operations in crisis and emergency settings, OCHA will inevitably fail in its mission, and fail in its duty of care to our staff. OCHA is now a serious player in the humanitarian sphere. The importance of our mandate needs to be matched by the robustness of our administrative systems in supporting the only asset that we have (our staff), and enabling our field operations to function optimally in increasingly challenging locations. We need operational support and systems that are solid from the outset of an operation - not one or two years down the line - and regularly reviewed in existing operations. Above and beyond fit-for-purpose systems, we need a wholesale change in the attitude and orientation of the administrative support that we receive – one that puts the needs of the field, and the treatment of our staff, front, back and centre.
Please be reassured, USG, that we are fully committed to supporting you in ensuring that this once in  decades functional review delivers real and important change for our organisation, at a time when the demand for our services is escalating. As those on the front lines of humanitarian action, we will be proud to be the face of that change.
Finally, allow us to congratulate you on the success of the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit – this is a very exciting time for OCHA and for the work that we all do.
Yours sincerely,
Mark Bidder, HoO Philippines
Justin Brady, HoO Somalia
David Carden, HoO oPt
Bamouni Dieudonne, HoO Niger
Helena Fraser, HoO Regional Office for the Syria Crisis
Ivo Freijsen, HoO Sudan
Paul Handley, HoO Ethiopia
Trond Jensen, HoO Turkey
George Khoury, HoO Yemen
Ute Kollies, HoO Mali
Vincent Lelei, HoO Nigeria
Susan Le Roux, OiC Iraq
Sarah Muscroft, HoO Jordan
Rein Paulsen, HoO DRC
Caroline Peguet, OiC CAR
Johan Peleman, HoO Lebanon
Esteban Sacco, OiC South Sudan
Sebastien Trives, HoO Syria
Heli Uusikyla, HoO Pakistan
Markus Werne, HoO ROAP"

Here were some of the critique in the report:

"The leadership team does not work well together. There is entrenched polarization and a lack of trust among many of OCHA’s senior managers, who do not see themselves as part of a single, unified team. This is combined with a sense that everything is a 'zero-sum' game, which drives what are perceived as 'turf battles' and 'kingdom building'."
"Decision-making at the senior management level generally lacks discipline, transparency and accountability. A lack of transparency in decision-making is felt throughout the organization. Senior managers do not consistently execute today's documented management model, and collective discussion and alignment as a group do not reliably translate into cohesive action among the members of the leadership team"

"The leadership team does not work well together. There is entrenched polarization and a lack of trust among many of OCHA’s senior managers, who do not see themselves as part of a single, unified team. This is combined with a sense that everything is a 'zero-sum' game, which drives what are perceived as 'turf battles' and 'kingdom building'."

The report was written by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and MANNET.

 For ten years as Inner City Press covered the UN in ever greater detail, showing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Herve Ladsous' inept overseeing and cover up of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers, disparate treatment in Mali, dalliance with genocide in Sri Lanka and prospectively Burundi, impunity for cholera deaths in Haiti and until now for UN lead poisoning in Kosovo and cravenly pro-Saudi position on Yemen amid the airstrikes (BBC this week here from Min 6:18), it was never thrown out of the UN.

Now in 2016, Ban Ki-moon's last year at the UN, it has been. New York Times of May 14 here. 

 And this contraction has already been raised, between the UN's "Aide Memoire" to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee saying there is no written records of the underlying January 29 meeting being closed, and Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach telling Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta that her ouster decisions was based on considering an "internal report."

 So is it no written record, or internal report?

Was inaccurate information provided to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee? Or to Nobel Peace Prize winner / UN official Jose Ramos Horta?

On UN Eviction of ICP, UN Aide Memoire to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Admits No Written Record, Oral... by Matthew Russell Lee

The UN Aide Memoire says the entire event -- which included UN paid sound engineering - was organized orally between UNCA President Giampaolo Piolo and Ban Ki-moon's Spokesman Stephane Dujarric. So on June 5, Inner City Press asked Dujarric about it, video here, only to have Dujarric call it a "leak" he could not verify and to insist Inner City Press ask  the Department of Public Information.

. UN Transcript here: .

  The UN "aide memoire" also claims that Stephane Dujarric orally told UN Correspondents Association honcho Giampaolo Pioli, who previously demanded that Inner City Press remove from the Internet a factual story about his financial relationship with Sri Lanka's Ambassador Palith Kohona, that the meeting was closed. This is a joke; this is a pretext.   This is censorship.
Tweeted photograph here.

On May 19, a sign for "Al Akhbar Yom" went up on Inner City Press' office - Inner City Press has STILL never seen the correspondent being given the stolen office.

So on May 20 Inner City Press went to get an on the record explanation from Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Duajrric, before Ban sets out on a campaign trip to South Korea (denied by his senior adviser Kim Won-soo). But not only did Dujarric refuse to answer the question - Gallach's DPI intentionally omitted from the transcript Inner City Press' entirely audible question about Ban Ki-moon's commitment to freedom of the press. The question then, answer itself.

This is today's UN: ham-handed censorship. 

The UN says Resident Correspondents must be at the UN three days a week, but Inner City Press has never seen this person, former UN Correspondents Association president Sanaa Youssef, much less asking a question in the UN noon briefing.  Akhbar Elyom, to which Gallach's and Ban's MALU and UNCA have given Inner City Press' office, not only gets journalists in Egypt attested - it targets, with a "Muslim Brotherhood" smear, a journalist who works right in the UN. Arabic article here.

This is the journalism that Ban Ki-moon and his Cristina Gallach want and reward. By taking away Inner City Press' office, it is now required to have a minder and is told to not ask diplomats questions. This is censorship.

Akhbar Elyom has been used to finger for imprisonment non-state journalists in Egypt. For example, in July 2015 Aboubakr Khallaf, the founder and head of the independent Electronic Media Syndicate (EMS), “was arrested after a news article was published by the government-owned daily Akhbar Elyoum.”

Inner City Press has formally requested the return of its long time shared office and Resident Correspondent status, as have 1,450 people in this petition, here.


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