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UN Stonewalls on Nepotism, Moonlighting, Even Climate Change, Briefings Cut Back

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 2 -- The UN Spokesperson's office hit a new low last week, misleading and then refusing to answer a question on nepotism by the Secretary General's Special Representative to the Congo Alan Doss, procuring in New York for his daughter a job whose previous occupant was fired and pepper sprayed in the face, leading to a rare man bites guard incident.

   On July 27, Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq told Inner City Press that "it had to do with a frustrated jobseeker... the hiring process regarding that particular vacancy at UNDP was filled in accordance with their rules."

   By Friday July 31, when this story which some call a cover-up had been frayed and disproved, all Haq would do it keep referring the questions, about Ban Ki-moon's Congo envoy, back to UNDP, which had already told Inner City Press it would not answer any questions --

Inner City Press: I had asked you on Monday about a violent incident between a UN employee and security in [Building] DC-1. You’d said, among other things, that he was a frustrated jobseeker and that the hiring process was in accordance with rules. Since then Inner City Press has obtained a copy of an e-mail from Alan Doss to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) asking them the job in question be given to his daughter and that leeway be given to him to convert from UNDP contract to DPKO to get around rules, essentially. I am wondering what, since Alan Doss is Secretary-General Ban’s envoy to the Congo, what the response is going to be; if the Secretary-General thinks it’s appropriate to have USG’s lobbying for jobs for their family members, and also why the jobseeker was tackled by three staff members and pepper-sprayed before he allegedly bit one of them. What training has DSS [Department of Safety and Security] been given to eject, in this case essentially, a whistleblower from the building?

Associate Spokesperson: First of all, I challenge the use of the word “whistleblower”. This was someone who was engaged in violence; in a violent altercation, and so DSS was responding to that. This is what DSS themselves informed me about. Second, on the question of Alan Doss and this job search, UNDP have said they will handle any questions, so I’d refer you on to UNDP.

Inner City Press: My question is, one, since Alan Doss has appeared here numerous times as Ban Ki-moon’s envoy in the Congo, can you confirm that he in fact was a UNDP contractor until 1 July when, in part to have his daughter to work at UNDP…? It’s a Secretariat question; I don’t think it’s legitimate to say UNDP will answer for Alan Doss or for Security.

Associate Spokesperson: I disagree, and UNDP has said that they will answer questions on this; so I’d refer you over to Christina over in UNDP.

Question: They’ve e-mailed me and said they won’t answer and that, because it’s subject to legal proceedings, there are no answers at all. So I am asking, I guess, for the response as to Alan Doss. Where is the answer…?

Associate Spokesperson: Like I said, try with Christina. She said that she’d handle all questions on this.

   Inner City Press immediately e-mailed simply questions to UNDP's Administrator's spokespeson Christina LoNigro, who five hours later confirmed receipt and said something would late be sent. Forty eight hours later, still nothing.

   Each day there was a UN noon briefing last week, basic factual questions were left unanswered. On Tuesday, July 28, Inner City Press asked not only for a UN comment on an upcoming flogging in Sudan, and about the "employee of the UN Mission and also wrote for a non-UN newspaper in Sudan. And not to confuse the story, it confused me. Is that permissible? What’s up with that?"

   This basis question about reported simultaneous employment was not answered. Inner City Press separate asked the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which said an answer would be forthcoming. By August 2, no response had been provided.

   On Thursday July 30 -- on the 29th, the Spokesperson's Office canceled the noon briefing because Ban did a 15 question press conference -- Inner City Press asked Spokesperson Michele Montas about a "United Nations" climate change center in San Francisco, without receiving any answer.

UN's Ban and Spokesperson: few briefings in August, few answers regardless

Question: I don’t know if you have an answer to this, but in San Francisco they’re opening something called the United Nations Global Compact Centre, which they say is going to be a climate change laboratory. But they also say that they needed a brand name, so the UN Global Compact has partnered with them. But it’s unclear -- like, if the Secretariat or if UNEP -- what the UN’s actual involvement in the centre, other than the naming of, it is going to be. Have you heard about this centre?

Spokesperson: No, I haven’t, but I can get the information for you and you can probably address your question to the UN Global Compact.

Question: I was just thinking, because climate change is so important to the Secretary-General, I wanted to see whether there are some, you know…

Spokesperson: But you know there are so many climate change issues and climate change events taking place throughout the world. The Secretary-General is not personally involved in every single one of them. But I’ll try to get more information for you, and I think you can get some on your own.

  Ban Ki-moon's big issue is climate change, but his spokesperson when asked about a new "UN" climate change center tells the reporter to go get information "on your own"? Nothing has been provided by the Global Compact, either.

  The UN system now has Ms. Montas in the position of defending the actions of MINUSTAH troops in Haiti, for example being asked about but denying a story that

"The young man who appears to have been gunned down by UN occupation troops after a funeral last month received an all but secret funeral himself on July 14 in Port-au-Prince because the priest and family were fearful of UN and Haitian government reprisals. The victim has also been finally identified as Kenel Pascal, 22, of Delmas... Michele Montas, spokeswoman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, "categorically" denied that UN troops were involved in the killing. However, Haiti Liberté has obtained a copy of the autopsy carried out by Dr. Rodrigue Darang on June 22. The report clearly states that Pascal was killed by a bullet which entered his right cheek and passed through his head, shattering his fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae and some teeth.

   Furthermore, television footage from Tele-Ginen showed UN soldiers shooting with leveled weapons in Pascal's direction. Faced with the autopsy, UN officials are now claiming that the size of the entry hole noted in the report - 0.5 centimeters - indicates a bullet caliber smaller than that used by UN troops. Hundreds demonstrated in Port-au-Prince on July 28, the 94th anniversary of the 1915 U.S. Marine occupation, to demand justice for Kenel Pascal. UN troops have killed dozens of poor unarmed Haitians civilians since they arrived to take over from U.S., French and Canadian occupation forces in June 2004."

  Ms. Montas is slated to retire from the UN later this year. Some wonder: might she thereafter have a different view of the UN's performance in Haiti?

  To the Office's credit, it did offer a correction of a months-old misstatement about the Cambodia tribunals, and then a a further explanation, off camera. It's rare and so we note it.

  On Friday July 31, before the above quoted dodge about the nepotism of Ban's envoy to Congo Alan Doss, a simply question about the UN Office of Legal Affairs practices in treaty signing -- always retaining the pen -- also went unanswered. Tellingly, it was announced that henceforth there will be no noon briefing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. What is that Office doing?

* * *

At UN, Biting Incident Reveals Nepotism of UNDP and Congo Envoy, Whistleblower Maced

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 30 -- The biting incident at the UN, on which Inner City Press exclusively reported one week ago, has its roots in a glaring case of nepotism in which the UN's top envoy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mr. Alan Doss, lobbied to get his daughter the UN Development Program job effectively held and applied for by alleged biter, Mr. Nicola Baroncini.

   When Mr. Baroncini was suspected of knowing of the nepotism, documented by an e-mail to UNDP from Mr. Doss, he was fired, forcibly removed, with pepper spray, from the UN compound and arrested by NYPD on the basis of false accusations. Doss' daughter Rebecca is now ensconced in the disputed UNDP job, while Mr. Baroncini is due in Criminal Court on August 10 on charges of third degree assault.

   The case is an early test of UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, in the job for 100 days now, and new UN Security chief Gregory Starr, with whom Mr. Baroncini is asking to meet in order to withdraw the criminal charges against him. Also in question is how Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will react to documented allegations of improper requests and nepotism by his personal envoy to one of the UN's largest and most controversial peacekeeping missions.

   Documents filed with the US Department of State, obtained by Inner City Press, show the lead-up to the June 22 pepper spray. On March 16, 2009, after several other UNDP posts ranging from Cambodia to New York, Mr. Baroncini began functioning as assistant to Ms. Ligia Elizondo, Deputy Director of UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBAP).

  According to the complaint Mr. Baroncini was "managing her personal agenda; screening inbound and outbound communications; organizing meetings; reviewing documents and other material; distributing tasks within the bureau. I had unlimited access to her UNDP email account. My tasks also included email filing (in my hard drive)."

  A month later in April according to the complaint, Mr. Baroncini "witnessed that Ms. Elizondo received several phone calls from Rebecca Doss. Her CV was permanently in Ms. Elizondo’s in-tray. Also while filing Ms. Elizondo’s UNDP email inbox I came across several emails from Rebecca Doss to Ms. Elizondo. In one, Rebecca made reference to the position of 'Special Assistant to RBAP Deputy Director' and said that she would contact Ms. Elizondo at home."

  Subsequently, Mr. Baroncini applied for and was one of four short-listed candidates for this post, whose functions he was already performing. Other candidates included Violeta Maximova and Rebecca Doss, whose father Alan Doss, in charge of the UN's billion dollar peacekeeping mission in the Congo, wrote on April 20 to Ms. Elizondo

"Dear Ligia,

This is just to inform that I have advised UNDP in writing that I will transfer to DPKO effective 1 July 2009. I have also spoken to Martin and advised him that I cannot transfer before that date because the new DPKO contractual arrangements only come into effect on the 1 July. He informed me that the ‘deadline’ for the ALD contracts is 15 May so the period of overlap would only be 6 weeks (assuming Rebecca’s ALD would come into force on the 14th May at the latest). I have asked for some flexibility, which would allow a very long serving and faithful UNDP staff member a little lee-way before he rides off into the sunset.

Becky is very excited about the prospect of going to work for you so I hope that it will work out. With my warm regards and thanks,


Alan Doss
Special Representative of the Secretary-General United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo"

E-mail in docx text format - download

  When Inner City Press asked the UN spokesperson's office on July 27 about the and biting incident and the underlying recruitment, Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq said "it had to do with a frustrated jobseeker. The only thing I can say is the information I got from UNDP on this is that the hiring process regarding that particular vacancy at UNDP was filled in accordance with their rules." Transcript here, video here.

  But as Doss' email in the complaint shows, since it is illegal for the child of a UNDP staff member, as Doss then was, to be hired by UNDP, Doss asked for "a little lee-way" -- to ignore what he called a six week overlap. The propriety of a UN Under Secretary General making personal contact and applying pressure to waive rules and award a job to his daughter has not yet been addressed.

UN's Doss, at right, with Kouchner and Clooney: Doss is connected

  Next, Ms. Maximova and Ms. Doss were declared the top two candidates. Ms. Maximova suddenly was offered and accepted a job at the Clinton Foundation / Initiative, and Ms. Doss was given the job.

  Mr. Baroncini spoke with the Director of RBAP, Mr. Ajay Chhibber, on July 19. Initially, Mr. Chhibber took an interest in hearing out Mr. Baroncini, offering him advice. But once Ms. Elizondo realized that Mr. Baroncini might, in the course of his duties, have become aware of the improper influence in the hiring decision, Mr. Baroncini had his email access terminated and was told to no longer come in to UNDP.

  Subsequently, according to the complaint filed by Mr. Baroncini:

I voiced my complete disapproval and said that I will challenge this decision with the appropriate personnel.

I handed to Mr. Chhibber a print-out of Alan Doss’ email to Ms. Elizondo of April 20, 2009 and told him, “In case you do not know, this is the way human resources selection works in UNDP.” I repeated that I will challenge this course of events.

Within a couple of minutes a man arrived. He asked for my UN badge and requested that I leave the building. I began collecting my personal belonging. The whole process took several minutes.

Three UN Department of Safety and Security Guards approached me. Immediately, Peter Kolonias, one of the guards, ordered me to enter office 2312 of DC-1. I complied immediately.

I entered the office and sat down escorted by two UN DSS Security Guards. The door was shut. Shortly, my wife joined me (she works elsewhere in UNDP).

After waiting for some time, I asked the guards about the procedures in place and why we had been waiting for so long. In several instances I was told that Ms. Elizondo was giving a written statement and that once she had completed it would be my turn.

I began asking for access to a lawyer and my consulate. I repeated this request frequently (I would say every 15 minutes) both to the guard inside office 2312 and to other officials that entered the office.

I asked my wife to leave office 2312 and look for Mr. Chhibber and ask him to speak with me. I wanted to understand if he had any control concerning what was happening, and I wanted to share my concerns about this absurd escalation of events.

My wife left the office, but the guards outside invited her to join Ms. Elizondo and Ms. Jovita Domingo, a UNDP human resources advisor, inside Ms. Elizondo’s office. There, they questioned my wife about our private life until a UN official wearing a white uniform came in and my wife was invited to leave by Ms. Elizondo.

Once my wife left Ms. Elizondo’s office, they shut the door and had a meeting. My wife returned to office 2312.

The UN official wearing a white uniform along with the third UN DSS guard, Peter Kolonias, joined the two other UN DSS guards inside office 2312. They asked my wife to leave and shut the door.

The UN official wearing a white uniform swiftly informed me that I had two options: leave the building with them or be handcuffed.

I felt that something very wrong was happening and again I requested access to a lawyer, the Italian consulate and to give a statement.

The second or third time I repeated my requested I was assaulted.

First, Peter Kolonias put me to the floor. The two other guards followed immediately. They tried to immobilize me using every sort of technique. I was kicked repeatedly on the leg, stomach and neck. I was punched repeatedly on the neck, head and face. Twice, at close range, I was sprayed a pepper spray on the face. Immediately, and for about two hours thereafter, I was blinded and suffered tremendous pain on the face and eyes. Other than limited access to water, I was denied proper medical treatment despite my repeated requests.

Eventually I was handcuffed. UN DSS guards brought me outside office 2312 and I waited there for about 1½ hours, handcuffed, sitting in a chair in RBAP Directorate area.

At 2:35 pm, NYPD officers arrived and I was officially arrested

Eventually I was escorted outside DC1 building where an ambulance was waiting

I waited handcuffed until approximately 7:40 pm in a waiting room of Bellevue Hospital. After meeting with a Dr. Falck, I was immediately discharged.

I was brought to a police facility where NYPD took my fingerprints, and I awaited transportation to 100 Centre Street.

After routine procedures, I was jailed until 9:30 am of the following day. The jail was no more than 17-18 square meters. The number of detainees kept changing between 18 and 20 men. No restroom. Primitive sanitation. No hygiene facilities.

My case was reviewed, and I was immediately released without any bail payment. I am set to appear in Court on August 10, 2009."

   These techniques -- the pepper spraying of those who ask questions, pressing of criminal charges as retaliation -- are the type of tactics that the UN and officials like Alan Doss criticize in places like the Congo. But the UN engages in them right on First Avenue in New York. What will Ban Ki-moon, Gregory Starr and Helen Clark each do? In the case Ms. Clark, she was officially informed of all of the above on July 27, and her closest advisor Heather Simpson a full week before that. Now what? Watch this site.

  UNDP has told Inner City Press first that

"There was an unfortunate and isolated incident involving an employee of UNDP on 23rd June 2009. UN Security and the New York Police Department responded, and it is now being handled by the authorities of the host government."

  Then after a follow up request by Inner City Press to UNDP spokesperson Stephane Dujarric that UNDP "provide the requested description of the recruitment process, the name of the post and the person awarded, and whether they have any family or personal relationship with the supervisor or selector," UNDP Administrator Helen Clark's spokesperson Christina LoNigro responded that "we cannot comment further on this case at this time as the legal process is ongoing."

* * *

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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

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