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Prodi Sought Italian Job Despite Sahel Conflict of Interest, Ban's UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 20 -- This UN rarely gets to the bottom of the conflicts of interest of its officials. Take, most recently, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's ostensibly full time envoy on the Sahel, Romano Prodi, and his role in the race for the Italian presidency.

On April 18, Inner City Press wrote it and asked:

Inner City Press: Mr. Romano Prodi is obviously the Envoy on the Sahel. But it was reported at least that he was part of a primary in Italy in terms of the run-up to the election for the next President of the Five Star Movement, he was listed as a candidate. So I wanted to know, is there any potential for a kind of a conflict of interest? Can you be a UN official and run for office, or did he not consent to be part of that primary? Is the UN aware of him being part of that primary? What do they think of it?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: I’ll see what we have on that, Matthew; I am not familiar with that, okay?

  But Prodi's role was reported not only all over the Italian press, but on English language wire services. And Prodi was openly campaigning.

  Was he allowed to do this by the UN, but the UN never said it? Or is this UN just there for the using, a comfortable and comfortably paid resting place until an official runs for office again?

So can he remain as the UN's Sahel envoy? (There is another exclusive Inner City Press published on April 3 that is not unrelated to this - click here.)

  Some use the UN on a more ongoing basis. Tony Blair has his Quartet position and perks, while for example getting paid $11 million by Kazakhstan. Inner City Press asked the UN about this; it's been told to ask Tony Blair's Office. Right.

  Then there's Terje Roed-Larsen, Ban's envoy on Resolution 1551, and also the boss of the International Peace Institute, opening an office in Bahrain with Bahraini money. This seems a direct conflict of interest. But where is Ban Ki-moon? Some continue to wonder: could he too be angling to run for office, eventually?

Footnote: particularly with regard to the last line, a reader jokes, watch out, they'll raid your office again. It remains amazing that Ban's UN has not responded about how photographs taken during the non-consensual raid were leaked to BuzzFeed immediately after that publication contacted Ban's spokesperson about the raid.

  Or maybe Ban's Department of Public Information will take umbrage at any tweet about this, as it did to the mention of World War Two in connection with the new Police Adviser to DPKO's Herve Ladsous, who obviously holds that post at the pleasure of France through the UN Security Council veto it “won” in... the Second World War. Where is this UN, or this part of it, going? Watch this site.

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