Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

More: InnerCityPro

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

UN Confirms ICP on Use of UNOPS But Won't Say If Payee Is UN Staffer, How Accountable

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series

UNITED NATIONS, March 23 – How transparent, or intentionally opaque, is today's UN? After Inner City Press exclusively reported that staff on the UN's 38th floor were paid through the UN Office of Project Services and not the regular budget, the UN admitted it but refused to answer Inner City Press' follow up questions, including whether a person paid by UNOPS is a UN staff member. From the March 23 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: You said these new posts are all discussed with budgetary bodies, meaning, I guess, the Fifth Committee or ACABQ.  And I've checked, and my understanding is, with ACABQ, they're only told of extra budgetary, meaning non-regular budget posts if they're at the USG [Under-Secretary-General] or D [Director] level.  They're not told of the P [Professional].  They're not, if the 38th Floor is able to get funds, whether from UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] or UNOPS or UNEP [United Nations Environment Programme] or any other fund, ACABQ is not told.  So II'm wondering, you seem to indicate that they had all the information.  Also, they don't share the information with Member States.  They don't represent Member States.  They're an advisory committee that issues reports down the road.  So how would you explain this? Have you disclosed the P staff on 38 paid by extra budgetary resources to any budgetary body?

Deputy Spokesman:  No, no, all of the relevant information for all UN staff, by the way, not just Executive Office, but throughout the system, all that goes through both… either the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions or the Fifth Committee.  So they get the relevant documents.

Inner City Press: Is the UNOPS-funded person a UN staff member?

Deputy Spokesman:  I just told you what information they had yesterday.  I don't have anything further on that.

Inner City Press: And the last one's a bigger question.  I've heard…

Deputy Spokesman:  Hold on.  Linda?

 From the March 22 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: On the answer on UNOPS.  I wanted to, I guess, ask it a little bit broader, because my understanding is that there's a proposal to the Fifth Committee to approve a number of new positions on the 38th Floor.  But, until they rule… so I guess I wanted to know, rather than piss and… you know, pick and… pick and, you know, choose and see if you say that… I heard Lusophone; you said no Lusophone.  I heard UNOPS; you said, yes, one UNOPS.  Can I ask you generally about UNDP [United Nations Development Programme]?  And two, could you just provide a list of the people that have been hired on [the 38th Floor] to work on political matters and whether, in fact, they have posts currently in the UN budget, and if they don't, how they're being paid?  You could even do it without the names, but there's a lot of questions that people have about people hired where there's no underlying posts to be filled.

Deputy Spokesman:  Okay.  Well, the bottom line is that, as I made clear just now, all of this… all the questions of posts are that they go through the normal budgetary process.  And so, whatever posts we have for the 38th Floor will be posts that we get approved from the budgetary system.

Inner City Press:  But, I guess my… my question is, until May and these posts are approved, are you saying that there's nobody that's working on [the 38th Floor] for which a post has yet to be approved by the Fifth Committee?  That's the question that I'm asking.

Deputy Spokesman:  Whatever the posts are, those are posts for which we're seeking budgetary funds from the 38th… from the budgetary committees.

Inner City Press:  But, if you haven't received the approval yet, how do you pay them?

Deputy Spokesman:  There are ways to pay people up until you get the funding, but we're going to go through the normal budgetary process as we do through the previous Secretaries-General, as well.

Inner City Press: Can you just put out a fact sheet on that?  I guess what I'm wondering is, it does seem if there's… if people are being paid and it's yet to be approved, there's obviously some lack…

Deputy Spokesman:  The facts are all information that are provided to the budgetary committees.  They have that, and it's their information. 

  Inner City Press had asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' top two spokesmen simple factual questions: who works on the 38th floor? Who pays them? But the two, both holdovers from the Ban Ki-moon administration, refused to answer, so on March 20 Inner City Press published its scoop about the murky use of trust funds to pay people on the UN's 38th floor. Even on March 21 when Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq who pays whom, he refused to answer. Video here; from the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: I'd asked in writing but, having gotten no answer, I want to ask you in person, which is, on the 38th Floor, is it possible to get a list of who is now… now that it's 80-some… 80 days, I guess, into this Administration, who's working up there?  And I wanted to know in particular a breakdown of who's paid by the UN, who's paid by countries, and if — just a yes-or-no question.  If there is a… any type of fund — some have called it a Lusophone fund; some have called it… said it's run out of UNOPS [United Nations Office for Project Services] — that, is in fact, paying individuals that work on the 38th Floor.  And, if so, are they UN staffers?  Is it something else?  Can you… I mean, I asked you on Friday in… like, is there a list, and is it possible to get this breakdown simply to understand how it's being run up there?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't believe that there's a list by payment.  Obviously, we don't go into the contract details of individual staff members.  We could try to get you a list of the people who are part of the Executive Office.

Inner City Press:  But it's not… I guess… I want to put it in this context.  It's not a matter of the personal details of the individual.  It's a matter of saying it is… it would be important for the public to know if somebody working on the 38th Floor is, in fact, paid by a country as opposed from the regular budget.

Deputy Spokesman:  The financial details of how the Executive Office works, all that is shared with the relevant budgetary committees of the General Assembly, and so they have that information.

Inner City Press:  So has… has the… has the Executive Office of the Secretary-General shared information about a Lusophone fund or any fund run by UNOPS that pays individuals on the 38th Floor?

Deputy Spokesman:  I'm not aware of any such thing as you're terming it.  As you know, at different times, if people are seconded by Governments or otherwise governments defray arrangements, that information, whether for this Secretary-General or for previous Secretaries-General, is shared with the relevant budgetary committees.

Inner City Press:   Right, but would it be… this is my final thing.  Would it be paid directly from a country to its own national or through a fund run by some UN system fund?  And, if so, I'm asking for details about that because…

Deputy Spokesman:  Again, that is information that gets shared with the budgetary committees.  They will have that. 

  Haq and his boss Stephane Dujarric refused for four days to answer this: "This is a Press request for a list of who is working in the Executive Office of the Secretary General; within that, who is paid by the UN general budget, who is paid by or through any other UN-affiliated fund including but not limited to UNOPS and who funds that, and who is paid by / seconded from a country." The question about UNOPS grows from a number of sources having exclusively told Inner City Press that Secretary General Antonio Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal, has been using a "Lusophone fund" in the UN Office of Project Services, UNOPS, to pay several of those working for him on the 38th floor. Why not just answer?

  On March 20, as Inner City Press pointed out the seeming hypocrisy not only of the UN preaching media freedom while having evicted and still restricting Inner City Press but also of an all-male UN team meeting with the DR Congo, it was told Yes, UNOPS is involved, citing to General Assembly documents saying that some working in the UN do not have to be categories, or disclosed, as staff. But isn't this opacity simply inviting budget cuts? We'll have more on this.


Feedback: Editorial [at]

Past (and future?) UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA
For now: Box 20047, Dag Hammarskjold Station NY NY 10017

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

 Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

 Copyright 2006-2017 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] for