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At UN in Kosovo, Harland Replaces Haysom, Borg-Olivier and Trust Fund Need Review

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, September 1 -- As the UN tries to smooth over its tattered reputation in and about Kosovo, Ban Ki-moon's political advisor Nicholas Haysom is returning to New York from Pristina, and long-time UN Peacekeeping official David Harland is taking his place, as Inner City Press predicted on August 6 based on sources in UN Headquarters in New York, click here for that, and note Kosovo Daily Express. Harland has served as chief of the "Best Practices Unit" at the UN, and has spoken of the need for personally accountability by those who work at if not for the UN.

  In that spirit, one decidedly worst practice into which he should inquire is the case of former UN Mission in Kosovo official Alexander Borg-Olivier, who went from UNMIK directly to working and getting paid as a consultant to the Kosovo government.  That's called a "revolving door," and governments at the local and Federal level often explicitly prohibit this type of conflict of interest or cashing in, at least for a year or two. Borg-Olivier waited far less and that.

   Inner City Press' sources in the Balkans says Borg-Olivier helped steer money from the Kosovo Trust Agency to officials in Pristina, and then accepted a paying job with them. Even as some of the Trust Fund money, from the contested Olivier-advised sale of state-owned enterprises, is now having to be returned, Borg-Olivier is keeping his job. Accountability, anyone?

Kosovo UDI fall-out: not as Borg-Olivier self-servingly predicted, see below

   In fact, earlier this year even prior to Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, Borg-Olivier was quoted

"This is something which touches me very deeply as I am very conscious of the fact that I am playing an important role which will lead, without any doubt, to Kosovo getting its independence in a very short while," he says in an interview during a visit to Malta [whose independence his father is said to have sired.]

  Notably, in the same article Borg-Olivier is said to have

"play[ed] down the possibility of Kosovo's independence leading to instability in the region and the emergence of a new Cold War between Russia and the West. 'It is true that relations are frosty between Russia and the West but some believe the issue is not really Kosovo but issues of a larger scope that are playing a role in the relationship between the two sides. We think it is highly exaggerated to talk of doomsday scenarios.'"

  How prescient.  In fact, Borg-Olivier has admitted to the publication Express that, while employed by UNMIK, he was lobbying Malta to recognize Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence. What was that Ban Ki-moon said about the UN remaining status neutral? And why wasn't these clear conflict of interest and mis-use of UN funds noticed at the time?

   About what about accountability? On this topic, Harland has been quoted that the "lack of accountability is convenient. There is this endless ping-pong game between the secretariat and the member states. The states blame the secretariat for making mistakes and they blame the member states for a lack of political will."

   But this is a test case, of Borg-Olivier having thumbed his nose at status - neutrality, right through the revolving door to the Kosovo budget. Borg-Olivier had his computer hard drive seized by OIOS before he left, as Inner City Press noted back in November 2007, but nothing ever came of it.

  The same was true or Joaquim Rucker and Steven Schook. As so often happens, there was not follow-up by Inga-Britt Ahlenius' OIOS.  Of four initial questions sent to Ms. Ahlenius' email on August 27, none has been answered. The excuse apparently is that Ahlenius is on "annual leave" extending from July 28 through September 15. But the questions asked cannot wait that long. It's not just the March 17 events in North Mitrovica which they should be held accountable for, as Russia's Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin has explicitly requested. Where did the Trust Fund money go? This will be a test case, especially given not only Harland's, but ironically Borg-Olivier's statements about accountability

Alexander Borg Olivier: "While it is true that there are certain functional immunities and privileges that apply to work of internationals in Kosovo, this does not in anyway shield the persons concerned from any wrongdoing with which they may be associated. So yes, there are immunities and these immunities are necessary for the proper functioning of the mission, this immunity is not intended nor does it ever shield any criminality or wrongdoing."

 We'll see. Watch this site. And this (on South Ossetia), this, on Russia-Georgia, and this --


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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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