Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

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

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media -e.g. Somalia, Nepal, Ghana, Azerbaijan, The Gambia  For further info, click here to contact us         .

Home -

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


Subscribe to RSS feed 3/7/08

Video (new)

BloggingHeads 2/08

Top 10 '07 UN Stories

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07 7/19/07 6/29/07 6/14/7 6/1/7

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 Lawyer's Public Financial Disclosure Omits Swiss Subsidy He Now Admits Having Received

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

UNITED NATIONS, March 17, click here for update -- The UN's chief legal officer Nicolas Michel admittedly took housing subsidy from the Swiss government, but his online public financial disclosure for the year 2006 does not mention this. The stated purpose of the online public disclosure is to "demonstrate that UN staff members understand the importance of the general public and UN Member States being assured that, in the discharge of their official duties and responsibilities, staff members will not be influenced by any consideration associated with his / her private interests." But Michel's receipt of housing benefits in the high five figures -- that is, clearly over $10,000 -- is not included in the public form.

            Inner City Press sought has comment from Mr. Michel, and from Kofi Annan's previous spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who in 2006 told Inner City Press that one senior UN official was receiving housing subsidy and wanted to and would soon be stepping forward to explain his reason. That never happened, and Inner City Press on Monday morning sent e-mail to Messrs. Michel and Dujarric to

ask if that reference was to Nicolas Michel and if so for a statement on why, if the Secretary-General had ostensibly waived Staff Regulation 1.2(j) with regard to Mr. Michel, this was not disclosed at the time, in response to direct press questions? Also, when did the housing subsidy to Mr. Michel stop? To be upfront, and on deadline with this cc [to Mr. Michel], how does this date relate to Mr. Michel's online public financial disclosure form?

            Mr. Dujarric responded in short order with

"some clarification on Mr. Michel... The contributions have been fully disclosed in all his Financial Disclosure statements and cleared competent organs. He is not receiving any contribution, in any form, under his current contract that started on 1 March 2007. The contributions he received were explicitly authorized by the Organization, before he accepted the position as Legal Counsel, in an arrangement between the Swiss authorities and the Organization, on the ground of exceptional family circumstances. The Swiss authorities also committed themselves in writing to respect the independence of Mr. Michel, as stated in Article 100 of the Charter. The practice of exceptional authorizations was well established at the time, and supported by relevant administrative issuances, over a long period of time. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has taken a strong line to cease this practice. He is also leading by example in terms of financial disclosure. Going to your question regarding the question you asked on Sept. 12, 2006 regarding housing subsidy to senior officials, I answered your question directly and honestly then and I have nothing to add to it."

            In the referenced transcript of the noon briefing of September 12, 2006, Inner City Press asked if the Secretariat had responded to a June inquiry into housing subsidies by government. Mr. Dujarric replied among other things that

"Currently, there's one senior UN official at Headquarters who benefits from such an arrangement from his national Government, and as a result, receives none of the housing subsidy he would otherwise be entitled to from the United Nations.  Other than this one case, there are no senior UN officials at Headquarters receiving any form of housing subsidy, whether from a Government or a private entity.  There are few cases outside of Headquarters of senior officials serving in UN missions who receive housing from a host Government for operational or security reasons in the field.  Any senior UN official receiving a subsidy is required to declare it on their financial disclosure form.  And we, of course, continue to expect all staff members and Member States to abide by Article 100 of the Charter.

Inner City Press: Can you name who the senior official is?

Spokesman:  No.

Nicolas Michel at the UN, housing subsidy not shown  

          In a separate conversation, it was said that this individual -- it now appears clear that it was Nicolas Michel -- wanted to come forward and explain his reasons for accepting the subsidy. He did not do so, and the public financial disclosure Michel filed for 2006 does not disclose it. The public disclosure forms are ostensibly vetted by the UN Ethics Office, headed by Robert Benson. This glaring omission should require an explanation by Mr. Benson how information about benefits over $10,000 from governments to senior UN officials need not be included in what purported to be "public disclosure [to] demonstrate that UN staff members understand the importance of the general public and UN Member States being assured that, in the discharge of their official duties and responsibilities, staff members will not be influenced by any consideration associated with his / her private interests." It should also trigger an amendment to Michel's public disclosure form. We'll see.

Footnote: since Switzerland was one of a handful of sponsors and honorees at the "Grand Soiree de la Francophonie" event Monday night in midtown Manhattan, one expected an appearance and maybe even answers from Nicolas Michel, the highest ranking Swiss officials in the UN. But a search through the crowd, accompanied by the African music the multicultural band "Source," with members from Mali, Quebec and even Japan, did not find Mr. Michel. Swiss Ambassador Peter Maurer was thanked by master of ceremonies Paul Holdengraber; Swiss cultural maven Gabriela Eigensatz served as a juror for the Venet d'Or de la Francophonie. But where was Nicolas Michel? To be continued.

Click here for update

* * *

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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

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 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -