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At UN, Call to Stop Election Services, Samsung TV Laundered by SK & UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 11 -- Of the two elections overlapping today in the UN, in the one of the UN Staff Union voting continued Wednesday morning in the UN lobby, despite a lawyer's letter. The other in the UN Correspondents Association features mis-speaking that no Mission was involved with "their" Samsung television and little competition -- none for the top two spots.

  As updated here, UNCA mis-spoke in saying no mission was involved in the donation. Samsung gave the TVs to the South Korean mission, which gave them to the UN, then to UNCA. No mission was involved? Hardly.

   As to the Staff Union election, spokesperson Farhan Haq said at the December 10 noon briefing that the UN does not get involved.

  Later on December 10 a lawyer wrote to Election Services Company urging them to stop running or working in the election, saying they will not get paid. The incumbent and one Rosemary Lane are copied on the letter:

"Frank Fatone
Elections Services Company

Dear Mr. Fatone:

... Only the Staff Council has the capacity to authorize the disbursement of Staff Union funds... I urge you to postpone any action."

But in the UN lobby Wednesday morning, Staff Union voting continued. Two stories above, the UNCA incumbent president running without opposition nevertheless had fliers festooned around: only photographs, no content at all. Any amended statement of no mission involvement in the Samsung equipment?

  An hour after Haq's statement, an officious e-mail went out urging UN staff to boycott the election - a call that when made by a political party in Nepal, the UN denounced. Here's the key part:

Date: Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 1:37 PM
Subject: no to fake elections!
From: Egor Ovcharenko [at]

Dear colleagues,

given the number of false statements circulated last days, I decided that it is my duty to clarify what is going on.

Last Friday Staff Union informed all of you that its Polling Officers have been recalled by Unit Chairpersons, the very same body that elected them.

From that day on, these recalled officers have no right to act as Union officials, and their actions or communications do not engage our Union in the slightest.

(Administration has been duly informed, as it has an obligation, in accordance with staff rule 8.1 d), to ensure the fairness of the ballot. Unfortunately, its actions, for instance, suspension of Polling Officers' e-mail, are still pending.)

Therefore fake elections the recalled Polling Officers are preparing must be called by their proper name: electoral fraud...

Everyone can make his or her own judgment. My opinion is that these fake elections are, in fact, a private enterprise.

I advise you not to participate in it, as there are reasons to believe that the motives of its organizers are far from innocent, as their record clearly shows.


Egor Ovcharenko
Rapporteur of the United Nations Staff Union
Coordinator of DGACM Staff Representatives

  This back and forth has echoes of the election in Cote d'Ivoire that led to military intervention. By contrast, no Permanent Five members of the Security Council has enough of an interest here for even a public relations intervention, thus far.

   The other "election" -- though four of the six top posts are clean slates with no competition --  is of the United Nations Correspondents Association, whose more than a dozen board members participated in efforts to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN.

  Nothing has been reformed since; tactics in 2013 devolved into anonymous social media trolling and counterfeit Twitter accounts of the new Free UN Coalition for Access and of Inner City Press.

   An argument is still being made that the 2013 president of UNCA, Pamela Falk of CBS, is somehow not responsible for this, for trolling done under her watch, and for heading an organization which functions as the UN's Censorship Alliance. This is contrary to the very "command responsibility" principles the two top candidates awaiting coronation have espoused.

  The decision to accept "through" the UN a Samsung television is defended by referring to some vibrant debate, with no record sent out of any voting, much less a roll call disclosing who voted to take the Samsung television.

  The defenders of the gift, Inner City Press is told, pointed out that UNCA already takes corporate (and governmental) advertisements in its (partial) book of journalists covering the UN, including for example from the Italian oil firm ENI.

  At the December 9 noon briefing Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: is there a comprehensive place to go to see what donations the UN receives from corporations? In particular, Iím asking about what I understand to be a donation of television screens or sets from Samsung and I wanted to know, what are the rule applicable to these donations? Is the UN aware, for example, of pretty serious organizing drive in South Korea about occupational diseases at Samsung? What are the rules applicable and is there a database of such contributions?

Spokesperson: Iíll check, Matthew. Thanks very much. Have a good afternoon.

  But 26 hours later, there was still no answer.
Unaccountability is increasingly pervasive throughout the UN, in ways as small as this and large, for example on the scandal of UN Peacekeeping having brought cholera to Haiti and now refusing to even accept (or confirm denying) service of legal papers.

  At least in the UN Staff Union, when it was claimed last week that a vote was taken to recall the poll officers, a request was made for the names of who voted which way.

  In the UN's Censorship Alliance,  as documented by ongoing Freedom of Information Act requests including to Voice of America, "UNCA" reached out to the UN to seek the expulsion of Inner City Press without any vote even having been taken.

  There have been no reforms since -- but again, a re-coronation of Pamela Falk of CBS as the 2014 president of UNCA,now known as the UN Censorship Alliance, is set for this week.

  A second midnight defense was mounted, that Falk has not "done anything" to anyone, or even spoken badly. Well, the UNCA trolls are attributable to her, including under command responsibility.  In 2013, she was asked to reign in those UNCA "leaders" who used the organization to try to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, as they descended into anonymous trolling social media accounts, counterfeiting the new Free UN Coalition for Access and then Inner City Press.

  Falk's reaction in an on the record meeting was to demand that she not be written about, despite having sought this position, and putting herself forward at every opportunity to ask softball questions the answers to which are most often not published anywhere. Audio here, here and here.

  The United Nations Correspondents Association election also involves indicters and purported judges, and the Reuters successor to the scribe who spied (click here for that). That spying for the UN was done by UNCA first vice president and has not been addressed or acted on in any way. Such an organization is in no position to preach on ethics, journalistic or any other kind.

Now this UNCA is poised to raise money, $250 a plate, for an event Ban Ki-moon is set to attend, after fielding softball questions two days earlier from his hosts (or censors). Can you say, conflict of interest? And this is another way that senior UN officials remain unaccountable. Watch this site.


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