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UN Peacekeeping Cuts Presented by Finn Chair, Q&A on Conflict of Interest

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 30 -- Two years after fair pay for developing world soldiers who serve the UN was discussed in Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations, arriving at a figure of $1762 a month, a very low ball offer was made on June 27: $1250.

  This was conveyed by this year's chair of the Fifth (Budget) Committee, Janne Taalas. In full disclosure, prior to this year Inner City Press has always gotten along with Taalas. Some have complained to Inner City Press about a potential conflict of interest, so Inner City Press asked him:

"I'm told by a number of people in the UN that your spouse has taken a post with the Department of Management. Please can you confirm or deny, and if confirm can you say why it does not present a possible conflict of interest? Sorry to have to write you about this, but I thought it best to ask."

  Taalas to his credit responded, and out of respect we publish in full: "You are truly working 24/7! My wife joined the secretariat (Dept of Management) 2004. She moved to DFS in 2010 and returned to DM last winter. We come from a culture where women have independent careers and have had no issues so far."

  Does that remain the case?

  Venally defending the dissing of peacekeepers was none other than UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop DPKO. He spun about cutting costs in Darfur, where he's accused of covering-up, and in Haiti where he previously supported the ouster of Aristide.

  This is the probably with ceding UN Peacekeeping to France, a "partner" which wants to underpay peacekeepers: the official who is supposed to advocate for peacekeepers actually sells them out.
  But much to the group of the Group of 77, there is a fight back afoot. Inner City Press is told by sources that based on a proposal by Brazil and Cuba, strongly supported by Nigeria and South Africa, the low-ball numbers are not being accepted. We are following this.

 On June 30, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it:

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric: Matthew?

Inner City Press: Sure, I want to ask about troop reimbursement and also this Sunday press encounter.  the Secretary-General had a Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations, which suggest… which proposed that peacekeepers get $1,700 a month.  There was a survey done.  And now, it seems like it’s come down to a deadline, in which rather than $1,700, the donor countries are offering $1,250.  And I wanted to know, since it was the Secretary-General’s own Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping, did he think that Group is credible?  Did he think the $1,700 number is a reasonable one?  And does he think that $1,250 is sufficient for peacekeepers?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I think, you know, those numbers… the work of the Senior Advisory Group came up with what it came up with.  These discussions now are deep in the heart of the Fifth Committee, being discussed amongst Member States, and I think that’s where I will leave it for the time being.

  Ah, leadership. On the evening on June 30 UN Peacekeeping's Herve Ladsous, who refuses to answer Press questions, dissembled behind closed doors to the Fifth Committee, as several representatives told Inner City Press.

  Ladsous pontificated about his visit to Haiti - and said he would further cut back the mission in Darfur, where his UN Peacekeeping is already accused of covering up killings.  "He's gotta go," one representative said, and others agreed. But this is the UN.


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