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As UNDP Moves on Layoff Plans, Focuses on Spin, Clark for UNSG?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 24, more here -- Layoffs at the UN Development Program have been a subject of Inner City Press' reporting since last month.

  Inner City Press' inquiries have continued and re-doubled after Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, at noon on June 16, refused again to confirm the UN's receipt of a protest letter about the UNDP cut-backs from three UN system-wide unions, UN video here from Minute 30:06.

  Now sources in UNDP have provided Inner City Press with more documents, including for now one showing UNDP's focuses on spin rather than responding to protests of the layoffs:

Subject: [rr-net] Statement for external parties on the UNDP Structural Change
From: Michael O'Neill @ UNDP
Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2014 18:10
Cc: Heather Simpson; Margaret Thomas; Fadzai Gwaradzimba; Alberto Lizzi; Dheepa Pandian

Dear colleagues,

Following the roll-out of the Structural Change, you may find it useful to have a short statement for use with external parties including development partners, media and others.

The statement, available on the global UNDP website at this link, UNDP changing to become more effective and efficient, is attributable to UNDP. It is available in English, French and Spanish.

You can also reach it via the For the Record section in the News Centre.

For further information regarding external queries on the Structural Change, please consult the Intranet site and be in touch with Alberto Lizzi and Dheepa Pandian.

Best wishes,

Michael OíNeill
Assistant Secretary-General & Assistant Administrator
Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy
United Nations Development Programme

  This UNDP "For the Record" spin site was for a time run by Ban Ki-moon's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, whom Inner City Press has asked about Haq's stonewalling. So could Ban leave and Dujarric remain in place?

   Contrary to what appears to some to be Dujarric's (non) communications advice, to Clark when she held few UN press conference to Ban today, for example dodging on the Haiti cholera case, it might be time for Helen Clark to directly address the layoffs, herself, not through proxy or much less spin.

  In the Trusteeship Council Chamber on June 16, Helen Clark and her proposed layoffs were derided as unacceptable, and as related to her ambition to replace Ban Ki-moon as Secretary General. Maybe New Zealand has given its blessing, and UNDP Jordan Ryan does not respond to questions - but how can dissing the UN staff unions lead to running the organization?

  For now, perhaps, the stonewalling and spin are working: some write of Helen Clark's candidacy to replace Ban without even mentioning the layoffs, widely discussed and derided in the UN.

  On June 16 when Inner City Press asked, UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq reiterated his denial of receipt from June 13 (Inner City Press suggested Haq ask the UN Office of Human Resources Management).  From the June 13 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: I know I had asked you last week about this letter from three UN system unions to the Secretary-General about the layoffs or cutbacks planned at UNDP [United Nations Development Programme]. And I wanted to know, you had said at that time, you couldnít confirm receipt of the letter at that time, but can you now confirm it?

Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq: Iíve been checking, and I still donít have any confirmation of those letters. At this stage, like I said, the matter is in the hands of the UN Development Programme.

  On June 10, staff from UNDP as well as Banís Secretariat got together in the Overlook Bar on 44th Street, a block and a half west of the UN compound and UNDPís tower. There's been talk not only of Helen Clarkís plan to run for SG based on cost-cutting, but similar promotion ambitions by the author of the May 21 member, Jens Wandel, and the current head of UNDP Human Resources, Michael Liley, whose tone-deaf drinks invitation amid the layoffs is reproduced below.

  Another event is upcoming, with the head of the Office of Staff Legal Affairs. For now, we note who's involved in this "Future United Nations Development System" (yes, FUNDS) program: UN insider contractor PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and Dalberg Research, which Inner City Press have covered here. We'll have more on this.

Background: Three UN system staff unions have written to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, about and with a cc to UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, full text here.

  On June 6 Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about Ban's reaction to the unions' request that he intervene to put the layoffs on hold. Haq told Inner City Press to ask UNDP. When Pressed, Haq wouldn't confirm UN receipt of the letter, or even say that he would check. Video here.

So here's the letter, now published by Inner City Press.

Watch this site.

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