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On UNDP Layoffs, UN Still Denies As Malcorra Meets Union, Clark's Gambit

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 16, more here -- Layoffs at the UN Development Program have been a subject of Inner City Press' reporting since last month, and on June 16 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff Malcorra met with UNDP's union about it.

  This came after Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, even at noon on June 16, refused 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.

  But as one attendee of the meeting with Malcorra told Inner City Press, there's no way the Secretariat would have taken the meeting without the solidarity letter from the system-wide unions. So why why deny receiving it, on-camera? This is Ban's UN.

  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 response to question - but how can dissing the UN staff unions lead to running the organization? We'll see.

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.

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