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In Corrupt UN of Guterres UNESCO Poor Governance Addressed by the Executive Board?

By Matthew Russell Lee & sources, Exclusive

UN GATE, March 23UNESCO, like the whole UN system under Antonio Guterres is falling apart in corruption and fraud.

  Inner City Press has been reporting on serious malfeasance by the French Audrey Azoulay administration at UNESCO in Paris, almost as bad as Antonio Guterres' corruption in and of the UN in New York. A fish rots from the head.

For some years now, every case of mismanagement has been duly denounced by Inner City Press. Every misappropriation, every unfounded appointment of parents and mistresses, every element that could have led to an investigation by IOS and sanctions. In vain, Frenchwoman Audrey Azoulay and her team tried to convince everyone that the revelations did not correspond to reality, and each time the facts proved them wrong. The truth hurts far more than any slander, and Azoulay's boys and girls learned this the hard way. 

During this period, UNESCO's governing bodies were regarded as weak and incompetent by DG Azoulay. Elections at the last General Conference and the current session of the Executive Board, which opened a week ago, set a totally different tone. The right questions have been asked and the right observations made by member states, much to the chagrin of DG Azoulay. UNESCO's Drama Queen is beginning to feel the heat of the end-of-term period, and this is only the beginning of her institutional pain. 

Over the past seven days, the French administration of UNESCO has been slapped by the Board on a number of issues. Some of the controversial matters, however, got some diplomatic support that revealed the new Azoulay's friends sitting on the Board. For example, the debate on travel by the DG and her senior staff caused a stir and frightened off a number of senior UNESCO officials who are using medical waivers to travel on business class when they had no right to do so, according to the financial regulations.

The amendment proposed by South Africa on the subject of DG Azoulay's travel policy, was substantially modified thanks to the active support to the Secretariat’s position by some of the usual members of Azoulay’s fan-club that nowadays includes Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, Djibouti, Lithuania, Côte d'Ivoire, Chile and Egypt. It’s worth recalling that the current policy allows Ms. Azoulay to take a private family trip in Venice on a boat paid for by UNESCO taxpayers' money allocated to the Culture sector (here). 

Nevertheless, the number of countries beyond the EU supporting Audrey Azoulay is diminishing significantly, and real progress has been made in countering the criminal complicity of these member states. It's clear that the majority of member states elected to the Executive Board are gradually abandoning the permanent green light policy that allowed DG Azoulay to perpetrate her usual mismanagement practices, with no accountability nor transparency whatsoever, and this is actually good news. 

In a further blow to Azoulay, support for Egyptian candidate Khaled el Anani, put forward by Cairo to be UNESCO's next DG, was expressed in plenary session by a number of representatives at the Executive Board. Showing this support so early in the electoral calendar is an unprecedented affront to Audrey Azoulay's ego and to her nonsensical UN existence at the head of the Paris-based agency. After this plenary session, Audrey Azoulay is more than ever in the lame-duck costume. This speaks volumes about how fed-up Board representatives are with Azoulay's moronic regime. 

This support for the Egyptian candidate has raised serious concerns within the UNESCO administration, and in particular among two of its ADGs. The unacceptable situation in which senior managers such as Ottone Ramirez in the Culture Sector or Gabriela Ramos in the SHS Sector are able to exercise totalitarian control over staff, including through intimidation and harassment that force staff members into fear and obedience, has been brought out into the open. 

The problem for both is that they are currently preparing to run for the DG position, while both are the subject of harassment complaints lodged by staff against Mexican ADG/SHS Gabriela Ramos and ADG for Culture Ernesto Ottone.  This is all rather unpleasant for Azoulay's administration.  The Social sciences and Culture sectors have become Audrey Azoulay's inexplicable and endless field of administrative experimentation. The two ADGs must therefore either formally declare that they have no intention of running for the position of DG, or cease using public funds for campaigning and be invited to resign. 

Alaa Youssef, Egypt's Ambassador and Permanent representative to UNESCO and France, could legitimately take the initiative. However, as he is a good friend of DG Azoulay, it is highly doubtful that he would do so, as, according to our sources, it seems that he is rather annoyed by his compatriot's candidacy for the post of DG. So how could Cairo count on him to defend Anani's interests? Would Alaa Youssef be prepared to break off his privileged relationship with Azoulay for the much-needed departure of her two ADGs? Tough political decisions lie ahead for the Egyptian Ambassador.  The question also remains as to what Member States will do to stem the rampant corruption at UNESCO, caused by the mismanagement and violation of financial rules and practices. Next Monday, the debate on UNESCO’s 2023 deficit revealed by Inner City Press (here ) will be of crucial importance. 

The U.S. representative's position will certainly be closely scrutinized, given that the U.S. is generally very tough on issues of misuse of public funds and bad governance involving financial manipulation of accounts contrary to the rules. We will have more on that.  The whole Inner City Press exposure clearly provokes some of the necessary corrective measures. The habitual complicity of member states with the Azoulay regime over recent years is fading, while the governing bodies are administering more actively, in accordance with their constitutional role and responsibility. Nonetheless, personal accountability must be sought for UNESCO's moral and financial bankruptcy. 

One of the first to be given the pink slip is Bernardin Assiene, the Director of UNESCO's Internal Oversight Service (IOS). Not only did he lie to the Executive Board at the last session about cases of fraud and abuse of power concerning him and his service, but at UNESCO anything is possible to an extent never seen before because IOS is not doing its job. The role of Bernardin Assiene, who is normally responsible for proposing sanctions in the event of violations of the rules, should therefore be questioned and challenged in his behavior of covering up the misdeeds of senior UNESCO officials.  Clearly, member states are increasingly unhappy with France's arrogant mismanagement of the UN agency. Staff are under pressure and depressed. Most activities, others than statutory commitments, are suspended.

Under Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO's main mission has shifted to Prada events and Cannes Festival celebrations. Happily, next year her mandate comes to an end, and this is the only truly comforting and inspirational thought for both the staff and the national authorities who care about UNESCO's future and continue to take an interest in it.  This is where UNESCO stands today, a UN agency ravaged by financial misappropriations, propitious to the flourishing of abuse of power, corruption and nepotism. Watch this site.



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