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UN Staff Slam Outsourcing, Reduced Access to Justice, Mobility "Sham"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 15 -- After the whimpering end of "the worst UN budget committee session ever," as several participants called it, in December 2012 Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople for Ban's comments on the deferral of his mobility proposal.

  The question has yet to be answered. Rather, Inner City Press was told that Ban would be holding a Town Hall meeting with UN staff and the question would be addressed there.

  There was only one problem: the Town Hall meeting, held on January 10, was closed-door and could not be attended by the Press.

  However Inner City Press has learned what was said, and the questions that were raised by staff members not only in New York but also in Geneva, Vienna, Naibori, Kinshasa, the Hague and Beirut.

  From Geneva questions ranging from outsourcing of jobs to cut-back for the merger of UN libraries with UNITAR -- to form "UN Knowledge" -- to even Ban's acceptance of a Hyundai "Equus" were raised.

 (Here is Inner City Press on the Hyundai, here the UN's subsequently provided and published answer about the car.)

  The questioner said if Equus means "horse of the victorious general" it will be hard for Ban Ki-moon to live up to it, with temporary staff with reduced access to justice.

  A plan by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to cut 45 jobs in Geneva was panned; it is said to be "on ice."

  When Ban Ki-moon's time to respond to this came, there was little detail. The libraries merger was called "efficiency;" lack of consultation with staff was blamed on deadlines set by the General Assembly.

  Some staff interviewed by Inner City Press agreed that Ban is genial but answers are not forthcoming.

   From the UN in Vienna came the suggestion that Ban withdraw his mobility proposal. The head of the Staff Union, in New York, said that consultations on mobility were like "gang rape."

   Other staff have described the conflation of UMOJA and mobility a "sham."

   In what seemed to be a planted question, a political affairs staffer with MONUSCO in Kinshasa asked Ban what he could do about violence in Eastern Congo "including the apparent interference by a neighboring country." Was any polling done in MONUSCO, that this would be their question?

   By contrast the UNDOF question, also about violence, focused on conditions and pay for staff.

On the podium with Ban were Susana Malcorra, Yukio Takasu and deputy Jan Eliasson, who yesterday chose the questions for Ban's predecessor Kofi Annan, none on Oil for Food or Sri Lanka, which Eliasson is working on at least until the second quarter of 2013.

  In the front row were various Under Secretaries General, from Jeffrey Feltman through Maged Abdel Aziz , Kim Won-soo and Angela Kane -- but no Herve Ladsous, who oversees MONUSCO and UNDOF and the other peacekeeping missions.

  Ladsous refuses to answer Press questions, even on how Ban's Human Rights Due Diligence Policy will be implemented after the actuall gang rapes in Minova in Eastern Congo.

  To staff, Ladsous speaks through one-way video monologues. More on those to follow. Watch this site.

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