By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, November 26 -- Minutes after the UN announced the departure of Humanitarian Affairs chief Baroness Valerie Amos, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq if the vacancy will be advertised for candidates from all countries, or if it is set aside for Amos' United Kingdom.
While Haq insisted that the position is "open to people from any region," transcript below, the disposition of the top jobs in UN Peacekeeping (four Frenchmen in a row) and Political Affairs (two consecutive Americans) indicates otherwise.
Now from the UK comes word that Prime Minister David Cameron is tapping the man he in July "sacked as Health Secretary and Leader of the House: Andrew Lansley" and "has reportedly refused to come up with two alternative candidates, as requested by the UN Secretary General."
While the UN refuses to be transparent about this "please submit three candidates" form of limited competition for positions already designated by nationality, it is what happened with UN Peacekeeping, multiple sources have told Inner City Press.
But even this is often waived. It is UNclear if when B. Lynn Pascoe left as head of the UN Department of Political Affairs, the US put forward anyone beyond Jeffrey Feltman, who has the job.
For Peacekeeping, as Inner City Press exclusively reported in July 2011, when Alain Le Roy left France put forward three candidates and Ban Ki-moon selected Jerome Bonnafont, then France's ambassador to India.
After Bonnafont started bragging about having the job, and Inner City Press reported such boast based on sourcing in India and closer, Team Ban decided that Bonnafont was not the team player they were looking for.
But then president Nicolas Sarkozy, angered, refused to put forward another trio of candidates, instead "dumping" on the UN Herve Ladsous, who had been rejected by Kofi Annan during a previous one-of-three process. Ban Ki-moon accepted these damaged goods, and Ladsous has gone on to cover up rapes by the Congolese Army and now in Darfur, and to openly refuse to answer Press questions,video compilation here, UK New Statesman coverage here.
How would Lansley be? And how is the UN in such decay? Even for the Secretary General position there was some limited competition.
At a much smaller but not unrelated level, the in-house United Nations Correspondents Association is set to "elect" as president, with no competition, a rarely present Italian scribe Giampaolo Pioli, who tried to censor Press articles about Sri Lanka in his previous tenure, click here for that. Also under Pioli, UNCA was used to try to censor, or censure, Inner City Press' reporting about how Ladsous was foisted on the UN, here.
One reason the UN is in such decay is that few questions are asked, and even fewer are answered, at the UN. Here's the UN's transcript of what Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq on November 26:
Deputy Spokesman Haq: The idea that there are spots that are designated is more a popular myth than reality. As you know, many of the positions that have been said to be earmarked for this or that country have not over time proven to be that way. There was an idea that Political Affairs was reserved for someone from the United Kingdom. It hasn’t been that way for quite some time. There’s been talk of how different agencies are headed by Americans or other nationalities, for example, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), and over time you see that hasn’t held true. That’s the case with this position, as well. We’re seeking applicants from every area.
Inner City Press: Will it be like in The Economist? Is there going to be some public process to seek candidates?
Deputy Spokesman Haq: We are seeking candidates. We don’t talk so much about the appointment process as it’s in procedure, but certainly it’s open to people from any region.
We'll stay on this.
There have been rumblings, noted by Inner City Press, of DPA chief Jeffrey Feltman leaving -- and of the US perhaps trading Political Affairs for Peacekeeping. But that theory seems to have been that US State Department Number Three Wendy Sherman would move up to William Burns' deputy spot, opening her position for the return of Feltman.
Now that the Obama administration has put Tony Blinken into the State Department Deputy post, as one insider told ICP, “Feltman stays at the UN.”
Even without any double switch, Ladsous is under fire atop DPKO, not only for refusal to answer questions, back to rapes in Minova in DR Congo, but now in Tabit in Darfur as well.
Haq, like lead UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric on November 26, would not when Inner City Press asked confirm receipt of a letter, critical of Ladsous' DPKO, from Darfuri groups, here.
Outgoing UN Security Council president Gary Quinlan of Australia not only confirmed receipt of the letter - he circulated it to the other Council members. A press officer of UK mission to the UN told Inner City Press, "I can confirm that we received the letter indirectly." We'll have more on this, and on Amos' work while at the UN, and perhaps reason(s) for leaving, including as, like Lansley, may related to UK politics.
We might also suggest, if the UN under Ban is to remain so captured by Permanent Members of the Security Council, a more deserving British candidate, in connection with the April 2015 arrival of Matthew Rycroft atop the UK Mission to the UN.
On November 25, it was Quinlan and not Amos who took question after Amos' briefing on Syria. How much will Amos speak, publicly, before her departure at the end of March? Much, is the hope and goal of the Free UN Coalition for Access. Watch this site.