Monday, July 18, 2016

As Ban Ki-moon's UNwanted EOSG Staff Can Take Any Job, Ban Ki-moon Passes Buck Back to Kofi Annan

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 18 -- Entering the last six months of Ban Ki-moon's second term as UN Secretary General, not only Ban has his eye on future jobs (South Korea presidency) and paydays.

Beyond the Andrew Gilmour move on June 24, in the July 15 UN Journal Ban quietly gave himself "the authority to laterally transfer staff members of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General to any of the activities or offices of the United Nations, including to any vacant position in any organizational unit or duty station with or without advertisement of the job opening or further review by a central review body."

This is lawless, analogized by one wag to a refugee resettlement program for Ban's staff who would otherwise become homeless once a new SG clears house and handpicks new staff. But Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric might, it seems, call reporting on it "stalking."Video here. Where might Dujarric show up, without competition?

On July 15, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq about it; Haq never did email the answer he got but instead waited to read it out on June 18, then email after Inner City Press asked about it, video here:

"The General Assembly, in resolution 57/305, approved Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposal to grant discretionary placement authority of staff leaving the Executive Office at the end of their service. In his proposal, Secretary-General Annan had explained that in staffing the Executive Office, the required expertise was often available within the Organization, and while the Secretary-General could bring staff into his Executive Office outside established procedures, this action separated the staff from their posts in their previous office. The Secretary-General was of the view that, logically, there should be a corresponding arrangement, allowing him authority to outpost staff from his Office as well, which would ensure that the career opportunities of these staff are not jeopardized by service in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. In addition, such placement facilitates providing an incoming Secretary-General with the possibility of selecting staff of his or her choosing. The decision remains in force until and unless the General Assembly decides otherwise. 

Since the Assembly’s decision, the Secretary-General has exercised the authority granted in certain cases. In the interest of good administration and transparency, a Secretary-General’s Bulletin was recently promulgated, setting forth the eligibility criteria for placement and the process."

Here's the Staff Union view Inner City Press has asked Haq about:

"At this April’s meeting of the Staff-Management Committee, management representatives proposed a policy whereby staff in your executive office (EOSG), recruited through the established procedures and subsequently appointed to a position in EOSG, may be placed on any vacant post anywhere in the Secretariat, whether advertised or not.

The staff unions of the United Nations raised concerns as the proposal was a fundamental variation of the staff selection system that you yourself put in place. As staff unions we are mandated to represent the rights of all staff, including those serving in EOSG.
Your proposal referred to General Assembly resolution 57/305, which states: “Approves in view of the special circumstances, the proposal contained in the report of the Secretary-General, while emphasizing that the process must be transparent and in accordance with the Staff Regulations and Rules, and requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of this procedure to the General Assembly as appropriate.”

It should be noted that this resolution was issued in 2002 and makes reference to the Galaxy staff selection system. It also pre-dates mobility. The General Assembly passed the resolution in the context of a system now judged obsolete. In determining the new staff selection system in 2009, it is not clear that resolution 57/305 was taken into account. Therefore, the resolution would now appear to be moot.

Further the resolution requested a transparent process. When we questioned management representatives on this, we were unable to obtain assurances as to how such transparency would occur.
We are also concerned that you are ready to outplace staff from your office without acknowledging that such a policy would give rise to legitimate expectations by equally hard-working staff elsewhere, affected by budget cuts, to be placed on more secure posts.

We regret that without even waiting for the SMC decision process to take place via this submission, you have already and unilaterally implemented this policy by personally approving and signing ST/SGB/2016/8, even though this item had still to be concluded by you through the SMC process. We are concerned at the signal this may send out about your commitment to genuine staff-management dialogue and the precedent that it sets. As such we do not recognize the legitimacy of this policy.

And while we fully respect the hard work and loyalty of your staff, we believe that placement of staff should be made on an equal basis for all, and that transparency measures be implemented."

On June 24 when Ban's office announced a promotion for Andrew Gilmour of the United Kingdom to Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and Head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in New York, there were near-immediate grumbling from the developing countries int the Group of 77.

  Several who contacted Inner City Press asked, Why was there no open recruitment process? Why did Ban, having “already picked an Australian in Geneva [Kate Gilmore] now choose a Brit in New York?”

   Others said there is an attempt to move people to new jobs so that when the next Secretary General comes in, the argument can be made that they haven't enough time, leave them in place. On June 27, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN Transcript: 

Inner City Press: And you'd mentioned this, that Mr. [Ivan] Šimonovic will be replaced by Andrew Gilmour.  Since then, I've heard from a number… I guess I want to just to ask factually, what was the recruitment pol… pr … was a call put out for an ASG (Assistant Secretary-General) post?  Because people in G-77 (Group of 77) are saying there was no call, and there's… there's some… some pushback to it.  And also some people that work in the human rights at D2 and other levels are saying they couldn't apply.  Isn't it the norm for an ASG post to write a letter to Member States and saying send in names or do interviews?  Was that done or not done?

Deputy Spokesman:  As far as I'm aware, the standard process for filling that post was followed as with all senior posts.

Inner City Press:  Can… I mean, I guess… can you check on that?  Because maybe these people are ill-informed, but they seem to think that didn't take place.

Deputy Spokesman:  As… like I said, I mean, as far as I'm apprised of the process, it was filled in the standard way of previous posts, with a short list of candidates and interviews and so forth.

Inner City Press:  But is it the norm to inform Member States that an ASG post is becoming empty and for them to write in if they have a candidate?

Deputy Spokesman:  Ultimately, things depend on the level, but I believe that all the appropriate policies for that post were filled.

  Countries, too, have their strategy. Several sources tell Inner City Press that Herve Ladsous might have to leave before the end of Ban's term -- good -- but not as accountability for peacekeeper rapes and justifying them, nor more recently for the failures at Malakal in South Sudan.

  No, the idea is that if France wants to hold on to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, it will be better with a recently appointed USG in place than Ladsous and his stench. There was talk of the Obama administration wanting Peacekeeping, now the talk has turned to the Department of Management. We'll have more on this.

As to Ban himself, when he wrapped up his five day campaign trip in South Korea with a three-question "press conference" at the UN's DPI-NGO conference, he criticized "coverage of what was supposed to be off-the-record meeting with the Kwanhoon Club" of political correspondents.

Even during Ban's long visit to South Korea, Inner City Press in New York where it has been evicted from its long time shared UN office and confined to minders, told not to question diplomats asked the UN why no transcript was provided of Ban's session with the Kwanhoon Club. It asked again on June 10, the day after Ban himself called such questions "undue."

On June 16, as Inner City Press continued to ask Ban's spokesman Dujarric about Ban's role in retaliation - and Dujarric refused to answer - it was told by other sources that the South Korean mission has come out defending its role in promoting meetings for Ban with South Korea political figures, defending its travel with Ban and specifically denying the Mission wrote speeches for Ban.