Saturday, November 26, 2016

After Spain's Bernardino Leon Sold Out UN, Ban Ki-moon Rewards Him With Visit To UAE Employer

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 25more here -- When Bernardino Leon, already set for a $1500 a day job with the United Arab Emirates, came to the UN Security Council for the final time more than a year ago on November 5, 2015, Inner City Press asked him if he had sought approval from the UN Ethics Office before pursuing the UAE job, if he acknowledged the conflict of interest and thought it will impact intra-Libya talks. Video here.Leon did not answer about the UN Ethics office, but conceded that the “optics” were badVideo here.

Now in November 2016 Ban Ki-moon has rewarded Leon, who sold out the UN and Libya, with a visit to the Emirates Diplomatic Academy which bought him. On November 22, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you…

Spokesman:  Please no double chin with the Periscope.
Inner City Press: your podium is blocking it to the degree it exists.  I wanted to ask, since the Secretary-General is going to the UAE to speak at this Emirate Diplomatic Academy, there was the controversy around Bernardino León negotiating a position there while he was Special Representative in Libya.  Is he still the director? and has… has there been any reforms instituted in terms of the post-UN employment negotiation for employment by UN employees, such as took place in the Bernardino León case? 
Spokesman:  We would expect all senior officials who leave the United Nations to follow the most ethical rules possible.  As for Bernardino León's current situation, I think that's a question to ask for the Diplomatic Academy, if he's still there.
  Well, now Ban Ki-moon has visited - and taken a photo with “Bernardino Leon” junior, here. The “highlights” issued by Ban's spokesperson's office mention the visit but no Leon - perhaps no surprise, given for example that Ban promoted his own son in law Siddharth Chatterjee to the top UN post in Kenya without recusing himself.
  Inner City Press on November 25 submitted six questions to four Ban spokespeople, including on Ban's nepotism and Spain's Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach use of UN funds. Watch this site.
  On December 7, 2015, AP quoted a Libyan-American group quoting an unnamed UN Office of Internal Oversight Services that the UN has assigned an investigator to l'affaire Leon. Excusing double hearsay for a moment, how much credibility does OIOS have? It helped to cover up rape allegations in the Central African Republic against French and UN peacekeepers.
  More recently OIOS is supposed to be auditing the UN's interactions with two foundations founded by now indicted lobbyists of the UN, Ng Lap Seng's Sun Kian Ip Group and Sheri Yan's Global Sustainability Foundation. Not only have there been no results: senior UN system officials have, as Inner City Press reported, continued cavorting with special advisers to Yan's GSF. So Libyans shouldn't hold their collective breath, for OIOS at least... 
 Back on November 6, the day after Leon said "I have decided to request a full clarification of the issue, including from the United Arab Emirates," Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq to WHOM Leon is seeking the clarification: the UN? The UN Security Council Libya Sanctions Committee? Video here.
 Haq replied that the sentence should be viewed as comprising the view of the Special Representative: Leon. So the UN, contrary to Reuters' headline, has not asked the UAE for anything.
 On November 16, Inner City Press asked the UN's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarricvideo here, transcript here:
Inner City Press: I want to ask something about Burundi.  But, since you mentioned the CEB meeting, I want to ask something first on that.  It was said after it was revealed that Bernardino León had sought this job with the UAE [United Arab Emirates] that the Secretary-General was going to be informing his other envoys, orally and in writing, reminding them of their ethical duties.  And Farhan [Haq] said it’s supposed to come up at the CEB, nothing about the letter.  Number one, is any written reminder or something going out to envoys?  And, two, are these envoys part of the CEB meeting?  What’s the purpose of raising it at the CEB?

Spokesman:  It’s an issue that will be raised at the CEB.  It’s an issue that will be raised also at the Secretary-General’s next meeting with his senior management group.  It’s a message that will be put out through various channels for everyone, not just envoys, to ensure that they abide by the letter and by the spirit of the UN’s ethics regulations and guidelines.

Inner City Press
:  And the note to correspondents that was sent out for or by Bernardino León saying he sought clarification from the UAE, is there a timeline on that?  And is there any connection, given that, I mean, it’s put out as a UN note to correspondents, is the information that comes back from the UAE supposed to be for some… anyone other than Bernardino León personally…?

Spokesman:  I don’t have…  I think, obviously, that’s something we would hope the UAE shares publicly, but I have nothing to add to that.

Inner City Press:  And on Burundi…?

Spokesman:  I’ll come back to you. 

 Inner City Press asked Haq if Ban has yet to remind his envoys in writing about ethics, as lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban would. Haq replied that the issue will come up at the next UN Chief Executives Board and Senior Management Gorup meetings. (AFP asked, what are those?)
 But that is not putting anything in writing to envoys like Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on Yemen, on whose outside interests Inner City Prress has exclusively reported. Nor would Haq answer Inner City Press what USG Feltman did from August 27, when he learned of Leon's dealings with the UAE.

  Leon's predecessor as UN envoy to Libya Tarek Mitri, however, got a formal "Note" from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, signed by Ban's chief of staff Susana Malcorra and cc-ed to Under Secretaries General Jeffrey Feltman (Political Affairs), Yukio Takasu (Management) and Joan Dubinksy (Ethics Office) approving outside activity for Mitri, which Inner City Press is putting online hereand embedded below.
  Among the continuing outside engagements approved by Ban Ki-moon were for Mitri to be on the Board of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, in Beirut and Doha.
  Did Leon get, or even seek, such a Note from Ban? The leaked emails show that Feltman knew of Leon's job search with the UAE by August 27, at latest. 
  Now after more leaked emails, of the UAE about embargo / sanctions violations and that the UN's Jeff Feltman knew of Leon's UAE job search as of August 27 at latest, Leon on the evening of November 12 issued this:

"I am aware of the report today in the New York Times about Libya and alleged activities in contravention of United Nations Security Council resolutions. In light of this report, I have decided to request a full clarification of the issue, including from the United Arab Emirate (UAE) authorities, as I take time to reflect on the next steps in my professional career."
 While Leon said that "I" have decided to request clarification from the UAE, Reuters reported that the UN is seeking an explanation. But Leon did not say he will share the UAE's explanation with the UN, much less with the public. And shouldn't the UN Security Council's Libya sanctions committee be seeking the explanation, or asking for action against the UAE?
 So is Leon no longer taking the UAE job? What about Feltman and what he knew? We'll have more on this.

  For Leon, it's about more than optics. Inner City Press has researched and compared Bernardino Leon's conduct, as reflected by the emails he does not dispute, to the UN Charter and UN staff rules which apply to him. And after publishing the rules, Inner City Press on November 6 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about them. Video here.
  Leon wrote to the UAE: "all my movements and proposals have been consulted with (and in many cases designed by) the HOR and Aref Nayed and Mahmud Jibril (with whom I speak on a daily basis) following Your request."
 UN Charter Article 100 provides that "In the performance of their duties, the Secretary-General and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any Government or from any other authority external to the Organization. They shall refrain from any action which might reflect on their position as international officials responsible only to the Organization."
  But Leon told the UAE took and obeyed "Your request" - and got the UAE job. Also relevant was Leon's oath: "(b) Staff members shall make the following written declaration witnessed by the Secretary-General or his or her authorized representative:

'I solemnly declare and promise to exercise in all loyalty, discretion and conscience the functions entrusted to me as an international civil servant of the United Nations, to discharge these functions and regulate my conduct with the interests of the United Nations only in view, and not to seek or accept instructions in regard to the performance of my duties from any Government or other source external to the Organization.'" From the Staff Rules:

 "Rule 1.2 Basic rights and obligations of staff
Conflict of interest

(m) A conflict of interest occurs when, by act or omission, a staff member’s personal interests interfere with the performance of his or her official duties and responsibilities or with the integrity, independence and impartiality required by the staff member’s status as an international civil servant. When an actual or possible conflict of interest does arise, the conflict shall be disclosed by staff members to their head of office, mitigated by the Organization and resolved in favour of the interests of the Organization;

Specific instances of prohibited conduct

(k) Staff members shall neither offer nor promise any favour, gift, remuneration or any other personal benefit to another staff member or to any third party with a view to causing him or her to perform, fail to perform or delay the performance of any official act. Similarly, staff members shall neither seek nor accept any favour, gift, remuneration or any other personal benefit from another staff member or from any third party in exchange for performing, failing to perform or delaying the performance of any official act."

  We'll have more on this.
On November 5, Leon also said that the GNC, which has written to the UN complaining about Leon's new job, has its own problems to solve. After Leon argued that his new job is not really a conflict because it is “academic,” Inner City Press without the UN microphone asked him to confirm it is the UAE government that will be paying him. It is.  Inner City Press asked Leon if he thought there should be some “cooling off” period during which a UN mediator cannot go work for one of the parties to the conflict. Leon said he is just a civil servant and has to work somewhere. 
  It seemed a strange defense of the UAE job, and give rise to an idea, only half in jest: a UN “Trust Fund” to support mediators so they don't sell out to parties to the conflicts they work on. It's similar to the idea that former President of the General Assembly John Ashe had to take hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes because he comes from a small country.
   Leon appeared to say that no one from the UN has raised any question about him negotiating for and taking the UAE job. Inner City Press asked the Security Council's president for November, Matthew Rycroft of the UK, if the issue came up in consultations and did not receive a “yes” answer. Instead, Rycroft told Inner City Press that the UN must have a lot of rules about this.
  But does it?d

  At noon, with Leon still inside the Security Council, UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric declined to tell the Press if Leon has even sought UN Ethics Office clearance to negotiate with the UAE for a $1,500 a day job while purportedly serving the UN in Libya. 
 Dujarric said again and again that Leon had worked hard and had been subject to criticism from all side -- like the UN's (also dubious) Yemen envoy. Dujarric told one reporter that he was not asking a question -- suddenly rules are important, one wag remarked -- and tried to distinguish the analogies, raised by Inner City Press earlier, to Tony Blair's business interests while Quartet Envoy, and Alexander Downer on Cyprus.
   Inner City Press asked, in light of the other UN scandals, if Ban Ki-moon saw the need to implement rules before he leaves. Dujarric's reply was that each case is different; on the CAR rapes he said wait for the (delayed) report. Can this scandal similarly be put on ice? Watch this site.

  But Leon taking money from the UAE, which has a stake in the Libya conflict he purported to mediate, is not a one-off in today's UN. Not only is there the concurrent John Ashe - Frank Lorenzo - Ng Lap Seng scandal, and the yet to be addressed cover up of peacekeeper rapes in Central African Republic involving UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous - there have been other conflict envoys.
  Tony Blair did business in the region while envoy of the Middle East Quartet, Inner City Press Q&A video here.
Alexander Downer continued with the consultancy Bespoke Approach while UN envoy on Cyprus, story by Inner City Press here. There are more. So there is a systemic problem that must be addressed.
  But in part these scandals are not linked together not only due to lassitude on the part of those who also want jobs with the UN, but of the UN Correspondents Association, which not only took funds from Ng's South South News, gave it an award and photos for Ng with Ban at Cipriani -- it is now offering seats with Ban at Cipriani Wall Street for $6,000. But shocked at Leon.
  Back on July 15 after Leon briefed the UN Security Council about his political agreement without the Tripoli-based General National Congress, Inner City Press asked him what plan he may have to get the GNC to sign, and about long-time Libyan ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi's criticism in the Security Council of its Sanctions Committee. Video here.
  On the latter, Leon said that that first step is to form a unity government, THEN to listen to what it asks for. On the GNC, Leon seems to say they agree in principle, only differing on timing or sequencing. 
  The same two questions, nearly identically, were repeated by a Gulf media; an Italian journalist asked about the flow of migrants to Europe. This, Leon seized on, asking rhetorically what “we” can tell the British, whose people were killed in Tunisia by a guy reportedly trained in Libya.
  The answer again reflected Leon's at least dual allegiances or constituencies. He was the EU's envoy, then put in to replace UN enovy Tarek Mitri. Recently former IAEA El Baradei said Leon was involved in the “coup” in Egypt. (Leon said he hasn't seen that You Tube and doubts El Baradei said it.)
  The UN, after ousting Tarek Mitri as envoy in favor of Bernardino Leon, has been promoting its good works in Geneva and in the country. 
  Back on February 18, speaking before the foreign ministers of Libya (Tobruk) and Egypt, Leon again cited his own work: "given the sense of urgency, I have called for the next meeting of the political dialogue to finalize discussions initiated in Geneva on the formation of government of national unity and security arrangements to pave the way for a formal and comprehensive cessation of hostilities.”
  At the Security Council stakeout before the Jordan-requested meeting began, UK Ambassador Lyall Grant said the meeting would provide a chance to hear from Libya and Egypt; he said he hadn't yet seen the draft resolution. (Another non-Arab Permanent Representative said they HAD seen the draft.)
 After Leon, Libya's foreign minister said he is not requesting an international intervention, only wants Egypt's help.
 Egypt's Foreign Minister Shoukry, citing the killing of the US Ambassador in Benghazi, said that too little was done after the parliament was chased to Tobruk. He said he is counting on Jordan to distribute the draft resolution. Some of the Council say they have a different line of thinking. Watch this site.
 Bernardino Leon, as Inner City Press exclusively reported, was installed as head of UNSMIL after then-head Tarek Mitri declined to make the UN mission a mere appendage of European / UK diplomacy. Is it working?
  UNSMIL's former deputy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania has been moved to head UNMEER, the UN's Ebola mission. Sources in Yemen say Ould Cheikh Ahmed was the UN's “designated security official” when a UNICEF staffer was taken hostage while traveling to the Sana'a airport without the required (and needed) security detail. Some say Ould Cheikh Ahmed was distracted, in Yemen and later in Libya, by side business interests. 
  But a check of Ban Ki-moon's Public Disclosure website, where his officials are supposed to make rudimentary disclosure of the finances and outside business interests, does not even list Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed (while numerous other Deputy SRSGs are listed). His is not in the most recent database, for 2013 - and may escape any disclosure by become an Under Secretary General with a mere nine month stint at UNMEER. Then what? We'll stay on this.
  When the UN Security Council met about Mali on January 6, it was Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop, and not UN Peacekeeping official Herve Ladsous, who distributed his speech and came to take Press questions. (Ladsous has a policy against it, here and here.)
  Inner City Press asked Diop about the Mali talks in Algiers, and about the impact of Libya. On the latter, Diop said that “in 2012 the Mali crisis started when the war started in Libya and many Malian elements who were part of the Libyan army decided to come back home with the arms and ammunition. This started the destabilization of Mali.”
   Diop added, "In the southern part of Libya there is a group that has declared allegiance to the Islamic State.” (When asked to name the group he could not or would not.)
On Leon: To try to counter Libya's lawless power struggle, the UN engaged in one of its own. 
  And unlike most of the member states that make up the UN, and most other inter-governmental organizations, this UN does not answer questions, at least not directly.
  After Inner City Press repeated asked about it, including at the UN's noon briefings on August 11 and 13, on August 14 the UN said Bernardino Leon will take over as its Libya envoy on September 1.
  When Inner City Press asked if that is really Leon's starting day, given that he's said he'll go to Tripoli as early as next week representing the UN, Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said Leon is merely "familiarizing" himself with the work he will be, and Mitri remains in place until September 1. Really?
  Ignoring the previous questions and the power-play, wire services like Reuters merely retyped ("reported") the UN's August 14 announcement that Leon will start September 1. And now?
 Back on August 1, Inner City Press exclusively reported that UN envoy to Libya Tarek Mitri was being "pushed out" of the post, including by UK envoy to Libya Jonathan Powell, and cited his brother Lord Powell's extensive business in Libya through Magna Holdings.
  The UK mission, usually responsive, did not provide comment on written Press questions on this; at UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant's August 4 press conference Inner City Press asked about Powell's and Mitri's relationship, without direct answer, see here.
  Then the UK's Ambassador to Libya Michael Aron has announced, on Twitter no less,  that Mitri is out and Ban Ki-moon has installed a new UN envoy, former Zapatero diplomat Bernardino Leon Gross.
  The UN, at least at its August 8 noon briefing and in emails since, has not announce anything about replacing Mitri, much less by whom.
  In 2011 when France had already gotten its Jerome Bonnafont in place to replace its Alain Le Roy atop UN Peacekeeping, Bonnafont's bragging about it in India, where he was French Ambassador, led to Ban rescinding the "offer."

  France countered with three time loser Herve Ladsous, Inner City Press reported each step -- including Bonnafont in July 2011 being tapped for the post, and even congratulation cards to Bonnafont, here, and threats from AFP then the UN Correspondents Association -- and the rest is, well, a type of history (coverage in UK New Statesman, here).
  Ladsous refuses all Inner City Press questions, video compilation here; Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq on August 8, alluding to Ladsous and now UNDPsaid it is because of "people skills." Or reporting?
  So Ban has accepted or done nothing to stop this P3 power grab to oust Mitri. But can "his" successor be pre-announced and Ban accept that too? 
Footnote: Inner City Press is exclusively informed that UNSMIL deputy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed also has business, literally: fisshing business. Ban and those in control of this play accept that too? Watch this site.
Background: Inner City Press on August 1 asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric what UN envoy Tarek Mitri is doing; Dujarric said he was not aware but would check.
  Inner City Press had reported that Mitri, unlike the other UN international staff who relocated to Tunis, went back to his native Lebanon. Sources in the region exclusively told Inner City Press that Mitri had been hoping for a government post in Lebanon, describing him as less than committed to remaining with the UN.
   Now we can report more. These knowledgeable sources say that Mitri is being "pushed out," mostly they say by the UK's envoy to Libya, former Tony Blair aide Jonathan Powell.
  "Mitri was expected to take on a mostly support function," one source told Inner City Press. "He stood up and said no, headquarters didn't back him up and now he's being pushed out." We'll have more on this.
  It was nine days after Libya's foreign minister Mohamed Abdel Aziz at the UN Security Council stakeout told the Press his country wanted international help to protect oil fields and ports, including airports, that the US announced it had relocated its Tripoli embassy staff out of the country to Tunisia.
  Inner City Press asked, where is UN envoy to Libya Tarek Mitri? He briefed the Security Council from Beirut -- sources tell Inner City Press he has been on vacation there, and this deputy, too, was out of the country.
  Back on July 17 when Libya's foreign minister Mohamed Abdel Aziz emerged from the UN Security Council to take questions from the media, Inner City Press asked him to be more specific about what type of “support” force he is asking for.
  Mohamed Abdel Aziz replied that the request is not for a “military” force -- but then went on to say say the force should protect oil fields and ports. If that's not military, what is it?
  Inner City Press also asked Mohamed Abdel Aziz for Libya's current position on the US arresting Abu Khatallah. Compared to the complaints of others, Mohamed Abdel Aziz said that even though under international law it is unacceptable, since Libya can't protect witnesses, maybe it is okay.
  Given the current state of affairs, what is “Libya's” position?
  Meanwhile on July 17 the UN's envoy to Libya Tarek Mitri told the Security Council -- by video from his native Lebanon, while other UN international staff are in Tunisia -- that the fighting has “cast a shadow over the election on 25 June of the 200 member Council of Representatives.” Ya don't say.
 Mitri said that barely forty percent of the 1.5 million registered Libyans went to the polls. He said 12 seats will remain vacant; 41 candidates were disqualified under the post-Gaddafi Law on Political and Administrative Isolation. Final results are supposed to be announced on July 20. Watch this site.