Sunday, January 29, 2017

UN Guterres Cleans Up One of Ban's Kenya Miscues, Son in Law Remains Lobbying With Public Funds?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 29 – Kenyan troops will return to South Sudan, as new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres cleaned up one of his predecessor Ban Ki-moon's messes. Others remain.

  From the African Union summit in Addis Ababa it was relatedly "agreed that Kenya would take up command of the peace keeping forces in Darfur, according to Kenyan State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu who said, 'the UN has offered Kenya the command for the forces in Darfur.'"

  In South Sudan, the UN judged the Terrain Apartments in Juba, South Sudan to be safe and well-protected in October 2015, documents obtained and exclusively published by Inner City Press show. 

This incompetence, well before the Kenyan force commander Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki took over UNMISS in 2016, contributed to the rapes and death scandal for which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon fired, or scapegoated, Ondieki on November 1, leading to Kenya's pullout. Here was Ban on November 4, complaining at the push-back, Vine video. 

On November 10, Ban's head of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous refused to answer on either Juba or Yambio, see below and video here: Ladsous only said, “You know I do not speak to you, Mister.” Ladsous remains, but must go, as must Cristina Gallach, who not only evictedand restricts the Press with no due process or appeal, but produced this, exclusively published by Inner City Press.
  Meanwhile now the UN's Resident Coordinator for Kenya, Ban Ki-moon's son in law Siddharth Chatterjee who was promoted by Ban himself, without recusal, in August 2016 has, according to whistleblowing UN staff, prepared to go to Addis with the purpose repaying a personal debt by lobbying for Kenya's foreign minister to get the AU's top diplomatic job. The staff say this is both an inappropriate act for a UN Resident Coordinator, and a misuse of taxpayer money. We'll have more on this.
  (UN holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric on January 27, when Inner City Press asked a well-founded question about UN use of public funds, called it "despicable," video here.)
  The conflicts of interest today's UN allows by its senior staff, while censoring both lower level staff and the Press which asks, are exemplified by the case in Kenya of Roselyn Kwamboka Akombe.
   Roselyn Kwamboka Akombe is a senior staff member in the UN Department of Political Affairs. She is being allowed to take a leave of absence to be a member of Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. (In Kenya, of course, just left Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named his own son in law Siddharth Chatterjee to the top UN job.)
  But she was quoted, in Kenya, that she will "use her 15 years of experience at the UN to persuade diplomatic missions in the country." So much for the directive to lower UN staff not to use the name of the UN. 
On January 23, Inner City Press asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here: 
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about a case that's arisen in DPA [Department of Political Affairs].  And it's a case of P5 staff member Roselyn Kwamboka Akombe has apparently been put… given leave to put on a… the Kenyan Electoral Commission.  But, she's also been quoted as saying she'll use her 15 years of UN experience to persuade diplomatic missions in the country to… to not get involved in the Kenyan policy.  So, people in DPA… and it looked… just objectively, this seems to be a violation of the policy.  This seems to be a use of one's UN status to be involved in the politics of a country.  Can you… can you get an answer on how this is acceptable?

Spokesman:  No, she has been granted special leave without pay to serve in the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.  She'll provide technical electoral support to the Commission in preparation for the 2017 elections and support efforts to prevent post-electoral violence in Kenya.  The activity was approved in accordance with staff regulations… the proper staff regulations and staff rules.

Inner City Press:  But, how can it be problematic for a staff member on a Saturday to go on a… the Women's March and this is… she's made… she actually has relatives involved in the political frame…?

Spokesman:  You know, I… I don't… you probably know more about this staff member's personal history.  The fact is she was asked for… she asked for special leave without pay.  It was granted.  It was obviously looked at and authorized.  And the… as I've said just a few minutes ago, the message from the Ethics Office was just a reminder of people's obligations as international civil servants.  It was not meant to deter people from attending the march. 
  UN system officials told their staff not to attend the "Global Women's March" on Saturday, January 21. From the NYC march, Periscope I and IIphotos herehere and here.
  Yet while telling lower level staff to avoid any appearance of politics, not only are Under Secretary Generals like Cristina Gallach currently allowed to flout the same rules - now multiple whistleblowers have complained to Inner City Press about the case of Roselyn Akombe. Just as three UN spokespeople did not answer Inner City Press' request for comment and clarification on the UN Ethics Office's unsigned ban on staff participating in the January 21 Women's March. 
  Meanwhile, USG Gallach pseudo-coyly uses Twitter to virtue-signal against reported policies of the new Administration, while other staff are banned. These are double standards. We'll have more on this.
After Inner City Press asked, initially the anti-March directive was reversed - then reinstated at 6 pm the night before the march. Below is UN email first published by Inner City Press. Meanwhile senior UN officials like Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach violate the stated UN rules. Below is an email from the UN World Food Program.
  After Inner City Press published and Periscoped about it and asked four WFP spokespeople about it, by email and phone, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq at the January 20 noon briefing answered Inner City Press that WFP's Ertharin Cousin, from Chicago, reversed her agency's Ethics Officer and said staff can march. YouTube video here.
But then just before 6 pm on January 20, the eve of the March, another UN "Broadcast" email went out, further muddying the waters before the Women's March and showing again that Cristina Gallach (and some other USGs) have violated the UN's rules. That email is below; here are the questions Inner City Press has submitted to the UN's top three spokespeople for clarification:
"These are two Press questions asked before the Women's March (in DC, and in front of the UN, as well as elsewhere) starts, in light of the unsigned, unclear Ethics Office broadcast email below sent out yesterday evening after, and contradicting, the answer given to my question at the noon briefing about the UN's position on the March.

Given that, and many questions Inner City Press has received from confused (and angry) UN staff - and the unprecedented request for the extradition of the just-former Secretary General's brother - these questions should be responded to immediately:

Who is responsible for the Ethics Office broadcast email below? Is Elia Armstrong still the head of / involved in the Ethics Office?

Why is it unsigned? Who is accountable for it? Was it cleared with the Office of Legal Affairs? Are there two different instructions for Secretariat staff and Ertharin Cousin's WFP staff?

Separately, please comment on the US government formal request to South Korea to extradite Ban Ki Sang, and again, was the UN ever contacted by prosecutors about Ban Ki-moon or his family members?

   There are still the majority of the questions below [only two and a half of 22 have been answered.] On deadline." Watch this site.
 The UN's 6 pm, January 20 email:
"To: OAH, DPKO, UN Funds Programs & Tribunals, HQ NY Secretariat
Date: 01/20/2017 05:57PM
Subject: Message from the Ethics Office: Public Pronouncements and Political Activities

Recently, there have been a number of questions regarding public pronouncements including participating in political activities and social media discussions.  The questions include participation in tomorrow’s Women’s March on Washington. Are such activities in line with our status as international civil servants? 

In this respect, we would like to remind staff of their obligations as international civil servants.

The private activities of UN staff members must remain within the limits of the Organization’s core values as reflected in Staff Regulation 1.2 and Staff Rule 1.2.  While the Organization respects the inviolability of your personal views and convictions, including your political and religious convictions, as well as your right to freedom of expression, we must ensure that the expression of those views and convictions do not adversely reflect on our status, or on the integrity, independence and impartiality that are required by that status.

As international civil servants, we are called upon to uphold and respect the principles set out in the Charter, including faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women.  Nonetheless, as international civil servants, our Standards of Conduct (para 9 and 33) make clear that we do not have the freedom of private persons to take sides or to express our beliefs publicly on sensitive political matters, either individually or as members of a group nor can we criticize or try to discredit a Government.

Public pronouncements, which could have an impact on our independence and impartiality as international civil servants, come in many forms including but not limited to:
-marches, protests, demonstrations;
-online petitions:
-social media activity:
-group walks/activities.

Accordingly, participating in certain activities, especially those with political overtones, may be viewed as incompatible with our status as international civil servants."
 Haq would not answer if UN Under Secretaries General on Samantha Power's election night "party" complied with the impartiality even Cousins claimed. We'll have more on this.
Here's WFP's email:
From: Catherine COLMAY [at] on behalf of Bonnie GREEN
Date: Thursday 19 January 2017 at 16:36
Subject: Guidance on Public Political Activities

Message addressed in bcc to All HQ Staff
On behalf of Bonnie Green, Director, Ethics Office
Dear HQ Colleagues,
I am writing about the Women’s March in Rome, scheduled for this Saturday, the 21st January 2017, and our obligations as employees of an international civil organization.
Although the Women’s March in Rome has many goals including respect for civil rights, the March in Rome is part of the “Global Women’s March” conceived as a reaction to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and is intended “…to send a bold message to the new US administration on their first day in office.” [As per Women’s March in Rome Facebook page and other collateral.] 
Whereas our personal political convictions remain inviolate, while we work for WFP, we do not have the freedom of private persons to take sides or express personal political views publicly, either individually or as members of a group. As such, it is not appropriate for us to participate in the Women’s March in Rome or any of the marches as part of the “Global Women’s March”.
The Standards of Conduct for the international Civil Service may be accessed in English,French, Spanish and Arabic, and feel free to pass by the Ethics Office (1Y08) for hard copies in any of the languages.  
As always, the Ethics Office is available to you for additional guidance in person or at WFP.ETHICS [at]
Bonnie E. Green
Director and Chief Ethics Officer
Ethics Office
World Food Programme
   While there is much to be said about this, what is clear to Inner City Press is that this eleventh hour face- (or funding-) saving attempt exposes again the double standards at work in the UN.
  While UN system line staff are told not to participate in this Women's March on a Saturday, UN Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach proudly retweeted of outgoing US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power's UN-heavy "election night party."
  Gallach also, among other things, highlighted the critique of Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson reportedly considering not having a traveling press corps. But Ban Ki-moon, who as UN Secretary General, hired Gallach to communicate for him, did not have a traveling press corp, and rarely held press conferences.
  This same Cristina Gallach had her Department of Public Information use public funds to pay a trainer to tell non-governmental groups accredited to the UN that Detroit, Michigan is a third rate city" in "flyover country," here.
  This while Gallach used public money to travel to her native Barcelona to receive a personal award, and refused to answer or explain about it.
  As to the UN's comment on any of this, now Ban's holdover spokesman at the UN, Stephane Dujarric, has answered only two and a half of 22 questions Inner City Press submitted, and that on a delay. Whatever is provided now will be published.
 In full disclosure Cristina Gallach is also the UN official who, as Inner City Press inquiredinto her and now-gone UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's connections to the corruption scandals surrounding the UN - the John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng bribery case (Gallach did no due diligence, UN audit at Para 37-40 and 20b), and now the indictments against Ban Ki-moon's brother and nephew, who worked for the UN's landlord Colliers International - evicted Inner City Press without any due process, and restricts it still, with no right to appeal. 

We'll have more on this.