By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series
UNITED NATIONS, March 20 – How transparent, or opaque, is today's UN? Inner City Press has asked the UN's top two spokesmen simple factual questions, including when particular officials' UN contracts expire, below, without answer. Also, who works on the 38th floor? Who pays them? But the two spokesmen, both holdovers from the Ban Ki-moon administration, have refused to answer, most recently for four days this: "This is a Press request to know the date on which the UN contracts expire for the following: Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, Staffan de Mistura, Sigrid Kaag, Anthony Lake, Jeffrey Sachs, Kim Won-soo, Han Seung Soo." There have been no answers. Nor to this, which Inner City Press has sent to UNOPS: "This is a Press request for UNOPS to state, upon receipt, whether it is paying or facilitating the payment of anyone in the Executive Office of the Secretary General and/or on the 38th floor of UNHQ, and separately whether UNOPS has a Lusophone fund or similar entity and what it does."
Also four days ago Inner City Press asked, "This is a Press request for a list of who is working in the Executive Office of the Secretary General; within that, who is paid by the UN general budget, who is paid by or through any other UN-affiliated fund including but not limited to UNOPS and who funds that, and who is paid by / seconded from a country." The question about UNOPS grows from a number of sources having exclusively told Inner City Press that Secretary General Antonio Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal, has been using a "Lusophone fund" in the UN Office of Project Services, UNOPS, to pay several of those working for him on the 38th floor. Why not just answer?
On March 20, as Inner City Press pointed out the seeming hypocrisy not only of the UN preaching media freedom while having evictedand still with no due process restricting Inner City Press but also of an all-male UN teammeeting with the DR Congo, it was told Yes, UNOPS is involved, citing to General Assembly documents saying that some working in the UN do not have to be categories, or disclosed, as staff. But isn't this opacity simply inviting budget cuts? We'll have more on this.