Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Monday, 29 June 2009
That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.
But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.
The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.
Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.
The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica. (Wall Street Journal)
- First because Ban Ki Moon and his Korean-run 38th floor have totally disregarded so far the mandated and constitutional bodies of the United Nations; and
- Second, They have total disregard about basic institution's rules and regulations, and as Zelaya, Kim Jong Il and Hugo Chavez, - dictators and terrorists always stick together.
Friday, 26 June 2009
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Who would have imagined that transparency, participation and collaboration would be stated goals of any official U.S. government (USG) policy -- and not just in a rhetorical manner, but rather as an invitation for constructive engagement with American citizenry?
- Transparent - promote accountability and provide information for citizens
- Participatory - public engagement enhances the Government's effectiveness and improves quality decisions
- Collaborative - engagement of citizens in the work of their government
- Foster Transparency : - by making public all DESA's projects, finances and personnel and shutting down the useless TCMS (we like their old term)
- Foster Participation: - by allowing all DESA's staff participate in the policy formulation and reforms inside our own work space and making their voice heard
- Foster Collaboration: - by engaging DESA's staff from various Divisions and Branches into inter-branch, cross-thematic Teams or cross-divisional-projects aiming at enhancing a culture of collaboration and exchange that would ultimately strengthen DESA's products and reputation.
Monday, 22 June 2009
- how did Sarbuland Khan and UNDESA selected the Strategy Partners for GAID ?
- isn't it a conflict of interest that UN-DESA signs an agreement to assist in commercializing 500,000 Computers of NComputing, which on other hands seats in UN-DESA-GAID Strategy Board?
- what role will Nokia Siemens Network play in this deal ?
- who is Sarbuland Khan and what does he represents ?
- how can UN-DESA certify that Nokia Siemens Networks monitoring-spy technologies will not be included in the 500,000 computers?
Thursday, 18 June 2009
By Harvey Morris at the United Nations
Published: June 17 2009 03:00 I Last updated: June 17 2009 03:00
Pervasive criticism of Ban Ki-moon's performance as United Nations secretary-general, from within the organisation and among envoys assigned to it, is raising doubts about his prospects of a second term, according to senior officials and diplomats.
In an untypically robust defence of his stewardship, Mr Ban acknowledged last week that there had been negative assessments. However, he also drew attention to the challenges he had faced since he took the post as a compromise candidate at the start of 2007.
Approaching the mid-point of his first five-year term, Mr Ban told a press conference it was up to UN member states to decide whether he should serve a second. "When the time comes, I hope the member states will judge what I will have achieved by that time," he said.
He complained UN states were not backing him. "It is just impossible. I need more political support. I need more resources by the member states."
In his own defence, Mr Ban said: "I have been working as the voice of the voiceless people, and defend those people who are defenceless." But aides fret that his voice is not being heard loudly enough.
The questioning of Mr Ban's record has become a staple of conversation among staff at the UN's New York headquarters and of diplomatic chatter among the foreign missions that crowd midtown Manhattan.
The decisive judgment on his performance, however, will be that of member states, and specifically of the five permanent members of the Security Council that have a veto on a second term.
He received their unanimous backing in 2006 when the experienced career diplomat and former foreign minister offered a safe pair of hands to undertake the task of reforming a sixdecades-old bureau-cracy that the US and others regarded as dysfunctional. But Mr Ban expressed his frustration at the slow pace of internal reform: after 30 months in office he has only just got his senior management team in place.
On the world stage, however, he has left a shallow footprint, with his performance often contrasted with that of Kofi Annan, his predecessor.
His natural preference for conciliation - whether over Israel's invasion of Gaza or Sri Lanka's suppression of Tamil Tiger rebels - has been interpreted as appeasement by human rights groups and even by UN staff members.
One UN watcher noted, however, that Mr Ban's caution in speaking out firmly on some pressing issues was matched by a lack of resolution by the Security Council.
"The secretary-general's leadership is crucial, but the failures must be brought home equally to the Security Council. On issues like Sri Lanka, where civilian suffering has been immense, the . . . council cannot even agree to put Sri Lanka on its regular agenda," said Carne Ross, a former UK diplomat who heads Independent Diplomat, a New York-based non-profit advisory group.
"While there have clearly been some disappointments, a lot rests on Ban's ability to deliver on his selfproclaimed number one priority: 'selling the deal' on a new climate agreement in Copenhagen [in December]," Mr Ross said.
* Japan decided yesterday to tighten its sanctions against North Korea, stemming the trickle of exports that flows to the isolated communist state and introducing further restrictions on travel there. The decision was made ahead of a meeting yesterday between Lee Myung-bak, South Korea's president, and Barack Obama, the US president, in Washington.
Monday, 15 June 2009
Friday, 12 June 2009
The score at half-time
Jun 11th 2009
From The Economist print edition
Ban Ki-moon has turned in a mixed performance so far. He needs to improve
The UN was created to set and uphold norms on everything from human rights to (lately) terrorism and climate change, to resolve crises, keep the peace, alleviate poverty and encourage development. In fact, as Mr Ban has found, managing relations with the UN Security Council and the General Assembly is like trying to run a company with a divided 15-member board, while keeping 192 querulous shareholders from each others’ throats—and his own. Getting a grip on the UN’s vast array of agencies, commissions, programmes and envoys is a management job from hell.
Mr Ban is also expected to man the bully pulpit. On behalf of “We the peoples”—as the UN charter has it—he is supposed to prod governments, especially the big powers, to keep their lofty promises.
For a time, admirers hailed Mr Ban’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, as a “secular pope”, ready to speak up for those in need of UN succour. But his authority sagged after people close to him were found to have mismanaged and even profited from a UN oil-for-food effort in Iraq.
Mr Ban set out to project a different image: industrious, diligent—and to the chagrin of many, cautious. Indeed Mr Ban got the job in 2007, in a deal brokered by America and China, because he was not the head-over-parapet sort. That disappoints many: more “secretary” than “general”, as wags have it. So how is he doing?
• Truth to power: 3/10 There is nothing wrong with quiet diplomacy if it gets the job done. Mr Ban’s low-profile efforts got humanitarian aid into Myanmar after the cyclone where others failed. All the same there is a sense that he ducks too easily, too often.
After a tough word with Robert Mugabe produced a tongue-lashing in return, say insiders, Mr Ban did his darnedest never to upset Zimbabwe’s despot again. Similarly he tries not to cross the Russians, who are also prone to throwing tantrums.
Mr Ban is hoping for re-election; indeed, he keeps score of the miles he travels and the hands he shakes. Partly for that reason, say UN-watchers, he tries not to offend China over the conflict in Darfur, and over efforts by the International Criminal Court to arrest Sudan’s president, an ally of China’s, on war-crimes charges. Not wanting to annoy America, Israel’s chief ally, Mr Ban also largely kept his head down over the fighting in Gaza.
After Sri Lanka’s war ended, Mr Ban denied that the UN had leaked grim civilian casualty figures (indeed, some UN officials reportedly sought to suppress the toll). That obscured his other responses—such as an appeal to aid the Tamil refugees. With Sri Lanka’s government shielded by China, India and others at the Security Council and at the UN Human Rights Commission, human-rights groups had hoped Mr Ban would speak up more for the victims.
• The bigger picture: 8/10 To his credit, climate change was Mr Ban’s early priority. He brought together government heads and nudged their officials along when agreement seemed elusive, putting his best Secretariat brains to work on the issue. When the food crisis erupted, he quickly knocked heads together so that various bodies, including the World Bank and the World Food Programme, could co-operate and help vulnerable countries. Yet the credit crunch has again pushed the UN to the sidelines.
• Keeping the peace: 6/10 Mostly Mr Ban can exhort and facilitate, unable to do much if others resist. But peacekeeping operations, once mandated by the Security Council, are under his control. The UN now has about 113,000 blue helmets and other personnel on the ground (twice the number of 15 years ago) and is managing 18 missions around the globe; the strains are showing. In Congo its largest peacekeeping effort has been dogged by indiscipline. When violence flared again recently in eastern Congo, it was caught flat-footed, lacking intelligence and barely able to defend itself, let alone protect civilians.
That is supposed to be changing. Mr Ban has split the peacekeeping department in two. A new under-secretary for field-support operations, an energetic Argentine, Susana Malcorra, gets boots and kit on the ground; this frees the overall head of peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, to run missions and do the politicking. Their staffs do not co-operate as well as their bosses do, but if anyone can get cash out of mean governments to put peacekeeping on a firmer footing, it is Ms Malcorra.
• Management skills: 2/10 Mr Ban cuts an isolated figure, cut off by an inner circle of mostly Korean advisers. Communication with senior staff is poor, and since Mr Ban is not a good listener, it is hard to harness their expertise. What is needed is some leadership from Mr Ban and some clear goals to aim at.
There is lots for him to do: making the bits of the UN work together across a wider range of issues; drumming up more peacekeepers; and getting rich countries to help poorer ones meet the Millennium Development Goals. Time is running out.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
But unfortunately, DESA still seems to act within its old framework of using an antiquated system of nepotism, personal ties, preservation of self-interest. This is the DESA system. What's important is fostering your connections and not improving productivity or performance. Who your connections are is the most important qualification than abilities and skill in judging who stays or who goes.
Another thing, the continuous post thing should work both ways. Who evaluates the supervisors that evaluates the administrative staff? Who polices their activities certainly not their immediate superiors not with the system that is existing now. Where one's boss used to be a colleague that got promoted through one's influence or assistance or in some case the one who's director now used to be working under this supervisor before he relinquished his post. So what do you do - turn a blind eye and walk on. This continuous post thing will not work unless specific guidelines and policies are laid down and enforced. Only in the UN will you see administrative staff who don't know how to use basic word processing or spreadsheet work. If that happened in realms outside UN you either get trained, leave or laid off.
By George Russell
The United Nations is staring at a multi-billion-dollar shortfall in unfunded health insurance obligations to past and present employees, a gaping financial deficit that has been growing rapidly while the U.N. dithered for the past five years.
According to internal documents examined by FOX News, the U.N. has roughly $2.4 billion in unpaid retirement health insurance obligations for its staff alone, as of the end of 2007. When the sprawling U.N. system of programs and organizations around the world is thrown in, the total could be more than $4.9 billion, as tallied in a March 2007 report.
Not all parts of the U.N. universe are equally affected by the health insurance crisis. The $5 billion United Nations Development Program, for example, had a liability of roughly $466 million at the end of 2007, but has since funded more than half of it. At the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the liability hit was $308 million, at a time when the agency's global expenditures have been rapidly increasing.
The U.N.'s health insurance deficit is similar to problems that have threatened to crush private sector organizations. U.S. automakers, which granted gold-plated pension deals to their retiring employees years ago, are still struggling to fund those payments, even as American car sales have dwindled.
So far, the U.N. has not made up its mind what to do about the retirement health insurance issue. The main reason: the ugly realization that it will either have to ask member states who already fund its operations to increase their funding, or force staffers who pay 8 percent of their current salaries toward health care costs, to cough up vastly more than they already do. Or perhaps some variation on those two.
In an effort to begin to get the mammoth deficit under control, the U.N. has raised the number of years of service employees must put in before qualifying for the lifetime retirement health insurance benefit from five years to 10.
In some of the financial scenarios that the U.N.'s top bureaucrats have been examining for years in order to deal with the issue, the money required to level the health insurance mountain runs to hundreds of millions of additional dollars per year — for decades.
And at a time of global economic meltdown and financial turmoil, there is no guarantee that U.N. member states will be willing to bail out the world body.
Meantime, the problem continues to compound, while the U.N. Secretariat doles out roughly $98 million every two years (the U.N. has a biennial budget cycle) to fund in pay-as-you-go health-care funding for its current pensioners — similar to the way the U.S. handles its massive Social Security deficit. At the same time, U.N. management is scrambling for ways to lower the staggering bill, or perhaps continues to kick the problem down the road, as it already has done for years.
Without a fix, the total gap is likely to become even more unmanageable, and taking it off the books even more expensive than it already is.
The mammoth unfunded retirement health insurance problem is once again on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly this month, and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is expected to come up with answers. According to a spokesman for Ban's office, an updated report on the problem and proposed solutions "will be issued shortly."
According to a variety of U.N. internal documents examined by FOX News, various solutions have been on the table since 2003. These have included:
• Hitting up member states — which means the two-dozen or so, led by the U.S., that pay most of the U.N.'s assessment bills — to cough up the $2.4 billion in one mega-payment — and then pay $177 million more every two years to keep the debt from rising again;
• spreading the pain of debt reduction across 24 to 26 years, in $550 million increments, with even more additional dollops of cash till required to keep the system above water;
• slapping an additional payroll charge against U.N. employee salaries that would average roughly 13.8 percent per person, again, for decades.
All three of those alternatives were judged to be "not considered practicable," by the U.N.'s own Board of Auditors in a report issued in early 2007.
Yet another option considered was to raid the U.N. peacekeeping budget to the tune of more than $660 million annually for 25 to 30 years, and still roughly triple the amount that the U.N. takes from employees' salaries, which currently runs at anywhere from 4 percent to 8 percent. The peacekeeping contributions have been justified in U.N. documents as recognition that the U.N.'s peacekeeping forces, which have grown rapidly in size in the past decade, have become major consumers of retirement health care services.
In the past, the suggested remedies for the deficit have also included such dubious ideas as taking money from peacekeeping projects that had ended with budget surpluses on the books — money that would normally be returned to the nations that gave it. This idea was dubbed an "inappropriate financial management practice," in one report examined by FOX News.
The option most recently favored, as outlined in a report by the U.N.'s board of auditors last year, calls for a grab bag of measures, including a onetime contribution of $503.5 million from peacekeeping, taking money from various medical benefit reserves, plus a further 8 percent charge against employee salaries.
Even that would not be enough, the auditor's report notes. Funding the liabilities would still require a yearly infusion of $102.7 million from the U.N.'s regular budget, plus the addition of any savings from other U.N. operations that shut down with a surplus.
(The report delicately calls the money shifted from accounts in surplus "fortuitous savings which would otherwise be returned to the Member States.")
The chief virtue of the last funding option is that it wouldn't require the U.N. to go back to its members asking for a half-billion extra dollars.
Such a request would come after Secretary General Ban successfully appealed only in September to U.N. member states, led by the U.S., for an additional $16.2 billion in a pledge to help the U.N. meet its ambitious environmental and anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals.
What has triggered a new sense of urgency in the U.N.'s consideration of the funding black hole is, ironically enough, a change in its accounting procedures that was instituted to ensure greater transparency in its operations.
Prior to that accounting change, which only hit the U.N.'s financial statements at the end of 2007, the retirement health care liability was not carried on the U.N.'s books as anything but a footnote to its financial statements — and thus never hit the organization's formal bottom line.
Actual funding of retirement health care insurance costs were handled as they still are, on a pay-as-you-go basis, with no regard for the longer term factors such as an aging and expanding U.N. work force.
That changed in 2006 when the U.N. adopted what are known as International Public Sector Accounting Standards. These demand that the full cost of such long term liabilities be recognized as realities that needed to be funded.
In other words, the liability was already there; the accounting standards put new pressure on the U.N. to deal with it.
But while the accounting change has raised the funding of those health care costs to the level of a crisis issue, the fact is that the General Assembly has known about the looming problem for a decade.
A General Assembly resolution passed in May of last year noted that it had taken seven years for the U.N. Secretary General's staff to prepare an initial report on the extent of the liability, after an initial Assembly request in 1997.
In that 2003 report, the liabilities were only about $1.5 billion. In an updated report in 2005, they had risen to $2.07 billion.
In each case, after being presented with the report, the General Assembly decided to ask for more information before taking action — in effect, continuing to sweep the problem under the rug.