Monday, 24 May 2010

Have UN-DESA gone crazy with American's taxpayers money?

The current spending at United Nations Department of Economical and Social Affairs has gone WILD. Despite the fact that DESA is suppose to employ the top and the brightest Economists and Social Experts from the rest of the world, the current United Nations Administration is instead hiring outside consultants and experts for every single issue.

The numbers of these "so-called experts" have surpassed any other UN Agency by a ratio of 10-to-1.

The irony is that UN-DESA has been promised from USG Sha Zukang, a new and ambitious plan to revitalize the department, but two and half years have passed and seem that the Chinese appointed Sha Zukang couldn't walk his own talk.

Meanwhile US Taxpayers and others from around the world - have to continue to support the wild and non-transparent spending at UN-DESA.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

DESA outnumbers all UN Agencies and Departments for the number of Consultants and Corporate Agreements issued as of 2009


Recommendation 1

29. The Secretary-General, in developing the modalities for sharing information contained in consultants’ reports on management-related issues, should consider including a requirement that all reports prepared by the Secretariat and presented to legislative bodies that include information extracted from consultants’ reports must also include an explanation of the background of the related consultancies and how the information has been used.

30. The Department of Management accepted recommendation 1.

Recommendation 2

31. The Department of Management, in developing an information security toolkit to provide hands-on guidance for applying Secretary-General’s bulletin ST/SGB/ 2007/6 on the classification and secure handling of confidential information, should require heads of departments and offices to develop criteria that are unique to their operations to guide the categorization of information according to its sensitivity.

32. The Department of Management accepted recommendation 2, stating that its Archives and Records Management Section would be available to assist departments and offices in identifying resources, including practice toolkits and guidelines, to implement a records management system meeting the requirements of ST/SGB/2007/6 for handling consultant reports and executive summaries.

Recommendation 3
33. The Department of Management, within the context of the Working Group on Knowledge Management, should initiate a taxonomy for consultants’ reports to organize their storage and easy retrieval.

34. The Department of Management accepted recommendation 3.

Recommendation 4

35. The Department of Management should define the requirements to develop a platform that would serve as a central repository for storing consultants’ reports within the Secretariat.

36. The Department of Management accepted recommendation 4, stating that the Office of Information and Communications Technology would be requested to develop a platform that would serve as a central repository for storing consultants’ reports within the Secretariat. However, once the platform has been developed, each individual department or office shall be responsible for the maintenance of effectiverecords systems to ensure that executive summaries and full reports of consultants on management-related issues are filed properly and can be accessed in a timely manner in response to requests from a Member State. A decentralized approach for storing consultants’ reports based on a common technological platform is the most efficient way to handle this problem.

Towards an accountability system in the United Nations Secretariat

Accountability represents the obligation of the Organization and its staff members to be answerable for delivering specific results that have been determined through a clear and transparent assignment of responsibility, subject to the availability of resources and the constraints posed by external factors. Accountability includes achievement of objectives and results in response to mandates, fair and accurate reporting on performance results, stewardship of funds, and all aspects of performance in accordance with regulations, rules and standards, including a clearly defined system of rewards and sanctions.

Strengthening the accountability mechanisms of the Secretariat in response to the flaws in the United Nations oil-for-food programme

7. The Independent Inquiry Committee found that the resources committed to audit of the oil-for-food programme were inadequate and hampered the audit coverage. It also noted that several important aspects of the programme (e.g., functions performed at the Office of the Iraq Programme headquarters and elements of the oil and humanitarian contracts, including price and quality of goods) were not reviewed by internal audit. Although the accounting and financial reporting processes and the results of the administrative (ESD) account were routinely audited by the Board of Auditors, the Internal Audit Division conducted only one internal audit relating to the administrative account.


8. Future programmes of this magnitude would benefit from an independent assessment of the systems and controls that were lacking in the administration of the programme. In addition, steps have already been taken to address the issue of resources for the Office of Internal Oversight Services. The General Assembly, in its resolution 60/1, decided that the expertise, capacity and resources of the Office in respect of audit and investigations would be significantly strengthened.


9. Reporting of the Office of Internal Oversight Services to the General Assembly on programme-related matters was unsatisfactory, and reports were not published in a timely manner and in a consistent format.


10. General Assembly resolutions 59/272 on the Office of Internal Oversight Services reporting requirements and 61/275 regarding the terms of reference of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee have helped to enhance accountability in the Organization.


11. The Office of Internal Oversight Services did not adequately monitor the implementation of recommendations that had been accepted by management. Similarly, prior to 2002, the Office of the Iraq Programme and the United Nations Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (UNOHCI) did not systematically monitor implementation of audit recommendations.


12. The accountability framework recognizes the need to ensure prompt follow-up to accepted recommendations from oversight bodies. To date, the Management Committee is responsible for ensuring that these recommendations are fed into the management process.


13. The United Nations did not possess adequate means to resolve disputes regarding the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services and the scope of its audits. The OIOS Internal Audit Division deviated from “best practices” through its inability to report directly to an audit committee or other independent board, its failure to complete enterprise-wide risk assessments and its lack of budgetary independence.


14. The Office of Internal Oversight Services has since adopted risk-based workplans. OIOIS budgets continue to go through a process similar to that followed by the other departments. The major difference is that OIOS budget proposals are reviewed and analysed by the Independent Audit Advisory Committee, which is an independent body that reports directly to the General Assembly.


15. Resources committed to investigations were limited and requests for additional resources from the programme were denied. Due to funding limitations, the approach by the Investigations Division of the Office of Internal Oversight Services in initiating programme reviews was merely reactive rather than proactive. Only limited investigation was undertaken, either due to absence of cooperation by the Iraqi authorities, or due to lack of funding and other resources.


16. It is part of the mandate of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee to review the budgets of the Office of Internal Oversight Services. This process will ensure that resources are adequately provided according to a risk-based approach to management of oversight functions. See also response in paragraph 8 above with respect to resource allocation.

Administration of the programme


17. The report noted that the actions of the Executive Director of the Iraq Programme in soliciting oil allocations on behalf of an associate constituted a grave conflict of interest and violated United Nations Staff Regulations and Rules with regard to integrity, impartiality and independence. It further asserted that the Executive Director of the Programme, together with his associates, derived personal pecuniary benefit from the Programme, through the receipt of cash proceeds from the sale of oil allocated to them from Iraq. These parties were aware that illegal surcharges were paid to Iraq in respect of such oil sales, in violation of United Nations sanctions and the rules governing the oil-for-food programme.


18. The United Nations has since established the Ethics Office, which has developed policies related to potential conflicts of interest, financial disclosure and whistle-blower protection. These measures could prevent, or at least mitigate, the recurrence of the cited violations.


19. The Secretariat’s response to the surcharge and kickback allegations and the oil smuggling activities revealed a pattern of inaction and inadequate disclosure to the Security Council and the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 661 (1990).


20. The proposed accountability instruments envisage building on the already strengthened oversight regime to create a robust oversight function that addresses failures of staff members to perform their duties in accordance with established regulations, rules, policies and procedures.


21. Weaknesses in control and oversight contributed to corruption and the United Nations agencies failed to investigate allegations of misappropriation of funds, mismanagement or conflicts of interest.


22. Current accountability instruments affirm that adequate internal controls and a strong, independent oversight capacity are key to sound management.


23. There was an apparent absence of follow-up to audit findings and recommendations by management; this was symptomatic of the lack of authority and status for internal audit.


24. Subsequent to the Independent Inquiry Committee report, the Management Committee was established, chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General. One of its main functions is to ensure that recommendations of oversight bodies are effectively fed into the executive management process and that accepted recommendations are implemented in a timely manner. The Management Committee meets on a quarterly basis to review the recommendations of the oversight bodies.

Programme implementation by United Nations agencies


25. Although the Independent Inquiry Committee acknowledged that the United Nations agencies achieved crucial successes in the northern governorates in managing a humanitarian crisis and distributing goods and services throughout the region, it also found significant weakness as well. It noted that programme implementation by agencies disclosed notable failures because they tackled problems beyond their core competencies, there was insufficient management, coordination and oversight, etc. Agencies also failed to successfully implement projects even though the projects fell within their traditional spheres of competency, resulting in waste of resources and delays in providing aid to the three northern governorates. In addition, the United Nations Secretariat failed to adequately control and supervise the activities of the agencies, and the programme’s design did not allow for such control and supervision. In addition, the Secretariat was reluctant to utilize the one tool at its disposal — the control over programme funds — to manage the activities of the agencies. Consequently, the Committee report notes that these weaknesses in control and oversight contributed to corruption and the agencies failed to investigate allegations of misappropriation of funds, mismanagement or conflicts of interest.


26. To address these monitoring shortfalls, the Secretary-General is proposing a robust results-based management framework that will focus on achieving results and improving performance, integrating lessons learned into management decisions as well as monitoring and reporting on performance. This progress will be enhanced through the results-based management information system referred to earlier, by establishing the link between objectives, results and resources.

Procurement process

27. The Independent Inquiry Committee report noted that the selection process for each of the three United Nations contractors selected in 1996 did not conform to established financial and competitive bidding rules and did not meet reasonable standards of fairness and transparency.

28. In one instance, the lowest acceptable bidder was not selected and there was an absence of written justification by an appropriate official to reject the lowest acceptable bidder as required by Financial Rule 110.21. In another instance, the Procurement Division accepted an invalidly amended bid to lower a contractor’s contract price. In yet another instance, in contravention of the established rules and procedures, factors other than technical and financial considerations influenced the decision-making in awarding contracts.

29. The report further asserted that while an open bidding process did take place, United Nations procurement rules relating to the qualifications of prospective contractors were not appropriately followed: the contractor was not asked to submit a required financial statement and no account was taken of two criminal investigations against the Chief Executive Officer of the prospective contractor. The report also pointed out that one staff member in the Procurement Division provided confidential bid information, internal assessments and selection considerations to a prospective supplier contrary to the provisions of the United Nations Procurement Manual and the Staff Regulations and Rules.


30. In the context of procurement reform, the Secretary-General introduced a number of measures to strengthen internal control and promote ethics, integrity, fairness and transparency in the procurement process, including the establishment of an independent mechanism to review challenges to procurement awards. Together with the current policies on financial disclosure, conflict of interest prevention, whistle-blower protection and an enterprise risk management framework, these measures would prevent, or mitigate, the recurrence of such a situation.

External audit


31. Resources committed to audit the programme were inadequate in relation to its size.

32. The scope of the audit by the Board of Auditors was narrowly defined, focusing particularly on the accuracy of financial statements, while the internal control environment of programme activity received little attention.

33. External audits failed to audit and test some of the programme’s most critical areas — including pricing of oil and humanitarian goods — and to assess their impact on the programme’s financial statements.


34. The envisaged enterprise risk management approach would help to identify and mitigate risks. The Board of Auditors is an independent body and is solely responsible for the conduct of its audits. However, Regulation 7.4 of the Financial Regulations and Rules of the United Nations (ST/SGB/2003/7) provides that the audits are to be conducted in conformity with generally accepted common auditing standards and subject to any special directions of the General Assembly. Regulation 7.7 further provides that the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions may request the Board of Auditors to perform certain specific examinations. With a robust enterprise risk management framework, the General Assembly would benefit from the identification of high-risk areas, which could provide additional guidance in identifying areas for possible special audits.

Definition of accountability and roles and responsibilities in UN Secretariat

UN GA Decides that accountability shall be defined as follows:

Accountability is the obligation of the Secretariat and its staff members to be answerable for all decisions made and actions taken by them, and to be responsible for honouring their commitments, without qualification or exception.

Accountability includes achieving objectives and high-quality results in a timely and cost-effective manner, in fully implementing and delivering on all mandates to the Secretariat approved by the United Nations intergovernmental bodies and other subsidiary organs established by them in compliance with all resolutions, regulations, rules and ethical standards; truthful, objective, accurate and timely reporting on performance results; responsible stewardship of funds and resources; all aspects of performance, including a clearly defined system of rewards and sanctions; and with due recognition to the important role of the oversight bodies and in full compliance with accepted recommendations.

Personal and institutional accountability

13. Emphasizes the importance of establishing and fully implementing real, effective and efficient mechanisms that foster institutional and personal accountability at all levels;

14. Recalls section I, paragraph 4, of its resolution 63/250 of 24 December 2008, and requests the Secretary-General to analyse the impact of his proposed human resources management reform measures on personal accountability;

15. Requests the Secretary-General to propose concrete and comprehensive measures to strengthen personal accountability at all levels within the Secretariat, based on the definition of accountability as outlined in paragraph 8 above; and its link with institutional accountability towards Member States on results achieved and resources used;

16. Also requests the Secretary-General to further improve the managers’ evaluation system, and to clearly identify the critical linkages between institutional and personal accountability through the senior managers’ compacts, and the performance appraisal system of all staff below the level of Assistant Secretary- General, and to establish proper accountability mechanisms for under-performance at all levels;

17. Further requests the Secretary-General to further develop and take appropriate measures to hold staff accountable for mismanagement and wrongful or improper decisions and to strengthen efforts to increase recovery actions by those convicted of fraud in the Organization;

18. Notes the measures taken by the Secretary-General to improve assessment of each senior manager’s performance, and requests the Secretary- General to ensure that the weaknesses identified by the Management Performance Board are fully and appropriately addressed;

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Hot Tips on UN Waste, Fraud and Abuse: U.S. Mission Posts Scores of UN Internal Reports

by Claudia Rosett

Hot tip for any reporters interested in newly disclosed documents on waste, fraud and abuse at the United Nations:

Just days after I queried the U.S. Mission to the UN about its commitment to UN transparency (Paging Ambassador Susan Rice), the Mission finally posted on its web site more than 130 previously secret UN internal audit reports. The UN, for all its endless promises about transparency and its ample enjoyment of other people’s money, does not release these reports to the public. It is only thanks to the U.S. that they are now seeing daylight at all — though it takes some trolling through the Mission’s web site to find them.

For anyone who cares about even minimal integrity in UN management and handling of taxpayer money, there’s a trove of bombshell material here. Together, the reports total hundreds of pages, but the typical report runs about 10-20 pages. They date from October, 2008 through August, 2009.

Here’s a link to the U.S. Mission’s web page on UN Oversight and Transparency with the main links, and here are direct links to the newly posted and until-now confidential internal audit reports from 2008 and 2009.

Pick your subject and dive in, whether it’s a summary of the “higher risks” due to “the lack of an appropriate structure” for the UN’s own Ethics Office, or a report on the dire derelictions of reporting and accountability dogging the plump trust funds of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Specifically set up to better coordinate aid, OCHA features in a Nov. 2008 audit report as handling trust funds with a throughput of hundreds of millions of dollars, but not bothering to produce any consolidated statement of cash flow. OCHA also had “little discernible linkage” between strategic planning and “the measurement and reporting of actual performance.”

For those interested in the UN’s climate bureaucracy, check out the July, 2009 report on the slop of the UNFCCC Secretariat’s conference management, with its multi-year delays in accounting for funds. Or delve into the Dec., 2008 report on the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism, where the governance was found “not adequate to mitigate reputational and other risks,” and the executive board “due to lack of time” had neglected to adopt any code of conduct whatsoever to address such corrosive problems as conflicts of interest.

Or, in the realms of UN peacekeeping, with its more than $8 billion annual budget, for which U.S. taxpayers alone fork out roughly $2 billion per year, check out the UN’s nearly $1 billion annual program for peacekeeping air operations. In an August, 2009 report, the UN’s own internal auditors noted that participation by senior management was “inadequate,” current staffing levels were “insufficient,” time of effective bidding on air charter services was “insufficient,” provisions in air charter agreements were “unclear” and some vendor registration was “improper.”

It takes a certain amount of determination to slog through the UN jargon, in which an executive summary of “not adequate” is often code for outright abuse or screaming failure, if you slog on to the details of the report. But in these reports, which cover only a sampling of the UN’s sprawling global system, the problems roll on and on. In corners that rarely receive attention from the media, they range from poorly documented lump-sum handling of noncompetitively-sourced travel arrangements for the UN mission in East Timor (UNMIT), to the UN’s disregard of its own rules in choosing a director for the UN Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD), headquartered in Japan.

It ought to be reassuring that at least the UN’s internal auditors are tracking some of this mess. But at the UN, it is one thing to have internal auditors flag a problem, and quite another to see the UN genuinely fix it. For instance, at the UN Mission to Cyprus (UNFICYP), where a growing web of UN scandals a few years ago led to fervent UN promises of reform, one of the audits just disclosed by the U.S. Mission, dated August, 2009, suggests that oddities lingered in such areas as “no competitive bidding” on commercial travel for contingents of Argentine peacekeepers, and “inefficient accounting of food rations.” (Here’s a look back at questions in 2005, then surrounding UNFICYP food rations).

For Washington to get any traction on pulling the UN out of its own administrative muck takes a lot of backbone and focused effort. But if the U.S. is to rely on the UN in any way, as President Barack Obama wishes to do, then the only course for minimizing chances of being tainted with the next colossal UN management scandal is for the U.S. to push hard, visibly and constantly for the UN to clean up its own house.

Credit Ambassador Susan Rice that the U.S. Mission to the UN has finally released these UN internal audit reports, even if for some reason it took well over a year to get around to it. (I can’t claim credit for prompting these postings with my story last week, though it would be nice to believe the U.S. Mission is that responsive to criticism. Let us assume it was merely glad coincidence that I queried the Mission on the whereabouts of these reports just 72 hours or so before they were suddenly released in bulk on the Mission web site).

A quick bit of history here: When the Oil-for-Food scandal broke big time in 2004, the UN refused to release its internal audits of the program even to governments of member states, including its chief donor, the U.S. After a showdown with congressional investigators, the internal audits were finally tipped out in early 2005, via the UN inquiry led by Paul Volcker. They provided damning insights into UN administrative abuses and derelictions that helped feed the gusher of Oil-for-Food corruption. Those reports might have been useful in heading off the damage of that UN blowout, had they been released to the public as they were produced, instead of being exposed later as an embarrassing piece of the UN’s self-serving coverup.

In the aftermath of those disclosures, the U.S. Mission under the previous administration began obtaining UN internal audit reports and posting them on its UN reform section of its web site. That’s the third link on the Mission’s current main page for Oversight and Transparency, OIOS Reports Archive, which runs up to Sept., 2008, and until the end of last week was the most recent information available.

For any current attempt to patrol the UN administrative habits, the next questions are: Where are the audits so far from 2010? When will the U.S. Mission post those? And when will the White House fill the important post at the U.S. Mission of Ambassador for Management and Reform? Since Obama took office, that slot has been left to an acting envoy, Obama’s nominee last year having flamed out over questions involving his own issues of management.

The Obama administration’s welcome decision to release the massive backlog of 2009 and late 2008 UN internal audits will only help if people actually read them and distill the information within, and U.S. authorities act by strongly pressuring the UN to clean up its endlessly proliferating mess — which in recent times has had virtually no oversight. The jury’s out. Meanwhile, here’s that link again, to scores of windows on UN management — or too often, mismanagement. It’s a start.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Iran Grabs a Seat at the UN’s High Table — By Hosting the Dinner

Whatever the Farsi term might be for chutzpah, Iran’s despots put on a staggering display of such stuff this past week. Apparently it wasn’t enough for Tehran that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew to New York to provide the opening burlesque on Monday of the United Nations nonproliferation review conference, followed by Ahmadinejad’s usual whirl of interviews and press conferencing in the heart of the Great Satan. On top of that, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki lingered to host a dinner at the plush Manhattan residence of Iran’s ambassador to the UN. And not just any old dinner. This was a dinner for the 15 members of the UN Security Council.

Whoa — let’s hit “pause,” and consider for a moment what that means. With this dinner, Iran designed a gathering that amounted to a shadow version of the UN Security Council — plus Iran itself, in the presiding seat. The members of the Security Council did not have to come. But, with the apparent (and quiet) exceptions of Nigeria and Gabon, they came.

None of them should have come. Iran is in flagrant violation of a series of binding UN sanctions meant to stop its race toward the nuclear bomb. Iran has deceived the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, scoffed at UN Security Council requests, demands and deadlines. And, P.S., according to the U.S. State Department, Iran is the world’s “most active state sponsor of terrorism.” (Terrorism is something the UN has not yet managed to officially define, but it is also something one might hope the Security Council would be against).

But, hey, why should the UN Security Council let Iran’s global terrorist networks and sanctions-violating nuclear program get in the way of a free meal in New York? Apparently forgetting President Barack Obama’s claim that Iran is finding itself increasingly “isolated,” the Obama State Department sent an envoy to Iran’s Manhattan dinner party. So did at least a dozen other members of the Security Council (Inner-City Press reports that Uganda came late, Mexico left early, and Gabon and Nigeria didn’t show up). President Barack Obama’s administration, which sent the number two envoy from the U.S. Mission, saw this Iranian banquet as “an opportunity for Iran to speak to its international obligations” — as one unnamed official told the Washington Post.

Who scripts this U.S. diplo-babble? Iran has been speaking loud and clear to its “international obligations,” and the gist of what Iran’s despots have been saying, and doing, is too rude to print in this space.

Enough Already – Just Move the UN to Iran

Last week, when Iran withdrew its candidacy for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, I got messages from a number of folks who were almost sorry to see Iran drop out of the race. That’s not because they like Iran’s regime. It’s because seating Iran on the rotten Human Rights Council would have been an act so grotesque that anyone could grasp the problems with the Council – much as Libya chairing the old Human Rights Commission in 2003 served to discredit that rotten body once and for all.

Well, for all those who were disappointed that Iran’s regime will not become the convenient poster-child for the UN’s travesty of a Human Rights Council, there’s a carnival of cold comfort ahead.

The UN’s Economic and Social Council has just elected Iran to a seat on the UN’s women’s rights commission — formally known as the Commission on the Status of Women. This outfit describes itself on its web site as the UN’s “principal global policy making body” for “gender equality and advancement of women.”

As Hot Air notes: “I think Neda would have wanted it this way, don’t you?”

But wait! There’s more. Fox News reporter Joseph Abrams unearthed the bombshell about Iran taking a seat on the women’s rights commission, no thanks to any of the UN’s well-heeled press offices. The UN had quietly buried the announcement in a lengthy press release, under the riveting headline: “In resumed organizational session, Economic and Social Council solidifies plans for forthcoming substantive session, fills vacancies in subsidiary bodies.” (I hope Fox is giving Joe combat pay for reading this stuff). Joe’s article is here, with details about the apparent failure of the U.S. Mission to even challenge Iran’s bid by calling for a vote. Iran was “elected” by “acclamation.”

And, yes! There’s yet more. Entombed about 6,000 syllables deep under the headline of that same press release (pour yourself a stiff drink — here it is) is the information that Iran has also just obtained three other seats.

Next Up, Libya’s Bid To Join UN Human Rights Council

At the UN, it gets ever worse. Iran, a world hub of misogyny, just got a seat on the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women. Next up, Libya is now in the running for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Unless the engagement-loving Obama administration engages full force to somehow block this bid, Libya could very well win that seat.

I’m not kidding. Scroll down and see the list of candidates for yourself. The UN General Assembly is scheduled to vote May 13 on new members to fill 14 of the 47 seats on the Human Rights Council. These seats are parceled out among regional groups. Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya is one of four countries running for four seats allocated this round to the African group, the other contenders being the unedifying trio of Angola, Uganda and Mauritania. With four candidates for four seats, the usual UN behavior is to call for all candidates to be seated by acclamation.

Will the Obama adminstration try to do anything about this? Apparently, the U.S. made no effort to stop Iran joining the UN’s commission on women’s rights. Will President Barack Obama’s “engagement” now extend to politely acquiescing as Libya joins the Human Rights Council?

Saturday, 15 May 2010

UN Withheld Execution Video Report from Louis Maxwell's Family, Sister Says

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 7 -- As questions mount about the UN's investigation of the murder of its staff member Louis Maxwell in Afghanistan last October, and even about how the UN has engaged with Maxwell's family, his sister has written Inner City Press a second letter. [Click here for the first.]

In it, she states that it was only in March when the UN told Maxwell's mother that his murder was caught on video tape. Of the tape, she notes as Inner City Press did that as Maxwell is shot and killed, the Afghan National forces next to him do not flinch or look up.

See cell phone video, here, esp. at Minute 1:01 to 1:04

Maxwell was executed, but as a cover up the UN is declaring that he was shot at long range, and that it was the long range shot that killed him. Despite Maxwell's own sister's request, the UN has not released any part of its Board of Inquiry report. His sister writes, if a "US soldier had done what they did to by brother that US soldier would have been court martialed."

On May 5, Inner City Press asked the UN spokesman:

Question: And on Afghanistan, Louis Maxwell’s sister has contacted me with some concerns about the investigation and the report, among others, saying and I just would like, I understand, I guess you’re not going to release the report, but maybe you can find out if this is the case of not. She contends that, in the fire-fight and afterwards, among other things, he was wearing shorts, which she thinks is inconsistent with him being mistaken as one of these attackers. She also says… It was unclear to me given the statements made from her of how much the UN is briefing Mr. Maxwell’s family. Does that include this sister, Ms. Muhammad? Because she is somehow not convinced by the reports.

Spokesperson: I don’t have here and now a list of the family members who have been briefed. I do know, and you also heard Ms. [Susana] Malcorra say that the family members have been briefed regularly throughout. Not just briefed, but supported, and spoken to, visited regularly, throughout this. As I say, precisely who, I do not know. So, we’d need to find out. I don’t know the answer to that right now.

[The Spokesperson later said that, among others, the United Nations has been in touch with Latanya Ginn, the mother of Louis Maxwell’s son.]

Here is Louis Maxwell's sister's second letter

Subject: Re: Louis Maxwell
From: aijalon
Date: Thu, May 6, 2010
To: Matthew Lee [at]

Thank you for writing back to me and posing the question(s) to the UN... My brother has on either dark blue or black shorts. As a matter of fact he was wounded by the humvee and on all four when he is trying to stand back up his when he is shot. He was not in high ready mode but in low ready mode. His gun was not even drawn. I can even accept the fact of friendly fire for wounding him but his death I saw is murder. If a US soldier had done what they did to by brother that US soldier would have been court martialed.

Ms. Ellen Murphy who just retired from the UN, I must say has been the one who really stays in contact with my mother. They have only made one additional visit besides the funeral to see my parents and that was back in March when we were told about the fact there was a video showing my brother's death. Ms. Susana Malcorra just made contact with my mother in April.

UN's Ban in Kabul 2009, video not shown

I have e-mailed my concerns regarding my brother's death. At how the afghan guard who is standing in front of my brother when he is shot does not even flinch or even goes to high ready mode. So if they are saying or trying to say that an insurgent or threat is who shot my brother then why when the shots were fired the afghan police did not even draw his gun to his shoulder. I have even said that we the family deserve the right to know what is written in the board of inquiry report and honestly I would like to see the actually report but I have not been given a response to my request. I am very angry and hurt with how all of this going and know that it cannot bring back my brother but I want justice. Someone has to be the voice for Louis....

At the UN's May 7 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm or deny that the UN had delayed from at latest January until March in informing Mr. Maxwell's family about the video of his murder, and to explain it. Watch this site.

At UN, of Beepers and Bed Bugs in the Albano Building, Electronic Sign In

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 12 -- Months after Inner City Press exclusively reported that bed bugs had been found in portions of the UN's office space in the Albano Building on 46th Street, and the UN belated confirmed it, the UN has found that there are bugs on almost all floors of the building. A notice was sent out on May 7, provided to Inner City Press by a whistleblower, that

"Dear Focal points, Please be advised that the report came back from the exterminator on the bed bug follow up inspection. The exterminator reported that the dog found problems on almost all floors. The reports says 90% of the building had problems. The exterminator will be fumigating the building on Saturday 08 May 2010 from 9:00am -9:00pm. No staff are allowed in the building while it is being fumigated. All staff are safe to return to the building on Sunday morning. Sorry for the short notice. If you have any questions please feel free to call me. Thanks, Brian Hogan."

The Albano Building houses, among other things, the UN's Text Processing Units. These are about to be subject to an electronic sign in system promoted by Assistant Secretary General Franz Baumann, who tells Inner City Press that when he was at the UN in Vienna, staff had no problem with this system. Here the Staff Union -- both factions -- have opposed by swipe in. But Baumann is pushing forward, as explained in this recent Q & A:

Inner City Press: Can you confirm or deny you have ordered the text processing unit to implement electronic sign-in, despite opposition to it?

ASG Baumann: Nothing has been ordered. But DGACM will introduce the kind of state-of-the art electronic time and attendance keeping system which has been successfully implemented at UNOV/UNODC since 2003 to much acclaim from staff, including the Staff Union there. So, stay tuned. In the meantime, we are discussing details with the staff and the staff representatives of DGACM.

UN's Ban swears in Baumann, staff shown, bugs not

Inner City Press also asked Baumann about another controversy within the Text Processing Unit(s)

Inner City Press: Can you confirm and explain that you now expect all of this in Text Processing Unit to have (and pay for) their own cell phones, to replace the beeper system you have discontinued?

ASG Baumann: There is not one Text Processing Unit, but six. Staff in these, as in other parts of DGACM, are expected on occasion to be on stand-by - and are compensated for this. During such stand-by periods, staff have to be reachable, whether on their home-phone or, if they choose to be away from home, by other means. It is not a contractual requirement - or a sensible assumption in this day and age - for the Organization to pay for this reachability. Pagers are a - like Morse Code or Telex - a very outdated technology, yet expensive to administer, and their use has indeed been decided to be discontinued by the DGACM Departmental Management Group on the advice of its ICTC Committed.

Several DGACM staff complain that they do not have a cell phone, and should not be required by the UN to get one at their own expense, while others even having one do not view this as a legitimate demand by the UN as employer. But so it goes.

Footnote: The most independent judge in the UN's internal justice system has been pressured not to seek re-appointment, Inner City Press is told. Judge Adams, who has issued findings of contempt against the administration of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, his USG Shaaban Shaaban and others, will hear his last case for the UN on May 12. We hope to be there.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Another scandal in UN-DESA (Department of Economical and Social Affairs of the United Nations)

After Bruno Bastet (a French National) former Chief of Staff of Guido Bertucci (former Director of DPADM/DESA) was escorted from UN/DSS police out of DC2, another SCANDAL is about to explode in UN-DESA.

Sources inside Human Resources say that on a recent review of the personnel files of staffers of UN-DESA, they found that at least 60% of the Staff Force are missing important information in their respective Personnel Files:

  1. Certified Copies of their BA/Diploma(s) from recognized World Education Institutions;
  2. Certified Copies of their Masters/PhD or post-graduate courses to substantiate their claims in their PhP/CV;
  3. Certified Copies of their continuing education or training(s) either inside/on-the-job at the UN or at outside institutions;
  4. Initial Medical Clearances Certificates (mainly for short-term consultant and/or advisors);
While same sources say that the above "slippage" could be attributed to failure of OHRM to abide by UN Recruitment Rules and processes, still the number of UN-DESA staffers whom files are "not-in-order" or "do not seem to correspond to their claims" is quite high. On the other side OHRM is trying to show that most of these "rush-recruitments" were initiated by high level managers at DESA claiming either "last minute project emergencies" or "higher authority".

Another area for which seem to be "a real mess" is the hiring process of the so-called DESA Advisors or Consultants. Both these groups are the highest with "no evidence in files of their credentials" and many of them only have a simple 2-3 page CV on which the Recruitment has been initiated.

Sources say the "Review will be finalized very soon". Will these turn into another embarrassment for Sha Zukang?

Monday, 10 May 2010

World Health Organization Moving Ahead on Billions in Internet and Other Taxes


The World Health Organization is moving full speed ahead with a controversial plan to impose billions of dollars in global consumer taxes on such things as Internet activity and everyday financial transactions like paying bills online — while its spending soars and its own financial house is in disarray.

The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations' public health arm, is moving full speed ahead with a controversial plan to impose global consumer taxes on such things as Internet activity and everyday financial transactions like paying bills online — while its spending soars and its own financial house is in disarray.

The aim of its taxing plans is to raise "tens of billions" of dollars for WHO that would be used to radically reorganize the research, development, production and distribution of medicines around the world, with greater emphasis on drugs for communicable diseases in poor countries.

The irony is that the WHO push to take a huge bite out of global consumers comes as the organization is having a management crisis of its own, juggling finances, failing to use its current resources efficiently, or keep its costs under control — and it doesn't expect to show positive results in managing those challenges until a year from now, at the earliest.

Fox News initially reported last January on the "suite of proposals" for "new and innovative sources of funding," prepared by a 25-member panel of medical experts, academics and health care bureaucrats, when it was presented of a meeting of WHO's 34-member Executive Board in Geneva.

Now the proposals are headed for the four-day annual meeting of the 193-member World Health Assembly, WHO's chief legislative organ, which begins in Geneva on May 17.

The Health Assembly, a medical version of the United Nations General Assembly, will be invited to "take note" of the experts' report. It will then head back with that passive endorsement to another Executive Board meeting, which begins May 22, for further action. It is the Executive Board that will "give effect" to the Assembly's decisions.

What it all means is that a major lobbying effort could soon be underway to convince rich governments in particular to begin taxing citizens or industries to finance a drastic restructuring of medical research and development on behalf of poorer ones.

The scheme would leave WHO in the middle, helping to manage a "global health research and innovation coordination and funding mechanism," as the experts' report calls it.

In effect, the plan amounts to a pharmaceutical version of the U.N.-sponsored climate-change deal that failed to win global approval at Copenhagen last December. If implemented as the experts suggest, it could easily involve the same kind of wealth transfers as the failed Copenhagen summit, which will send $30 billion a year to poor nations, starting this year.

The WHO strategy involves a wide variety of actions to transfer "pharmaceutical-related technology," and its production, along with intellectual property rights, to developing countries, according to a condensed "global strategy and plan of action" also being presented to the World Health Assembly.

Regional "networks for innovation" would be cultivated across the developing world, and some regions, such as Africa, would be encouraged to develop technology to exploit "traditional medicines."

According to the condensed plan of action being presented to the Assembly, a number of those initiatives are already well under way.

Click here to read the plan of action.

The rationale for the drastic restructuring of medical R and D, as outlined in the group of experts' report, is the skewed nature of medical research in the developed world, which concentrates largely on non-communicable diseases, notably cancer, and scants research on malaria, tuberculosis and other communicable scourges of poor countries. It cites a 1986 study that claimed that only 5 percent of global health research and development was applied to the health problems of developing countries.

(In dissecting contemporary medical R and D, however, the expert report glosses over the historical fact that many drugs for fighting communicable diseases in developing countries are already discovered; the issue in many cases is the abysmal living and hygienic conditions that make them easily transmitted killers.)

What truly concerns the experts, however, is how to get the wealth transfers that will make the R and D transfers possible — on a permanent basis. The panel offers up a specific number of possibilities.

Chief among them:
• a "digital" or "bit" tax on Internet activity, which could raise "tens of billions of U.S. dollars";
• a 10 percent tax on international arms deals, "worth about $5 billion per annum";
• a financial transaction tax, citing a Brazilian levy that was raising some $20 billion per year until it was canceled (for unspecified reasons);
• an airline tax that already exists in 13 countries and has raised some $1 billion.

Almost casually, the panel's report notes that the fundraising effort would involve global changes in legal structures — and policing. As the report puts it: "Introducing a new tax or expanding an existing tax may require legal changes, nationally and internationally and ongoing regulation to ensure compliance."

As a backup, the panel offers some less costly, voluntary alternatives, including "solidarity contributions" via mobile telephone usage, or set-asides on income taxes.

Yet another alternative: new health care contributions from countries such as China, India or Venezuela, or higher contributions from rich countries — neither idea looking likely in the current climate of international financial crisis. In the report's words: "channeling these resources in this way can only be achieved if there is political will to do so and a convincing case is made."

Click here to read the financing report.

As follow-up, the experts suggest that WHO promote each and every suggested approach for new financing, along with "regulatory harmonization and integration" in the developing world, "research and development platforms in the developing world," and new "product development partnerships" to kick-start the global medicines program.

Just as big an issue for WHO, however, may be whether it can adequately manage the money it is already getting — or trying to get — for its current planned needs.

Other budget documents intended for the World Health Assembly, and obtained by Fox News, paint a picture of an organization where:

• spiraling financial demands are beginning to outstrip the ability of member-nations to pay;
• outsized headquarters budgets, in contrast to the regional and country networks where WHO's public health work is largely done, are rising even faster than the overall budget; and
• efforts to control onerous staff costs are just getting underway.

Those challenges are laid out in WHO's proposed biennial budget for 2010-2011, which calls for a combination of mandatory and voluntary contributions from the world's nations — meaning, overwhelmingly, the three dozen richest ones — of $5.4 billion — a whopping 27 percent increase over the same initial draft figure for 2008-2009.

But that increase, large as it is, will likely be far less than WHO needs before the latest biennium ends. In 2008-2009, the initial $4.23 billion draft budget was "revised" to a final $4.95 billion during the two-year period, a 17 percent increase.

Using the same inflationary measure, WHO's spending could well climb to $6.3 billion before the end of 2011.

Click here for the draft 2010-2011 budget.

One of the biggest jumps would come in the spending centered on WHO's headquarters in pricey Geneva — a 44 percent climb in its share of program budgets, from $1.18 billion to $1.7 billion, even before any future "revisions."

WHO planners point to the shrinking value of the U.S. dollar, its budgeted currency, against the Swiss franc as a major factor, which they say has increased costs by 15 percent. But other factors include more meetings for WHO's governing bodies and salary provisions for the top officers of the WHO Secretariat.

According to documents presented to the program, budget and administration committee of WHO's Executive Board, headquarters costs for the organization have remained proportionately steady for years at almost 38 percent of WHO's spending, however much that spending has grown. The ratio is striking, since WHO devotes most of its efforts to improving health care conditions in the developing world.

The organization's stated goal is to spend only 30 percent of its program funding in Geneva, but the same planners think it is "unrealistic" to think WHO will reach that objective, even by 2013.

In foggy bureaucratic language, they declare that "a change that is too swift and radical will be disruptive to the entire function of the Organization or fail because of an insurmountable accumulation of practical problems of execution."

Translation: the WHO bureaucracy won't easily cooperate.

In a bid to get the head-to-tail ratio under better control, WHO's top managers have set ceilings for headquarters hiring, but these only went into effect this year. The hiring limits will not cut the Geneva head-count but limit its further growth — "an acknowledgement," the document says, "that staff numbers are the main driver of WHO's expenditures."

That combination of WHO's sharp hikes in costs and a grim economic climate have led to another major management problem: "continued disparities between the approved budgets and the available resources."

In other words, WHO's member states and donors are not paying up as fast as the organization is spending the money across its many and varied priorities, leading to budgetary juggling and behind the scenes efforts to get major donor countries to ante up future contributions in advance, and cough up more voluntary funds in the future.

In its planning committee documents, the WHO bureaucracy promises to get a better grip on its finances in the near future.

Among the cost management efforts will be higher levies on voluntary donations to cover WHO staff costs — higher administrative fees, in short — along with more voluntary and "fully flexible" donations that can be used at the management's discretion, rather than being earmarked for specific programs.

Click here for the resource management report.

It will be another year, however, before WHO's overseers will be able to see if its management juggling will bear adequate fruit.

All in all, that is not a confidence-building credential for an organization that is simultaneously trying to reorganize the world's medical research, development, production and distribution system — and make the world's consumers and taxpayers pick up most of the multibillion-dollar tab.

George Russell is executive editor of Fox News.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Bruno Bastet "escorted out of DC2 by UN Police/DSS"

The story about UN's Department of Economical and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) staff - Mr. Bruno Bastet (a French national) was brought up during the noon briefing of the Spokesperson of UN's Secretary-General Bank Ki Moon today (May 04, 2010).

This is the dialogue (as per UN transcript) :

Question: And finally, you sent me an answer about this Mr.
[Bruno] Bastet who was a UN employee who was accused of using French subsidy for the poor while being a UN employee. But he was, as you said, removed from DC-2 by the Department of Safety and Security of the UN, is that common? When somebody’s contract runs out, why do they have to be escorted from the premises by security? Can you explain why this took place?

Spokesperson: No, I cannot give you any more details than what I have, what we have already sent to you, which is that he was escorted, I think that is the key word, he was escorted out of one of the UN buildings — for those in the know, DC-2 — last week, and that was following the
termination of his contract. But, as you also know from what I told you and as we have also told others who are aware of this case, that this was without incident. As to further details about this, I would ask you to contact the Office of Human Resources Management.

So after the Secretary-General have ... so to speak... "SPOKEN", the ball is back with UN-DESA and more specifically with its Office of Human Resources.

The SG's Spokesperson, (Martin Nesirky - formerly Reuters guy in Moscow, Berlin, The Hague and Seoul), tries to confond the public by saying that "following the termination of his contract - was escorted by UN Police out of building"... :) Ha Ha Ha Ha... as if every UN Staff "who's contract comes to an end - is actually escorted out of the building by the DSS police". Give us a break Martin !

All the above dancing and singing still leaves many (including UN-DESA staffers) with unanswered questions.

  • DESA management knew since at least early 2009 about Bruno Bastet's "deals", why neither Haiyan Qian (Director of DPADM) nor John Mary Kauzya (Chief of Branch) didn't enforce the rules but even extended this individual and promoted him?
  • Why DESA's Management, namely Sha Zukang, who repeatedly has called for "NO MORE SCANDALS", doesn't do nothing to shake the level of impunity, missmanagement and corruption inside the UN's Economical and Social Department (UN-DESA)?
  • Why DESA's management does not share even a reducted version of OIOS latest investigation with the staff? What is there to fear about?
  • Even now when OIOS and UN's Secretary General seem to have taken strong action, still UN-DESA's management is failing to come clean and tell DESA's staff the truth about what happened, how it happened and what should all staff be aware and learn from this case;

It takes one email Mr. Sha - just one email to level yourself with your own staff and win back confidence, which now (after two years with you at helm) is at its lowest ever.