Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Top UN Arms Verification Official Named As Russian Spy

The top U.N. official responsible for monitoring the clandestine nuclear programs of Iran and Pakistan is a Russian spy, according to a new book on Moscow’s espionage operations in the United States and Canada.

Tariq Rauf, second from left

The official is identified only by his Russian code name, ARTHUR, but other sources identified him as Tariq Rauf, 54, a Pakistani-born Canadian who is chief of verification and security-policy coordination at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The job “puts him in direct contact with both inspectors and countries around the globe,” a Canadian online magazine reported last year. “Rauf is responsible for ensuring IAEA scientists get into countries such as Iran and negotiating the access they need to completely verify the use of nuclear material.”

The allegations appear in “Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia’s Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War” by former Washington Post reporter Pete Earley, author of two previous books on Russian spying in the United States.

The book amounts to a blistering memoir by Sergei Tretyakov, a former top Russian intelligence operative stationed in New York and Canada during the 1990s, first with the communist-era KGB and then its successor, the SVR.

Rauf called Tretyakov’s allegation “nonsense.”

He had “never” worked “for any intel types whatsoever. I am a impartial loyal international civil servant,” he said by e-mail from the IAEA’s headquarters in Vienna on Friday.

But in the first of two telephone conversations earlier in the day, Rauf was far less dismissive, declining an opportunity to flatly deny the allegations. He refused to say whether he knew or had ever met Tretyakov, who worked under diplomatic cover.

Comrade J” describes several other alleged Russian spies in Canada only by code name, but in such rich detail that it’s not hard to figure out who they are.

Tretyakov’s description of ARTHUR all but names Rauf as his spy.

When Sergei had recruited ARTHUR [in 1990],” Earley writes, “he worked at the Canadian Centre for Arms Control,” a think tank for experts on nuclear weapons.

Later, ARTHUR was “a project director at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, part of the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a California think tank,” he relates.

A few years later, when Tretyakov became deputy chief of Russian intelligence in New York, he renewed his relationship with ARTHUR, who had become “a U.N. senior verification expert,” who specialized in the clandestine weapons programs of “rogue states” such as Iran, Libya and his native Pakistan.

I know that he is still employed at the agency and I have no reason to believe he has stopped working for Russian intelligence,” the one-time master spy says in the book.

He hated America.”

Rauf’s résumé is identical to Tretyakov’s description of ARTHUR’S career. They are one and the same, according to multiple sources.

A former Russian diplomat and arms control specialist who knew Tretyakov well in New York, reviewed the description of ARTHUR and said it appeared to describe Rauf.

The fingered Canadian guy, well, you know only too well who could theoretically fit this reference,” he said on condition of anonymity.

Another former Monterey arms expert, when asked whether Rauf might be the spy code-named ARTHUR, said, “Yes, the name you provided is correct.”

When contacted for this story, Rauf said a Canadian newspaper reporter had presented him with the same allegations days earlier.

He said he had not decided whether to contest the allegations in court.

Author Earley said he had examined Tretyakov’s records — photographs, e-mail, even a restaurant napkin on which ARTHUR scribbled notes about Ukrainian missiles — to back up every allegation.

If they want to sue us, fine,” said Earley of all the Canadians that Tretyakov describes as spies. “We’ll just run Sergei up there with our stuff and see what happens.”

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


posted exclusively on Foreign Policy story by Colum Lynch

Another one bites the dust

Posted By Colum Lynch

Anna Tibaijuka, the outgoing head of the U.N.'s top settlements agency, UN-Habitat, sharply criticized U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a parting letter for failing to swiftly appoint a successor despite frequent appeals to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

The Tanzanian chief of the Nairobi-based agency, which is responsible for promoting housing rights for the poor, warned in the confidential letter dated Aug. 10 that the avoidable "management and leadership vacuum" threatened to derail the agency's achievements and endanger international funding for its programs. She also complained that she had not been consulted about the recruitment process for selecting her successor and suggested she was being forced out of the U.N. system unwillingly.

"As my tenure at UN-Habitat comes to a close, I am writing to you with a deep sense of urgency and frustration to express my concern and distress about the coming delay to appoint my successor in good time so that I could have undertaken an orderly handover," she wrote in the letter. "I fear a period without leadership is likely if not bound to destabilize UN-Habitat once again, given that we have a perilous global financial environment due to the economic difficulties being faced by our donor members states...[D]onors are unlikely to commit new funding until they are convinced that good leadership is in place."

Ban's office challenged Tiibaijuka's account, saying he has already picked a successor. "The secretary-general has already made his selection and we have taken the matter up with the regional groups. The General Assembly will have to set out a date for their action," said Farhan Haq, Ban's acting deputy spokesman. "Anna Tibaijuka had given her views on the process and the possible candidates. This input was also carefully considered and the outcome also reflects that."

Tibaijuka is one of a number of senior officials who have recently left the United Nations in anger and frustration. Inga-Britt Ahlenius, the former chief of internal oversight, wrote a scathing end of assignment letter earlier this month accusing Ban undercutting her independence and interfering with her right to recruit her own staff. Robert Appleton, a former top internal investigations chief, filed a grievance with the U.N. this month on the grounds that his appointment by Ahlenius for the U.N.'s top investigations job was blocked on the grounds of discrimination.

Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Tibaijuka executive director of the U.N. chief housing agency in September 2000, making her the most senior African woman in the U.N. system until Ban hired a former Tanzanian foreign minister, Asha-Rose Migiro, in 2007 as his deputy secretary-general. In 2006, Annan appointed Tibaijuka director general of the U.N. office, which has responsibility over Habitat and the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP).

A former academic, Tibaijuka is perhaps best known for writing a 2005 report on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's massive displacement program -- dubbed Operation Murambatsvina, or Operation Drive Out the Trash -- which carried out large scale evictions of alleged squatters and unregistered businesses in poor neighborhoods, particularly those linked to the country's political opposition. Tibaijuka concluded that the evictions were discriminatory, unjustified and inhumane.

Tibaijuka is credited with raising the profile of the U.N. housing agency and persuading the UN Secretary General to upgrade it from a small department to a full-fledged U.N. program. In her letter, she claims to have taken an institution that was "in tatters" and that she leaves behind an institution with a "working reserve that I built from scratch."

But she has had cool relations with Ban, who last year stripped her of authority for running the U.N. office in Nairobi. The post was transferred to Achim Steiner, a German national who heads UNEP. Last September, Tibaijuka appealed to Ban's chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, to consider her for a new job in the U.N. system when her term at Habitat expires at the end of this month. But U.N. officials said that she will be leaving.

"I have not had any formal indications concerning incumbency of my post, but I anticipate that the secretary general does not have an intention of recommending my renewal," Tibjaijuka wrote in the letter to Nambiar. "Nonetheless, I await your advice on the next steps concerning my future based on the principle of rotation. As you might be aware, I was originally engaged in the UN as a contracted staff member. I am not aware of ever having lost that standing upon my translation to Executive Director and I retain all the entitlements concerning continuity of employment that my default status entails."

Thursday, 19 August 2010

United Nations Association forms alliance to survive


Amid declining financial support, nonprofit organization teams up with Ted Turner-funded U.N. Foundation.

By Jeremy Smerd

The United Nations Association of the United States of America stayed true to its mission to foster American support for the United Nations even when the U.N.'s own actions seemed to undercut American values. And today U.S. support for the U.N. is as strong as it's ever been. Not so for UNA-USA.

The association, located a block west of the iconic U.N. headquarters, has run out of money. Its donor base is old, and its membership is flagging.

Last week, the association's 40-member board of directors voted unanimously to end its existence as an independent organization and to form a strategic alliance with the United Nations Foundation, launched a dozen years ago with a $1 billion pledge from Ted Turner. UNA-USA plans to retain its nonprofit status but will be folded into the foundation. It will align itself with the foundation's sister organization, the Better World Campaign, whose mission is also to strengthen U.S.-U.N. ties.

The foundation, which must still approve the alliance, declined to comment.

Edward Elmendorf, the association's president and chief executive, says the severe recession accelerated a downward slide that began in earnest when the U.N. Foundation, with its massive economic clout and headline-grabbing boldface benefactor, came onto a scene already crowded by similar nongovernment organizations. Mr. Elmendorf was recruited by UNA-USA in January to lead a strategic alliance.

“The landscape of nonprofit organizations is so large and complicated that it makes less and less sense to have two entirely separate and distinct organizations doing the same things when they have complementary capacities and strengths,” he says.

To save money, nonprofits are increasingly being forced to find ways to partner with other organizations.

“General operating support has declined drastically since the recession,” says Fran Barrett, former executive director of Community Resource Exchange, a nonprofit management consultancy. “Looking for a partner—someone who can share the cost of rent—makes some sense.”

Mr. Elmendorf says that a new incarnation of UNA-USA would make use of the U.N. Foundation's fundraising muscle and brand name. Meanwhile, the association could offer the foundation its 12,000 members and various chapters that dot the country.

Though a small organization, UNA-USA possesses an illustrious past, with roots going back to the League of Nations. In 1961, Eleanor Roosevelt became chairman of the board after serving as U.S. representative to the U.N.

Steven Dimoff, a vice president at UNA-USA, says the association was typical of 20th century grassroots organizations. It relied on members to build excitement about the U.N. The U.N. Foundation, with its huge endowment, is neither tied to geography nor dependent on its membership for financial support.

The ties between UNA-USA and U.N. Foundation are not new. When Mr. Turner announced his $1 billion gift in 1998, he did so in New York at a dinner hosted by the association. But rather than give the large grant away and disappear, Mr. Elmendorf says, the U.N. Foundation decided to become permanent.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Amendments to the Staff Regulations

Regulation 1.2 Conflict of interest

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

(n) All staff members at the D-1 level and above shall be required to file financial disclosure statements upon appointment and at intervals thereafter as prescribed by the Secretary-General, in respect of themselves, their spouses and their dependent children, and to assist the Secretary-General in verifying the accuracy of the information submitted when so requested. The financial disclosure statements shall include certification that the assets and economic activities of the staff members, their spouses and their dependent children do not pose a conflict of interest with their official duties or the interests of the United Nations. The financial disclosure statements will remain confidential and will only be used, as prescribed by the Secretary-General, in making determinations pursuant to staff regulation 1.2 (m). The Secretary-General may require other staff to file financial disclosure statements as he or she deems necessary in the interest of the Organization.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

UNPAN a failed initiative since 2005 - OIOS recommended to DESA to shut it down

OIOS Report on Failure of UNPAN (DPADM Website) seem to be available on WIKILEAKS

The report suggest that UNPAN/DPADM have no control over the information uploaded by Partners and suggesting that UNPAN leadership (Ms. Qian) "had no means to verify the information being uploaded".

On Page 17, recommendation 15-21,

OIOS recommends that DESA make no further investment in the expansion of UNPAN until DPADM has taken steps to;
  • Clearly delineate its critical knowledge products (AN2004/540/01/015);
  • Take user interest into account in developing its knowledge products (AN2004/54001/016).
  • Select Partners who are aligned in terms of their relevance to DPADM's critical knowledge products (AN2004/540/01/017);
  • Reduce the number of databases and align the data storage structure to match user interest (AN2004/540/01/018);
  • Review its and the UN's exposure to reputational risk due to having inadequate control over the information uploaded by its Partners in languages other than English (AN2004/540/01/019);
  • Pay urgent attention to the development of UNPAN's interactive features-their design, usage and analysis to make the network effective(AN2004/540/01/020);
  • Review the volume of interactivity on its databases which reflect user interest in the contents of itsdatabases (AN2004/540/01/021).
In the spirit of transparency, maybe DPADM management who is pushing so hard to retool the division towards Knowledge Management, would like the staff of DPADM to actually read the OIOS report at the time on the matter and openly discuss its relevance to current ongoing activities and how the Division is trying to implement OIOS recommendations (if any).

Friday, 13 August 2010

Ban Ki Moon furiously lobbying for 2nd term

Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Mugabe to have U.N. platform

General Assembly to get under way in just weeks

Posted: August 11, 2010
12:06 am Eastern

By Stewart Stogel
© 2010 WorldNetDaily

UNITED NATIONS – New York soon will be buzzing again with a collection of anti-American world leaders scheduled to arrive for the 2010 United Nations General Assembly.

The meetings will begin Sept. 23 and run for two weeks.

Among those present from the United States will be President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will dedicate the new 30-story United States U.N. mission headquarters.

According to the U.N.'s office of protocol, the expected anti-U.S. VIPs will include Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who seems to take delight in coming to New York to thumb his nose at the protests that greet his arrival.

The September visit will mark Ahmadinejad's second U.N. appearance this year and the fifth since he took office in 2005. In May, he attended a nuclear-disarmament conference.

Though he is perhaps the most anti-American leader since the Islamic Revolution, he also is the Iranian president who has paid the most visits to the U.S. since the reign of the late Shah in the 1970s.

The Iranian will be accompanied by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales, who have sought to counterbalance Washington's influence in Latin America.

Another long-time U.S. antagonist, Nicaragua's Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega, who was noted for his repeated clashes with the Reagan administration, also will make an appearance at the U.N. this year.

In 1986, Ortega taunted Reagan when he told the General Assembly, "President Reagan should remember, Rambo exists only in the movies!" The Ortega slap prompted the U.S. delegation to walk out of the U.N. complex.

Zimbabwe's embattled president, Robert Mugabe, who has survived in office despite crippling U.N.–Commonwealth sanctions, is expected to address the world body Sept. 24.

Georgia, still reeling from the 2008 Russian invasion, will send its president, Mikheil Saakashvili, to speak Sept. 23, just before Russian President Dimitri Medvedev is scheduled to take to the podium.

As the U.S. surge in Afghanistan gains momentum, the General Assembly is providing a venue for Obama to confer with the major players in the region.

Hamid Karzai, Kabul's controversial leader, is expected in New York, along with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zadari and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Some newcomers to this year's U.N. forum include British Prime Minister David Cameron, Japanese Prime Minister Nato Kan, South African President Jacob Zuma and Filipino President Benigno Aquino III.

Libya's mercurial Muammar Gadhafi, who "stole" last year's show with his visit to Midtown, has not made a decision on this year's meetings, says the U.N.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will take the occasion to unofficially circulate his candidacy for a second five-year term as chief of the world body despite the fact that his current term does not expire until December 2011.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Is DPADM duplicating UNDP or vice-versa? Millions spent for double entry databases !

The above is the latest, revamped UNDP E-governance and Access to Information via ICT website. UNDP's Governance Unit has invested heavily in this new website, with dedicated 35 staffers (4 Million USD in salaries only) as well as time dedicated from their respective Governance Focal Points in each UNDP Country Office (CO) worldwide. In short this makes UNDP's website a one-stop-shop for every development expert, donor, government employee as well UN specialist who wants detailed info on Governance areas from specific country or group of nations. In this website you can find detailed info on:

- ICT and Governance;
- eGovernance case studies;
- gender & e-governance;
- eParliaments; and much more

Now, here at UN-DESA, DPADM is fully embarked on developing its "own" databases on Government around the world. The only problem is that DESA/DPADM management wants to do all these without recognizing the existing capacity of UNDP extensive governance Network at all COs, nor taping into the wealth of information already made available from UNDP, UNESCO or other sister Agencies. Thus blowing away $$$ Millions of USD from taxpayers in "Chinese and South Korean database experts". ($7 million so far in salaries and consultants)

Instead of "reinventing the wheel" DESA/DPADM should try to complement the work done so far from other agencies.

Wouldn't be better that instead of burning money in some nepotism hiring at NY/HQs we could have send money and help the Chinese whom are suffering these days in latest mud-slides???

A New Media Model for the Developing World?

Since the last post about Wikileaks on this blog, the site has drawn the world's attention with its release of nearly 100,000 classified military documents from the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Commentators have lined up on multiple sides, alternatively praising the site for its commitment to open information, condemning its disregard for troop security, or bemoaning the lack of explanatory discourse surrounding the data. Andrew Exum, who served in Afghanistan, criticizes the site's fusion of activism and journalism, while my friendJeremy Wagstaff thinks that it both shows up the traditional media and points the way toward a fundamental re-imagining of journalism itself.

Let's leave for a moment the debate about Wikileaks' actions and consider its role in a broader, governance and development-related context: how applicable is the Wikileaks "model" to developing countries where the media sector is only marginally functional? In other words, can this type of unadulterated-information-dissemination model allow those countries to bypass the long and often arduous institution-building process of developing a free and open media (enabling legislation, mature advertising markets, professional journalists and editors, etc)? The idea is alluring, particularly given the fact that the traditional media model is failing in many countries, while barriers to entry in the new information space have never been lower.

My own guess is that while this may to some extent already be happening, a commitment to good governance still requires some form of media institution-building. For one thing, enabling legislation ensures that such outlets both operate within the law and are shielded from retribution and/or pressure by the government and other powerful interests. For another, raw data still requires interpretation and analysis by trusted information intermediaries, whether this be traditional journalists and media outlets, reputable bloggers, or others. In the absence of trusted and objective analysis, data is ripe for manipulation; this, in turn, may engender either extreme polarization or a wary, information-overloaded public that simply tunes out politics and opts out of the processes that govern their lives.

This is by no means meant to be a show of support for the "we're not ready for full freedom of information; it takes time to get people used to/ready for such things" argument so frequently deployed by authoritarian governments bent on retaining control of information. For me, it just means that the Wikileaks phenomenon deserves careful consideration, particularly in the context of the public sphere and quality of governance in developing countries.

Photo Credit: Fräulein Schiller (On Flickr)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Report: UN Teaches Jihad in Jerusalem

Israel National News

by Maayana Miskin

The Palestinian Authority continues to incite young schoolchildren to armed struggle against Israel in its textbooks – textbooks that are used by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to teach incitement in Israel's capital city, says investigative reporter David Bedein, who spoke in an interview with Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service.

The books in question include passages praising terrorists killed while attacking Israel as “martyrs”. They also teach children that Arabs descended from those who fled Israel during the War of Independence have a right to “return” to Israel.

Bedein's finding that the textbooks in Arab schools in Jerusalem are as problematic as those used in PA schools elsewhere is backed by a frank interview with PA Minister of Education Lamis al-Alami, who spoke with a member of Bedein's investigative team and told her that the textbooks provided by the PA for UNRWA schools are the precisely the same in Jerusalem as in Ramallah, Shechem and Gaza.

"These books discuss war against Israel, martyrs, the right of return. It's the first education system since the Third Reich which prepares its pupils to demonize Jews and to wage war against the Jews ” Bedein said.

He invited listeners to verify his story for themselves, saying, “Go to book stores on Salah a-Din street [a major road in eastern Jerusalem – ed.] and compare the books you see there to those sold in Ramallah and Gaza. It's the same thing, books engaged in racist incitement against the Jewish people.”

Arab schools in Jerusalem receive funding from the Jerusalem municipality. UNRWA schools in Jerusalem and elsewhere receive much of their funding from 38 nations, primarily from the United States and the European Union. Two UNRWA facilities are located inside Jerusalem - in the neighborhoods of Shuafat and Kalandia.

Bedein first raised the issue of incitement in Jerusalem schools 10 years ago. Among those he spoke to was former prime minister Ehud Olmert, then mayor of Jerusalem, who responded at a news conference to Bedein's question with little concern. “They can teach what they want, and we'll teach what we want,” Olmert said about incitement in the PA school books being used by Arab schools with funding from the Jerusalem municipality and the Israel Ministry of Education.

Bedein expressed hope that current Israeli leaders will now eact differently. Three officials have the power to change the situation, he said – Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Education Minister Gidon Saar and Education Committee head Zevulun Orlev.

A new film, "For the Sake of Nakba", details the connection between the UNRWA and PA incitement. Bedein and the research agency that he heads, the Center For Near East Policy Research, www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com, produced the new movie in response to a challenge to prove the reports of incitement in UNRWA schools. The video was recently screened on Capitol Hill. It is based on first-hand testimony from PA leaders and teachers and students in UN schools. It will also be shown at the Orthodox Union's Israel Center in Jerusalem Tuesday August 10th at 11:30 a.m., followed by "For the Sake of Allah", Bedein's film about what Hamas prisoners say they would do if released.

Ignominious fall of Ban

7 August 2010

The Frontier Post

With the retraction of his purported Kashmir statement, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has added no feather to his cap except recording an ignominious fall. The statement had only urged restraint on the Indian State's military in its occupied Kashmir, not alluding at all even obliquely to the resolutions of the world body that Ban heads for the grant of right to self-determination to the Kashmiris.

Those solemn decrees of the Security Council, the UN's top decision-making authority, remain unimplemented and forgotten, anyway. And Ban too has shown himself not such a tall man as to stick his neck out and bring alive a dead horse once adopted by this UN apparatus which has virtually been reduced into a page boy of the world powers and into an extended arm of particularly the US state department. His immediate predecessor Kofi Annan did demonstrate a measure of manliness and publicly proclaimed the US-led war party's invasion and occupation of Iraq as illegal. But that show of masculinity cost him his job.

The US stiffly opposed his third time in office and others fell in line too, even as very many were agreeable to his staying on for another term. Ban has exhibited himself no such risk-taker. And it is beyond imagination if at all he would have ventured speaking out the dreaded "K" word that has been erased from their vocabularies by the world capitals not to incur the displeasure or ire of India. And if at all he had counselled restraint on the Indian military's actions in the Indian-occupied Kashmir, he was not quite out of tune of the voices, even if few, coming out of India itself.

Those voices too are critical of the Indian army's excesses and atrocities on the bottled-up Kashmiris. Indeed, as Indian home minister P. Chidambaram, as usual, raised the bogie of Lashkar-e-Taiba to explain away the latest wave of unrest in the occupied territory on account of wanton killings of Kashmiri youth by the Indian occupation forces, quite a number of Indian voices called his bluff. Although with coercion, threats and bullying the rights activists in India have largely been silenced over the brutalisation of Kashmiris by the Indian military, some daring hearts amongst them spoke up.

To blame for this unrest was none else but the Indian military inflicting bleeding wounds with abandon on the Kashmiris unaccountably, they screamed. And they called for reining in the Indian occupation forces and stopping them from savaging the innocent Kashmiris with impunity. Chidambaram, statedly, set out to somewhat bridle the heady horse of Indian occupation forces in the occupied territory, if only to take out some sting out of the ongoing popular protest there, by making a few amendments in the Armed Forces Special Powers Act that gives sweeping authority to the Indian military to detain, arrest, interrogate and shoot to kill the Kashmiris. But the Indian army, which is above the law and the supreme voice in security matters in the territory, put its foot down and Chidambaram shelved his contrivance promptly.

According to a leading Indian newsweekly, India Today, "the army had raised concerns of a 'hot summer' in terms of militancy in (occupied) Kashmir. The ploy seemed to have worked as the amendments have not seen the light of day". Given this, no harm would have come to Ban as he was so in tune with certain strands of public opinion in India itself. Yet fearful of powerful friends of India in the world community and of India itself, he marked an ignoble retreat. He just disowned the statement.

His UN functionary who issued this statement on his behalf must be punished, but not for issuing it without his authority but for ennobling him with a dignity that he deserves not. His functionary projected him as a champion of human rights. With his retraction, he has demonstrated himself to no such noble thing. He has showed that he is a servant of big powers and their friends, and no friend of human beings and of occupied and colonised peoples. For which, he is a disgrace to the exalted chair that he occupies.

DA: NYC man claimed UN job in immigration scam

NEW YORK — A former United Nations volunteer held himself out as a staffer to con immigrants out of thousands of dollars, even using the U.N.'s headquarters as a set for his scam, prosecutors said Monday.

Marc Payen, falsely claiming to be a U.N. lawyer or immigration service staffer, had victims meet him in the agency's public lobby and told them his office was upstairs, the Manhattan district attorney's office said.

Payen — already on probation after last year admitting a Queens immigration scheme — pleaded not guilty Monday to grand larceny, forgery and other charges stemming from the Manhattan U.N. case. He was being held on $75,000 bail.

The Haitian-born Payen was just a volunteer tasked with providing information about housing to U.N. employees, not an attorney or an authorized immigration service provider, prosecutors said.

He took more than $12,000 for work he never did to help six victims get green cards or other forms of legal residency, including a special temporary residency granted to some Haitians after January's devastating earthquake in their homeland, prosecutors said.

Payen's lawyer, D. Andrew Marshall, said that even if it's eventually proved that Payen didn't do what he was paid for, "whether a crime was committed is another matter."

U.N. representatives didn't immediately respond to an e-mail message Monday evening. Prosecutors said the U.N. has banned Payen from its buildings.

"(Payen) is an opportunist who preyed upon vulnerable immigrants," said District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who hosted a forum in February to warn Haitians to be on the lookout for immigration scammers trying to capitalize on the temporary residency provision.

Payen, 28, also was accused of taking pay for phony promises of help getting green cards and work permits in Queens, prosecutors there said. He pleaded guilty in March 2009 to attempted grand larceny and was sentenced to five years' probation, they said.

If convicted in the Manhattan case, he faces up to seven years in prison.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Secretary General Defends Appointment of Corruption Official

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, said on Monday that accusations by former officials that he had sought to subvert the independence of corruption investigations at the organization by appointing the body’s senior investigator were “unfair.” Responding publicly for the first time, Mr. Ban insisted that he had the right to make all senior appointments.

He also said, “I’m the secretary general of the United Nations, dealing with so many global issues. Let us look at the broader picture.”

U.N. chief says criticisms of his leadership are 'unfair'

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

UNITED NATIONS -- U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon mounted a highly emotional defense of his embattled tenure Monday, telling reporters at a news conference that allegations that he sought to undercut the independence of the United Nations' main anti-corruption agency were "unfair."

Just weeks ago, Ban came under attack from his outgoing oversight chief, Inga-Britt Ahlenius, who said that Ban, among other things, had undermined her authority to make her own selection for the top investigations job. At the time, Ban argued that Ahlenius had the power to propose a shortlist of three candidates, including one woman, but that he had the power to select the winner from the list.

"I have given 100 percent independence" to the United Nations' internal oversight body, Ban said. "I'm a very reasonable, very practical man of common sense. I do not take extreme, unreasonable policies. I always do the right things, proper things."

"If anybody or if any member states with the U.N. system, or any colleague of mine within the U.N. Secretariat, accuses me on the issue of accountability or ethics, then that's something I regard as unfair," he said.

But Ban seemed to acknowledge Monday that he is considering a South African auditor for the investigations position, a move that would effectively undercut the authority of the incoming U.N oversight chief to propose candidates for one of the organization's most important anti-corruption posts. Carman Lapointe-Young, a Canadian auditor who will replace Ahlenius starting next month, has not even begun recruiting a deputy. According to Ban's view, Lapointe-Young has the authority to select at least three candidates for the investigations post.

The selection of Lapointe-Young has fueled resentment among Third World governments, which believed that the post should have gone to a candidate from a developing country.

Asked if he had already promised the investigations job as a consolation to a South African auditor who had lost out to Lapointe-Young, Ban said: "No, I don't think he has been properly cleared through the process."

But Ban's advisers later said that the secretary general had been confused by the question and that no South Africans were being considered for the job.


No. 6, 5 August 2010

Dear Colleagues,

It is not often that the United Nations Staff Union touts its achievements. The information regarding its achievements is usually reserved for the end-of- term reports of the President and the Staff Council. However, recent events require us to do so, to clarify the misleading information from the Administration.

The fallout from the end-of-assignment report of the former Under-Secretary-General, Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), has been so compelling that senior administration officials have, in their attempt to annihilate Mrs. Ahlenius’s report, issued statements with varying inaccuracies and taken credit for matters that the United Nations Staff Union spearheaded and achieved against all odds presented by the Administration.

In a message posted on iSeek on 23 July 2010, the Chef de Cabinet claimed that the Secretary-General "introduced a new internal justice system” because he "is committed to building a stronger, flexible and accountable Organization." This statement is inaccurate, considering that the Secretary-General delayed the implementation of the new system of administration of justice by more than one year and has, in at least one instance, parried with or defied the United Nations Disputes Tribunal.

The President has invited the Chef de Cabinet to provide a clarification regarding the Secretary- General's role in establishing the new system of administration of justice, and his cooperation with it since its inception on 1 July 2009. The Chef de Cabinet is yet to respond.

Even as Mrs. Ahlenius's report is being disparaged for being inaccurate, the inaccurate countering statements lend a degree of credibility to her observations about the posterity of the United Nations. We fault her, however, for speaking up while on her way out. Mrs. Ahlenius had the space and authority to air her views a while back, which should have provided her with the opportunity to answer her critics, in the interest of the Organization.

In the wake of Mrs. Ahlenius’s report came another story authored by the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF) and titled "Top finance website praises UN Pension Fund performance", which was posted on iSeek on 3 August 2010. The story's link directs the reader to an article at top1000funds.com titled "How active contrarian realism saved the UN" in which the UNJSPF officials claimed credit for saving the Pension Fund. Not so long ago, however, the very officials cited in that article were at the forefront of a vigorous attempt to outsource the management of the Pension Fund investments. The Staff Union countered with a protracted struggle that successfully averted those officials from the perilous venture. The Staff Union was vindicated when Wall Street became "gall" street.

The United Nations Staff Union takes this opportunity to claim credit for the ongoing conversions to the permanent appointment for the eligible staff members. We congratulate you on this significant achievement. However, to whom much is given, of him or her shall much be required. Staff members holding a permanent appointment have a responsibility to dispel the perception that a permanent appointment breeds deadwood.

Warm regards,

Stephen Kisambira

President, United Nations Staff Union