Wednesday, 1 December 2010

UN Won't Disclose Ban's, Le Roy's or Pascoe's Frequent Flyer Miles, Ignores JIU

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 1 -- Two days after denying that UN officials keep for themselves the frequent flyer miles associated with official travel paid by the UN, UN acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq both denied having said it and refused to provide even an estimate of the frequent flying miles racked up and kept in 2010 by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his Under Secretaries Alain Le Roy and Lynn Pascoe. Video here, from Minute 8:12.

On November 29, Haq had told Inner City Press that frequent flyer miles are the "possession of the United Nations... held by the United Nations." On November 30 he said that the UN Ethics Office says it is fine that they are not.

The refusal to disclose Ban's frequent flyer miles is in contrast to Haq's office's previous boasting about how many miles Ban has flown in his term as Secetary General. How many of these miles were on commercial carriers and how many of the frequent flyer miles has Ban so far kept?

We will continue to pursue this basic financial information, from and about a Secretary General who has bragged by transparency.

Ban and airplane, frequent flyer miles disclosure not yet shown

Inner City Press asked Haq for the Secretary General's Office's response to a UN Joint Inspection Unit recommendation that the Secretariat (and other UN agencies) ask officials to apply “their” frequently flyer miles to future official travel, as done at the UN Office of Project Services.

Rather than explain why the Secretariat has never acted on this recommendation by the UN system's Joint Inspection Unit -- a recommendation apparently not mentioned by the UN Ethics Office which at the eleventh hour was called in to rubber stamp the personal taking of frequent flyer miles associated with UN paid travel (and also the taking of UN staff member time to work on Under Secretary General Francis Deng's book) -- Haq twice insisted that Inner City Press should contact UNOPS' spokesperson Nicolas George.

But the question is not about UNOPS, it's about the Secretariat's (and Secretary General's) allocation of frequent flyer miles associated with UN paid travel. Watch this site.

From the UN's November 29 noon briefing transcript:

Inner City Press: The document says US diplomats should seek to get the computer passwords, frequent flyer miles, credit card numbers, etcetera, not only of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, but SRSGs [Special Representatives] and Force Commanders. Would each of those things, according to you, violate the agreement with the host country?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: Well, on that, again, bearing in mind that we don’t have any judgement at this stage on the authenticity of the document, bearing in mind that, I do want to read to you a little passage from the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, and this is a direct quote: “The premises of the United Nations shall be inviolable. The property and assets of the United Nations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial, or legislative action.”

Inner City Press I had some other ones on Sudan, but one thing that the memo made me wonder is there is this reference to frequent flyer miles that seemed strange. What does happen with the frequent flyer miles of Ban Ki-moon or other SRSGs when they fly around? Are they donated to the UN, do they keep them personally, what happens?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: The frequent flyer miles of UN officials are essentially possessions of the United Nations. I don’t have anything, I don’t have any details about what we do with them, but this is all part of the Organization…

Inner City Press: But can you state, for example, for SRSGs that travel, it goes to the UN or do they keep it personally?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: No, I believe on work that you do for the Organization, this is part and parcel of the Organization. I need to get further detail about what happens to them, but this is held by the Organization.

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