22 February 2007

Kazatchkine election afterthoughts

It's not about the candidature of Michel Kazatchkine, with him it was clear in early January, when the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced a new shortlist in its second attempt to elect an Executive Director (actually, already in late October I found very interesting the observation of the Boston Globe (oh, this Boston Globe!) that "Kazatchkine has been the most aggressive in seeking the post").

So, once the new shortlist appeared with Kazatchkine's name – the only name from the previous runners-up – it was really easy to get who would be a No.1, despite the rumors on David Nabarro that were spread right before the Fund's Board's final decision. Check out the shortlist-2006 and shortlist-2007.

Some observations are proffered.

It was indeed interesting to watch how simultaneous races for the top leadership posts in the Global Fund and WHO developed and mutually influenced, thus providing certain transparency in these processes. You could compare the selections and see their advantages/disadvantages (like the WHO's very politicized choosing of the DG and a sort of inclusive – in terms of composition of the Fund's Board – selection of the Executive Director. On the other hand, while they were free to choose, all WHO contenders agreed to publicly provide their platforms; and certain candidates for the Fund's top post rejected this idea). Discussions on that can be found in the blogs of the Center for Global Development.

The race for Global Fund's top post was explicitly peppered by the Boston Globe allegation in inappropriate expenditures by the Fund's current head. And though the Fund's vigorous responses practically nailed the accusation, suspicions arose on whether the article had a practical aim about the election. The same idea seems to take place with regard to the incumbent WMO SG who is to be re-elected in May in Geneva.

A curious pattern has been made by the participation of at least two contenders, Julio Frenk and Bernard Kouchner, in both elections (although, in the top international elections you find familiar names here and there, e.g. Global Fund contender Hilde Johnson also was running for UNDP Administrator in 2005 and quite recently, for WFP Executive Director or again, Kouchner who previously competed for the post of the UNHCR). I'd say, when the related bodies are concerned and the elections happen to be at the same time, the loss in one race almost automatically means a defeat in another. So, Bernard, why bother? – Look what great job your countryman did, just focusing on one thing!

Actually, the case of the two Frenchmen (the outsider and the winner), both coming from an international humanitarian movement, makes you think about real intentions of the Quai d'Orsay. Big deal in answering this naturally lies in the French politics. But you can have a clue, if you find out what's behind the "aggressive" campaign of Kazatchkine.

One more question, apparently rhetorical. Who among the candidates for Global Fund were John Donnelly and boston.com really behind?

P.S. I can't help posting the commentary on the Global Fund selection that I received the other day by email from a much respected international lawyer who asked not to be identified. To see his view, go to comments.

19 February 2007

Common African candidate for top ITTO post

Some interesting news comes from Addis Ababa where the African Union recently held its eighth summit.

First, there's a decision of the AU Assembly to "approve and invite" the members' support of the candidature of Libya – no name so far – for the presidency of the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly in 2009 (actually, I prefer not to cover this kind of elections, as it's just about regional groups' endorsed turn for a seat, still it's good to know). Since it's only an "invitation to support", not a "decision to endorse", I assume the door is being kept open for other candidates. We'll see.

And second, in view of the forthcoming elections of a new Executive Director of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) – an UN-sponsored Yokohama-headquartered forum for consultation on tropical timber – the AU Executive Council has endorsed the candidature of Emmanuel Ze Meka (Cameroon), currently ITTO Deputy Director for reforestation and forest regeneration as a common African candidate for this post.

The ITTO No.1 post (see the vacancy announcement here), in terms of salary equaling to the post of UN ASG, is to be vacated by Manoel Sobral Filho of Brazil.

The Brazilian was elected by consensus in December 1999, after 5-days consultations of the Council (all 59 ITTO members). Other candidates for the position were Ram Prasad of India, Claude René Heimo of Switzerland and Don Dayapala Wijewardana of New Zealand.

As for this year's elections, Ze Meka is currently the only candidate.

16 February 2007

UN "grand shuffle": pay-off continues

Another bunch of top UN posts was officially granted last Friday. Among the new faces there is Japanese OECD senior official Kiyotaka Akasaka as USG for PI (which presumably means no USG for DA – or whatever comes, should the Ban's restructuring proposals succeed – for Japan; it may also be the case with the post of either Toshiyuki Niwa or Kunio Waki).

Also, there is previously known designation of B. Lynn Pascoe, an US career diplomat, as USG for PA (chances still are there will be another American at the post of USG level) and the exchange of the Chinese – ambassador Sha Zukang from Geneva will replace USG for GACM Chen Jiang, although at another position, USG for ESA.

The above, plus an earlier appointment of UK's John Holmes as USG for Humanitarian Affairs, as well as re-appointments of Russia's Sergei Ordzhonikidze as USG/DG of UN Geneva Office and France's Jean-Marie Guéhenno as USG for PKO, are quite understandable, "geopolitics-wise": P5 and major donors first (well, with regard to Germany, some moves should be expected soon on Angela Kane).

The most curious here is the appointment of Egypt's S. Muhammad Shaaban as USG for GACM. In particular, questions arise with regard to the appointee's personality, country and timing.

Unfortunately, the questions like "who is…?" about the first wave of Ban's senior appointments are totally rhetorical, as it was already shown in the case of new DSG or USG for Humanitarian Affairs. Whatever, this blog is not about it.

It's quite clear that Egypt had all the reasons to expect a top position within the UN system, thanks to President Mubarak's very prompt indication of preference on the candidate in the race for UNSG post. But how come it's Egypt now? What about other governments that obviously should have been granted an USG post? What about, say, Qatar who could have indulged by the price of sacrificing her ties with Jordan?

I guess the answer here might be that these countries were satisfied with the pay-off in the form of SRSGs/envoys at the USG rank. Or, perhaps, graciously declined it, just as the Slovakia's foreign minister did…

Anyway, the whole picture, as of today, would look like this:


DSG Asha-Rose Migiro
USG, Chef de Cabinet Vijay Nambiar

USG for Management Alicia Bárcena Ibarra
USG for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes
USG for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Management (GACM) S. Muhammad Shaaban
USG, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (Anwarul Karim Chowdhury)
USG for Political Affairs (PA) B. Lynn Pascoe
USG for Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) Jean-Marie Guéhenno
USG, Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Ad Melkert
USG for Legal Affairs, Legal Counsel Nicolas Michel
USG, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Thoraya Ahmed Obaid
USG for Economic and Social Affairs (ESA) Sha Zukang
USG for Disarmament Affairs (DA) (Nobuaki Tanaka)
USG for Communication and Public Information (PI) Kiyotaka Akasaka
USG for Safety and Security David Veness
USG, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Marek Belka
USG, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV)/ Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Antonio Maria Costa
USG, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Abdoulie Janneh
USG, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) (Kim Hak-su)
USG, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) José Luis Machinea
USG, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) Sergei Ordzhonikidze
USG, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Peter Piot
USG, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) (Mervat Tallawy)
USG for Internal Oversight Services (IOS) Inga-Britt Ahlenius


ASG, Assistant Administrator, Regional Director for Arab States (UNDP) (Amat Al Alim Alsoswa)
ASG (PKO) (Hédi Annabi)
ASG for Human Resources Management (OHRM) (Jan Beagle)
ASG for Policy Coordination and Inter-agency Affairs (ESA) (Patrizio Civili)
ASG, Assistant Administrator, Director, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (UNDP) (Kathleen Cravero-Kristoffersson)
ASG, United Nations Ombudsman (Mignonette Patricia Durrant)
ASG, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) (Kul Chandra Gautam)
ASG, Assistant Administrator, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNDP) (Rebeca Grynspan)
ASG, New York Pandemic Preparedness Coordinator (Imelda Henkin)
ASG, Assistant Administrator, Regional Director for Africa (UNDP) (Gilbert Houngbo)
ASG, Assistant Administrator, Director of the Bureau for Resources and Strategic Partnerships (UNDP) (Bruce Jenks)
ASG for Legal Affairs (Larry D. Johnson)
ASG for Economic Affairs (ESA) (Kwame S. Jomo)
ASG (PA) (Tuliameni Kalomoh)
ASG (PA) (Angela Kane)
ASG, Director for Political Affairs (EOSG) (Carlos Lopes)
ASG (PKO) (Jane Holl Lute)
ASG, Executive Director, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) (Jan Mattsson)
ASG for peacebuilding support (PBSO) (Carolyn McAskie)
ASG (GACM) (Yohannes Mengesha)
ASG, Assistant Administrator, Regional Director for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (UNDP) (vacant)
ASG, Assistant Administrator, Director, Bureau for Development Policy(UNDP) (Shoji Nishimoto)
ASG, Deputy Executive Director (UNICEF) (Toshiyuki Niwa)
ASG for Policy Planning (EOSG) (Robert C. Orr)
ASG, Assistant Administrator, Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific (UNDP) (Hafiz Ahmed Pasha)
ASG, Executive Director of the Office of the Capital Master Plan (OCMP) (vacant)
ASG, Executive Director, Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) (Javier Rupérez)
ASG for Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts (Controller) (Department of Management) (Warren Sach)
ASG, Deputy Executive Director for Operations (UNICEF) (Rima Salah)
ASG, Deputy Executive Director for External Relations (UNFPA) (Mari Simonen)
ASG for Central Support Services (Andrew Toh)
ASG, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator (OCHA) (Eva Margareta Wahlström)
ASG, Deputy Executive Director (UNFPA) (Kunio Waki)
ASG, Assistant Administrator, Director of the Bureau of Management (UNDP) (Akiko Yuge)
ASG, Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) (Inga Bjork-Klevby)
ASG, Executive Director, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) (Marcel Boisard)
ASG, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (Dirk Jan Bruinsma)
ASG, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (Shafqat Kakakhel)
ASG, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) (Rolf Knutsson)

Two remarks should be made here.

The Secretariat definitely lied by having stated the retaining of Ahlenius: that's not a sole prerogative of Ban to remove/appoint the USG for IOS, there must be an approval of the General Assembly. So, let's just say that with the current mess around his restructuring proposals, Ban wisely decided not to irritate the UN delegations by firing the Swede.

And the last but not least. When is Ban actually going to announce the formal status of his loyal lieutenant Kim Won-soo, whom he did appoint as his Deputy Chef de Cabinet?

02 February 2007

"There seem to be some misunderstandings on the review or selection process of senior management officials of the United Nations…" [Ban Ki-moon]

Dynamics of the official position on USGs and ASGs or how it’s being made up.

Relevant excerpts from the transcript of the briefings by the UN spokesperson.

1 February
Spokesperson: I’d like to apologise to all of you for giving unclear and imprecise information yesterday about the resignations offered by senior officials; I was speaking on the basis of information that was incomplete.
I have now received the full, and updated, facts about the resignations. The Secretary-General, at the start of January, had sent out letters to 55 Under-Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General, asking them to offer their resignations in order to give him flexibility in filling senior posts.
As of today, he is satisfied to note that all 55 have responded to his letters. In one case, one of the officials did not actually turn in a response letter, citing compelling health reasons. The Secretary-General can now move ahead with the process of determining how those posts can be filled.
Question: For the record, what is the rationale of asking all USGs and ASGs to resign but not Andrew Toh, who is under investigation?
Spokesperson: Well, as I said, because he’s under investigation.
Question: So, in order not to be asked to resign, all I need to be is suspected of corruption and I’m fine, right? Is that how it works?
Spokesperson: No, the process is going to be carried through all the way. But as you know, the process is ongoing.
Question: Isn’t it prejudicial to his case if he’s treated differently than all other USGs and ASGs?
Spokesperson: Well, not all USGs received letters, you know that. I mean, we had said that before – that there were USGs that were under the purview of the Secretary-General. In the case of Mr. Toh, he has an ongoing case against him and he has to clear that up first, before a decision is taken on his case.
Question: Would you know off the top of your head, so I don’t have to go in the book account, how many ASGs there are and how many USGs there are?
Spokesperson: The total number I don’t know, because the number I have, the 55 are the number of people who are under the purview of the Secretary-General and not whose nomination did not depend on another body -- like WFP or… So, the 55 I gave are the number of USGs [and ASGs] who received those letters.
Question: USGs?
Spokesperson: USGs and ASGs, both.
Question: Could you break that down – how many…
Spokesperson: I have 20 USGs…
(The Spokesperson’s Office later announced that there were 19 USGs and 36 ASGs.)
Question: There are others but they’re not under the Secretary-General.
Spokesperson: No. There have to be consultations with the body -- the other bodies that they depend on.
Question: You mentioned yesterday that the appointments would come after restructuring. Does that also apply to the Secretary-General’s team on the thirty-eighth floor? When are we likely to see some more clarity on who is actually advising the Secretary-General -- who has what position there?
Spokesperson: I don’t have an answer for you today, but the Secretary-General is coming back to Headquarters, so we should know more about plans of when he is going to announce new appointments.
Question: Is there a time line or deadline for when the Secretary-General wants to complete the appointment process? We hear in February, or sometime in February?
Spokesperson: That is going to depend on how the restructuring consultations go on.
Question: But does it have to be completed in February, because that is when the contracts expire?
Spokesperson: Not necessarily. The two processes are not necessarily linked. That was a general timetable we had. But it is possible that the Secretary-General will announce other appointments before the whole restructuring process is finished. We don’t know at this point.

31 January
Question: It now appears as if the consultations on restructuring will take some time, especially if the Sectary-General presents a written plan and Governments may want to refer to their Foreign Ministry for instructions. What in this case would happen to the case of senior officials whose contracts expire or are about to expire?
Spokesperson: Well most of the contracts will expire in February, as you know. The Secretary-General will take decisions as the consultations develop. As you know, the consultations did not start with that meeting that will take place on Monday. Consultations have been taking place since the Secretary-General started, which means 2 January, he has been consulting member States about the issue of restructuring. So it’s not a new thing. Some exchanges have already taken place on this issue and there has been some give and take on both sides on the issue.
Question: Did some contracts of senior officials expire at this stage?
Spokesperson: Not that I know of. But as you know, the Secretary-General asked that ASG’s submit their resignations, which a number of them have done. What will be…they will stay on until they are replaced.
Question: Have some not tendered their resignations?
Spokesperson: Some of the people in the field have not, yes.
Question: Who were asked by the Secretary-General to do so? Have not?
Spokesperson: Everyone was asked, but they might not have yet done it even though the deadline is passed. But, so far, as far as I know, we have about [53 offers of resignation from Under-Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General].
Question: You said earlier there were about 60 I think?
Spokesperson: [55.]
Question: Can we get the names of the people who haven’t submitted their resignation?
Spokesperson: No I don’t think you can. We cannot give the names. I mean they submit their resignations, but the Secretary-General is not going to give the list of the people who actually resigned and those who did not resign.
Question: Those contracts were expiring anyway, why did he bother making this an issue of having some people submit their resignations. He could choose to let those contracts expire and not rehire them, which he’s probably going to do… Why did he feel it necessary to make it a public issue of them submitting resignations?
Spokesperson: Because he felt that there needed to be some changes and he wanted all of them to be part of that change by voluntarily offering their own resignations.
Question: Rather than quietly doing it when the contracts expired?
Spokesperson: Yes.
Question: Has Andrew Toh, who is an ASG, submitted his resignation or was he asked to submit his resignation?
Spokesperson: I don’t think he was asked because as you know there was an ongoing investigation. I can ask about this case specifically for you. But I do know that since his case was ongoing, in terms of audit and everything else, I think, I can check for you. I will check for you on that, whether or not he was asked to resign. And if so, whether he did. Yes.

26 January
Question: Continuing, the point here -- in some of the discussions, we understand, I’m referring only to disarmament affairs at the moment, that there could be the replacement of the USG [Under-Secretary-General] with an SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-
General] for disarmament. I was under the impression, and believe I’m wrong that the SRSG is the same diplomatic rank as the USG but could you clarify what the status is of the SRSGs?
Associate Spokesperson: Most of the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General are employed at the rank of Under-Secretary-General. That’s not always the case. There have been a few, I think about a year or so, for example, there had been 30 SRSGs who were at the Under-Secretary-General level and another I think four or five who were at the Assistant Secretary-General level. It depends upon circumstance but, in most cases, you’re right those titles are equivalent. That’s not always the case.
Question: So then if it were to be an SRSG, there’s no guarantee that this would in fact be…
Associate Spokesperson: I have no comment about any specific proposals such as the disarmament (inaudible).
Question: One very quick thing…very quick… Is it your understanding that an “office” is a downgrading from a “department”? Or is an “office” the same as a “department”…
Associate Spokesperson: I think that this is one of the topics on which Member States will continue to be discussing, so I don’t want to get in front of that.

24 January
Question: Farhan, is the Secretary-General concerned about anxiety among the senior staff -- ASGs [Assistant Secretaries-General] or USGs [Under-Secretaries-General] -- may feel as a result of the delay in announcing new appointments?
Associate Spokesperson: He is trying to have these appointments made as soon as possible. But as you know, part of what he is also doing is trying to see ways to restructure the UN departments and make them more efficient. That is part of a continuing dialogue with the Member States. Until that’s resolved, we won’t expect a large number of appointments to be announced. But certainly he is aware of people’s feelings and we do try to get this done as quickly as we can.
I’ve just been passed a note, by the way. Tomorrow on the Middle East, the Security Council will have an open meeting in the formal Chamber on the Middle East, including a briefing by Ibrahim Gambari, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. Countries directly involved in the Middle East will be allowed to speak and consultations on the Middle East will follow. So that’s the Security Council’s agenda for tomorrow.
Question: On the resignation letters, first of all did the Secretary-General receive all the resignation letters he ordered people to voluntarily provide, and secondly, did he accept any of those letters, i.e., have any resignations been accepted?
Associate Spokesperson: At this stage, we won’t have any announcements to make of either resignations or new appointments, until we are able to get together a large number of letters. As I mentioned to Mr. Abbadi, first there will be the discussion with Member States on the restructuring. Once that is done, we expect to have some appointments to announce in short
order after that. But in terms of resignations, those issues would be dealt with and announced at that point.

23 January

Question: In terms of new appointments or reappointments under Ban Ki-moon, has anything been done about the post of Special Envoy on UN Reform, held by Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga under Secretary-General Kofi Annan?
Spokesperson: No. There have been no appointments announced for the different SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-General] posts, or the USG [Under-Secretary-General], ASG [Assistant Secretary-General] posts. As you know the restructuring project is now in front of different members of the General Assembly. As long as this has not passed, there won’t be any further appointments, I don’t think. We might have some, but at this point. I don’t think we’ll have any major appointments right now.

19 January

Question: There’s a story out by our colleague Edie Lederer that it’s been decided that the Department of Disarmament will not be merged into DPA [Department of Political Affairs], but maybe downgraded from a USG (Under-Secretary-General) to an ASG (Assistant Secretary-General] position. Can you confirm that? Do you have any comment on the article?
Spokesperson: The restructuring project has not been abandoned. Edie said it, and it’s true, that there were consultations with the Non-Aligned Movement. Those consultations took place several times during the last few days. Restructuring is still pretty much part of the agenda. It is still being discussed and no decisions have been taken yet.
Question: On the appointment process. Now that 60 or so UN officials have presumably turned in their resignations, as the Secretary-General had requested, is it generally understood or assumed that he is going to make announcements concerning new appointments in one big wave?
Spokesperson: Yes, probably.
Question: What is the timeline for that?
Spokesperson: Well, I think the issues concerning the restructuring of some departments have to be settled first before you get all the names. And it won’t be done until he returns from his trip to Africa and the Quartet meeting, which is going to be the 2nd of February.
Question: So sometime in February is what you’re looking at right now?
Spokesperson: Yes, it should be sometime in February, but I cannot give you a deadline right now.

18 January
Question: I believe you were in the Oval Office on Tuesday. Did you hear any talk about appointments at the United Nations?
Spokesperson: No. That was not discussed.
Question: Apart from the Deputy Secretary-General and the Chef de Cabinet, who have already been appointed, what new faces have appeared on the 38th floor as advisers to the Secretary-General?
Spokesperson: Well, I don’t think there are any new faces, for the time being. There are people who have been previously involved in decision-making in the house still around and working with the Secretary-General. Don’t forget that when the Secretary-General was proposing changes and reform, he said he also wanted continuity.

17 January
Question: How close is the Secretary-General to making any announcements about the appointments of new Under-Secretaries-General or other department heads in the Secretariat?
Associate Spokesperson:
In terms of how close the Secretary-General is to making announcements, as soon as he makes them, we will certainly put them out. But, at this stage, there are quite a number of posts that he is reviewing. As you know, there are about 60 Under-Secretary-General (USG) and Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) –level posts that are being looked at. And meanwhile, he is also looking at restructuring various departments to make them more efficient. So, we’ll have to see how that whole process plays out. Certainly, there’s nothing to announce today.
Question: Follow-up on that: I understand that the 60 or so USG’s and ASG’s who resigned…their resignation takes effect today, or took effect on the 15th?
Associate Spokesperson: I believe it’s a question of whether or not the resignations will be accepted. They’ve turned them in, and he has them in hand. That gives him the flexibility to determine how those posts should be filled. Those resignations only become effective once they are accepted though.
Question: So, wait a second. They become effective only when a decision is taken so that means this could last months…?
Associate Spokesperson: We don’t expect this to take months. The entire point of asking that many senior level officials to turn in their resignations this early was to give the Secretary-General the needed flexibility to make a number of decisions very quickly.
Question: So is this going to effectively accelerate the decision-making process on the 38th floor regarding appointments?
Associate Spokesperson: Well, certainly it should make the process a bit easier.
Question: Has every one of the 60-odd officials that this letter was requested of handed it in?
Associate Spokesperson: I don’t know. Like I said, this was a voluntary request. I haven’t checked to see whether or not all of them have turned them in. Certainly, it was up to them, whether to do that. I might add that because most of the contracts of senior appointments go through, I believe, the end of February, it’s not a major difference one way or another how long they would be at their posts.
Question: So is there a deadline for the end of this process?
Associate Spokesperson: For the appointment process? The Secretary-General is trying to get this done as quickly as possible.
Question: A quick follow-up question and maybe Pedersen is part of it. Is there any movement towards applying the same rules that apply to USG’s and ASG’s to their corresponding people in the field?
Associate Spokesperson: Not at this point. That may be for later, but not at this stage.
Question: So how does this process affect Special Representatives of the Secretary-General? Are their posts also being reviewed?
Associate Spokesperson: As you know, a lot of the Special Representatives have mandates that exist as a result of an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council. So, those mandates are dealt with between the Secretary-General and the Security Council.

15 January

Question: Now, a question of policy. With regard to the personnel shift now, what is the Secretary-General’s policy going to be on the existing network of Special Representatives? I don’t know if you’ve addressed this before, but is there going to be a refreshing or changing of Special Representatives?
Spokesperson: Well, there is going to be a review of all those posts, yes. As we have said, all the USGs [Under-Secretaries-General] and ASGs [Assistant Secretaries-General] will eventually be reviewed…
Question: Well, this may be a technicality, but are all the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General (SRSG), either USGs or ASGs? I’m not sure that they are.
Spokesperson: Most of them are, yes. And all those will be reviewed.
Question: Secondly, since you mentioned General Lamine Cissé, what about the other, what about the other Lamin Sise? Is he still on the thirty-eighth floor? Will he continue to advise Ban Ki-moon as he did Kofi Annan?
Spokesperson: Yes, presently he is working on the thirty-eighth floor.
Question: Is he staying or is he…?
Spokesperson: I don’t know. We don’t have that information.
Correspondent: The thirty-eighth floor isn’t like the rest of the building, which, you know…I mean anybody on the thirty-eighth floor is either a USG or an ASG and anybody up there, we need to know who they are and what their status is.
Question: How many of the new posts have to be approved by the General Assembly? Is there an attempt to not add to the number of USG posts so the Assembly will not have to approve extra funds?
Spokesperson: Well, restructuring initiatives have to go through the General Assembly. But there are some specific areas where the Secretary-General does not need approval from the General Assembly for nominations and appointments.
Question: Well, in an imaginary scenario, let’s just say that DPKO would be split into two departments. Would that have to be approved by the General Assembly, because it would require another USG?
Spokesperson: No, the General Assembly would have to approve the actual restructuring, not the nominations.
Question: The General Assembly would also have to approve the budget for that?
Spokesperson: And the budget, yes.
Question: So the Secretary-General has the power like a “general manager” to pick his…?
Spokesperson:…to appoint his top posts, yes.

12 January

Question: Michèle, in considering who the Secretary-General is going to appoint as the head of political affairs, is he taking into consideration choosing someone who will not create an impression of implementing their own nation’s policy, rather than the United Nations policy? And in case you don’t know what nation I am talking about, is he going to bring this up with President Bush on Tuesday?
Spokesperson: Well, I don’t know whether they will be discussing appointments at that meeting. I think the Secretary-General is very aware of the impact of any choices he would make.
Question: No, I know that every UN official pledges to not listen to their own Governments, but we also know that that’s routinely -– at least, that’s the perception -– that it’s routinely ignored. UNSCOM weapons inspectors were found to be spying for the United States; the KGB was long suspected of running the Library here. So there is a growing perception here that whoever runs political affairs -– even if he never talks to the State Department -– will not be neutral. And the United Nations neutrality is, of course, essential to its work, and if the United States is not perceived as neutral in certain regions, like the Middle East, for example -- and it
could hurt. Isn’t there concern that the perceptions are problematic –- is this something he is considering?
Spokesperson: He is definitely considering the perception, but as you know, we are not yet on the agenda of having someone named in the Department of Political Affairs, because at this time, they are talking about the restructuring, which the Secretary-General mentioned yesterday.
Question: But he has interviewed an American.
Spokesperson: He has interviewed a lot of people for the job. Or talked to a lot of people, or about a lot of people.
Question: I have a question -– if you could maybe give me the same answer in English and French -– because I need it in both languages. There is a rumour in Canada this afternoon that the UN is going to nominate Jean Pierre Kingsley, who is an election official, very respected in Canada, to run all UN election programmes –- can you tell me if it’s true or false?
Spokesperson: I cannot confirm it, because none of those appointments have been revealed yet. So… Je ne peux pas confirmer cette information.

10 January
Question: Michèle, can I ask you a question I asked on Monday? How many USGs and ASGs have submitted their resignation voluntarily and is there a list of them?
Spokesperson: Well, there is no list at this point. As you know, they have until the 15th to submit their resignations, so we won’t have a definite number and definite information for you until that process is finished. So let’s wait for the 15th.
Question: One more on the resignation of USGs and ASGs. Is there any plan, if not many of them will resign, to enforce their resignation?
Spokesperson: Well, I don’t know if there is a plan B, but for the time being we are expecting… We are going to respect that date of the 15th and the Secretary-General will act from there.

9 January
Question: What’s the status of all the Special Representatives? Do they fall within the same category as ASGs and USGs who have to tend their resignations? How is this transition going to be handled?
Spokesperson: Well, as I mentioned yesterday, only 60 people received –- actually, 58 people received the letters, and most of them are from Headquarters. The missions in the field are not touched by this request. I think, this is a second step –- reviewing the missions at a later date.
Question: Because you were asked at that time on the dollar-a-year people -– where are they at?
Spokesperson: Same answer as for the heads of missions.

8 January
Question: As of noon today, how many USGs and ASGs have voluntarily submitted their resignation?
Spokesperson: That I can check for you. I don’t have an exact number as of today, but I can give you an answer later on today.

5 January
Another statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, on the formation of the new team:
“In continuing the process he began a few days ago regarding the formation of his new team of senior Secretariat officials, the Secretary-General, yesterday, requested all Assistant and Under-Secretaries-General, except those whose appointments are subject to action/consultation by or with the appropriate intergovernmental bodies, to voluntarily offer their resignation from the appointments they are holding. This would allow the Secretary-General the flexibility he needs in forming his new team. He will review the offers of resignation and may decide to retain the experience of some senior officials to assist him in the discharge of his responsibilities.”
For your information, about 60 USGs and ASGs under the Secretary-General’s direct authority have received that letter. All those officials who turn in their resignations will continue to serve in their current positions until the Secretary-General has completed his review and has taken a decision on each specific case.
Question: Do these resignation letters apply to Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, as well?
Spokesperson: No, they do not.
Question: What is going to be done with them? Do they just go on?
Spokesperson: Well, for the time being, yes. For the time being, what is being aimed at is restructuring the Secretariat, and decisions are going to be made first on the Secretariat.
Question: I think, you might have partially answered Matthew’s question on this, but are you saying that the one dollar year salaried Special Envoy group -- will they still keep their jobs?
Spokesperson: For the time being, yes.
Question: And then…
Spokesperson: This is a process that will take some time. Right now, we are dealing with the USGs and ASGs, who are most of them here in the building, right here in the Secretariat. And it’s a process that will take some time. As you know, there are more than a hundred USGs and ASGs, and it will take some time.
Question: But why wouldn’t they fall under the same category as the USGs?
Spokesperson: Because you have missions in the field that have to continue functioning, and you have a number of things that have to continue to function in the field. It’s one step at a time.

4 January
Question: Can you, I think Mark asked a question on this Tuesday and you had said you would get a response, but there was a question as to whether the new Secretary-General… There was a series of policies concerning increased transparency in the hiring for senior posts, publication of a shortlist -– like in the case of the WFP, they advertised jobs in The Economist. The idea was to try and broaden the field for the most talented possible candidates. And, it’s looking a little bit like they’re primarily going to Government candidates. So, I’m just curious to see what the policy on that is, and has he scrapped some of these procedures that had been, that had evolved out of the reform process?
Spokesperson: No. I think those procedures are still there and there is a very wide-ranging attempt on the part of the Secretary-General, and he underlined this, to reach the most, you know, the people that are the most competent for any given job. And, I think this is why it is taking a little time for the senior posts to be announced.
Question: We haven’t seen a single shortlist yet and there’ve been a number of appointments. And, also, I’m not aware -– maybe I’m wrong –- that any of these key posts have been published in any international publication. I mean, am I wrong, or is…?
Spokesperson: In that case of what you’re talking about, the WFP publicizing posts, this is done at all levels, but I don’t know whether this is done at the senior- or very senior-level posts.
Question: Right, but I’m asking… There was a clear set of procedures put in place that made it possible for us to sort of have some clarity as to the process, and I’m not seeing any of those now. If I’m missing them… [talkover].
Spokesperson: Okay, we’ll try to get more transparency and clarity for you.
Question: Okay, because it sounds like there hasn’t been a shortlist, so we’ll probably be writing stories saying that you scrapped this policy… [talkover].
Spokesperson: No, no. The policy has not been scrapped and there are lists. Yes, I can confirm that.
Question: The whole point is that there were public shortlists and nothing has been made public.
Spokesperson: Okay, so we’ll inquire about the process.
[The Spokesperson later clarified that the policy remained that shortlists were made public in cases of agency heads. Internal Secretariat appointments remained the Secretary-General’s choice and those lists were not made public.]