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Like Kofi, like Ban

Nepotism returns to United Nations


By —— Bio and Archives--October 22, 2007

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Qualifiers bound to get you a “jammy job” at the high-handed, diplomatic immunity protected United Nations?  Other than being a bureaucrat down to the core, it helps if you are mealy-mouthed, politically correct and good at hiding when challenging times demand decisions.  Think Kofi Annan in Rwanda.

Well, as the French would say, the more things change the more things remain the same at the world’s largest bureaucracy.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s son, Kojo used Daddy’s name to get his green Mercedes sent back home to Ghana on the cheap, and somehow landed himself a job with a firm then connected to the Oil-for-Food scandal

According to UN watchdog Inner City Press, rookie UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s son-in-law Siddarth Chatterjee has been announced as his wife’s father’s chief of staff.

  Inner City Press picked up “a small item” about this latest UN nepotism from the Washington Post and ran the gamut on it.

  That’s Ban’s fancy footwork in the looking after the family department.

  In the Getting by with a Little Help from my Friends Department, there’s Ban’s former colleague in the South Korean foreign ministry, Choi Young-jin, recently named Ban’s envoy to the Ivory Coast.

  The UN, which relies more on the media communique than even the U.S. government, teaches all “spokespeople” how to handle embarrassing questions from the media.

  “For weeks it had been rumored that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s son-in-law would get a high post with the UN in Iraq, and that Mr. Ban’s former colleague in the South Korean foreign ministry, Choi Young-jin, would be named Ban’s envoy to the Ivory Coast.” (Inner City Press, Oct. 19, 2007).  “About the latter, Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesperson Michele Montas, after hearing from Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo that the envoy had been mutually selected.  Ms. Montas had no comment at the time.  Then on October 18, the Choi appointment was announced, and the following morning’s Washington Post carried a small item noting that Ban’s Iraq envoy Steffan de Mistura is naming Ban’s son-in-law Siddarth Chatterjee as his chief of staff.  There are stories behind each, portions of which we’ll endeavor to tell in this end-of-week column.
 
  “On Friday Inner City Press asked Ms. Montas about Chattterjee’s appointment in Iraq, and she responded that it is strictly a matter between Mr. de Mistura and Chatterjee, that it is a lateral move and not a promotion, and that “we feel the publication of any information that increases the risk to any staff member and to the mission as a whole is not very helpful.”

  “Inner City Press asked, “Are you saying that the Washington Post’s publication puts the mission at risk?”

  “I’m saying what I said,” Mrs. Montas replied.

  “An aside: Inner City Press often takes and presents UN Spokesperson Montas’ objections to the legitimacy of questions at face value.  But in this case, we have reason to believe, and have decided to report, that the responsibility for the above-quoted dig at press freedom lies on the 38th Floor, and not the third (where the Spokesperson’s Office is housed).  Apparently from the highest levels, attempts were made that this widely-rumored story not be published.

  “But since it is journalistically legitimate, even imperative, to report on what some are calling possible nepotism in public institutions, security concerns would have militated (sic) against this assignment of the Secretary-General’s son-in-law to Iraq.

  “`It’s a big world,’” as one source fearing retaliation put it, adding that Chatterjee was initially going to be promoted from P-5 up into the “D” ranks, but that it was decided to forego this for now, to present the move as lateral.

  “The subtext to Ms. Montas’ statement that this was a matter between Mr. de Mistura and Mr. Chatterjee is that these fearful insiders report that Mr. de Mistura made the appointment in order to curry favor on the 38th floor, just as, the sources say, he previously hired the son of Kofi Annan’s close aide Iqbal Riza.  What makes it unrealistic to expect this story not to be explored is that de Mistura was so recently given the Iraq envoy post.

  “The new envoy to the Ivory Coast, Choi Young-jin, assumes a difficult position.  The previous two envoys were essentially thrown out by president Gbagbo after they pushed to compliance with the elections time-table and spoke about corruption.  While it is said that Gbagbo initially rejected the suggestion of Choi as the new envoy, his subsequently changed position leads many to question how assertive he will be about compliance with the revised elections time-line, to say nothing of corruption.”

The United Nations has proven it is the kind of place where, when the first sign of corruption raises its ugly head, friends are called in to investigate.

  Paul Volcker, who headed up the Independent Inquiry Commission into the Oil-for-Food scandal, held a seat on Power Corp’s international advisory board.  Power’s founding father, Paul Desmarais is a major shareholder and director of TotalFinaElf, the biggest oil corporation in France, which has held tens of billions of dollars in contracts with the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein—originators of the largest scandal in world history.

  Meanwhile over at Turtle Bay, the age-old axiom “like father, like son” could have added, like Kofi, like Ban.



Judi McLeod -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years’ experience in the print media. A former Toronto Sun columnist, she also worked for the Kingston Whig Standard. Her work has appeared on Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com.

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