Rwanda suspect in Kosovo operation: Who helped
It was common knowledge in Rwanda during the massacres that a
particular locally recruited employee of the UN Development Programme
shared in the complicity to commit genocide, not only against
his own countymen who happened to belong to another tribe, but
also against his own UN colleagues. When they went into hiding
in fear of their lives, he traced their whereabouts and denounced
them to their killers, generally known as the Interahamwe.
Somehow the suspect remained at the UNDP Office and, in an attempt
to protect him, he was eventually posted as Chief of a Unit, no
less in the Kosovo mission. As if that Balkan province needed
more determined killers, or the UN needed more dubious characters,
it took seven years before Callixte Mbarushimana was identified
officially by the Arusha Tribunal and arrested while parading
as an international emergency relief official.
Questions abound. Why did it take seven years to trace the suspect?
Why was he still working at an ever more prestigious posting?
What precisely was he doing in Kosovo? For whom, really? As such
employment in Peacekeeping (?!!) Field Operations are usually
subject to references, who recommended him? Who actually took
the decision to employ him? Briefly, a UN Tribunal will have to
ask a specific UN Office: Who are the culprits?
Deep thoughts by the Chef Dec
"I am thinking. The Secretary-General has too many friends.
Too many, I tell you. I am thinking maybe I should be taking care
of that problem".
Arlacchi's Moment of Truth
The combative Pino Arlacchi may now feel more confident despite
attempts to drive him away through a diverse campaign and press
stories. His troubles were compounded by a position taken by the
Dutch Government's withholding of funds for the anti-drug programme
pending the outcome of two reports. It is noted that a former
senior officer in Vienna was a citizen of Netherlands. Another
former senior aide may have provided the Inspectors with a negative
version of events. And another former Director may have influenced
yet another detrimental report. It seems that a combination of
affected drug groups, disaffected staff, ambitious Italians and
curious onlookers, in addition to those actually responsible for
handling such matters, are in line to get Arlacchi. However, the
two reports apparently cleared him of wrongdoing although one
report raised certain management questions.
The experienced former Italian prosecutor seems to be facing
all those cross currents with the nerves of a confident sailor.
Incidentally, he had sailed single-handedly across the Atlantic
last year in stormy seas. His boat is currently in the Caribbean.
Recently, he was in New York. You know the story of a Manhattanite
who was waiting all his life for his ship to come. When it did,
he was at the airport. Pino Arlacchi clearly discovered how many
enemies he made. He still, however, does have some friends. Don't
count him out yet.
Geneva Director-General Vladimir Petrovsky was given a renewed
contract for one more year. The popular senior Russian has served
admirably, first as Under-Secretary-General for Special Political
Affairs with Dr. Boutros-Ghali, and then as head of the European
Office for five more years with Kofi Annan. His staff seem to
appreciate his thoughtful approach, and both Secretaries-General
have seemed to appreciate his effective handling of delicate political
Sign across the River
Pensive Secretariat staff looking out their windows across the
East River may not face the red neon sign of Pepsi beaming in
solitude. A new residential project will be surrounding it with
parks, movie theatres, restaurants, cafes and a number of people
who may be gazing at UN staff gazing at them.
New York visitors
Former Inspector-General Karl Paschke, now residing in his native
Germany, took the opportunity of a meeting on the Brahimi peacekeeping
report to enjoy the long Easter weekend in his former mid-town
neighbourhood. An accomplished jazz player, Paschke has produced
several professional CDs. Apparently, a further study of implementing
the administrative proposals emanating from the peacekeeping report
is bringing together a group of experienced personalities who
could place their support behind their decision. Sir John Weston,
former UK Ambassador, was also seen having more time to stroll
down Madison Avenue with Lady Weston than he had when serving
in the Security Council. His predecessor, Sir David Hannay, was
also in the area earlier this year.
New Moroccan Diplomat
The irrepressible Ambassador of Morocco, Ahmed Snoussi, left
New York after playing a particularly prominent role in negotiations
over Western Sahara. He worked closely with the late King Hassan,
who ensured that his two sons - the current King and Crown Prince
- got a close association with the UN. Snoussi, who ran a tight
ship, will have the opportunity to spend more time at his Kabilah
resort close to southern Spain. His replacement, Mohammed Bennounet,
already presented his credentials.
Will she, will she not?
After announcing her resignation effective end of this year.
UN Human Rights High Commissioner Mary Robinson reportedly indicated
her availability to stay further. It is not clear what will happen
next. Will the Secretary-General or will he not insist on offering
her an extension - in case of his own. The highly regarded former
President of Ireland, the first head of State to leave office
in order to join the UN, values her role and has proved capable
of making an impact even in the most delicate of cases, sometimes
putting her life at risk. The main event this fall will be the
international conference against racial discrimination to be held
in South Africa. It may be the most expensive international conference,
but the funds will not be coming from the UN regular budget. This
is a unique opportunity for the international community to highlight
one of the proudest UN success stories. A great fight in the twentieth
century was the victory over apartheid, where the UN played pivotal
rewards, initially receiving so much abuse, but then overseeing
finally the first free multi-racial election in South Africa,
with Nelson Mandela as President. The UN should treasure and highlight
that story, at whatever price.
Annan focus against HIV/AIDS
Two special events in April held by Kofi Annan underlined his
enthusiastic role in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He first
convened a civil society meeting in Europe in early April to obtain
a commitment by pharmaceutical industries to lower their rates
and actively participate in the treatment process. Towards the
end of the month, he was proceeding to Abuja to participate with
Nigerian President Obasango in an African summit to review effective
ways to deal with that epidemic.
Harare Airport blues: Yamani jumior addresses
Although work on the new Harare international airport was finished
in mid-April, reports accompanying its contracting continue to
simmer. President Mugabe's son, along with several distinguished
youth, were somehow mentioned with very little proof. Zimbabwe's
opposition Daily News spearheaded a campaign on an atmosphere
of bribery and corruption in high places nationally and abroad.
Apparently, that drove the group of influential sons to write
a handwritten letter. Hani Yamani, son of the former Saudi Oil
Minister during the oil embargo and petro-dollar years, seems
to be a pivotal manager among the group, with offices in Geneva,
Jeddah and several African locations. As Chairman of Air Harbour
Technology, Yamani Jr. took exception with talk about bribery;
and so he presented a handwritten 10-page letter to the Zimbabwe
President. Asked by Arab daily "Asharq Al Awsat", Yamani indicated
that he was deeply touched during a meeting at which President
Mugabe's eyes filled with tears upon the mention of bribery funds.
At any rate, he said that $3 million was not given as a bribe
but somehow disappeared from his company's subsidiary office in
Harare. Who took or accidentally found it is yet to be asked.
Meanwhile, the Daily publisher and chief editor, together with
two journalists, face a 5-years jail sentence for insulting the
April council presidency
U.K. senior delegate, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, presided over the
Security Council during the month of April with characteristic
efficiency media representatives were particularly pleased by
the informative and swift manner in which he gave briefings. A
true professional diplomat, assisted by an excellent professional
The UN works … well
Finally, a new feature entitled "The UN Works" appeared on its
impressive website. "A little girl is back home; a soldier starts
a new life; a village finds prosperity. These are stories of how
the UN works…", indicated a well-designed cover page. A good start
to be encouraged and pursued. Otherwise, it may face the fate
of "UN Positive", a similarly hopeful indication of how the international
organization has positive relevance to everyone's life. While
Information professionals did their best, they ran out of steam
when agencies, programmes and substantive departments who initially
helped later withheld their supply. Anyway, it's an excellent
Radio S.O.S. : Get the Best
The vacated post of Director of UN Radio has brought over 100
very qualified applicants, particularly from Europe. That is an
increasingly crucial post that will have to be filled with the
most qualified professional - a tough assignment for the interim
head of DPI, Shashi Tharoor. With earlier stress on the press
(the printed word), there is an internal abundance of writers.
Broadcasting did not produce similar results. It demands greater
resources as it grows in impact, while intergovernmental bodies
are intent on cutting down rather than increasing available resources.
Someone capable of connecting with broadcasters around the world
to build needed partnership could help, particularly if he or
she managed to inspire and mobilize existing staff. Learning the
political ropes of an intergovernmental organization will also
be required. A positive step was to merge the leadership of both
Radio and TV. Both need every support they can get to come closer
in gaining wider public access. In the absence of a clear internal
candidate (the most qualified among them do not have adequate
seniority), an outside candidate is most likely. Some European
Governments are pushing very hard for their compatriots, but in
this case the interim head of DPI has every right to stand his
ground in choosing the best available candidate.
Annan accumulates Endorsements
Since he announced his availability in March, as had earlier
promised, Kofi Annan has been picking up a wide range of endorsement.
The African Group naturally visited him before his announcement,
urging an early announcement, mainly to avoid confusion through
the emergence of some Asian candidates. While some time was taken
by the new U.S. Administration, the expected meeting with President
George W. Bush eventually took place, accompanied by an endorsement,
no doubt pre-arranged by Secretary of State Colin Power (and possibly
with some help of James Baker, Special Representative to Western
It is almost certain that United Kingdom and France have indicated
their support in their own traditional diplomatic way. During
the summit of Arab heads of State in Amman, Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak took the floor to propose official support for Annan's
extended term, describing him as a proven friend of the Arab world.
Based on their announced position since his election in December
1977, the Israeli Government would similarly support him. It is
mentioned that even the Asian Group, which earlier aired the prospect
of candidates, has now hinted that they will support Annan's renewal,
provided the Africans will support an Asian for the next round.
That is a long time away for now. By then, incidentally, there
may be no particular region's term but an open field. The only
main question relates to China, which has a veto power. In time,
the Chinese will send some hints out for those who know how to
read their signals. Stay tuned.
Competition for Rome
With the opening of the post of Director, UNIC Rome, competition
seems to be mainly between two candidates: Ms. Jadranka Mijalovic,
who speaks some Italian but lacks the experience of running an
office, and Mr. Tayseer Mustapha, Chief of Information Service,
IFAD in Rome, who also headed IMO's Information Unit for the last
two years. Mustapha, a citizen of Jordan, is fluent in Italian,
having published frequently in the Italian media. Ms. Mijalovic,
a former Yugoslav Croat (or Slovanian), has limited experience
in Italian questions, having visited Turino once during a JUNIC
meeting five years ago, guided by her then-Director. Early indications
from professionals favour Mr. Mustapha, the only obstacle being
whether the post will be a P.5 or D.1.
Stobey replaces Riesco
A pillar of Conference Services for years, Federico Riesco will
be leaving soon as Assistant Secretary-General for Conferences.
Having worked in Personnel (during Kofi Annan's tenure there)
and elsewhere in the Secretariat, Federico was always a dependable
colleague who performed his assignments effectively and modestly.
Always calm, cool and collected, he also saw the humour in it
all. He promised that he will show visiting colleagues to his
native Chile the splendor of its resorts, such as Vina del Mar.
It is somewhat sad to see such solid international civil servants
Miles Stobey is likely to take over from Riesco. He has been
in the wings since the Millennium Assembly, doing assorted tasks.
Now he will have a full-time management post. His wife, the always
pleasant Lythia Al-Mughairy, is Chief of Public Affairs in DPI.
Viva Portuguese Radio, again
Another achievement by the UN Portuguese language radio is its
new audio access on the Internet. Anyone around the world could
by mid-May tune into the website to listen to the latest news,
like on any professional station. That radio had already made
partnership arrangements with over 300 stations in Brazil alone
and triple that number in other Lusophone countries to share the
broadcasts. Bravo, Joao!
Samagra: Sanctions busting Iraq's Viagra
Confirming their vigilance in confronting sanctions, Iraqi laboratory
"Samagra" announced to a jubilant local population that a special
version of Viagra was about to be produced internally - a national
variety that would even have different side effects from the one
produced in New York. Fortunately, the discovery was not made
in time for the Arab summit in Amman last March. It would have
tipped the scales while discussing what was described in Arab
statements as the "condition" between Iraq and Kuwait. A stiffer
position would have led to further tension. It may be worthwhile,
however, for the Iraqi national laboratory to dispatch advance
samples to overworked members of the Security Council - Sanctions
Committee enthusiasts in particular may want to volunteer for