Deep Thoughts from the Chef Dec

"I am thinking. I had good ideas, with four solid legs to back them. Now there are only two legs. Where are we going?"

Chinese Rotation

Chinese Undersecretary General for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Service Ambassador Jin Yongjian, who served with impressive distinction during the first five years of Kofi Annan's tenure, has been appointed to another senior position in the Chinese government. His delayed departure is mainly due to the additional time required by his successor, China's ambassador to Tokyo, who is tying up some loose ends. Mr. Jin is very popular, not only among his senior colleagues, but also with his staff, who appreciate his warm personality and human approach to their problems. He proved a special leader during the Millennium Summit Assembly, which he oversaw. He has also served in Geneva, and consequently has a wide range of friends in Europe as well as in New York. Wherever he goes, Mr. Jin will always be a valuable support to UN objectives.

Powell Reduces His Club 71-What About the UN?

The US Secretary of State managed within a few months to abolish 23 "special envoy" positions. These include-take note-negotiators for Haiti, the Great Lakes in Africa, the Americas and the Middle East. Those retained include envoys handling Sudan, Korean peace talks, Cyprus, and Iraq. Does the UN have any plans to review its Club 71? Or does the UN have to take over more of those released by their governments, while cutting pork from the regular budget? Did someone suggest a review? Well, maybe next year, when the bore from Singapore wakes up.

Paris Seminar Saved

When alerted to a potentially embarrassing situation involving a "seminar" on the issue of Palestine in Paris, senior DPI officials, supported by the Director of UNIC in Paris, took immediate action to ensure that at this critical time, such a serious topic would receive the attention it deserved. In a hands-on approach, they made special efforts to gather a wide range of more authoritative participants. Input from the Palestinian representative in Paris, Ms. Leila Shahid, was valuable in obtaining practical support. It all depends, of course, on what happens between the parties themselves. France has been playing a traditionally active and useful role in the Middle East; the UN has a crucial role to play. The point of such seminars is to be relevant, participatory, and to have a clear impact-otherwise it's counterproductive. On-the-job training for young journalists, which was effectively attempted (against various odds), is of practical value in building a professional cadre of communicators who can aid a free and varied press in their territory and their region.

A Sierra Leone Approach: The Check is in the E-mail

Someone with $18 million to spare is offering you 20% if you send him your bank account and other small details. He may also be selling a bridge in Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, or Lagos, if you're interested. The following e-mail, under the subject heading "Urgent Assistance," was recently circulated:

I cannot speak or write your language but with the help of computer translation I translate it to your language, but bellow, I also write it in Enlish. Please try and get back to me after reading. I am RAPHAEL EDWARD the son of Dr. Arthur EDWARD. My father was among the people arrested with Foday Sankoh the leader of Revolutional United Front (RUF) of Sierra-leon. Though my father was not among the rebels but he is one of the prominent men in my town who were agitating for government of sierre-leone to give some opportunity, and other amenities; since the gold and diamond that are the major income is coming from their area.

So that and other things resulted to a problem in Sierra-leon which make the rebels to occupy the major area that the gold and the diamond are coming from.

During those period, they used the opportunity to extract some of the product and export them under the leadership of Foday Sankoh. Then those prominent men from my town benefited from the proceed which my father was among.

So when they arrested Foday Sankoh and those prominent men, my father was also arrested. But my father told me about some money he deposited in a bank here in Abidjan-Cote d'Ivoire.

He gave me the documents of deposit and told me that the amount in the bank is $18 million usd.

He then instruct me to look for a reliable person who can help invest the money overseas so that the Sierra leon government will not know that the money belongs to us.

So I'm now in Cote d'Ivoire and I have been able to speak with the manager of the bank who is well known to my father. I told him that we will like to transfer the money to a foreign account. And he told me to forward the account where I wish him to transfer the money

Now I need your help so that we can transfer the money to your country for investment. We are willing to give you 20% of the total money for assisting us. There is no risk involve in this transaction. What I need is for you to send your account informations, the name and address of your bank, the telephone and fax number. And your private telephone and fax numbers for easy communication. I will like to hear from you as soon as possible.

Certainly, the check is in the e-mail. . .

A Man From Jerusalem

As if to symbolize his position on inter-Arab politics, Faisal Husseini, who was born in Baghdad, died in Kuwait. A decent man of honesty and courage, he led by example. He wasted no time in intricate maneuvers, but devoted his full energy to his cause. The eldest son of the most notable Palestinian family, he could easily have acquired personal riches. Yet he never claimed any gains for himself under the guise of Palestine: he gave it his all. Through quiet devotion, he exposed the corrupt and the corrupting. Using an enlightened approach, he gained powerful friends and influential partners for his cause. In daily, almost heroic, action, he used his head as well as his heart, and poured his soul into a clear vision of an honorable future for his people. A trained guerilla commander, he opted for grassroots, participatory struggle. Despite respiratory trouble and allergies to tear gas, he did not shy away from his role. He led popular demonstrations facing occupation forces head-on, while reaching out in broad daylight to potential allies on the other side. He focused on serving the cause of human dignity: the universally adopted right of self-determination for his people, and the globally-approved principle of dignified existence in a just peace for the region. Forever seeking his elusive goal, he negotiated when required and confronted when necessary. Frustrated not only by repressive Israeli occupation but also by squabbling Arab rhetoric and internal Palestinian dilemmas, he never gave up. In death he regained his Jerusalem, even for the fleeting period of his funeral within its walls.

Faisal Abdelkader Husseini, a man from Jerusalem, was a true leader who didn't stand a chance. For these are the times of the Horsemen of Fear, and this is the age of the Ambush.

UN-Gifted Peacekeeping

In a largely deserted briefing room, the new Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, stated that the UN "could no more afford to continue the gifted amateurism that has characterized this organization's approach to peacekeeping." Well. Hello Kofi Annan, Brian Urquhart and Mig Goulding, let alone the outgoing Bernard Miyet. Here comes J-MG, former cultural attaché at the embassy in Washington, former Ambassador to the "Western European Union," with some general assignments in between, to tell those who devoted their careers-and some even their lives---to soldiering for peace, that he-lui-meme-is now in full professional charge. Is he? And can we hear it sometimes in French, with some modesty, please?

One Year Only For Mrs. Robinson: What Next? Who Next?

Mary Robinson accepted "with enthusiasm" a one-year extension of her mandate as High Commissioner for Human Rights, after tendering her resignation and hinting at bureaucratic limitations on her work. One year means a holdover period. She will be looking elsewhere, as will the Secretary General, who is always anxious to avoid undue confrontation yet eventually makes his point, especially with a year to figure out how to do so. Mrs. Robinson may seek a bigger UN operation or a senior UN position, while Mr. Annan may not mind a less formidable partner.

Spokesman for Next Assembly

Experienced Information officer Jan Fisher is expected to be designated Spokesman for the next President of the General Assembly, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Seung-Soo Hahn. Fisher, who joined from Denmark after passing the national professional exam, has varied experience at headquarters and within the field. Fisher ran UNIC Sydney when the office was between directors; handled administrative aspects of the Information Center, and headed an operational team in Bahrain that tackled the Kuwait question. He will be a valuable asset to the incoming Assembly President. It may also help that Hahn, whom he met at DPI, is an Australian of Korean descent.

Cairo Post Proposed

The head of the UN office in Azerbaijan, Ahmad Durani, has been suggested for the post of UNIC Director in Cairo. A Djibouti diplomat of Yemeni origin, Durani served in the Security Council as Deputy Permanent Representative of his country before joining the Secretariat. He befriended Egyptian diplomats at the time.

Durani made an impressive impact in Baku, where he served for the last seven years. Another frontrunner for the post, Egyptian diplomat Ahmad Dervish, went back to Cairo, where he was promoted to head the UN Affairs office at the Foreign Ministry.

Pavarotti Raises $2 Million. What About Ms. Cataldi?

As Maestro Luciano Pavarotti raised $2 million for Afghan children during a concert on May 29 in his hometown of Modeno, questions were raised as to what exactly other nominated "envoys" are doing to support their pressing causes. While the Maestro was named UN Messenger for Peace in March 1998, at the insistence of then Assistant Secretary General for Public Information, several others were later nominated, without any significant achievements. For example, many are still puzzled that an equal honor was bestowed upon an Italian woman by the name of Anna Cataldi. What precisely did she do? When does she perform? Perhaps her one-time lunch partner, Mr. Iqbal Riza, has an answer.

Lubbers Dancing

Those who attended Maestro Pavarotti's event in Modeno were pleasantly surprised to note that even the solemn Rud Lubbers, new UN High Commissioner for Refugees and former Prime Minister of The Netherlands, was standing around with other spectators and dancing with the rhythm. For a two million-dollar contribution to his newly-cash-strapped office, he will even sing.

Knutssen Emerges

Rolf Knutsson, who has worked effectively with the last three Secretary-Generals, is now well installed in Geneva, heading the Kuwaiti compensation program, after serving as Special Representative in South Lebanon. For a while, Rolf's friends were concerned about his health: he had a heart attack while on duty. But he seems to have fully recovered, and has even gone back to his exercise routine.

Frere Jacques in Brussels

When NATO heads of state met US President George W. Bush and posed for a group photo, they discovered that someone was missing. As they stood in a designated order, waiting somewhat impatiently, a murmur built to a unified chanson: "Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques, dormez vous? French President Jacques Chirac entered hurriedly, before the chorus reached "Ding Dang Dong."

A Roman Holiday

No news yet on the appointment of a new director of the UN Information Center in Rome, despite an announcement several months ago. Nor is news expected, but there's no need to rush: the national officer, the dynamic Daniele Salvati, effectively runs the center. Officially, Staffan Demistura remains the director. Demistura is currently Special Representative for South Lebanon, he can (and does) take the three hour flight to meet with Lebanese officials. So everyone's happy…except those who applied for the job.

No Volvo Moment

The opportunity to tour a Volvo factory would have been a side attraction for the US delegation attending the European Summit in Gotteborg. Apparently, tinkering with used Volvos is one of Secretary of State Colin Powell's hobbies. But unruly demonstrating-which also prevented heads of state from dining in a downtown restaurant-robbed the soft-spoken former general of his Volvo moment.

OAU Leadership Contest

Salem Salim, Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity, feels almost certain that his tenure will be extended, now that the UN's Ibrahim Fall has withdrawn. One strong competitor is Namibia's Foreign Minister and former General Assembly President Theo-Ben Guirerab.