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