15 APRIL 2009


Rightly, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon treats personnel questions, particularly those around his office, with appropriate confidentiality. Signed contracts, however, do not remain secret for too long, as several officials -- senior and junior -- handle the paperwork.

We may be misinformed, but were told by a reliable source that several contracts have only been extended until September. That includes Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro who since January has traveled home to Tanzania, ostensibly to attend varied meetings, but actually to explore her options. It was noted during the recent commemoration of the Rwanda massacre, she sat in complete silence while her name had been printed among the main speakers. That may be because the Secretary General himself took over; but at least she could have been given a minute or two for the record, particularly that she originates from nearby Tanzania.

Another September contract is that of Chef de Cabinet Veejay Nambiar. The general impression is that he is ineffectual and is regularly outstaged by his Deputy, Mr. Kim, with whom the Secretary General communicates directly in Korean. Since the beginning of Mr. Ban's tenure, senior officials were instructed to address themselves through Mr. Kim. Speculation about Mr. Nambiar taking over UNDP, as he had reportedly desired, was over when New Zealand's Helen Clark was appointed to that post. The Indian Civil Service may not have a spot for him to return and would rather have him hang around the international circuit, as many Indian and Pakistani retiring diplomats manage to do. Yet an imminent designation of India's current Ambassador to a U.N. post would make it more difficult. A particular name is being mentioned as a replacement.

The most unbelievable news confirmed by the same source is that Mr. Kim's contract is also until September. There would be many explanations. It would look better if all the main senior staff were given equal contractual time; it would then be up to the Secretary General to extend, renew or release. A consensus indicates an impression that Mr. Ban would not let go of Mr. Kim. There were reports that at least one permanent Security Council member had objected to Mr. Kim and that the Secretary General, if seeking renewal, would have to sacrifice him for a higher cause. Still, Mr. Ban and Mr. Kim seem inseparable. That raises another possibility. If Secretary General Ban feels that his chances for renewal are not fully guaranteed, he may opt to run for President of the Republic of Korea. In that case, Mr. Kim will be dispatched well in advance to do his usual preparations. Anyway, let's wait and see. September is only four months away.