FEBRUARY 1, 2019


A new director in the U.N. Department of Global Communications, Ms. Seda Pumpyanskaya, will be running a wide area of external relations and media contacts globally. Ms. Pumpyanskaya is a Russian journalist and publicist, previously Vice President of the Skolkovo Foundation and a former Senior Adviser on Communications and Outreach to the Council of Europe. She is a daughter of Russian journalist Alexander Pumpyansky, and was educated at Moscow State University, followed by a year of studies at Harvard University as a Nieman Fellow. From 2005 to 2010, Ms. Pumpyanskaya was the Council of Europe’s Director of Communication under then-Secretary General Rt. Hon. Terry Davis, also serving as a Member of the Executive Board. From 1999 to 2004, she held several executive positions in public affairs and communications with the United Nations, working in Guatemala, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Before joining the U.N., Pumpyanskaya was a journalist and worked with media in Moscow, including The New Times and Russian Newsweek, Spanish newspaper El País, She also worked for the BBC in London. In her U.N. Division, she will find a valuable resource in talented communication staff like Helene Hoedl, Michelle Fischer, and others while backed by the professional oversight of the Department's head, Under-Secretary-General Alison Smale.


In an unprecedented move, the staff of the World Bank group sent a petition to the Governing Board which is about to consider the selection of a new Bank President mid-February, urging for an "open, merit-based and transparent process". They held Board members "accountable for setting politics aside" in choosing a qualified, experienced, credible candidate. Outgoing President Kim, who resigned, had been selected politically. A more qualified economist from Nigeria was overlooked in 2012 as U.S. President Obama (whose family hailed from Kenya) blocked him by officially proposing the Korean American educator.


"If I could collect knives put in my back, I would open a restaurant"
- Herman Von Hebel, former Administrator, International Court of Justice


On Martin Luther Day we also remember Dr. Ralph Bunche, who was predominantly active in the Civil Rights Movement and walked by the side of the Reverand Martin Luther King Jr. during the historic March for Freedom. He was the first United Nations Under Secretary-General for political affairs and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for arranging a ceasefire agreement in 1949 between the Arab States and Israel. Very unassuming, pleasant, yet fully self-confident, Dr. Bunche was a positively influential figure within the United Nations during its heyday as a central political international action platform. How we miss him; how we miss those days.


*Where are we going, Bake?
- We're going to heaven
* That's where I want to go.

-- Last chat between departing President George H.W. Bush with his dear friend James Baker.


Elsewhere, too far from here; too late-never perhaps.
For I know where you fled, you know not where I go.
O you whom I would have loved; O you who knew it.

A Une Passante

Ailleurs, bien loin d'ci; trop tard-jamais peut-etre.
Car j'ignore ou tu fuis, tu ne sais ou je vais.
O toi que j'eusse aimee;O toi qui le savais

-- Charles Baudelaire


Our valued fifth U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar reached his 99th birthday on 19 January. While we always recall his thoughtful kindness, his wisdom in handling delicate issues, and his courage in graciously advancing U.N. human objectives, we join our colleagues in wishing him continued health, gracious prosperity, and peace of mind. Happy birthday Don Javier.


All alone at the end of the evening
And the bright lights have faded to blue
I was thinking 'bout a woman who might have loved me
I never knew
You know I've always been a dreamer
Spent my life runnin' 'round
And it's so hard to change
Can't seem to settle down
But the dreams I've seen lately keep on turning out
And burning out and turning out the same
So put me on a highway and show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time
You can spend all your time making money
You can spend all your love making time
If it all fell to pieces tomorrow
Would you still be mine?
And when you're looking for your freedom
Nobody seems to care
And you can't find the door
Can't find it anywhere
When there's nothing to believe in still you're coming back
You're running back, you're coming back for more
So put me on a highway and show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time
Take it to the limit, take it to the limit
Take it to the limit one more time
Take it to the limit, take it to the limit
Take it to the limit one more time
Take it to the limit, take it to the limit
Take it to the limit one more time
Take it to the limit, take it to the limit
Take it to the limit one more time
Take it to the limit, take it to the limit
Take it to the limit one more time
Take it to the limit, take it to the limit
Take it to the limit one more time
Take it to the limit, take it to the limit
Take it to the limit one more time


Dame Minouche Shafik will be the main speaker at the Nadia Younes Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at the American University of Cario's Ewart Memorial Hall in Tahrir Square. She is a leading economist whose career has straddled public policy and academia. She has been the director of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) since September 1, 2017. Our beloved colleague Nadia Younes devoted her career and gave the ultimate sacrifice during the bombing of the UN Mission Headquarters in Baghdad.


A presumably "high level meeting" of "Middle Income Countries" was neither high level and almost no meeting as the Microphone needed prolonged repair. The Assembly President graciously kept her puzzled cool as a tie-less Prime Minister of a certain country repeated priorities like the need to meet again, discuss again the need for another meeting. A Moroccan delegate read in French a list of requirements and a financial officer from Zimbabwe spoke so quickly that hardly anyone figured out any content. No one outside the small group, including those who were attending could figure out the repeated yet unspent reference to MIC.



Before the newly designated UN envoy for Syria, Geir Pederson, was announced the Syrian government had turned down a proposed candidate for that post. Interestingly, the rejected candidate, an internal UN staffer currently at D-2 level, operates in the region and has tacit support of Hezbollah and Iran, usually an overall ally of the Syrian government. The decision to turn down that candidate may have been based on personal credentials or - more subtly on a desire to balance the influences between allies in a moderating exercise. Pederson began his role with a visit to Damascus, where he was received at length by Foreign Minister, Walid Muallem, and other Syrian officials.


Unusually no Pakistani citizen currently occupies a senior post at Under Secretary-General or Assistant Secretary-General level. Traditionally, there are both an Indian and a Pakistani citizen in such post. While India claimed Chef De Cabinets, Pakistan claimed two in addition to other senior posts. Secretary-General Guterres appointed an Indian Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping; no Pakistani received similar designation. The current Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi, a former newspaper editor and experienced diplomat, may be seeking a new appointment at the UN in New York, as the new Prime Minister, Imran Khan, may wish to designate someone from his own team. She had applied earlier to the post of Under Secretary General Head of Global Communications Department for which UK citizen Alison Smale was selected. As she may be trying again, a Pakistani citizen may indeed be under consideration for an ASG post, but it may be given to another Imran.


Once a "Master of the Universe" running three auto companies between Paris, Tokyo, Rio via Beirut, Carlos Ghosn is struggling in a Japanese jail. Under strict prosecution claims of fraud, the once unique foreign emperor in Tokyo is trying his best to at least meet his loving family. It may look like a vindictive attitude by certain officials who might have resented a predominant role by the Brazilian, French, Lebanese entrepreneur who once had an extra comfortable residence. Various sides have different perceptions. The only main lesson learned is that no one can master the universe except the one and only above us all.


New non-permanent member of the Security Council will attempt to make a difference in the balance of influence. Belgium, Côte d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Germany, Indonesia, Kuwait, Peru, Poland, and South Africa have varied positions and a common goal to influence the five permanent members on resolutions relating to their own regions. Particularly with the newly signed deal between President Macron and Chancellor Merkel, Germany would hope to have a vote similar to that of a permanent member. South Africa always a major player in its continent and on world stage is likely to play its own independent mark. Indonesia's interests are not limited to Asia, but also extend to the Middle East in special links with many Arab countries. Peru will certainly have its own position on Venezuela. Belgium host to the European community will be inclined to stress its European colors.