Over a year ago there was an internal political crisis followed by an investigation about a video
film from which UNIFIL in South Lebanon reportedly failed to pass to officials in New York. The
Director of the Department, Juachim Hutter paid the price and, like a good soldier, agreed to be placed
elsewhere until his retirement end of March. The post was announced and qualified applicants
short listed. But proposals were delayed when someone intervened in a failed attempt to place a
floating compatriot. Matters were eventually corrected. One of the most experienced,
enlightened and hard-working Middle East hands was finally selected. Lisa Buttenheim, who had
been short listed in the first place, was approved. However, before assuming her new post, she
has to spend some time in Belgrade. How that is related to UNIFIL, UNIDOF or UNTSO, only that
non-amateur peacekeeper on the thirty-seventh floor knows. Anyway, the right person has been
selected for the right job -- technically at least.
After years of closing the Information Centre in Yemen, the office is likely to be reopened
after the selection of a director. The post has now been retrieved and announced. A frontrunner
is a candidate who had refrained from going when the office was first opened. His family
reasons are no more a problem and he seems keen on a change from his New York posting.
GOOD CAUSE, CORRUPT REPRESENTATION:
Those who recall the overwhelming support that Bosnia received during its days of suffering and
challenge will now recall the name of its ambassador Mohammed Sacirbey, who was its resounding
voice and main face to the media. He later became Foreign Minister. Regrettably, he was
recently arrested upon request of his government for allegedly stealing about $2.5 million from
the budget of Bosnia's mission to the U.N. Very sad indeed.
ANGOLA MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:
The mission to Angola authorized by the Security Council is now officially over. Indeed, Angola
has become a non-permanent member of the Security Council and its officials enjoyed being
assiduously counted by all the powers that be during the diplomatic jockeying over Iraq. With
that, the work of Special Representative Ibrahima Gambari in the field had been successfully
accomplished, and the U.N. can utilize his experienced talents at Headquarters where he could
provide valuable support.
UNDP ADMINISTRATOR EXTENDED:
UNDP Administrator Marc Malloch Brown whose term expired in March was asked to stay on. The
experienced communicator who once headed a task force on the Department of Public Information
has paid special attention to the role of the media in the mainstream of the development
efforts. One of his early steps was to arrange for practical partnerships with electronic
communications companies to carry the message globally. A close associate of Secretary-General
Kofi Annan since many years, Marc was entrusted with several high-level missions not entirely
limited to development.
CLOSING UNIC LONDON?
Most indications point out that a decision was taken to close the U.N. Information Centre in
London by the end of this year. One of the most costly in the world wide network, that centre
went through a roller coaster since a political decision was taken to move it into a prestigious
building close to Buckingham Palace. It was moved since to more modest premises, but again
on political instructions was relocated to the Milbank Tower, a visible landmark on the Thames
River next to the Tate museum.
NEW DIRECTOR FOR MEDIA:
With the forthcoming closure of UNIC London, its Director Ahmed Fawzi, is likely to be reassigned
to New York. The post most likely mentioned is the replacement of Salim Lone as head of the Media
Division. Ahmed had dealt closely with the headquarters media as Deputy Spokesman to Secretary-
General Boutros Ghali. There will be the usual application procedure, of course, and the suave
Egyptian communicator will have to decide whether he prefers being one of several directors in
New York or the one and only indispensable representative in London. But, then, he may not have
PROMOTION IN BEIRUT:
Finally, after years of attempts to cut across bureaucratic red tape, Beirut National Officer
Nabil Abu Dargham received his long overdue recognition. Joining that office in the late eighties,
he carried the work throughout a delicate period as officer in charge. Together with the
Administrative Assistant Amel Baconi Jaber who was there since the centre's creation and senior
clerk Munzer Jaber. After announcing a special international post externally, and having gone
through tough competition, Nabil was officially recommended by ESCWA Executive Secretary Mervat
Tellawy, who frankly deserves credit for sticking to her choice.
Those who attend events at U.N. such as Human Rights Commemoration of U.N. Day Concert are not
aware that much of the media organization is done by a cheerful yet no-nonsense professional
who knows conference rooms like the palm of her hand. Now, Gracielle Hall has had it and feels
free that she is about to leave in an agreed arrangement. Good Luck.
After becoming a household name during the Security Council debates over the inspections in
Iraq, Swedish Chief Inspector Hans Blix has decided not to renew his contract when it expires
next Junes. The breakdown in diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful outcome to the crisis must
have led him to opt for going home and looking after his own Volvo.
ILO CHIEF RENEWED:
Juan Somevia, former ambassador of Chile in New York, was re-elected by consensus to a second
term as Director General of the International Labour Organization in Geneva. A popular
politician who pays special attention to the role of grassroot groups as well as governmental
deliberation, Samavia managed to gain the affection of U.N. staff from all grades as well as
the respect of his diplomatic colleagues.
SPECIAL ADVISOR ON IRAQ:
The Secretary General is expected to formalize the appointment of Rafeeuddin Ahmed as Special
Advisor to follow with Security Council members and other involved parties the role of the
United Nations in Iraq. Mr. Ahmed, a Pakistani citizen is one of the most experienced U.N.
civil servants having served as Chef de Cabinet for the Secretary-General in the seventies,
Deputy Administrator of the U.N. Development Programme in the nineties and several key
assignments in between. He has been available to the Secretary-General on the Iraq issue
informally for several months before the military confrontation. He will be a valuable asset
to the U.N. team.
PHILIPPE DE SEYNES:
Mr. Philippe de Seynes, one of the United Nations' most distinguished senior officials, passed
away yesterday in Paris at age 93.
Mr. de Seynes, a French national, headed the economic and social department of the United
Nations Secretariat for twenty years, as Under-Secretary for Economic and Social Affairs from
1955-1968, and Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs from 1968-1975. Mr. de
Seynes was an intellectual giant and pioneer in his field. He shaped the way the United Nations
was to function in the economic and social sphere for several decades to come. Many of the current
organization in the United Nations originated under him, such as UNCTAD, UNEP, UNFPA, UNIDO and
the regional commissions. Under his stewardship the UN initiated a series of Development Decades,
the unified approach to development and the advancement of women programme.
Mr. de Seynes was a humanist and a true prototype of the international civil servant. His steadfast
and deep commitment to the ideals of the United Nations, intellect, singular talent for public
speaking and charisma won him many friends and admirers throughout the United Nations. He leaves
a legacy of light and warmth among all who knew and worked with him.
(A graduate of the Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques, in the University of Paris, Mr. de Seynes
was "Inspecteur des finances" from 1936-39. Drafted in 1939, he was a P.O.W. from 1940-45. After
the war he served in the French mission in Germany and later became the Deputy Secretary-General
in the Allied Reparations Agency in Brussels (1945-49). He was a Financial Adviser to the French
delegation to the UN (1949-54), and Adviser to M. Mendès France in 1954, after which he joined
the United Nations as Under-Secretary. Following his twenty years as head of the UN Secretariat's
economic and social department, he was appointed Director of the Programme for the Future in
UNITAR (1975-82), President and Senior Fellow of UNITAR, President of the "Association Internationale