NOVEMBER 15 2018


The end of assignment for the failed U.N. Envoy in Syria, Staffan De Mistura, may not have been entirely voluntarily. DeMissed, as described from previous failed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, has had difficulties with varied parties, mainly for a perception that he was acting like a party rather than a mediator. In September, for example, diplomatic talk mentioned that he was not welcome to visit Syria, and was only allowed a last visit after a talk between Secretary-General Guterres and Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. DeMissed, who is Italian-Swede, Swedish-Italian, as the case may require, had counted on support of those two countries -- as members of the Security Council -- to help sustain his practice of having meetings to call for further meetings. With Italy leaving the council this year and Sweden's end-of-term next December, his relevancy is mostly depleted. He may now focus on dangling his eyeglasses on his nose while having dinner rather than meeting the press.


Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde is the first woman to be appointed President of Ethiopia. She has served in various U.N. capacities, including as a Special Representative to the African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa. An unassuming, confident diplomat, she gained friends due to her informed and pleasant attitude. Her new posting would herald an even closer link between the United Nations and her historic country, which is a founding member of the United Nations. Francophone countries welcomed the appointment of the first Ethiopian leader fluent in French. Another first for Ethiopia is the appointment of the country's first female Supreme Court president, Meaza Ashenafi.


Rashida Tlaib was the first Palestinian to be elected to Congress in this week's midterm elections in the Michigan House race. Another Muslim woman elected was Ilhan Omar, a refugee from Somalia, in Minnesota's fifth district. Another first was the election of two Native American women to Congress.


A reported designation of Heather Nauert, currently Spokesperson of the U.S. State Department, as her country's Permanent Representative to the U.N. in New York after Ambassador Haley's departure, did not clarify whether she would similarly have Cabinet Level. A subtle difference will impact on her actual authority within the Mission and on the discreet perception by diplomats of other countries. Mr. John Bolton, the President's National Security Adviser, and a former Representative to the U.N., would wish to pursue familiar grounds with his own unusual approach, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would certainly welcome a former staffer, though not to the extent of equal participation in the Cabinet. Ms. Nauert impressively performs her functions with energy, dedication, and competence, yet U.N. work would be a new experience, requiring a brand new set of approaches. She would need an experienced team to successful address the varied areas, from the handling of digital communications to dealing with Non-governmental Organizations, preparing briefs for issues at the Security Council to handling visitors. In addition to basic regular staff,the new team which she will bring along will make a crucial difference.


Positive news at the U.N. Visitors service. Michelle Tong has passed the General Service to Professional exam and will be moving to the Information Centres services. By coincidence, she will be launching her professional level career at the same spot as her husband Jan Fisher started his U.N. career.


"Paroles de Diplomates. A quoi servant les diplomates?" was a lecture delivered by Ambassador Claude Martin, at the Centre Pantheon in Paris, upon the invitation of AFNU (Association Francaise Pour Les Nations Unies), which also sent invitations for a conference on the November 6th, on "The End of Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists". AFNU is currently presided by Ambassador Bernard Miyet and the first French U.N. Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping.


A meeting was held in Geneva by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. The title of the highlighted event was: "Building Peace: Protecting Children in Conflict, Geneva Peace Week 2018."


The Association of Former International Civil Servants (AFICS) issued its new bulletin in November with interesting updates on retired staff, Pension Fund developments, forthcoming meetings, and interesting books. Efforts by its dedicated staff who volunteer to help their former colleagues are much appreciated.


A supposedly confidential report on leaks, by an incompetent man, with a self-inflated ego, was leaked.


If you don't stop telling lies about me, I'll start telling the truth about you.


A Friday night rush hour has been overtaken at a certain U.N. lounge by a discrete conversational hush hour.


For decades, the directory of U.N. Staff with their rooms and telephone extensions was a very helpful tool in connecting team work, contacting U.N. staff, and building projects to promote U.N. operations. It is no longer available. Some claimed security reasons. Others felt it was one way of avoiding revealing how many more staff have been added to the Secretary-General's Office, starting with Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, while several other senior officials followed suit; which was multiple times more than any previous Secretary-General, at a time when junior staff posts were being cut under the guise of reform.