Thursday, June 23, 2005

Whistleblowers Screaming at the UN

Some staffers of the UN Development Program are screaming and yelling and hollering about one of the honchos there being a little too cozy with John Kerry.

They're circulating a letter that they sent to (oy vay.....) none other than Mark Malloch Brown (shown on the left after a hard day at the office). He's the outgoing UNDP boss who just became Kofi Annan's deputy. Brown recently was exposed for renting an apartment from George Soros under suspicious circumstances, and threw a hissy fit at a press conference when word leaked out. So I'm sure he'll seriously consider the UNDP staffers' letter, copied below, before ripping it into shreds.

The UNDP staffers are circulating their letter on the Internet and a copy found its way into my grubby little hands.

This brouhaha received some attention a few weeks ago in the New York Sun, but has (surprise surprise) received little attention in the MSM apart from that. I wish these guys luck but doesn't the word "banging your head against the wall" seem to apply here?

Here is the letter. I've taken out the typos as best as I can, but some still may be lurking...

"It has been more than two months since we -- a group of concerned UNDP staffers -- lodged a formal complaint with the UNDP Office of Audit and Performance Review (OAPR) that your internal communications chief Justin Leites violated the UN Charter, staff regulations and his oath of office by taking a leading political role in the Kerry-Edwards presidential campaign last year.

"To date, you [that is, Mark Malloch Brown] as UNDP Administrator has taken no disciplinary action against Justin Leites for this flagrant violation, which Justin Leiteshimself has not denied and is a matter of public record: A University of Southern Maine web announcement of a discussion with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (Democrat,Connecticut) at Lewiston Auburn College onMonday 25 October 2004 asked those interested in attending to "RSVP toJustin Leites of the Kerry Edwards campaign at 450-3105 or email"

"Earlier Justin Leites himself posted a message on theDemocratic Underground bulletin board that Madeleine Albright would visit and speak at two town hall meetings in Maine on Monday 11 October 2004 on "John Kerry's plan to build a safer, more secureAmerica" and Justin Leites asked would-be attendees to call him "on Saturday (450-3105) or Sunday (223-5249) with any questions orconcerns" before signing off as "Justin Leites, ME Political Director, Kerry-Edwards '04".

"These messages amount to evidence that Justin Leites took a top political position and played a leading part in the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Maine; neither Justin Leites nor you can hide this. Yet your media chief William Orme attempted a cover-up earlier this year by asserting baldly and baselessly to the press that no staff ruleswere broken. And you have reportedly suggested more recently it may be permissible for staff members to campaign politically while on leave.

"This is an incorrect and irresponsible suggestion. Whether he was on leave or not, paid or unpaid while on leave, Justin Leites remained aUN staff member at the material time and was thus subject to its regulations, his oath of office and the UN Charter (including Article100). UN staff regulations are quite clear on this, and are elaborated in [citations deleted]

"Justin Leites became an international civil servant when you brought him in to UNDP in 2000 (without, it may be added, going through proper recruitment procedures), he was still a staff member when you promotedhim in 2002 as your internal communications chief (over the objection of an appointment and promotion board) and he remains a staff member to this day. As far as we know, he has never resigned his UNDP position, the only way he can release himself from his oath of office.

"What disturbs us is that some in UNDP have attempted to get complainants against Justin Leites to reveal their identities eventhough OAPR is supposed to investigate anonymous complaints as well.OAPR knows -- and you yourself have acknowledged -- that UN whistle-blowing safeguards are inadequate and need strengthening; hence we have no alternative but make an anonymous complaint.

"We urge you to stop the cover-up, stop making excuses for Justin Leites, and stop confusing the issue. If you allow, encourage and continue toprotect Justin Leites in his partisan interference in the internal politics of the most powerful country in the world, how can you maintain that UNDP is neutral, independent and impartial in its work, a large part of which consists of offering governance and electoraladvice to smaller and weaker states?

"We are fully aware that Justin Leites is one of your Democratic Party cronies and protégés and you appointed and promoted him without proper internal procedure or approval. However, Justin Leites' recklessconduct has undermined the integrity, independence and impartiality of UNDP and the UN, and put in jeopardy the lives of UNDP and UN staff working in the field. We would remind you that while Justin Leites was zealously campaigning for his and your Democratic Party political masters last October, terrorists seized three UNDP electoral workersin Kabul, Afghanistan, and held them hostage for nearly a month.

"At the time you said your thoughts and prayers were with our captive colleagues and their families, but we question the sincerity of such sentiments in light of your unwarranted shielding of Justin Leites from disciplinary action. Our field colleagues have to work indifficult enough circumstances to have to put up with Justin Leites making their lives even more dangerous.
On the other hand, Justin Leites' electioneering has projected UNDP into the center of the sort of acrimonious Democratic-Republican debate that characterized the bitterly fought 2004 presidential election, as any search on his name among web blogs will show.

"Already, UNDP has earned the dubious reputation as a Democraticpolitical outpost helping to defeat Republican election candidates.You yourself turned your office suite pretty much into a Democratic precinct headquarter last November, with your media chief William Orme supplying minute by minute exit poll results. Such partisanship undercuts the UNDP mission and is contrary to the spirit of the UN.

"We are also appalled and amazed that you, too, Mark Malloch Brown, had similarly violated the UN Charter, staff regulations and your oath ofoffice by taking part in the internal politics of a country. In an interview that appeared in the Guardian newspaper on 12 January 2005, you bragged with juvenile glee that, while a UNHCR staffer, you went back to the UK to stand for election as an SDP candidate in 1983. You must have known that this was in violation of your undertaking and obligations as a staff member, but did it anyway, using by your own admission "an signed, undated letter" as an unethical and legallyinvalid device "just in case I got a seat".
Before your relinguish office as UNDP Administrator, we urge that you stop perpetuating such reckless behavior in furtherance of your selfish, unbridled greed for power.

"We call on you to dismiss JustinLeites from UNDP forthwith for his violation of UN regulations, and issue an immediate public statement making it abundantly clear that you do not condone, much less encourage such behavior. The integrity of the UN and UNDP, the effectiveness of UNDP work, and the lives ofour colleagues demand no less. We fear continuing complicity and inaction on your part will maintain a precedent encouraging more staff members to interfere in a partisan manner at all levels of politics inmember states – an illegal and dangerous practice that will soon destroy our organization. You as Administrator and the Secretary-General's Chief of Staff, of all people -- you who are quickto hold your peers in the UN System to account should know better andshould stop setting and perpetuating such an appalling example. We expect you to do the right thing without further delay."

"12 UNDP Staffers"

So the letter ends. Good luck, guys. But don't too tuckered out holding your breath waiting for a positive response.

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