UN Reform/3

Written by  //  December 13, 2019  //  United Nations  //  No comments

Former UN Human Rights Chief says we must be bolder in calling out world leaders
‘Demagogues and political fantasists — to them, I must be a sort of nightmare’: Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein
This is a 2-part conversation: Listen to The Unconventional Diplomat: Standing Up For Principles
In 2016, on a stage in The Hague, Netherlands, and shaking with rage, UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein decided to break with diplomatic convention.
In a speech he personally wrote, he called out political leaders, whom he says were abetting the violation of human rights.
“To Mr. Geert Wilders, his acolytes, indeed to all those like him — the populists, demagogues and political fantasists — to them, I must be a sort of nightmare,” he said in a speech that’s now legendary in diplomatic circles.
Then he revealed a list of other leaders who were undermining human rights — an action that defied diplomatic protocol by naming names.
“What Mr. Wilders shares in common with Mr. Trump, Mr. Orban, Mr. Zeman, Mr. Hofer, Mr. Fico, Madame Le Pen, Mr. Farage, he also shares with Da’esh,” he told the audience.
Al Hussein stresses that he does not equate “nationalist demagogues with those of Da’esh, which are monstrous, sickening.” But he does maintain that the use of “half-truths and oversimplification” is used both by populists in their rhetoric and by Da’esh in their propaganda.

7 December
A new battleground: In the UN, China uses threats and cajolery to promote its worldview
(The Economist) Since Mr Xi took office in 2012 the country has dramatically increased its spending at the UN. It is now the second-largest contributor, after America, to both the general budget and the peacekeeping one. It has also secured leading roles for its diplomats in several UN bodies, including the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (beating a candidate backed by America, to many people’s surprise). Next year the country will join the three-member Board of Auditors, which keeps an eye on the UN’s accounts.
The senior jobs being taken by China’s diplomats are mostly boring ones in institutions that few countries care much about. But each post gives China control of tiny levers of bureaucratic power as well as the ability to dispense favours.
When votes are taken on matters China regards as important, its diplomats often use a blunt transactional approach—offering financing for projects, or threatening to turn off the tap. This buys China clout, if not affection, other diplomats say.
… More than merely language is involved. In 2017 China sought successfully to cut funding for a job intended to ensure that all of the UN’S agencies and programmes promote human rights.

1 November
Official at UN aviation agency signed off on $240K in contracts for his PhD supervisor at Concordia
James Wan says International Civil Aviation Organization now investigating alleged ethical breaches
(CBC) A high-level director at the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) awarded $240,000 worth of consulting contracts to his Concordia University doctoral supervisor while still his student, CBC News has learned.
A confidential internal email obtained by CBC News alleges that James Wan, ICAO’s deputy director of information management and administration, was in a conflict of interest and abused his office for personal gain.
According to Wan himself, an investigation into those allegations was launched in September and is ongoing. However, another email obtained by CBC shows that the agency’s ethics officer asked ICAO Secretary General Fang Liu to investigate two years ago, which Liu initially declined to do.
As CBC reported in February, Liu was criticized for failing to investigate Wan and four of his staff for an attempt to cover up their mishandling of a 2016 cyberattack — the largest computer security breach in ICAO’s history.
Asked for ICAO’s response to the allegations against Wan, chief of communications Anthony Philbin said in a written statement that the organization would not disclose information on “any allegations made against individuals or on an ongoing investigation.”
“ICAO has procedures in place to address staff conduct should someone be found to be in breach of their obligations,” Philbin said.

2 October
U.S. withholds U.N. aviation dues, calls for immediate whistleblower protections
(Reuters) The United States is withholding its dues to the U.N.’s aviation agency, arguing the body needs to move quickly with reforms like expanding public access to documents and giving greater protections to whistleblowers, U.S. government and aviation sources told Reuters this week.
ICAO spokesman Anthony Philbin said by email on Tuesday that other countries have recently commended the agency for its progress in taking steps to become as “transparent, accountable and efficient as possible.”
Philbin questioned the agency’s ability to carry out the safety and security initiatives raised recently in Montreal by U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, given “this subsequent move by the representative of the United States threatening to defund ICAO.”
It is the latest instance of Washington clashing with a United Nations body under the Trump administration, which has questioned the value of multilateralism and management practices at the international organization.

13 June
U.N. Head: Climate Change Can Prove the Value of Collective Action
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in an interview for TIME Magazine, said “Climate change is not a problem for multilateralism, climate change is a problem for us all. But I think climate change offers an opportunity for multilateralism to prove its value.”
As populist leaders around the globe have sowed doubts about multilateral institutions like the U.N., Guterres says that climate change, perhaps the biggest collective action problem, offers an opportunity like no other issue for the system to “prove its value.”
“We are involved in the prevention of conflicts, and we are involved in trying to solve Libya, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan. But those are areas in which what we can do is limited,” he said in a May 22 interview at the U.N. headquarters in New York. “Climate change is for me, clearly an area where the U.N. has the obligation to assume global leadership.

2 May
Trump’s Nominee for U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft Has Billion-Dollar Ties to Coal
(New York) The president, not known for his interest in multilateral alliances, has taken his time nominating an ambassador to the United Nations since Nikki Haley left the position at the end of 2018. His prior, unofficial nominee, former Fox News host Heather Nauert, faced criticism for her lack of foreign-policy experience, diplomatic exposure, and understanding of U.S. alliances: Nauert caught serious flack for citing D-Day as an example of America’s “strong relationship” with Germany. Nauert withdrew from consideration in February after reports emerged that she once employed a nanny who was not authorized to work in the United States.
On Wednesday, Trump announced that Kelly Craft would be his first official nominee for the U.N. ambassadorship since Haley’s departure. Craft certainly has more experience than the past candidate: She’s currently serving as U.S. ambassador to Canada, was part of the U.S. delegation to the U.N. during the Bush administration, and played a role in the redraft of NAFTA now known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Still, Democrats in the Senate will contest her nomination, and not without merit. Craft is married to Joseph W. Craft III, a billionaire coal executive who has made several efforts to cancel the Obama administration’s push to regulate his industry’s emissions, including a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan and the postponement of a rule that would end the practice of coal plants dumping toxic metals into rivers.

27 March
Meng Hongwei: China to prosecute former Interpol chief
Mr Meng’s disappearance in September prompted international concern.
(BBC) Meng Hongwei, the former Chinese head of Interpol, will be prosecuted in his home country for allegedly taking bribes, China’s Communist Party says.
He has also been expelled from the party and stripped of all government positions, according to the party’s watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).
He was elected Interpol president in November 2016, the first Chinese person to take up the post, and was scheduled to serve until 2020. His job was largely ceremonial and did not require him to return to China often.
He was one of six vice-ministers in China’s public security ministry and had 40 years of experience in China’s criminal justice system, so he has much knowledge about senior Communist Party officials.
In November Interpol elected South Korean Kim Jong-yang as its new president, rejecting a Russian candidate who had been tipped to succeed Mr Meng.

6 January
Audit finds flimsy accounting for travel, booze at Canadian UN mission
Audit identifies long list of problems at International Civil Aviation Organization office in Montreal

1 January
U.S. and Israel officially withdraw from UNESCO
(PBS Newshour) The United States and Israel officially quit the U.N.’s educational, scientific and cultural agency at the stroke of midnight, the culmination of a process triggered more than a year ago amid concerns that the organization fosters anti-Israel bias.
The withdrawal is mainly procedural yet serves a new blow to UNESCO, co-founded by the U.S. after World War II to foster peace.
The Trump administration filed its notice to withdraw in October 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit.
The U.S. has demanded “fundamental reform” in the agency that is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions. UNESCO also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust’s horrors, and to defend media freedom.
UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay took up her post just after Trump announced the pullout. Azoulay, who has Jewish and Moroccan heritage, has presided over the launch of a Holocaust education website and the U.N.’s first educational guidelines on fighting anti-Semitism — initiatives that might be seen as responding to U.S. and Israeli concerns.
Officials say that many of the reasons the U.S. cited for withdrawal do not apply anymore, noting that since then, all 12 texts on the Middle East passed at UNESCO have been consensual among Israel and Arab member states.
In April of this year, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO said the mood was “like a wedding” after member nations signed off on a rare compromise resolution on “Occupied Palestine,” and UNESCO diplomats hailed a possible breakthrough on longstanding Israeli-Arab tensions.
The document was still quite critical of Israel, however, and the efforts weren’t enough to encourage the U.S. and Israel to reconsider their decision to quit.


Nikki Haley announces resignation as UN ambassador

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