UN oversight body faults decisionmaking at world bodys drug control office

In a report released today at UN Headquarters, the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) concludes that the major weaknesses of ODCCP “stem from over-centralized and heavily personalized decision-making and the absence of institutional mechanisms to ensure that programmes are properly conceived and efficiently executed and the results are assessed.” Introducing the report at a news conference in New York, the head of the oversight office, Under-Secretary-General Dileep Nair, said the “committed, resourceful and talented staff” working at ODCCP suffered from low morale. “The common view held was that there was no transparency in executive decisions, especially concerning personnel matters,” he said. “While within some units structured dialogue on work matters was maintained, overall staff-management consultation or communication unfortunately was dysfunctional.” The report’s findings were presented to ODCCP Executive Director Pino Arlacchi by OIOS officials who “made it clear that the management situation at the Office cannot be allowed to continue,” Mr. Nair said. “OIOS urged the Executive Director and his senior management to institute drastic and immediate change.””I must say that OIOS took note of the self-critical reaction of the Executive Director to the inspection’s findings and recommendations and his assurance that remedial actions would be expeditiously executed,” the Under-Secretary-General observed. Mr. Nair emphasized that any corrective measures would only succeed “under one key condition – that is, the competence, professionalism and integrity of top management must be transparent, collegiate and must enjoy the trust of the staff.” The OIOS report was transmitted to the General Assembly by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In a cover letter accompanying the report, Mr. Annan says he “concurs with its recommendations and notes that measures are being taken to correct the issues addressed in the review.” read more

Terrorism among key new challenges to protecting civilians in wartime Annan reports

The sexual exploitation of civilians, plundering of natural resources and terrorism are all emerging as challenges to the international community’s efforts to protect non-combatants in times of war, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report to the Security Council released today.The report, the third of its kind by the Secretary-General, focuses on challenges that occur during the transitional phase from conflict to peace, and stresses the importance of protecting civilians throughout that process.The report notes that the UN is working to ensure that the design of peacekeeping and relief operations incorporates protection measures for groups vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, including by UN and other humanitarian personnel.”Men, women and children displaced by conflict or other disasters are among the most vulnerable people on earth,” the Secretary-General writes. “They look to the United Nations and its humanitarian partners for shelter and protection. Anyone employed by or affiliated with the United Nations who breaks that sacred trust must be held accountable and, when the circumstances so warrant, prosecuted.”On the commercial exploitation of resources, the report notes that it is a growing problem that serves to fuel conflict while harming the security of the civilian population. “Individuals and companies take advantage of, maintain and have even initiated armed conflicts in order to plunder destabilized countries to enrich themselves, with devastating consequences for civilian populations,” Mr. Annan observes.The Secretary-General says that terrorism must be condemned without reservation, and at the same time warns that the targeting of civilians and the disproportionate use of force beyond legitimate military objectives are violations of international humanitarian law.Mr. Annan also points out that special problems may arise when terrorist organizations become involved in armed conflicts. UN efforts to ensure access to vulnerable populations and to structure appropriate contact with armed actors for this purpose “will be vastly more complicated if those armed actors are engaged in terrorist activities or are seen as being so involved,” he says, adding that the UN will need to formulate clear guidelines for its future work on protecting civilians in armed conflict where terrorist organizations are active. read more

SecretaryGeneral concludes African Union Summit with AIDS meeting visit

During the breakfast, hosted by President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, delegates also touched on other issues critical to Africa. In addition, leaders discussed a work plan for the coming year.”We have had a very good meeting here and very, very useful and constructive discussions, not just on the issue of AIDS and the fight against that pandemic and its impact on this continent, but also about conflict resolution, about economic and social development, about empowerment of women,” Mr. Annan told reporters after the meeting.In the afternoon, he visited an AIDS clinic at Matola, on the outskirts of the capital Maputo, which has done a remarkable job of preventing the transmission of the HIV virus from pregnant women to their babies. Only three of the 151 babies born at the clinic have been diagnosed as HIV-positive. The clinic provides anti-retroviral drugs to some 300 HIV-positive mothers.”This is our fight, and let’s all move ahead and win this fight,” Mr. Annan told the workers at the clinic.AIDS was also the subject of some of the bilateral meetings the Secretary-General held in the margins of the Summit. He met Peter Piot the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS), to discuss tighter coordination between the world body and the Global Fund against AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.He also met with Supachai Panitchpakdi, the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), with whom he discussed efforts by multinational pharmaceutical firms to make AIDS medication available to developing countries at low cost. He invited Mr. Panitchpakdi to join him at a meeting with pharmaceutical executives that he is planning for later this year.Mr. Annan was scheduled to leave Mozambique to return to New York over the weekend. On Monday he is going to Washington to meet with United States President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell and other senior advisers for wide-ranging discussions on Africa, the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the battles against terrorism, poverty and AIDS. read more

2005 summit on Millennium Declaration to be decisive to UNs future Annan

In unveiling his ideas for holding a high-level review of the 2000 Millennium Declaration, Mr. Annan describes the proposed summit – from 14 to 16 September 2005 at UN Headquarters in New York – as an event of “decisive importance.””The decisions to be taken at the meeting may determine the whole future of the United Nations,” he says in a report on the format and organization of the summit.”Even more important, they will offer us our best – perhaps our only – chance to ensure a safer, more just and more prosperous world in the new century, not only for our own sakes but for those of our children and grandchildren.”At a similar meeting five years ago, more than 100 Heads of State and government adopted the Millennium Declaration, a blueprint for achieving a more peaceful, prosperous and just world through collective security and a global partnership for development.What sprang from their statement was the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aim to halve extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal education and promote gender equality. They also seek to reduce infant and maternal mortality, fight HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development – all by 2015.In his annual updates, the Secretary-General says that progress towards achieving the MDGs has been uneven at best. His next report, which he plans to release in March, will also draw on the findings of his High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.Mr. Annan says Member States should take an “active and positive interest” in the issues before the 2005 summit. He also urges countries to engage in the preparations at the highest level, “with an unshakeable determination to reach agreement on decisions that will truly fulfil the commitments contained in the Millennium Declaration, giving us a stronger and more effective United Nations as an instrument for achieving a better and safer world.”While acknowledging it to be an ambitious agenda, he says he has no doubt that it is feasible if Member States have the will to do it. “The weak, the vulnerable and the insecure citizens of this world look to the Organization for help and for protection. Let us not disappoint them.” read more

Despite progress worlds poorest countries still being marginalized – UN envoy

“While the least developed countries are being marginalized by the international community, it is heartening that their special needs are gradually being noticed,” Under-Secretary-General Anwarul K. Chowdhury said yesterday, referring to the recent G8 meeting of the world’s most industrialized nations, which adopted a communiqué on trade recognizing the least developed countries (LDCs) and their specific problems.“Their statement reiterated their commitment to the objective of ‘duty-free and quota-free market access for products originating from LDCs,’” said Mr. Chowdhury, who is also the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.Addressing a one-day Workshop at UN Headquarters in New York of National Focal Points from the 50 LDCs on the 2001 Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, he stressed that the world needed to focus on the LDCs “simply because this most vulnerable group of countries have the least capacity to face the challenges of a globalized world.”Mr. Chowdhury underscored the encouraging developments and a positive step by donor countries in honouring their commitments by increasing the total official development assistance flow to the LDCs to $23.5 billion – a 31 per cent increase in nominal terms in 2003 as compared to the previous year. “This represented the highest one year increase of official development assistance (ODA) to the LDCs.”Referring to the commitment made by donor countries in 2001 at the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries in Brussels, he called on the international community “to expeditiously meet the target of 0.20 per cent of gross national product (GNP) as ODA to the least developed countries.”Concluding the workshop, Mr. Chowdhury called on the LDCs to conduct inclusive, broad-based dialogue with a range of partners, particularly in civil society and the private sector. read more

At UNchaired meeting Ethiopia and Eritrea trade blame for rising tensions

Setting the tone for Friday’s discussions, the meeting’s chair, UNMEE Force Commander Major-General Rajender Singh, observed that the overall military situation inside the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and the adjacent areas had become tense and potentially volatile.Gen. Singh appealed to both governments to comply with the recently adopted Security Council resolution threatening actions – which could include sanctions – against Eritrea and Ethiopia if, in the case of Eritrea, it does not immediately rescind its ban on UN flights in its airspace, and against both parties if they do not reverse their military build up. He added that he would meet separately with both parties on implementation of that text.The Force Commander also cited two positive developments, namely the continued work of sector-level military coordination commissions which he credited with promoting trust, mutual understanding and cooperation between the parties at the local level. The second positive development is the decline in the number of cattle rustling incidents in the border area, he said.Addressing the forum, Colonel Harry Holland-Muter of the African Union expressed concern over the recent developments in the peace process, particularly reports of troop movements along the border. He reiterated the AU’s call for restraint by both parties, noting that the international community had invested a great deal in the peace process. Major-General Yohannes Gebremeskel of Ethiopia agreed with the assessment of UNMEE that the situation is tense and potentially volatile. He alleged that there were a large number of Eritrean soldiers inside the TSZ and said they were exploiting the vacuum created by UNMEE’s reduced capability. Warning of grave consequences if the situation continued, Major-General Gebremeskel reiterated Ethiopia’s commitment to prevent another war and work with UNMEE towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict.For his part, Eritrea’s Colonel Zecarias Ogbagaber said that the security situation in the TSZ and adjacent areas had always been tense because of Ethiopia’s refusal to implement the decision of the Boundary Commission and its troop deployment near the southern boundary of the TSZ. UNMEE’s claim that it had 60 per cent less monitoring capability due to the Eritrean ban on UN helicopters was an exaggeration, he said.He denied the presence of Eritrean troops in the TSZ and said that there are only some additional militias engaged in harvesting activities there. He also lamented what he called the international community’s “lack of concern” for the stalemate and stated that “the helicopter ban can not be bigger than the gross violation of the Algiers agreement,” a reference to the ceasefire accord signed by the two countries in 2000.Regarding the restrictions in the TSZ, he said that these have always taken place even before the Eritrean ban on UN helicopter flights. He further added that Eritrea has no intention of either stopping or restraining UNMEE’s activities inside the TSZ, but it does not recognize the concept of adjacent areas. Colonel Ogbagaber also declared that Eritrea has no intention of mobilizing its forces and that there is no security threat to UNMEE.The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere, with both sides reiterating their willingness to cooperate with the mission in restoring peace and tranquility in the Mission’s area of responsibility, according to UNMEE. “We’re passing through very defining moments,” the Force Commander said. “It is very important during these moments that we uphold the values that both governments have committed themselves to.” read more

SecretaryGeneral starts European trip with consultations on Côte dIvoire

Before attending the World Economic Forum in Davos later this week, Mr. Annan’s plans in Switzerland include a visit to the International Olympics Committee to follow-up on the International Year of Sports and Development.At a plenary session of the Forum he will deliver an address on: “A New Mindset for the United Nations.”Mr. Annan’s travel plans also include The Hague, for a meeting of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and London, for meetings on the Middle East peace process and the future of Afghanistan. read more

On Africa visit UN refugee chief calls on rich countries to fund

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres today called for rich countries to invest in the economic development of Africa’s Great Lakes region to prevent countries emerging from conflict from slipping back into chaos.“Development would ensure that all communities have a better life and are able to give a better life to those who return,” he said in Muyinga, Burundi, on the fourth day of a nine-day tour.After seeing off refugees returning from Tanzania to Burundi and Congo on Thursday, he met with Burundians struggling to rebuild their lives back in their own country, and Congolese still uprooted in a refugee camp in north-eastern Burundi.Mr. Guterres came to Tanzania and Burundi to show European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel how European Union (EU) money is being used to support refugees. At the same time, he said wealthy nations can do more to bridge the gap between relief and economic development.At Gasorwe Refugee Camp, home to more than 8,800 mostly-Congolese refugees, he told residents he had enormous sympathy for their situation. A former Portuguese prime minister, he said he had many close friends who became refugees, fleeing persecution in his own country when Portugal was ruled by dictator Antonio Salazar.“We share your agony,” he said. At the same time, he noted that there were prospects for them to go home voluntarily in the near future. As the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) approaches elections at the end of July, the international community must work for consolidation of peace and democracy there and do more to develop its economy, he said. “Without a Congo at peace, Africa does not have a future,” he told the refugees, who applauded loudly.From Burundi, Mr. Guterres goes on to Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, where he will celebrate World Refugee Day on 20 June. read more

UN refugee chief visits Sri Lanka to discuss fate of 300000 displaced

The visit will be the first by a head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the country, where it has been working with conflict-displaced people since 1987, the agency said, adding that High Commissioner António Guterres is also expected to meet Government officials as well as members of the LTTE.“The purpose of his visit is to meet displaced people in the north and east of the country and hear first-hand their concerns and needs. He will also meet UNHCR staff to discuss their humanitarian work,” UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told reporters in Geneva.“In Sri Lanka, our activities are centred on providing protection for an estimated 314,400 internally displaced people, some of whom have been out of their homes for more than 20 years.”Since April this year, some 50,000 people have fled their homes because of renewed violence and are now living mainly in neighbouring communities in Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Puttalam and in the north of the country. UNHCR is monitoring the displacement and providing protection and humanitarian assistance to the newly displaced.However, despite the deteriorating security situation in the north and east, a UNHCR-funded organisation in Jaffna is pushing ahead with construction of new shelters for people displaced or made homeless during the almost two decades of civil war.The Jaffna Social Action Centre (JSAC) is building or upgrading more than 450 shelters across the Jaffna peninsula in the north for families living in makeshift shelters on their own land or still displaced since the 2002 ceasefire between the Government and the LTTE.”We discussed the current situation and decided to overcome it,” said Pathmanathan, JSAC’s shelter project coordinator. “The people we are helping have been displaced for years. UNHCR has given us a golden opportunity to meet their needs so we just try to deal with the security problems.” read more

Jettisoning CEO with misleading biography wont resolve all of Yahoos credibility issues

Jettisoning CEO with misleading biography won’t resolve all of Yahoo’s credibility issues AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by News Staff Posted May 14, 2012 4:59 pm MDT SAN FRANCISCO – Yahoo still has credibility issues, even after casting aside CEO Scott Thompson because his official biography included a college degree that he never received.The troubled Internet company’s next challenge will be convincing its restless shareholders and demoralized employees that the turnaround work started during Thompson’s tumultuous four-month stint as CEO won’t be wasted.It won’t be an easy task, given that Yahoo Inc. has now gone through four full-time CEOs in a five-year stretch marked by broken promises of better times ahead. Instead, Yahoo’s revenue and stock price have sagged during a time when rivals such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. are growing as advertisers spend more money online.“Yahoo has been floundering for years and it looks like there is going to be at least several more months of indirection now that another CEO is coming in,” said Adam Hanft, who runs a consulting firm that specializes in brand reputation and crisis management.Yahoo’s hopes are now resting on Ross Levinsohn as its interim CEO. Levinsohn had a successful stint running Internet services within Rupert Murdoch’s media empire at News Corp. before one of Yahoo’s former CEOs, Carol Bartz, hired him in November 2010 to help her in her mostly fruitless attempt to fix the company.Thompson, who was hired as Yahoo’s CEO in January to fill a void created by Bartz’s firing, had promoted Levinsohn last month to oversee the company’s media and advertising services throughout the world.“This may seem like a great deal of news to digest, but as you are all keenly aware, Yahoo is a dynamic, global company in a dynamic, global industry, so change — sometimes unexpected and sometimes at lightning speed — is something we will continue to live with and something we should embrace,” Levinsohn wrote in a Sunday memo to employees that was provided to The Associated Press.Levinsohn, 48, plans to address workers at a companywide meeting Monday afternoon.“The bottom line is that the situation at Yahoo is a mess,” Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schachter wrote in a Monday research note. “It remains unclear how the new management will turn things around at Yahoo.com and how quickly yet another new strategy can be formulated.”Yahoo tried to make Levinsohn’s job slightly easier by reaching a truce with dissident shareholder Daniel Loeb, a hedge fund manager who exposed the inaccurate information on Thompson’s bio and had made it clear he would continue to publicly skewer the company unless he was given a chance to help develop a turnaround strategy.To placate Loeb, Yahoo is shaking up its board of directors, which has been in a state of flux for several months.Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock and four other directors who had already announced plans to step down at the company’s annual meeting later this year are leaving the board immediately. All five of those directors signed off on the hiring of Thompson, a move that made them all look bad by the recent revelation that they didn’t catch an inaccuracy circulating for years about his education.Three of Yahoo’s vacated board seats will be filled by Loeb, and two of his allies, former MTV Networks executive Michael Wolf and turnaround specialist Harry Wilson.Alfred Amoroso, a veteran technology executive who joined Yahoo’s board just three months ago, replaces Bostock as chairman.The reshuffled board will now try to complete a long-delayed deal to sell part of Yahoo’s roughly 40 per cent stake in China’s Alibaba Group, an investment that investors view as the company’s most valuable asset. If a deal can be completed, it could generate billions of dollars that could be returned to Yahoo shareholders and ease some of the pressure on Levinsohn.Loeb, who controls a 5.8 per cent stake in Yahoo though his Third Point hedge fund, had been waging a campaign to gain four seats on the company’s board. Loeb settled for a compromise and Thompson’s departure. The two had a falling out in late March when Thompson told Loeb he wasn’t qualified to be on Yahoo’s board.Although Yahoo gave no official explanation for Thompson’s abrupt exit, it was clearly tied to inaccuracies that appeared on his biography on the company’s website and in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.The bio listed two degrees — in accounting and computer science — from Stonehill College, a small school near Boston. After discovering Thompson never received a computer science degree, Loeb exposed the fabrication in a May 3 letter to Yahoo’s board. The revelation raised questions about why the accomplishment had periodically appeared on his bio in the years while he was running PayPal, an online payment service owned by eBay Inc.Yahoo initially stood behind Thompson, brushing off the inclusion of the bogus degree as an “inadvertent error,” but harsh criticism from employees, shareholders and corporate governance experts prompted the board to appoint a special committee to investigate how the fabrication occurred.Thompson, 54, spent much of the past week scrambling to save his job. He sent a memo to employees, apologizing for distractions caused by news of the illusory degree and then sought to assure other Yahoo executives that he wasn’t the source of the inaccuracy. He blamed a Chicago headhunting firm, Heidrick & Struggles.In an internal memo last week, Heidrick & Struggles denied Thompson’s accusation. “This allegation is verifiably not true and we have notified Yahoo! to that effect,” CEO Kevin Kelly wrote to employees. On Sunday, a spokesman for the firm declined to comment.In a twist, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Thompson had told the board last week that he has thyroid cancer. The diagnosis contributed to his decision to step down, according to the newspaper’s unidentified sources.The flap over the misleading bio elevated the angst in Yahoo just a month after Thompson laid off 2,000 employees, or 14 per cent of the workforce, in the biggest payroll purge in the company’s history. In recent weeks, Thompson had been drawing up plans to close or sell about 50 of Yahoo’s services while also antagonizing much of Silicon Valley with a lawsuit alleging the rapidly growing social network Facebook stole some of its technology from Yahoo.“In spite of the very bumpy road we’ve travelled, we are achieving genuine and meaningful successes in the marketplace every day and heading in the right direction,” Levinsohn wrote in his Sunday memo.Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordan Rohan thinks Levinsohn’s media background may make him better qualified to be Yahoo’s CEO than Thompson, whose experience is rooted in electronic commerce.“Ross Levinsohn is common-sense executive, a pragmatic operator who people love to work for,” Rohan said. “He is the right guy for this job.”Thompson’s inaccurate resume might have been more forgivable at a company that was posting big returns for its shareholders, said James Post, a management professor at Boston University.Yahoo’s stock has been sagging since it squandered an opportunity to sell itself to Microsoft Corp. in May 2008 for $33 per share, or $47.5 billion. Yahoo’s stock hasn’t traded above $20 since September 2008.The shares climbed 37 cents in Monday’s late morning training $15.56, leaving Yahoo with a market value of $19 billion. That’s roughly the same as the individual fortunes of Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, whose company was still smaller than Yahoo when it went public in 2004.Facebook founder Mark Zuckerbeg’s wealth could surpass Yahoo’s market value depending on the price set in an initial public offering of stock that is expected to be set Thursday.Yahoo’s struggles centre on the company’s inability to keep up with Google and Facebook in the race for online advertising. Yahoo’s annual revenue has fallen from a peak of $7.2 billion in 2008 to $5 billion last year. Over the same period, Google’s annual revenue has climbed from $22 billion in 2008 to $38 billion last year. Facebook’s annual revenue has increased from $272 million in 2008 to $3.7 billion last year.“Yahoo has been embattled for such a long time that there are a lot of people prepared to believe the worst about that company,” said Post, who specializes in corporate governance and professional ethics. “When you’re angry at the management and the board, when nothing’s going right and you’re losing money, it’s understandable that shareholders would adopt an ‘off with their head’ attitude.”___AP Business Writer Christina Rexrode in New York contributed to this story. read more