A Note from the Authors on the 28th of December 2015: Within this op/ed article we have provided more clarity by providing of further facts, screenshots and links to specific points.
Simply stated, it seems Bernardino León and the United Nations are caught.
The UN Superiors Jeffrey Feltman and UN Chief Ban knew.
Setting aside all the other astounding allegations – in what is “A real scandal,” according to Wolfram Lacher, a researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs who studies Libya” – which was revealed in the 12 November 2015 The New York Times article by David D. Kirkpatrick, we concentrate on the fact that the United Nations #2 Jeffrey Feltman knew of the Léon appointment and astoundingly sought permission from Mr. Léon’s soon-to-be-new bosses for an extension:
United Nations officials were aware of the potential conflict. In another email, dated Aug. 27, and not previously disclosed, Jeffrey Feltman, under secretary general for political affairs and a former American diplomat, wrote to senior Emirati leaders asking them to allow Mr. Léon to stay on as mediator for a few more weeks in the hope of signing an agreement.
“(If needed) I could ask the secretary general to call you to make the request,” Mr. Feltman suggested.
As the UN deals with the latest revelations, the question NOW is how does the international community, be it the citizens of the world, handle THEIR right to know. This is the basis of this op/ed discussion.
As none of the UN legal experts – International Human Rights lawyers – have stepped forward with an opinion, we sought a legal opinion on why the UN must follow its OWN regulations and launch an internal investigation. First, a few political points to consider:
First, let’s dispel the allegations about the authenticity of the emails in Randeep Ramesh’s article. They were confirmed in many venues by Mr. León and the UN. Full stop. Secondly, knowing a multi-million-pound defamation suit would heading their way, we can rest assured that the editorial and legal teams in the award-winning newspaper The Guardian, dotted their “I”s and crossed their “T”s before publishing.
The same must be applicable to Middle East Eye as it reprinted the entire email.
Further, considering authenticity, let’s not forget how The Guardian reported Mr. León’s seemingly erratic reaction to their breaking story:
The Guardian contacted León on Monday, when he denied that he had taken up the job. He sent an email on Wednesday morning claiming he had not “signed a contract yet. Just talks”. He asked the Guardian to hold off publishing the story, and offered an interview to explain the situation. Before he could do so, his new job was announced.
Denial – then confirmation but did not “signed a contract yet. Just talks.” Mr. Leon asked to “hold off on publishing” until he can make his case… It all sounds like an attempt at preemptive damage control.
Finally, insisting ‘that the emails have been manipulated”, Mr. León failed to provide any real specifics.
WHO leaked as opposed to WHAT was leaked
For these reasons, one must dispel wild conspiracy theories – seemingly designed as a smokescreen to deflect that ALL allegations are NOW confirmed. Originating from a Libyan diplomat who is working way, way, way past his expiration-date, one could argue that Ibrahim Dabbashi was educated & worked through the Gaddafi School of Diplomacy. He spent 30+ years under Gaddafi & 4-years-post despot. We provide his Gaddafi-era ‘resume’ displayed on the UN Mission site in 2014. Our PDF: Dabbashi-resume.pdf
Mr. Dabbashi’s seemingly irresponsible diversion is an attempt to muddle the fact of the confirmed job appointment and the more important fact that Mr. León seems to have been reporting for a year to another boss outside the UN. Therefore, we consider the discussion of the job as the financial motive but a secondary issue. To focus on the appointment exclusively distracts from the real issue of Mr. León’s confirmed impartiality while “delegitimizing” one side in a conflict he was hired to mediate.
Has Mr. Dabbashi lost sight of the Human Cost of impartiality and wasted time? How many Libyan Lives could be confirmed lost as a direct result of Mr. León and the UN’s shenanigans? We suggest Mr. Dabbashi concern himself with the welfare of his constituents and focus on the REAL Libyan issue. With the leaked emails in possession of The New York Times we look forward to Mr. Dabbashi’s next conspiratory response.
If the UN ignores the issue where are we going to complain? ALL international organizations in which to file a legal case are linked to the United Nations. And it seems THEY know it. In his 9 November Foreign Policy article, Colum Lynch noted:
The world body has been hit with a series of damaging revelations about the enrichment of top officials by foreign businessmen and governments. What’s the U.N. doing about it? Not much.
What’s the U.N. doing about it? Not much Mr. Lynch explained: “Senior U.N. leaders have shown little interest in determining whether the former Spanish foreign minister acted improperly and instead have given the appearance of trying to simply put the embarrassing episode behind them.” While putting “the embarrassing episode behind them” Mr. Lynch explained that:
“The problem is that the U.N. has virtually no rules that prevent a senior envoy from trading in his or her diplomatic work for a better payday in the private sector or a higher government posting elsewhere.
U.N. civil servants are supposed to abide by the International Civil Service Commission’s “Standards of Conduct for the International Civil Service.” Those standards, which were updated in 2013, encourage U.N. officials not to “take improper advantage of their former official functions and positions.” But they allow officials to seek jobs outside the U.N. while still employed by the world body as long as they inform its senior leadership. A separate 2012 U.N. guide to effective mediation does urge U.N. officials like León to ”not accept conditions for support from external actors that would affect the impartiality of the process.”
Under the current rules, the U.N. has the authority to conduct investigations into wrongdoing by U.N. staff, including senior officials and envoys.
What is our recourse to force a transparent, internal investigation at the UN?
- NAME AND SHAME:
- Contact the UN Ethics office.
- To file an international lawsuit would be difficult as all institutions with which to apply are linked to the UN.
UN as the Propagators of Ethics for the World
Considering what the UN does, it has placed itself on a pedestal to the world as beacon of ethics for the rest of us to follow. This is why all incoming staff take the ‘UN Oath of Office”. It is sworn, signed and witnessed by UN staff. Considering the significance of Mr. León position, we assume, he was sworn in before UN Chief Ban.
UN as the Propagators of the World’s Ethics: Case-in-point, is the exemplary UNESCO/Spanish Foreign Mission’s Madrid Declaration. A UN conference was convened twice July and October 2015 to rein in all that consider themselves Libyan journalists. It provided a legally binding document to sign which is a code of conduct and ethical framework for this vital field in the burgeoning democracy of Libya. The Madrid Declaration is a exemplary, strategic document. ENGLISH & ARABIC.
However, having said that, we would not do disservice to lump the pragmatic Madrid Declaration organizers – Michael Croft, UNESCO Representative to Libya and Ignacio Ybañez, the Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation – with Mr. León – but as UN representatives they provided an ethical guideline for Libyan journalists. Therefore, we expect that same ethical guideline to be applicable for the UN staff as well. And most especially Mr. León. Not to apply the same ethical code would be hypocritical.
Aref Ali Nayed & The United Nations Democracy Fund: Partner in training of Libyan Journalists
Aref Ali Nayed & The United Nations Democracy Fund: Partner in training of Libyan Journalists
Let’s not forget that another UN agency is linked to another member of the León email “scandal”. According to The Guardian and Middle East Eye Aref Ali Nayed is named within the email as “Note: all my movements and proposals have been consulted with (and in many cases designed by) the HOR and Aref Nayed and Mahmud Jibril (with whom I speak on a daily basis) following Your request.” See insert from The Guardian and Middle East Eye.
LIAS institute has been designated as the United Nations Democracy Fund’s UNDEF “local partners” in a pilot program to train Libya journalists. We discuss in detail the conflict of interest if Dr. Nayed is in the Libyan Unity Government AND is the “owner/chair” of an institute that selects, trains and hires Libya’s future journalists.
Setting aside the current confirmed allegations in the Leon emails, Dr. Nayed confirmed in September 2015 on BBC’s HARDTALK that he intends to run for the Prime Minister of the Unity Government. Secondly, we also explore the use of his private academic institute as the entity which hired a Washington DC lobbyist to market LIAS AND Dr. Nayed in Washington and elsewhere. From the consultancy agreement signed January 2015 by Dr. Nayed with DC lobbying firm, Sanitas International: FARA #5963:
‘Sanitas International looks forward to helping LIAS and Dr. Aref Ali Nayed achieve your strategic goals with a wide range of audiences and stakeholders to include top-tier media, Congress, the Obama Administration, think tanks and other key audiences. We also look forward to a long and productive relationship with you and we are eager to begin working on your behalf and on behalf of the people of Libya.’
Considering that the academic institute is now arguably a political one, we argue it would be a DEMOCRATIC conflict of interest for Dr. Nayed’s to play the “Media Baron” while becoming “Prime Minister”. One or the other, but NOT both. We cover this issue while investigating Dr. Nayed’s history with journalists (Libyan & Western) including his stint as an Editor of a Jordanian publication.
Therefore, based on the confirmed Leon emails allegations of Dr. Nayed, the apparent conflict of interest of Dr. Nayed in the Libyan Government and based on the documents and our research of his previously experience with journalism of Dr. Nayed and his institute LIAS – we question their unsuitability to train Libyan journalists.
We strongly suggest that UNDEF and Rory Peck should seriously reconsider Dr. Nayed’s institute LIAS as their local partner for the training program.
UNSMIL “approached” Aref Nayed to head the Unity Government
Mohamed Eljarh @Eljarh ‘s March 2015 tweet. This tweet has become much more pertinent and potentially legally damaging for the parties involved. An explanation of the source by Mohamed Eljarh, considering the “scandal” that is unfolding between UNSMIL and Dr. Nayed would be vital.
“Follow the Money”
As source Deep Throat told Bob Woodward in the original ‘Gate…Watergate – “Follow the Money”. Look for a possible León Slush fund. As we know from the US indictments of FIFA officials, bribery money leaves a paper trail. IF a money payout was made in US Dollars, a record is held in the United States.
Why would we consider a possible slush fund? It is hard for one to believe that Mr. León was seemingly reporting/working for another boss for nearly a year without payment. Or with just the HOPES of a $1500-a-day job and $200K rented home waiting at the end.
We pass this on simple deducted facts from the email. In tone and humbleness, it seems to be written from an employee to his boss reporting on his efforts at his assigned task. Aside from his day job as chief negotiator for UNSMIL, Mr. León spent at minimum an hour composing that ‘report’ to seeming other boss. Where’s the remuneration? As evidenced by the December 2014 email, Mr. León has already been working for a year with his ONLY payment coming after a year? It would be hard for one to believe that he worked for a year FREE with only the PROMISE of the pittance of a salary of $1500-a-day and a $200,000-a-year rented home.
“The Country we Mentioned in our Last Conversation”
Not only does The December 2014 email reveal that Mr. León was seemingly reporting to another boss WHILE stating “Note: all my movements and proposals have been consulted with (and in many cases designed by) the HOR and Aref Nayed and Mahmud Jibril (with whom I speak on a daily basis) following Your request” – arguably reducing Mr. León to merely a talking head. Rather, it seems that Mr. León and UAE foreign minister are seemingly beholden to a THIRD country with “interests” in Libya – Curiously mentioned TWICE but not named in the 31 December 2015 email. As the UAE (Minister), US, UK and the EU were either named or directed to in the email, WHO is this mystery country?
So, I guess the country we mentioned in our last conversation won’t be willing to support such possibility, although if the civil war is a long conflict the pressure on them will be strong to agree on a peace conference. AND
3. I can help and control the process while I am there. However, as you know I am not planning to stay for a long time. I am critizised for having been too tough on the zero recognition to Tripoli strategy and I am seen as biased in favor of HOR. UN is not today a problem for the interests of the country we discussed, but obviously I don’t know what can happen in the future.
We are not surprised with UN’s Leon “Real Scandal” as Wolfram Lacher, a Libyan expert, label it as quoted in The New York Times. We have documented through several articles Libya’s international legal issues which have become scandals such as the Libya’s International Criminal Court (ICC) case and Libya’s Assets Recovery Scandal.
This is a legal opinion of the WHY the UN MUST investigate based on its OWN regulations:
It is clear that what was published by the newspaper The Guardian is a clear violation of the United Nation’s regulations of the especially the following:
- UN Oath of Office which was signed by Leon and witnessed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Oath states that “I solemnly declare and promise to exercise in all loyalty, discretion and conscience the functions entrusted to me by the United Nations, to discharge these functions and regulate my conduct with the interests of the United Nations only in view, and not to seek or accept instructions in regard to the performance of my duties from any Government or other source external to the Organization.”
- Rule 2 (b) of the “Regulations Governing the Status, Basic Rights and Duties of Officials other than Secretariat Officials, and Experts on Mission” which stated that “ In the performance of their duties, officials and experts on mission shall neither seek nor accept instructions from any Government or from any other source external to the Organization.”
- “Guidance for Effective Mediation” issued by the General Secretary of Ban in September 2012. Under the heading “Impartiality”, on page 10, the Guidance points out that “Impartiality is a cornerstone of mediation – if a mediation process is perceived to be biased, this can undermine meaningful progress to resolve the conflict. A mediator should be able to run a balanced process that treats all actors fairly and should not have a material interest in the outcome. This also requires that the mediator is able to talk with all actors relevant to resolving the conflict.”
As Martin Kobler was selected and approved by UNSC and appointed by UN Chief Ban so were Tarek Mitri and Berendino Leon. With the revelations that Tarek Mitri, the UNSC is responsible for both their actions. In the spirit of transparency and ethics that the UN demands of Libya political groups, we argue, they should commence with an internal investigation.
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