In corrupt UN of Guterres, UNESCO vanishing governance enriched as of May 15, Shamili-gate: US media

Inner City Press has published an article entitled “In Corrupt UN of Guterres UNESCO Vanishing Governance Enriched as of May 15, Shamili-gate”.

News.Az republishes the article by Matthew Russell Lee & sources.

UNESCO, like the whole UN system under Antonio Guterres is falling apart in corruption and fraud.

Inner City Press has been reporting on serious malfeasance by the French Audrey Azoulay administration at UNESCO in Paris, almost as bad as Antonio Guterres' corruption in and of the UN in New York. A fish rots from the head.

We concluded our report of May 1 on UNESCO by underscoring that despite all the wrongdoings duly exposed by Inner City Press, little progress has been made in cleaning up the Agency, mainly due to the criminal complicity of the member states. Their political attitude is in fact a green light given to DG Azoulay to continue these practices and even intensify them in the last two years of her tenure. The member states are therefore entirely responsible for the collapse of UNESCO, as of the wider UN under Guterres.

Since the beginning of Azoulay's mandate, following a totally unexpected election, the French DG and her team have treated the organization as if it were her private store or her family property.   The reason why this continues to happen has a simple and direct explanation. At UNESCO, the governing bodies are inaudibly observing, instead of governing or administering.  Anyone who still wonders why the deterioration has occurred at such a rapid pace should keep this in mind.

As a new plenary meeting of the Executive board begins next Monday, May 15, the pathetic situation of UNESCO, which reflects the impotence of the entire UN system, is recapitulated again below.  Of the 58 members of the Executive board, one third will praise the DG despite the flagrant absence of major achievements, one third will maintain total neutrality and will never understand what is going on at UNESCO, as these representatives are so out of touch with reality and will never have the slightest interest in the organization, and one third will wonder what needs to be done to repair and control the damages following the pressure exerted by the respective capitals to put an end to the wastage of public money.

The Executive Board has lost it all under the last two presidencies of the African Agapito Mba Mokuy and the Serbian Tamara Rastovac Siamashvili. Both have abdicated governance, allowing the situation to deteriorate to the point of making UNESCO unrecognizable. They have actively contributed to the abandonment of the institutional prerogatives of the Board in order to allow DG Azoulay to complete with impunity the work of dismantling the remaining effectively working units within the agency.

 Every instance of mismanagement has been exposed by Inner City Press. Every misappropriation, every unfounded appointment of parents and mistresses, every element that could have led to an investigation and sanctions. But this cannot happen at UNESCO with such weak governing bodies and incompetent representatives of member states. Thus, as a new session of the Executive Board opens, we will be attentive to the number of cases exposed that will be raised by member states challenging the administration. We will only mention here the last two developments brought to our knowledge:

1) The case of Shamila Nair-Bedouelle.  In our edition here we exposed “her blatant incompetence, her lack of any managerial skills and her total absence of political connotation”. Since then, several complaints against her have led to the recent sanctions imposed by DG Azoulay following an IOS investigation. Still, the decision to demote Shamila to D1 and continue to pay her salary for a year without giving her permission to come to work is appalling. Will member states allow a D1 salary to be paid for not working and staying home until mid-2024? We will be watching this closely.  The second highly disturbing element is the double standard applied by the administration against Shamila Nair-Bedouelle. For similar misconduct, another high official of the organization has been simply moved to another post. The former UNESCO Director for Morocco and representative for the Maghreb, the Lebanese Golda el-Khoury, was found fault with her management and consequently dismissed from her post of Director of the Rabat UNESCO office after inappropriate remarks towards the Moroccan members of her staff.  Moroccan employees lodged an internal complaint, accusing Golda el-Khoury of having created a "hostile" working environment.

Shamila was investigated on the basis of the same allegation but in her case, she lost any chance to work at UNESCO as a result of a totally discriminatory decision by DG Azoulay.  More worryingly, the same allegations of moral harassment and hostile environment against two other ADGs - for culture and for social sciences - were simply buried by the administration. DG Azoulay again broke the rules and ordered the investigations stopped, reinforcing the sense of impunity of the two ADGs and proving once again the discriminatory decision against Shamila Nair-Bedouelle. In our exclusive article of February 13, we highlighted the unacceptable situation in which Ottone Ramirez in the culture sector or Gabriela Ramos in the SHS sector can exercise totalitarian control over staff, including through intimidation and harassment that forces staff members to fear and obey. But in both cases, DG Azoulay did not give an IOS investigation or sanctions a chance. Are any member states concerned about this?

2) In addition, a word about those who hold the highest governance position on the Executive board. We learned this week that the former Chairman of the Executive board, Agapito Mba Mokuy, successfully negotiated placing his son at UNESCO in the financial services of the agency. This goes against all rules and independence of Member States in their relations with the Secretariat and raises serious concerns about the impartiality of those elected to preside over the good governance.  The same applies to Tamara Rastovac Siamashvili. We have repeatedly denounced her for the aborted attempt to appoint her friend at UNESCO as Secretary of the Appeals Board. Have the Member States asked questions about this? Not yet obviously. Questions about her unacceptable attitude to please DG Azoulay by hastily closing the list of speakers at the last session of the Board just after the Turkish ambassador's intervention– here)?

 No member state, except Azerbaijan, was allowed by the Chair of the Board to speak after the Turkish ambassador. And Tamara is still there, as the poodle of the DG, plotting with her to shorten the private session of the Board that is to take place on May 16. With Sachin Bhatt, the Secretary of the Board, several options have been put on the table to allow Azoulay to choose what to do and escape embarrassing questions from member states. The most viable solution now seems to be to organize a "very crucial mission for the future of UNESCO" at the last minute that will force DG Azoulay to leave the room early and end the debate in the private session. Games, gambling and betting...

UNESCO is no longer a UN body but a cheap casino. One European diplomate underlined off the record: “By playing Azoulay’s dirty games, Tamara is undermining her job as Chair of the Board. She is becoming a liability for the member states and a disgrace for the organization. Her country, Serbia, risks being punished for that in November by not getting the so much expected re-election to the Board”.

This is where UNESCO stands today, a UN Agency propitious to the flourishing of corruption, embezzlement, abuse of power and nepotism.

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