There are signs that UN Special Envoy for Libya, Bernardino Leon may be reconsidering his acceptance of a high-paying job as head of a diplomatic college in the UAE.
In a surprising release from the UN Leon says:In a truly bizarre release, Leon goes on:Given that this is a release from a UN site and Leon is the UN Special Envoy for Libya, one would think the UN is asking for an explanation from the UAE. Reuters headlines its report on the issue:The issue is covered very well and thoroughly at innercitypress.com that covers the UN extensively and asks very probing questions at UNTV sessions. A key video on Leon's statements about the UAE is appended. Note that the statement on a UN website is said to be all about Leon's own personal business in deciding his future actions, according to UN spokesperson Haq, and has nothing to do with his role as UN Special Envoy to Libya. So why on earth did the UN think it so important that there should be a press release that is all about Leon's concerns about a story that the UAE shipped arms to Libya counter to UN resolutions?Should not the UN be the party making a statement that it wants a clarification and explanation as Reuters thought?The questioner on the video asks whether Leon went through the same process as his predecessor:
I am aware of the report today in the New York Times about Libya and alleged activities in contravention of United Nations Security Council resolutions. In light of this report, I have decided to request a full clarification of the issue, including from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities, as I take time to reflect on the next steps in my professional career.I discuss the New York Times report in a recent article. Leon was revealed by leaked emails released and discussed in the Guardian to have been in a blatant conflict of interest. Leon has been serving for over a year as mediator and head of UN-sponsored dialogue talks designed to reach an agreement between two rival governments. One government is the House of Representatives(HoR) based in eastern Libya in the city of Tobruk, and the other is the General National Congress(GNC) based in the western city of Tripoli. The material released by the Guardian shows that Leon had accepted a position at a diplomatic college in Abu Dhabi, UAE at a pay rate of over $1,500 a day. The material also shows that he informed the UAE that his aim while mediating was to weaken the GNC and their armed forces the Libya Dawn militia while strengthening the HoR. They also show that he took direction from at least one UAE official.The UAE is a strong supporter of the HoR and of General Khalifa Haftar commander of the HoR armed forces. Leon denies he was in a conflict of interest. The UN has supported him and still does. The facts clearly show that the UN did not follow their own guidelines.
Given the inaccurate or false information we have seen in previous months regarding the process in Libya and the UN and my role, I believe it is imperative to be extremely cautious about the most recent reports.Of course, Leon fails to say what inaccurate or false information he is talking about or what evidence he has that the information is false or inaccurate. Why on earth would the UN give space for Leon to ramble on with such remarks? As revealed later in this article, the remarks have nothing to do with his role as job as UN Special Envoy to Libya, according to a UN spokesperson. Due to the supposedly false or inaccurate information found in earlier reporting Leon goes on:
For this reason I consider nothing is more important than full compliance with United Nations resolutions. The reports in the media are allegations that have not been verified. The authorities and government of the UAE have the right and deserve the opportunity to clarify them, as I am confident they will do.
U.N. wants clarification of report UAE broke Libya arms embargo.Other sources such as Salon and ABC take Leon's statements as indicating that he is simply going to ask the UAE to explain the situation because obviously he is not going to accept a job with a country that violates UN resolutions! UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said the UN will await the outcome "of Leon's efforts to seek clarifications, including from the UAE, and his decision on his next steps."
Leon's predecessor as UN envoy to Libya Tarek Mitri, however, got a formal "Note" from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, signed by Ban's chief of staff Susana Malcorra and cc-ed to Under Secretaries General Jeffrey Feltman (Political Affairs), Yukio Takasu (Management) and Joan Dubinksy (Ethics Office) approving outside activity for Mitri..Haq does not really answer the question. He surely knows or should whether the process was followed or not. He surely knows if such a formal note existed for Leon as with Mitri. Note that the UN says that employees should show caution in accepting employment with a member state immediately after leaving the UN's employ. Perhaps pressure is being brought on Leon to decide against taking up the job since this might be a further violation of UN guidelines. Given that the UN has already allowed Leon to break a number of their own guidelines and approved his actions it seems a bit odd that they are now worried about his breaking just one more. The questioner in the video does a fantastic job in my opinion and the exchange is quite revealing. The video has had nine views.