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Sunday, November 15, 2015

UN did not even follow its own conflict of interest guidelines with special envoy Leon

The UN spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric announced yesterday that Special Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon will continue in his post until a transition to his successor German Diplomat Martin Kobler.
Dujarric did not set any date for the transition to take place. Dujarric went on to say that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will remind all UN envoys and senior staff "to follow the highest level of ethics to avoid any conflict of interest." Why should they pay any attention to such a reminder when the UN praises and defends the work of someone such as Leon, who has been working for them for ages while in a clear conflict of interest situation?
By accepting a high-paying position back in June to head a diplomatic academy in the UAE in Abu Dhabi, Leon broke guidelines demanding mediators "not accept conditions for support from external actors that would affect the impartiality of the process." The UAE is a strong supporter of the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) government and the commander of their armed forces, Khalifa Haftar. The UAE is even accused of bombing Tripoli on behalf of Haftar to try to defeat the forces of Libya Dawn, now the most significant armed force supporting the rival General National Congress government. According to Leon, when he informed the UN in July about his decision to accept the post in the UAE, no questions were brought up about this. The UN obviously cares nothing for its guidelines if it suits whatever purposes it has in mind. In his emails Leon says he was attempting to de-legitimize the GNC government and strengthen the HoR. Yet Leon claims his actions and his statements did not affect his impartiality. On some other planet maybe.
Dujarric continued to defend Leon as impartial and outstanding and said "we fully stand by the work he has done." Of course Dujarric does not let any facts get in the way of his conclusions. The GNC has requested an explanation of Leon's hiring and continued service while in a conflict of interest. There will probably be none. Instead the UN will continue with Leon pressing the parties to sign on to his draft. It is unlikely there will be any sort of movement until Leon goes. The UN Security Council continues also to press for parties to sign on to the draft, noting parties that derail the process can be subject to sanctions. Perhaps the UN could do some explaining too. How is it that Khalifa Haftar — who has been derailing the peace process for a year, scorns the dialogue and continues with a military solution — has not been sanctioned?
How can the UN Support Mission In Libya, an organization that allows a mediator continue acting as a mediator even when in a clear conflict of interest situation, be trusted to lead an impartial negotiation process? Why do we not hear an outcry from the international community demanding that Leon go immediately and the process restarted with a new impartial mediator?


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