"By Breaking the Rules, Moscow Keeps a Tight Grip on the U.K."

Report Europe

"By Breaking the Rules, Moscow Keeps a Tight Grip on the U.K."

July 23, 1986 12 min read Download Report
Richard Fisher
Distinguished Fellow in China Policy
(Archived document, may contain errors)

526 July 23, 198 6 BY BREAKING THE RULES MOSCOW KEEPS A TIGHT GRIP ON THE U.N Charles M. Lichenstein Senior Fellow INTRODUCTION MOSCOW~S exploitation of the United Nations is, by now, well documented and increasingly widely recognized. Yet one of the least understood mean s by which the Soviets abuse U.N. rules and the U.N.

Charter itself is their skillful use of fwsecondment.tw This word is four-bit bureaucratese for temporary duty assignment I or, as it is 'widely known in the U.S., TDY. In any civil senrice, it .is commo n practice to assign some staff to special or "temporary11 duty, generally for brief (often fixed) terms. and to make effective use of a relatively unusual expertise in short supply.

Nixon virtually abolished the practice in.the early 1970s, a good part o f the White House staff was ttsecondedtf from other executive departments and agencies. That way, the staff could be expanded while the official Executive Office budget was kept lean and trim Until Richard Within the United Nations Secretariat staff, the S oviets and their East European satellites systematically have turned secondment on its head. For Moscow, however, neither best use of experts nor budgetary flim-flam is the objective Rather, it i's to keep key Secretariat posts solidly in Soviet bloc hand s . Secondment, for instance, enforces continuity of Soviet policy control of such major Secretariat components as Political and Security Council Affairs i I I I public information, panslation and documentation, personnel, and conference services I In effec t, secondment is an elaborate game of musical chairs One Soviet (or Czech orHungarian or East German) leaves the I Secretariat, another takes over, and the game goes on. From 35 to 50 I percent of these Ilinternational civil servants

are in fact agents of the KGB or GRU (the major Soviet intelligence services) or their Soviet bloc counterparts. Either way, key posts in the U.N.

Secretariat are permanently occupied by individuals whose only loyalty is to Soviet or bloc regimes. For good measure, they are kept on the short leash of fixed-term contracts, revocable without notice by Moscow or its allies MOSCOW

S use of secondment at the U.N. flagrantly violatgs the U.N.

s own rules. The U.N. Charter specifically states that all staff-members are Ilinternatio nal officials responsible only to the Organization that is, to the U.N. itself. The U.S. scrupulously abides by this prime rule. So do the Western and other democracies and almost all other U.N. members--but not the Soviet Union and its satellites conscio u s connivance of U.N. Secretary-Generals--and condoned by a succession of U.S. administrations. Any U.N reform a matter that is becoming an increasingly popular cause, must include measures to ensure that the rules insulating U'.N staff from improper influ ence by their


governments are rigorously enforced. There is. no reason why the U.S. should be paying 25 percent (or any share at all) of the salaries of putative U.N. staffers who actually still work'for Soviet bloc governments MOSCOW

S exploitation of secondment has been made possible by the HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS The U.N. Charter is unambiguous about establishing an international civil service whose members are neutral and are loyal only to the U.N. Article 100 of the U.N. Charter stat e s 1) In the performance of their duties the Secretary-General and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority external to the [U.N 1. See Heritage Foundation Backerounders No. 307 Moscow's U.N. Outpost" (November 22 1983), No. 349, "The Many Ways the U.N. Serves the USSR May 3, 1984), No. 487, "The United Nations, Library: Putting Soviet Disinformation into Circulation" (February 18 1986). and No. 518, "MOSCOW'S Bastion in Manhattan: The U.N. Department o f Conference Services" (June 20, 1986 2Organization. They shall refrain from any action which might reflect on their position as international officials responsible only to the Organization 2) Each Member of the United Nations undertakes to respect the ex clusively international character of the...staff and not to seek to influence them in the discharge of their responsibilities.

By these Charter provisions, the U.N. specifically bans the common Soviet practice of treating Soviet nationals on the U.N. staff as in effect, Soviet amaratchiks-which of course they are.

Article 101, meanwhile, requires that U.N. employees be qualified professionally for their posts. The Article states The paramount consideration in the employment of the staff...shall be securing the highest standards lof efficiency, competence, and integrity Article 101 adds that the Secretariat staff is to be recruited By the word "wide on as wide a geographical basis as possible the Article means staff recruitment from'all or nearly all U.N me m ber-states. The Charter was drafted in 1945 when the U.N consisted of 51 members. By 1980, during the 35th General Assembly with 159 members, the demand for top positions in the U.N. Secret,ariat had become much more intense, and much harder to satisfy. T h e Soviets were able to exploit this new situation by adding a.new wrinkle to the game of secondment The Omnibus Resolution of 1980 In a landmark comprehensive resolution on U.N. personnel practices (35/210, December 17, 1980), the 35th General Assembly lr e affirmed'l by consensus that the principle of professionalism cited in Article 101 of the Charter "is compatible with the principle of equitable geographical di~tribution In essence; this Resolution transformed "wide1' into ''equitable. I' The purp.ose, o stensibly, was to provide all U.N. members with slots on the U.N. staff, and'especially with top professional slots.

Secretary-General Itto raise the levels of personnel recruited from i unrepresented and under-represented countries and countries below the midpoint of their desirable ranse to the extent possible towards this midpoint The General Assembly. requested the The underlined words are crucial. The key to the new situation in professional staffing, and to the increased Soviet opportunity to use sec o ndment as a control mechanism, was the introduction of the concepts of "desirable range" and "midpoints" in the Omnibus Resolution 3This is how the U.N. system works. The top 3,350 Secretariat These positions were made "subject to geographical distrib~tio n positions blanketed the ranks of Under-Secretary-General (the chiefs of the Security Council and General Assembly bureaucracies Assistant-Secretary-General (the chiefs of such major Secretariat departments as Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs a nd the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development D-2 and D-1 (the chiefs of divisions within the major departments and P-5 down to P-1 (office heads within the various divisions).

These are policy making jobs. The personnel in these slots determine what the U.N. Secretariat does, how resources are allocated and who is responsible for implementing the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council. As a group, the Under-Secretary-Generals and Assistant-Secretary-Generals comprise the Secretary- G eneral I s cabinet The I1Dla and lvPa grades are roughly fixed-term contracts of less than one year 3,350 positions were set aside in a regional pool, presumably to handle such potential inequities as the total non-representation of a particular country i n the professional ranks of the Secretariat. The remaining 3,110 positions were then distributed among the U.N member-states according to two criteria Moreover 240 of the 1) Every U.N. member-nation was assigned an automatic minimum or base allocationf1 of from 2 to 14 positions, with a lldesirablell midpoint of 7.75; and 2) The balance of 1,872 professional slots was allocated in strict conformity to the scale of assessed contributions.

U.N. budget, it is entitled to 25 percent of the 1,872 professional slots, or 468, plus the "base allocation,l# which adds up to a so-called llmidpointln of 477.

19. The Soviet assessed contribution of 10.54 percent gives Moscow a 205.66 midpoint while the U.K. assessment of 4.67 percent gives it a 95.44 midpoint. The desir able range was set at 15 percent plus-or-minus from the midpoint I Examples: because the U.S. contributes 25 percent to the assessed i 1 I The Soviet Escape Clause Resolution 35/210 also affirmed two controlling principles: one has become'no more than a p ious wish, while the other guarantees the success of the Soviets! misuse of secondment.

In the Resolution, Clause 3 declares "that no post should be considered the exclusive preserve of any Member State, or group of States,I

and requests the Secretary-Ge neral to ensure that this principle is applied faithfully Inin accordance with the principlk of equitable geographical distributi~n This is undermined, however by Clause 4 which 4I Reauests the Secretary-General to continue to permit replacement by candid a tes of the same nationality within a reasonable time-frame in respect of posts held on fixed-term contracts, whenever this is necessary to ensure that the representation of Member.States whose nationals serve primarily on fixed-term contracts is not adver sely affected.

Ostensibly, this clause was intended to ensure that the representation within the U.N. Secretariat of the smaller member-states was kept at least at midpoint in the desirable range.

Losing just one or two key staff slots would virtually wipe them out.

Moreover, many of these smaller countries have a limited pool of skilled professionals and are willing to release them to the B.N. only on fixed tenus, usually four or five years, rather than for lifetime careers In reality, however, the claus e was designed to protect the fiefdoms in the U.N. staff established by the Soviet bloc. While some nationals from most countries have fixed-term contracts 100 percent of Soviet bloc nationals in the professional ranks of the Secretariat are on fixed-term contracts or TDY (as distinct from careerists except for Bulgaria which has allowed 3 of its 13 Secretariat professionals (as of mid-1985) to achieve career or non-TDY status.

In contrast, only 39.7 percent of African state nationals serving in the Secret ariat are on fixed-term contracts; 32.5 percent of Asian and Pacific state nationals; 31.1 percent of West European nationals 33.8 percent of Latin American nationals; and 19.5 percent of U.S nationals.

Much the sam e pattern holds for non-professional Secretariat Staff. As of September 1985, of 446 Soviet nationals serving throughout.'the U.N. bureaucracy 442 (or 96.8 percent) were on fixed-term, non-career contracts; for the entire Soviet bloc, it was 96.3 percent- - 59% of 614 total staff. For the entire Secretariat however, the figure was about 30 percent Stavincr at the Minimum Desirable Because the Soviets and their Eastern European satellites keep virtually all of their nationals on the short leash of fixed-term c ontracts, they can move them in and out of'choice U.N. staff positions as their political agendas dictate. And because the controlling General Assembly resolution 11ensures18 that their lvrepresentation...is not adversely affectedfv--in spite of the of th e same origin--the Soviet bloc carefully keeps its U.N. staff representation well below the Itdesirable midpoint,l# usually right around the low end of the Ildesirable range exhortation against automatic replacement of one national by another 5Examples: In June 1985, Soviets held 176 professional positions in the U.N. Secretariat, almost 15 percent below their desirable midpoint of 205.66 and just barely within the desirable range of 175-2

37. Bulgaria, Byelorussia, Hungary, and Poland were right around their respective midpoints. Czechoslovakia,. East Germany, Romania and the Ukrainian SSR were at or below the low end of their ranges.

By contrast, France was exactly at its midpoint with 129 staff positions, the U.K. was a bit above (108 compared with 95-44), and the U.S. was a bit below 472 compared with 477.19).

This fine tuning of the numbers allowed the Soviets and the bloc to claim that they are in imminent danger of llunder-representation.lg This means that they can insist on replacing in a key U.N. s taff slot a departing Soviet national with a new Soviet national. .Thisohas been their set practice for more than 20 years, and the U.N., with U.S complicity, lets them get away with it WHAT SHOULD BE DONE I What is involved here is an interlocking patter n of Charter abuse, rule bending, and special pleading, with the objective of locking Soviets and other Soviet bloc nationals into key U.N last two decades and was confirmed, in effect, by the General Assembly in its key 1980 resolution-even though the off icial U.:N. lllinell is Itno exclusive preserves1

for any nation or group of.na$ions. In practice, the Soviet bloc totally controls all of its nationals on the U.N. professional staff: the secondment game simply reinforces the control I professional staff positions. This pattern has evolved during the Examples of this pattern of control o Almost without briak during the 40 years of the U.N.Is history the Soviet Union has held the major slot of Under-Secretary-General for Political and Security Council Aff a irs who runs the bureaucracy of the U.'N.Is principal unit, charged with meeting "threats to international peace and securityll and with peacekeeping. These are the two preeminent purposes of the entire U.N. system. l i o In contrast, a U.S. national has generally held the lesser slot of Under-Secretary-General for Political and General Assembly Affairs.

Whereas the Security Council is the 8


unit atop the U.N system, the General: Assembly specializes in Valk. Moreover, there is absolutely no evi dence that the U.S. government ever has lucontrolledlf or even attempted to control the incumbent of this slot-which is in line with the practice of virtually all of the Western and democratic U.N. member-states I I 6 I o The Soviet bloc has held on to th e key slot of Under Secretary-General for Conference Services almost without a break for three decades. The incumbent is a Pole. His Director of Interpretation and Meetings is a Soviet. So is the Director of Publications and the Director of the Library. Al l Russian language interpretations and translation is handled by Soviet nationals, the only U.N. language division monopolized by one country. This huge department, the biggest in the U.N. Secretariat, runs all conferences and backup services for meetings- a nd conferences and meetings are the principal business of the U.N o For more than ten years, the Director of External Relations in the U.N. Department of public Information (whose last two chiefs have been Japanese) has been a Soviet national disseminatio n of publications to all U.N. Information Centers throughout the world This division controls the Several measures could reduce substantially Soviet exploitation ofathe U.N. by the secondment game.

First, the U.S. Ambassador to the'U.N., with the explicit backing of the Secretary of State and coordinated support from U.S. diplomats in all foreign capitals, should demand immediate compliance with Clause 3 of General Assembly Resolution 35/210--that no U.N. staff positions become the Itexclusive preserve" of any state or group of states. The Secretary-General should be directed to limit any member-state or other state in the same regional bloc (as these blocs are defined by the U.N.) from occupying posts in the top four professional categories for more than f i ve consecutive years. This rule would apply.to all Under- and Assistant-Secretary-Generals and to all department and division heads (D-2 and D-1 slots Some exceptions might be permitted in the five lesser professional categories (P-5 down to P-1), but onl y if the Secretary-General were to certify that no other qualified candidates were available to .fill a particular slot.

This would break the Soviet bloc lock on key U.N. power centers.

It would end the perpetuation of Soviet bloc cadres within the Secret ariat, thus making it more difficult for espionage networks to dig in. Such a proposal should be attractive to just about all U.N members because it would spread the top jobs. more equitably among the member states, especially the smaller ones. Put to a v ote in the General Assembly, this proposal could command a healthy majority-if the U.S. made it clear it meant business.

Second, the U.S. should demand an end to the systematic Soviet practice of Secondment on fixed-term contracts adopted setting a 50 perc ent limit on the nationals of any country seconded to the U.N. professional staff. The smaller member-states those with minimum staff representation in the 2 to 14 range, should A rule should be 0 -7 I be exempt from the rule professionals to draw on and, understandably, often are able to post a few of them to the U.N. staff for limited terms only Such countries have a limited pool of This rule can and should be enforced by a reduction in the U.S assessed contribution of the exact amount of the U.S. share o f the salaries of U.N. professional staff seconded in violation of the 50 percent limit CONCLUSION Moscow exploits the U.N. and flagrantly violates the U.N. Charter by its systematic abuse of the practice of secondment: it movbs U.N professionals around a t will, grabs key slots as monopoly preserves and maintains total control over its nationals, who presumably are international civil servants responsible only to the U.N. itself.

The U.S. must take the lead in forcing Moscow to play by the rules that apply to everyone else: top professional slots in the U.N.

Secretariat must be rotated among all U.N. members on a regular basis and a ceiling should be imposed on the nationals of all countries except those with minimum staff representation) seconded to the U.N I on-fixed-term contracts--enforced by a reduction i n the U.S. assessed L contribution for noncompliance 7- As with all of the U.N. reforms under consideration, the real b4neficiary of these proposals would be the U.N. itself air. adequate, workable Charter. It ought 'to be observed and its rules ought to b e enforced t$e Soviets' contemptuous abuse of the principle of an impartial system credibility it has lost, it must be serious about reforming itself The U.N. has Putting an end to the secondment game and to I professional international civil service can only strengthen the U.N I If the U.N. hopes to regain some of the respect and a-


Richard Fisher

Distinguished Fellow in China Policy