Tuesday, June 17, 2003

UN Envoy Pleading for Suu Kyi Has Burmese Junta Biz Contracts

Max Soliven of the Philippine Star quotes the Wall Street Journal's Michael Judge as reporting that Razali Ismail, the UN envoy sent by Kofi Annan to secure the release of Aung San Suu Kyi is "a major player in a Malaysian company called Iris Technologies, a manufacturer of smart chips for electronic passports that had just signed (in 2002) a substantial contract with the military junta in Rangoon." Belmont Club can't find theWall Street Journal article online, but Soliven further quotes it as saying:

"The conflict is apparent to the naked eye. Yet the Office of the UN Secretary General says it can see no disharmony in Mr. Razali’s post at Iris and his job as special envoy. ‘He’s not UN staff.’ Hua Jiang, deputy spokeswoman for the secretary-general’s office, told me, ‘He’s employed in a contract which only categorizes him as UN personnel when he is doing business for the UN. What he does in his spare time is his own business."

But I did find this from an Associated Press feed:

May 7, 2002

U.N. envoy whose company did business in the country had no conflict of interest, U.N. says

By GERALD NADLER, Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS - A special U.N. envoy to Myanmar whose company will sell the country electronic passport technology has no conflict of interest, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said Monday.

Razali Ismail, who helped secure Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's release from house arrest, said in Kuala Lumpur Monday his impartiality was not compromised by the business deal with Myanmar's military government.

Razali, a former Malaysian U.N. ambassador, acknowledged in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press that he was chairman of a Malaysian company called IRIS Technologies and held shares in it.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said the kind of part-time contract that Razali has with the United Nations doesn't carry any restrictions on business activities.

Eckhard said Razali was asked about the deal and said the company entered into a contract not just with Myanmar but with all the Association of Southeast Asian Nations: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Eckhard also quoted Razali as saying the contract for the high-tech passports embedded with microchips was done before Razali became special envoy in April 2000, and that he never discussed the deal with Myanmar authorities."There's no conflict of interest," Eckhard said.

Razali, who has made seven trips to Myanmar, has been trying to help break a 12-year political deadlock between Suu Kyi's party and the military junta ruling the country, formerly known as Burma.Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy swept parliamentary elections in 1990, but the military refused to hand over power.Until she was freed Monday by Razali's efforts, Suu Kyi had spent most of the past dozen years under various forms of confinement to her home.The release was a major achievement for Razali's diplomacy.

In the interview in Kuala Lumpur, Razali said he had come under no pressure from the United Nations to resign and was looking forward to returning to Myanmar to facilitate further negotiations.

Conflict of interest? What conflict of interest? This is the normal behavior of an organization that reappointed the man in charge of the Rwandan mission to negotiate peace in the Congo, and which at one time was headed by the man shown below.

Photo taken in Yugoslavia in 1943 shows future UN Secretary General Waldheim (2nd from left) in German Army uniform.

Waldheim was accused of participating in the mass deportations of Greek and Yugoslav Jews to Nazi death camps, and in the execution of Allied prisoners, in 1942-45.

"What he does in his spare time is his own business"

The UN: Count on us to let you down.