The Rosett Report

From Tanzania to Turtle Bay - What's Going On?

We now have yet another example of why the UN ought to hold public confirmation hearings for top appointments. Of course, given some of the creepier regimes holding UN seats, there’s no guarantee that a public confirmation process would result in higher quality UN top staff (witness how even in the U.S., our tortured confirmation process bounced the best ambassador we’ve sent to the UN in decades — John Bolton). But it would at least provide a tad more information than the hush-hush process with which the new UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, like his predecessors, is now stocking the UN’s top ranks. Take, for instance, his decision announced Friday to appoint as his deputy the foreign minister of Tanzania, a woman named Asha-Rose Migiro.

Pressed at the UN noon briefing for details on Migiro’s qualifications to manage the secretariat of the UN’s sprawling $20-billion-per-year system –with its rich history of waste, fraud and abuse — the spokeswoman cited Migiro’s recent experience chairing a regional conference for the Great Lakes region of Africa.

Maybe that’s all it takes. The U.S. Mission — minus Bolton — has been enthusing about Migiro’s appointment. But there are some mysteries to all this that could stand a lot more explaining. Here are two:

1) The Tanzania connection. Last year, when Ban, a South Korean, was campaigning for the job of UN Secretary-General, Seoul became unusually generous in its largesse to a number of countries, including Tanzania — which happened at the time to hold one of the ten rotating seats on the UN Security Council — and thus had an influential voice in the choice of Ban. In an article published Sept. 29, 2006 and headlined “Millions of dollars and a piano may put Korean in UN’s top job,” the Times of London reported that South Korea last year pledged $18 million in aid to Tanzania, or about four times what it had given in the space of a dozen years from 1991 to 2003. South Korean officials protested that the aid increase was already in the pipeline before Ban’s candidacy, and that there was no link between the two. But it would behoove Ban to explain a lot more about why, of all the candidates in all the world, he tapped Tanzania’s Migiro.

2) The Iranian connection. The item linked here comes courtesy of the Iranian press, via Russia, so let’s not take it at face value. But if Migiro wants to correct the impression this story creates, that she’s fool enough to believe the ayatollahs are all about atoms for peace, and endorse them in their nuclear quest, now would be the time. Maybe while she’s at it, she can tell us more about that reference in the last sentence to the activities of “Iran’s Construction Jihad Bureau in Tanzania.”