I am a program officer for our local community foundation and recently attended a workshop called "Celebrating Collaboration" targeted at nonprofits in my community, and hosted by a collaborative of local service clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, etc). This group, the Community Roundtable, hosts one or two events a year for local charitable organizations.
What came to mind while listening to my tablemates during a small group activity is that we each came to the table with a different definition of "collaboration." The meeting facilitator had not addressed what collaboration specifically means -- or the spectrum it can encompass. He offered charts of different stages of collaboration and elements of effective collaboration, which were helpful but assumed we knew what collaboration meant when we got there. At our table we had the Red Cross, which works extensively with local municipalities, agencies and organizations. We had one group fending off the advances of a larger group competing with them on the delivery of school site music instruction. We had several mentoring/tutoring programs who work together occasionally, performing similar functions in different niches. We also had the organizer of a community group that meets monthly just to share activities around gang prevention, but very little joint activity. They each talked about collaborating, but clearly had different ideas as to what that meant.
I think collaboration is an overused buzz word that really does not describe a specific relationship, but perhaps a desire to work together. Within that term you could chart a progression of relationships from very loose "cooperation" to a tighter organizational model that results in a new "collaborative" structure. The key variables involve the extent to which the following are shared: short and long term goals, resources, organizational structure, and leadership. The American Library Association has a terrific one page description of the progression from cooperation to coordination to collaboration that shows the relationship of these variables:
In looking back at my tablemates I think that the Red Cross collaboration is really extensive coordination with multiple organizations; the music groups are trying to coordinate competitive work at specific sites -- but this work could grow into a full collaboration where they share leadership and resources; the mentoring programs also could coordinate more on activities they share, but may not need full collaboration; and the network of local organizations dedicated to gang prevention are cooperating, not collaborating. While we need to embrace the spirit behind the term "collaboration," I think we should be more mindful in daily work with potential "collaborators" as to what we really mean, and the more explicit we are the more likely we are to succeed.
by Nancy Lippe, Program Officer, Los Altos Community Foundation
Ban Ki moon contradicts Helen Clark on Ethics Office Findings on UNDP North Korea Operations.....Again !!
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICES OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
AND THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.
Briefing by the Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
Question: If you don’t mind, I also wanted to ask you a question about the United Nations Dispute Tribunal. In a recent argument down there, the case of the “North Korea UNDP whistleblower”, Mr. [Robert] Benson of the Ethics Office had recommended that he be paid back pay for due process violations. The Office for Legal Affairs (OLA)], presumably on behalf of the Secretary-General, opposed Mr. Benson testifying to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal, saying that it wasn’t necessary, that there was no jurisdiction, and essentially saying that his recommendation of back pay shouldn’t be done. Has something changed? Because I think in July 2008 from this podium, it was said that the Secretary-General stands behind Benson’s ruling in that case. What’s changed in the interim and what explains OLA’s position in the United Nations Dispute Tribunal?
Associate Spokesperson: I’d have to check that up with the Office for Legal Affairs. As you know, the Secretary-General does stand by the work of Mr. Benson.
By George Russell
Does the United Nations accept the rule of law?
That question has been hanging over the world organization for nearly a year, ever since the U.N.’s first ethics commissioner, Robert Benson, tried to take up the case of a whistleblower who drew attention to the rule-breaking practices of the United Nations Development Program.
Among other things, the whistleblower charged that UNDP had funneled millions in hard-currency to the regime of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and allowed North Korean government employees to run key aspects of its development program there. Then, he claimed, UNDP retaliated by firing him.
Now the same issue confronts the U.N. again. This time, the question is whether UNDP would pay restitution for the harm done to the same whistleblower who brought the organization’s misbehavior to light, and whose reputation was blackened by UNDP’s hand-picked investigators when they issued a weighty report earlier this month that confirmed most of the whistleblower accusations, and added a few more.
Judging from events of the past week, the answer to the question is still very far from clear. UNDP’s top managers have told FOX News through a spokesman that “no decision has been made” on the restitution issue.
Restitution for character-blackening is the initiative of chief U.N. ethics officer Benson, the man who is supposed to foster a “culture of ethics, transparency and accountability” across the entire U.N. system, and give the world — and thousands of U.N. employees worldwide — confidence that the organization is following its own rules. Benson had been mandated by UNDP itself to review the investigative report on North Korea for violations of whistleblower protection. Benson’s role was a compromise engineered in part by diplomatic pressure from the Bush Administration.
A refusal to follow the recommendation would be a direct slap at the U.N.’s top ethics official — and it would again expose the world organization to charges of double standards that were exposed — in part by FOX News — in the multi-billion-dollar Oil for Food scandal and a broad swath of procurement corruption cases.
Moreover, it would be a highly public blow to Benson’s boss, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is standing behind his ethics chief. Ban’s spokesman told reporters yesterday that “the report of Mr. Benson stands as the position of the Secretariat.”
At the same time, the spokesman said the Secretary General was going to wait and see how UNDP reacted to the recommendation and would offer no other opinion on it.
The latest crisis point marks a second lease on life for Benson in the whistleblower case, which involves revelations brought forward by a former UNDP employee in North Korea, Artjon Shkurtaj. It is also a second chance for Ban, whose failure to back Benson strongly in the past sapped the unity of the U.N. system.
The case of the whistleblower, a former UNDP operations manager, was Benson’s initial major test in the ethics job last August — a job created in the wake of the Oil for Food and procurement scandals as a cornerstone of the U.N.’s ability to police itself and protect employees who brought wrong-doing to the attention of their superiors.
But Benson was slapped down by UNDP, which said the matter lay outside his jurisdiction and refused to let him investigate what Benson called a “prima facie case” of retaliation.
Suddenly, to the dismay of the Bush Administration and other governments,the sprawling U.N. system of some two dozen independent funds, programs and agencies around the world seemed to have the legal right to design on their own how they treated the disclosure of improper or illegal activity.
In UNDP’s case, a vivid insight into the potential for abuse was provided by the North Korean investigative report, which was made public in early June. UNDP immediately hailed the 353-page report as vindication — even though the document reiterated at great length that UNDP had systematically violated its own rules in hiring North Korean government employees to fill key UNDP jobs in the country, illegally handed over millions in hard currency to the government of Kim Jong Il, and ignored the laws of the U.S. and other countries in handing on sensitive “dual use” civilian-military technology to the Kim regime, even as North Korea was building and testing a nuclear weapon.
The report, however, took great care to avoid assigning any blame for the lapses to any specific individuals in UNDP, and blamed many of them on vague “lack of communication.”
So far as whistleblower Shkurtaj went, however, the report declared that there had been no retaliation against him, even as it offered evidence that the North Korean regime had pressured UNDP to get rid of him. (Initially offered a full-time position, Shkurtaj, a contract employee, had the offer rescinded a month later on procedural grounds, including a preference that a woman should get the job; another man was later hired instead.)
The panel report also lengthily attacked Shkurtaj’s character and credibility, without offering him the opportunity to respond.
In reviewing those results, Benson still insisted that Shkurtaj had whistleblower status — an important designation, since it offers protection for employees who bring U.N. wrongdoing to light.
But he offered UNDP a victory when he agreed that no retaliation had taken place. As the investigators did, Benson based his reasoning largely on the fact that the UNDP human resources officer who withdrew Shkurtaj’s job offer offered “unequivocal” testimony that she was unaware of any North Korean pressure to get rid of the nettlesome employee. (Neither Benson nor the investigating panel found contradictory the fact that the job was ostensibly earmarked for a woman, but later filled by a man.)
Then Benson threw a curve ball: the neglect of the panelists to let Shkurtaj respond to their concerns about his credibility was, in Benson’s nuanced phrase, a “due process failure,” which violated a U.N. employees right to respond to such findings in an investigation.
The right to such a response is deeply embedded in customary U.N. procedure for internal investigations. Benson, however, cited as the basis for his own conclusion about the lack of due process the example set by the U.N.’s $35 million investigation of the Oil for Food scandal, presumably because it was also carried out by outside investigators.
The “failure,” Benson noted, was on the part of the investigative panel, and not UNDP itself — a fact also underlined by UNDP spokesmen. But since the damage was done, Benson noted “there is no means by which to address this matter other than by means of restitution,” and recommended UNDP pay Shkurtaj 14 months’ salary to salve the damage.
Benson’s effort was clearly a compromise aimed at preserving unified standards of fairness across the U.N. system to employees who dare to testify to their organization’s lapses. And Ban’s current support for his ethics chief — though still equivocal — showed a desire to undo some of the damage done by his earlier flinching at UNDP intransigence. (Ban first signaled his new resolve to unify ethical standards at a confidential meeting of U.N. top managers in May, in Switzerland; copies of his talking points at the session were obtained by FOX News.)
But if UNDP does not accept the ethics officer’s ruling, what then? Neither Ban, nor anyone else, seemed inclined to answer — at least not yet.
George Russell is executive editor of FOX News.
Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
University of California, Hastings College of the Law
Teaching Fellowship in the Refugee and Human Rights Law Clinic at U.C. Hastings, with Joint Placement at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
The Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS) is seeking applications for the Teaching Fellowship in Refugee and Human Rights Law, a two-year position beginning on June 1, 2010. The Fellowship is designed for lawyers with at least three years of practice experience who are interested in preparing for a career in law school clinical teaching, as well as being engaged in the cutting edge legal work of CGRS.
The 2010-2012 Fellow will co-teach the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. The Clinic exposes students to the related fields of refugee and international human rights, and to the varied strategies undertaken in these substantive areas. In the refugee area, students represent clients in individual proceedings, and may also engage in litigation or policy work. In the international human rights area, students engage in fact-finding, draft human rights reports, or participate in advocacy at regional human rights bodies, such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, or at inter-governmental bodies, such as the United Nations. The Fellow will work closely with clinic faculty, sharing responsibility for designing and teaching clinic classes, selecting and supervising law students, and other related matters.
The Fellow will have significant involvement and responsibilities with CGRS on the full range of its national policy, appellate and advocacy work on behalf of women seeking asylum from gender persecution. The Center works to advance women’s human rights by focusing on gender-based asylum law and broader migration policies, both in the U.S. and internationally. For more information on CGRS, see
CGRS is based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, which houses one of the largest clinical programs on the West Coast. The law school has demonstrated a strong commitment to clinical education, with 20 clinical faculty and clinical offerings including the Civil Justice Clinic (which operates in-house clinics in Individual Representation, Community Economic Development, Group Advocacy and Systemic Reform, and Mediation), and outplacement clinics in Criminal Practice, Environmental Law, Immigrants' Rights, Legislation, Local Government Law, and Workers' Rights.
Applicants must have:
1. A minimum of three years practice experience in refugee law, and substantial exposure to international human rights law;
2. Exceptional written and oral communication skills;
3. A strong academic record;
4. Experience with supervising or mentoring students or colleagues in a legal setting; and
5. The ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
Bar admission required.
Fellows receive excellent University of California health benefits, and access to law school facilities. Working on one’s own scholarship is supported and encouraged. Salary range is $46,000-$50,000.
To apply, please send a resume, an official or unofficial law school transcript, a writing sample, and a statement of interest (maximum length five pages). The statement of interest should address: a) why you are interested in this fellowship; b) what you consider to be your strengths, and strongest potential contributions to the Clinic and to CGRS, c) your experience with asylum and other immigration cases, as well as any experience with international human rights law; and d) anything else you consider relevant. All applications must be received by February 1, 2010, and addressed to:
Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
Refugee and Human Rights Clinic Teaching Fellowship
UC Hastings College of the Law
200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Attn: Teaching Fellowship Committee
If applying by email, please put “Refugee and Human Rights Teaching Fellowship” as the subject of the email and ensure that your last name is included in the filename of all attachments.