F.A.Q ***

How is BAN Ki-Moon pronounced?

Guidance was given at the first day back at work, on 2 January 2007: Korean names formally begin with the family name and are followed by the given name. Ban Ki-moon’s surname, therefore, is Ban (pronounced ‘bahn’); his first name is Ki-moon (pronounced ‘gee-moon’)

BLOGS – UN rules

This is not from George Orwell — it’s from the former (under Kofi Annan) UN spokesperson (Stephane Dujarric):

“There are staff rules relating to people publishing articles, writing, giving interviews. Those are clear. There are no specific regulations regarding the use of blogs and hopefully there will be some soon”.

Until now, the UN says, there have been no rules on blogging — and the UN loves rules.

Then Jan Pronk came along, the forthright Dutch politician serving as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Darfur, was frustrated with the way things were going. To speak out, he decided to express himself on his personal blog. The Sudanese Government was outraged. The United Nations reaction was somewhat strange — the UN Spokesman indicated a level of disapproval from the Secretary-General, but not too strongly.

There are no staff rules on blogging, the UN Spokesman said.

Jan Pronk, however, is being mothballed.

And, the UN Spokesman now says, efforts are being made to bring the UN Staff Rules into the twenty-first century.

The following is (an excerpt from) a near-verbatim transcript of the UN Noon Briefing on Friday 20 October 2006 by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General:

“Question: Is Jan Pronk, persona non grata [in Sudan]? If so, where is he and what is going on? Is he no longer in the country? What’s going on?

“Spokesman: No, we keep seeing these media reports, claiming that he had been declared persona non grata. As far as we and the Mission know he is not persona non grata. So, he continues to operate as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Sudan. He is in Khartoum, as far as I know.

“Question: This Jan Pronk thing comes up because of his, always entertaining, blog. Sudan has said that he reported, in his blog, on the Sudanese army’s two losses. This blog is very interesting — what the United Nations policy has been toward it, given that other United Nations employees have been terminated for doing personal writings. What’s up with that blog?

“Spokesman: There are no specific staff regulations on the use of personal blogs by United Nations staff members. But, we do expect United Nations staff members to exercise proper judgment in what they include. There are specific regulations on publication and public speaking, which are properly available in the staff regulations, but obviously, the staff regulations have not kept up with technology, so there is nothing specific on blogs. But, we do have certain expectations of the judgment people should exercise in doing those blogs. In his personal blog, those are his personal views.

“Question: Do you think he has exercised proper judgment?

“Spokesman: There have been a number of discussions, with Mr. Pronk, on the content of his blog. I’ll leave it at that.

“Question: Just to follow up, there has been an official statement from the Sudanese Government that he is openly intruding in armed forces affairs and he is officially persona non grata.

“Spokesman: As I’ve said, we’ve seen the press statements. The views of the Government of Sudan are expressed, to us, through normal official channels. In that regard, we have not received anything on Mr. Pronk. And also, furthermore, the communications that we have with the President of Sudan have been clear, in terms of our joint efforts to support the African Union/United Nations initiative in Darfur, and the Government has been supportive of our work, in that regard.

“Question: In regards to those statements …

“Spokesman: The official communications go through official means, not through press statements …”

(For background: Jan Pronk’s website is http://www.janpronk.nl/)

A few days later, on Monday 23 October, after Jan Pronk was expelled from Sudan, the UN Spokesman again took questions on the matter from journalists at UNHQ/NY — and turned up the disapproval level:

“Question: So we understand you advised him against it and he did not follow that advice?

“Spokesman: You could draw your own conclusions. As I said, I am not going to comment on internal human resources discussions …

“Question: Is Mr. Pronk going to continue blogging? Is his blog going to come down?

“Spokesman: It is his personal activities. [sic] As I said, discussions have been had on this. I can’t answer that question for him; you may want to pose that question to him.

“Question: You say the blog is his personal … but the information he is publishing, he obtained it because you gave him the authority to represent the Secretary-General in Sudan. He wouldn’t have gotten most of the information he is putting in his blog. Many people consider his website an authority to what is happening in Sudan. Are you saying that you’d allow in the future, other officials to use their blogs, or whatever …?

“Spokesman: I think on Mr. Pronk we’ve made our views …

“Question: (inaudible)

“Spokesman: In the future, we are working in adapting the staff guidelines on publications and speeches to the twenty-first century, which, hopefully, these guidelines would include the specific word ‘blog’, which they currently do not. The fact that they do not include the word ‘blog’ does not mean that we do not expect our senior officials to use proper judgement. The Secretary-General had put in place what is clearly a fairly liberal policy, allowing contacts with the media within certain boundaries, and the publication of articles in people’s personal capacities. Those people, who do conduct such activities, follow the guidelines, and we would expect in the future that all these people would.

“Question: One last question, did he practice proper judgement in your opinion?

“Spokesman: You know I will not go into a post-game analysis on Mr. Pronk. I think we’ve laid out, with the statement, the road map ahead for us in Sudan.”

[The UN has become fond of road maps in recent years … ]


“A ‘weblog’ is defined as a page with dated entries” — from the rules for the sixth annual weblog award – the 2006 bloogies…

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