Kofi Annan Wants $7.5 Million to Cover Expenses for His Syrian Peace Mission

April 30, 2012 - 4:24 AM

Kofi Annan

U.N. envoy Kofi Annan meets with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Saturday March 10, 2012. (AP Photo/SANA)

(CNSNews.com) – Kofi Annan’s precarious Syria peace mission will cost the world’s taxpayers almost $7.5 million, according to a document seeking U.N. General Assembly approval for the budget.

Over the 10-month period ending December 31, Annan and 17 other officials attached to the mission will account for a combined $3,022,300 in “salaries and common staff costs.”

“The effective discharge of the activities of the Joint Special Envoy [Annan] will require international staff to support his office, liaise with all relevant actors and manage the day-to-day activities,” states the budget document, dated April 11. “The staff will have an official base in Geneva and travel regularly to the field to liaise with relevant actors.”

Annan was appointed in February as a joint United Nations-Arab League mediator and brokered a plan calling for a ceasefire and “an inclusive Syrian-led political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.”

He has been traveling through the region and to relevant capitals further afield, including Beijing and Moscow, to consult various parties on developments.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her French counterpart Alain Juppe and others have already warned that the mission appears to be failing, as a result of non-compliance by the Assad regime.

Costs of the mission thus far have been covered by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s “unforeseen and extraordinary expenditures mechanism” but he is now asking the General Assembly to approve a 10-month budget of $7,488,000 net ($7,932,200 gross).

Annan will be paid the going U.N. rate for an “undersecretary-general” (USG). Under him will be two “assistant secretary-generals” (ASGs) and two staffers of top “director” (D2) rank – one serving as chief of office and the other as communications spokesman.

Next will come six staffers – two each in the top three Professional grades (P5, P4 and P3) in the U.N. system. Two will be senior political officers, three will be political officers and one will be information officer.

These 11 “substantive international staff” will be joined by another seven others in the “general service” category – an administrative officer, administrative assistant, personal assistant to Annan, a security officer and three team assistants.

Current gross annual U.N. pay scales for professional ranks are: USG: $189,349; ASG:  $172,071; D2: from $141,227–$156,476; P5: from $106,718–$133,575;  P4: from $87,933–$115,018; and P3: from $72,267–$96,282.

Annan’s two deputies were selected by the U.N. and the Arab League respectively. The U.N. appointee is Jean-Marie Guehenno, a former French diplomat and U.N. peacekeeping chief, while the Arab League appointee is Nasser al-Kidwa, a former Palestinian Liberation Organization observer at the U.N. (and the late Yasser Arafat’s nephew).

Apart from staff costs, the Annan mission is seeking an operating budget of an additional $4,465,700, of which $1,6 million will be used for “official travel” alone with a further $750,000 for “air transportation” and $100,200 for “ground transportation.”

The remainder of the operating budget is earmarked for consultants ($165,700), facilities and infrastructure ($578,400); communications ($94,800), information technology ($135,700), and “other supplies, services and equipment” ($1,050,400). These amounts include $30,000 to refurbish office space and $81,800 for “information technology and other equipment.”

The United States contributes 22 percent of the U.N. operating budget.

The budget document outlines the objective of the Annan mission: “To achieve through peaceful means a political solution to the crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic, which will meet the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people to dignity, freedom and justice, based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination.”

The “expected accomplishments” include:

--An end to violence by all sides, with troops being withdrawn from cities and towns and returning to barracks, and armed opposition groups committing to a sustained cessation of violence.

--A Syrian-led political process “aimed at effectively addressing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people, without prejudging the outcome.”

Under “external factors” that could impact the success or otherwise of the mission, the document states that “[t]he objectives would be achieved on the assumption that all domestic, regional and international stakeholders will fully cooperate with the Office of the Joint Special Envoy.”

Annan, a Ghanaian, was Ban’s predecessor as secretary-general of the world body, serving in that capacity from 1997 to 2006.

He and the U.N. jointly won the Nobel peace prize in 2001 “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world,” but the latter part of his tenure was overshadowed by the scandal over corruption in the Iraq “oil-for-food” program.

The program was set up in 1996 to help ease hardships faced by ordinary Iraqis by allowing Saddam Hussein’s sanctioned regime to sell specified quantities of oil in return for food and medicines.

It was later found to have been riddled with fraud and corruption, and official inquiries resulted in numerous sanctions and prosecutions for fraud, corruption, money laundering and other offenses.

Former Sen. Norman Coleman (R-Minn.), who as chairman of the Senate’s permanent subcommittee on investigations held hearings in 2005 into the affair, called publicly for Annan to resign “because the most extensive fraud in the history of the U.N. occurred on his watch.” Calls to step down also came from other critics.

Asked during a March 2005 press conference whether he would quit over the scandal, he replied, “Hell, no.”