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How Operation of the UIA has been Systematically Undermined

A checklist

Oct 2006-

Appointment of 'hands-off' Secretarys-General and Presidents

  • Briefing them on their lack of need to be in any way concerned with Secretariat operations for which they were formally responsibly
  • Accepting their minimal efforts, in comparison with their predecessors and peers, to engage with other institutions - through, and beyond, the networks with which it was assumed they were associated

Cooptation of uninvolved eminent persons, as Active Members with statutory responsibilities, rather than as Honorary Members

Emphasis on unfeasible application of abstract, unquestionable principles

  • Appeal to UN standards in seeking geographical representation of membership and staff, irrespective of the potential travel and relocation costs
  • Avoidance of business and management criteria required for operations expected to generate their own resources in an increasingly competitive environment

Insistence of elected administrators on generic solutions with which they were familiar and comfortable -- without questioning whether they had adequately understood the concrete situation to which they sought to apply such formula

Avoidance of debate on controversial, complex substantive issues

  • Evolving nature of 'civil society'
  • Evolving nature of UIA 'business' - challenges and opportunities
  • Evolution of knowledge society and its technical infrastructure - in terms of the UIA documentary heritage from its founders
  • Inadequacies of statutes and bye-laws for effective rapid decision-making

Inability to develop an effective pattern of electronic communications with, or between Active Members, Council Members or Bureau Members - and staff

Inability to enlist support of Active Members (including Council and Bureau Members) in enabling access to outside funding, support or useful contacts

Failure of those elected to the Council/Bureau:

  • to formally recuse themselves in the case of issues beyond their competence
  • to formally retire, rather than absent themselves from meetings, when they ceased to be interested or were physically or financially unable to attend meetings or participate electronically

Inability to give due consideration to documented analyses of challenges and opportunities formally presented by the Secretariat


Inadequate, inhibited response to financial challenges (despite formal warnings from auditors and Secretariat)

Failure to recognize and debate issues of inadequate leadership and strategic management

Unchallenged rejection of ethical responsibilities (soft loans, shared copyright, staff-related, contractual obligations)

Failure to engage responsibility of Active Members (especially Council Members) with statutory responsibilities - or to act on the implications

Failure to recognize and appropriately address developing internal organizational challenges

Misapplication of voluntary consultancy offered by Active (or Council) Members

  • Bypassing Secretariat authority structure (including the SG)
  • Empowering junior staff to undertake initiatives without consulting senior staff (or the SG)
  • Inability to apply such skills to dysfunctional Bureau, Council or Membership relationships
  • Inability to apply such skills to resolve differences between those offering them, resulting in an incoherent serial application of those skills on the Secretariat
  • Lack of concern for the consequences of such interventions

Procrastination and blocking of concrete documented proposals by senior staff collaborators in response to the financial and strategic issues

Progressive demotivation and marginalization of skilled senior staff and collaborators

Projection of above inadequacies as arising from obstructionism by senior staff

Exploitation of statutory legalities to avoid addressing strategic management issues

Increasing focus on internal politics and dynamics, avoiding effective consideration of emerging challenges

Oct 2005-Sept 2006

Focus on reinforced administration through frequent Bureau meetings

Systematic use of future Centenary celebrations as a distraction from imminent management challenges

Continuing failure to recognize and address developing financial challenges and other strategic issues -- or to develop methods to deal with them, or to act on the implications of not being able to deal with them

Undermining senior staff authority, involvement and motivation through

  • Development of a pattern of direct contact with more junior staff in the absence of senior staff (or the SG)
  • Failure to communicate Bureau meeting reports formally to senor staff and to elicit feedback for appropriate debate
  • Exploitation of decision-making  procrastination by Bureau as a means of making senior staff appear responsible for such procrastination
  • Exploitation of the experienced frustration by junior staff of under-resourced computer maintenance as a means of undermining the authority of those technically responsible
Oct 2006-

Tacit recognition of Bureau /Council of its incompetence in relation to management, financial and strategic issues

Increasing avoidance of 'inconvenient', or possibly 'obsolete', statutory and bye-law issues:

  • to increase Bureau/Council flexibility under difficult circumstances
  • to avoid direct Bureau/Council responsibility
  • whilst
    • using convenient regulations in order to maintain Bureau/Council authority
    • failing to revise bye-laws as appropriate

Effective abdication of  responsibility of Bureau/Council by formally emphasizing responsibility of more junior staff (in the absence of more senior staff and without informing the latter)

Misapplication of inappropriately mandated, voluntary consultancy/human relations skills:

  • Failure to address highly problematic staff issues arising directly from previous interventions
  • Systematic undermining of staff authority structures (including the SG) presented as an empowerment of creativity (necessarily beyond criticism or reservation)
  • Continuing inability to apply such skills to dysfunctional Bureau, Council or Membership relationships (resulting in an historically minimally representative Council meeting)
  • Continuing inability to apply such skills to relationships between those offering them resulting in their serial, incoherent application to staff (and the resignation of a Council member who had endeavoured to apply those skills)
  • Framing such interventions as an appropriate social experiment for staff whose jobs were at risk
  • Excessive focus on optimistic positivism -- reinforcing a denial mechanism to avoid realistic consideration of problematic issues of strategic management and financial resources
  • Use of evoked euphoria and enthusiasm as a legitimating process for irresponsible management decisions - for which the Council/Bureau can deny responsibility

Inability to verify and evoke coherent consideration of issues such as those identified above

*** Cui Bono? ***