2016 Activities

Lack of Transparency in Appointments and Promotions of the Diplomatic Corps Workshop

Lack of Transparency in Appointments and Promotions of the Diplomatic Corps Workshop

Ten years after passing the Diplomatic Corps Law number 13 for 2005, and the issuance of the executive regulations of the law by the Council of Ministers, the Coalition for Transparency and Accountability-AMAN finds it necessary to review the process by which these appointments and promotions are carried out. In that regard, it is worthy to note that the law and related regulations were issued to determine the rules and conditions to govern appointments and promotions in the diplomatic corps. Moreover, AMAN’s suggestion stems from its duty to activate community accountability, especially since the abovementioned process appears to be weak in relations to transparency and control, as well as being influenced by personal relationships, and lack of compliance with the governing law. This was the main outcome of the discussion workshop held at AMAN’s headquarters in participation with related parties.

Conciliatory appointments serving personal interests

The session began with Dr. Azmi Shuaibi, Advisor to the Board on Anti-Corruption Policy- AMAN, briefing attendees on the historical context which ruled these diplomatic appointments ever since the inception of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).  He said that the PLO, in its capacity as a representative of the Palestinian people, was entrusted after 1973, to appoint representatives to the various nations worldwide in accordance with procedures, level of representation, and recognition by these nations.
Dr. Shuaibi pointed out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, although an institution of the Palestinian Authority (PA), these appointments and promotions are carried out outside thesupervisionof PA control institutions established for this purpose, and in particular withoutsupervision of the General Personnel Council.  This absence resulted in gaps that allowed for appointing diplomats based on favoritism, personal, and or political relationships; a conciliatory act, or even as a solution to solve financial problems for some individuals.  He also expressed that having an explicit law and regulations for diplomats does not exclude the need for supervision and control by the General Personnel Council, who is assigned the role of ensuring application of the diplomatic law.
Issa Abu-Sharrar, the former head of the Higher Judicial Council, also emphasized the importance of applying the law when appointing individuals for these diplomatic positions.  He also pointed to the impact weakness ofcontrol has over the integrity and transparency of these appointment, calling on the State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau (SAACB) to provide close monitoring and control over procedures of the diplomatic missions’ appointments in order to ensure that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs works in compliance with the law.
The Assistant Undersecretary for the Palestinian Pension Agency, Mr. Mohammad Abu-Hijleh, pointed out that the majority of those who are employed in the diplomatic corps are subject to the Pension Law.  This makes it imperative for the General Personnel Council to oversee the extent of compliance of officials in charge of this task to the provisions and procedures indicated in the administrative system of the ministry. 

The private limits the general at the General Personnel Council

Assistant Consultant at the General Personnel Council, Mr. Rami Odeh, said that the Council is in charge of overseeing and follow-up on employees that are non-diplomats (i.e., administrators).  He said that the Council is confined to following up on all matters relating to diplomats due to restrictions imposed by the Civil Service Law (Public Law), which is the law the ministry is subject to.
Fida’ Al-Kayed, Deputy General Director of Appointments at the Council, agreed with Odeh.   She also clarified the role of the Council by saying that its roleis limited to the transfer of the President’s decrees that are related to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (appointments, promotions, and transfers) to the MoF in order to avoid duplications of salaries.
Participants called on the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to stop all decrees that do not comply with provisions and procedures stipulated in the Diplomatic Law. They also stressed that appointments, promotions, transfers, and appeasements of some people, should not be solved through the framework of the diplomatic corps.
It is worthy to note that the working paper, discussed in this workshop, is the result of a thorough review of the diplomatic appointments and promotions during the period of 2010-2015, which was issued by presidential decrees and published in the Journal of Official Proceedings amounting to 78 decrees. Included in the publications was the legal framework governing the appointments, promotions, and transfers, which raised a number of questions that deserve answers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The review of names mentioned in decisions taken regarding many of the appointments and promotions indicate that they were in favor of relatives of some powerful officials, where some are explicitly in violation of the Diplomatic Law, which stipulates for example, that a consultant must have completed four years at the first level before promoting him/her to an ambassador level.
Moreover, other decisionsrelating to appointments and promotionsentailed suspicions of conflict of interest. In addition, some consultants for the President were appointed at the level of ambassadors noting that their work has no relations to diplomatic tasks. Thisis an indication that there is a tendency to exploit privileges and diplomatic rights by non-diplomats. Moreover, in an apparent conflict with the Diplomatic Corps Law, some employees in the civil service were directly transferred to the diplomatic corps without going through procedures stipulated in the mentioned law and related system. In this regard, employees from the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, the Ramallah Governorate, the Presidential Bureau, and the General Personnel Council were transferred as described above.  
The workshop was attended by representatives from the: General Personnel Council, SAACB, Pension Agency, Palestinian National Fund, Ministry of Labor, in addition to a number of NGOs such as the Independence Foundation and Center for the defense of Freedoms, as well as a number of academics, and experts, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs extended its apology for not attending.

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