San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Former Foreign Minister Caught in Conflict of Interest

A report issued by the foreign ministry accused its former foreign minister Bruno Stagno of conflict of interest.

The report said Stagno committed a “grave error” when he used his position as foreign minister in the administration of President Oscar Arias to name himself ambassador to the United Nations. The appointment was made three days before Stagno was to leave office.

“Had he refrained from signing it,” the report read, “the situation could have been remedied.” But because he signed his own appointment, the document is not considered valid.

The report recommended that current President Laura Chinchilla take corrective action by nullifying Stagno’s appointment. At that point, she then could decide to reappoint him or find a replacement.

This would be Stagno’s second time serving as ambassador to the U.N. He held the position from 2002 to 2005.

Also under question is Stagno’s decision to name former U.N. ambassador Jorge Urbina as ambassador to The Netherlands. According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, all diplomatic appointments must be approved by the coutry to which the ambassador is posted, which never happened in Urbina’s case.

In order to protect the appointment, the current administration is viewing Urbina’s appointment as that of ambassador to multilateral organisms within The Netherlands, in which case, Urbina does not need approval.

“When ambassadors are appointed to governments, it requires the corresponding blessing,” current Foreign Minister René Castro explained. “Yet when a country appoints a permanent representative to a multilateral organism, it does not necessitate said requirement.”

Castro had asked his ministry to conduct a study after being questioned by local newspapers. While he told the daily La Nación that Stagno’s move to appoint himself was ‘inelegant,’ he also said it was not illegal.

Castro said if the report detected any error “it would be corrected in order to ensure best practices and to meet the tenor of the law.”

–Chrissie Long

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