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At UN on Sexual Abuse, Ban Leaves Before Questions, for 5th Ave & Switzerland

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 14 -- It had been said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was surprised and distressed by the film "The Whistleblower," that he would screen and take part in a question and answer about it.

  The day of the screening, October 14, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky, after he had denied a journalist's complaint that Ban's "handlers" pushed him to avoid questions, if there would be a chance to ask Ban questions after the film.

  Nesirky checked his papers and said, "yes, there is a question-and-answer session."

  And so Inner City Press went. On stage was Ban Ki-moon, delivering remarks about his so-called "zero tolerance" policy on sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers, then listening as the film's director Ms. Kondracki and one of its subjects, Madeleine Rees, critiqued and mocked the policy's (non) implementation.

  But before the time for questions came, it was announced that Ban had to leave for another engagement. His spokesman was there, and then he wasn't.

  A Department of Peacekeeping Operations spokesman remained there, and used his presence as an excuse to not answer a question from Inner City Press about UN inaction during murder in Sudan.

   And where did Ban have to go, avoiding the promised question and answer session on this issue that supposedly troubled him so? A reception at a swank apartment on Fifth Avenue. In full disclosure, Inner City Press went there too, after Ban had come and gone leaving only his chief of staff Vijay Nambiar in his place. Another event must have called.

   But when WILL Ban Ki-moon answer questions? He only returned from Sweden on Wednesday, went to the South Korean state dinner in Washington Thursday night, and now leaves for Switzerland. Troubling indeed.

Ban and Kiyo Akasaka on Oct 14, before Ban left before Qs, (c) MRLee

Footnote: the UN sexual abuse questions unanswered include what happened with peacekeepers changed with sex abuse in Cote d'Ivoire (from Benin and Morocco) and in Haiti (from Sri Lanka and now from Uruguay, whose Permanent Representative to the UN to his credit remained at the Whistleblower Q&A after Ban Ki-moon was gone).

  Of the Fifth Avenue reception we have have more, including the passionate anger expressed by Bosnia's Permanent Representative about what was shown in the film. But the non-responsiveness of Ban Ki-moon and his spokesperson's office continue to amaze. Watch this site.

From the UN's noon briefing transcript of October 14:

Inner City Press: in this whistleblower thing, is it a panel discussion, is there any [inaudible] to ask questions?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Correct. There is a panel discussion. I am not absolutely aware of the full logistics for it, the mechanics, I can find out and let you know. But, ah yes, there is a question-and-answer session. Yes, there is. Yes.

 Then Ban, and his spokesman, left any questions could be asked.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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