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At UN, Ban Ki-moon Plans Quick Unveiling of Flotilla Panel Win, With N.Zealand Chair, Sources Say, An End to Leaks?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 31 -- While Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on July 30 was shrouded in secrecy, afterward UN diplomats bragged about their boss' “win.”

  They said Israel has agreed to Ban's -- or really the Security Council's -- idea of a independent panel about the assault on the Gaza flotilla. They said that while the UN's cursory Friday evening read out didn't say it, the unveiling of Ban's “win” would take place next week.

  Some who spoke to Ban later on Friday night said the announcement will be Sunday evening, and that the chair of the panel will be from New Zealand, with other members from Israel and Turkey.

  Team Ban, typically, sees this development in the context of Ban's recent travails triggered by the leaked End of Assignment memo by Inga Britt Ahlenius, until then the UN's chief of the Office of Internal Oversight Services. Trying to combat the memo's critique, including of Ban's diplomatic skills, Ban has deployed first his chief of staff, then his chief of Management, without much impact.

   To package and unveil a diplomatic win, just before Ban travels for the week to Hiroshima in Japan, seems to Team Ban a true turning of the corner. We'll see.

UN's Ban and Barak back in June, OIOS memo, leak and "win" not shown

   According to Ban administration sources, in Ban's closed door selective briefing to some Japanese reporters to hype up his trip, Ban asked for “East Asian solidarity” in fighting leaks and attacks on his image.

  He complained he was particularly offended by Ahlenius' critique since he had thrown her a retirement party and invited her into his home. It's an Asian thing, he in essence said, this simply isn't done. What, leaking? Whistleblowing? Criticizing one's boss?

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For UN, Is Merely Being There Enough, with Ban Under Fire for a 2d Term?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 26 -- What has Ban Ki-moon accomplished as UN Secretary General in Myanmar and Sudan, Inner City Press asked his spokesman Monday, for the fourth day in a week.

His record is clear,” Spokesman Martin Nesirky replied. “From standing in front of a still burning warehouse in Gaza, to visiting Haiti five days after the earthquake, to visiting Darfur refugee camps... he has achieved a huge amount.” Video here, from Minute 26:55.

But the three achievements listed were only “being there” -- celebrities have traveled to Haiti, and to refugee camps in Darfur and elsewhere.

  Meanwhile reports on the UN's performance in Sudan are largely negative. Rubble still fills Haiti's streets. And even the Goldstone response is late, due to failure to translate. Myanmar, telling, was not even mentioned. Is being there enough?

Seeking the Ban Administration's -- if not yet Ban Ki-moon's -- response to the criticism being heaped upon his tenure, Inner City Press asked Nesirky when he made a piece by a heretofore big UN supporter, “Good Night, Ban Ki-moon.”

We don't need to comment on every piece,” Nesirky said, calling that piece a “rehash.. a lot of what is in the piece has been seen before.” A lot by not all: the piece mentions inaction on Sri Lanka:

A peacekeeping official pointed out that Ban had insisted on behind-the-scenes diplomacy in Sri Lanka even as the government was killing thousands of civilians in its campaign to erase the brutal insurgency of the Tamil Tigers: "We're doing everything we can to avoid saying anything at all about it. That's been our line on practically everything. The SG is clear that his final consideration is going to be the political costs of whether he should or shouldn't speak." That's a very real calculation every secretary-general must make. But, he added, "There's no sense that the deliberations include, 'What should we do?'"”

  Only this year, Ban after saying he would name a panel of experts on war crimes in Sri Lanka, then delaying 90 days, has gone out of his way to limit the scope of the panel to providing advice on “models of accountability” to himself and the Rajapaksa government, if they want it. The Rajapaksas have said they will deny visas to the group; Ban through Nesirky has repeated declined to comment on the refusal to cooperate.

UN's Ban on plane: he was there, cracked windshield and direct responses not shown

  Now a brewing fight is Ban's decision to bypass South African and other developing world candidates to nominate a Canadian, Carman Lapoint-Young, as the new head of the Office of Internal Oversight Services. Inner City Press, which reported exclusively on the move on the night of July 23, asked Nesirky for Ban's response to developing world countries who say the post was meant for their regions.

Nesirky once again declined comment, except to say there is “very strong, overwhelming support” for the nominee. Sort of like the overwhelming support for a second term?

It is time for Ban Ki-moon to speak for himself on this controversy -- time for him to “be there,” as it were. He will appear before the press Monday at 5:30. Before his appearance Friday at a reception for the press, Inner City Press was repeatedly told not to ask about the controversy, not to “hijack” the event. That cannot similarly be asked on Monday evening. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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

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