Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

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

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .

Home -

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


Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

For UN, Ban's Meeting with Israel Was "Purely a Courtesy Call" In Run-Up to Air Strikes

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, December 27 -- In the run-up to today's Israeli air strikes on Gaza, Israel's UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev on December 23 met with Ban Ki-moon. Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe, at that day's noon briefing, what the meeting had been about.  That the expiration of the cease fire in Gaza would have been discussed seemed obvious. The question was intended to glean whether any statement as to timing had been made by the Israeli Ambassador. "We'll get you a readout," Ms. Okabe said. Video here.

   Later on December 23, Ban's Spokesperson's Office sent Inner City Press the following:

From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 12/23/2008 3:31:10 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: Your question at noon

Regarding the Secretary-General's meeting with the Israeli Permanent Representative today, it was purely a courtesy call.

   "Purely a courtesy call"? That is the phrase used when diplomats who are leaving the UN visit the 38th floor for a final photo opportunity with the Secretary-General. [The phrase was even inserted into the UN's transcript, here, at least as of December 26.]

   On December 26, Inner City Press asked a senior UN official who spoke on condition of anonymity, given the culture of the 38th floor, why Ban's Spokesperson's Office would have issued such a summary. "It doesn't help us," the official answered with exasperation. "In part it's that the Spokesperson and her office are not in the loop about what's going on in the UN, particularly on the thirty-eighth floor. Also they seem to run scared, afraid to say the wrong thing. But this 'courtesy call' phrase is laughable, and makes us look laughable."

   Hours later, when the deadly air strikes began, nobody was laughing.

UN's Ban with Israel's Tzipi Livni last month: just another courtesy call?

   Ban issued, through his Spokesperson's Office, a three-paragraph canned statement:

From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
Sent: 12/27/2008 10:51:53 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: URGENT: UN's Ban Ki-moon on Gaza and southern Israel
Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
on the situation in Gaza and southern Israel

The Secretary-General is deeply alarmed by today’s heavy violence and bloodshed in Gaza, and the continuation of violence in southern Israel. He appeals for an immediate halt to all violence.

While recognizing Israel's security concerns regarding the continued firing of rockets from Gaza, he firmly reiterates Israel's obligation to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law and condemns excessive use of force leading to the killing and injuring of civilians. He condemns the ongoing rocket attacks by Palestinian militants and is deeply distressed that repeated calls on Hamas for these attacks to end have gone unheeded.

The Secretary-General reiterates his previous calls for  humanitarian supplies to be allowed into Gaza to aid the distressed civilian population. He is making immediate contact with regional and international leaders, including Quartet principals, in an effort to bring a swift end to the violence.  New York, 27 December 2008

    One wag asked if these immediate contacts were, by the same logic, "courtesy calls"?

   The UN General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, with whom Israel's Ambassador Gabriela Shalev cancelled a scheduled meeting this month after d'Escoto in essence called her a liar, had left New York for Nicaragua on Christmas Eve, just after the General Assembly after an all-night session at 8 a.m. approved UN budget resolution, including one backed by the Ambassadors of Syria, Lebanon and Egypt which called for a re-thinking and reigning in of the mandate of controversial UN envoy Terje Roed Larsen.

  Asked by Inner City Press for a response to that critique by member states, Ban's Spokesperson's office also had no comment, click here for that.

   We've heard of quiet diplomacy, but mere "courtesy calls" and no-comments as war is heating up is something new.

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

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

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

* * *

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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -