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At UN, Ban Dons Helmet But Does Not Bike, Dark Talk at Law of Sea

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 9 -- From bikes up Beekman to the Law of the Sea, the summer party season was kicked off Friday at the UN. It started at 4:30 pm when Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appeared in a bicycle helmet to introduce Janette Sadik-Khan.

Ban called her the "High Commissioner" of Transportation -- an appropriate malapropism given Brooklynites' perception of her as imperious. He then "launched," without participating in, a six block bicycle ride up First Avenue to 50th Street and Beekman Place. Ban has a broken hand so his not riding is understandable (though several other more physically challenged Ambassador did ride).

But why did Ban Ki-moon don a bicycle helmet if he wasn't going to ride? This is the UN.

Up on Beekman there was a reception, champagne at 5 pm in a back garden overlooking the East River. There was talk of how Ban killed off reform of the Security Council's working methods, and his bad treatment of Africans as he's been doling out top posts.

A legally-minded Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that it is hypocritical for the UN to talk about media freedom but not practice it, and suggested a litigation strategy to hold Ban to account.

Back south in the UN's North Lawn building, a "media availability" by Ban, announced with only fifteen minutes notice, had come and gone, just the way Ban likes it. In the so-called Riverview tent there was drinking and bitter talk that even the UN Singers group is "corrupt" and full of "ringers," discriminating against Africans and those of African descent. Inner City Press had to move on.

In the General Assembly lobby a fancier group was assembled, with live chamber music and lamb chops and Singha beer from Thailand.

It was for the Law of the Sea, which Inner City Press exclusively covered earlier in the day, including Palestine gaining Observer State status. After that, more swag was passed out in Conference Room 1, where Continental Shelf candidates vied for voted with free pens and Danish chocolate; now there were coffee mugs and posters.

In the GA Lobby a crowd gathered around a surprisingly large fish: Serge Brammertz, formerly of the Lebanon or Hariri Tribunal and now the ICTY. The French Mission's legal specialist, genially forthcoming of late about the ICC, conversed with Brammertz and others. One wondered what he thought of the election earlier in the day of Serbia's Vuk Jeremic.

Before the vote, based on informal polling, Inner City Press tweeted a prediction: Jeremic winning with 97 votes. Many laughed. Then he won with 99 votes. Well, no one is perfect. This prediction must have been from the worst journalist at the UN in the last 20 years. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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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