Ban Lunches with Reporters, Menu Includes Corruption, Maybe Congo
August 31, 11:45 am -- What's in a lunch? For a week now, UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been holding lunch meetings with
groups of four to five journalists at a time.
attacks on Ban for a failure to fight corruption in the UN, following
by the scandal of the UN's inaction as 154 women were raped 20 miles
from one of its peacekeeping bases in the Congo.
the August 27
UN noon briefing, two journalists not invited to the lunches inquired
into Ban's criteria for issuing invitations, and afterward
lunches to an attempt by Ban to improve his image with an eye toward
winning a second term. Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky returned fire,
figuratively, at the journalists.
has been invited to lunch with Ban later today. Neither in the
invitation nor subsequent back and forth was the lunch described as
off the record. (This report is being written and published an hour
before the lunch, for the record.) Inner City Press asked who else
would be present, but
has not been told.
At least at
the first of the lunches, Under
Secretary General for Management Angela Kane was present, and the
charges in former USG Inga Britt Ahlenius and her stinging End of
Assignment Report were discussed.
Ms. Kane be
present at the August 31 session? Inner City Press asked, but was not
told. A session later last week included Ban's speechwriter Michael
Meyer, as well as spokesman Nesirky.
return and will
return to the question, what are these lunches for?
UN's Ban and Kane at a previous lunch, on
record response on Congo not shown
A member of
Ban has said he likes to meet the press. Ban is certainly cordial:
earlier on Tuesday on his way into the General Assembly's meeting on
human trafficking, he greeted Inner City Press, amid glad handing
with many ambassadors. But he rarely speaks on the record, for
example on the Congo rape scandal. Will he, at the lunch?
Some of Ban's
better moment have been off the record. He gave a speech full of jokes,
in the photo op room next to his office. Inner City Press was told not
to film it, not to report it. He told a story about landing in
Afghanistan - off the record. His handlers don't seem to know what they
are doing. We'll see. Watch this
Month Ends With Pilots Taken in Darfur, Congo Rape Meeting
30 -- While Russia's envoy to Sudan Mikhail Margelov complains
about the second hostage taking of Russian pilots in Darfur in a
month, outgoing Security Council president Vitaly Churkin on Monday
advised the Press not to make too much of the kidnappings.
Press asked if this was a trend. The first incident, Churkin
countered, was resolved, and the pilot
went on vacation. It was never announced who had taken him.
he had met Monday morning with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
about the pilots, asking for the UNAMID mission to get involved.
Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky about the
pilots at Monday's noon briefing. Nesirky did not disclose Ban's
meeting with Churkin, which was not on Ban's schedule.
response to another Inner City Press question, that Ban's 10:30
meeting with Margot Wallstrom about the Congo rapes had been
postponed until the afternoon. (Atul Khare, it emerges won't be back to
brieif the Council until September 8.)
the Russian pilots were working for a
private Sudanese company. But wasn't it working for UNAMID? Maybe,
Nesirky said, maybe they were transporting food for peacekeepers. It is
why it was never announced who took the first Russian pilot, Yevgeni
Mustovchikov, and why DPKO's Alain Le Roy never got or passed on any
"full understanding of the facts" behind the violence in the Kalma
Camp. As with the Congo rapes, lack of accountability breeds impunity
leads to repetition of the actions.
to the pilots who are kidnapped, if as many believe government
supported militias are behind the kidnappings, could their repetition
trigger some change in Russia's position on Sudan?
are slow to
change our position, a Russian diplomat told Inner City Press after
the TV lights were off.
UN's Ban (& Kim) & Churkin in Red Sq. March
2010, pilots not shown
The next stop
would be Russia's End of
Presidency reception. Russia in August wanted a slow month in the
Security Council, with a small party at the end. They got the Congo
rape scandal and, it was promised, jovial gate crashers.
Council president passes to Turkey, who Permanent Representative has
been reviewed unfavorably, if off the record, by his Foreign
Minister. This will be his chance to shine.
briefings for his nation's media, the Ambassador is
known to defer to reporters, saying they know more than he does. One
cannot imagine this from Churkin. For those following the story,
former spokesman Ruslan is said to have found a better job with the
Ministry back in Moscow.
Representative Nicolas de Riviere is setting sail, to cover
international organizationss at the Quai d'Orsay. He will be replaced
by Martin Briens -- and he'll be supervising, in a sense, his old
boss Gerard Araud. It is musical chairs in the Council.
terms of the
next Council members coming in, South Africa says it will be running
unopposed. Some said the same of Colombia, but now there's word of
another candidate, probably from Central America and to the Left. Que
empienzan los juegos -- let the games begin. Watch this site.