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As Ban Again Dodges on 2d Term, Claims a Transparency Not Seen at UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 14 -- With expectations he'd confirm he'll seek a second term, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held a press conference in New York on Friday. He began by focusing on three issue, not mentioning the critiques of the UN on any of them.

  Ban mentioned Haiti, but not the allegation that UN peacekeepers brought cholera to the island and then covered it up. He has been asked to remove the UN immunity of a UN staffer there for a murder inquiry, but his spokesman Martin Nesirky has refused to address Ban Ki-moon's response.

  Ban mentioned Cote d'Ivoire, but not that UN peacekeepers under the command of his close ally Choi Young-jin in fact turned tail and retreated leaving a neighborhood of supporters of Alassane Ouattara to be attacked by forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo. All Ban would say is that those who comment attacks will “face accountability.”

  Ban mentioned Sudan and Darfur, but did not address the the UN Mission there this week provided free transportation and logistics help to an indicted war criminal, Ahmed Haroun. What was that about accountability?

  After these three points, Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky presided over a question period in which issues like the Middle East, North Korea and Ban's own statements a month ago about his Panel of Experts being able to do work in Sri Lanka were not present or allowed. As the frustration against Ban and Nesirky grew in the room, some journalists started shouting out questions.

  One question was about the corruption and lack of transparency in the Ban administration alleged by former top UN investigator Inga Britt Ahlenius.

  Ban, reading from notes, claimed that 99% of his officials now make public financial disclosure on the UN's web site. This figure is not true. Many officials simply file a one page form that they refuse to make any disclosure public.

  Ban Ki-moon & spox, ignored questions and Darfur kidnappings not shown

  Other Ban envoys, such as Alexander Downer who simultaneously works for a business consultancy Bespoke Approach, don't make financial disclosures.

  Ban's expert on genocide Francis Deng is allowed, on UN time, to work on private book projects. He owns property, allegedly in the Sudanese region impacted by the referenda and stalled popular consultations. But his “public financial disclosure” doesn't even state what state of Sudan his property is in, nor how much it is worth. On UN time Deng writes books about Sudan and the referendum, but the UN refuses to say that the contents are attributable to the UN.

Questions pend for weeks in Ban's Spokesperson's Office. Spokesman Martin Nesirky says proudly that that are questions that he simply will never answer, without even explaining why. This is not transparency.

* * *

As UN Admits Transporting ICC Indictee Harun to Abyei, NGOs & US Have Yet to Speak

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 11 -- The UN Mission in Sudan transported and assisted International Criminal Court indictee Ahmed Harun, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky confirmed to Inner City Press on Tuesday, because the UN finds Harun helpful in dealing with violence in Abyei.
   Nesirky implied that the UN will continue to transport Harun, saying that the UN "will continue to provide necessary support to key players."
Video here, from Minute 13:48.

  Inner City Press asked why the UN transported Harun, not only in light of his ICC indictment for war crimes in Darfur, but also of the capacities of the Sudanese Air Force, which has recently conducted bombing raids in and near Southern Sudan.

  If the Sudanese Air Force can bomb, Inner City Press asked, why can't it fly Harun to Abyei? Nesirky did not answer this question. Nor would he tell Inner City Press if UNMIS, led by Haile Menkerios, had checked with UN Headquarters' Office of Legal Affairs or Ban Ki-moon before transporting an indicted war criminal.

  It seems to some that the Sudanese government of Omar al Bashir, who has also been indicted by the ICC for genocide as well as war crimes, has no lack of capacity to transport its official Harun, but instead wanted to get the UN further involved in undercutting the war crimes indictments.

  Already, Haile Menkerios and his counterpart at the Mission in Darfur UNAMID Ibrahim Gambari attended the inauguration of Omar al Bashir. Inner City Press asked Nesirky, without answer, if the UN would provide transport and assistance to other ICC indictees, including Joseph Kony of the the Lord's Resistance Army, widely thought to be in South Darfur.

UN Security Council in Sudan w/ Gambari, 10/10 (c)MRLee

  Earlier on January 11, Inner City Press asked representatives of non-governmental organizations active on Sudan about the UN's transport of ICC indictee Harun. David Abramowitz, the Director of Policy and Government Relations of the group Humanity United, said that he wasn't aware of the reports of Harun being transported, "I have not seen that report."

  Nor has the US administration, including its Mission at the UN, yet spoken on the matter. Some wonder whether they were consulted, even whether, in light of the offer to delink Darfur from the offer to remove some sanctions on Sudan in exchange for the South Sudan referendum, if the US agreed.

  Sam Bell, the Executive Director of the Genocide Intervention Network / Save Darfur Coalition, said he hadn't seen the report confirmed, but either way it did not send a good message to the people of Darfur, where Harun was indicted for war crimes: "already Darfuri are suspicious of UNAMID and UN personnel."

  In fact, Harun was indicted for working with and organizing the type of nomadic tribes which are accused of the killings in Abyei, and now in South Kordofan state as well.

   Nesirky told Inner City Press that "Governor Harun was critical" to bringing the Miseriya tribes together. Video here, from Minute 15:58.

  So in this view, it is not only a matter of the fox guarding the hen house: the UN has taken to transporting the fox to the hen house. Where will there be accountability? Watch this site.

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.

* * *

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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