UN, Ban Chooses Limousines Over Indigenous Drums, NGOs Complain of
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, April 21 -- It was a tale of two UNs on Tuesday night: there
was drumming and dancing in the General Assembly lobby as the
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues began, while in the roped off
elite area of the cafeteria, Israel sponsored a high security
reception. Inner City Press was asked, which one did Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon attend? The latter, was the answer, sending not
an Under but Assistant Secretary General to address the assembled
the drumming, despite many registrants being absent due to flights
canceled by the Iceland's volcano's ash, were a range of what's called
civil society and that
stratum of the UN staff which serve them. Nearly uniformly there was
dissatisfaction with Ban Ki-moon's lack of engagement with non
governmental organizations and "regular people," and about
the increasingly lack of access to the UN by civil society.
the place back thirty years," a UN staffer said. Another
wondered, even with the General Assembly building to remain open for
the next two years, how long groups like the indigenous would be
allowed to use the lobby. The Ban administration, an involved staffer
disclosed, has asked that the exhibition walls in the lobby be
removed so he can host a high level luncheon during this year's
General Debate. The walls would not be reinstalled, and thus public
exhibitions would cease.
NGOs recently wrote to Ban to complain about deceasing access and got
back what they called a mere form letter.
The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Ban
Ki-moon not shown
Ban, pays lip service to the value of civil society. But for the past
three years, representatives say, it has been implemented less and
less. For how much longer, they wondered Tuesday night, will this UN
allow the drums to beat? Watch this space.
the head of the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous
Issues, Inner City Press learned on Tuesday night, will be leaving
the post this summer. The new chairman of the Forum, for the first
time, was chosen by a government rather than civil society within his
country. Things are changing at the UN, including at the Forum.
Nothing, it seems clear, is Permanent. Reforms can be turned back as
much as thirty years.
* * *
UN, Security Council Moves to Push All But 15 Nations into the Hall,
Cut Press Access: Turf Wars
Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive
NATIONS, April 5 -- Outside the first consultation meeting in the new
UN Security Council chamber, both reporters and members states not on
the Council were Monday in disarray, on the verge of losing even more
A representative of UN Security Council Affairs told Inner City Press
that the media will be moved further back, where they can't even see
Council members enter. And member states other than the 15 Council
members will be relegated to an open hallway by the stairs, under the
The UN representative said that Council members complained of
"involuntary interation" with the press and even other member states
"like India and Germany," wanting a way to leave without seeing either.
Inner City Press countered that the media, and non-Council member
states, must be consulted, but was told to quiet down.
In what passes for news, in the beginning of the month consultations
led by April's Council president, Yukio Takasu of Japan, the U.S. asked
for a briefing about the elections in Sudan. Since U.S. envoy Scott
Gration is in Khartoum appearing to praise the process as "as fair as
possible," the U.S.'s request struck some as strange.
Nigeria requested a briefing about the chaos in Guinea Bissau, in which
the police arrested the Prime Minister last week. Apparently Myanmar
will not be discussed. Ambassador Takasu will hold a press conference
later on Monday. Watch this site.
The background: After its final March meeting,
the Council was moved from its longtime location on the second floor
to a suite of rooms in the UN's basement.
windows, but the UN says it is secure, safer than Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon's office atop the boxlike Temporary North Lawn Building.
Council, everything has changed. The suite of rooms has a closed
metal door and a sign, "Consultation in session, Security
Council members only."
seems to mean
that Permanent Representatives of member states not among the
Council's 15 members -- including for example India, Germany and South
Africa, to name a few -- can't even go into the Council's lounge, as
for years they did upstairs.
Council reform -- getting less rather than more inclusive.
stakeout with the
15 Council members' flags has been set up where the Vienna Cafe used
to be. It is at some remove from the Security Council doors; members
can leave by the stairs or garage without walking by the stakeout.
The new UNSC chamber under construction
reporters milled around between the stairs and the Council doors.
Spokespeople of only two of the Council's members, one permanent and
one in its second of two years on the Council, deigned to speak to
the press scrum. By 10:15, Inner City Press was the only media left,
on a rickety chair without a table by the stairs. Several Permanent
Representatives asked Inner City Press how to get into the Council.
"Through the General Assembly," was the reply. Watch this