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Of UN Women and Ban Ki-moon's Second Term, Dirty Deals, Double Crosses, Albright Boutros Echoes

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 2 -- How badly does Ban Ki-moon want a second term as UN Secretary General?

  So badly, sources tell Inner City Press, that he has offered special input into the awarding of the top job in the new UN Women agency to Permanent Five Security Council members who could block his second term, in exchange for their support.

This quid pro quo was not favorably viewed in Washington. With UN management harshly criticized in the End of Assignment report of outgoing Office of Internal Oversight Services chief Inga Britt Ahlenius, it was hardly the time to offer top posts in exchange for political support for a second term.

The U.S. State Department of Hillary Clinton, in any case, felt it should have input into who heads UN Women without having to lock in support for Ban Ki-moon getting a second term.

Back in 1996, the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton played its cards close to the chest until, late in the process, Madeleine Albright came out against Boutros Boutros Ghali. (For the record, Susan Rice is reciting support for Ban Ki-moon as well.) Team Ban does not like that precedent and is seeking commitments now. But this, one source said, was just too ham handed.

UN's Ban and Hillary Clinton, Albright and Boutros, UN Women not shown

The Obama administration cannot accomplish its goals through the UN with Ban Ki-moon at the helm, argued the reflexively pro-UN pundit James Traub, probably too practical to intentionally burn his bridges to the UN.

  Some time ago, Inner City Press exclusively reported the first fear among Team Ban, that the U.S. will cede the top post at the World Bank in 2012 to China, in exchange for Asia Group control of the UN S-G post being moved, and Obama getting his own choice. This fear and possibility remains.

There is another UN women -- without the capital W -- theory on the move in the North Lawn building. In it, Inga Britt Ahlenius' devastating memo is linked with the ambitions of her friend Alicia Barcena to swoop in as Secretary General in 2012.

Inner City Press has already shown Ahlenius writing to Barcena to be sure to be on selection panel to get Ahlenius' friend Danielle Coolen a job. Click here for the story, here for Ms. Ahlenius' email. But these theorist say Ahlenius and Barcena met and dined before the fateful memo was leaked, and that there are other UN women, some ostensibly close to Ban Ki-moon, involved in the plan. Watch this site.

Footnote: the interview for the top UN Women post were presumably to have included, or been led by, Deputy Secretary General Asha Rose Migiro, interim head of UN Women. But with Ms. Migiro in Uganda and now on annual leave, the interviews have proceeded, with the involvement of Ban's senior advisor Kim Won-soo (who appears repeatedly and prominently in the Ahlenius memo.)

On August 2, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky who is in charge of the UN, with Mr. Ban traveling to Japan and Ms. Migiro on annual leave. While Nesirky insisted that Mr. Ban is always in charge, Inner City Press asked if anyone had formally be made officer in charge. Watch this site.

* * *

For UN, Is Merely Being There Enough, with Ban Under Fire for a 2d Term?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 26 -- What has Ban Ki-moon accomplished as UN Secretary General in Myanmar and Sudan, Inner City Press asked his spokesman Monday, for the fourth day in a week.

His record is clear,” Spokesman Martin Nesirky replied. “From standing in front of a still burning warehouse in Gaza, to visiting Haiti five days after the earthquake, to visiting Darfur refugee camps... he has achieved a huge amount.” Video here, from Minute 26:55.

But the three achievements listed were only “being there” -- celebrities have traveled to Haiti, and to refugee camps in Darfur and elsewhere.

  Meanwhile reports on the UN's performance in Sudan are largely negative. Rubble still fills Haiti's streets. And even the Goldstone response is late, due to failure to translate. Myanmar, telling, was not even mentioned. Is being there enough?

Seeking the Ban Administration's -- if not yet Ban Ki-moon's -- response to the criticism being heaped upon his tenure, Inner City Press asked Nesirky when he made a piece by a heretofore big UN supporter, “Good Night, Ban Ki-moon.”

We don't need to comment on every piece,” Nesirky said, calling that piece a “rehash.. a lot of what is in the piece has been seen before.” A lot by not all: the piece mentions inaction on Sri Lanka:

A peacekeeping official pointed out that Ban had insisted on behind-the-scenes diplomacy in Sri Lanka even as the government was killing thousands of civilians in its campaign to erase the brutal insurgency of the Tamil Tigers: "We're doing everything we can to avoid saying anything at all about it. That's been our line on practically everything. The SG is clear that his final consideration is going to be the political costs of whether he should or shouldn't speak." That's a very real calculation every secretary-general must make. But, he added, "There's no sense that the deliberations include, 'What should we do?'"”

  Only this year, Ban after saying he would name a panel of experts on war crimes in Sri Lanka, then delaying 90 days, has gone out of his way to limit the scope of the panel to providing advice on “models of accountability” to himself and the Rajapaksa government, if they want it. The Rajapaksas have said they will deny visas to the group; Ban through Nesirky has repeated declined to comment on the refusal to cooperate.

UN's Ban on plane: he was there, cracked windshield and direct responses not shown

  Now a brewing fight is Ban's decision to bypass South African and other developing world candidates to nominate a Canadian, Carman Lapoint-Young, as the new head of the Office of Internal Oversight Services. Inner City Press, which reported exclusively on the move on the night of July 23, asked Nesirky for Ban's response to developing world countries who say the post was meant for their regions.

Nesirky once again declined comment, except to say there is “very strong, overwhelming support” for the nominee. Sort of like the overwhelming support for a second term?

It is time for Ban Ki-moon to speak for himself on this controversy -- time for him to “be there,” as it were. He will appear before the press Monday at 5:30. Before his appearance Friday at a reception for the press, Inner City Press was repeatedly told not to ask about the controversy, not to “hijack” the event. That cannot similarly be asked on Monday evening. Watch this site.

* * *

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

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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