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At UN, As Ban's Sustainability Panel May Include Rudd, Can His Rule Be Sustained?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 9 -- After weeks without taking questions from the independent press at the UN, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will hold a press conference Monday at 11. While questions of mis-management, silence on Darfur and powerless panels on Sri Lanka and the Gaza flotilla swirl, a more upbeat pretext for the presser has been found.

  Ban will announce, or launch in UN parlance, a “High Level Panel on Global Sustainability.” In announcing Ban's long delayed press conference, the UN said it “will also address other topics, including the Secretary General's recent trip to Japan.”

  Just before he left on that trip, Ban took a single on camera question, about his Gaza flotilla panel. For this question, he chose the UN's own media, UN Radio. The self-interview was then called a “media stakeout” by UN Television.

   While presumably in an attempt to build suspense the UN's announcement said that the “full list of Panel Members and their Terms of Reference will be available at the press conference,” one possible member of the Panel has been asked about by Inner City Press, repeatedly, resulting in a series of “no comments” from the UN.

After his loss of power in Australia, Kevin Rudd flew to New York and met with Ban Ki-moon. Inner City Press attended the photo op, and noted that Ban's climate advisor Janos Pasztor was in attendance, and that the meeting lasted a full 50 minutes.

  (While Inner City Press published its photos, it appears that none of UN Photo's shots are on the UN website, when searched by "Rudd.")

Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson if the meeting involved the offering of a UN position of any kind. It was just a courtesy call, Inner City Press was repeatedly told -- even after Rudd, back in Australia, bragged through his spokesman about the offer of a post.

UN climate staffers and Ban Ki-moon defenders approached Inner City Press to say that what was being offered was not a full UN position, rather membership on a new body -- the “High Level Panel on Global Sustainability.”

This would explain the claim that the UN position Rudd was referring to would not require relocating to New York, and would allow him to remain involved in politics in Australia. His goal seemed to be to show his successor his high international profile, to gain the foreign minister spot. While this now seems unlikely, and Rudd's project of seeking a Security Council seat may also be abandoned, this morning's announcement may well involve Kevin Rudd.

Kevin Rudd stakeout re climate, 2009 -- UN post 2010 not shown

If it does, it will represent Ban causing a “major embarrassment” for the current leader of Australia, Julia Gillard. Why would Ban do this? Sources say that the Obama administration, which could veto a second term for Ban, has urged Ban to find a position for Rudd.

Some wondered why Ban would name Alvaro Uribe to his Gaza flotilla panel just after Venezuela delivered to Ban a letter accusing Uribe of trying to raise tensions in the region. Now, Venezuela speaks of using its upcoming post as head of the Group of 77 and China to try to stop a second term by Ban. Watch this site.

Footnote: Ban is made a pattern of collecting outgoing heads of state. He named Uribe to his Gaza flotilla panel even before Uribe left power in Colombia, on August 7. Uribe will be deputy to former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer, a protoge of Helen Clark, whom Ban named as the head of the UN Development Program (from which she has increasingly commandeered other top UN posts, often to Ban's detriment as in the case of naming Paul Kagame as Zapatero's co-chair for MDGs advocacy, and a Costa Rican over African candidates for the Number Two spot at UNDP.

Some see the contradiction: Ban refused to allow ostensibly independent OIOS chief Inga Britt Ahlenius to choose her deputy, but allowed Helen Clark to ignore a commitment made to the African Group to get the deputy post at UNDP, when Clark was named to the top job, representing the developed world. And so it goes in Ban's UN.

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UN's Ban Slammed in Staff Union Resolution, for Lack of Action & Staff Death, No Confidence Vote in Fall?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, August 5 -- Open discontent with the UN's Ban Ki-moon has spread, reflected in a resolution passed on August 5 by the UN Staff Union deploring “the systemic lack of personal accountability and transparency [which] has become more serious since the current Secretary General took office.”

  The resolution expresses deep concern about Ban's “apparent lack of interest in seeking a determination of accountability for the numerous deadly incidents involving staff members, including those who died in the terrorist attack on the UN premises in Algiers in 2007 up to the killing of [UN Security officer] Louis Maxwell in Afghanistan in 2009.”

  As Inner City Press has exclusively reported, despite the finding in a still withheld UN report that Louis Maxwell was murdered by Afghan National Forces, Ban's top Security official Gregory Starr has said it is hard to push the Afghans to investigate this one death, due to “cultural sensitivity.”

  The resolution notes the End of Assignment Report of the former head of the Office of Internal Oversight Services Inga Britt Ahlenius, which among other things criticized Ban's lack of accomplishments in Myanmar and Sudan, and Ban's losses in and lack of cooperation with the UN Dispute Tribunal, where for example his Under Secretary General Shabaan Shabaan has be ordered to pay a $25,000 fine for misconduct.

Unless Ban takes “immediate steps towards real reform,” the Staff Union will consider a “vote of no confidence in the management of the UN and its leadership” in the Fall, the season of the UN General Debate. Click here to see the penultimate draft of the resolution, which was adopted in substantially the same form in a meeting Thursday afternoon. Inner City Press exclusively obtained and is publishing the resolution, here.

UN's Ban and ball, vote of no confidence not shown

This comes as countries in the General Assembly move to require Ban to appear before them to seek a second term as Secretary General. In the past weeks, Ban has deployed his Under Secretary General for Management Angela Kane and his chief of staff Vijay Nambiar to defend his performance.

   In light of the expanded and expanding critique, one expects Ban to personally make his case. He is expected back in New York, and to hold a press conference, on Monday, August 9. 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.

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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

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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