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At UN, Ban Ki-moon in Turbulence Blames Roth for Human Rights Critique, Puts Orr on DC Despite History

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 27 -- Some troubles have hit Ban Ki-moon after four years and a month as UN Secretary General.

As he seeks a second term he has been accused of being weak on human rights, while the UN and its Human Rights Council have been pilloried in the US House of Representatives.

Ban has been portrayed as a bad manager and even corrupt by former UN investigator Inga Britt Ahlenius, in response to which Ban claimed that 99% of his officials publicly disclose their finances.

This is patently false: even Ban's close ally and architect of his becoming S-G, Choi Young-jin, refused to make public his finances. Ban has gone to Davos. In New York, Inner City Press has for days after for an explanation or retraction of Ban's 99% claim, but has gotten no response.

To counter the growing storm in the Republic led House Foreign Affair Committee, Ban has reportedly tapped former Democratic aide Robert Orr. But how will he face off or even meet with Committee chairperson Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)?

She issued a press release about the investigation of the UN's acting top investigator Michael Dudley. When Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky for the status of the case against Dudley, the belated response was only that “On Michael Dudley's case, the case is ongoing before the Dispute Tribunal and we would have no comment as it proceeds.”

In Washington the word on Orr is that he designed for Kofi Annan the Human Rights Council “solution.” Since both Republicans and Democrats on today's Foreign Affairs Committee are critical of Orr's brainchild, it seems ill advised for Ban to make Orr the point man. But this is Ban.

  The picture that emerges is of an Executive Office of the Secretary General in which Kim Won-soo and to some degree Vijay Nambiar advise Ban. Others have been marginalized into being mere notetakers, synthesizer of the cables that come in to the UN from the field.

  The small team around Ban, when faced for example with the criticism leveled by Human Rights Watch about Ban's weakness on rights in such places as Sri Lanka, China and Myanmar, is not to listen to or think about the critique, but to personalize things. So it is all blamed on HRW director Ken Roth, with much complaining that Roth was given access, but that this will not continue. Faced with tough questions, it seems, Team Ban retaliates.

UN's Ban, No-Tunisia Nambiar, HRC Orr, human rights not Watched

  Sample advice that Ban receives is for example to not get involved in Tunisia, and to say even less about protests in Egypt than the Obama administration does. This of course conflicts with Ban's exhortations in the name of democracy in Cote d'Ivoire, to which he sent his ally Choi Young-jin as envoy.

  Team Ban seems to think that their stand on Cote d'Ivoire is a high point of their four years, a platform for a second term. Meanwhile more and more African country peel away from the position -- South Africa, Ghana, Uganda. Will Ban put this genie back in the bottle at the upcoming African Union summit? Watch this site.

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UN Officials Refusing Financial Disclosure Range from Sudan to Security, Abidjan to Lebanon, Ban's Friends & UNtrue Claim

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, January 25, updated -- In the run up to UN corruption hearings in the US House of Representatives today, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon angrily answered questions about lack of transparency by claiming that 99% of his officials publicly disclose their finances. This is not true, as Inner City Press has said and now documents.

   On the UN's website for such disclosures, numerous Ban officials simply state “I have chosen to maintain the confidentiality of the information disclosed by me in order to comply with the Financial Disclosure Program.” This is not public disclosure of finances: it is its opposite.

   Those Ban officials refusing make even the most basic disclosure -- as simple as in what country they own property, such as the one line disclosure by top UN lawyer Patricia O'Brien that she owns “farmland, Ireland” -- ranging from both of Ban's envoys in Sudan, Ibrahim Gambari and Haile Menkerios to UN officials with outside jobs that might conflict, such as Terje Roed-Larsen (Lebanon and IPI), Peter Sutherland (migration and BP) and Ray Chambers (malaria and hedge funds).

  When Chambers took the job, Inner City Press asked him about his outside interests. Now Chambers simply states, “I have chosen to maintain the confidentiality of the information disclosed by me in order to comply with the Financial Disclosure Program.”

There are other ways to not disclosure. Philippe Douste-Blazy, whom Inner City Press has exposed as wasting millions of dollars through the “MassiveGood” scheme, discloses no finances, only service for the Millennium Foundation.

  Alexander Downer, Ban's man on Cyprus, makes no financial disclosure although he lists he works at the business consultancy Bespoke Approach. And do its clients, in Turkey for example, raise conflicts? There is no way to know.

Ban's close ally and Cote d'Ivoire envoy Choi Young-jin states that “I have chosen to maintain the confidentiality of the information disclosed by me in order to comply with the Financial Disclosure Program,” as does Ban's UN Security chief Gregory Starr.

UN's Ban & chief of staff Nambiar in Dept of Management: empty forms not shown

These refusals are noteworthy given how superficial even the “public disclosures” are. Peacekeeping logistics deputy Anthony Banbury, who famously said that “only” three rapes in a Haitian IDP camp “elated” him, lists “Nil” for both assets and liabilities, as does General Assembly Affairs chief Shaaban Shaaban.

Some officials are listed, but there is no link to any form, even one refusing to disclose. These include Achim Steiner of UNEP and former UN lawyer, still listed as adviser Nicolas Michel, who took money from the Swiss government for his housing while serving as the UN's lawyer. Since that scandal, there are issues about Ban officials receiving housing subsidies through their spouses, not disclosed on the “public” disclosure forms.

Other Ban officials stating “I have chosen to maintain the confidentiality of the information disclosed by me in order to comply with the Financial Disclosure Program” include West Africa envoy Said Djinnit, Middle East and Lebanon specialist Michael Williams, UNDP Asia boss Ajay Chhibber (in charge, another other places, of Myanmar), Jan Mattsson of UNOPS, where Ban's son in law got a controversial promotion, and Cheick Sidi Diarra, whose brother has been Microsoft's Ambassador to Africa, allowed to use a UN dining room for this purpose.

In another display of non - transparency, Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky on January 21 told Inner City Press he would not answer any more questions until Inner City Press acted “appropriately.” This outburst came after Inner City Press asked for the second day in a row how UN Staff Regulation 1.2 applies to UN official's outside political activity.

Ban named Jack Lang as his adviser on piracy, reporting to the Security Council today. But Lang continues to write letters as an official of a political party in France, for example regarding Ivory Coast (where, again, Ban's envoy Choi Young-jin refuses to disclose his finances). The UN has refused to apply its Regulation 1.2 to this or other case, or to even answer questions about it.

   One wonders how this will be dealt with at today's US House of Representative hearings and afterward. Click here for footage of Ban's claims from a recent piece on Swedish TV including Inner City Press and a hearing witness.

  Ban's main claim to transparency, the 99% of his officials make public financial disclosure, is simply not true, and his spokesman refuses to answer any questions. Watch this space.

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Retaliation by Spokesman for "Transparent" Ban Ki-moon Typifies UN Decay

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 21 -- While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon runs for a second term claiming transparency and good government, he is represented by a spokesman who on Friday refused to answer questions after being asked about the applicability of a UN rule.

  As Inner City Press asked a question about the UN seeming cover-up of killings in Darfur, Spokesman Martin Nesirky stood up and left the briefing room, saying “I will take questions from you when you behave in an appropriate manner.”

  The only interchange earlier in the briefing had Inner City Press asking how UN Staff Regulation 1.2, prohibiting staff from public statements underlying impartiality applied to UN official (and Ban Ki-moon favorite) Michelle Montas going on CNN to say she would sue Baby Doc Duvalier.

  The previous day, Inner City Press has asked Nesirky what rule applied to Montas' actions. Nesirky did not provide any rule then, nor the next day.

  But Inner City Press was approached by outraged UN staff, who called Nesirky “the worst spokesperson the UN has ever had,” and provided the applicable rule. They also provided a precedent from last decade, when Doctor Andrew Thompson was fired under this rule for making public UN peacekeepers' sexual abuse of those they were charged to protect.

  On January 21, Inner City Press asked Nesirky about the rule, and intended to ask about the Thompson precedent. But Nesirky said, “I don't want to talk about it further.” Video here, from Minute 18:30.

  Earlier in the briefing, Inner City Press had asked why the UN has said nothing about Sudan's Omar al Bashir's government blocking the printing of a newspaper directed at Southern Sudan, after they published articles about the secession referendum. Video here from Minute 16.

After the UN Rules question, despite having said he would take Inner City Press' question about Ban Ki-moon's humanitarian coordinator for Sudan Georg Charpentier's claims that the thousands of violent deaths in Darfur in the last 12 months were not the al Bashir government's fault, Nesirky refused to take the question.

  Rather he stood up to leave. Asked why, he said “I will take questions from you when you behave in an appropriate manner.”

   A spokesperson is paid to answer questions. It is particularly strange that the spokesperson for a Secretary General claiming transparency and good government would simply refuse to answer about the applicability of a rule to a public UN action.

  To then retaliate against the media asking the question about rule and refuse to take any question, including about a UN mission for which the UN charges its member states $1 billion a year is outrageous.

   But in Ban Ki-moon's UN, will a UN official who on camera refuses to do his job, explicitly retaliating against a question about Ban administration lawlessness suffer any consequences?

  Other organizations would fire such an individual, including it seems the UN-affiliated International Monetary Fund. Inner City Press currently also covers the IMF, for example getting three questions answered on January 20 with no acrimony, retaliation or lack of professionalism. But in Ban's UN, officials like Nesirky are permitted lawless behavior that would not be allowed anywhere else.

Already, Nesirky has publicly yelled at Inner City Press, “It is my briefing! I run it how I chose!” For the week at the end of 2010, for which he was being paid, Nesirky left question after question unanswered.

Earlier this month, Inner City Press asked Nesirky for Ban's response to a New York Times article about bloat, overlap and waste in Ban's UN. Nesirky replied that since Ban was holding a press conference on January 14, Inner City Press could ask him then. But Nesirky did not allow Inner City Press to ask any question on January 14. Afterward, Inner City Press assessed the lack of transparency in Ban's UN for Swedish television, here.

Most recently, Nesirky said he would get an answer about Ban's staff's involvement in war crimes described in the New Yorker magazine - but has not provided any answers. Many UN correspondents have said he should not remain in the job. And yet he does, representing Ban Ki-moon and a UN that is, particularly on this front, in dramatic decay. 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.

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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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