Avoids Press, Invites Press, No Comment on Chad or
July 23, vaguely updated below -- What is the role of the press in the
besetting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon? While one of his top
is quoted this week in The Guardian as blaming the press for
not reporting what Ban does and says, Ban himself has invited UN
correspondents for a “summer drink” Friday at 6 pm.
is for Ban
Ki-moon's views that Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin
Nesirky on Friday about the ascension
to power in Suriname of Desi
Bouterse, a former coup leader who was sentenced to 11 years in jail
for cocaine trafficking.
after correcting the pronunciation
of Bouterse's name, said Ban has no comment, “this is an internal
matter for Suriname.” Video here,
from Minute 15:23.
by definition, is not only an internal matter. With the UN Security
Council deeming the entry into government positions well below
president of drug traffickers in Guinea Bissau and Afghanistan to be
threats to international peace and security, Ban's answer as to
Suriname seems strange.
accompanied by his chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and advisory
Nicholas Haysom, Ban popped in and out of the Security Council
without speaking to the press. A UN staff member told Inner City
Press that an “impromptu” stakeout interview on UN Television had
been envisioned, but did not take place.
no comment on whether Chad, a member of the International Criminal
Court, should arrest the visiting Omar al Bashir, indicted by the ICC
for genocide and war crimes. It is hard to report leadership when
these are the answers. In fact, according to Sudan's outgoing
Ambassador to the UN, his farewell call with Ban was cordial and
involved Ban calling him “memorable,” on Friday afternoon two and
a half hours before the still un-canceled reception for the press.
went out before the leak of the End of Assignment Report by Inga
Britt Ahlenius, first to Turtle Bay then, presumably by a Mission or
regional grouping, to IPS, which to its credit put the full report
But, to the surprise of some, the reception was not
be controlled. At Friday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked
Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky when Mr. Ban will take questions, in
his own name and on the record. Nesirky replied, “at some point he
will meet with you formally, not in a social setting, and in that
setting he will answer questions.”
imply that the topic of the moment will be verboten at Ban's July 23
summer drinks. It will, then, be the elephant in the room.
UN's Ban raises glass in past, press and memo not shown
Thursday, a senior UN official answered Inner City Press' question
about a lack of accomplishments on Myanmar by saying that
bureaucratic action is like the mating of elephants: it takes place
at a high level, with a lot of noise, and the results are not clear
until later. Watch this site.
of 7:31 p.m.(all of the above published at 5:43) -- for completeness'
sake we must report that, upon
arrival to the North Lawn building's third floor, Inner City Press
was approached and told it is “all off the record” and not to
somehow “hijack” the event. Hijack? Actually, good jokes were
told, by very senior UN official(s). Salmon in pastry was served. A
long time journalist -- unnamed because requested off the record --
was celebrated, in what was dubbed a Cane Throwing Ceremony. The
Press was reportedly well behaved. But the Pressure will continue.
Watch this site.
* * *
UN Called Secret on Corruption,
Silent on Torture from Sri Lanka to Sudan
July 23 -- The widening gap between UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon's rhetoric and what his administration actually thinks and
does was on display on July 22. Ban preaches about transparency and
accountability, but he was represented
Thursday by a person who
opaquely demanded to be identified as a “senior UN official” -
that is, without accountability.
official,” when asked by Inner City Press why under Ban moves
toward a UN Freedom of Information Act were curtailed, replied, “ask
the member states, let them legislate, then we'll do it.” He
paused. “If the member states insist, our way of decision making
would have to be modified” for “this kind of perfect
back on May 3, Ban intoned that “I welcome the global trend towards
new laws which recognize the universal right to publicly held
information. Unfortunately, these new laws do not always translate
into action. Requests for official information are often refused, or
delayed, sometimes for years... Too often, this happens because of a
culture of secrecy and a lack of accountability” Ya don't say.
City Press asked Ban's senior UN official to explain what if anything
he has done about the military dictatorship and impending scam
election in Myanmar, a country where Ban's administration allowed and
covered by the theft of over 20% of UN aid funds by the Than Shwe
regime using foreign exchange requirement the UN never complained
about until exposed by this publication.
official declined to give any specifics, but said
you are leading on several fronts, you are not leading on any. Things
take time; some things take time. Effort for us is a great thing. The
kind of effort you make on particular issues is important. There
is a definition of bureaucratic action: it is like elephants mating.
There’s a lot of noise, and it take years to see the result.”
Ban has had
more than three years, and in the next six months on elections in not
only Myanmar but also South Sudan, leadership is sorely lacking.
Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky this week why
the UN has said nothing about reported torture of South Sudan
referendum supporters. Nesirky said, it's “not our job to police
official on Thursday, speaking more general of Ban, said that
has called himself a carpenter, not an architect. The way he handled
climate change was to take on the larger role. But on other issues –
DRC, Sudan – he’s taken the nuts and bolts role. He has
generally had a predisposition to look to practical aspects; he has
taken a practical approach. That is part of his training.”
means staying silent in the face of torture. Ban's
training was as South Korea's minister of trade and foreign affairs.
In this role, he praised a joint Daewoo and Indian pipeline across
Myanmar as a “win - win.”
Sri Lankan strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa, such that he remained
sickeningly silent as Rajapaksa's forces killed tens of thousands of
Tamil civilians in 2009, and imprisoned hundreds of thousands more,
using UN funds.
UN's Ban walking into Myanmar: follow through not shown
the prison camps and smiled as Tamil
children as gunpoint sang his name. That's not nuts and bolts, one
wag said: that's just nuts.
who will tell
him? The senior UN official continued:
has a wide spectrum of senior managers; not all yes-men as such. In
every management team you have ones who prefer the subrosa approach,
and ones who prefer the public approach. There is a necessity for
the SG to insist on a certain modicum of discipline. That’s not
very different than what would happen in any governmental or private
sector management team.”
all yes-man as
such. No, it is a multi-cultural and multi-lingual Organization,
so there are also the men and women of Si and Oui and
iwa. Ban himself should have, and some say soon will
deliver his own defense. Watch this site.
* * *
UN Official Says No FOIA Needed, Myanmar & Sudan No Comment
July 22 -- Ban Ki-moon's desire for a second term as UN
Secretary General was on display on Thursday, when two separate press
conferences were held to rebut the critique of
Secretary General for Investigations Inga Britt Ahlenius.
Kane and her human resources Assistant SG Catherine Pollard
provided a dense, some say misleading defense of Ban's reaching
to determine Ahlenius' choice of a deputy.
Kane says it
would be improper, however, for her as USG for Management to answer
Inner City Press' request for Team Ban's response to Ahlenius'
statement that Ban has failed on such issues as Myanmar and Sudan.
Inner City Press asked who would take questions on Myanmar and
and Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said you may have an opportunity
5 to 6 pm
that afternoon, a self described “senior UN official,” whom we'll
refer to as SUNO or as “he,” while it may have been a woman, took
questions off camera from the Press.
Press asked for example about
Ban, despite the centrality of gender
balance to his defense, having named of High Level Advisory Group on
Climate Change Financing consisting of 19 people, all men, until
was replaced by Minister Lagarde of France, the Senior UN Official
said the criticism by the Presswas “unfair,” since a woman was added to
19 member Group in the end. A Ban advisor -- to play by the rules, we
cannot say whether the same or a different one -- similarly this week blamed
began by asking for a defense of what Ahlenius and others call Ban's
failure on Myanmar and Sudan. The Senior UN Official deflected this
by saying that on some issues you move favor and some slow.
South Sudan there is the deadline of a planned referendum. The
Official countered that he only wanted to talk about Ms. Ahlenius'
critique -- which, of course, included Myanmar and Sudan, as well as
Congo and Cyprus, but who's counting?
Press asked about the division of powers question at the heart of
Ahlenius' critique, that under the rules she should had the
independence, as UNDP does, to appoint her own D-2 level officials.
The UN Official responded first that in practice, “systematically,”
Helen Clark of UNDP checks on such appointments with Ban.
have to, and Clark is also not in charge of investigating Ban Ki-moon
and the Secretariat. The founding documents of OIOS say that it
should have the same hiring independence as UNDP.
disagreed, surreally. It can't be the same, he said, “mutatis
mutandi... you should know... what applies to [you] does not apply to
[another journalist]... you have a beard.” Then the Official
turned to take other questions.
UN's Ban and Ahlenius at farewell, per UN, 50 page
memo not shown
bragged about Ban's UN's transparency, Inner City Press asked why the
Compacts Ban signs with his officials -- now to their credit
including the heads of peacekeeping missions -- are only placed on
the UN's intranet, and not for the public, or “we the peoples,”
and why the UN under Ban stopped moving toward, or even talking
about, a Freedom of Information Act.
a FOIA, the
Senior UN Official replied, “ask the member states, let them
legislate, then we'll do it.” He pauses. “If the member states
insist, our way of decision making would have to be modified” for
“this kind of perfect transparency.” So, no UN FOIA. So much
for transparency. Watch this site.
* * *
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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