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As UN Names Gaza Flotilla Panel, Uribe Seems Ill-Timed, Sri Lanka Delay Contrasted

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 2 -- As Inner City Press predicted Saturday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has announced a panel on the assault on the Gaza flotilla, chaired by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer. While Inner City Press said the announcement could come as early as Sunday, the UN made its announcement 9:38 Monday morning.

The vice chair is outgoing Colombian president Alvaro Uribe. While a major U.S. ally, this selection by Ban appears ill-timed to some, given Colombia's current stand off with Venezuela, triggered by Uribe's accusation that Hugo Chavez is harboring FARC guerrillas.

Only last week, Venezuela's Ambassador Valero met with Ban and delivered a letter accusing Uribe of warlike acts. To now put him on the Gaza flotilla panel seems strange.

UN's Ban and Uribe, Venezuela and Sri Lanka slowness not shown

Also worth contrasting is the speed of Ban's announcement -- the panel will formally begin work on August 10, and make its first report in mid September -- compared with his delay in announcing, naming and starting his advisory panel on Sri Lanka's “bloodbath on the beach” in May 2009.

It was only in March 2010 that Ban said he would appoint a panel, and only on June 22 did he in fact name the panel's members. They met on July 19, but the four month clock for them to report has still not begun, as Ban has yet to staff the panel. (His first choice as chief of staff, Jessica Neuwirth, was withdrawn after reporting of nepotism.)

So who will staff this Gaza flotilla panel, and why can Ban move so much quicker in this case? Watch this site.

Update of 10:05 am -- The UN is showing staged footage of Ban Ki-moon “announcing” the panel to UN Radio microphone, following a staged question. Why make it a pretend interview, by the UN's own in-house media?

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At UN, Ban Ki-moon Plans Quick Unveiling of Flotilla Panel Win, With N.Zealand Chair, Sources Say, An End to Leaks?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 31 -- While Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on July 30 was shrouded in secrecy, afterward UN diplomats bragged about their boss' “win.”

  They said Israel has agreed to Ban's -- or really the Security Council's -- idea of a independent panel about the assault on the Gaza flotilla. They said that while the UN's cursory Friday evening read out didn't say it, the unveiling of Ban's “win” would take place next week.

  Some who spoke to Ban later on Friday night said the announcement will be Sunday evening, and that the chair of the panel will be from New Zealand, with other members from Israel and Turkey.

  Team Ban, typically, sees this development in the context of Ban's recent travails triggered by the leaked End of Assignment memo by Inga Britt Ahlenius, until then the UN's chief of the Office of Internal Oversight Services. Trying to combat the memo's critique, including of Ban's diplomatic skills, Ban has deployed first his chief of staff, then his chief of Management, without much impact.

   To package and unveil a diplomatic win, just before Ban travels for the week to Hiroshima in Japan, seems to Team Ban a true turning of the corner. We'll see.

UN's Ban and Barak back in June, OIOS memo, leak and "win" not shown

   According to Ban administration sources, in Ban's closed door selective briefing to some Japanese reporters to hype up his trip, Ban asked for “East Asian solidarity” in fighting leaks and attacks on his image.

  He complained he was particularly offended by Ahlenius' critique since he had thrown her a retirement party and invited her into his home. It's an Asian thing, he in essence said, this simply isn't done. What, leaking? Whistleblowing? Criticizing one's boss?

 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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