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UN Denies Ban's Korea-Less Speech Was For Re-Election, NJ Wrong Venue, It Says

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 24 -- “Do you think the Secretary General would give a re-election speech at a university in New Jersey?” Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Farhan Haq asked Inner City Press on Wednesday, two days after Ban's “major policy address” at Seton Hall.

Well, yes. Ban's speech, replete with first person references to the effect of “I saved people in Myanmar,” was described a warm up, or off Broadway working out the kinks of, a re-election speech. Suggestion to speech writer Mike Meyer: next time, try to include more about Korea. And it's better to acknowledge UN failures, from the mass rapes in Congo to the shooting of civilians in Haiti, than to ignore them.

  Those present at Seton Hall on Monday compared Ban's crowd unfavorably to one drawn by Tony Blair. The questions, as it happens, were pre-screened so as to not be controversial.

Inner City Press asked Haq on November 24 if any thought had been given to including Korea in the speech, given that even days before Ban delivered it, the focus of reporters covering the Security Council was on North Korea and nuclear non proliferation. Haq pointed to Ban's November 23 statement, a day after the speech.

  Haq was asked why Ban, in expressing his “utmost concern” about North Korea to Security Council president Mark Lyall Grant, had not asked a meeting on the topic, as he could under Article 99 of the UN Charter. Video here.

UN's Ban admires his award: it's a Jersey thing

  Inner City Press asked about a Korean Peninsula / DPRK Policy Committee memo and meeting scheduled for December 6. We don't comment on leaked documents, Haq said, before saying that no senior official had seen the memo.

  So is there a unit in the UN Department of Political Affairs which drafts memos for Ban's Policy Committee?

  And if this is the Ban administration's attitude to New Jersey, why did Ban go there to receive an honorary degree -- which Haq declined to confirm, hours before it was awarded -- and to deliver a policy speech across the Hudson River? Watch this site.

From the UN's November 24 transcript:

Inner City Press: I notice in the speech the Secretary-General gave at Seton Hall didn’t really seem to, other than a sort of historical reference to the UN having helped Korea in the past, there seems to have been no mention of events, whether positive or negative, in terms of Korea. I guess I wonder — at the time the speech was given, there was already a lot of discussion at the Security Council of proliferation in Korea. Was there any, in retrospect it looks like this seems to be a big, a kind of a missing, an elephant in the room in terms of that speech, which some people have described as a re-election speech.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq: Not every topic needs to come up in every speech that the Secretary-General gives. The Secretary-General spoke quite forcefully on the question of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea just yesterday, and I would refer you to what he said. Beyond that, of course, we have a long-standing concern for the suffering people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, particularly women and children.

Inner City Press: But I guess I wanted to — if you could, and you’re very good at explaining these things. That speech seemed to only portray, there didn’t seem to be any kind of self-criticism of, let’s say, doubts that have arisen in Haiti, or the mass rapes in the Congo. Everything was “the UN is needed and is doing its job, it’s excellent”, and some people have described it as a re-election speech. Is that how we should read that speech? Seton Hall said it was going to be a major policy statement.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: You’re suggesting that the Secretary-General of the United Nations would do a re-election speech at a university in New Jersey?

Inner City Press: I guess I am asking you.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: I think your question answers itself.

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Amid Korea Shots & Worries, UN Ban Silent in NJ Speech, Hours After White House

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 23, updated -- With North and South Korea exchanging fire amid renewed concern about North Korea's nuclear program, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's November 22 speech at Seton Hall, billed alternately as a major policy address or Ban's re-election speech, mentioned Korea only once, in passing and in an entirely positive context.

We help the helpless to help themselves, just as the UN did for Korea many decades ago,” Ban said, before praising his own performance in Myanmar and Darfur.

Throughout the weekend before Ban gave his major / re-election speech, the wires and UN press corps were full of news of North Korea and its nuclear program. Still, no one in Ban's team modified the speech.

Ban speech this month, lagging behind the news

At 4:30 am on November 23, the US White House issued a statement on the Korean shooting. Four hours later, still nothing out of Ban's UN Secretariat. Watch this space.

Update of 10:20 am -- Ban Ki-moon has announced that he has “conveyed his utmost concern to the President of the Security Council.” But President Mark Lyall Grant told the Press no one has requested a meeting on the Korea shootout. S-Gs can request Council meetings, under Article 99 of the UN Charter. So what does utmost mean? What is ut-ter than utmost? Watch this site.

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In New Jersey, UN Ban Speech Ignores Haiti, Congo & Sri Lanka, Brags of Darfur

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 22 -- When Seton Hall hosted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, it told the Press to expect a “major policy address entitled, 'Can the UN Deliver What the World Needs?'”

At a time when for example the UN is accused of playing a role in the introduction and spread of cholera in Haiti, and has killed at least one Haitian demonstrator, one expected this issue to at least be mentioned in the major policy address. But Ban's speech, as distributed under embargo to the UN press corps, did not even mention Haiti.

Amazingly, Ban's speech praised his and the UN's role in Myanmar and went on that “We did the same in Darfur. For years, conflict raged... today, the mission continues to protect civilians.” This right after the slaughter at Tawila, which even Ban acknowledged raised issues about the UN peacekeepers freedom of movement and protection of civilians.

  Ban did not mention Sri Lanka, a country where he has been burned in effigy and where after tens of thousands of deaths, the International Crisis Group said the UN's inaction should be investigated.

Not a mention of the mass rapes in Eastern Congo, and the UN peacekeepers' inaction. After each of these incidents, the UN has said it can and will do better. But this is soon forgotten, not even mentioned amid the self congratulation.

  This speech is described in house as Ban's re-election speech: "all the great things I have done" (and none of the short falls, none of the need to or commitment to reform - spin, in short.)

  An Inner City Press correspondent at the speech reports on questions about the South Sudan referendum, Afghanistan and terrorism, still nothing on cholera in Haiti, mass rape in the Congo.

Ban at a recent speech, re-election not shown

At Monday's noon press briefing, Ban's acting deputy spokesman was asked if Ban would be receiving an honorary degree, as Seton Hall itself had been announcing since last week. Haq would not confirm it. But the speech, even as embargoed, began with thanks for the award. Ah, communications.

* * *

In Haiti, UN Fires Into Crowds, Says Its Only Focus Is Future, Not How Cholera Arrived

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 15 -- With protesters in Haiti still blaming the UN for the deadly cholera outbreak, and UN peacekeepers reportedly opening fire on the crowds, at UN headquarters on Monday Inner City Press asked the UN's interim humanitarian coordinator for Haiti Nigel Fisher why the UN had not acted to fully investigate reports of UN peacekeepers' roles in bringing or spreading the disease. Video here, from Minute 22:21.

My focus is on how to stop” the disease, Fisher replied. But even the UN's deputy special envoy Paul Farmer denounced this approach, call it more politics than science. Beyond being anti scientific, it appears in this case that the UN's attempts to brush off complaints and not fully investigate them has come back to haunt the UN, as suspicions have only grown.

Inner City Press asked when the last time cholera had been present in Haiti. “There has never before been cholera in Haiti,” Fisher answered.

Fisher characterized as “political manipulation” the claims by the Mayor of Mirebalais that the disease may have come from the UN Peacekeeping base there, staffed by peacekeepers from Nepal. But the Centers for Disease Control, even Fisher acknowledged Monday, said the strain is a strain which originated in South Asia.

Nigel Fisher by video, facts on MINUSTAH role not shown, (c) MRLee

Some in the UN system say that even looking into the role of the peacekeepers from Nepal is somehow racist. But political correctness can lead to riots in which UN peacekeepers are shooting into crowds of Haitians. Which is worse? 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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