Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Subscribe to RSS feed

March 1, 2011: Libya

Video (new)

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

UN Won't Answer Questions Since Ban Ki-moon's At Home, Deputy Spokeman Calls Press Solipsistic for Even Asking

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 17 -- When Secretary General Ban Ki-moon does not come to the UN, the UN has little or nothing to say. That was offered Wednesday as the reason for canceling regular noon briefings: "the Secretary General has been to a large extent working from his own home."

When Inner City Press asked why not, even in Ban's absence, devote five or ten minutes a day to a question and answer briefing during this summer of Libya and Syria, Ban's acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq on August 17 called this request, and the Press, "solipsistic" (transcript, definition and synonyms below).

Haq's belated linking of his canceling noon briefings to Ban being absent from the UN, if only at his UN-paid residence 10 blocks north, led a senior Ban official to tell the Press that this is how it works: Ban does not, for example, name an envoy to Syria because "if there is any progress, Ban wants to claim the credit."

The official compared it to Ban's claim of a personal relationship with Sudan's Omar al Bashir, that this would bear fruit. "In Southern Kordofan, Abyei and Darfur, has it?"

When Haq on August 12 announced he would not hold Tuesday or Thursday briefings, and Inner City Press questioned why, Haq said it was done previous summers. But beyond this being the summer of Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Syria among others, Haq's claim was not true: in the past ten years, briefing were only so limited in 2009, under Ban's spokesperson Michele Montas.

Inner City Press researched and put online the transcripts of daily August briefings from 2001 to 2010, disproving Haq's claim. But on August 17 Haq would not admit he had misspoken, instead saying that Ban is working from home and claiming that "I provided you the answers" to the questions emailed to him Tuesday when there was no noon briefing.

But Haq again merely referred a question to UNEP, about Ban giving a job to Samuel Koo; as reported today, Haq answered a question about UN official Michael Williams but not an identical question about Valerie Amos. He did not answer how many people work for Ian Martin on Libya.

Ban, Haq, Pascoe & Kim, Nesirky not shown, Q&A reduction not admitted

   Haq also did not define or provide synonyms for what he called the request for answers and briefing: so here goes, from

Solipsistic: overly concerned with one's own desires, needs, or interests <regards today's young people as solipsistic slackers who have no knowledge of or interest in the world at large>

Synonyms egoistic (also egoistical), egomaniacal, egotistic (or egotistical), narcissistic, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-concerned, self-infatuated, self-interested, self-involved, selfish, self-loving, self-obsessed, self-oriented, self-preoccupied, self-regarding, self-seeking, self-serving, solipsistic

This is how this UN answers questions. Watch this site.

From the UN's noon briefing trancript of August 17 (no briefing or transcript for August 16 - nor 18?)

Inner City Press: I remember on Friday when you announced that the briefings were going to be [canceled], Tuesdays and Thursdays no briefings, you seemed to say that this took place many summers before. So I went back and looked at the archive and it seems that, it seems that only in 2009 were any of these briefings suspended, and given that this year there is so much going on with Syria, Libya and other things, I wonder, do you maintain this was done in previous summers and what’s the problems with just having briefings short as it may be everyday?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: There is no problem with having briefings when we have information to impart. There have been some days that we hadn’t had that information to impart. Frankly, on this one, let’s not be too solipsistic about it, Matthew, you did have a bunch of questions for me yesterday and I provided you the answers.

Inner City Press: You seemed to imply that it took place in all previous summers, and I looked at the last 10 years and only one summer were they suspended. Is this a less newsworthy summer than previous summers?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: It was suspended in previous summers — 2009 and I think a few years before that. It doesn’t happen every summer, but yes, there are certain slow weeks. In this case, this is a week where the Secretary-General has been to a large extent working from his own home and quite a few officials are not present. There simply wasn’t that much information. And frankly, a Tuesday briefing would have been a fairly dull one. If there seems to be a lot going on tomorrow, we could revisit the decision, otherwise, the next briefing would be on Friday.

  And at 4:05 pm on Wednesday, the day before closed door briefings on Syria including by Ban's Department of Political Affairs, amid requests for similar presentations about Southern Kordofan in Sudan, Haq's office announced there will be no noon briefing on August 18. Apparently there is not "a lot going on."

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

* * *

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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

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

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -