Ban's UN, Access Lists Are Not Kept or Disclosed, Consultations After the Fact
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, July
17 -- To whom does Ban Ki-moon grant access? It's a simple question, but it has
yet to be answered.
Ban's statements when running for Secretary-General that he would be transparent
and accountable, it seemed like the kind of question that would be answered,
rather than evaded. But now that even Mr. Ban, in his
July 16 press conference,
acknowledged that the question of "Koreans" is dogging his administration --
unfairly, he said without allowing any questions on the topic -- the answers
become more and more opaque and circular.
Monday by Inner City Press to whom Mr. Ban has sent congratulations and
greetings, and to whom he has granted interviews, his Spokesperson's Office
replied curtly on Tuesday that all this is public record, and refused to provide
But since the interviews, if they appeared in print, are nevertheless in many
different languages, referring to public records as the answer is intentionally
non-responsive. His spokesperson's office doesn't have a list of interviews
granted? As they might say in French, c'est un drole d'office.
City Press at
Tuesday's noon briefing asked:
Inner City Press: If you could give us a
list of people -- whether they be volunteers or not paid by the UN, or whether
they be on staff or on sabbatical from missions to the UN, or foreign ministries
of Member States -- that have access to the 38th Floor and are assisting in the
work of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. He made a big point of
saying... people have attacked me and sort of the composition of his team. I
know that on Friday you put out a list, so I guess this is a formal request to
know of the range of people that are described, who either work on the 38th
Floor, or has routine access to the 38th Floor.
Deputy Spokesperson: As you yourself just
mentioned, we announced the line-up of all the senior advisers of the
Secretary-General on the 38th Floor and those of the advisers who are the
closest and have the most access to the Secretary-General on the 38th Floor.
Question: So you are saying that the
list... as I have heard, there is this thing called "the morning meeting." Are
these the individuals that attend it? [inaudible] I want to make sure that we
have a complete picture.
Deputy Spokesperson: What you are asking
is, who is the Secretary-General's most senior advisers? We announced that on
Friday, and we provided you with the list, their nationalities and their
ranking. These are the staff members, who have open access to the 38th Floor,
because most of them actually have offices on the 38th Floor. There are other
people who see the Secretary-General and are senior advisers on an as-needed
basis, as any other senior official in any other Government. And there is also
the senior officials of the Secretariat and UN agencies, who, obviously, provide
an important advisory role to the Secretary-General.
makes clear, the question was not "who are the Secretary-General's most senior
advisors," but rather, who has access to the 38th floor and assists in the work
of the EOSG? To make it clear, after the noon briefing, Inner City Press
submitted the question in writing:
to sharpen and reiterate one of the
questions I asked just now at the noon briefing --
This is a request for a list of any and
all volunteers or persons not paid by the UN who work on or who have routine
access to the 38th Floor, including but not limited to people employed by or on
sabbatical from the Mission or foreign ministry of any member state,
and also, separately, for any other
Koreans -- since the Secretary General used that term in his press conference --
who work for or who have routine access to the 38th Floor or to Mr. Ban, on
UN-related matters. In yesterday's press conference, during which no (follow-up
or even initial) questions were allowed on this topic, which Mr. Ban chose to
unilaterally bring up, Mr. Ban said
"I have brought with me just a few Korean
officials. Of course, the Director of the scheduling office is a Korean, but he
is not senior. There is only one senior Korean policy adviser; he is Mr. Kim
Won-soo. I have one secretary, a female secretary."
Since Mr. Ban did not mention the
previously disclosed Kweon Ki-hwan, placed in the Department of Management, nor
your colleague in the OSSG but stated to be part of the EOSG, please describe
their roles, whether they are advisors, whether they (or anyone else beyond
those on the list released on July 13) attend the "morning meetings."
Also, in the S-G quote from yesterday,
one scheduler and one secretary are mentioned. If the scheduler referred to was
Yoon Yeocheol (Chief of scheduling, D1 -- not senior?), and a secretary
was mentioned, please explain why Lee Sang-hwa (P4 - first officer, scheduling)
was not mentioned.
[There] are the still unanswered questions
to which national Associations for the UN
has Ban Ki-moon sent statements of appreciation? To which associations for
UNICEF has he sent statements similar to that at
and Somalia, how much money passes through
units of the UN system (incl. UNDP, which has refused to respond to this
question) from donors to the Transitional Federal Government and / or Congress
later, in purported response to the above, the following was provided:
Subj: Hello. Today's noon question,
yesterday's unanswered questions, and an aside. Thank you.
From: [Office of the Spokesperson at]
To: Inner City Press
Date: 7/17/2007 6:07:16 PM Eastern
As chief administrative officer of the
United Nations (Charter Article 97), the Secretary-General relies on the whole
secretariat to perform his functions. Last week we released the list of his
senior advisors who serve in his Executive Office. The Secretary-General also
relies on the Senior Management Group for advice. The membership of that group
is publicly available on the UN website. As for the nationals of the Republic of
Korea that the Secretary-General brought with him from Seoul, we made that list
public a while back and the Secretary-General also mentioned some of them in his
Regarding access to the 38th floor, anyone
who has an appointment to meet with those UN staffers who have offices on the
38th floor have access. We do keep not ask [sic] people what their nationality
is before they are permitted to enter the 38th floor, or any other part of the
Your question on Somalia from yesterday
As for your other questions about
interviews and statements, all those are in the public domain.
are there volunteers or personnel from Missions or foreign ministries
assisting the Executive Office of the Secretary General? The question was asked,
and the above was what was provided.
response to the snarky "we do not ask people what their nationality is before
they are permitted to enter the 38th floor or any other part of the building,"
note that the forms to receive a UN pass include a question about nationality
and even passport number. UN hiring is based on a "system of desirable ranges"
that is entirely based on nationality.
Ban in DC on July 17, as in NY his OSSG won't say with whom he meets
Separately, Inner City Press is told by the OSSG that they purportedly don't
have any list of interviews that Ban Ki-moon has granted, nor greetings and
congratulations he has sent. Great recordkeeping. And not only was the question
about the UN system's funding for Somalia not answered, the other answer
according to another correspondent, not this one, evasive. From the noon
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask
something about Somalia, which didn't come up yesterday. The Chairman of the
Somali Parliament's Committee on Information is
saying that the UN Special Envoy [Francois Lonseny] Fall discouraged
international and European representatives who were going to attend the
reconciliation conference from going to Somalia on Friday. So I am wondering,
what is the UN's response to that. Do you acknowledge that some communication
was made by Mr. Fall's office to other envoys or has...? What is going on with
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, as you know,
the Secretary-General issued a statement on Friday, encouraging the successful
beginning of this national reconciliation conference. The Secretary-General
stressed that this conference is the beginning of the process of rebuilding
consensus in Somali society and he expressed the UN's commitment, so I can't
imagine how his Special Representative would be discouraging anybody from
attending such a conference.
Question: But did... Mr. Fall himself
didn't go. So I guess it is one of ... I mean, this is a direct quote, maybe he
is wrong, but he says, "this was unfortunate that the Office of the Special
Representative of the UN Secretary-General advised representatives of the
international community not to participate in the opening ceremony." Maybe he
is wrong. So I guess, your response is that he is wrong.
Deputy Spokesperson: My understanding is
that, given the Secretary-General's stated encouragement of this process, his
Special Representative would only try to promote the successful holding of the
Question: Do you know when he is going to
Deputy Spokesperson: I understand that...
we can confirm later, but that he will be there again on Thursday.
Afterwards, OSSG staff chided Inner City Press for making this inquiry:
You asked that question on Somalia
yesterday and we gave you an answer (which I see you used in a
but since you asked it again today, I'm resending the same answer. I hope it
'The UN envoy Francois Fall was planning
to attend the NRC on a UN flight, but that plan was cancelled due to security
reasons. As far as we know this only affected the UN participation on Sunday.
Other members of the international community had arranged flights separately.'
reason the question re-appeared is that after that answer, the chairman
of the Somali parliament's committee on information
accused Mr. Fall of discouraging other
international envoys from flying to Somalia.
His reason for not himself attending the opening would seem to be
safety-related, and if so, to advise others about safety would not be
unexpected. But to say it's an illegitimate question, re-asked when a new quote
comes out? And, as another correspondent said, if Somalia is so important to Ban
Ki-moon why did he neither mention it nor accept, through this Spokesperson, any
questions on it on Monday?
a backlash on Ban is growing, within the African Group. Ban's Deputy
Spokesperson on Tuesday tried to deflect the question:
Question: The G-77 has written a letter
to the Secretary-General, expressing deep concern over the abolition of the post
of Special Adviser for Africa -- something that we have touched upon yesterday,
also. But now I know they have written a letter, also expressing concern that
UNCTAD's Liaison Officer has been put under the charge of the High
Representative of the Secretary-General on Least Developed Countries. And in
the letter that has been sent, according to my understanding, the G-77 has told
the Secretary-General that this is the prerogative of the UNGA to change any
structure at all, especially the legislative mandate of this. And they also
said that the UNGA should be taken into confidence for this [inaudible]. Has
the Secretary-General received that letter and replied to it, as yet?
Deputy Spokesperson: I don't know if the
Secretary-General has seen the letter. I was told of the press report that you
referred to. But, on that, I would have to refer you directly to the
Secretary-General's comments yesterday, in which he does outline, quite in
detail, his thinking about how he intends to go about maximizing what this
Organization can do for Africa. And I think he outlined that quite clearly.
Specifically about how the African Group views this issue, I just wanted to draw
your attention to the fact that the African Group, I am told, is meeting
tomorrow on this issue. So I think we don't have anything to say before they
meet. In the meantime, the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General and
the senior advisers are in constant close consultations with African and other
Member States on this issue.
it's nice to show deference to the African Group, it would have made more sense
before announcing that the Office of the Special Advisor on Africa was
being consolidated. Inner City Press tried to follow up:
Inner City Press: the same press reports
that say that the Secretary-General has, I guess, conveyed to the G-77 that to
make the merger that he described yesterday, he has to go through the ACABQ? Is
Deputy Spokesperson: I have nothing
further than what I just answered on this question.
Question: But he said yesterday... that
if you look at how the office has been managed during the last few years, there
may be a better way to use the resources. Is it fair to read it as criticism of
the management of either Legwaila or Gambari, who managed the office?
Deputy Spokesperson: I've said what I had
to say on this subject.
questions still haven't been answered. Developing.
* * *
Given Ban's omission of Somalia on Monday,
and the above-recounted responses of Tuesday, click
piece by this correspondent about the National Reconciliation Congress, the UN's
$200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund, and note the cancellation of
the UN's pre-Congress flight to Mogadishu.
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