At the UN, Team Ban Accused of Undermining Africa,
Leaking of Letter Is Counter-Charged
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, July 19, updated July 20 --
Opposition to Ban Ki-moon plan to consolidate the UN Office of the Special
Advisor on Africa continued to spread on Thursday, and Ban's Spokesperson in the
view of some was fanning the flames, by accusing the Group of 77 and China of
leaking their letter of protest.
Thursday Inner City Press asked Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya about the
letter. He responded that it grew from "the importance that members... attach to
the Africa issue," that they "don't want the significance of Africa undermined."
The merger plan for the OSAA was
first reported on by Inner City Press on
July 10, and
confirmed by Deputy Secretary General
Migiro on July 11, and then by
Mr. Ban. Among the problems was a failure to consult the African Group, the
Group of 77 and China, and the General Assembly more broadly.
On the morning of Monday, July 16, the G77
circulated a letter of protest to its 130 members, given them until noon to
proposes changes. At noon, they say, the finalized letter was transmitted to the
Secretariat, and Monday night it was
by Thalif Deen of IPS.
Having been asked about the G77 letter on Tuesday, the Spokesperson on Wednesday
read out that "I am surprised to see that a letter on this matter,
purportedly from Ambassador Akram to the Secretary-General, was shared with the
press even before it had reached the Secretary-General."
In an IPS statement provided to Inner City Press, this is directly contradicted:
Spokesman's response implied the letter had been leaked by the G-77 before it
was sent to the S-G. This is dead wrong. The draft of the letter was
circulated to all 130 members for their approval on Monday morning, and
therefore it could have been leaked by any one of those 130 countries. All
formal letters from the G-77 have to be approved by its members who were given a
12 noon deadline for any changes... So, why did the spokesman's office assume it
was leaked by the G-77?"
Thursday's noon briefing,
Inner City Press tried to get an answer to this:
Press: It's been explained to me that the G-77 circulated a letter Monday
morning and that nobody objected to it, and they transmitted it to the
Secretary-General in the middle of Monday... I just want to be clear, you seemed
to say that either someone had leaked it, or you are disappointed that someone
had leaked it prior to having been given to the Secretary-General.
No, I said it appeared in the press before the Secretary-General saw it --
that's what I said.
Press: OK, but when did he get it?
I don't have the exact time of when he got it.
Press: But it was after the press report came out.
If you ignore and jump the gun on a group of countries, it seems strange to
accuse them of leaking their letter of protest.
planted in Addis, uprooting not shown
The tamping down or
suppressing in advance of dissent now appears to be a goal, sometimes
effectuated. Harvard's Calestous Juma, described in a UN briefing on Thursday as
a main expert behind an
UNCTAD report entitled "Knowledge, Technological Learning and Innovation,"
was asked by Inner City Press for his experience with the OSAA, and views on its
at end. It's not in the table of contents or index of the report, he responded,
and so I have nothing to say about it. Can you say, independent scholarship?
On Friday Mr. Juma clarified that his relation to the report is more attenuated
-- he played a larger role in an earlier study to which "Knowledge,
Technological Learning and Innovation" is a successor -- and that since he was
invited to the UN to
launch this particular study, he thought it would be inappropriate to
comment on the proposed consolidation of the OSAA. He writes that he
"was invited in his independent capacity
as an expert on innovation for development. He was a lead author of "Innovation:
Applying Knowledge in Development", report of the
UN Millennium Project's Task Force on
Science, Technology and Innovation.
The UN Miillennium Project was was commissioned by former UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan and led by Professor Jeffrey Sachs.
He did, however, encourage Inner City Press to
continue to report in this regard, which we will. We hope to hear from from Mr.
Juma, as well.
Mr. Ban, or his team, makes much of his diplomatic
moves, with Sudan's president al-Bashir. Later on Thursday, Inner City Press
asked Sudan's Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad about Mr. Ban's move
to consolidate the OSAA.
"It is a violation of the General Assembly" and its role, he said. He added that
the Secretariat has not forwarded any names for a replacement to Jan Pronk as
Since it was said on Wednesday that Ban's presentation about the OSAA to the
Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions will be only a
"consultation," Inner City Press
asked GA spokesman Ashraf Kamal on
Press: On this issue of the Office of the Special Adviser for Africa, to make
the change that they are proposing, does it require GA approval?
Do you give him the "if asked" questions? The G-77 letter was addressed to
the Secretary-General, so, technically, this is a matter for the
Secretary-General to respond to. The President will listen to Member
States' views and, if asked, will exert her efforts to facilitate a resolution
on this issue. To answer your question more specifically, like I said
before and I will repeat it for the umpteenth time, any change that involves the
resources of the Organization, which were adopted in a budget document, involves
approval by Member States.
Press: Prior approval?
Well, if you want to change, you will go to Member States to seek their
approval, so yes, it has to be prior.
* * *
Given Ban's omission of Somalia in his
July 16 press conference, 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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