Inner City Press


In Other Media-e.g. Somalia, Ghana, Azerbaijan, The Gambia   For further information, click here to contact us          .

Home -

Search is just below this first article

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07 7/19/07 6/29/07 6/14/7 6/1/7

How to Contact Us


Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"

Inner City Press Podcast --

For Iraqi Refugees, UN's Ban Says There's Moral Obligation, But Not By Whom

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: North Korea

UNITED NATIONS, September 18 -- On the opening day of his first General Assembly session, Ban Ki-moon displayed his brand of "soft ear" diplomacy, even when compared to the officials he has appointed. On Iraq, Ban's humanitarian coordinator John Holmes on Friday told BBC that the United States "has a moral obligation" to take more Iraqi refugees, that the U.S. isn't "doing enough." Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban if this is his view, and if it will be conveyed to President George W. Bush. Ban responded without once mentioning the U.S. or Bush, saying that "the parties concerned" do have "some moral obligation to do more for refugees," and that he will "try to see what would be an opportune time... to discuss these matters with the leaders of the countries concerned." Video here, from Minute 46:32.

            While Mr. Ban did not answer the second part of the question, regarding his plans to expand UN presence in Iraq and his assessment of the security situation there, he did mention two non-U.S. countries, Syria and Jordan. Ban said that both are experiencing difficulties accommodating the refugees at a rate of "fifteen thousand per week," and calling this a "huge humanitarian concern." John Holmes in his BBC "Hard Talk" interview on Friday went further, saying that events in "Iraq have poisoned the well for everyone," allowing countries like Sudan to oppose at least some humanitarians as having "an interventionist agenda," while discouraging developed countries from contributing peacekeepers "because of the taint of Iraq."

    One cannot imagine Ban using this language. When asked what was Sudanese President al-Bashir's response to demands he turn over to the International Criminal Court two indicted Sudanese, including government minister Ahmed Haroun, Mr. Ban demurred. Ban said that those were "private conversations," and that while justice and peace are important, "justice is a part of peace" and "for a certain period, some issues" should be "kept confidential to promote peace."

Ban and his envoy for Iraq (and Myanmar) Ibrahim Gambari

            Not mentioned in the 20-question press conference was the situation in Myanmar, where the UN's silence has drawn negative editorials and calls from Congress and elsewhere. Also not mentioned was Somalia, one of the hot wars on the planet, but one on which no high level meeting has been scheduled. The week's focus on heat will be on global warming, with an all-day event on September 24 involving, Ban said, 80 heads of state and government. How will the relative success of that day be measured? Why put off until Bali in December a discussion of the reduction of emissions? Some say that heads of state are too high up to negotiate such things. They ask, then what's the point?

            Nineteen days into his tenure, Ban Ki-moon faced his first UN corruption scandal, involving the UN Development Program in North Korea, paying the Kim Jong-il government in hard currency for workers the government selected. Ban ordered a comprehensive audit. But in the first round of audit, North Korea gave no visas. On Tuesday, Ban said that he hopes that UNDP's new "independent, recognized" auditors named "a few days ago" will get cooperation. But it is the same UN Board of Auditors which has been charged with gaining access to North Korea, not the new panel nominated by UNDP's Administrator Kemal Dervis, which some see as a mere attempt to substitute for and circumvent the UN Ethics Office, to the detriment of UN system whistleblowers. Ban will need to clarify this muddle. And insiders predict a closed-door dinner during this GA week between Ban and the North Korean foreign minister will be the opportunity for Ban to be invited to Pyongyang. Shouldn't the auditors go there first? Developing.

* * *

  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent 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 WWW Search

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service.

            Copyright 2006-07 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -

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

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