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Claimed UN Reforms are Sagging, High Flying Ban Oversees Raids on Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 12 -- What is UN reform? For some it revolves primarily around air travel costs, with the intern in business class a sort of modern day welfare queen in a limousine.

  But in terms of accountability, when the UN Staff Union voted “no confidence” in Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and Inner City Press asked repeatedly how much Ban spends on travel for himself and his entourage, no answer has been given.

  Doesn't transparency start at the top?

  Similarly, while it was in the context of his “mobility” plan that Ban Ki-moon answered Inner City Press that his opponents in the UN Staff Union in New York were “selfish,” many point to Ban's closest advisers who merely move laterally, not out to the field.

  Shouldn't mobility begin at the top? It happened for Fink Haysom. It is happening for Michael Myer. Why not, say, Bob Orr?

  Oh we forgot, Ban's scribe Tom Plate, in belatedly launching his book “Conversations with Ban Ki-moon” at the Princeton Club, called Orr invaluable. All the more reason to share him with the world!

  There are claims of increased whisteblower protections. But just this week, James Wasserstrom decried the Sisyphusian processing of his retaliation claim.

  The focus on air travel mentioned above we attribute to US Ambassador for Management and Reform Joe Torsella. We have to say, we saw him in the North Lawn working it on the report of the Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations.

  Friday as the General Assembly adopted the other reports of the Fifth (Budget) Committee, but not SAG, a well placed African ambassador told Inner City Press that Torsella, Miguel Berger of Germany as Fifth Committee chair, and the Permanent Representative of Fiji representing the Group of 77 had been charged with “cooking” a final SAG proposal.

  Apparently the dish was not ready: by close of business Friday it had not been adopted.

  So, is the UN being reformed? We think not. Down in the world of press relations, the new Free UN Coalition for Access has submitted twelve simple reforms to the top of the Department of Public Information.

  Not a one has been implemented; there is not even a process. There are still no rules of due process for journalists.

  Hitting a new low, DPI conducted a raid on Inner City Press' office on March 18, and when the Spokesperson was asked by BuzzFeed about the raid, the photographs including of Inner City Press' desk and bookshelf were immediately leaked to BuzzFeed through an anonymous “Concerned UN Reporter” e-mail account.

  Reform? We think not. But there are people trying. Watch this site.

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