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March 1, 2011: Libya

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On Libya, Silence from UN As Rebels Take Tripoli: Ban & Khatib Not Seen

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 22, 1 am EST -- As Libyan rebels swept into Tripoli backed by air strikes under United Nations Security Council resolution 1973, "the Gadhafi regime is clearly crumbling," said the Secretary General -- of NATO, not of the UN.

  The UN's Ban Ki-moon, assigned a "coordinating" role by resolution 1973, was entirely silent on developments in Libya during the August 20-21 endgame. Even the International Criminal Court spoke up, calling for the turn-over of Gaddafi's son Said al-Islam.

  But nothing was heard from Ban Ki-moon, nor from his envoy to Libya Al Khatib, who was tasked with negotiating between Gaddafi and the rebels. At the crucial moment, the mediator was nowhere to be seen. Some wondered if he was back in Jordan, where he was allowed to remain a sitting Senator even while purportedly serving only the UN, under the UN charter.

Ban & Khatib: in crucial days, not seen or heard from

  Alongside the moonlighting Khatib, Ban named Britain's Ian Martin to head up UN planning for a "post-Gaddafi" Libya. But during the key period, nothing was heard from Martin, who has resisted requests for months that he brief the press about the UN's plans.

If Ban's UN is irrelevant during a UN "coordinated" overthrow of regime in Libya, where is it relevant? Watch this site.

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Amid Conflicts in Libya, Syria, Sudan & Kosovo, Horn of Africa Famine, UN Reduces Q&A by 40%, Has "Nothing to Say"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 12 -- As the Arab Spring turns to a bloody late summer, and according to the UN famine spreads in the Horn of Africa, UN headquarters in New York Friday confirmed it is moving to reduce its availability to the press by 40%.

  With UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon back in his native South Korea, Inner City Press on August 12 asked Ban's acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq to explain why two of the expected five daily briefings next week, and possible the week after that, are being canceled at this time.

  Haq replied that there would be "nothing to say," and accused Inner City Press of being the only one "worried about this one way or another," claiming to have polled journalists at the UN and gotten their agreement to cancel briefings. (See UN's partial transcription, below).

  Haq refused to provide any details of his polling; at a press-related event hosted by the US Mission to the UN the evening of August 11, there were a number of complaints about Ban's Spokesperson's Office refusing to even do a daily ten minute briefing, as Inner City Press had reported, despite events in the world.

  Even on the questions asked of Haq on August 11, few were answered. Inner City Press asked about the reported "buzzing" of the Zam Zam IDP camp in Darfur by Sudan's air force. Haq had no information on this, and said that "some of these reports have not checked out."

  Three weeks ago, UN official Ivan Simonovic said that the UN's human rights report about Southern Kordofan in Sudan, which includes descriptions of Egyptian UN peacekeepers doing nothing as civilians were kiled, would be formally released "in two weeks."
   Inner City Press asked Haq to explain the delay, one week and counting. Haq said it isn't delay, he'll announce when it's released.

   In the Security Council, there are countries dissatisfied by the UN's delay, and trying to get emergency meetings of the Council. The Secretariat's lackadaisical delay and Haq's statement that these weeks there's "nothing to say" sends a message: there is no emergency, or even urgency.

Any response to letters to Ban from municipal officials in Northern Kosovo? No, Haq said, the letters are being "studied."

Haq at briefing on Haiti, responses to Qs not shown: nothing to say?

  For months Ban's Spokesperson's Office claimed that a letter from the New York State AFL-CIO then a group of Congresspeople about UN attacks on the broadcast engineers' union was "being studied." On August 12, Haq confirmed Inner City Press' August 11 report that seven more engineers are being laid off, on top of 17 other posts lost, as a "cost cutting" move.

  Inner City Press asked Haq if the 40% reduction in briefings is a cost cutting move. Haq replied that it's "standard procedure."

  But what about Ban Ki-moon's repeated canned claim to be "deeply concerned" about the loss of civilian lives in a conflict in Libya in which under Security Council resolution 1973 Ban is to have a coordinating role? Because it's August (Haq said Ban's lead spokesman is out to August 29) -- and Ramadan -- will there be "nothing to say" about that?

 In fact, at least in Syria and Libya, it has been said that "every day will be protest Friday during Ramadan." Is this the time for the UN to cancel briefings and press question and answer sessions?

  Inner City Press asked, asks and will continue asking, what is the problem with devoting a ten minute briefing each week day to answering questions? Watch this site.

Here's the UN's transcription of its August 12, 2011, noon briefing, for video click here.

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

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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

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