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

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 --

On Darfur, Mr. Ban Dislikes "Skeptical Reporting" While Questions Go Unanswered

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 15 -- "I was a little bit concerned by skeptical reporting and understandings." So said Ban Ki-moon on June 13 in response to press questions about his repeated claims to have won paradigm-changing concessions from Sudanese president al-Bashir about the protection of civilians in Darfur.

            On June 14 in New York, Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban's spokesperson at the noon briefing about a letter just released in Geneva from 37 non-governmental organizations, warning that Ban's on stance on Darfur has "dissipated pressure rather than building it."

            The Spokesperson said she hadn't heard of the letter; later, her Office requested the identity of the NGOs. Later still, having received no response, Inner City Press went to inquire. Yes the letter was received, Inner City Press was told. And the Secretary-General's response was and is what he said on June 13 at the Security Council stakeout.

            What, one wag wondered,  his concern at skepticism?

Mr. Ban: crackdown on skepticism leads to leaks

            While Ban issues statements about floods and the death of Kurt Waldheim, major developments in the country in which the UN has spent most in recent years, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, go unnoticed and unremarked. On June 14, Inner City Press asked for the Secretariat's position and action on the week's reports on Congolese opposition figure Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is also under investigation for war crimes:

Inner City Press: You mentioned MONUC (United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and the DRC.  Has MONUC or the Secretariat had any comment on this controversy around Mr. (Jean-Pierre) Bemba saying he can't return to the country because it's unsafe and asking for protection, either by the Government or by MONUC?

Spokesperson:  No, we don't have anything on that.  No, we don't.... I mentioned MONUC in the context of the killing of that journalist.

Inner City Press: Okay.  Also there is a coalition of human rights NGOs in Geneva saying that they have written to Mr. Ban urging him to do more on Darfur and that so far, he is "dissipating pressure rather than building it"... Has he received the letter and what's his response to that analysis?

Spokesperson:  Okay.  I'll check on that for you.  [The correspondent was later informed that the letter had been received.]

            But in terms of Ban's response to the analysis, there was only a referral-back to statements at the stakeout prior to Ban's receipt of the letter. Also at the Security Council stakeout on June 14, the head of Ban's Department of Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe declined to answer any questions about the leaked DPA memo favoring UNDP' re-entry into North Korea as a positive for the Secretary-General. Mr. Pascoe responded that "I'm not going to make any comment on a leaked document about the internal discussions of the UN, I don't think that would be appropriate." Video here, from Minute 10:03.

News Analysis (or, "skeptical reporting and understandings") -- The lack of a participatory and transparent decision-making process makes leaks more, and not less, likely. In Ban's Spokesperson's Office, the non-answers are no longer limited to reporters perceived as investigative and/or critical. At this week's noon briefings, virtually no questions were answered. Team Ban chides the media for its "skeptical reporting and understandings," while answering fewer and fewer questions. "They can't have it both ways," one long-time UN correspondent has said. But that's just what they're trying.

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