France is Asked about Evictions in Calais and Chad, UN Cuts Off
Questions, Jumps for Kouchner
Deby's Chad, UN Is Shot At and Speaks Softly on Elections
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, November 12 -- In Abeche in Eastern Chad in early October, a
security officer of the UN Mission in Chad, MINURCAT, was shot at as
she came out of the Mission's headquarters. This incident, scarcely
reported at the UN in New York, was described to Inner City Press by
Michele Falavigna, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Chad,
in response to a question about another killing in the country.
Falavigna asked, "Was it deliberate provocation?" Video here, from
asked Falavigna about a refugee camp near the border with Sudan which
the government and now UN are trying to move. Falavigna said because
it is near the border, the men go back to tend their fields in Sudan,
and return at night. He also described the janjaweed militias coming
across the border, twenty on horseback "with heavy weapons,"
hard to track. This too is not much discussed at the UN in New York.
In Chad, UNDP's castle, elections not shown
are elections in Chad, where Idriss Deby took power by a coup but now
enjoys support from France and the UN to stay in power. Falavigna
said that unless amendments are made to the peace agreement and
electoral code, there can be no election in 2010. Which is just how
Deby likes it.
* * *
Galbraith's Oil Interests As Undisclosed at UN as at Opinion Pages He
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, November 12 -- Following reports that former UN Deputy
Special Representative to Afghanistan Peter Galbraith's oil
investments are worth up to $100 million, Inner City Press on
November 12 asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe if Galbraith
disclosed this interest in his financial disclosure form.
that such forms are filled out when a person joins the UN at the
level Mr. Galbraith did, and are "vetted by a professional
firm," namely PriceWaterhouseCoopers. But did Galbraith make the
disclosure which it's now clear was required?
Okabe refused to
answer, instead referring the question to UN Ethics Officer Robert
Benson, who oversees the financial disclosure regime. Inner City
Press asked Mr. Benson by both e-mail and telephone, early and late
on the afternoon of November 12, but received no answer by the
is informed that Galbraith is now being barred from the op-ed pages
of major American media based on his failure to accurate disclose his
financial interests. Galbraith is arguing that he didn't read the
form, a strange argument for a diplomat who argued that the U.S.
didn't have to comply with UN Security Council resolutions regarding
the Balkans as long as they were under Chapter VI and not VII of the
after Galbraith was fired by Ban Ki-moon, Ban's deputy chief of
peacekeeping Edmond Mulet told the Press that Galbraith had some
ulterior motive which would soon become clear. On November 12, Inner
City Press asked an involved UN official if Mulet had meant the oil
investments, or that he might want to run for lieutenant government
of Vermont. "The latter," the official said. Only at the
Galbraith and Scott Ritter, disclosure of
$100 million oil investment not shown
November 12 transcript:
City Press: ...about Peter Galbraith, former Deputy UNAMA
representative and his interest in oil contracts in northern Iraq. I
wanted to know when he became a Deputy Special Representative, did he
fill out the financial disclosure forms, and I’d also like to know
whether this investment was disclosed in those forms.
Spokesperson Marie Okabe: As you know, the financial disclosure
forms are something that the Secretary-General has instituted, it’s
part of his UN reform, and all staff, once they’ve joined the
Organization as senior staff and those in positions that require
financial disclosure, are required to fill that form out upon entry
into the Organization. So it’s a requirement.
City Press: [inaudible] It seems, this article would make it
important to know whether this, they say the investment is worth up
to $100 million, whether that was disclosed in the form and if it
wasn’t, what were the reasons…?
Spokesperson Okabe: As you know, these forms are vetted by a
professional firm and if they see fit that they need to follow up on
any questions that they have, that is done. I think Robert Benson,
when he was here last time, gave you a briefing on how that procedure
works. And just because they are not made public, it does not mean
that they have not been vetted, and the firm that goes through it
does the vetting and if they have any questions, they do get back to
the staff member and do the follow-up on that.
City Press: [inaudible] is it possible to just, and I don’t expect
you to do it right this moment, but to get a yes or no answer,
whether that investment was disclosed in the forms. Is that going to
Spokesperson Okabe: You know, you can ask that to Robert Benson, but
that’s his call.
Benson has yet
to return a call, nor an e-mail asking the above and the following
told that in a recent UN Dispute Tribunal hearing, about the UNDP -
North Korea whistleblower case, that OLA said they would not "allow"
you to testify in the case. Are you aware of this? What do you think
of UNDP's failure to follow your recommendation?
whistleblowers deserving protection have you certified / found in the
past two years? Based on how many applications / approaches? How
long more do you remain in Office?
Office cover local staff of UN Peacekeeping Missions? There is a
recent case of a former MONUC local staffer, alleging MONUC
involvement in / knowledge of diversion of jet fuel among other
things, who has told me he feels retaliated against. Would your
Office have jurisdiction?
more on all
this, watch this site.
* * *
Kabul Chaos, UN Pull Out Doesn't Add Up, Transcript Held Back, Budget
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, November 9 -- While Afghans and aid
agencies criticize the
UN for a lack of clarity in its partial pull out announcement
the Taliban killed five UN staff, in New York the UN insists its
messages have been clear.
Inner City Press asked, for example, if
the UN's figure of 200 people leaving the country included the
reported 14 UNICEF staffers who are leaving. "We have answered
that "we have already answered," that the 200 include "all
agency and UNAMA" personnel. Video here,
from Minute 14:40.
Ki-moon on November 6 gave a rambling answer in response to what
"red lines in your head" would have to be cross for the UN
to pull out completely, as it did from Iraq after the bombing of its
Canal Hotel headquarters there. He said, in part, that "no
UNAMA election officials will be moved out... No UNAMA field staff
will be moved out."
seventy hours after Mr. Ban's comments, the UN had not put the
on its "Off the Cuff" comments web site, nor emailed it to the
Press, as usually happens
one or two hours after a public statement by Ban.
which questioned Ban on November 6 and published
quotes that day about
it, here, on November 9 asked Ban's spokeswoman Michele Montas why
the transcript had not been put online. Video here,
technical reasons," Ms. Montas replied. But Inner City Press has
seen a copy of the transcript which her Office prepared before six
p.m. on November 6. Notably, as Ban was answering the "red
lines" question, his chief of staff Vijay Nambiar arrived at the
stakeout and gestured to end it, telling Inner City Press, we cannot
tell them how to attack us. Then the transcript was not put on line,
and still has not been.
video is online, Inner City Press' questions here
(from Minute 6:42)
and Ban's "red lines" answer here
(from Minute 12:40). The
transcript which the Spokesperson's Office prepared but then did not
put online has Ban saying "There will be around 200 staff in a
phased way - I would like to tell you -- 120 administrative staff
will be relocated in six to eight weeks, and 30 development staff in
six to eight weeks and 50 administrative officers will be rotated
between Kabul, Dubai and Kuwait..".
What is the
difference between "administrative staff" (120) and
"administrative officers" (50)? Mr. Ban went on, "UNDP
level officers -- they have ended their assignment - 30 out of 125
are now remaining in Kabul." Are the 95 who left included in the
UN's evacuation count? Are the 30 who, it seems, will leave
Mr. Ban on
November 6 said, "there was unfortunately a misunderstanding of our
positions." Neglecting to put online the transcript of the Secretary
General's answers on Afghanistan for more than 70 hours doesn't help.
UN's Ban and his Spokesperson on Nov. 6, as
of Nov. 9, transcript not shown
UN claims this
is all clear, but it is not. In fact, Kabul is full of rumors of UN
pull out of more than 200 system staff. The price of
food has shot
up. As one international aid NGO was quoted, "the UN should have
offered the option for its staff to relocate, rather than issue a
blanket relocation. 'That's a bad signal to everyone: The
perpetrators are getting what they want and are encouraged to
continue, and the population feels more and more abandoned, realizing
how little it takes to frighten us away, and to leave them alone to
fend for themselves, in every possible field.'"
behalf of the
UN, Ms. Montas refused to comment on or reply to this on November 9,
saying that it is all clear. But is it?
even the budget is not clear. After announcing he was seeking money
after the five staff were killed, now the spokesman for the chair of
the UN Budget committee tells Inner City Press that no proposals have
yet been submitted to the committee, they are anticipated as "an
add on to the budget fascicle" of DSS at the end of November.
The ACABQ is said to have a folder, but got the DSS management review
on a much delayed basis. Fast to pull out, slow to follow through,
some say. Watch this site.
* * *
Security Phase Confusion in Af-Pak Shown at Stakeout, Ban and Nambiar
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, November 6 -- In a press encounter that ended in disarray,
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called the UN security
threat level in Afghanistan confidential, despite it being public in
Pakistan, and then described the reclassification, renovation and
vacating of various guest houses in Kabul.
His chief of staff Vijay
Nambiar rushed to the stakeout and gestured to spokesperson Michele
Montas to end it. Mr. Nambiar then told Inner City Press, we can't
tell them how to attack us.
emphasized the UN is not abandoning Afghanistan, that it cannot
curtail its development efforts there. Inner City Press asked about
northwest Pakistan, where the UN country office issued a press
release putting the threat level at Phase IV and suspending UN
development activities, and asked what the Phase is in Afghanistan.
from Minute 6:42.
Ban said that
security phases are "determined by DSS" [the Department of
Safety and Security] "after evaluating all situations." He
said it "needs not to be known publicly."
asked if there isn't a conflict of interest, like in Algeria before
the UN was bombed there, in which host countries doesn't want the UN
Security Phase raised, even if it's needed. Mr. Ban acknowledged that
this is "very sensitive," that host countries don't like
the level raised because it could effect "national prestige"
and "socio economic activities." He said, however, that the
UN sets its levels objectively.
asked, in light of the UN's pulling out of Iraq after the bombing of
its Canal Hotel headquarters, what are the "red lines" that
would trigger a pull out from Afghanistan. Mr. Ban began to answer.
Inner City Press remarked to a diplomat at the stakeout, yeah, tell
the Taliban what it would take for the UN to leave.
as Mr. Ban
was describing the categorization of the UN's 93 guest houses into
those to be closed and those to be brought to "MOSS"
standards, Mr. Nambiar rushed back to the stakeout and gestured that
this should stop. Some thought this was because of Ban's next
appointment, with his advisory group of businesses on the
environment. But Mr. Nambiar explained, we cannot tell them how to
UN's Ban and Nambiar leave Council,
divergence on disclosure not yet shown
statement was at the stakeout, with no mention of being off the
record or on background, some have since tried to say this was
implicit. For this reason, Inner City Press is not using the direct
quote. But in fact, it is not surprising that even the UN's 38th
floor would have divergent views on how much to disclose. Both
positions in this case could be defended. And
reporting these facts is to show how the UN actually functions.
asked this month's Security Council president, Austria's Thomas
Mayr-Harting, if Mr. Ban had told the Council in its consultations
what the UN Security Phase is in Afghanistan. He said he would rather
not "get into the details." Video here.
remarked to Inner City Press that "it is easy enough to learn
the UN Security Phase." But why then be so secretive? In fact,
Inner City Press is informed that the Phase in Afghanistan, even
after the killing of five UN staff in a commando style raid by the
Taliban, was kept at Phase III, while it was raised to Phase IV in
Pakistan. Is this objective? Watch this site.
* * *
Food Speculation, UN's Expert Says Nothing's Being Done, S. Korean Land
Grabs from Madagascar to Sudan, Brazil on Ethanol
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, October 21 -- After many speeches at the UN about the need
to crack down on financial speculation in food, nothing has been
done, the UN's expert on the right to food told Inner City Press on
Olivier de Schutter, a Belgian law professor just back
from a visit to Brazil about, among other things, the loss of land
for food to ethanol, replied that "nothing is moving at the
inter-governmental level." This despite a statement by the G-20
in April favoring the regulation of hedge funds which present
systemic risk. The argument is that commodities index funds which
speculate in food present systemic risk to net food importing
countries. But nothing has been done.
about the monopolization of the seed industry, and made a slew of
recommendations for governments. The three top monopolizers --
Monsanto, Dupont and the Swiss-based Syngenta -- are all members of
the UN Global Compact, and claim to comply with human rights. De
Schutter pointed out the antitrust law is directed as national and
not global or subnational markets. It is all very heady but one
wonders what effect it has.
one of de Schutter's claims to impact. He spoke glowingly of
President Lula, saying that Brazil has said that only 19% of land can
be used for sugar cane for ethanol, and has committed to monitor
labor rights. But what about, for example, Indonesia and Malaysia?
De Schutter, action on food speculation not shown
Schutter's briefing, Inner City Press asked his staffer for an update
on the proposed land grab in Madagascar by South Korea based Daewoo,
which was reputed after the coup in that country. De Schutter had
been scheduled to visit, but it was put off by the coup. The same
thing happened in Honduras. So perhaps De Schutter does have an
effect after all, mused one wag.
immediately after De Schutter's briefing, the UN's Haile Menkerios
was scheduled to speak to the Press about Madagascar. While the UN
usually compartmentalizes its work such that a rapporteur looks at
land grabs, while the Secretariat remains on "political affairs"
narrowly defined, this land grab played a role in the change of
government. Now it's said the South Korean deal is being pursued from
India, while South Korea appears to have moved on to 690,000 hectares
in Sudan. Watch this site.
* * *
Indigenous Expert Stymied in Russia, Does Not Engage in Myanmar, Will
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, October 19 -- Russia blocked the UN's expert on the rights
of indigenous people from visiting the site slated
for the Evenki dam
in Krasnoyarsk Territory, it emerged at the UN on Monday.
Press asked James Anaya, the UN's Special Rapporteur on the situation
of human rights and fundamental freedom of indigenous people, if he
had in fact been allowed to visit the site. The Russian
quoted Igor Kurtushin, deputy head of the territorial
administration’s department for external relations that "it
would not be easy to visit the Evenki sites due to peculiar weather
asked if Anaya had visit the contested
site, from which indigenous people would be evicted. No, he said,
in the agenda we were able to negotiate. Video here,
this, in fact,
due to the weather, Inner City Press followed up. "The weather
was good was I was there," Anaya answered, describing two
flights in Krasnoyarsk and an outdoor meal of reindeer parts. Video here,
from Minute 36:29.
contrasted to Panama, where the government allowed Anaya to visit the
site of a proposed dam. When Inner City Press asked about Ecuador and
conflicts there, Anaya said he is going in December, invited by the
seems too accommodating of governments. When Inner City Press asked
about Canada's refusal to sign on to the Declaration of the Rights of
Indigenous People, Anaya said Canada is moving in the right
direction, that he doesn't criticize countries if there is the
"possibility" of movement.
Inner City Press asked about the position of Botswana that nearly all
people there are indigenous, Anaya responded that he hadn't seen a
need to contest this position during his recent visit there. Given
that the position almost derailed the Declaration, it seems strange
to some to be so accommodative of it now.
Reindeer, UN's Anaya and Russia permit to visit not shown
it is to and
within the UN system that Anaya is most accommodative. Inner City
Press asked about the UN's REDD program, which was protested earlier
this month. Anaya said that the UN agencies want to address
indigenous issues. When Inner City Press asked about indigenous
people in Myanmar, Anaya responded that since there is another
rapporteur on Myanmar, he does not engage in Myanmar. Video here,
from Minute 49:22.
deference is not required: for example, the UN's expert on children
and armed conflict engages with Myanmar, rather than deferring.
Particularly given the issues that have arisen about the UN's special
rapporteur on Myanmar, for Anaya to say he'll do nothing in or about
the country ill-served indigenous people. Watch this site.
* * *
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, October 19 -- In his first media availability at the UN, new
French Ambassador Gerard Araud marked the International Day for the
Eradication of Poverty with a press conference on October 19.
City Press asked Ambassador Araud about his country's eviction of
immigrants from a camp near Calais last month, about the drowning of
residents of the Comoros trying to get to the French island of
Mayotte, and about mass
evictions in the capital of Chad, where the Idriss Deby government
receives substantial French support. Video here,
from Minute 25:32.
said immigration is an issues throughout the developed world, quickly
equating the drowning of those seeking to get to Mayotte with deaths
of African in the Mediterranean.
He said that
of the camp was because immigration should be restricted to that
which is legal, so that Europeans don't "become violent."
He said it was fair to be critical, he has seen such criticism of
U.S. policies as well, but these countries are democracies.
"answering about Chad is the easiest," and then proceeded
to say that his Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, the moment he got
the post, took in the lead is setting up peacekeeping mission in
Eastern Chad, first through the European Union and then the UN.
question was cut off by the UN's moderator, Rachel Mayanja. She said,
"before we proceed... I am surprised none of you want to take
advantage" of the boy on the panel, from Dominica, to "expose
his journey." Video here,
from Minute 31:55. But she had begun
by saying that the youth would be accompanied by a chaperrone from
ChildFund Caribbean, who was not on the podium.
compliant correspondent dutifully asked the boy about photography --
ChildFund saved him from being a criminal, he equally dutifully said
-- Inner City Press asked Ambassador Araud about the evictions done
by French ally Idriss Deby, did he have any answer? He shook his head
no. And the press conference was over. Video here,
from Minute 34:49.
the French journalists opined that Ms. Mayanja may have been trying
to protect or please France, a Permanent Five member of the Security
Council, by shifting from questions about France's record to what she
wanted journalists to ask and write about. This has become more
prevalent at the UN.
France's Gerard Araud at the UN on Monday,
Chad eviction answers not shown
note that Ms.
Mayanja's cutting off of questions cannot necessarily be ascribed to
Araud. The UN may offer protection where none is even requested. If
Ms. Mayanja wanted to play up the boy's story, why have him appear at
the French Ambassador's first press conference?
told Inner City Press that Bernard Kouchner called Ban Ki-moon
recently and told him the UN should launch an investigation of the
recent killing of some 150 protesters in Guinea Conakry. Ban did just
that; when Inner City Press asked, his spokesman said that it was at
the request of ECOWAS. But why didn't the UN launch any inquiry into
the tens of thousands of civilians killed in Sri Lanka earlier this
as the UN on
Monday sought to limit questions to the right kind of poverty, it
will only investigate the killings of the right victims: it all
depends on who the perpetrator is, and who provides protection.
also on the Chad evictions, Inner City Press asked this question last
week to Habitat's New York representative, and for an update on what
if anything Habitat did to follow up on supposed commitments by
Angola not to continue evictions. Video here.
A response was promised, but has
not been received. What was that again, about eradicating poverty?
* * *
UN, Iran's Mottaki Says Protesters Are Dealt With, Nuclear Sites All
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, October 1 -- In Iran "there are some people, a limited
number of people, who look for trouble and want to create unreal,"
Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the Press on
Thursday. "It is very clear how they should be dealt with."
from Minute 31:55.
session at the UN in New York, nearly all of which dealt with nuclear
issues, Inner City Press asked Mottaki about a story of
torture, rape and exile, which Inner City Press heard from Ebrahim
Sharifi by cell phone on September 21. Sharifi states that he
the non violent street protests then was picked up, blindfolded and
held for a week.
asked Mottaki if he acknowledged the veracity of any such charges, if
people can file complaints in Iran and what he thinks of the call for
a UN General Assembly special envoy to Iran on human rights issues.
from Minute 25:43, Mottaki's
reponse here from Minute
five minute answer became with calling the June elections "the
most glorious presidential elections in the history of the Islamic
Republic of Iran." Mottaki claimed the skeptics, once they
received an explanation, were convinced. This left a few trouble
makers -- "it is very clear how they should be dealt with."
UN's Ban, Ahmadinejad, Motakki and Zarif, pre election violence
Iran has vibrant NGOs, which rather than complain in Geneva to the
Human Rights Council come to the UN in New York to participate in
workshops about the rights on women.
program, Mottaki said that other than Qom, there are no other sites
not reported to the IAEA. The press conference ended with a report
for a newspaper in Israel calling for the floor, without receiving
it. He was told by the UN's spokesperson that the UN is an
"inter-governmental body... we cannot do anything about what
member states do." Apparently not.
before traveling to DC, wiled away the evening of September 29 at
Indonesia's Independence Day celebration in the UN Delegates' Dining
Room. There were satays, rice and noodles. One attending, chewing,
snarked that at such receptions, the quality of the food is in inverse
proportion to the amount of democracy in the hosting nation.
Inner City Press has previously written about, and
kebab diplomacy, click here for that. Seven thousand years of
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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