UN's Ban on Capitol Hill Grilled
about Reform, Praised as Hardworking, Darfur Raised
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
HILL, March 11 -- The
UN's Ban Ki-moon, beginning his second day in the U.S. capital, swept
entourage down a windowless hallway of the Rayburn Office Building to
the conference rooms of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at 9 a.m.
Wednesday. He had met with the committee's chairman Howard Berman, but
faced Republicans including Ranking Member Illeana Ros-Lehtinen of
Joe Wilson of South Carolina. On his way in to room 2255, Ban stopped
to Inner City Press, "You are accredited here too?"
The head of Ban's Department of Political Affairs
Lynn Pascoe chided,
"You'll have to shoot your White House source for yesterday, Myanmar
wasn't mentioned." He may have misread the Inner City
Press news analysis: the source spoke just
before Ban's closed door meeting with Obama. No UN correspondent was
the subsequent press availability, at which in any event there were no
The analysis was of how the Obama administration is changing its
based on lobbying from oil and gas firms.
While the House meeting, too, was closed-door, three
emerged and spoke with the Press. Democrat Bill Delahunt of
talked about a study he had commissioned from the GAO for the
International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight that he chairs,
concluded that supporting UN Peacekeeping is cheaper for the U.S., for
in Haiti, than the U.S. "doing it itself."
Rep. Delahunt was asked if
Ban Ki-moon is viewed as an effective leader. "He is hard-working,"
Rep. Delahunt answered after a time. And his views are consistent with
Rep. Joe Wilson added that Ban's visit to southern
Israel, in a show of
solidarity "about Hamas' rockets," was positively viewed. Rep. Wilson
compared Ban favorably to Kofi Annan on this score. He said he'd raised
"nuclear proliferation and Iran." Inner City Press asked him if North
Korea had been raised. I should have
raised that, Rep. Wilson said. One might have added Sri Lanka,
as Wilson serves
on the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, and head UN
Alain Le Roy later told Inner City Press that the words Sri Lanka were
raised in the House meetings, nor with President Obama.
UN's Ban and President Obama -- Q&A not shown, but see below
Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen took a decidedly different
tack. She said that
while Ban claimed to be moving on "transparency, accountability and
reform... we all tend to raise our eyebrows when we hear this."
Press asked if whistleblower protections had arisen. Yes, I brought up
Development Program, she answered, Ban is going to select a new
for UNDP who should be expected to improve UNDP's whistleblower
Ironically, some now express concern that Ban may
simply promote the current
Associate Administrator Ad Melkert, who oversaw much of the retaliation
whistleblowers on which Rep. Ros-Lehtinen has spoken, as early as
When Ban Ki-moon emerged, to his credit he stopped
briefing to speak to
the Press. On climate
change, he said he is urging Senator John Kerry and Rep.
Ed Markey to pass climate change, or cap and trade, legislation before
December conference in Copenhagen.
Inner City Press asked what Ban is urging
the U.S. to go about the situation
in Darfur, from which 13 large NGOs have
been expelled. Ban cited President Obama's statements of the evening
then said with some passion that "humanitarian work has nothing to do
the ICC," the International Criminal Court, and that "we provide 1.2
million people with humanitarian assistance."
Ban was asked if he had, as Rep. Ros-Lehtinen had
said, called the
United States a "deadbeat." He indicted that he had used the
word. Ros-Lehtinen had expressed
at this, wondering why by contrast Ban is so diplomatic about human
violators. The Myanmar situation again came to mind. But, to be clear,
Myanmar was not uttered in either of Ban's meetings.
Ban's Spokesperson indicated that he had to go. His
his Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff Kim Won-soo -- who was not listed
present in the previous day's pool report -- and the American
Robert Orr, Lynn
Pascoe and the chief of the UN Information Center in Washington Will
hustled down a stairway to the waiting limousine and mini-bus.
Alain Le Roy
trailed behind, answering questions to the end. He confirmed to Inner
Press that the issue of which bank UNRWA uses had been raised -- by
Ros-Lehtinen -- and that Ban had said he would have to look into it. He
confirmed that neither Sri Lanka nor Madagascar had come up,
"unfortunately." He said that while the previous administration was
in favor of UN Peacekeeping mission in
Somalia, the current one says it needs to study the issue. And then the
limousine sped off.
To some it appears that, under these Democrats, UN
reform issues have
fallen off the table. Even Ban's supporters, when asked about his
or charisma, answer only that he is hardworking -- which is undeniable. We'll have more on this.
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
Click here for Inner City
Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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