Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER
 More: InnerCityPro

MRL on Patreon

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

Mining Project in French Guiana Called Out for Hypocrisy and No Consent from Indigenous

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR PFT

UNITED NATIONS GATE, January 10 – You know France has gone too far when even a committee of the UN, which France games including to gain support for its still colonial projects in Cameroon and beyond, criticizes the country. But consider this: "A gold mining project envisaged on the territory of indigenous peoples in French Guiana is sparking substantial criticism. In a rare move, a UN committee is now requesting France to secure the consent of affected indigenous communities or suspend the project.  The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has just adopted an 'early warning' asking France to secure the consent of the indigenous communities affected by the 'Montagne d'Or' mining project or suspend it. In a confidential decision adopted on 14 December and released today, the Committee calls on France to 'ensure the right to consultation and free, prior and informed consent to all indigenous peoples affected by the Montagne d’Or project' and 'to consider the suspension' of the project until such consent is obtained.  The move was prompted by a complaint lodged by the Organization of the Native Nations of Guiana (ONAG) with support from the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR). According to ONAG’s representative Alexandre Sommer-Schaechtele, the Committee's decision constitutes a major step forward. 'UN mechanisms and UN member States have taken note of France’s attitude on this matter. France has pledged to "make the planet great again", yet it is prepared to proceed with projects of that sort. We indigenous peoples have expressed our opposition to this project as it directly affects our environment. Without our consent, the Montagne d'Or project must be withdrawn.'  This early warning is the first ever adopted by the Committee concerning a situation in France. Traditional and customary indigenous authorities in French Guiana have voiced their opposition and concerns with the direct and indirect impacts of the project on their environment. The mine would cover an area of ​​more than 800 hectares in the heart of pre-Columbian remains considered sacred by indigenous peoples." Even on the environment, the UN's last refuge as it fails under Antonio Guterres on conflict prevention and anti-corruption, the UN is in decay. Beyond the travel waste scandals at headquarters level by Erik Solheim and, even worse, Antonio Guterres, in the field the UN stands by as the environment is destroyed and indigenous people harmed and removed. It's not only Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed and her post-dated certificates as Nigerian environment minister for endangered rosewood illegal exported to China from Nigeria and Cameroon, on which Inner City Press was never answered - we will continue to ask - but instead roughed up and banned. Consider these letters from indigenous people in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) about the World Wildlife Fund's activities there. Or, in greater detail, the UN's inaction in Cameroon not only on Paul Biya's slaughter of Anglophones (Guterres' silence linked by his own staff to Cameroon being chair of the UN Budget Committee where Guterres wanted and wants favors) - but only on indigenous people: "the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) invited a team of researchers to assess its proposals for a protected area in southeast Cameroon. The Baka and their neighbors the Bangando who the team
spoke to were worried that animals and trees that they wanted to pass on to future generations were being wiped out. Those responsible, they said, were powerful people, loggers and trophy-hunters who had been awarded licenses by the Cameroonian government [then as now run by Paul Biya, from Geneva]. The Baka and Bangando would be an asset to the protected area, the researchers pointed out, since they used the land sustainably and could help monitor it against poachers. The researchers therefore
called for the destruction of the forest by outsiders to be curbed, and for local people’s rights to be protected. This, they explained, would involve focusing on professional poaching networks rather than those hunting to feed their families. The very opposite took place. Ten years after the Baka and Bangando explained their plight, WWF backed the creation of the Lobéké National Park. The Baka and their neighbors were illegally evicted from the park and from the trophy-hunting areas that WWF helped set up as “buffer zones.” WWF decided to partner with logging companies, even though these had not sought or received the Baka’s consent to operate on their land. A study published the year after the park was created found that the WWF project had been unable to restrain the real poachers. Lobéké was not the first time the Baka’s land had been stolen for a “protected area,” and it was not to be the last. Boumba Bek and Nki National Parks soon followed in 2005, and the Ngoyla Wildlife
Reserve in 2014. Nowadays anti-poaching squads supported by WWF routinely raze entire forest camps to the ground, both inside and
outside national parks. The violence they visit upon the Baka and their neighbors knows no bounds: victims have included pregnant women,
the elderly and infirm – even small children. WWF has been aware of the persecution of the Baka by the guards it supports." Sounds like the UN of Guterres - which is in fact worse, as on travel waste. Now after Erik Solheim of UNEP's travel spending reported by Inner City Press and others earlier this year, Solheim on November 20 resigned, effective November 22. His statement began: "On Saturday, I received the final report on the audit of official travel undertaken by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services. As I have maintained throughout this process – I have been and remain - committed to doing what I believe to be in the best interest of UN Environment and the mission we are here to achieve.

For this reason, after deep reflection and in close consultation with the Secretary-General, I am stepping down as Executive Director of UN Environment with effect from 22 November 2018. Moments ago, with a heavy heart, I informed the Secretary-General of my decision." Some ask, and what did Guterres say -- better you than me? Guterres has spent public funds on fully 16 trips to his home in Lisbon, refusing to disclose how much it costs and roughing up and banning Inner City Press which asks? In the briefing room, Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric gave the first question - of only four - to Al Jazeera which conveniently asked only about Solheim's travel, not Guterres. This is a pattern. Even banned, Inner City Press has asked in writing: "November 20-2: Confirm or deny that UNEP's Erik Solheim is resigning and either way, state when the OIOS report into his travel will be made public, and state how much the SG has spend on his 16 trips to Lisbon, including 2 UN Security each time." And here is all that Guterres' spokesmen sent back: "On your second question, we have the following note: The Secretary-General has accepted the resignation of Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Mr. Solheim’s resignation is effective Thursday, 22 November.
The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. Solheim’s service and recognizes that he has been a leading voice in drawing the world’s attention to critical environmental challenges, including plastics pollution and circularity; climate action; the rights of environmental defenders; biodiversity; and environmental security.
He has led advocacy at the highest levels of government, business and civil society to drive the transformational change needed to make a real difference in the lives of people and promote the cause of the environment.
The Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, Ms. Joyce Msuya of Tanzania, will be appointed as the Acting Executive Director while the Secretary-General launches a recruitment process, in consultation with Member States, to find a successor to Mr. Solheim. Ms. Msuya will be granted all the necessary support to ensure a smooth transition. New York, 20 November 2018." Nothing on Guterres' spending. We'll have more on this. Here was the fourth in Inner City Press' exclusive series on corruption in UN Environment, the re-branded UNEP, under Erik Solheim of Norway. After publishing three, Guterres had Inner City Press roughed up on June 22 and July 3, 2018 and banned since. It is pure censorship. But still our reporting, and that of our sources outraged at what Guterres is doing and others scrutinizing the UN if only their home country officials, see below, continues. On September 17, Inner City Press exclusively published the first in a series on travel waste in UNDP, starting with the bribery-used Office of South South Cooperation, here. This while Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric refuses to answer questions about the public costs of travel, of Guterres or Solheim, preferring to dissemble about why and on what basis Guterres and Alison Smale have banned Inner City Press. On August 27 Dujarric said it was for creating a "hostile environment for diplomats." Vine video here. On September 17 he said, to the contrary, it was all Guterres' Secretariat and there were not "any inputs from any member states." Video here. Which is it? This is today's UN pattern of decision, replicated from Guterres' 38th floor to UNEP, see Solheim's September 17 internal memo, below. On September 26 Inner City Press asked the UN, "September 26-4: Again, on UN system travel spending including the SG's, what is the SG's comment and action on that Two countries have halted their funding to the UN Environment Programme following sharp criticism of its leader’s frequent flying in a draft internal audit. Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said it was withholding its 2018 contribution of about $1.6m to UNEP. Sweden’s International Development Agency (Sida) said they would not approve any new funding until all the issues raised had been resolved?" Deputy spokesman Farhan Haq replied, "Regarding question 26-4, we are taking the issue very seriously but will not comment on an incomplete audit." From the draft UN Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of Solheim: "Some of the trips to Oslo and Paris were called 'bilateral meetings,' even though they took place during weekends or the Christmas holidays... On one occasion he made an eight hour flight from Washington DC for a weekend in Paris, before he boarded another flight for New York." This is what Guterres has been doing -- 15 times -- including this coming weekend in Lisbon. And Guterres spokesmen refuse to answer Inner City Press repeated questions about the costs, choosing instead to work for Inner City Press' roughing up and banning from the UN, then to intimidate remaining correspondents who attempt to ask about it. But who will audit Guterres? Inner City Press has provided extensive information to OIOS whose Ben Swanson has to his credit confirmed receipt. Now what? The draft OIOS audit of Solheim continues: "The UNEP and UN’s Nairobi office should reclaim from these employees (1) all travel expenses and the related working hours which have not been accounted for; and (2) all additional costs incurred by the UNEP as a consequence of uneconomic and inefficient decisions by the management." So who will Guterres be returning money to? And who will hold him accountable for the retaliatory roughing up of the only journalist who asked about his use of funds to travel to Lisbon, and dared to document by Periscope broadcast on Sutton Place the many times Guterres has been out of New York without disclosure? The use of UN Security to threat Inner City Press against filming on a New York City sidewalk - across the street from Guterres' publicly funded mansion - and subsequent 3 July 2018 assault outside the UN Budget Committee meeting including tearing of shirt, damaging of laptop computer and twisting of arm? Aftenpost runs this quote too: The two other senior staffers were allegedly given permission by Erik Solheim to work out of Paris, in spite of being formally assigned to Nairobi. One of them allegedly received more than 165 000 NOK (20 000 dollars) in a special security allowance for Nairobi, in spite of being relocated to Paris. Permitting these leaders to work in Paris is a direct violation of UN’s regulations, according to the draft report. 'Such arrangements will set the presedent [sic] for other employees who wish to work out of a place of their own choice, and probably lead to speculations about unfair treatment or claims when such request are being rejected.'"  Inner City Press' September 13 question to Guterres' spokesmen has gone entirely unanswered, despite the written promises of Alison Smale. But here's from Erik Solheim, leaked nearly immediately to Inner City Press: "From: Erik Solheim
Date: 17 September 2018 at 16:42:10 CEST
Subject: Update: ongoing audit of UN Environment’s travel
Dear Colleagues,
I hope this email finds you well. As many of you are aware, in recent days, several media articles have referred to preliminary findings of an ongoing audit of mission-related travel within UN Environment.
I am writing to personally address these reports and update you all on the current standing of this audit.
First, I welcome a transparent and fact-seeking audit of any part of our activities. When this audit by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services has come to term, I am certain the findings will help us in our endeavor to continuously improve our work.
If the audit shows that we have made any mistakes, we are committed to take immediate action and rectify every one of them, with no exception. We will admit to any mistakes that may have occurred. Where administrative shortcomings have been clearly identified, we are already starting to take steps to improve processes and procedural controls, particularly as it relates to travel costs.
On this point allow me to state it clearly and to avoid confusion. The Office of Internal Oversight Services earlier this year investigated all my travels in great detail and found three instances of oversight out of all of them. The money was refunded immediately. Better administrative control systems would have helped avoid these mistakes in the first place.
I believe this audit – which is not an investigation but an audit of UN Environment travel processes - will provide us with an opportunity to revise and improve our systems. Rest assured that this will be done in a transparent and efficient manner.
In my two years, as Executive Director of UN Environment, I have been proud to lead teams of dedicated professionals working on the most urgent environmental challenges of our time. This requires global commitment to unprecedented action, driven by new levels of personal action and political will. During my tenure, I have worked tirelessly to deliver such action and mobilize that will for the success of our work together.
Making good on this type of global agenda demands engagement with the world and indeed an expanded approach to our work. I am therefore determined to continue to focus on our mandate – to create real results for real people with real impact on the ground. These necessary results can only be obtained in close dialogue with Member States, businesses and civil society. This is in line with the Secretary-General’s vision for a more impactful United Nations in the 21th century.
At the same time, I want to reassure you that all travel decisions are made with a focus on maximizing the effectiveness of this organization and meeting the urgent environmental challenges we are facing together, everywhere. If in pursuit of that goal, administrative rules are found to have been overlooked, I accept personal responsibility and offer my strong commitment to immediately refine this process going forward.
The leaked preliminary findings, on which these media reports are based, were draft notes as a starting point for consultations between the Office of Internal Oversight Services and UN Environment. As such it may, by its very nature, contain misunderstandings or inaccuracies. As a part of this process, we have provided extensive follow-up information to the Office of Internal Oversight Services. I ask that you keep in mind that many of the findings are in the process of validation.  We are now awaiting a first draft of the report for our comments prior to the report being finalized.
Once the Office of Internal Oversight Services completes its final report, it will be public on its website, as is standard practice. We will then work diligently to implement the auditor’s recommendations.
I look forward to discussing this with you tomorrow at the Townhall.\
Warm wishes,
Erik Solheim
Head of UN Environment

UN Environment." So Solheim blames his administrative staff, while imposing on UNEP staff more bureaucratic restrictions than UN rules require. As with Guterres - and others at the top of the UN, more on UNDP coming - it's a case of "Do as I say, not as I do." Here's just one of Inner City Press' questions to Guterres spokesmen, entirely unanswered after five days: "September 13-2: Regarding the UN system's rules for use of UN funds for personal travel, and in light of the OIOS criticism of Erik Solheim at UNEP (below), what is the SG's comment and action, will be ensure that the OIOS audit be released to the public in its entirety and that his own travel be subject to an independent audit? See, “"Some of the trips to Oslo and Paris were called 'bilateral meetings,' even though they took place during weekends or the Christmas holidays... On one occasion he made an eight hour flight from Washington DC for a weekend in Paris, before he boarded another flight for New York." Has the SG done anything similar since Jan 1, 2017?

"The UNEP and UN’s Nairobi office should reclaim from these employees (1) all travel expenses and the related working hours which have not been accounted for; and (2) all additional costs incurred by the UNEP as a consequence of uneconomic and inefficient decisions by the management." Should the money be returned, does the SG think?

Finally, confirm that the two others at UNEP subject to OIOS criticism are Anne Lemore and Lisa Svensson, or state why you will not do so, given the allegations of waste of public funds, and when you would release the names." We'll have more on this. Guterres' USG Alison Smale twice promised that questions will be answered, but like so much else she has said and written, this is false. To continue reporting we ask questions at the UN Delegates Entrance, or seemingly in the "High Level" Week on Second Avenue and 46th Street - and Smale says this creates a "hostile environment for diplomats." These people are censors and it must all be reversed. They are further killing the UN, and have assaulted press freedom. We will have more on all this.

As Inner City Press reported in March 2018 before being roughed up and now banned from the UN for UNGA73 and beyond, UN Environment, the re-branded UNEP, is paying over EUR 500,000 in a (reverse) corporate partnership with Volvo Ocean Races, see below. Guterres' deputy Amina J. Mohammed has refused Press questions since November on her role in signing 4000 certificates to export from Nigeria and Cameroon endangered rosewood already in China. Guterres, Mohammed and Alison Smale's only response has been to censor and continue to restrict the Press which asks, despite 5000 signature petition, UNanswered. Now whistleblowers in UNEP have written to Guterres, and exclusively sent a copy and documents to Inner City Press on UNEP mis management, harassment and misuse of government resources. Who authorized UNEP to spend EUR 500,000 in a mis-named corporate partnership with Volvo Ocean Races? Before today publishing the documents, Innr City Press on March 1 asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, video here, UN transcript here: and below. Dujarric did not explain, then or for the rest of the day; he said he hadn't spoken with Guterres about it. Oh. Then Dujarric and Guterres has Inner City Press roughed up by UN Security and banned since - 190 days and counting. This is today's UN.


Feedback: Editorial [at]

Past (and future?) UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA
For now: Box 20047, Dag Hammarskjold Station NY NY 10017

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

 Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

 Copyright 2006-2019 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] for