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UN General Assembly Fails to Oversee Ban Ki-Moondoggle & Mercenary Deals

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 16 -- General Assembly President Joseph Deiss has staked a claim for global governance by the UN, which he calls the “G-192” to distinguish it from the G-20 club of large and rich nations.

But in his term so far, he allowed the already marginal General Assembly to be circumvented even by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, on matters ranging from the budget to the UN's relations with corporations.

Earlier this month in the GA's budget committee, a complaint was lodged that by adding money and time to the UN Capital Master Plan, in this case $100 million in US Tax Equalization Funds, Ban Ki-moon had violated a General Assembly resolution requiring that the GA be told and approval any such change in scope to the CMP.

Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman about the criticism to what is now being called the “Ban Ki-moondoggle” and was told to ask CMP chief Michael Adlerstein. But Adlerstein when asked said to ask the member states.

  On March 16, Inner City Press asked Deiss and GA spokesman Jean Victor Nkolo if Deiss agrees with the Group of 77 that Ban violated a GA resolution in changing the budget and time table of the CMP without GA input.

  That's up to the committee, Nkolo said. What then is the role of the President of the GA when the GA roles is being ignored?

Deiss, Julian Schnabel, and Jean Nkolo, loss of GA power not shown (c) MRLee

  Similarly, Inner City Press asked Nkolo about a UN Joint Inspection Unit report this year that the General Assembly should assert oversight power on the UN Global Compact, an initiative started by Kofi Annan that under Ban Ki-moon has put a convicted fraudster, from South Korea, on its board of directors, and most recently granted UNGC membership to a private military contractor, G4S, under fire for involvement in Israeli run prisons in the Occupid Palestinian Territories.

Nkolo said the Global Compact is a unit of the Secretariat -- exactly what the UN JIU was criticizing and asking the GA to change -- and that he would see what committee deals with the UN Global Compact. No GA commitee does: that's just the point that the JIU should be changed.

Meanwhile, neither Ban's spokesman nor the Global Compact has yet answered Inner City Press' questions about the mercenary firm G4S's membership in the UNGC, 24 hours after the questions were posed.

Finally on March 16, Inner City Press asked Nkolo if Deiss believes that meeting of the committee on revitalization of the GA, at which greater media access was called for, should remain closed to the public. Inner City Press went into the committee's meeting this week and quoted and analyzed a few statements by Japan and Peru in Twitter posts.

Then US Deputy Permanent Representative Rosemary DiCarlo came up and said that the meeting was closed to the press. A GA staffer later confirmed this. Deiss has said he is for openness. We'll see.

* * *

As Global Compact Lets in Private Military Contractor, UN Quiet on Mercenaries

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 15, updated -- Even after the UN's own Joint Inspection Unit criticized the UN Global Compact as presenting “reputational risk” to the Organization, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon through his spokesman Martin Nesirky had no response much less a plan for reform.

  Rather, Nesirky directed Inner City Press on Tuesday to an answer that Compact boss Georg Kell had already given.

  Inner City Press asked if Ban Ki-moon has any problem with his Global Compact allowing a private military company -- read, mercenary firm -- to join, despite being protested for involvement in Israeli run prisons in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Danish-British private military contractor G4S announced

G4S has signed up to the United Nations Global Compact, an international standard which promotes socially responsible business behavior in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.”

  But “[a]ccording to a brochure from the company...G4S Technology has supplied security technology to seven Israeli prisons and two remand prisons located in Israel and on the occupied West Bank.”

  Nesirky's response was to say that Ban has confidence in Kell.

In the same Tuesday noon briefing, Inner City Press asked for the second time if Ban thinks that Bahrain's use of security personnel from Pakistan and Yemen is an example of mercenaries. If I have anything on that, Nesirky said for the second time, I will tell you.

Kell, Nambiar & Ban, answer on G4S in UNGC not shown

  So what is Ban Ki-moon's position on mercenaries? It appears to some to involve double standards: he and his top officials have alleged and criticized the use of mercenaries by Laurent Gbagbo in Cote d'Ivoire and to a lesser extend Gadhafi in Libya, but won't answer questions about presumptive mercenary use by Bahrain's royal family.

Meanwhile the Global Compact, which put a convicted business fraudster from South Korea on its board, now allowed mercenary firms to join it and drape themselves in the UN flag, as the JIU has warned. And so it goes in Ban's UN.

Update: after the noon briefing, the following was sent to Inner City Press, to which follow up questions were asked:

Dear Matthew, The OSSG informed me that you had a few questions regarding the JIU report...

Here is a statement on the JIU report, attributable to Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact:

1. On two occasions (July and August 2010), the Global Compact Office provided comprehensive feedback, including corrections, to draft versions of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) report. Regrettably, the authors ignored nearly all of this information, resulting in a document riddled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations.

2. Moreover, the authors failed to take into account any developments of 2010, especially the deliverables and outcomes of the Global Compact Leaders Summit, which is held every three years and which represents the most important forum to give strategic direction to the initiative.

3. As a consequence, the report is based on incorrect or outdated information that does not reflect the Global Compact’s strategic and operational status quo. Stating that consideration of the Leaders Summit’s results "fell outside the scope and timeframe of this review" is as much an admission of the report’s shortcomings as it is an acknowledgement of the JIU’s fundamentally flawed methodology in this case.

4. The report’s conclusions, especially those concerning the Global Compact’s mandate, reveal a lack of understanding of the type of public-private partnership that the initiative has come to represent and that has been repeatedly recognized by the UN General Assembly, the G8 and the African Union, among others. Likewise, much of the report’s tone suggests that its authors also lack any appreciation for the critical role business can play in advancing development, peace and good governance.

5. In sum, we feel strongly that this report raises serious questions about the JIU’s professional standards

  Inner City Press immediately responded:

At the noon briefing I asked about the Global Compact accepting private military contractor G4S into the Compact,

despite protests about its involvement in, for example, prisons in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This is what I am requesting a Secretariat response on, for example this:

Please advise, thank in advance.

  The Global Compact replied: "We'll look into this and get back to you by tomorrow." Watch this site.

* * *

As Libya Kills Protesters, Gadhafi Daughter is UN Ambassador, UNDP Silent

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 20 -- As in Libya the forces, including mercenaries, of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi shoot and kill peaceful protesters, the UN has been nearly entirely silent.

  On the morning of February 20, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky:

In the wake of the gunning down of 46 democracy protesters in Libya’s second largest city, Benghazi, by security forces under the command of Colonel Gadafi, is the UN reassessing its relationship with Col Gadhafi’s daughter, Aicha, who the UN has designated a “Goodwill Ambassador?

Has the Secretary-General sought to use the UN’s special relationship with its Goodwill Ambassador Dr Aicha Gadhafi to persuade her father not to use such excessive force against peaceful demonstrators?

  Nine hours later, no response at all from the UN. Inner City Press also asked Ban's spokesman Nesirky “in this context, the Secretary-General's planned trip to California to meet and greet 'the entertainment industry,' how much is this trip costing, and is it funded by the Regular Budget of the UN -- and if not, what is the funding source?” Again, no answer.

On February 17, Inner City Press had asked Nesirky

Inner City Press: Is there any thought of using the existing UN programs on the ground, whether it is UNDP or otherwise? There was some criticism of this training of police in Egypt prior to the — there was criticism by NGOs that it didn’t bring in human rights activists but rather Government people. Is there some thinking of how — the UNDP website about Libya hasn’t been updated now in several months, I guess — it seems to some, due to the turmoil. What about these UN…?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Who might that be? Who is it, these people who think it might be?

Inner City Press: People that look at it and have seen that it was updated all the way, until suddenly there was turmoil in the country and then it is not updated any more.

UN's Ban and Gadhafi, Goodwill Ambassador daughter not shown

Inner City Press: What’s the role, according to the Secretary-General, of the existing UN programmes in countries like Libya and Yemen, where Helen Clark visited and didn’t say anything about democracy?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, there are lots of, as you know, across the region, there is a UN presence in different constellations; country teams with different components, whether it is UNDP or other UN agencies, funds and programmes. Of course, given that they are already on the ground, given that they have been working there in different capacities on different projects, they are well placed to be further involved. But this is part of a bigger picture, and it is being very carefully coordinated.

Inner City Press: Is there any change of policy? I guess I am saying, given that the announcement today that the UN is sort of taking cognizance of all this, is there, is that…?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, Matthew, it’s hardly an announcement today. This is something that has been said consistently for a number of weeks now. And indeed, further back, as you know, the Human Development Reports on the Arab world have been saying this for the best part of a decade. So, okay, thank you very much.

But what had the UN been doing about Libya? Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

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.

* * *

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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