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For UN's Guterres 2018 Speech, Hypocrisy and Dodging on Myanmar, Africa Dissed, Press Restricted

By Matthew Russell Lee, photo, Periscope

UNITED NATIONS, January 16 – When UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres came to give his speech for 2018 to the UN General Assembly, the Press was blocked from staking it out by the censorship restricts he has in place. Periscope here, UNresponded to letter here. Once inside the Trusteeship Council Chamber, Guterres said he had 12 points. One was Myanmar, although he did not even mention the mandate on his to name an envoy to the country, which he has not done. Another was North Korea; he confirmed he will go to the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympics. He lumped all of Africa into just one of his 12 points, despite the Continent being 60% of the UN Security Council's agenda. He did not mention Cameroon or other long time family ruled countries like Togo and Gabon that his envoys are propping up. His Deputy Amina J. Mohammed, who is in “her” Nigeria silent on the abductions there, was not present; her chief staff was, but as before, no response to emails or questions about the 4000 rosewood signature. Guterres hasn't even started an audit of the UN bribery indictments of Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio and regarding China Energy Fund Committee brought November 20 in the Southern District of New York. Guterres said he has zero tolerance for sexual harassment but has done none, and his spokesman Stephane Dujarric hasn't even answered Inner City Press on, the case of Frank La Rule at UNESCO. The UN like UNESCO claims it is for free speech and press freedom, but no answer on The Rappler; nor has DPI chief Alison Smale even answered Inner City Press' and the Free UN Coalition for Access' three petitions about even handed media access and content neutral rules, or this petition. Guterres is slated to take, selected by Dujarric, questions at 12:45. Watch this site. The spring thaw in Antonio Guterres' first year as UN Secretary General, in March and April, began to reveal hypocrisy. A small but telling example was when, after Guterres called on people all over the world to turn off their lights for Earth Hour, Inner City Press found the lights on at the UN-owned mansion on Sutton Place where Guterres lives.

At first the UN refused to answer Inner City Press where Guterres was - Lisbon - then accused it of “monitoring the residence.” It's called journalism: with the UN refusing to disclose even what country Guterres is in, checking the residence is the only way. The UN also refuses to disclose how much these Lisbon trips cost the global taxpayers, for example how many UN Security officials are taken, where they stay and for how much.

Likewise Guterres' 2016 financial disclosure differed significantly from what he filed as head of UNHCR in 2013. This has yet to be explained. In April Guterres was petitioned to replace the UN's pro-Saudi Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. But when Inner City Press asked, Guterres' spokespeople refused to even confirm receipt of the letter.

This happened on a petition by staff too, about retaliation by Francis Gurry the head of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization, whose assistance to North Korea's cyanide patents Guterres did not act on.

In late April, Guterres did nothing as Tanzania expelled his resident coordinator, a far cry from his knee-jerk defense later in the year - continuing on December 27 - of the 4000 rosewood signatures by his Deputy SG Amina J. Mohammed. Sustainable development? Try hypocrisy, and censorship and restriction of the Press which covers it - and Cameroon, here. We'll have more on this.

In Antonio Guterres' first two months as UN Secretary General, the longstanding Cyprus talks began to fall apart, and Guterres stood silent as Burundi, for example, banned access by UN officials. Guterres ignored a protest by whistleblowers against Francis Gurry of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization, and that UN agency's work on North Korea's cyanide patents.

 He did nothing about a UN waste dump exposed by Inner City Press in the Central African Republic, despite his predecessor Ban Ki-moon's record with waste in Haiti and elsewhere. While he announced that Kenyan troops would head back to South Sudan to join UN Peacekeeping, he appointed the fifth Frenchman in a row to head this DPKO, Jean-Pierre Lacroix.

Meanwhile he was rebuffed in his attempt to appoint Fayyad to head the UN's Libya mission, perhaps explaining his refusal later in the year to take a single press question after reading out his canned statement on Jerusalem. In a harbinger of his approach to UN corruption and (non) reform, his UN was named as not providing requested documents in the first UN bribery case, of Ng Lap Seng. (In the second case, of Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio, Guterres has yet to even launch an audit).

February 2017 ended with a seeming second wind, the belated arrival of Guterres deputy Amina J. Mohammed. Inner City Press was throughout constructive; it would later emerge that during the delay Mohammed signed 4000 certificates for endangered Nigerian and Cameroonian rosewood already exported to China, something Guterres has refused to investigate despite a petition with 92,000 requests. 

Guterres' first interaction with UN staff was a Town Hall meeting on January 9. Even though it was on the UN's public website, when Inner City Press live-streamed it on Periscope for the impacted public to see it received a threat that this violated unspecified UN's guidelines. This has been a pattern in Guterres' first year: threats to Press for unspecified violations, such as that of Maher Nasser on October 20, and a total failure to respond or reform by Nasser's boss, Alison Smale. Ultimately, Guterres is responsible.


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