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In Vienna, UN Guterres Did Not Support #MeToo Club, Said Sexual Abuse "Not Relevant"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 15 – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, now in Belgium, on May 14 in Vienna told UN staff that sexual exploitation and abuse is not relevant, only sexual harassment is. This statement was made amid allegations of physical sexual abuse by UNAIDS' Luiz Loures, and the purchase of sex by a D1 UN official in Somalia. Are those cases of harassment? Guterres' statement was made at a staff Town Hall meeting for which he was 45 minutes late. After he said it, a staff member complained that her application to set up a #MeToo club had been denied and would Guterres help? He did not say yes. So on May 15 in New York, Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: At yesterday's town-hall meeting in Vienna, one of the questions from the floor was from a self-described victim of sexual harassment within the UN system, and she asked Secretary-General whether he supported the idea of a "me too" club, I guess, within the UN in Vienna.  He didn't seem to say yes.  He seemed to say, well, if I understand it better.  She said, do you support it, and they just moved on.  Can you say now does the Secretary-General support the idea?  She was apparently rejected by the UN in Vienna to set up this, such a club.  Does he support that idea, and will he follow up with the staff member who asked him this explicitly in the town-hall meeting?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first, we are trying to get input from all staff about what needs to happen in order to deal more effectively with sexual harassment, including through a survey of staff, and so we will try to evaluate what staff broadly say and see what steps need to be taken." Oh.
Guterres also on May 14
said his attempted reform of the UN development system had "passed silence," with but without assessed contributions. On May 15 Inner City Press also asked Haq: He also seemed to say that, I don't know if that the assessed contributions, that the reform of the development system had passed through silence procedure; it still has not been voted on, but he seemed to say that it's passed, but without the Resident Coordinator system being funded through assessed contributions.  What is his plan, given that it seems like that he thinks that now it's going to be approved by the General Assembly, hasn’t passed through, what is the plan to actually fund these resident coordinators?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first, we will see what the final results are once the Member States agree on it.  We hope in the coming days we will be able to provide some details about what the development reform is about. "
Back on May 14 i
n New York at the UN noon briefing Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq if Guteres doesn't think the Loures cases is about sexual abuse, beyond harassment. Haq seemed to say Guterres uses these terms based on the identify of the victim, not the use of force or economic pressure. #MeTooUN? 
Days after first banning the Press from his photo ops with Al Sharpton and new Political Affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo then prohibiting Inner City Press' livestreaming of a photo op with Finland's foreign minister even though UN Television shot video and audio there, the UN in Vienna is promoting this, with no mention if Periscope is allowed or not:

1. Photo opportunity with the Secretary-General and the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz

Date: Monday 14 May 2018
Time: 12.55 p.m. please arrive by 12:30 p.m.
Venue: Austrian Chancellery, Marmoreksalon, Chancellery

2. Joint press stakeout with the Secretary-General and the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz

Date: Monday 14 May 2018
Time: 2.15 p.m.
Venue: Austrian Chancellery, Grauer Ecksalon, Chancellery

3. Photo opportunity with the Secretary-General and the Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen

Date: Monday 14 May 2018
Time: 2.35 p.m.
Venue: Hofburg, Ballhausplatz, 1010, Vienna

4. Joint press stakeout with the Secretary-General and the Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen

Date: Monday 14 May 2018
Time: 3.10 p.m.
Venue: Hofburg, Ballhausplatz, 1010, Vienna

5. Photo opportunity with the Secretary-General and the Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl

Date: Monday 14 May 2018
Time: 3.30 p.m., please arrive by 3 p.m.
Venue: Austrian Foreign Ministry, Minoritenplatz 8, 1010 Vienna

6. Photo opportunity for the arrival of the Secretary-General at the Vienna International Centre

Date: Monday 14 May 2018
Time: 4.10 p.m., please arrive by 3.45 p.m.
Venue: Plaza, Vienna International Centre

  Guterres' lead spokesman (speechwriter?) Stephane Dujarric appeared to be with him, kissing cheeks in Vienna. And what of the growing #MeTooUN issues while he is in Vienna? Is Guterres going to take his absurd restrictions on and censorship of the Press on the road? Or create a double standard where the restrictions apply only inside UN headquarters? How long will he continue his rote expressions of support for UNAIDS' Michel Sidibe, who threatened staff with retaliation for speaking about against Luiz Loures? And given the statements, when will Guterres have to start recusing himself? Watch this site. Last month Guterres slightly delayed his trip to Saudi Arabia, but not by much. After accepting a $930 million check from the Saudi Crown Prince and in remarks not mentioning the civilians deaths caused by Saudi bombing of Yemen, now Guterres has delivered again, remarks praising Saudi Arabia's counter terrorism work. Some find it ironic; some call this trip "Blood Money II." But duty called. Before he left, Guterres who refused actually pointed Press questions with  dismissive wave of the hand, delivered a 20 minute interview to Saudi aligned media. Now there, he is quoted with more praise of Saudi, by the Saudi Press Agency (to which his UN has given office space and full access while evicting and restricting the independent Press). The UN has yet to send out a transcript of Guterres' craven remarks quoted by the Saudi Press Agency, sending so far only a speech beginning "Your Excellency, Foreign Minister al-Jubeir, Your Excellency, Ambassador Al-Mouallimi, I want to express my deep gratitude to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its generous support to the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre, a support without which the Centre, would probably never have been able to be born. And I thank Ambassador Al Mouallimi for his able chairmanship of this Advisory Board... I recently launched the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Compact, which I signed with the heads of 36 UN entities, the INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization." INTERPOL, of course, is used by some governments to arrest or travel ban their opponents. We'll have more on this. Only a week before as Guterres took off on his trip to China, Inner City Press which has pursued the UN bribery scandals of Ng Lap Seng and now the China Energy Fund Committee asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric on April 6 if Guterres will address any of these issues during his five days in the country. Dujarric was dismissive, and ended the briefing. Video here; UN transcript here and below. This cutting off of public quesitons happened after Guterres gave a private (self) promotional interview to China's state media Xinhua, touting the trip and China as "absolutely essential" on the North Korea nuclear issue. Dujarric race off the podium made it impossible to ask him for Guterres' opinion on if the gifts given to Kim Jong Un on his recent train trip to China violated the UN's 1718 sanctions. Then again, the UN's own World Intellectual Property Organization helped on North Korea's cyanide patents without telling the 1718 Committee, and Guterres has been as hands-off with WIPO's Gurry as he has been with UNAIDS' Michel Sidibe on the sexual harassment and retaliation scandal. We'll have more on this.


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