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PGA Lykketoft Calls Spain's PR Italy's, Said It's Obvious He Prefers Danes

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 19 -- When new President of the UN General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft spoke to the press on September 15 at the UNGA stakeout position, Inner City Press tried repeatedly to ask him how the General Assembly under his leadership will select a new head of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, from among candidates that include fellow Dane Helle Thorning-Schmidt. UN video here, and see below. Lykketoft replied that his preference for a fellow Dane was "obvious."

   Now Lykketoft has run a photograph of the Permanent Representative of Spain with the caption, "The President of the General Assembly had warm and friendly discussions with Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations on peacekeeping, peacebuilding and migration." Tweeted here.

 So did Lykketoft discuss these topics - including peacekeeping whose chief Herve Ladsous has linked rapes to "R&R" - with Spain's Permanent Representative, who has a seat on the Security Council, or Italy's, who wants one? Lykketoft praised one Italian scribe by name, and ran his photo with another, all in the same day. We'll have more on this.

   With most but not all of his "team" selected, at least eigth of 26 are Danish (that is, over 30%), with some nationalities and even job descriptions not listed. One question, that will be asked, is who should make the decision whether the transmission for the UNHCR post of a single name by Secretary Gneral Ban Ki-moon is sufficient, given the call for transparency?

 Another question: is it the roll of the press to inquire into and cover officials like Lykketoft, or to praise and "toast" them before seeing what they do at the UN? The UN Censorship Alliance promote such a "toast" to those who pay it money; later, Team Lykketoft, under the rubric President's Blog (though in the third person) said that the press corp had warmly welcomed him. That is an incomplete assessment. And his praise was for... a war criminal's landlord. Ah, the UN.

  (As an aside, the UN Censorship Alliance didn't hold any similar toastin event with Lykketoft's predecessor from Uganda. Just for internal consistency in sycophantry, one must ask why.)

  As Inner City Press noted on September 15 about that first stakeout, after some behind the scenes lobbying, the first question to Lykketoft, even at the UNGA stakeout, was set aside for the UN Correspondents Association, an organization which not all reporters at the UN choose to join, and which the UN has worked with to try to get the investigative press thrown out of the UN (making it the UN's Censorship Alliance.)

  The new Free UN Coalition for Access established in on the record questioning of the UN Spokesman that there is NO tradition at all of setting aside first questions to UNCA at stakeouts. On September 15, Inner City Press determined to assume that Team Lykketoft simply didn't know this.

  On September 18, UNCA announced to those who pay it money that they will have Lykketoft himself inside the clubhouse the UN gives them, as the UN's Censorship Alliance.

 This comes after more lobbying of Team Lykketoft by UNCA's "leader" - who previously rented one of his apartments to Sri Lanka's Palitha Kohona then granted Kohona a "UN" screening of his government's genocide denial film "Lies Agreed To" without approval from UNCA Executive Committee members including Inner City Press at that time, before Inner City Press quit UNCA and co-founded, with another disgusted UNCA board member who had earlier left the group, the Free UN Coalition for Access, FUNCA.

  Before quitting UNCA, Inner City Press specifically complained of UNCA's sycophantry with those whom journalists are supposed to cover, including UNCA's Pioli handing a gift to a spokesperson - right in the UN Briefing Room. What do event this week portend? We'll have more on this.

  Back on September 15, after UNCA had demanded a set aside question for which there is no tradition and Inner City Press had then managed to ask its UNHCR question, Lykketoft replied, “I discuss that with the Secretary General. Don't ask for my preference, because that's obvious, where I come from. There will be a proposal by the Secretary General to the General Assembly. How that will evolve, I'm not sure. We'll discuss it in the near future.”

  Earlier on September 15, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric for transparency:

Inner City Press: On refugees, the notice put out by the Secretary-General for nominations for… to replace… to succeed Mr. [Antonio] Guterres, top UNHCR, said to apply by 14 September.  Can you say how many people have applied?  Can you confirm Filippo Grandi is an applicant?  Given now that the GA has asked for greater transparency in the selection of the SG, what's the process here?  Is there going to be a panel to interview people?  How does it work?

Spokesman Dujarric:  The process is being guided by direct… by… excuse me… by direct… by… excuse me, by a directive from the General Assembly.  I can make that public.  We will not be releasing a short list or any other details.

Inner City Press:  Is there a panel to interview people?

Spokesman Dujarric:  There's always a panel.

Inner City Press:  Who's on the panel?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I have no other details to share with you.

  Ah, transparency. For PGA Lykketoft's first stakeout, it became clear that the old UN Correspondents Association had arranged for the first question to be set aside for it. For the record, even Dujarric when asked by the Free UN Coalition for Access acknowledged there is NO tradition of this UNCA, become the UN's Censorship Alliance, getting the first question at stakeouts. We'll have more on this.

Three months earlier on June 15, after Lykketoft was elected (by acclamation, without opposition) as the next President of the UN General Assembly, Inner City Press asked him how he would run the upcoming process to select the next Secretary General.

   Lykkotoft replied that he had heard from the heads of all five UN regional groups a desire for a more open process, with multiple candidates making presentations. One wonders if Lykketoft believes the position is reserved for the Eastern European Group (he was the candidate of the Western European and Other Group, and got the post by regional rotation), but there was not yet time to ask.

  Inner City Press also asked Lykketoft for his view on the scandal of the UN's cover up of sexual abuse of children in the Central African Republic by French “peacekeepers,” and then retaliation against fellow Scandinavian Anders Kompass of Sweden.

  Lykketoft said he is aware of the case but thought it better not to comment for now. He said the same in response to most other questions, for example on Palestine. (Periscope video here).

Footnote: The first question was set aside for UNCA, become the UN's Censorship Alliance, which used it to say that SDGs is the most boring name. Takes one to know one.  If Lykketoft can run a more transparent process to select the next SG, he will have done well. Inner City Press and the new Free UN Coalition for Access will stay on this. Watch this site.


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