Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

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

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


Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

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

As PGA Lykketoft Says He'd Prefer Dane For UNHCR, Cites All's Role on Refugees

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21 -- 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."

   Given that UNHCR has criticized Denmark's restrictions on and treatment of refugees, including under the tenure of Thorning-Schmidt, to say nothing of UN Charter Article 100, it is by no means obvious.

   Now, with most but not all of his "team" selected, at least eight 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 General Ban Ki-moon is sufficient, given the call for transparency?

 On September 20 with no embargo Lykketoft's office issued -- apparently without irony - a press release that all nations must take in refugees. Including Denmark? Here is the press release:

"Press Release

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 21 September 2015 – All countries must contribute to solving the global refugee crisis, whether they have the luxury of distance or face the challenges of proximity. The international community has an unequivocal obligation towards the women, men and children seeking refuge from conflict and violence, the President of the UN General Assembly said today, the International Day of Peace.

At his first press conference since taking office as the President of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly last Tuesday, H.E. Mogens Lykketoft called on the Member States of the United Nations to urgently live up to their international obligations and to take courageous decisions to address the needs of refugees around the world.
“The world has not seen a global humanitarian crisis of this magnitude since the Second World War and with winter approaching in the northern hemisphere, it is only going to get worse,” he warned.
“The tragic stories and heart-breaking images we are seeing in the media are only the tip of the iceberg – the manifestation of much bigger issues which only multilateral cooperation and global leadership can solve. This is a global crisis. And it requires a global solution.
"Rich countries should either welcome more refugees or give more funds to supporting them, and preferably both. Saying no to both is not an option," he added.
The General Assembly has declared 21 September as the International Day of Peace -- a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All”.
Mr Lykketoft has spent his first week in office discussing the global refuge crisis with a number of concerned Member States and intends to shortly convene a meeting of the General Assembly on this issue, building on a high-level meeting being organised by the UN Secretary-General on 30 September.
“The majority of people fleeing war and violence are refugees and have the right to seek asylum without any form of discrimination. It is not a crime to seek refuge and asylum. The future of millions of women, men and children are at stake. We need to ensure that our responses are tangible, focused and that we work towards lasting, sustainable solutions.”
Mr. Lykketoft said he intended to discuss the issue with Pope Francis during his visit to the UN on Friday. He will also bring it to the direct attention of the more than 160 Heads of State and Government who will be attending the General Debate.
“The situation of refugees and migrants crossing into Europe from the Middle East and Africa is of serious concern to me. I have already stressed the individual and collective responsibility of European states to respond responsibly and humanely. I also encourage other countries to demonstrate their sense of humanity and participate in voluntary resettlement programmes,” Mr. Lykketoft noted on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean basin.
“We need to ensure that countries affected by the arrival of refugees, particularly Syria’s neighbouring countries, receive the support and assistance necessary to address the needs of these vulnerable populations. We also need to ensure that UN and relief agencies working closely with refugees in the region have the needed funding to fully and promptly carryout their support to those in need.
'The United Nations was created 70 years ago with the fundamental purpose of promoting peace, protecting vulnerable populations and ensuring their human rights. If we continue to idle and hesitate, we will fail those we are entrusted to protect,' he said."

  One question is, what will be Lykkotoft's relation during his tenure with Denmark?

 Another question: is it the role 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 toasting 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.


Share |

* * *

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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

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 2006-2015 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]