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After ICP Asked UN of La Rue's Alleged Harassment, UN Says Relieved of Post, #MeToo

By Matthew Russell Lee, Periscope here

UNITED NATIONS, January 17 – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has he has a "zero tolerance" policy for sexual harassment. On January 12 his spokesman Stephane Dujarric had no comment at all when Inner City Press asked about the widely reported sexual harassment allegations against the deputy chief of UNESCO, Frank La Rue. Inner City Press asked, if UNESCO's investigation finds the allegations, including that the victim had a mental breakdown, are well founded, should La Rue remain a UN official? Periscope video here. Dujarric had no comment. Here's video of La Rue answering Inner City Press' questions in October 2016, saying he wants "transparency in UN bodies." Having heard nothing back from Dujarric, despite sending him a link about the La Rue case, on January 17 Inner City Press again asked Dujarric about it, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I'd asked you, it was last week about this Frank La Rue complaint or case at UNESCO, and so what is the position, I understand that he's entitled to due process… Spokesman:  "No, I think you may… you may have seen that UNESCO announced that he was relieved of his… of his post.  Whether it's administrative leave, I don't know what the exact term is, but he's no longer in that… in that function.  UNESCO has its own investigative mechanisms, which are fully… fully under way.  And whether it's UNESCO or the Secretariat, there's obviously zero tolerance for… for sexual harassment, and the case will be… will be investigated." We'll have more on that - and this: throughout 2016 New Zealand documentary maker Gaylene Preston and her crew staked out the UN Security Council along with Inner City Press, awaiting the results of the straw polls to elected Ban Ki-moon's sucessor as UN Secretary General. Preston's focus was Helen Clark, the former New Zealand prime minister then in her second term as Administrator of the UN Development Program. Preston would ask Inner City Press after each poll, What about Helen Clark's chances? Suffice it to say Clark never caught fire as a candidate. Inner City Press told Preston, as did many other interviewees in her documentary “My Year with Helen,” that it might be sexism. But it might be power too - including Samantha Power, the US Ambassador who spoke publicly about gender equality and then in secret cast a ballot Discouraging Helen Clark, and praised Antonio Guterres for his energy (yet to be seen). Samantha Power's hypocrisy is called out in Preston's film, in which New Zealand's Ambassador complains that fully four members of the Council claimed to be the single “No Opinion” vote that Clark received. There was a private screening of My Year With Helen on December 4 at NYU's King Juan Carlos Center, attended by a range of UN staff, a New Zealand designer of a website for the country's proposal new flag, and Ban Ki-moon's archivist, among others. After the screening there was a short Q&A session. Inner City Press used that to point out that Guterres has yet to criticize any of the Permanent Five members of the Council who did not block him as the US, France and China blocked Clark, with Russia casting a “No Opinion.” And that Guterres picked a male from among France's three candidates to head UN Peacekeeping which they own, and accepted males from the UK and Russia for “their” top positions. Then over New Zealand wine the talk turned to the new corruption at the UN, which is extensive, and the upcoming dubious Wall Street fundraiser of the UN Correspondents Association, for which some in attendance had been shaken down, as one put it, for $1200.  The UN needed and needs to be shaken up, and hasn't been. But the film is good, and should be screened not in the UN Censorship Alliance but directly in the UN Security Council, on the roll-down movie screen on which failed envoys like Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed are projected. “My Year With Helen” is well worth seeing.


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