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For Next SG, ICP Asks Malcorra & Lajcak of Ng Scandal, CAR Rapes, Kompass

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 7 -- When Susana Malcorra and Miroslav Lajcák came to the UN to answer questions on June 7 in their bids to become the next UN Secretary General, Inner City Press asked them both abut the UN sexual abuse and John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng bribery scandal, then asked General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft about the process. Periscope video here and here.

    Lajcák replied on both scandals with the same phrase: zero tolerance. He said that as Foreign Minister of Slovakia he tells his staff there will be no tolerance for corruption, because the acts of one can tarnish all the others. One wonders, then, why even the individuals identified in the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services' Ng Lap Seng audit have not been held accountable.

   Malcorra gave longer answers, perhaps because she was at the UN, as Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff, during the scandals.

On the Ng Lap Seng audit, she argued that it is about “holes” in the PGAs office.

But the audit says that the Secretariat's DGACM modified a document to include the name of Ng Lap Seng's company, and that the Under Secretary General for Public Information failed to do due diligence before putting Ban with Ng's Global Sustainability Foundation in the GA Lobby, and allowing GSF to sponsor the UN's slavery memorial. (The view of Malcorra, who left in November 2015, on the USG of DPI February 19 ouster and April 16 eviction is Inner City Press is one that we will be seeking.)

  Inner City Press asked or told Malcorra that Anders Kompass, retaliated against for “moving forward” with the seemingly covered-up charges of sexual abuse from CAR, had quit the UN earlier in the day citing impunity. Malcorra said she hadn't heard that he quit; she gave a long answer culminating in that Kompass had given the report to “a member state unredacted,” and saying her focus is on the victims.

  Inside the Trusteeship Council Chamber, when asked about cholera in Haiti, Malcorra seemed to say she would have to wait to be better informed in order to answer. Really? We'll have more on this.

   When Lykketoft spoke, Inner City Press asked about the call that there be no acclamation rubber-stamp in the GA. He spoke of change inthe balance of power between the GA and the Security Council, this when Inner City Press asked what he thought of the Security Council doing its interviews behind closed doors.

On May 26, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft about the Security Council process, on which the Council met late on May 25, agreeing to interview the candidates who so request, video here:

Inner City Press: Are these interviews going to be conducted in the open and what can you say about the discussion of timing and secret ballots?
Amb Rycroft: So the General Assembly did something very useful, in particular which was these public hearings for each of the candidates and I think that in the Security Council we need to do something which adds value to the General Assembly hearings. So I think that those contact between each candidate who wishes they have it in the Security Council need to be private and they need to be informal and they need to be interactive.

They won't be in public and I think that's important. Of course we favor transparency, but this is about confidentiality and it's possible to have both at once. We'll be completely transparent about who is coming in, when those meetings are happening, but the content of those meetings should remain private, informal and interactive. And on the timings, I think we want to go ahead as soon as possible.

  Inner City Press asked another Permanent Representative, advocate for transparency and for the General Assembly, who said this is better, "makes the GA the main game." So far, candidates Vesna Pusic and Natalia Gherman have requested to meet the Security Council.

  On May 20 Susana Malcorra told Argentine media that President Macri would nominate her later in the day. She herself was in China, after earlier trips to other P5 capitals.

Sources tell Inner City Press of attempts to address in advance the Malvinas / Falkland Islands issues, to "put it in the freezer," as one source put it.

 Where does she stand on freedom of the press - generally and in the UN? We'll have more on this, and on the positions of Lajcak, et al.

How should the next UN Secretary General be selected, to improve the Organization?

First, how low has the UN fallen, in terms of corruption, not stopping rapes, and retaliating against the Press that asks the questions? On April 16, the UN evicted Inner City Press from its long time UN office, putting five boxes of its files out on First Avenue, video here. The New York Times of May 14 is here.

 On May 3, Inner City Press asked about the UN Development Program's audit into the Ng Lap Seng bribery the UN Secretariat has yet to act on, and asked about UNDP's Helen Clark's campaign and travel. UN transcript:

Inner City Press: Helen Clark has kicked off a campaign trip for next SG, which is obviously within her rights.  But I wanted to ask you again, what are the sort of…  as the head of the UN system, Ban Ki-moon, what are his thoughts on sitting, you know, full-time UN officials…  kicking off a campaign…  essentially a political, you know, campaigning for the next SG site.  Is she taking days off to do that?  Is that…

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:  I think that's… I think the details are questions for UNDP.  As far as Secretary-General's concerned, he would expect that any UN official who is in the running for next SG will completely separate those activities from their professional work.

Question:  Who's paying for the travel?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I think those details you should ask UNDP.

  While UNDP which presumably monitors the UN's noon briefing has yet to answer, New Zealand's Mission to the UN did response, on Twitter:

"@innercitypress NZ Govt covering full costs of #Helen4SG campaign. Helen is taking annual leave for campaign activities."

Inner City Press thanked and replied: "Thanks. Can you say what NZ's budget for @Helen4SG is, as Bokova, Kerim & others have done? #NextSG"

But to that, no answer, at least not yet. UNDP has issued a denial that Clark played a role in retaliating against Lena Sinha for her role in Charles Petrie's report on the UN's failures in Sri Lanka.

 The underlying report, perversely, makes Ban Ki-moon and his Secretariat, primarily responsible for the failures, into heroes; Ban's "envoy" during 2009, Vijay Nambiar, is not even mentioned. (Inner City Press did mention Sinha, back in 2006, here.)

 Could Team Ban and the Malcorra loyalists within be trying to put their thumbs on the scale? On the other hand, Inner City Press having been a target takes UNDP's denials with more than a grain of salt.

  But further as to (Clark's) UNDP, where in the promised press conference on the audit? Shouldn't Clark take questions about this audit, under her tenure?

On April 13, Inner City Press asked candidate Vesna Pusic what she would do to avoid corruption; she said keep an eye on everything coming in and going out, and keep the rules simple.

 Inner City Press also asked Danilo Turk if journalists in the UN should have due process rights, which they do not now (he said yes) and about the Haiti cholera case. He said he thought Ban Ki-moon is working behind the scene on compensating the victims. But when Inner City Press asked, Ban's spokesman only spoke about trying to improve sanitation going forward.

  On April 14, Inner City Press asked Vuk Jeremic what he would do to clean up the ongoing corruption shown in the John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng case and the audit Inner City Press exclusively put online, here.

  Jeremic replied he would require UN officials to make public financial disclosure (unlike Ban Ki-moon), would strengthen OIOS (whose Ng Lap Seng audit lets Ban off the hook) and protect whistleblowers.

  Inner City Press asked Jeremic, as it has asked the other candidates, to disclosure his campaign's funding. Jeremic said he won't take money from countries, including Serbia which nominated him; he'll "fundraise" and disclose it.

  (Luksic told Inner City Press he will disclosure; Danilo Turk disclosed in a tweet his 40,000 Euro limit).

  The UN of Ban Ki-moon moved to evict Inner City Press, which is asking the question. It happened on April 16, video here and here (Periscope); the New York Times of May 14 is here.

On May 10, Inner City Press asked UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft, just before his thematic debate on Peace and Security, what the General Assembly is doing about peacekeepers' sexual abuse and exploitation, and about UN Peacekeeping's Herve Ladsous saying it would take 18 months to deploy 3,000 troops to Burundi.

 Lykketoft acknowledged that 18 months is too long -- some think Ladsous overstated it, to take the option off the table -- and on sexual abuse he said beyond the GA punishment is up to the Troop Contributing Countries.
  Even getting to the stakeout to ask Lykketoft this question was hindered by Ban Ki-moon's and Cristina Gallach's UN. Now Inner City Press can only access the Conference Building's second floor with a Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit minder or escort. But on May 10 there was none available.

  Inner City Press, needing to cover the stakeout, asked the UN Spokesperson's office, which had just announced the stakeout over the same public address system it announced the January 29 event in the UN Press Briefing Room for which Inner City Press was thrown out.

 But UN Security said only MALU minders can escort Inner City Press. This is called targeting, and is UN censorship.

 On February 19, Inner City Press was thrown out of the UN on two hours notice. Audio and petition here. On February 22 Inner City Press was told it was Banned from all UN premises. After three days reporting on the UN from the park in front of it, and stories in BuzzFeed and Business Insider, Inner City Press re-entered the UN on a more limited "non-resident correspondent" pass, under which on March 10 UN Security ordered it to leave the UN as it worked in the UN lobby at 8 pm. Video here; UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric's March 11 justification here.

  The underlying UN rule only says that non-resident correspondents can only come into the UN up until 7 pm. But the UN's goal, it seems, is to prevent or hinder coverage of UN corruption, which usually doesn't take place in the UN Press Briefing Room. (January 29, 2016 and September 8, 2011 -- Frank Lorenzo, UNdisclosed -- are notably exceptions.)

  Lobbying the deciding UN official, Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach, were the honchos of the UN Correspondents Association, including France 24 and, as in 2012, Voice of America. Freedom of Information Act documents here and here. The UN needs a FOIA. But who would actually do it? Watch this site.

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