Speech Jumps from South Sudan to Tunisia, Skipping Darfur, Asia Ceded
January 25 -- Foreign policy was obviously an afterthought
in President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday night
But why tell only the good news?
from South Sudan to Tunisia, without even a mention of Darfur, a
message was being sent. After November's election, Team Obama wants
wins. The Republican response by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, as it
turned out, did not mention foreign affairs.
Obama did not
mention Myanmar or Ivory Coast, much less the tens of thousands of
civilians killed in Sri Lanka. Less than twelve hours after a House
Foreign Affairs Committee hearing mostly about corruption at the
United Nations, he did not mention the UN.
times panned to show Obama's UN Ambassador Susan Rice, as well as
Transportation Secretary LaHood, who has come to the UN albeit to
talk about texting and driving.
mentioned South Sudan,
the cameras cut to John Kerry. Who would the cameras have shown for
Darfur, after Kerry “de-linked” it from taking Sudan off the
state sponsors of terrorism list?
Obama w/ Susan Rice &/at UN, Darfur not shown or mentioned
strangely, was mentioned four or five time in the speech: South
Korea. The technology, the pedagogy and new free trade agreement,
leading up to deals with Panama and Colombia.
last two may
represent an attempt to shore up the US sphere of influence, and that
Myanmar and Sri Lanka, after Africa, is being ceded to China. Then
Paul Ryan spoke only about money. And so it goes.
* * *
Hearing on UN, Lack of Transparency Met by Lack of Knowledge
January 25 -- Among the “urgent problems” at the UN
discussed Tuesday in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington,
several major ones were missing, and others only superficially
UN's two large
peacekeeping missions in Sudan are both embroiled in controversy.
Darfur's UNAMID is accused throwing an “information blackout”
over attacks on civilians, and accommodating Omar al Bashir, indicted
for genocide by the International Criminal Court, to the extent its
chief Ibrahim Gambari considered handing over to Bashir five of his
opponents, probably to be tortured.
UN Mission in
Sudan under Haile Menkerios recently flew in a UN plane Ahmed Haroun,
indicted for war crimes by the ICC. Significantly, both Gambari
Menkerios, as well their Cote d'Ivoire equivalent Choi Young-jin and
other Ban Ki-moon administration insiders, refused to provide the
public financial disclosure which Ban said 99% of his officials do.
expected, for example, Minority Leader Berman to raise issues about
Darfur. But in fact, observers were surprised by Berman's lack of
knowledge about the regional groups through which much of the UN's
business is done. Those defending the UN often know little about it.
so many UN
officials chose to not disclose, and that the UN still has no
of Information Act, are two of the many things that should change at
not raised enough, the House Foreign Affairs Committee did hear about
“20,000” civilians killed in Sri Lanka, on which Ban's UN has
done little while praising President Mahinda Rajapaksa's
It heard about “Cash for Kim” in North Korea,
and retaliation against the whistleblower who exposed it. This detailed
testimony mentioned Inner City Press' reporting
on the UN allowing the Than Shwe regime in Myanmar to over-charge the
UN 20% of foreign exchange transactions, a tax on Cyclone Nargis
aid that the UN never disclosed to its donors (until a UN whistleblower
documented it to Inner City Press).
from the UN Foundation's Peter Yeo that the UN has
aggressively to strengthen the ethical culture of the institution.
The UN Ethics Office was created in 2006 and, in January 2008, all UN
funds and programs created individual ethics offices or agreed to use
the secretariat’s ethics office. Led by an American attorney, Joan
Dubinsky, the UN Ethics Office oversees the new financial disclosure
statements required of UN employees above a certain level and any UN
staff with fiduciary responsibilities. Since 2007, the UN has
mandated ethics and integrity training for all UN staff members and
put in place new whistleblower protections.”
inaccuracies here. The Ethics Office, under Robert Benson and now Joan
Dubinsky, has yet to protect whistleblowers. Most recently, when
Ban's adviser on genocide Francis Deng -- who served as a minister
under a murderous Sudanese regime -- was challenged by Inner City
Press for using UN staffers' time to work on sections of his own
books, he said it was all cleared by the Ethics Office.
this is the
UN's specialist on genocide says it all -- but wasn't said at Tuesday
(first) hearing on Ban's UN.
UN's Ban on a previous DC trip: responses on OIOS not shown
having asked Ban's spokesperson's
Messrs. Nesirky and Haq, the clarify Ban's now disproved claim, and
received back only this:
House of Representatives, what we have to say for today is:
United Nations has always worked constructively with the United
States, and we share the same goals: for a stronger UN, one that is
efficient, effective, and accountable. That is why the
Secretary-General has made strengthening the UN one of his top
priorities since taking office.
is convinced that a strong, effective and efficient
United Nations needs the active and constructive support of Member
States. To achieve that, he will continue to engage with the US
Administration and with the US Congress on ways to ensure that the
Organization can find solutions to today’s challenges, and deliver
on the mandates given by it Member States.
verbatim by Nesirky to his previous employer Reuters, and to
AP by Nesirky's previously Deputy Marie Okabe in her new UN role in DC.
Still with no answer at all are questions submitted January 22,
quoted by Bloomberg, which he sought out, that
Congressional Republicans' "only complaint they may have is the
lack of much faster progress than they might have expected.” What
specific areas of "progress" was the SG referring to? Namely, which
areas does the SG acknowledge not having met
expectations and for which progress should have been made "faster"?
acting head of OIOS' Investigations Division, is under
investigation, for among other things, retaliation and evidence
tampering. Given that Ban Ki-moon says he prides himself on the
transparency of his administration, what specifically are the facts
surrounding the investigation process regarding Mr. Dudley, and will
the UN be reassigning him to other duties during the investigation?
Watch this site.
* * *
"Transparent" Ban Ki-moon Typifies UN
-- While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon runs
for a second term claiming
transparency and good government, he is
represented by a spokesman who on Friday refused to answer questions
after being asked about the applicability of a UN
Press asked a question about the UN seeming cover-up of killings in
Darfur, Spokesman Martin Nesirky stood up and left the briefing room,
saying “I will take questions from you when you behave in an
interchange earlier in the briefing had Inner City Press asking how UN
Staff Regulation 1.2, prohibiting staff from public statements
underlying impartiality applied to UN official (and Ban Ki-moon
favorite) Michelle Montas going on CNN to say she would sue Baby Doc
Inner City Press has asked Nesirky what rule applied to Montas'
actions. Nesirky did not
provide any rule then, nor the next day.
City Press was
approached by outraged UN staff, who called Nesirky “the worst
spokesperson the UN has ever had,” and provided the applicable rule.
They also provided a precedent from last decade, when Doctor Andrew
was fired under this rule for making public UN peacekeepers' sexual
abuse of those they were charged to protect.
Inner City Press asked Nesirky about the rule, and intended to ask
about the Thompson precedent. But Nesirky said, “I don't want to
talk about it further.” Video here,
Inner City Press had asked why the UN has said nothing
about Sudan's Omar al Bashir's government blocking the printing of a
newspaper directed at Southern Sudan, after they published articles
about the secession referendum. Video here
from Minute 16.
question, despite having said he would take Inner City Press'
question about Ban Ki-moon's humanitarian coordinator for Sudan Georg
Charpentier's claims that the thousands of violent deaths in Darfur
in the last 12 months were not the al Bashir government's fault,
Nesirky refused to take the question.
stood up to leave.
Asked why, he said “I will take questions from you when you behave
in an appropriate manner.”
paid to answer questions. It is particularly strange that the
spokesperson for a Secretary General claiming transparency and good
government would simply refuse to answer about the applicability of a
rule to a public UN action.
retaliate against the media
asking the question about rule and refuse to take any question,
including about a UN mission for which the UN charges its member
states $1 billion a year is outrageous.
Ki-moon's UN, will a UN official who on camera refuses to do his job,
explicitly retaliating against a question about Ban
administration lawlessness suffer any
such an individual, including it seems the
UN-affiliated International Monetary Fund. Inner City Press currently
also covers the IMF, for example getting three
questions answered on
January 20 with no acrimony, retaliation or lack of
But in Ban's UN, officials like Nesirky are permitted lawless
behavior that would not be allowed anywhere else.
yelled at Inner City Press, “It is my briefing! I run
it how I chose!” For the week at the end of 2010, for which he was
being paid, Nesirky left question after question unanswered.
City Press asked Nesirky for Ban's response to a New
York Times article about bloat, overlap and waste in Ban's UN.
Nesirky replied that since Ban was holding a press conference on
January 14, Inner City Press could ask him then. But Nesirky did not
allow Inner City Press to ask any question on January 14. Afterward,
Inner City Press assessed the lack of transparency in Ban's UN for
Swedish television, here.
he would get an answer about Ban's staff's involvement
in war crimes described in the New Yorker magazine - but has not
provided any answers. Many UN correspondents have said he should not
remain in the job. And yet he does, representing Ban Ki-moon and a UN
that is, particularly on this front, in dramatic decay. Watch this
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.