UN Has No Answers in Myanmar or
N. Korea, Peacekeeping Losses from Poland, Ivorian Rebels
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Muse
NATIONS, February 6 -- From
Ivory Coast to Pakistan,
peacekeeping to security, at UN headquarters it was a
week of questions pre-screened and evaded, or answered sometimes late. On
February 2, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe
questions, from Myanmar to Sri Lanka, Quetta to Niger. None were
criticism of UN envoy Gambari's trip to Myanmar, there was no
response. Nor would Ms. Okabe say if the UN is even trying to determine
responsible for the hospital bombing in Sri Lanka. The security
Quetta, she said, is confidential. And on the disappearance of
Robert Fowler in
Niger, she said she had no news, would provide it as soon as she had it.
3, four new questions and again no answers. Did Gambari
asked to meet Myanmar's strong man Than Shwe? Okabe said she had
that. On fighting in the Ivory Coast among the New Forces rebels, any
from Ban Ki-moon's envoy Mr. Choi? No. Was India asked to contribute
peacekeepers in the Congo, even though Congo has said they don't want
from that country? Okabe said the Department of Peacekeeping Operations
answer, but three days later it has not. There are other questions
pending there. On the reported refoulement
at sea of refugees from Myanmar by Thailand, nothing.
After Tuesday's briefing, Inner City Press was
approached and asked to
submit questions to the UN Spokesperson's office before and outside of
daily noon briefing. While this can't be required, Inner City Press
e-mailed some questions, on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning to
Spokesperson's office. But the majority of questions weren't answered.
wasn't the point, it was explained, to turn the Office into a "one stop
shop" to ask questions to. The point was to pre-screen the questions to
asked at noon. But even those weren't answered on February
announcement of pull-out from UN peacekeeping missions in
Chad, Golan and Lebanon, Ban hadn't yet spoken with the Poles.
days later he has still not
spoken, because no response has been provided. Did
the UN apologize to Sri Lanka for alleging cluster bombs? Not known. In
face of the UN's silence, the Sri Lankan government has trumpeted an
Other still-unanswered questions include security,
i-Seek says that Mr.
Choi of ICT reports 'to the executive office of the SG". Will he
have a "management compact" between himself and the SG?
- who are the vendors
with PACT at UNHQ in para 25 of A-63-605.pdf?
Inner City Press
there a UN statement on reported killing of 25 civilians by UNISOM
more than 24 hours ago?" For the UN system's response, click here.
At UN, big screen but few answers
5, Spokesperson Michele Montas returned. Of three
asked by Inner City Press, one was answered: the Secretariat's use
of the word
"Georgia" in its Abkhazia report was intentional and will continue
until ordered otherwise by the Security Council, which itself has
the word in connection with the observer mission, even in the monthly
of work. Could Ms. Montas confirm
receipt of a reported seven-page letter to Ban from Jamaat ud Dawa? No,
look into it. A day later, no response. Any response to North Korea's
test a long range missile, which South Korea says violates a UN
[We'll stop here to report that Kyoto
News' report last weekend of the
U.S. and Japan ordering UNDP to pull back from North Korea now appears
been false, denied by a U.S. diplomat speaking under that name, and
Ambassador on the record. The correspondent is new, Inner City Press
and chided for missing the scoop of UNDP's pre-missile return.]
Finally on Friday, again only one question of of the
four that Inner
City Press asked was answered, and that one only partially. No, Ban
not calling for a ceasefire in Sri Lanka, only for the government's
operations to be conducted in compliance with international law. Ms.
said she hadn't heard of the controversy about the UN's envoy to
anti-press remarks, and was unable too of UN-affiliated
journalist Heby Aly's
expulsion from Sudan. Is the UN in favor of Liberian mercenaries
who fought in
Ivory Coast getting paid, and if so by who? It's under deliberation,
replied. We will follow all this next week. Compare to a week in
November 2008, here. Are things getting better?
Footnote: in fairness,
many correspondents spread the blame to what they call the 38th floor,
including the Department of Political Affairs, which keep the
Spokespeople in the dark, and can't even fax down their statements
until 12:15 or 12:20. Also, the Spokesperson's Office was left to read
out the UN Mission in the Congo's categorical denial of Doctors Without
Borders' report on MONUC's failings in North Congo -- which MONUC later
quietly qualified in a letter to the NGO. More generally, if the
Department of Peacekeeping Operations answered questions in real time
some of the load would be lifted from the Spokesperson's Office. Stil...
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
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review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
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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
Click here for Inner City
Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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