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March 1, 2011: Libya

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As UN Won't Confirm Hiring Vandewalle on Libya, Stonewalling Called "Pathetic" - By Another UN Official

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 7 -- In defense of the UN Spokesperson's Office refusals to answer simple questions, it is sometimes argued that the spokespeople don't have the information and so can't provide it. But the stonewalling, even on who the UN pays and how much, is often intentional.

On July 1, based on a press release by Dartmouth College, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: Dartmouth has put out a press release that Professor [Dirk] Vandewalle, an author on the topic of Libya, has been hired by the UN as a Special Adviser to Ian Martin. Is that true? And what type of recruitment took place, and what’s his compensation? Can you confirm that?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: No, I don’t have a confirmation for that. You know that Mr. Martin is working on the post-transition work. If there is anything further to say about his team, I’ll let you know. But at this point, we don’t have any particular appointments to announce on that.

  Back in the UN's North Lawn building, a senior UN official approached Inner City Press to say that he found Haq's answer “pathetic,” that “everyone knows that Ian Martin invited Vandewalle to give a brown bag lunch presentation and then hired him.” The official, citing what he characterized as the Ban Ki-moon administration's propensity for retaliation, has asked that his name not be published.

  Going off the assumption that Haq simply hadn't known of Vandewalle's hiring on July 1, but would look into it and then confirm it, Inner City Press did not raise or write again about the issue for days. But nothing was said.

  And so on July 7 Inner City Press asked Haq about it again, saying he'd said it wasn't clear --

  Haq cut in to say that he had, in fact, refused to confirm it because “we don't publicly announce each level” of hiring.

  But why refuse to confirm the hiring of a Political Adviser on a topic like Libya, on which Ban Ki-moon has been assigned something of a supervisory role by Security Council resolution 1973?

Vandewalle by Dartmouth wall, UN recruitment and confirmation not shown

  Inner City Press then recited what several senior UN official had told it about how Vandewalle was hired. Haq said that was, “like your characterization of my views, a little inaccurate.”

  But Inner City Press hasn't trying to characterize Haq's “views” -- the request is simply that a spokesperson confirm or deny basic facts like who is being paid by the UN. Inner City Press asked, is Vandewalle being paid by the UN?

  “I'll see if we have anything to say,” Haq replied.

  While a senior UN official called this approach “pathetic,” we'll simply note that what is asked of spokespeople is not “views” or pre-packaged announcements, but timely answers to basic factual questions about the UN, including who has been hired as a Political Adviser, and how. We will continue on this.

From the UN's transcription of its July 7, 2011 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: I want to ask about, on Libya, I think it was last week I asked if this Dirk Vandewalle, author and professor, had been hired by the UN as a Special Adviser to Ian Martin. You said it wasn’t clear. I mean, I have asked again over there…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: That’s not what I said.

Inner City Press: What did you say?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: That’s not what I said. I said I don’t have a confirmation to give on that. I didn’t say it wasn’t clear.

Inner City Press: Okay. Do you still, don’t have a confirmation, because it’s been confirmed to me over there…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: We don’t publicly announce each and every appointment at each and every level of this Organization. For senior level appointments, as you know, we do make those announcements.

Inner City Press: In this case, I guess the reason I would like to ask you is that some have wondered, if Ian Martin is the Special Adviser, why does he need a special advisor? And the question is: how was the guy recruited? Is, how is he being paid, does he, can the UN just hire anyone that comes in and makes a brown bag lunch presentation, just hand him, I mean, I think it’s…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: I think, much like what you said about my views, that’s a little inaccurate. The basic point is that Mr. Martin will have a team of people working with him, as he is entitled to do, and they would be paid.

Inner City Press: Is Mr. Vandewalle being paid by the UN [inaudible]?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: I’ll see whether we have anything to say about that....

Why refuse to confirm what Dartmouth announced a week ago in a press release?

* * *

On Libya, UN Won't Confirm Hiring Vandewalle, Defers to France on Weapons

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 1 -- On Libya, the UN Secretariat's approach under Ban Ki-moon has been stealth to say the least. When Ban appointed Al Khatib as his envoy, he wouldn't say if Al Khatib was still getting paid by Jordan, where he remains a Senator, or even if Al Khatib is a UN staff member.

  Then Inner City Press learned that Ban has appointed Ian Martin as an Special Adviser on “post-transition” Libya. But Ban's spokesperson's office declined to confirm the hiring, or even to say if Martin is an Under Secretary General.

Now Dartmouth College has announced that

Dirk Vandewalle, associate professor of government and adjunct associate professor at the Tuck School of Business, has been appointed Political Advisor to United Nations Special Advisor Ian Martin. Martin is coordinating the U.N.’s post-conflict planning for Libya. Vandewalle’s task through July 2011 is to provide expertise and advice on initial and final drafts of proposals made by U.N. departments.”

  On July 1, Inner City Press asked Ban's acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq to confirm the hiring of Vandewalle, an author on Libya who has testified to the US Congress, and to describe the recruitment process.

  Haq would not or could not even confirm that Vandewalle had been hired by the UN, something already announced by Dartmouth. We'll have more on this.

Inner City Press also asked if it is Ban's Secretariat's position that Libya Resolution 1973 doesn't require prior notification of the Secretary General for, as France has, dropping weapons into Libya, and how Ban interprets the word “immediate” as applied to notification in the Resolution.

  Haq again said “Ask France.”

  But earlier on June 1 when a correspondent approached French Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud and asked about France's weapons drop into Libya, Araud told the correspondent “I have nothing to say on that.” (With France-friendly media, Araud has spouted defenses of the weapons drop.)

  If Ban's Secretariat's involvement in the military action in Libya was supposed to make it more legitimate, it may not be working out: Ban is not requiring even notification, is not transparent about when notifications are received, and won't even confirm the hiring of an adviser on post-transition Libya. Watch this site.

* * *

As UN Is Asked If Ban Notified of Arms into Libya, Says “Ask France"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 30 -- The day after French armed forces spokesman Thierry Burkhard “said guns, rocket-propelled grenades and munitions were parachuted in to rebels in the Nafusa mountains” by the French government, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq if Secretary General Ban Ki-moon received any notification from France of its weapons drops.

   First Haq tried to say it is only up to the Security Council and its Libya sanctions committee. But Inner City Press read from Resolution 1973, on the arms embargo and protection of civilians, which only

Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya... requests the Member States concerned to inform the Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph.”

  So Inner City Press reiterated the question, which is one of fact and not interpretation: has Ban Ki-moon gotten been informed by France, by means of the requested notification, of this weapons drop allegedly to protect civilians?

  “You could ask the government of France who they did or did not notify,” said Haq, Ban's deputy spokesman. This represents a total abdication of Ban of the role assigned to him in Resolution 1973.

  France's UN Ambassador Gerard Araud did not come to the UN Security Council on June 30 after the news broken, instead sending his deputy Martin Briens to decry Syrian lack of compliance with resolutions, even using the word “hypocrisy” without any seeming irony or self-consciousness.

Sarkozy glad-hands Ban, notification under Reso 1973 and top DPKO post not shown

 (In any event, Araud is demonstrably loath to speak on the record, having done only three on camera stakeouts during May when France was Council president, versus for example six by Gabon's Ambassador in June.)

Inner City Press asked the chairman of the Council's Libya sanctions committee, Portugal's Ambassador Cabral, who said the "process has started,” referring to statements from the African Union meeting in Malabo. He indicated that the process would start in the sanctions committee upon the complaint of any committee member.

But that does not absolve Ban Ki-moon of the roles assigned to him in Resolution 1973. Did Ban get notification from France or not? Watch this site.

Footnote: Haq was asked about the process for replacing departing top UN Peacekeeper Alain Le Roy and said that all member states can apply. Inner City Press asked Haq if the post is, as reported, reserved for France. Haq repeated, all can apply. Again, why would a country which now brags about violating a Security Council resolution be set to continuing heading UN Peacekeeping?

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

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.

* * *

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

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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