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At UN, Ban Tells Press Rio+20 Not Too Pro-Corporate, BofA Is Laughing?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 29 -- Despite widespread criticism of Rio+20, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appeared Thursday afternoon a story below his office in the UN's North Lawn building and said, "Let me be clear, Rio Plus 20 was a success."

  Inner City Press, which had been finalizing an exclusive story about Ban's censoring of his own report on Eritrea using the computers twenty yards or meters from Ban's UN TV stakeout, ran over to ask a question.

  But the three questions select were all about Syria, allowing Ban to express or show concern. As Ban prepared to leave, Inner City Press asked if at least one Rio question was permitted. (There were other questions to be asked, for example about one of Ban's peacekeeping adviser, an alleged war criminal, dodged earlier on Thursday. But fine.)

  Ban to his credit, okay, just one question, on Rio.

   So Inner City Press asked, and Ban Ki-moon answered, as later transcribed by the UN:

Inner City Press: On the Rio Plus 20 conference, I heard what you said, as I’m sure you know that NGOs like Oxfam said it was a hoax, Greenpeace called it an epic failure and said that the corporations ran wild in Rio and that the US and others blocked efforts to stop mining of the sea and to impose human rights obligations on corporations. I just wonder – you were there and obviously put a lot of effort into it. What’s your response to that critique? What human rights obligations do you think the corporations have?

S-G Ban Ki-moon: I am aware of those concerns and criticisms about the outcome document. I had, on two occasions, very extensive meetings with members of civil society and, at one point, I met with nine major group representatives. These discussions were very extensive and very constructive. I listened very carefully to their views and their concerns and I explained the position of the United Nations, as well as Member States. And I have fully explained the contents of the outcome document. I explained to them that when I was a young student, I was taught by my teachers to ‘put your head above the cloud, but have your two feet firmly grounded on the soil, on the ground.’ If you don’t do that, however ambitious the ideas you may have, you will fall and you will tumble. We have to be very practical, very realistic. These are the outcomes, result of 193 Member States’ many, many months’ long process of negotiations, taking into account all the limitations, all the constraints and all the resources, and how much we can do. I think it is very fair that this outcome document is very balanced, concrete and result-oriented.

As I said many times in the past, this is not the end, this is just the beginning. We have many important processes to follow. First of all, we have to agree on Sustainable Development Goals. Members States have made a very clear timeline and also they asked me, as Secretary-General, to provide full support, including inputs and technical and logistical support to this process. I am going to establish a High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons to present the visions and recommendations for the post-MDG 2015 visions. And there are many nations, they have established their high-level political fora to follow up on all of these sustainable development recommendations, replacing the Commission on Sustainable Development. And they have agreed to strengthen the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with universal membership, with steady and strengthened resources provided. And there are many, many other good recommendations with clear timelines and very concise issues. However, I made it quite clear that I will continue to listen to their views. We will work together with civil society. And, in the course of the coming negotiations and processes, we will fully reflect their concerns and views. Thank you very much.

Ban praised the "involvement [of] the private sector," saying "these partnerships will enable us to achieve Sustainable Energy for All by 2030."

  As Inner City Press has previously highlighted, Ban named to lead his high level group on Sustainable Energy for All Charles Holliday, the chairman of Bank of America, the number one funder of mountain top removal coal mining, as well as a predatory lender.

 Is THIS the future we want?

  But we will be there to follow the next steps -- in person, inside the UN, hopefully. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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