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Mood Is In Security Council, But UN Won't Say Who Pays Him Or Status in Syria

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 24 -- Minutes before a briefing by Syria envoy Kofi Annan, Norwegian Major General Robert Mood walked into the Security Council in a tan uniform. He declined to answer Press questions.

  For the past two days, Inner City Press has asked first Annan's spokesman Ahmed Fawzi, then the Ban Ki-moon Secretariat to which Fawzi referred the questions,

"does Mood now work for the UN? Who paid for Mood travel to New York? What length of contract?"

As noted, Fawzi declined to answer, saying that the UN Secretariat should be asked. So on April 23:

Inner City Press: On Syria, Robert Mood has apparently said that he is coming to New York or is already in New York. Since there was some controversy about him leaving Damascus and going back to Norway, I wanted to know, I had asked Mr. Fawzi, Kofi Annan’s spokesman, who said ask the Secretariat, does Mr. Robert Mood work for the UN? Who paid for his trip to New York? Obviously, I would like to know if he is the Force Commander, but even if he is not, what is his role coming to New York to design this mission to Syria?

Deputy Spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey: His role was to go to Syria and engage in the preliminary discussions with the Syrian Government. He accomplished his mission. He went back to Oslo and now he is coming to New York. I imagine that they are going to be discussing with him what he saw on the ground and what his views are. He was on the ground in Syria, he knows what the lay of the land is and he is the perfect person to have this kind of relationship with.

Inner City Press: Does he currently have a contract with the UN system?

Deputy Spokesperson: I would have to check on that, I don’t know.

  One might assume that "I would have to check" would mean, "I will check." But 24 hours later, when Inner City Press asked again, Del Buey simply repeated the same: "I really don't know we'll have to check."

  "But I asked yesterday, and you said that yesterday," Inner City Press pointed out.

  Del Buey repeated, "I'm telling you again, I don't have that information."

  Did Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman not have the information by choice? Isn't the UN required to say to whom it is making payments?

  The mystery of Mood began at least eleven days ago, when at the first of the Security Council's so far two Saturday meetings Inner City Press asked Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia about Mood's abrupt departure from Damascus. Churkin said it was surprising, and even unprofessional.

  From that some thought Mood would not necessarily get the Force Commander or SRSG job. But now Inner City Press understands that Russia does not oppose Mood. And his walking into the Council just before the Annan briefing would seem to mean he has the job. Why veil it all in secrecy, especially who is paying him today, from what pool of money?

  Finally, for now, Inner City Press has learned from UN Budget committee sources that despite initially indications that the Permanent Five members of the Council would like UNSMIS to be a "Special Political Mission" like Iraq or Afghanistan, for which they pay less, they will be paid from the Peacekeeping or PKO budget. But who is paying Mood? Watch this site.

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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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