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As UN Bans Press from Council Hall, Demand Tracks Back to Araud of France?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 6, updated -- The controversy over which Permanent Five member of the Security Council was most responsible for Monday's move to push the Press back to avoid "involuntary interaction" has taken a new turn. On April 5 the lack of clarity about who controls the UN building, and to some degree the press, came into focus when one or more Permanent members of the Security Council said reporters should be barred from hallway outside the new Council.

  At Monday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe who controls this space, the Council, the General Assembly, or the Secretary General. Ms. Okabe dodged the question, then said "the Member States, as you know, have a great say in this. This is their building. So, let’s leave it at that." Transcript here and below.

  But which member states -- the full 192 members, the 15 members of the Council, the Permanent Five -- or just a single one of the P-Five? While Inner City Press initially also named the United States, which called to deny involvement, multiple sources now identify French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud as the one who raised the issue in the Council's closed door session.

  It is perhaps not surprising. Of the Permanent Five ambassadors, Araud has gone the longest without taking questions from the Press at the stakeout or in a press conference. The UK's Mark Lyall Grant spoke most recently about Myanmar; Araud did not speak. The US' Susan Rice spoke about Sudan; Araud did not speak.

 China's recently arrived Li Baodong spoke on the Middle East and Iran, and took a question about Sri Lanka. (Araud spoke on this topic, but only outside of the UN at the French consulate on Fifth Avenue.)

  Russia's Churkin held a press conference, ostensibly about road safety, but answered questions about NATO and Georgia, among others. But where is Araud? He does not lack wit and combativeness, so perhaps he will speak on the record now.

  From the beginning of his time at the UN in 2009, Araud has made a mark both with his caustic humor and his rudeness, which those invited call candor. In closed door sessions with chosen media, Araud has trashed a Middle East leader as "not all there." Of Guinea's military leader Dadis Camara, Araud said he "sleeps all day and drinks all night."

  When challenge by some media, he said "you are small people."

  Some French reporters say they welcome Araud's off the record candor. But to other French journalists, who along with Inner City Press have challenged him, Araud turns up his nose and walks by without a word. Then when it is written about, as Inner City Press did in a live blog of the opening of the UN's new North Lawn building, the French Mission to the UN takes to the phones to defend their boss' reputation.

  The next day at the (old) stakeout, Araud made a sarcastic point of saying hello. Perhaps then the seed was planted to try to use the Council's move as a pretext to avoid having to face or even see and be seen by the press before each Council session.

Update of 9:40 am, April 6 -- already chairs and tables for non-Council member states are being put where the stakeout should be, with a penned in area further back for reporters. At the UN, too, apparently, possession is nine tenths of the law. Media Accreditation late on April 5 asked reporters to respect the lines drawn while this is all worked out. But on the other side, construction -- settlement -- proceeds.

Update of 10:22 a.m.-- with the press corps penned in far back from the stairs, even the letters of protest could not be handed to Ambassadors as they entered. U.S. Ambassador Rice strode in. Even as reporters called out, "We have a letter for you," she smiled bemused and continued into the Council chamber. Later a spokesman accepted the letter. Tellingly, neither French Ambassador Araud nor his spokesman came to the tense stakeout. A member of the French mission blew the press a kiss, dramatically, and walked into the chamber.

UK Deputy Permanent Representative Parham came over and took the letter himself. Russia's Dolgov accept it, asking, "Is it in Russian?" Long after the meeting began, Council President Takasu had still not been served. Nor had the Chinese mission. This job was left to Inner City Press.

France's Araud, UN's Ban looking away

  Inner City Press' introduction to Araud took place in a press conference on poverty in the Fall of 2009. Araud held forth about Sarkozy's and Kouchner's work. Inner City Press asked about France's eviction of asylum seekers in Calais, and treatment of the poor in Mayotte. Araud refused to answer, and afterwards complained. After he stormed by the table, outside the Security Council, where other Ambassadors stop to interact with the Press.

  Now, taking advantage of the Council's move to the basement, he has requested that the Press not be so close. While the U.S. denies agreeing to the request, it could have spoken up. As it is, a representative of the Secretariat's Security Council Affairs unit came out and said that in the consultations, the exclusion of the Press had been decided on.

  This has triggered an appeal to this month's Council president Yukio Takasu, copied to Ban Ki-moon, Ali Treki and all Permanent Five members. When Araud gets it, what will he do? Watch this site.

From the April 5 noon briefing transcript:

Inner City Press: this morning in front of the Security Council, a representative in the Department of Political Affairs or the Security Council Affairs Unit said that the Council had decided that the press can’t stand in front of the Security Council; it should be pushed back, and that non-Council Members will be also in the hallway, in this area by the stairs. And that Security will enforce this. So, one, I wanted to know whether that’s a final decision by the Department of Political Affairs; and two, who controls safety and security here? Is it, does the Secretary-General, or do the Security Council Members, can they direct Security to make those moves?

Deputy Spokesperson Okabe: I was just walking in here together with the head of the Media Accreditation Unit; and well, I didn’t have time to talk to her in detail, she has just had a meeting with Security and the Security Council Affairs Unit, and I think she has worked out something that enables closer access by the press to the Security Council members. So, she will give an update to Giampaolo, who I think just walked in.

Inner City Press: But is it possible, I guess I’m just…the whole incident, the whole back and forth this morning, made me wonder kind of who is, I mean, obviously the Security Council can vote things about the world at large, but in terms of the building and space, is, does the Security Council control the building, or does the Secretariat and the Secretary-General control the building?

Deputy Spokesperson: The Member States, as you know, have a great say in this. This is their building. So, let’s leave it at that. And [interrupted]

Inner City Press: Does that mean the 15 or the whole, all 192? That’s what I am wanting to get at.

Question: We have to find out those things.

Inner City Press: Yeah, it’s very important. When you say Member States, is it only 15 or the full contingent?

Deputy Spokesperson: The full contingent of what?

Inner City Press: Of all Member States. I was told this morning that countries like India and Germany might have to, the new quiet room will be out by the staircase, not inside the room. So, I just wanted to know who decides that.

Deputy Spokesperson: I think the arrangements, my understanding right now, Matthew, is that the Security Council has just moved from the traditional premises to the new ones. And I think a lot of the arrangements are in the middle of being worked out. So, until they do, I really don’t have enough information to comment further on the decision-making process. But, I do know that Media Accreditation is, was just talking to Security Affairs about this particular issue that came up this morning.

Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, Security Council Moves to Push All But 15 Nations into the Hall, Cut Press Access: Turf Wars

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, April 5 -- Outside the first consultation meeting in the new UN Security Council chamber, both reporters and members states not on the Council were Monday in disarray, on the verge of losing even more access.

  A representative of UN Security Council Affairs told Inner City Press that the media will be moved further back, where they can't even see Council members enter. And member states other than the 15 Council members will be relegated to an open hallway by the stairs, under the plan.

  The UN representative said that Council members complained of "involuntary interation" with the press and even other member states "like India and Germany," wanting a way to leave without seeing either. Inner City Press countered that the media, and non-Council member states, must be consulted, but was told to quiet down.

  In what passes for news, in the beginning of the month consultations led by April's Council president, Yukio Takasu of Japan, the U.S. asked for a briefing about the elections in Sudan. Since U.S. envoy Scott Gration is in Khartoum appearing to praise the process as "as fair as possible," the U.S.'s request struck some as strange.

  Nigeria requested a briefing about the chaos in Guinea Bissau, in which the police arrested the Prime Minister last week. Apparently Myanmar will not be discussed. Ambassador Takasu will hold a press conference later on Monday. Watch this site.

  The background: After its final March meeting, the Council was moved from its longtime location on the second floor to a suite of rooms in the UN's basement.

There are no windows, but the UN says it is secure, safer than Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's office atop the boxlike Temporary North Lawn Building.

But outside the Council, everything has changed. The suite of rooms has a closed metal door and a sign, "Consultation in session, Security Council members only."

This seems to mean that Permanent Representatives of member states not among the Council's 15 members -- including for example India, Germany and South Africa, to name a few -- can't even go into the Council's lounge, as for years they did upstairs.

Some Security Council reform -- getting less rather than more inclusive.

A stakeout with the 15 Council members' flags has been set up where the Vienna Cafe used to be. It is at some remove from the Security Council doors; members can leave by the stairs or garage without walking by the stakeout.

The new UNSC chamber under construction

Monday morning, reporters milled around between the stairs and the Council doors. Spokespeople of only two of the Council's members, one permanent and one in its second of two years on the Council, deigned to speak to the press scrum. By 10:15, Inner City Press was the only media left, on a rickety chair without a table by the stairs. Several Permanent Representatives asked Inner City Press how to get into the Council. "Through the General Assembly," was the reply. Watch this site.

* * *

In Central Asia, UN Ban Blind to Corruption, Skips Prisoners Rights and Water Wars

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, April 3 -- As the UN's Ban Ki-moon traipses Central Asia, what of political prisoners, UN hiring scandals and simmering cross border conflicts? Apparently for the UN Secretary General, these don't exist. Before Ban started his trip, Inner City Press asked why the UN was not even to solve the dam-based conflict between Tajkistan and Uzbekisan. Don't call it a conflict, Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said. What what should it be called? 
     As Inner City Press has reported, Uzbekistan opposes the Tajik dam so much it shut the country's border. Why isn't the vaunted Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia involved?

  A UN source alleging corruption in the UNRCCA notes

On the website of the Center, there is not a single word about the Dam. but there is a tender announcement for the fitness equipment for the gymnasium at the UNRCCA building - the former elite Demiryolchy Hotel. The question is whether the procurement of the fitness equipment is reconciled with the UN budget rules and regulations, or whether it is a good UN background for the unsolved Dam conflict. the left click Tenders

At Tnders page you could see translation: The Regional UN Center (UNRCCA) announces the tender: Fitness equipment for the gymnesium) is set of pictures.


Miloslav Jenca (Slovakia), SRSG and head of UNRCCA, has published an article “Developments in Central Asia and the role of the UNRCCA” in International Issues & Slovak Foreign Policy AffairsIssue no.02 /2009, Publisher: Research Center of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association (RC SFPA)

The curiosity is that it can be read only if the reader would pay 25 Euro (€) in advance (from each the price of Jenca’s article would be taken). Click here. the UN staff in general and of Jenca’s status in particular are not supposed to publish the UN related staff for money (not saying about other connotations).

Turkmenistan would be the first country in the SG tour – 2 April (would SRSG Jenca inform the SG of the fitness equipment tendered – especially of the ball to play at the beach?

  In the Fall of 2009, Inner City Press asked and was given the run-around about a hiring scandal in this Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia. Inner City Press posed this question in writing:

In a message dated 8/27/2009 3:50:47 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, montas [at] writes:
Please refer your DPA questions to Jared Kotler
  I've been referred to you for a response to the allegations below concerning hiring in the Regional Center in Turkmenistan (the United Nations Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia).Also, please tell me when Jan Egeland's job with DPA ended, what he did during his tenure and how much he was paid.
on the RCPDCA, while here is more to this story, but let's start on deadline with confirmation or denial of the below:
During 2005-2007 Mr. Miloslav Jenca, Slovakia , worked in Tashkent as the OSCE Head of Office/OSCE Project Co-coordinator in Uzbekistan together with Ms. Polina Pomogalova , Uzbekistan , as his local general support staff:

Mr.Jenca at OSCE, Uzbekistan

Ms. Polina Pomogalova at OSCE, Uzbekisan, page 3

 In December 2007 the UNRCCA ( United Nations Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia) was inaugurated by Lynn Pascoe, DPA in Ashgabat.

In April 2008 Mr. Miloslav Jenca was appointed UNRCCA Head and SRSG, (“…Mr.. Jenca, currently the Director of the Office of Slovakia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, recently served as head of mission for the OSCE centre in Tashkent , Uzbekistan …”) 

Soon after this Ms. Polina Pomogalova was appointed the Personal Assistant to the SRSG Jenca at UNRCCA: see the UNRCCA web site: 

“…Ms. Polina Pomogalova, Personal Assistant to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General Ambassador Jenca…”

Question: How could it be that Polina Pomogalova without a single day of the UN experience was shortlisted for an interview by PMSS while other candidates with the extensive UN experience in Central Asia and technically cleared to the positions of this category were not included? How could it be that the UNRCCA interview board recommended exactly Polina Pomogalova? The answer seems clear: she was the protégé of SRSG Jenca and it was he who had arranged everything.

  Again, there is more to this story, but let's start on deadline with what is the UN's / DPA's . the Center's response?

  The majority of the above was simply never responded to, just as the UN's Department of Political Affairs refused to respond to or address nepotism and hiring scandals in its Africa II unit and the Central African Republic. This lack of accountability extends to the UN's approach to human rights.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

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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