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UN Squawks 9am Syria Session Then Says Disregard, As Togo Confirms, Stonewalls

By Matthew Russell Lee, News Muse

UNITED NATIONS, February 3 -- During the UN Security Council's Syria Superbowl and negotiations this week, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was away, getting shoes thrown at his car for refusing to meet with the families of Palestinian prisoners, for example.

  But Ban's Office of the Spokesperson continued to at have the responsibility of answering the questions of and providing logistical information to journalists who cover the UN.

  The Office is falling down in both responsibilities, repeatedly refusing to answer questions for example about Sudan and South Sudan, and on Friday haltingly announcing, at first only to some, a Saturday meeting on Syria, and then saying "disregard" without explanation.

  The Council put a draft resolution on Syria "into blue" on Thursday night; Inner City Press obtained and published the draft just after midnight Friday morning.

  During the day on Friday the Security Council chamber was quiet. Inner City Press went to the new North Lawn building, where Ban Ki-moon has his office, to cover a meeting in large Conference Room 1: the "NGO Committee."

  There, Sudan was opposing a range of non-governmental organizations which support the International Criminal Court. Sudan's president Omar al Bashir has been indicted for genocide in Darfur by the ICC; the UN's envoy to Darfur Ibrahim Gambari last month took photos at a wedding reception, greeting Bashir.

  In other NGO committee action, questions were asked about the Australian Lesbian Medical Association, and about Asylum Access having, or not having, a license said by Ecuador to be required. Civil society groups, of the type Ban ended up not meeting with in Gaza, are being excluded from the UN. It seemed worth covering but it came to an end. Why?

  Another journalist arrived to say that Ban's Office of the Spokesperson has "squawked" -- using the loudspeaker system that does not extend to the North Lawn where most of the UN's work take place -- that the Council would meet on Syria at 9 am.

  Later Ban's Spokesperson's office sent out an otherwise empty email saying to "disregard" the earlier announcement. Inner City Press sought clarification via the Office's Twitter account, which cranks out canned statements methodically, like another Twitter account, Ban Ki-moon first person, saying he is attending meetings that are over or canceled or with himself.

  Receiving no answer via the UN's "social media" machinery, Inner City Press headed to the Security Council itself, where a diplomat from Togo, the country that hold the Council's presidency for February, confirmed that there'll be a meeting "a neuf heures du matin" -- 9 am -- on Saturday.

  Back in the North Lawn Sudan went on blocking NGOs; one imagined that the Office of the Spokesperson was shutting down, putting on "the lid" despite unanswered questions.

(c) UN Photo
Ban and spokesman Nesirky, answers and updates not shown

  At Friday's noon briefing Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky was asked to confirm the UN's inquiry into its own failing in Sri Lanka has stalled or ended, but did not answer. He again did not provide an answer that Ban's envoy to South Sudan promised on January 23.

   He declined even to confirm Inner City Press' story about Ban's UN system task force on Syria, chaired by a former minister of Yemen dictator Ali Saleh.

 The unanswered questions pile up, and the disorganized announcements and retractions join them. But we're be here - 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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