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On Syria, UNSGs Ban & Annan Stonewall About Mandates, Censor Selectively

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 25 -- With the UN Support Mission in Syria widely seen as failing, Press questions about the division of labor and responsibility are referred from New York to Geneva and then back to New York, never getting answered.

   Rather, a focus seems to be been to selectively censor Press coverage of the failures.

 On May 21, Inner City Press asked the spokespeople for current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his predecessor Kofi Annan for a "description of the division of labor and mandates between Annan's Deputy Guehenno and UN Peacekeeping chief Ladsous, and if Annan's Deputy El-Kidwa has since taking the post asked to enter Syria, and what the response was."

  When Inner City Press asked this question at the UN in New York, the response was to ask Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi in Geneva, which Inner City Press immediately did.

  It was two days -- and many dead -- later when Fawzi sent an interim (non) response: "Will get back to you on questions related to the Deputies. On questons about the Fijians and USG/Ladsous, please ask Kieran Dwyer" [the spokesman for Ladsous].

  In the two days since, no answer about Annan's Deputies has been provided. Kieran Dwyer, on the other hand, has demanded that Inner City Press remove Ladsous' name from an article which quoted Ambassadors at the UN that he would visit Damascus.

  Dwyer, and Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky, claimed that censorship was appropriate because Inner City Press had put Ladsous at risk.

  Now in the last 12 hours the Reuters news agency, at which both Nesirky and Fawzi proudly say they used to work, has through its UN correspondent Louis Charbonneau (who this week stole Inner City Press' exclusive that US official Jeffrey Feltman will come work for Ban Ki-moon, without giving credit as for example Foreign Policy's The Cable did, and tried to have Inner City Press ejected from the UN) quoted unnamed "UN envoys" that Kofi Annan himself, certainly a higher profile target than the uncommunicative Ladsous, would be going to Syria on May 27.

  Rather than request censorship from Reuters, hours later Fawzi told the agency, his former employer, that "Annan will visit Syria 'soon.'" This two paragraph piece, datelined Geneva, has "reporting" by Louis Charbonneau. Nothing has been said of the previous report naming May 27 as causing danger or needing to be censored.

  In the interim, Fawzi has still not answered any part of the Press questions referred to him by Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office on May 21.

  Two days later, Fawzi sent an interim reply, "Will get back to you on questions related to the Deputies. On questons about the Fijians and USG/Ladsous, please ask Kieran Dwyer."
   In the two further days since then, no responses or explanations from Fawzi. Here is what Kieran Dwyer sent Inner City Press, copying Ban's spokesman Nesirky:

I have become aware of you[r] web article and tweets naming [individual's name included in DPKO's email, but initially deleted, now reported: Mr. Ladsous] as planning to travel to syria along with dpko colleaugues. Your decision to publish this information in advance of a trip has created a potentially serious security situation for un personnel. I ask that you remove all such references from the inner city press website without delay

  For the UN to request post-publication removal from the Internet of information, stated on the record by a Security Council's Permanent Representative, seemed to implicate freedom of the press issues which have not been the UN's priority under Ban Ki-moon.

  But within minutes of receiving the above, Inner City Press modified the story, removing the name and an included critique of the individual specified in DPKO's removal request -- that is, Mr. Ladsous and his refusal to answer any questions as DPKO fails under his watch.  And so it goes at the UN.

  For now, here is a letter Syria filed with the Security Council and Ban Ki-moon which Inner City Press has obtained and puts online -- more on this to come. 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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