UN's Ban Retracts
$1 Trillion Request, UK's Brown
Touts Plan of World Bank, Not UN
Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
March 25 -- UN Secretary General
Ban on March 25 backed away from a $1 trillion request he made in a
letter to the participants in the upcoming meeting in London. Moments
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that, as he prepared to travel to
Chile, it is too early to put a number on what poorer countries will
Ki-moon was asked to confirm his $1 trillion request, contained not
only in the
March 20 letter but also in a Financial Times article placed online
Wednesday. He said "at this time I am not in a position to say anything
exact amount terms."
that last question his spokesperson allowed, so it was not possible to
had changed between his use of the $1 trillion amount in the March 20
and an interview with the Financial Times that day and his meeting with
Brown five days later.
it was reminiscent of a similar about-face triggered earlier this month
in a closed-door
meeting with the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee,
read from talking points that the U.S. is "a deadbeat" which owes
UN between $1 billion and $1.6 billion. That night, his
put an an e-mail to reporters "clarifying" that Ban respects the
U.S.'s contributions. Hours later, President Barack
Gibbs called Ban's use of the word deadbeat "unfortunate" and
suggested that he make clear his gratitude to the U.S..
word from Gordon Brown that perhaps the number should have been given
out -- to
the UK-based Financial Times -- led to a de facto retraction. How
recipients of Ban's March 20 letter now read it?
UN's Ban and UK's Brown in Davos, before this Trillion-Gate
Press dug into "deadbeat-gate" by asking who wrote Ban's
talking points -- numerous UN sources pointed the finger at the UN
Center in Washington -- Inner City Press understands, from multiple
that Ban in his March 20 interview gave the $1 trillion figure on an
"exclusive basis," adding that it should be held for some time closer
to the G-20 meeting.
exchange of delay for exclusivity was then altered by a decision, on
to release the $1 trillion figure in connection with Ban's meeting and
availability with Gordon Brown on the afternoon of March 25. Beating
deadline, the Financial Times published the quote and letter with the
trillion figure, which Ban proceeded to implicitly deny or retract. Can
through the -Gate, Ban's $1 trillion, while a suspiciously round
appears to consist most of pre-existing commitments, such as those made
Gleneagles, and to include loans by the World Bank and IMF. The World Bank's Bob Zoelick weeks ago
proposed that 0.7% of rich countries'
bailouts and stimulus packages should go toward a "Vulnerability
Fund" for poorer countries. Click here for
Inner City Press' February story on that.
Gordon Brown endorsed the World
Bank's Zoelick's, and not the UN's Ban's, proposal on Wednesday. Another UN body, appointed by the President
of the General Assembly and former Nicaraguan foreign minister Miguel
Brockman and chaired by Joseph Stiglitz, raises Zoelick's stakes to a
of countries' bailouts and stimulus packages. That still doesn't
seemingly arbitrary $1 trillion figure, which may explain the
retraction. Which of its various shifting plans the UN actually
with what effect, at the G-20 in London remains to be seen.
continue with Deadbeat-Gate, while Ban
and his officials including from Peacekeeping used a figure on Capitol
this month that the U.S. owes $1.6 billion to the UN, when a reporter
Ban's spokesperson for a breakdown, the answer was that the information
available "upstairs" in the Spokesperson's Office. But up there the
referral was to the UNA-USA lobbying organization. Senior UN officials
City Press on March 25 that the real debt is $1.1 billion, and
surprise that the UN would use another figure and then hide behind an
"outside NGO." The UN's work is often important, but this is no way
to run this ship.
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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.
* * *
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for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
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