UN, Spokesman Goes Berserky, from Bhutto Report To Afghan Cover Up
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, April 22 -- The public face of the UN has been melting down
this month. Martin Nesirky in public, at the noon briefing which he
runs, has taken to criticizing particular stories, to relegating
disfavored journalists to the back of the question cue or seeking to
limit question, even on topics like Thailand and Sudan.
that's only the
public part. In a meeting with major wire journalists before the
Bhutto Report press conference, Nesirky "melted down" in
one participant's phrase and jabbed his finger at a reporter, saying
you can't talk to me like that.
descriptions, a new moniker has been suggested: Berserky.
Berserky, loudly claimed that Bhutto panel leader Munoz refused to
provide his report before the press conference, but this turned out
to not be true. There was anger, there was lash out, there was
attempted rapprochement. But only to some.
some of those
favored by Nesirky have wondered at how
little he fought the
exclusion of his Office from Security Council consultations. Asked
a noon briefing by Inner City Press if there is any update, he said
to ask the Council. But Japanese Ambassador Takasu on April 22 told
Inner City Press this is mere housekeeping. It appears there is no
update: Nesirky is out. Is that what has driven him Beserky?
some, to began
early. The moment he was named to the psot last year, some
without rancor that his knowledge of Ban Ki-moon's native tongue
Korean had played a role in his selection. As they said on
nothing wrong with that. But Nesirky appeared at a noon briefing at
which he took no questions, to deny that language played any role in
his selection. This might have been a clue.
UN's Ban and Nesirky, with the far away look in this eyes
for its part can point most recently to the April 21 briefing, when
descended to using his bully pulpit to unilaterally denounce
a "blog" story -- he emphasized the word "blog"
several times -- which characterized as a cover up the UN's stealth
processing of evidence indicating UN Security officer Louis Maxwell
was killed by the Afghan National forces.
next day, April
22, Nesirky relegated Inner City Press to the last question to
UNRWA's John Ging, and sought to take no more questions from Inner
City Press, including on Sudan, Thailand and Sri Lanka. There were
other questions to be asked, but they will come in the future. With
or without Beserky. Watch this site.
while Mr. Nesirky appears to doubt it, Inner City Press has no
particular animus toward him. In person, he is pleasant. Some say he
takes questions too personally. One hope this relationship can be
* * *
UN, Council Excludes Spokesman's Office Without A Fight, Ineptitude
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, April 15, updated --
A shift of power has taken place in the UN, with
UN Secretariat staff now barred from Security Council consultations,
and it is unclear what role ineptitude has in the power play.
the 15 members of the UN Security Council met behind closed doors,
representatives of the Secretary General's Office of the Spokesman,
and UN Peacekeeping staffers, could attend.
this month, the UN Spokesperson's Office and most Peacekeeping
staffers have been barred from consultations. Several of these
staffers have complained to Inner City Press, how can they implement
or explain the Council's mandates if they cannot hear what members
Ki-moon's Spokesperson's Office to be barred raises other issues,
several journalists say. Already, they say, new Spokesperson Martin
Nesirky finds it difficult to answer questions, even if he wants to,
due to lack of sources.
Nesirky did not himself fight for access to consultations, but instead
sent his Deputy Marie Okabe. Whether this was because Nesirky was
away on travel through Central Asia, or because Ms. Okabe is Japanese
like this month's Council president Yukio Takasu is not known. But
the reporters slammed Nesirky
for allowing his Office to lose power
without even putting up a fight.
would never have allowed this," one said, referring to Kofi
Annan's long time spokesman.
Dujarric," chimed in another, referring to the spokesman for the
latter stage Kofi, now with UNDP.
political systems, separation of powers questions are not resolved in
such ad hoc, incompetent ways. But perhaps the UN is not a mature
Council president Yukio Takasu on April 15 was asked if there was any
progress on restoring to the UN press corps at least as much access
as they had on the second floor, before the Council moved to the UN's
basement. Takasu called it a work in progress. Later, a UN Security
official told Inner City Press, you have good news. Did it refer to
access to the stairs, to be able to discourse with willing
Ambassadors as they leave the Council? We'll see.
Update of April 16: while access
has still not been granted to the stairs, the pen to which the press is
confined has been made smaller. There are moves afoot to install a UN
TV camera trained on the Council entrance. "There'll be five years of
this," one Ambassador quipped to Inner City Press as he left the
the Office of
the Spokesperson for the Secretary General was losing access to
information with out a fight, its Associate
Spokesperson Farhan Haq
was doling out response to questions asked at the UN's noon briefing
to media other than the one that asked. Such selective propaganda
another low point for the Office, perhaps not unrelated to its
increasing loss of access, relevance and credibility.
Update of April 16: At Friday's
noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Martin Nesirky if the work of his
Office suffered due to exclusion from Council consultations. He
responded that he is still trying to understand the changes. We will
revisit this issue.