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As UN Calls Cancun Transparent, Unaware of Climate Bribes, Beating & Exclusions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 14 -- While the UN on Tuesday claimed the Cancun talks were an unmitigated success, many environmentalists call the outcome merely voluntary and not binding, and say that some smaller countries have been strong armed into the agreement by “bribery” such as a $50 million grant to Maldives, exposed in a WikiLeaked cable.

Inner City Press asked the UN's “global goods” guru Robert Orr what he made of this strong arming, of the another cable in Wikileaks, quoting EU climate negotiator Hedegaard that the commitments so far may be only loan guarantees and not grants. Video here, from Minute 24:45.

Orr said that some “push and pull” between government was no surprise. But isn't it one of the UN's job to speak up when underdogs are pushed around, and can't or won't speak for themselves? What is the UN's role in the climate change process? Apparently, it is to declare victory. Orr said that what he had presented as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's goals for Cancun had all been accomplished.

While the conference was going on, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky about the reported exclusion from the conference by UN security of noted indigenous advocate Tom Goldtooth. Nesirky said he would into it.

On December 14, Inner City Press asked Orr about Tom Goldtooth, and about video footage, available on YouTube, of UN Security beating a Reuters photographer outside the conference. Orr said “I am not at all aware of that case, I haven't even heard about it.” But here is the video.

UN's Ban in "Chiapas Eco Bus" in Cancun, Bolivia & press beating not shown

  Orr said that “everyone agrees” the the process in Cancun was “the Holy Grail of transparent, inclusive negotiation.” We'll have more on this.

Footnote: Inner City Press had additional questions for Mr. Orr, but unlike the two other correspondents who asked, was not allowed a second chance at questioning by Spokesman Martin Nesirky. One hope that Mr. Orr takes and answers questions after, for example, the scheduled December 15 press conference at the UN by a major Cancun skeptic. Watch this site.

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On Somalia, UN Looks Away from Mercenaries & Funder, Withholds MOU

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 13 -- As not only Puntland but the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu move to use mercenaries, the UN is in denial even as its Security Council's sanctions regime is being violated.

On December 6 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: there is a former US official, Pierre Prosper, who has said that Puntland, the portion of Somalia, has hired a private military contractor, Saracen, to do anti-piracy work — that it’s being all funded by a Muslim nation that he wouldn’t name. So what I wonder is whether, given Mr. [Augustine] Mahiga or anyone in the UN, given both the prohibitions against mercenaries and also the 1992 sanctions on Somalia, what does the UN say to Puntland pretty openly, or at least as acknowledged by a former US official, hiring a mercenary firm to patrol the coast of Somalia, and what’s the UN going to do in light of this report?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, thanks for the question, Matthew, and let’s see what we can find out. I don’t have anything at the moment.

A full week later, the UN Spokesperson's Office has not provided any information. But on December 10, Inner City Press asked the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden about mercenaries. Despite reports that the TFG is moving forward, Bowden said that there's been a step back. Video here, from Minute 13:55.

Inner City Press asked if the UN knows the identify of the country funding the mercenaries. Bowden did not answer, but said that the funder should contact the UN Somalia Monitoring Group, or they might be in violation of the sanctions. But the country has indicated it will not identify itself, ostensibly to not suffer attacks. Is there a loophole in the sanctions regime for this?

UN's Bowden on Dec. 10, mercenaries and MOU not shown

  On the UN World Food Program's confidential Memorandum of Understanding with the OIC, Inner City Press asked what it says about paying to deliver service.

  Ms. Kiki Gbeho, Head of the Somalia Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs replied that she “hopes” it has prohibitions, adding that the UN “in principle does not pay to deliver... perhaps it has happened, but it is the policy not to pay.”

But neither she nor Bowden have seen the WFP agreement. What does it mean, then, to be a UN Humanitarian “Coordinator” or OCHA Head of Country office? What is WFP doing? Watch this site.

 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.

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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

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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