Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Follow us on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

As Ex-PGA Ashe Indicted, UN Laxity Allows It, As ICP Documented

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 6 -- While some in the UN are purporting to be surprised by the indictment of 2013-14 President of the General Assembly John Ashe on charges of soliciting bribes from Macao businessmen, what is surprising is that it took this long for the laxness not only of Ashe but of the President of the General Assembly office's structure and UN's easy penetration by business interests to lead to this.

   During Ashe's tenure, Inner City Press covered his various failures; the example of an indigenous conference is below. But it's been similar with other PGAs, who travel around the world with little press coverage or accountability, often cutting deals.

  It's not even a full time job: as Inner City Press first reported and got confirmed, in 2014-15 Sam Kutesa remained Uganda's foreign minister, while PGA. (Kutesa tried to place his chief of staff as head of Africa 1 in the UN Department of Political Affairs, here.)

  More recently, Inner City Press has reported that current PGA Mogens Lykketoft's office has been used to lobby for the candidacy of fellow Dane Helle Thorning-Schmidt to take over the UN's refugee agency UNHCR, despite her own record as Danish PM being criticized by UNHCR.

   There are a number of business groups which use the UN -- one of them was even allowed to sponsor the annual event of Herve Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping -- and get awards, like just last week in an ITU event inside the UN. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is aware, or should be aware, of all of this, but won't even disclose who pays for his trips (Inner City Press and the new Free UN Coalition for Access have asked).

  Apparently Ashe excused his wheeling and dealing by referring to “South South Cooperation.” While a laudable concept, Inner City Press was struck last week when Ban Ki-moon's UN Spokesperson's office sent out to journalists the news of a non-UN “South South” group at which Ashe had previously appeared. It's a murky world.

Update: an African diplomat, by the UN Security Council after publication of the above, told Inner City Press Ashe taking bribes to pitch a UN Conference Center was "not suprrising." Another said, "They're ruining the UN's name." Ruining?

  So is UN corruption a surprise? Hardly. Ashe's indictment, however, and where it leads, bear watching.

Ashe Background: On May 23, 2014, hours after the end of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the buzz at the UN was why and by whose decision the finale of the Forum was taken over by the Crimean Tatar issue.

   Many participants sympathetic to the Tatars' plight nevertheless opined that it was a misuse of the Permanent Forum. They said they had not been consulted and asked, Who decided? The chair.

  Some Forum members said it was good to "get revenge on Russia" for question the modalities of the scheduled World Conference. But several of these said it was still a hijacking of a long-standing issues, the plight of the indigenous, by the "flavor of the month."

  "It's not like the Tatars don't have other defenders," one UNPFII veteran said. For example, there was a UN Security Council Arria formula meeting about the Tatars held, sponsored by Security Council member Lithuania (click here for more recent on that mission).

  Another added, "India just wanted more time, and Bangladesh was angry because of a half-hour screed against them by an advocate whose relative is an insider."

   "We shouldn't have let the Forum get politicized," said another. But it was done.

  When a constituency lets their issues be taken over in the heat of the moment, it might seem strategic - and might turn out not to be. The issue of injustice to the indigenous is too serious to be a play-thing for the flavor of the month, the Free UN Coalition for Access opines.

  Nearly unanimous, however, was criticism of UN President of the General Assembly John Ashe.

Background: The failure of UN President of the General Assembly John Ashe to “show leadership” in setting up the World Conference on Indigenous People scheduled for September was strongly criticized on May 23.

For more than a week, Inner City Press has been asking indigenous leaders what they expected from PGA Ashe. Only that he implement the “modalities” already agreed to for the Conference, was the answer. One speaker, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, noted that Ashe's office had tried to blame a member state for blocking things but this wasn't true.

  But at 4 pm on May 23 in the General Assembly, when a statement was read out for Ashe, it said that “no consensus” had been reached, even on Monday's watered-down proposal, and that Ashe would be calling for another meeting next week.

 There followed speeches of disappointment, not only from indigenous representatives but also countries: beginning with Mexico and Norway, through Denmark and Guatemala's Permanent Representative Rosenthal, heavily indigenous Bolivia, Finland, Australia and New Zealand.

 Nicaragua's deputy Permanent Representative spoke, then Sweden. Kenneth Deer called for full and equal participation. Panama spoke, and a representative of the United States, with obstructed view.

Earlier in the week Inner City Press asked Grand Chief Edward John from Western Canada about the proposed oil sands and tar sands pipelines there. He said the Harper government is expected to gives its approval. Then what?

Footnote: at these indigenous press conferences, the new Free UN Coalition for Access thanked the speakers; the old UN Correspondents Association was generally not there, except an appearance that triggers a response that Morocco is not in the African Union and therefore didn't participate in its programs. UNCA big wigs were trying a scam elsewhere, it emerged. Typical.


Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

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

            Copyright 2006-2014 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]