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After UN Firing, Galbraith Says UN and Ban Favor Silence on Fraud in Afghanistan

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 30 -- After the UN fired its Afghanistan deputy envoy Peter Galbraith and then refused to explain its terse written statement on the firing, Galbraith has told the National Public Radio affiliate in Vermont that ""I profoundly disagree with the Secretary General's decision... I have been removed for raising concern about fraud in an election that was supported by and funded by the United Nations." Audio here.

  Galbraith was informed, minutes before the NPR interview, by Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Alain Le Roy. When Inner City Press and others outside the Security Council on Wednesday asked Hillary Clinton about Galbraith, she said it is a "UN matter."

  Galbraith added, "I felt that the UN should in a low-key way do something, and he felt we should be silent and inactive on the matter." Of principal UN envoy Kai Eide, Galbraith said, "this certainly was a case of people backgrounding this, putting their spin on it, including, I know, Kai Eide."

  At the UN Security Council stakeout on September 29, Eide declined to comment on Galbraith except to say that never before he had brought a deputy with him to the Council. He added that Galbraith was "still on the UN payroll."

  UN Spokesperson Michele Montas on September 30 said that Galbraith will continued to be paid, at least for the next thirty days. In fact, Ms. Montas' office on September 29 said that Galbraith, even traveling between Boston and Vermont, was considered to be "on mission."

  Ms. Montas pointed out that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is free, "pursuant to the UN staff rules," to fire any of his envoys. Ironically, some of Ban's defenders explain his failure to discipline his envoy to the Congo Alan Doss, caught in writing asking for "leeway" for the UN Development Program to hire his daughter in violation of rules. These Ban defenders claim that it is difficult to fire or even discipline an envoy. Apparently not.

Galbraith, UN logo, soda,  Charter and support not shown
  Also, the UN has refused to say when it stopped paying its envoy to Niger, Robert Fowler. So will the UN say when it stops paying Galbraith? If not, why not? If so, why not also say on Fowler? Watch this site.

Footnotes / background: Inner City Press has previously covered Galbraith's position that the U.S. did not have to comply with Security Council resolutions, at least not under Chapter 6 of the UN Charter, and his delay in deploying to Afghanistan. We hardly knew ye....

* * *

At UN, Hillary Clinton Dodges on Polanski as Galbraith's Name is Screamed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 30 -- Moments after the UN fired American diplomat Peter Galbraith as its deputy envoy to Afghanistan, Hillary Clinton took four questions from the Press at the UN. The first, surprisingly, concerned a letter from France's Bernard Kouchner about the request to extradite Roman Polanski from Switzerland to Los Angeles on decades old pedophilia charges. Secretary Clinton said this was a matter for law enforcement.

  As many in the press corps including Inner City Press began to mutter or chant "Galbraith," Ms. Clinton took a question about the Goldstone Report on Gaza -- she called it "one sided" -- then about Colombia. The last question she took was about Iran and upcoming nuclear talks. She answered and pulled away from the microphone.

Hillary Clinton at a stakeout, Galbraith not seen

"Galbraith!" reporters shouted. She turned back. That's a matter from the UN, she said, and then continued down the hall. There was applause -- from staff members, someone said -- and she was gone. Galbraith, we hardly knew ye.

As Afghan Karzai Imposes Blackout, UN Silent on Dostum, Issues Embargoed Propaganda

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 19, updated -- The Afghan government of Hamid Karzai, embracing warlords and war criminals, has imposed a media blackout in the run-up to elections. The UN has said nothing. In New York on August 17, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe

Inner City Press: there is some controversy about the return of General Dostum, widely viewed as a “warlord” or “war criminal”, to campaign for Hamid Karzai. It’s reported that the UN has some concern, but has the UN expressed any concern about this?

Deputy Spokesperson Montas: We have not seen anything on that.

   The UN in mid July dodged questions about its seeming failure to follow up on a mass grave of Dostum's victims, click here for Inner City Press' story at the time. While no answer has been given to the question about even 36 hours later, the UN put out an embargoed statement, which we are publishing below the moment that we can.

UN's Ban and Karzai, "General" Dostum not shown



Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

on Afghanistan

The Secretary-General encourages all Afghan women and men eligible to vote to cast their ballot in the upcoming Presidential and Provincial Council elections on 20 August 2009. He notes that, by participating in these elections, the Afghan people will help Afghanistan strengthen its democratic institutions, bring fresh vigour to the country’s political life, and ultimately reaffirm their commitment to contribute to the peace and prosperity of their nation.

The Secretary-General also calls on all candidates, their supporters, political party agents, and domestic and international observers to continue to cooperate with the Independent Election Commission, other relevant Afghan institutions and international stakeholders supporting electoral preparations, to ensure a smooth and successful electoral process.

Update -- at the August 19 noon briefing, after the publication of the story above, UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe referred Inner City Press to a press conference given by the UN envoy in Kabul, Kai Eide:

Inner City Press: On Afghanistan and something else. The UN Spokesperson AleemSiddique was quoted there as saying that Afghanistan “needs more competent politicians and fewer warlords”. So the question is: does that refer to General Dostum or not?

Deputy Spokesperson Okabe: Actually, I forgot to mention to you, Matthew, there are two questions that you had yesterday. One, the answer to General Dostum is actually answered by the Special Representative in that press conference yesterday.

  In trying to find the Kai Eide press conference, Inner City Pres surfed to, only to a French furniture trade association, Union Nationale de l'Artisanat des Métiers de l'Ameublement. But then, in the transcript --

Q: Speaking at the end of the campaign I would like to know your opinion regarding the return of General Dostum?

SRSG: First, it's the right of every Afghan to return to his own country. I would like to answer that question in a slightly more general way. It's more useful and it's a repetition of what I said at an occasion a few months ago, when I expressed my views with regard to a particular individual.

I believe that with all the challenges that this country is facing, the leaders of this country must be those who will and are able to look toward the future and not keep us in the past.

I believe that we have seen over the last few months a government which has improved in competence with new reform oriented politicians. I expect that when the future government is shaped that we must see and will see more of these competent and reform oriented politicians that can bring Afghanistan forward and prevent these institutions from being tainted with the past.

I have spoken to several candidates about this: The dimensions of the problems that we are facing and that we have to address and the tremendous need for competence in the team that is going to lead this country forward. I believe and expect that they are all fully aware of that.

  Note, for now, the increasing rare UN Secretariat reference to a right of return...

* * *

UN Dodges Dostum Mass Grave Question as Council Pep Talks Afghan Elections

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 15 -- With the UN Security Council set to meet together on Afghanistan and churn out another statement of hope about the elections, the UN Secretariat and Mission in Afghanistan are dodging straightforward questions about the UN's role in not acting on mass graves of victims of Hamid Karzai ally General Abdul Rashid Dostum. It has been reported that "in 2008, a medical forensics team working with the United Nations discovered excavations that suggest the mass grave had been moved."

   On July 14, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe

Question: I also wanted to ask you... about the U.S. role in not investigating a mass grave created by General [Abdul Rashid] Dostum in Afghanistan, who was a major player there. In the middle of the article, it says in 2008, a medical forensic team working with the United Nations discovered excavations that a mass grave had been moved. I guess I wanted to know -- and you may not know it off-hand -- what did you, the UN, do when it reportedly found this evidence of a mass grave? The article is very much alleging a U.S. cover-up. But I want to know, what did the UN do?

Deputy Spokesperson Okabe: We’ll check on that for you.

   But on July 15, minutes before the Security Council started meeting, the UN Spokesperson's office sent an answer which entirely avoided the question of the UN's 2008 forensic team finding.

UN funded digging in Afghanistan, Dostum's mass grave not shown

Subj: your question on Afghanistan
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 7/15/2009 9:57:11 A.M. Eastern Standard Time


* UNAMA has repeatedly called for all alleged crimes and past abuses to be investigated (not just individual cases) as part of Afghanistan's own transitional justice action plan on Peace, Reconciliation and Justice.

* We welcome indications from US authorities that they will investigate this incident. The Special Representative, Kai Eide only recently made clear that "if we fail to address the crimes of the past then we face serious problems for the future"

* UNAMA's mandate is to assist the Afghan authorities with these efforts and as part of this the mission facilitated several forensic missions by the NGO Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) to the site in 2002. Since then we have also asked for the Government to protect the site for future investigations and offered to support the Government with their investigations.

* In a briefing to the UN Security Council the then SRSG, Lakdar Brahimi referring to this specific incident stated that it was fairly certain that "a large number of people died in, to say the least, suspicious circumstances"

   So, then-UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi spoke about it, some time ago, and the UN facilitated an NGO's forensic mission -- in 2002. But what did the UN do when "in 2008, a medical forensics team working with the United Nations discovered excavations that suggest the mass grave had been moved"? Watch this site.

* * *

Afghanistan's Karzai Wants Warlords in His Tent, UN Ambassador Says, Rejects Ashdown

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, July 1 -- While Paddy Ashdown, who had been slated to be the UN's "Super-envoy" to Afghanistan until President Hamid Karzai shot down the idea, says that the war against the Taliban is being lost, Karzai's Ambassador to the UN Zahir Tanin on June 30 wry told the Press that "people have different views." He became more expansive when Inner City Press asked, "Some are saying that President Karzai is assembling a war lord ticket, Mr. Fahim in particular, and that ministries have to promised to supporters." Video here, from Minute 501.

Ambassador Tanin said, "This is what we read. There are political players in Afghanistan... Whether you call them warlords or not... Any candidates including President Karzai try to have their support... if not with Karzai, other candidates will try to have them with him."

Karzai, Kouchner and UN's Ban, warlord Fahim not shown

  Tanin went on, "they have "influence.... if they support one or another incl President Karzai, it is very different than the idea of warlords on one side and non warlords on other."

  While Tanin left the stake out after this statement, it seems fair to summarize it as a preference by the Karzai administration to have the warlords inside his tent rather than outside. But how far does this go?

  The UN's envoy to Afghanistan Kai Eide briefed the Security Council, but walked by without stopping at the stakeout microphone where Tanin was to speak. Part of a UN envoy's job is to speak and explain his positions. His deputy Peter Galbraith has also yet to speak to the press. Watch this site.

* * *

UN Dodges on Afghan Crimes and Galbraith Delay, Kosovo Corruption

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Muse

UNITED NATIONS, May 10 -- As civilians are killed in attacks on the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the UN in New York last week dodged questions on the former. Inner City Press asked, did the UN's Kai Eide urge Hamid Karzai not to appoint an alleged war criminal as his running mate? The UN would not answer.

  Why hasn't Eide's new American-suggested deputy deployed yet? The UN claimed that he'd begun on a delay: but that's not what his appointment press release said. The UN dodged on Congo, too, where it works with an indicted war criminal, and on the blocking of cash into Gaza. Same on the cancellation of investigations in Kosovo. It was just another week at the UN.

On Monday May 4, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe:

Inner City Press: On Afghanistan, there are these reports that Kai Eide met with Hamid Karzai and asked him not to appoint Mohammed Farhim as his running mate, given human rights concerns against him. Can you confirm that that Kai Eide did that? It quotes a UN, a diplomatic source near Eide as saying that.

Deputy Spokesperson Okabe: I have seen the press reports, but I don’t have anything on that.

    Through the rest of the week, nothing else was said. See below on the non-appearance of Eide's deputy Peter Galbraith.

UN's Kai Eide, war criminals and deputy Galbraith not shown

  On Wednesday, May 6, Inner City Press asked Spokesperson Michele Montas:

Inner City Press: On UNRWA as well, in his meeting, did the issue... UNRWA has said that Israel doesn’t allow cash to UNRWA to pay its own staff members and to give small grants to Palestinians in Gaza Strips and also imposes, I think a tax; does not allow them to bring in materials as they do elsewhere in the world. I’ve been told that the Secretary-General has raised this issue with Israel. Did this issue come up, and what was Israel’s response?

Spokesperson Montas: Not in this meeting, no. Not that I know of.

Inner City Press: And can we find out, from UNRWA I guess, whether this is still, this remains the case; the difficulty of getting... [inaudible]?

Spokesperson: Of course, we can try to get that information for you.

   But nothing, in fact, was ever provided. Also on May 6, Inner City Press asked closer to home

Inner City Press: a letter has emerged from Mr. Adlerstein of the Capital Master Plan confirming something that had been earlier, I think, denied by the Secretariat that these security risk assessments that were supposed to be produced for the swing spaces and for this building, in fact have not been produced. But now they claim they will be done by the end of June. What’s the explanation of the earlier statement that these were either done or were not necessary? And there is a reference to the CEB meeting of 4 April in one of the letters. Can you confirm that this issue came up and how does this impact...[interrupted]?

Spokesperson Montas: I cannot confirm it at this point. I can ask, of course, Mr. Adlerstein to answer your question.

   While Inner City Press later, by waiting for an hour outside a meeting closed to the Press, managed to ask Adlerstein some questions, he said that the Spokesperson's Office had never passed the question along. On Thursday May 7, Inner City Press asked Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq

Inner City Press: There are these reports that the UN has decided to drop any investigation of irregularities in privatizations in Kosovo during UNMIK’s [United Nations Mission in Kosovo] time. I am sure you’ve seen these reports. I wonder, the reports said that the UN investigators had recommended criminal investigation, but now it’s all being dropped without anything. And I wanted also, related to that, to know whether the UN is tracking the involvement in privatizations of its former envoys to Kosovo such as Steven Schook and others. Or is that part of the UN’s...(inaudible)?

Associate Spokesperson Haq: Well, first of all there were a certain number of investigations that took place by a group, the Investigative Task Force, which was established through UNMIK regulations and was comprised of representatives of the UN, through the Office of Internal Oversight Services, the European Anti-Fraud Office, and the Financial Investigation Unit.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General acted appropriately on all of the recommendations of the Task Force, which issued its last report in June 2008. The actions taken by the Special Representative included referring cases to the Department of Justice and forwarding recommendations to Pillar IV of UNMIK. As a result of the Investigative Task Force’s recommendations, criminal investigations were conducted and proceedings were initiated against personnel who were found to have committed criminal offenses. The Department of Justice ceased operations and all of the Department’s case files have been handed over to the European Union Mission in Kosovo. Any further criminal sanctions would have to be pursued by that mission's investigators and prosecutors.

   Sounds nice, but there's nothing on the UN's own involvement. Inner City Press asked again about Afghanistan

Inner City Press: I also wanted to know, you mentioned Kai Eide. It’s a small thing, but Mr. [Peter] Galbraith, who was named his Deputy, is speaking at some commencement on 16 May in New England. When is he going to actually deploy to Afghanistan? When is his beginning day? Is he already a UN staff, and if so, why isn’t he in Afghanistan at this moment?

Associate Spokesperson Haq: I believe when we mentioned the announcement we mentioned when he would start his duties. He’s already participated in preparation for taking up his duties; he almost immediately participated in some of the meetings on Afghanistan that took place about a month ago. So he’s already taken up some of his duties in that regard.

Inner City Press: I guess what I am saying is, has he already made the transition? Does he have a UN pass, privileges and immunities, Laissez-Passer, is he being paid?

Associate Spokesperson: I believe we mentioned his starting time at the announcement, so you’d have to go back to our announcement and that would let you know. And with that, I wish you a good afternoon.

   But the press release at the time of Galbraith's appointment didn't mention any delayed start time. On Friday, May 8 Inner City Press asked

Inner City Press: Marie, on this issue of whether the UN and its Mission in the Congo, MONUC, are aware of indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda working with the Congolese Army, the minutes have come out of an 4 April meeting of the Congolese Army in which it is said that Bosco Ntaganda participated in the meeting, took the floor as adjunct coordinator of this operation, and spoke. And so I am wondering, is… earlier, I think on 29 April, Farhan Haq had said “well, we haven’t seen the document, but we have been given assurances…” Now that these minutes… Does the UN dispute that minutes from the Congolese Army show that Bosco Ntaganda is the adjunct coordinator of the operation?

Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have anything beyond what was already said on the subject.

[The correspondent was later reminded that he had already been given the following guidance last week: “The United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has not seen the documents referenced in the media report allegedly showing that Jean-Bosco Ntanganda is a part of the joint operation. On the contrary, the Democratic Republic of the Congo authorities have shown MONUC relevant documents defining the operation’s command structure, which does not make any mention of Mr. Ntanganda.

MONUC has clearly stated that it will not conduct or support joint operations in which Mr. Ntaganda plays a part. This has been communicated directly to the DRC Minister of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Staff, who in turn have assured MONUC that Mr. Ntanganda is not a part of any joint operation’s command structure. MONUC leadership continues to engage with our Congolese interlocutors on this matter.”]

Click here for that story, and here for Sri Lanka. And so it goes at the UN...

On Sri Lanka, Channel 4 allegations of rape and disappearance

  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.

* * *

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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