Belated UN Ban Trip Follows Kashmir Flip Flop, Echoes Ripert vs Holmes
on JuD &
Post Nargis Myanmar
NATIONS, August 15, updated -- Amid the human tragedy of the floods in
Pakistan, the presence of politics, like the belated UN trip, cannot
be missed. Today UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his entourage
have flown aboard a Pakistani military aircraft and told the media
that the world has been too slow to respond. But, as one questioner
pointed out, so has the UN.
Ban in his Pakistan press conference said
that "I have dispatched my Special Envoy for Pakistan, Mr. Ripert,
immediately." But back
2 -- that is, two weeks ago -- Inner City Press asked
spokesman Martin Nesirky
City Press: on Pakistan, just a quick follow-up. Where’s Mr.
[Jean-Maurice] Ripert in all this? I mean, he’s the humanitarian
coordinator for Pakistan. What’s been his role, particularly in
light of the floods?
Nesirky: I think you’ll find the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for
Pakistan is Martin Mogwanja.
City Press: I guess I’m just trying to understand more his role as
special envoy — is it a full-time job, and what’s he been doing
since the floods?
Spokesperson: Let me find out, but you can
see and hear there’s a lot of
activity going on.
Question: Mr. Ripert, is he leaving now,
Spokesperson: Let me find out. We’re kind
of focused on less on an individual
and more on up to a million people who are displaced and in need of
City Press: Not to be overly focused on one, but since the UN does
have this humanitarian role, I think we both want to know…
Spokesperson: Yes, and I said I’ll find
ever explaining where the UN's envoy on Pakistan was as the floods
grew worse and worse, two days later, Nesirky read out a statement by
Ban calling on Ripert to go to Pakistan. (Nesirky would accompany Ban
to Pakistan on Aug 15, after a particularly defensive and controlling
noon briefing on Aug 13, during which he tried to shut down questions
ranging from Gaza to author Tom Plate's statements that Ban will be the
third subject in his "Giants of Asia" series. Nesirky
insisted no commitment had been made, but sarcastically
said the Press might have a crystal ball.)
Ripert did belatedly head to Pakistan, and
has among other
about the danger of aid being provided by groups such
as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, considered a front for Lashkar-e-Toiba.
week later, Inner City Press asked Pakistan's Permanent
Representative to the UN Abdullah Hussain Haroon if it was useful to
his country to have a UN Special Envoy like Jean-Maurice Ripert, who
was given the job after Nicholas Sarkozy replaced him with Gerard
than another job in the French foreign service, a UN job was invented
for Ripert. Most say he has accomplished little, and that he tried to
“get out” by applying for the top job for the UN in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, which he failed to get.
August 11, Pakistan's Ambassador Haroon spoke dismissively in context
of Ripert, saying “he was sent by the S-G... He is basically there
on the S-G's orders, we thank him for being there but things were
already being coordinated.” Video here,
from Minute 8.
wondered: was this strikingly dismissive answer based on the lack of
need for or use of Ripert's UN position, or on his comments on
Islamic extremist groups, against which his nation's president
Nicholas Sarkozy has declared war?
UN's Ban in Pakistan, spox as Kilroy,
Ripert-Holmes split and Kashmir flipflop not shown
to Ambassador Haroon was outgoing top UN humanitarian John Holmes.
While also absent until then from humanitarian crises in not only
Pakistan but also Darfur, Holmes was and is more savvy politically
than Ripert. (In fairness we also note Holmes' belated but clear August
13 call for access to Darfur's Kalma Camp.)
City Press asked the two men about Ripert's claim that extremist
groups, by responding first to the floods, might spread their
ideology. Video here,
from Minute 18:45. Are there area of Pakistan
not under government control due to armed conflict, or whatever
Islamabad is calling it these days?
stepped in front of Haroon, whose face had grown stern or serious
during the question. The UN must be above politics, Holmes
proclaimed, referring diplomatically to “ongoing hostilities,” a
term with fewer legal implications than “conflict,” which allows
inquiry into the recruitment of child soldiers, for example, an issue
in Pakistan on which the UN has done little.
said both that there are areas to which the UN has no access due to
fighting, then that the UN reaches all areas with aid. “Thank you,”
Haroon said, and the stake out was over.
The subtext was that Haroon
had already criticized the UK's David Cameron for speaking of terrorism.
UK but also still UN Holmes took a different tack, different too from
Ripert's, and got thanked.
and Ripert, along with Ban's Indian chief of staff Vijay Nambiar,
accompanied Ban on August 15. Nambiar's nationality is relevant not
only due to the hostilities between India and Pakistan, but most
recently due to Nambiar's role in watering down a statement on behalf
of Ban's spokesperson about Kashmir. Click here
This was followed by news that Indian
troops were wearing UN blue helmets as they shot protesters in Kashmir,
and the UN's belated and seemingly incomplete reaction.
South Asian journalist disgusted by the UN's backing away from its
already bland statement on Kashmir harkened back to Ban's trip to
Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis, complete with craven supplication to
General Than Shwe who was allowed to steal up to 25% of aid money
through forced currency exchange games swept under the carpet by the
Team Ban cited the Myanmar trip as one of his major accomplishments,
even saying that Ban had thereby saved 500,000 people. The South
Asian journalist, made cynical by events such as the UN's
flip-flop, rhetorically asked Inner City Press, “how many people
will Ban claim to have saved this time, when what he is mostly trying
to save is his chance at a second term?”
Even Inner City Press is
disturbed by this level of cynicism, particularly when compared to the
desparate need of the Pakistani people. Watch this site.
* * *
was Drafted by DPA from its "Morning Prayers," Watered Down by
Nambiar, Blamed on Haq
5 -- When the UN made a statement on Kashmir, then
stepped away from it and blamed it on an Associate Spokesman, there
was more than met the eye. Inner City Press has inquired and finds
the following: the initial response on the violence in Kashmir
was produced by the UN Department of Political Affairs, in what is
called it “morning prayers” meeting, chaired by DPA chief Lynn
the statement was released, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's chief
of staff Vijay Nambiar, a former Indian diplomat and intelligence
operative, edited the statement, “watering it down” as one senior
UN official puts it.
Farhan Haq emailed the statement to four journalists and
was published, the Indian Mission to the UN protested. They came to
meet with the UN, Mr. Nambiar, for more than two hours. Apparently,
Nambiar did not fully disclose his initial role in editing the
Nesirky stepped away from the statement, emphasizing
that Ban Ki-moon never said it, and it was mere “guidance from the
Secretariat,” and claiming that it had been misinterpreted. How?
UN's Nambiar and Pascoe, Kashmir statement and morning prayers not shown
August 4, Inner
City Press asked Nesirky to think it through: if he could walk away
from this statement attributable to the Office of the Spokesman for
the Secretary General, how can any of his future statements be taken
seriously? I have said all I am going to say, Nesirky replied.
that DPA's "morning prayers" quote Pascoe, for example that "Hillary
Clinton is going to Colombia, what does she think she can
accomplish?" While some attendees conclude from this that Pascoe
is aligned with US Republicans who appointed him, others say it
establishes his "street cred" as an internaional civil servants. But is
this what HRC and Obama want? Watch this site.
noon briefing transcript:
a controversy has arisen around a statement that Farhan
Haq had put out, talking about Indian-occupied Kashmir and calling
for restraint. And, basically, it says that the Indian Foreign
Ministry or Ministry of External Affairs has taken issues with it,
that your Office has clarified that the Secretary-General never made
those comments. Have you seen that story, and what can you do to
clarify the seeming discrepancy between the Indian Foreign Ministry
and your Office?
Spokesperson’s Office released to the media guidance
which was prepared by the UN Secretariat, and that seems to have been
taken out of context. This was not a statement of the
was taken out of context? This was a formal statement.
me repeat what I just said: the Spokesperson’s Office
released to the media guidance which was prepared by the UN
Secretariat, and it seems to have been taken out of context. This
was not a statement of the Secretary-General. That’s what I have;
I don’t have anything to add.
the statement said the Secretary-General calls for restraint,
and is there concern about it?
I said, I don’t have anything to add to what I’ve just said.
4 noon briefing transcript:
Some think that the way that it was answered yesterday —
it’s hard for them to take; what weight should statements by the
Spokesperson for the Secretary-General be given if they’re later
characterized as mere guidance and the Secretary-General didn’t
mean them. For your own purposes, how do we — is this a one-off,
or does this somehow change; you get a statement today about Tanzania
— is that a statement of the Secretary-General, or is it mere
guidance, and from who — who gave the guidance on Kashmir?
know very well what it said [on Tanzania]: it said “a
statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the
Secretary-General”, and that clearly is a statement. But I don’t
have anything beyond what I’ve already said on this topic. Okay?