In UN Turf Wars,
Delegates Help Cubicle Closed so High Officials
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 6 -- The UN has shrunken so much that now there are turf
wars even for ten foot cubicles, where the needs of high UN officials
are given precedence over those of the member states which ostensibly
own and run the organization.
One example iss the closure this week
of the Information and Communications Technology Delegates Helpdesk
in the UN's new North Lawn building. There, until this week,
Ambassadors have been able to borrow and use laptops, to print
documents, to get tech help.
Inner City Press reported and
asked about what it learned might be
the closure. From the March
26 UN noon briefing transcript
City Press: over in the new North Lawn building there is something
called the ICT Computer Technology Resource Centre, in which
diplomats of Member States can use the computers or they can borrow a
laptop. It used to be in this building but now it has moved over
there. I was told yesterday that it is going to be closed on
Wednesday and it is sort of a cost-cutting move. And I spoke to some
permanent representatives who thought it sort of seems like a strange
cost cut, given that it actually helps the diplomats of the Member
States. Is there some way to find out what the basis of this
cost-cutting move is and whether Member States were consulted before
it took place?
Martin Nesirky: I am not aware of that. I will need to find out
precisely whether indeed what you are saying is actually happening or
not. And if it is, then I am sure we will have something to say.
the closure was
never confirmed; in fact, Inner City Press is told, it was delayed
following the asking of the question. But then came rumblings of a
turf war between two units of the UN for the space, a offer rebuffed
offer by one unit to continue to run it, and a power play.
week the unit
was closed, a sign taped to it door listing the responsible UN
official as Franz Baumann. As he has previously requested, Inner City
Press wrote to him for his explanation, having received none in
response to its March 26 question to UN spokesperson Nesirky:
are the plans for the ICT Resource Center space so unceremoniously
closed on May 4? Who has jurisdiction over the space?"
Baumann to his
credit some nine hours later, near midnight, offered the following:
was not closed unceremoneously but after detailed internal review and
discussions between DGACM and OICT. DGACM is liaising with OICT to
enhance services by, for example, making PCs in public areas capable
to access personal eMail, to use memory sticks and to print
documents. Such services do not require a cubicle but can be
provided even more effectively in a public space. Also, the North
Lawn Space is rather tight and it was found necessary to assign the
scarce space resource for higher priority uses, namely for visiting
secretariat officials who, otherwise, would have had to work from
hallways, which is not a sensible proposition."
an aside, we say
"to his credit" because other UN officials refuse to answer
even simple questions put to them by e-mail. Most recently, Assistant
Secretary General Tony Banbury refused to answer a single one of some
20 questions put to him, about a Board of Inquiry report he chose to
spin to two media organizations by not answer questions on.
answer, the line that jumped out to Inner City Press was "higher
priority uses, namely for visiting secretariat officials who,
otherwise, would have had to work from hallways." So the tech
help desk for member states was closed so that high UN officials
could sit in the cubicle.
Baumann and UN's Ban & officials, which to use
Press immediately, minutes after
Baumann sent his answer, posed these follow ups:
Secretariat officials will have access to that small room / cubicle?
How will they get the key? Will they schedule use of the space in
advance? How senior must the officials be?"
provided, we will report them. Will the elusive Tony Banbury, who
refuses to answer questions, now be hiding in a cubicle seized from
member states? Watch this space.
speaking of space and member states, on Wednesday evening Senegal
celebrated its national day with a blow out party in the new
Delegates Dining Room also known as the cafeteria. There was
Senegalese food and music, and even dancing, which is rare. While are
least two Under Secretaries General worked the crowd -- one answered
substantive questions from Inner City Press -- Ban Ki-moon was not
seen, at least by this reporter.
Gaye is still said to be in line to leave the MONUC force commander
job in the Congo, which was offered to Canada's Andrew Leslie but
rejected, and to move to New York to become UN Peacekeeping's
military advisor. Will he too then hide in the North Lawn cubicle?
it remains unclear if Ban's Spokesman Martin Nesirky has regained the
access his Office has always had to Security Council consultations
but which was lost in April. A miffed Nesirky told Inner City Press
to "ask the Security Council," which Inner City Press did
on May 4. This month's Council President, Ambassador
Lebanon, said that officials of the Executive Office of the Secretary
General can enter. Inner City Press on May 5:
City Press: You'd said in response to previous questions about the
access of your office to Security Council consultations, to ask the
Security Council. So, yesterday, Ambassador [Nawaf] Salam, President
for this month, was asked. And his answer seemed to be that the
agreement reached is that representatives of the Executive Office of
the Secretary-General can come in. Some people take this to mean
people from the 3rd floor of the North Lawn Building. Is that
incorrect? Does that also include your Office? I have asked him, so
now there is no one else to ask but you. What’s your understanding
of your access to Security Council consultations?
Nesirky: I have read with interest and listened with interest to the
question you posed and the answer you got. And I would like to know
exactly what it means myself. That has not been communicated
directly to me. So, I would like to know myself exactly what it
means, and I will try to find out.
City Press said, but the UN did not transcript, "we'll keep
banging away, then." Watch this site.
* * *
UN, Lebanon Dodges on Iran and Congo Trip, Says Ban's Staff Is
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 4 -- This month's Security Council president, Nawaf
Salam of Lebanon, is in a tough position. While the Western permanent
powers on the Council have been beating the drums for sanctions on
Iran to pass this month, Lebanon's coalition government contains the
pro- Iranian Hezbollah. Salam was asked if he would prefer Iran not
come up this month. No one has ask that it come up, he replied.
asked about the Congo, the Council's whirlwind trip only to Kinshasa.
from Minute 21:33. In previous years, when the Council has gone to
Africa it has
included four or more countries. This time it was going to be three,
with Uganda and Rwanda, but is not whittled down to one.
Ambassadors-- and one African American Ambassador -- have complained
to Inner City Press for different reasons about the limitations on
the trip. Sudan's Ambassador said, on the record, that it should be
called the Council's DRC trip, not an Africa trip. Another, off the
record, questioned not at least going to the East.
the Council has gone to the East in the past, that this is to
negotiate with Joseph Kabila the terms of renewal of mandate of the
MONUC mission. He said, "I haven't heard from any African state
on the Council that it is a disrespect." But African states are
not limited to those on the Council.
Lebanon's Salam on May 4, apples and oranges not shown
also asked about the Council's decision last month to bar the UN
Office of the Spokesperson from its consultations. Salam said yes,
this has been an issue, but said that now the Executive Office of the
Secretary General can come inside.
some, this means
only the identifiable denizens of the third floor of the UN's North
Lawn building. Spokesman Martin Nesirky has declined to answer this
question, saying to ask the Council. Now, as Ban Ki-moon himself said
this week, the ball is back on the other side of the court. Watch
* * *
At UN, Ahmadinejad
Defends Iran's Treatment of Women, Mocks Obama & Ban Ki-moon
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 4 -- When Iran dropped its candidacy for a seat on the
UN Human Rights Council last month, some described it as restoring at
least some credibility to the UN, as when Bosnia stepped in and beat
out Belarus for a seat two years ago.
City Press asked President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Iran's
successful replacement candidacy, for a seat on the UN Commission on
the Status of Women, despite gender discrimination and repression,
Ahmadinejad had a different and lengthy answer.
said the switch
was procedural, that Iran had always wanted the CSW seat more than
the Human Rights Council, which within the Asia Group Pakistan was
supposed to run for. Due to a misunderstanding, Ahmadinejad said,
Iran temporarily made a grab for the HRC, before returning to the
seat promised to it, on the Commission on the Status of Women.
how does Iran
intend to use the seat, Inner City Press asked, since it has refused
to sign the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against
Women? We will never sign that, Ahmadinejad vowed. He went to on
paint of picture of "love and complementariness" in Iran.
menial jobs in Iran, he said, nothing "like you and me, cleaning
the street or driving a truck." He said he had read that 70% of
married women in Europe suffer physical abuse, but refuse to complain
for fear of losing their families. Women are better off, he
concluded, in Iran than in Europe.
UN's Ban and Ahmadinejad, human rights not shown
answers came during a more than one hour long press conference held
Tuesday across the street from the UN. The room in the Millennium
Hotel was full, with journalists from the Daily News, Washington Post
and wires, and even Christiane Amanpour (who was not called on).
taken a list of reporters who wanted to ask question, which Inner
City Press arrive too late to sign. But having covered Iran's Nowruz
receptions -- "be more positive next time," the Iranian
mission admonished, leading Inner City Press to ask "or what?"
-- the moderator nodded and allowed the question.
journalists remarked that Ahmadinejad's press conference was more
open and democratic than those of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,
or the pre-screened
stakeout by Hillary Clinton the previous day.
There, the US State Department decided in advance which questions to
take. At Iran's event, alongside some very pro Tehran question,
questions were taken about for example the reports of North Korean
weapons intercepted on their way to Iran.
weapons from them, Ahmadinejad answered. If America finds and seizes
such weapons they can keep them. Regarding Ban Ki-moon, Ahmadinejad
said that if the UN were in Tehran and Iran had a Security Council
veto, Ban would never have spoken as he did on Monday. Asked
repeatedly about sanctions, he said that if they go through, it will
mean that US President Obama has "submitted" and been taken
control of by a gang. This order, he said, will soon collapse.
what of those
arrested and disappeared after the contested elections? Ahmadinejad
did not answer that question, fastening instead on the women's rights
part of the question. Whether the Iranian mission will in the future
allow such questions to be asked, and even answered, remains to be