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At UN, ICP Asks of Confidential Gender Parity Plan It Published, Spokesman Stonewalls, Steiner

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series

UNITED NATIONS, April 13 – While UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, now in place for 102 days, has yet to implement or even propose reforms from financial transparency to any due process rights for those covering the UN, has put forward a proposal marked confidential on gender parity, which some in the UN staff complain would essentially ban promotions of males regardless of qualifications, and thereby violates the UN Charter on merit and on equal access of men and women.  Inner City Press has obtained a copy and exclusively publishes it here and below. On April 13, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about this gender policy that the memo was obtained and published yesterday by Inner City Press.  Maybe that's harassment as well.  What's the status of Mr. Guterres' proposal?  Many looking at the document labelled "confidential" say it violates the UN Charter in that it takes merit and takes an entire part of the UN and precludes them from promotion or even lateral movement. I heard there was a management meeting yesterday about it.  What is the status of the proposal and can you say why the state, the proposal as printed, written, and now published doesn't violate the UN Charter?

Spokesman:  First of all, you know, I don't know what you got your hands on or what, what the veracity of the document, the document is.  The Secretary-General has made it extremely clear from day one of his wish for greater gender parity and for a commitment to gender parity, whether it's in senior posts or throughout the system.

There are discussions under way to ensure that that goes ahead, discussions within the system between various parts of the system and in a way, that obviously honours, honours the Charter, honours the need to recognize people for the work that they do and recognize the need for greater gender parity.

Inner City Press: Okay.  So just, the document is called "Systemwide Strategy in Gender Parity," Produced by the Gender Parity Task Force…

Spokesman:  It's not a final… I mean… It's a…

Inner City Press:  …and it's 31 pages long if so…

Spokesman:  Matthew, it's not a finalized document.  You've taken something out of the oven that's not completely baked.  I think everything, whether you eat it or read it, should be judged once it's completed.  I've just given you the context.

Inner City Press:  Okay.  My, because I guess my thing is, if it's his proposal and the people in the staff union are saying it violates the Charter, it seems…

Spokesman:  People are eating a cake that's not fully baked. 

  Half baked?

Inner City Press: Achim Steiner, the nominee for UNDP...

Spokesman:  As for who the next head of UNDP will be, that is something that will be announced in due course when all the "Ts" have been crossed and all the "Is" have been dotted.

Inner City Press:  If the commitment to gender is, as you said in answer to the question about the stated policy, how would that be consistent with the head of peacekeeping being a male and the head of UNDP being a male?  How would that be consistent?

Spokesman:  I think one has to look holistically at the system.

UN Gender Parity Proposal, "Confidential," Published by Inner City Press by Matthew Russell Lee on Scribd

We'll have more on this. Facing US budget cuts, how does today's UN react? It extended the UN contract of Jeffrey Sachs, for example, then refused to explain his quotes or what the upside of extending his contract is. Inner City Press had to repeatedly ask the UN to get it to acknowledge the contract extension, which was then re-reported and added to by Fox, here, which noted Sachs did not explain himself. On April 11, Inner City Press asked Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: you'd said previously that the Secretary-General had decided to extend the contract of Jeffrey Sachs as a Special Adviser on the Millennium Development Goals.  So I wanted to ask you, he has been quoted that the US President is "the quintessential short-term populist and a nonstop font of lies."  So I wanted to know, in what capacity does he speak?  Is this something that the Secretary-General considered?

Spokesman:  If, indeed, he said those things, that would not be in his capacity as a UN envoy, but I haven't seen those quotes myself.

Inner City Press:  Well, there's a story

Spokesman:  Okay.

Inner City Press:  He didn't choose to answer about them either to deny them, and he has written an article talking about climate change fantasy, and he called… there's a number of things that he said.

Spokesman:  He has a role.  When he speaks as a UN envoy, it's fairly clear.

Inner City Press:  Right.  But my question is, do you think as a recent article says, do you think this is a wise thing, by the Secretary-General, if he’s, in fact, so concerned with continuing US funding, that he's even making post decisions for that basis, is this… what's the upside to Jeffrey Sachs that justify this downside?

Spokesman:  A number of people have been extended for, for a year during a transition period.

  Why is Sachs needed, for an entire transition year? We'll have more on this.  Generally Guterres' UN has been cautious; many have portrayed Guterres' acceptance of David Beasley as an attempt to keep the US funds flowing. But there are more surprises. For weeks the UN has refused to answer Inner City Press if the UN has kept Jeffrey Sachs on as a UN official. Finally on April 4, when Inner City Press asked yet another time, Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed that Sachs is still a UN official -- even after he stood on the steps of the UN residence on Sutton Place when Ban Ki-moon used it for a campaign announcement, and said he would advise Ban's campaign for South Korean president (which quickly collapsed.). Vine Camera video here. From the April 4 transcript:

Inner City Press: Yesterday, I e-mailed you about Jeffrey Sachs.  Does he remain in his position?

Spokesman:  Yes, he does.

 That position is "Special Adviser to the SG on the Sustainable Development Goals." According to the UN website, Sachs has been a UN official since 2002: that is, for 15 years. As a UN official, beyond flacking for the Ban even as corruption scandals enveloped him, Sachs has written "Donald Trump’s Climate Fantasies." This is apparently a series: there is also "Why Millennials Will Reject Trump." Sachs' forays into politics have not been limited to South Korea. From March 31: "Trump Calls Congressional Inquiry a ‘Witch Hunt.'  We obviously need a special prosecutor at this stage." Sachs is quoted, on Trump: "'I have to live with this idiot every day' #pageberlin."

  This contrasts to the UN's parallel M.O. of stealth and stonewalling, with a limited and carefully picked media, describing lobbying for funds as "UN advocacy." When Secretary General Antonio Guterres went on a trip to Kenya, in New York the Press was not informed of any chance to go. But there Guterres appeared with Al Jazeera, and then in a profile in the Washington Post from a usually hard-hitting reporter, this time quoting the UN's Herve Ladsous, who has mismanaged UN Peacekeeping and the Press for five years. The article described the UN Foundation as "advocating for UN causes." But shouldn't issues like accountability for victims of UN cholera in Haiti, and opposing censorship in the UN and for example in Western Cameroon, with no Internet for more than 70 days, be "UN causes"? In fact, UN Foundation lobbies against US budget cuts to the UN, even if targeted and designed to bring about reform. The UN's cause, it seems, is to perpetuate itself.

  Recently in the UN basement as Inner City Press came in late through a long line of tourists and students at the metal detectors Inner City Press must now use everyday since the UN evicted it for covering corruption, a meeting in a windowless side conference room was ending. Outside in the hall it was labeled, Congressional Group. But inside on a TV screen it said, “UN Foundation: Congressional Learning Trip.” UN Foundation was set up, with Ted Turner's money, to help and now defend the UN. The UN's point person on sexual abuse, long a topic of interest for such Republicans as Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), is Jane Holl Lute, who before that was a high official of the UN Foundation and of the Obama Administration. She was notably absent when a “new” sexual abuse strategy, immediately critiqued by the group Code Blue and others, was announced. On March 13, Inner City Press asked UN Spokeman Stephane Dujarric, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: last week, I saw a meeting in the basement 1B held by the UN Foundation.  It was called Congressional Learning Trip.  And so, I guess I wanted to know, number one, what is the relationship between the UN and UN Foundation?  Can it hold a meeting of its own accord with congresspeople?  Are you aware whether it was only… you know, was it a bipartisan meeting?

Spokesman:  It was a bipartisan… I mean, it wasn't… it was far from a stealth meeting as you described it, because, obviously…

Inner City Press: On the outside, it was congressional group, and then, when you opened the door, it said UN Foundation, so it was stealth.

Spokesman:  Right.  It was a programme run by the Better World Campaign, and they often bring up staffers.  And it was very much a bipartisan group of staff members who work with senators and House members, both Democratic and Republican, an information tour of the UN.

Inner City Press:  Can groups that are more critical of the UN or do… or are seeking UN reform, such as Code Blue, such as Government Accountability Project, can they schedule their meetings in 1B?

Spokesman:  I think we've… I think… I've been here for about 16 years.  I think often groups that are very critical of the UN are able to speak at the UN.

Question:  No, but in… can they sponsor congresspeople in 1B?

Spokesman:  That's… it's up to them to see who they're willing to invite.

  This is a bogus answer: could GAP and Code Blue book UN Conference Rooms to instruct US Congresspeople about what needs to be reformed at the UN? We'll have more on this.

  (One of Guterres' team is quoted that Guterres' goal is to say out of Trump's Twitter feed. Is telling a newspaper that the best way to make it come about? And if Trump or Rex Tillerson eschewed a traveling press corps for hand-picked coverage, there would be and is outcry. The Free UN Coalition for Access asks, Is it acceptable by the UN?)

   Down in Washington, Democratic sources on the Hill told Inner City Press of a visit by the Obama administration's appointee to the UN, Jeffrey Feltman. Strangely, perhaps, they list the topic not as involving only Feltman's specific UN job, the Department of Political Affairs he has been held over to head until April Fools Day in 2018, but “budget cuts to peacekeeping.” The head of that Department, held by France for more than 20 years, should be the one lobbying. But Herve Ladsous is unappealing in the best of times; now he left on March 31, replaced by his fellow Frenchman Jean-Pierre Lacroix. Will Lacroix be able to stave off cuts? Will he continue to use public funds, more than a quarter of it from US taxpayers, to pay peacekeepers accused of rape such as in the contingents from Burundi and Cameroon?

   Inner City Press on March 10, still under censorship restrictions imposed without any hearing or appeal after it sought to cover the fallout from the UN bribery indictment of Macau-based businessman and former Clinton funder Ng Lap Seng, was Banned from a simple photo opportunity on the UN's 38th floor. The Ban's by the Department of Public Information. When asked the basis, the UN's holdover Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq gave no reason or definition being used; he barely looked up from his computer, from which he never did answer Inner City Press' questions on Cameroon abuses and the UN's Cameroon Resident Coordinator Najat Rochdi blocking it on Twitter, nor how much "extra-budgetary" funds the UN proposes to use on Louise Arbour's D1 head of office.

   The moves are stealth, like much in the UN these days - and have the potential of backfiring. Watch this site.


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