Censorship Alleged by Staff Union, Job Action Planned at ILO, Ban
November 8 -- With UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon lurching
from one trip to another, with barely time to take a few questions
from the Press much less the staff between trips to
China and now
South Korea, labor problems have cropped out throughout the UN
system. “Industrial action” has been threatened; censorship is
25, Inner City Press asked
Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky about the
UN Staff Union's charge that for the first time in years, Ban was
refusing to transmit their report on staff relations to the General
Assembly. Nesirky rather than explaining this break with precedent
referred Inner City Press to a letter Ban's Deputy.
since in the
UN's budget committee, the Staff Union has reiterated its complaint,
that Ban “has effectively censored the views of the staff.”
major critique in
the Staff Union report is about the UN's internal justice system. On
that, Inner City Press asked Nesirky on November
Press: there was a presentation by the Appeals Tribunal of the
various cases and they made some statements of the internal justice
system of the UN. And Judge Mark Painter in his presentation made
what people are seeing as a pretty strong critique of lack of
resources. They said we need help having paperwork processed. If
staffing doesn’t substantially improve, we will not be able to
continue to progress in the future. Not to mention the issue of
judicial independence. So, I am wondering what does the Secretariat
think of this cry for help from its Appeals Tribunal and what is it
going to do about it?
Let me find out. Yeah.
nothing. Meanwhile, at the International Labor Organization a “global
job action” is brewing, to begin on November 10.
Union says the ILO has violated their free association rights,
including “censoring the Union's communications” -- ironic, as
the UN system moves to have a Special Rapporteur on freedom of
association. Watch this site.
UN's Ban and ILO's
Somavia, staff allegations of censorship not shown
October 25 transcript:
Press: this is something that has been sort of brewing, but it
seems to have reached a head. If I am not wrong, for almost 20 years
now, every year there has been a report to the General Assembly of
the Staff Union, called, “Views of the staff of the United Nations
Secretariat”, produced by the Staff Union here; and the
Secretary-General’s Office is supposed to transmit it to the
General Assembly. Apparently, there has been a decision, whether it
is by Ms. [Catherine] Pollard, Ms. [Angela] Kane or the Secretariat
generally, to this year refuse to transmit it and to seek in its
place to transmit a much more positive report of the SMCC, Staff
Management Coordinating Committee. So the Staff Union says it’s
illegal and wrong and also violates… seems to be controlling what
is basically criticism of the Secretariat’s performance. What’s
the rationale for not putting it out?
Nesirky: Well, given your sources, Matthew, then I am sure
you’ve also got a copy of the response to this from the Deputy
Secretary-General, which is fairly explicit, fairly detailed and
pushes back on all the points made by the Staff Union, and I don’t
have anything to add to that.
Press: But still, why in the past… it’s been done in the
past… I guess I am just wondering, it seems like…
Matthew, I think you probably heard the last bit I said. I don’t
have anything further to add to what the Deputy Secretary-General
said in the response, which I am sure that you have also seen.
Press: They said that the Secretariat is now seeking…
I am not sure that you quite heard what I said. Try a different
Press: Okay. It’s a different question on this, that the
Secretariat now has an intention to ask Member States in General
Assembly to change the provision that would require the submission of
these reports. Is that something that the Secretariat currently
intends to do?
Again, the Deputy Secretary-General has spelled out quite clearly
what the provisions are and what the Secretariat was prepared to do
in accordance with the provisions that are there. Okay?
Watch this site.
* * *
Pointing on Ban Human Rights in China Flap,
Nobel & Sha Unaddressed
5 -- With UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon under
fire for not raising human rights or the new Nobel Peace Prize winner
when he met with Chinese President Hu, for external consumption Ban
on Friday morning read out a defensive statement in a press
conference on climate change financing.
“the record is clear” that he mentioned human rights in Nanjing
-- as a “shared value” -- and in Beijing in a speech to students.
Ban did not mention, in China or in his Friday statement, Nobel Peace
Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, nor his Under Secretary General Sha Zukang
having given a “World Harmony Foundation” award to Chinese former
military chief on October 27. (Inner City Press got Sha's side
story on November 4, click here.)
administration, sources tell Inner City Press, the finger pointing
has begun. Ban's senior adviser Kim Won-soo, the sources say, lays
the blame for the coverage on his putative superior Vijay Nambiar and
Department of Political Affairs chief Lynn Pascoe.
in turn pass
the blame further downstream to Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky,
pointing at days of Nesirky saying Ban did not raise human rights to
President Hu, then emailing out a late night statement that rights
had been raised to other Chinese officials, whom Nesirky has left
range of UN
officials and staff interviewed in recent days have expressed concern
that the brand of the UN has been hurt by the flap, culminating they
said in the New York Times editorial questioning whether Ban should
get a second term as Secretary General.
UN's Ban, Sha and Nambiar, Chinese rights & general not shown
that the staged Q&A at Friday's press conference is intended as
Ban's response to the media, some say there's a need for Ban to
address UN staff members and explain what has happened, and why. And
if his climate change press conference was “not the proper
occasion,” as he put it, to address human rights, he should set up
a separate press availability to answer questions, and not from
notes. Watch this site.
the topic of Friday's press conference, the report of the
High Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing given to Ban by
Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and Meles Zenawi from Ethiopia, there was
no answer to the following question asked by Inner City Press at
Thursday's noon briefing:
On climate change, there are various people saying that,
in light of the elections that took place on Tuesday, and Obama,
President Obama’s comments yesterday afternoon at a press
conference that this makes the passage of climate change legislation
less likely in the United States, that this will impact not only the
Cancun process, but even this report that the Secretary-General is
getting tomorrow. Some that have seen the report say that it assumes
a median price of carbon of $25 a tonne by 2020, and if there is no
US legislation that will not be accurate. So, I am just wondering
what, it’s not so much a comment directly on the elections of what,
what does this, what is the Secretariat, and it… the global goods
team of the UN, does the results bode well for this report tomorrow
and for the process that he is involved in? And, if not, what’s
the plan to stay on track with the report that he is getting
two things. First of all, the key word there is
process. It is a process that involves all the countries in the
world in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
That is an enormous undertaking, as you know. And it involves all
countries. The second point is that the report is being launched
tomorrow. And I think it would be better to wait until then. You
will have an opportunity to see the report tomorrow.
Well, I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.
find out. And there are other ways to address it, even if
it isn’t at the press conference, because of the shortage of time
or whatever, but there are always [ways] to address these things.
* * *
Dining Solo with China General, Says Award Was
By Matthew Russell Lee,
-- For four days, Inner City Press has asked the UN
about Under Secretary General Sha Zukang having given a “World
Harmony Foundation” award to retired Chinese general Chi Haotian in
Shanghai on in late October, just before Mr. Sha stood with UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the closing of the Shanghai Expo.
Nesirky told Inner City Press that Sha was “not on leave”
and that the online photograph of the award was the first the UN knew
of Sha's involvement. On November 1, 2 and 3 Nesirky has repeated
that some UN statement might be coming -- without saying anything
Inner City Press was able to ask Sha Zukang directly about the award
and the controversy. Sha told Inner City Press that “the general
came to know I was in Shanghai” and he invited Sha to dinner.
other plans. “When I was with disarmament we were together, many
years ago,” Sha said of Chi Haotian. “I thought it was he and me
only. Than I saw the group.”
Inner City Press
World Harmony Foundation trying to parlay
its $110,000 contribution to the 2009 UN Day concert into photos with
Press ran several exposes,
was canceled. But still Under Secretary General Ibrahim
Gambari appeared for photos with the group, made up of businessmen
and led by Frank Liu, in the Millennium Hotel across First Avenue
from UN Headquarters.
was a photo of Under Secretary General Sha, general Chi Haotian and
WHF's Frank Liu.
UN's Sha, the General & Frank Liu: no solo dinner shown
what the award was,” Sha told
Inner City Press on November 4. “That is what happened. I don't
want to issue any clarification.”
one would assume that Ban Ki-moon's office has asked Sha
for an explanation, which is the above. What will happen next? Watch
* * *
on Yemen, W.Sahara & Hariri Tribunal,
By Matthew Russell Lee
-- “The horizon is broad,” UN Department of
Political Affairs chief Lynn Pascoe told Inner City Press as he left
the Security Council on Thursday morning. Inside behind closed doors,
his briefing to the Security Council's 15 members was supposed to
have not been limited to countries on the Council's agenda.
sent a diplomat, who was surprised to be barred from the meeting. “I
thought it would be public,” he told Inner City Press. Another
member of the Council dismissively called it an “exercise,” but
noted that the Council “ is not a gymnasium.”
innovation this was, declined through its Permanent Representative to
list which countries had been discussed. Others present told Inner
City Press that Yemen was mentioned, in the context of the Group of
Friends which during the UN General Debate held a meeting, albeit
across the street from the UN.
posting of bombs made it more likely Yemen will be post on the
Council's agenda is not known. Yemen still leads the Group of 77 and
China, so any loss of control or sovereignty is unlikely.
Inner City Press that Western Sahara was discussed in a less
formal way that usual. Did France speak? No, the delegate recounted,
[Ambassador] Araud just smiled.
Pascoe & Russia's Churkin, closed door exercises not shown
Assistant Secretaries General Zerihoun and Tarasco, who rushed
in late. So, Africa and the Middle East. Where were D-2s like Tamrat
Samuel on Asia and Horst Heittmann on the Middle East? The
scuttlebutt on the latter is that his transfer from Security Council
Affairs was meant to keep the Middle East seat under “non-Arab”
control, while another DPA staffer aims for the post Heittmann
a source, urged the Council to go forward with a session on
November 5 about Lebanon, specifically the Hariri Tribunal. On
November 1, Inner City Press was told that the Tribunal would be
discussed on Friday as Any Other Business.
after Ambassador told the Press to “ask Sir Lyall Grant” of the
UK. Lebanon's Ambassador said he did not want to steal Lyall Grant's
thunder, and would only speak about scheduling or the program of work
when Lebanon regains the Presidency in September.
Council is so full of secrets, one wonder how it functions. Does it?
Watch this site.
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.