UN, As Ban Poses with Korean Tourism Czar, Press Is Banned, No
Read-Out Until Two Days Later
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, Feb. 9, updated Feb. 11
-- The schedule of photo opportunities by UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for February 9 contained only one item,
a 10 a.m. courtesy call with his new Special Representative for
Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallstrom. Then at 9:40 a.m. in
an alert to UN correspondents, another item was added: a 5:20 p.m.
photo op with the head of the Korea Tourism Promotion Corporation,
correspondents scratched their heads, asking Inner City Press by
e-mail what to make of the addition. Ban Ki-moon has complained that
the media unfairly portrays him as playing to an audience in his home
country, South Korea. Most recently, his top adviser Kim Won-soo gave
an exclusive on the record interview to JoongAng Ilbo, while
eschewing such interaction with non-Korean press. [Update of February 11 -- Ms.
Soung-ah Choi has stated, on the record, that JoongAng Ilbo did not
have an exclusive interview with Kim Won-soo." There's more to this,
but that for now is the on the record version.]
then would Ban
Ki-moon so openly not only meet with a Korean tourism group, but seek
to publicize the meeting with a photo op? To find out, Inner City
Press went to cover the photo op. Camera in hand, Inner City Press
waited on the ground floor of the UN's new building, dubbed UN-KIA or
arrived, and Inner City Press traveled up in the elevator with him.
On the third, executive floor, Inner City Press submitted to a
screening with an electronic wand, and agreed to leave a laptop out
in the anteroom.
the photo op began, Mr. Ban's South Korean spokesperson Ms. Choi
Soung-ah came up, as the UN's own photographers were entering, and
announced that Inner City Press could not enter. You'll have to wait
for MALU, she said, referring to the UN's Media Accreditation and
was obvious to
all that MALU would not arrive on time. So to cite this rule was to
exclude Inner City Press from the photo op that the UN itself has
UN's Ban and S. Korea's Lee, (c) UN --
as of 10pm no KTPC
photo on UN.org (but see below)
City Press requested from the UN Spokesperson's Office a read out of
Ban's meeting with the Korean Tourism Promotion Council. Four hours
after the meeting and the request, no read out was provided. [Update: one was finally received on
February 11, see below.] Nor
was the UN Photo shot of Ban and the Korea Tourism official put on
UN.org. [This remained true as of 2
p.m. on February 11.] So who
was the photo op for? Watch this site.
UN's Ban and Lee Cham, UN's own photo by Mark Garten
while some correspondents wondered why Ms. Choi Soung-ah (or Soung-ah
Choi) was in the Executive Office while more senior spokespeople were
six blocks south in their space under the cafeteria, it is perhaps
explained by Ms. Choi's stated jurisdiction: Asia including Myanmar
and Sri Lanka. Also earlier on Tuesday, chief Spokesperson Martin
Nesirky has said that "within hours" Ban would be calling
Sri Lanka's president Mahinda Rajapaksa, presumably to express
concern about crack down on opponents and the press.
Tourism meeting, Ban had still not made the call, and four hours
later, still no read out had been provided. The read out will have to
be approved, Inner City Press was told. By who -- Ms. Choi? Mr.
Pascoe and Mr. Kim are in North Korea. So could it be DPA's Hitoki
Den? We'll have more on this. [See February
10 update, here.]
Update of February
11 -- the following read-out was received by Inner City Press from
Soung-ah Choi on February 11 (it may have been sent before then, but
the reason for the delay is, at Ms. Choi's request, "off the record") --
Lee Cham, President of the Korea Tourism Organization, paid a
courtesy call on the Secretary-General this afternoon.
two discussed the economic impact of tourism - both inbound and
outbound - on developed and developing countries, and the significant
contributions it can have on the global economy and development.
Secretary-General highlighted the importance of sustainable tourism,
and the management of resources in such a way that economic, social
and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural
integrity. This, while helping to generate income, employment, and
the conservation of local ecosystems.
An update was also provided at the February 11 UN
noon briefing about the North Korea trip of Mr. Pascoe, Mr. Kim and
other others: the gift they brought for Kim Jong-Il was a leather bound
copy of the UN Charter in all six of the Organization's working
* * *
Says It "Cannot Name and Shame" on Sexual Violence, Silence on Congo
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 9 -- The UN on February 9 bragged about its work
against Sexual Violence in Conflict, introducing Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon's new Special Representative on the topic, Margot
when asked why
the UN's Mission in the Congo MONUC works with Army united accused of
mass rape by the UN's own Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, and why
the UN never disclosed any discipline for Sri Lankan peacekeepers
sent home from Haiti after being accused of sexual abuse, the UN had
no answers. Video here,
from Minute 16:23.
asked Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping
Operations, about a portion of Alston's
report describing that
Shalio (near Busurungi in North Kivu) it appears that the FARDC, led
by Colonel Zimulinda, attacked a makeshift camp of Rwandan Hutu
refugees on 27 April 2009. The FARDC surrounded the camp, shot and
beat to death at least 50 refugees and burnt the camp to the ground.
It also appears that some 40 women were abducted from the camp. A
small group of 10 who escaped described being gang raped, and had
severe injuries; some had chunks of their breasts hacked off. It is
not known what has happened to the other 30 women."
has previously asked MONUC chief Alan Doss about the report, after it
came out in October. Doss never announced any suspension of support
to Zimulinda's unit. Rather, he made a misleading announcement of the
end of the Kimia II operation. Soon thereafter, it was replaced by
another operation, Amani Leo, in which MONUC supports questionable
units of the Congolese Army.
Roy on February
9 said that the UN is "vetting unit by unit." He blurred a
word, or made a Freudian slip, saying that "Alan Doss knows [or
does] very well, each times there is full evidence" of abuse by
a unit, "we stop our support." Video here,
18:50. So does Alan Doss do this well? Or is the claim that he
"knows" very well the policy?
asked why, four months after Alston's report, which was followed by
others (with Zimulinda called "Zimurinda"), the UN has
apparently done nothing. Video here,
from Minute 19:18. There was another recent report of the UN
and accused mass rapist Bosco Ntaganda, which some in the UN think
was unfair. But what about Zimulinda?
does it take
the UN four months to study Alston's short report? Why has it taken
the UN eight months and counting to "investigate" and act
Doss' six line email to UNDP asking them to show "leeway"
and give his daughter a job? Does Doss "do" well, or simply
At the UN, is
it all about who you know?
UN's Ban and Alan Doss, investigation of Zimulinda
and Doss-mail not shown
Roy answered a
question by referring to a new UN web site purporting to provide
transparency into the disposition of allegations of sexual abuse or
exploitation by UN peacekeepers. Inner City Press pointed to a
particular page, here, which reports that the UN made 82
communications about abuse to Troop Contributing Countries in 2009,
and got 14 "responses."
asked, were the responses indications of prosecution? Or merely
letters in response? This, Le Roy did not answer. He said "we
cannot name and shame," because TCCs don't want it. But nor
should the UN give blue helmets and immunity to soldiers who, if they
rape, suffer only "repatriation." More disclosures should
be made -- we will continue to pursue this. Watch this site.
* * *