UN's Ban Won't Comment on Debt, Tax Havens or Zapatero Dodging
September 22 -- With the Millennium Development Goals having
been discussed at the UN for three days, Inner City Press asked
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to respond to a critique that the MDGs
look only at the symptom and not causes of poverty. UN transcript
here and below.
is owned by poor countries in foreign debt. Over $124 billion a year
flow through offshore tax havens. Inner City Press asked Ban about
both of these.
“those issues which you raised have been
the subjects which have been discussed in the international
community. I think it's not appropriate for me to discuss those
matters here at this time.” If not now, during the MDG Summit,
Wednesday, when it suddenly became clear that questions would be
taken at the meeting of Ban's MDG Advocacy Group, Inner City Press
ran from the UN correspondents' area over the library, through the
garage and a metal detector check, through the General Assembly lobby
and media room, only to be stopped by security. Armed with a floor
pass, Inner City Press proceeded, reaching the ECOSOC chamber ten
minutes before the Q&A session ended.
Martin Nesirky shook his head, running his finger across his throat,
it's over. Nevertheless he called on Jeffrey Sachs to issue a
duplicative answer to a question.
Press wanted to asking, as well as about debt and money laundering,
was the sudden departure of co-chair Zapatero of Spain. In the first
Advocacy Group meeting in Madrid, Zapatero refused to meet with his
co-chair Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who is being sued in Spain for war
Zapatero left to return to business in Madrid. Nesirky did not allow
the question during the Advocacy Group's media availability. At noon
in the briefing room, he told Inner City Press to asked the Spanish
Mission about Zapatero's departure.
can Ban's and
the UN's MDG Advocacy Group function with two co-chair who won't
meet? Watch this space.
UN's Ban and Zapatero, Kagame & answers on debt
& tax havens not shown
City Press asked Michelle Bachelet about the Advocacy Group, in
which she served until being named head of UN Women. Bachelet dodged
on the Zapatero Kagame relationship, as well as on Inner City Press'
question if she would finally bring zero tolerance to sexual abuse
and exploitation by UN peacekeepers. Watch this site.
of September 22:
Press: On the MDGs, there's a criticism made by the Special
Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mr. [Olivier] de Schutter, where he
says that the MDGs may be just treating the symptoms. He points to
things like off-shore tax havens, and the ability of leaders to take
money out of their countries, and he points to debt relief, the debt
service by poor countries adding up to about $500 billions. So he
says that there is danger of focussing on charity as opposed to
structural things that hurt poor countries. I wanted to have your
response to that, also, one thing I noticed this morning is that, of
your two co-chairs, Mr. Zapatero left. I know that in Madrid, the two
didn't meet because of sort of war crimes and other issues. Have
those issues been resolved and could the two men work together to
promote MDG Advocacy Group?
There should be no mix-up between development and politics.
Prime Minister Zapatero explained to me two days ago that because of
his very urgent domestic issues, he had to go back. That I
understood. Because, every leader, they may have certain domestic
issues on which they have to put priority. The MDG Advocacy Group
meeting today was, I think, a great success. You have seen such a
strong commitment among, not only MDG advocates, champions, but all
other leaders participating in that. And for other matters, I think
all those issues which you raised have been the subjects which have
been discussed in the international community. I think it's not
appropriate for me to discuss those matters here at this time.
* * *
WTO Lashes Out at India Cotton Export Restriction, Admits
US & China Power
20 -- Are the World Trade Organization powers “of
the U.S. and Tonga, China and Vanuatu” the same? “Of course not,”
WTO Director General Patrick Lamy told the Press on Monday at the UN.
Inner City Press asked Lamy about powerful countries' domination of
the WTO, and about export controls recently imposed by WTO member
India on cotton and non WTO member Russia on wheat.
criticizing India, but said that “economists will tell you that
import controls and export controls are similar animals” in their
impacts. He projected that the WTO may adopt stronger export control
restrictions, while still leaving the “flexibility” it allows on
some import controls.
the question of
governance, Inner City Press asked Lamy to contrast the WTO with the
IMF and the UN General Assembly, where he and the IMF's Dominique
Strauss Khan had just delivered speeches at the Millennium
Development Goals Summit. (DSK's speech, in English, avoided the
issue of the IMF
requiring Pakistan to pledge not to seek relief of
its $500 million annual debt payments in exchange for $450 million
post flood loan.)
the U.S. and China are power players in the WTO, but said that
under the consensus system, the “weak can band together” and have
UN's Ban and WTO's Lamy previously, one
critiques India, the other makes nice on Kashmir
As his example, he used the African Group's position on EU
and US cotton subsidy restrictions. But what will India say about
Lamy's criticism of their policies? Watch this site.
to comment on Japan's WTO case against Canada on Green
Energy and solar panel subsidies, so Inner City Press didn't even try
to ask about Vietnam's case against the US imposing anti-dumping
penalties on that country's shrimp. But that too is interesting, post
BP oil spill, as regards the MDGs...
terms of the UN's hosting of the MDG Summit, the wireless Internet
in the General Assembly barely works, and UN Webcast archives haven't
been updated since Friday, September 17, omitting for now all of
Sunday's stakeouts and everything today.
* * *
by IMF from Debt Relief, EU Stalls GPS+, Ripert
19 -- As at the UN countries jostled to give
speeches about past contributions to Pakistan, Inner City Press asked
UK International Development Minister Andrew Mitchell about the IMF's
requirement that Pakistan not seek any relief of its $500 million a
year in debt payments in exchange for a $450 million loan.
Pakistan's debt service is “only 3% of its gross national
income.” He said he was sure negotiations would continue on the
a letter submitted to the IMF on September 10 by State Bank
Governor Shahid Hafiz Kardar and Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez
Shaikh committed, at the IMF's demand
make sure Pakistan’s international trade and financial relations
continue to function normally, we will not impose any restrictions on
payments and transfers for current international transactions nor
introduce any trade restrictions or enter into any bilateral payment
agreements that are inconsistent with Article VIII of the Fund’s
Articles of Agreement.”
asked Pakistan's foreign minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi about
this, and he replied that his country's finance minister is speaking
with the World Bank, the IMF and Asia Development Bank and he is
“sure he will take it [debt relief] up with them at the appropriate
he and the
country appear precluded from taking it up, by the IMF's own demands.
also asked Mitchell about whether the EU will grant Pakistan GSP Plus
trade benefits. Mitchell made much of his Prime Minister Cameron
pushing for this, but the EU has yet to move on it, reportedly due to
protectionist opposition by France, Italy, Poland and Portugal (which
is seeking a UN Security Council seat). It was impossible to ask the
EU, as Catherine Ashton unceremoniously canceled her scheduled
the side of
Minister Lectureship’s stakeout, against his will, stood UN envoy
Jean-Maurice Ripert. He had refused to speak to the Press outside the
General Assembly's pledging session on Pakistan, and this time had to
be summoned after Secretary General Ban Ki-moon left without taking
questions, due to the need to swear in Michelle Bachelet at the head
of UN Women.
asked Ripert, by name, to explain his and the UN's failure to push
for humanitarian access to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas
including Waziristan. Ripert tried to get OCHA's Valerie Amos to
answer in his stead, but Inner City Press said Ms. Amos had already
taken the question last week. (Ms. Amos later on Monday introduced
and praised her previous UK colleague Andrew Mitchell in a way some
correspondents found noteworthy, “like Le Roy and the French,”
microphone and offered nothing but praise for the government, then
referred to “security issues,” saying it is “quite normal that
the UN has to discuss with the government” issues of access.
Qureshi with Ripert in a previously life, IMF and
Ripert's dodges not shown
has not had access in Darfur to parts of Jebel Marra since February,
the UN and NGOs have been denied access to Wazirstan. And what has
the UN and Ripert done?
been avoiding the Press for days. On September 17, greeted
by Inner City Press, he scowled and walked away, smoking a long white
cigarette. Later he was seen chatting euphorically on his cell phone
in the UN's Vienna Cafe. On Sunday evening he was on CNN
International saying that the floods have impacted an area “as
large as Italy.” Some in the Pakistani press corps have stories of
Ripert in the Alps -- others say Geneva -- but everywhere but
Pakistan. 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.
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