Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Follow us on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis



ICP on YouTube

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

UN Downer Flicks Away Conflict of Interest on Cyprus, Stakeout Subverted?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 30 -- This UN is lawless and unresponsive. Arrogance can be added, as least in the case of UN envoy on Cyprus Alexander Downer.

  On July 16, after publishing a story on the question, Inner City Press asked the UN in New York how Downer could run to head the South Australian Liberal Party while still ostensibly being a UN official.

  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky said, "the principle is well taken in the question that you are posing, and I will see if my colleagues have anything." But the UN Department of Political Affairs, which ostensibly oversees Downer, has provided no answer for two weeks.

And so today after he met Greek Cypriot Leader Nicos Anastasiades, and before the UN Security Council extended its Cyprus mission's mandate over Azerbaijan's abstention, Downer misrepresented the question and said he was "flicking it away." From the transcript:

Question: If and when the talks resume in October, will you be around, because of certain informationÖ?

Alexander Downer: I really enjoy the job and I havenít any intention to give it up. I have seen speculation, which is some speculation, letís confront it, as you all want to ask, speculation that I might be the ambassador in Washington. I am not sure I ever want to be an ambassador. I was the Foreign Minister for a long time, and to be an ambassador you have to live permanently out of your own country. Thatís not so much something Iíve been particularly enthusiastic about. No one who is in a position to appoint me as ambassador to Washington has ever raised this with me ever. It is just a speculative piece in one newspaper. And I congratulate people here on picking up something in one newspaper. Itís Google alert, I suppose. It was just a speculative piece written by a journalist that if the Liberals won the next elections in Australia, the Liberal Party won the next elections in Australia that I would be the logical person to make the Ambassador in Washington. I am not sure about that and I am not sure whether I would want to do it. Nobody has ever mentioned it to me who would be in a position to decide. So, I can just flick that one straight away.

   But the question is not whether Downer could be Ambassador to the US and a UN envoy at the same time -- though with the way things are going under Ban Ki-moon, who let his Sahel envoy Romano Prodi run for office in Italy while still a UN official, who knows?

    Rather, the question is whether being in the running to head a political party is in conflict with being a UN official, under the UN Charter. Here's what Inner City Press asked on July 16, after publishing this on July 15:

Inner City Press: Downer is the good offices envoy on Cyprus, but heís announced, and I havenít seen it retracted, that he is going to be running to be the President of the South Australian Liberal Party. This came up for a moment, regarding Mr. Prodi, but I wonder, what are the rules applicable to running, particularly if he were to win, the presidency of a political party in a country, and at the same time being admittedly a part-time when actually employed UN envoy?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, I mean, I think the caveats that you have provided in your own question partly answer it. And, if I have anything further from the Department of Political Affairs, I will let you know. But, I donít have anything further on that at the moment.

Correspondent: It seems like if itís a conflict if he wins, this may be a conflict running, because heíd have the sameÖ

Spokesperson: Öthe principle is well taken in the question that you are posing, and I will see if my colleagues have anything.

  Two weeks later, nothing except Downer misrepresenting the question and flicking it away.

  Alongside the Cyprus vote, Pakistan did an explanation of vote on Cote d'Ivoire (as predicted last night by Inner City Press, here), concerned about drawing down too quickly, and the Darfur mission was extended.

Afterward UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant approached the stakeout microphone, with prepared notes. But he never spoke on camera -- he ended up speaking to a wire service reporter who notably is on the Executive Committee on the UN Correspondents Association - no request that Lyall Grant speak in a more accessible way.

  This is the problem, one of many being pointed out by the Free UN Coalition for Access, with an ostensibly pro-correspondents' association being dominated by big media wires services - they have no incentive to promote access. In fact, they hold private briefings only publicized to those who pay them money. Oh, and in the case of UNCA and its first vice president Louis Charbonneau of Reuters, they spy for the UN - click here for story, here for audio, here for document. Watch this site.


Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2013 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]