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At UN, Chomsky and Ramsey Clark Advise Nicaraguan Assembly President, Socialists and Socialites, Kennedy Expenses?

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, October 26, updated Oct. 31 -- A mix of leftists like Noam Chomsky and socialites like Michael and Eleonora Kennedy have quietly been named special senior advisors to UN General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockman, Inner City Press has learned. On October 22, Inner City Press asked the spokesman for d'Escoto, Enrique Yeves, to confirm that Canadian leftist Maude Barlow had been named an advisor on water. Yeves said yes, and that her name and others had never been announced. Inner City Press asked for a list of advisors, which has now been received.

  Beyond Chomsky, Slobodan Milosevic defender Ramsey Clark and historian Howard Zinn are among those formally advising d'Escoto, a Nicaraguan priest who previously served as the Sandinistas foreign minister. (Click here for a previous Inner City Press story). The list of 15 outside advisers, and three from within the UN, includes liberation theologian Leonardo Boff -- but not his brother Clovodis, also a theologian -- and Brother David Andrews of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, doctor Kevin Cahill, former Algerian foreign minister Mohammed Bedjaoui and Belgian sociologist Francois Houtart. 

  While listed as an outsider, Olivier De Schutter is concurrently a UN Rapporteur, on the right to food.  The UN personalities include ECLAC chief Alicia Barcena -- whose name is misspelled, click here for the full list as received by Inner City Press-- economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram, and the Saudi chief of UNFPA Thoraya Obaid, which seem strange given Nicaragua's complete ban on abortion.

Michael and Eleonora Kennedy, socialists and socialites advising UN's d'Escoto

  Inner City Press asked Yeves if d'Escoto would comment on Nicaragua's banning of the non-governmental organization Oxfam, as a stooge of Western interests. Yeves declined to comment. D'Escoto previously told Inner City Press that at the UN, the democratization he is calling for does not mean openness to the media. One then is left wondering who is advising d'Escoto on which advisers to select, or who put in a good word for the socialites Michael and Eleanor Kennedy, described viewing the world out the window of their Central Park South apartment.

  We also note the law practice of Michael Kennedy, son of Robert Kennedy, and that his wife Eleanora has served on the board of directors of the MADRE organization. Doctor Cahill is described as having been "caught behind the lines" in Managua.

  Inner City Press asked Yeves if any of these advisers are being compensated, or having their travel and expenses paid by the UN. Such so-called Daily Sustenance Allowance payments can told hundreds of dollars a day. An answer is anticipated this week.

  From the list provided to Inner City Press:


1. Brother David Andrews CSC (USA).

2. Ms. Maude Barlow (Canada).

3. Mr. Mohammed Bedjaoui (Algeria).

4. Mr. Leonardo Boff (Brazil).

5. Mr. Kevin Cahill (USA).

6. Mr. François Houtart (Belgium).

7. Mr. Noam Chomsky (USA).

8. Mr. Ramsey Clark (USA).

9. Mr. Richard Falk (USA).

10. Mr. Michael Kennedy (USA).

11. Ms. Eleonora Kennedy (USA).

12. Mr. Olivier De Schutter (Belgium).

13. Mr. Joseph Stiglitz (USA).

14. Sir John E. Sulston (UK).

15. Mr. Howard Zinn (USA).

  From the transcript of the October 22 UN noon briefing, video here:

Inner City Press: Did the President name Maude Barlow of Canada as a sort of expert on water -- did I miss that?

Spokesperson:  That’s correct, that’s correct.

Inner City Press: Was that announced …?

Spokesperson:  Well, I think it is part of the experts he has been calling to help him, and I don’t think there was a formal announcement, because he has many experts who are helping him.

Inner City Press: Are there experts’ names who haven’t been announced here?

Spokesperson:  Sure.  I think we distributed them at the beginning of the presidency, but probably you are right -- it was not really noticed so I will prepare a full list and distribute it.

Inner City Press: Not to be crass, but does that kind of status, does that trigger like daily subsistence allowance, (inaudible) visa, what is the purpose of that post?

Spokesperson:  There is no financial or contractual arrangements involved.  These are senior advisers for the President from different countries, different sectors, different nationalities, who are providing this service out of their own initiative, or in agreement with the President of the General Assembly, but without any formal administrative contract or arrangement, that should be clear.

Inner City Press: If they fly around and go to meetings, who’s paying -- is the UN paying for that, or are they paying for that?

Spokesperson:  That’s a good question -- I can check that for you.

  We will await further answers.

Update of October 31 -- a reader we much respect has questioned the use of the term "leftist" in the article above. Perhaps we used it too loosely; the irony we aimed at was that several thinkers who critique the UN from what we perceive to be the left, or said otherwise, not from the right, are now in line through d'Escoto to get UN travel and hotel funds. An Under Secretary General remarked to Inner City Press, about Ramsey Clark being on the list, that "it is probably consonant with d'Escoto's own thinking." Which of course is d'Escoto's right. His Office's reasoning in naming these 15 advisors without making any public announcement seems worthy of note. But his invitation to, for example, his adviser Joseph Stiglitz raised the level of debate, click here for Inner City Press' October 30 story. And keep those comments coming.
   Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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