on MDGs, More Questions Than Answers, Jafar on Rosneft, UNDP
September 20 -- On the first day of the UN's big week, a
session of the Millennium Development Goals Summit, heads of state
sat chewing gum in the General Assembly, while the media was largely
confined to a room on the UN's North Lawn.
ostensibly about the poor, leaders took pot shots at their enemies.
Georgia's President Saakashvili denounced Russia's use of resources
from Abkhazia to build up for the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's President Ivanov lashed out at
Greece about, what else, the name issue, which he said kept his
country's economy back.
Fund chief Dominique Strauss Kahn wasn't where he was listed
for a stake out at noon; Spain's Zapatero was listed at 6:15 but was
gone by 6:16, taking only two questions. Inner City Press will
endeavor to find and ask him, later in the week.
Delegates Dining Room a business titan spoke, Badr Jafar of the
United Arab Emirates' Crescent Group, fresh off a joint venture with
Russia's Rosneft. After a lunch of salad with an unidentified mousse
and chicken with an unidentified round grain, Inner City Press asked
Jafar about Rosneft's history of chasing the indigenous from Sakhalin
in Siberia, and a more recent chemical plant explosion.
wished he'd known that, and then spoke at cross purposes about the
UAE's need for cross border partnerships. But what of the corporate
social responsibility he'd been speaking of? Well at least he took
on MDGs (and Sochi), CSR dodges at UN not shown
Development Program invited reporters to cover a September 21
event on the “World Business and Development Awards... speakers
include Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, UNDP Administrator
Helen Clark, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah, United Kingdom
Secretary of State for International Development Rt. Hon Andrew
Mitchell and the Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Dr. Mo
when Inner City
Press asked to attend and ask some questions, the response was that
that the guest list was suddenly full, and there would be no Q &
A. This was only Day One - watch this site.
* * *
of WTO Lashes Out at India Cotton Export Restriction, Admits
US & China Power
September 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.)
that 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.
declined 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...
In 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.
* * *
Blocked by IMF from Debt Relief, EU Stalls GPS+, Ripert
September 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.
that 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,”
came to the
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?
has 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.