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At UN, Ban on Transparency Leaves Deng Conflict in Sudan in Shadows

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 19 -- Transparency and financial disclosure, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said to the Press last Friday, are the hallmarks of his administration. He said that 99% of his officials make online, public descriptions of their finances.

  In fact, numerous officials file a form saying their decline to make any public disclosure. Even for those who do file, the disclosures are so vague as to be useless.

  Take for example UN official Francis Deng, Ban Ki-moon's Special Adviser on Genocide. He gets UN assistance to write sections of books about Sudan, while on his financial disclosure he mentions “property in Sudan” and “House in Sudan.”

  On January 19, Inner City Press asked Deng to disclose if any of his property in Sudan would be impacted by the referenda or slated popular consultations. Video here, from Minute 29:05.

  Deng called the questions too “personal.” Ultimately, he said that he has a large family, and there might be “some huts” that could be construed as owned by his family. But I do not, he said, own a house in Abyei.

  The purpose of financial disclosures is to determine when a conflict of interest exists or might appear to exist. With this level of (non) disclosure, it is impossible to make such determinations.

  Admittedly, the fault is not only Deng's. Ban Ki-moon brags about financial disclosure, but does not require his officials to make it public. Even when they do, it is vague.

  Meanwhile Ban's Spokesman Martin Nesirky cut off Inner City Press from any second round of questions, which he granted to other media. Forgot transparency - a Ban on retaliation would be rare progress in this UN.

Deng insisted that he did not write books on UN time, but his previous defense acknowledges that he wrote the introduction to his most recent book on Sudan while on UN time, with UN help. He says that chief of staff Vijay Nambiar approved it. Click here.

Meanwhile Inner City Press sought to ask, before Deng's and Ed Luck's briefing, a question about the government in Sudan shooting students in El Fasher. Nesirky refused to take the question, although it was only 12:15, barely into the announced noon press briefing.

Later Nesirky refused genocide related questions for the panel. Deng's and Luck's briefing was about Cote d'Ivoire, but Nesirky failed to take in the brieing, or answer when e-mailed, a questions about Cote d'Ivoire.

UN's Ban & Deng & his office: UN pay for work on Deng book & disclosure not shown

   With many questions unanswered by his office, Inner City Press later submitted only a handful of new question, about Sudan and Cote d'Ivoire, along with a request that top UN lawyer Patricia O'Brien come and give a briefing.

  At close of business Wednesday after 6 pm, not a single question had been answered -- not even an acknowledgment of reeipt of the questions by Nesirky and his deputy Farhan Haq. Oh, transparency....Watch this site.

* * *

At UN on Sudan, No Comment on Torture or Undercutting ICC, Turabi Arrest

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 18 -- As the UN and its Security Council heaped praise on the government of Omar al Bashir for the Southern Sudan referendum, the UN had no comment on Bashir officials' torture of Darfur activists and detention of (Islamist) opposition figure Hassan al-Turabi.

  Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky about the reported torture of the editor of Al Sahafa newspaper, and Turabi's arrest. On the torture, Nesirky said he would have to check, presumably with Ibrahim Gambari. On the latter, Nesirky said “I think we'll be able to say something a little later.”

  Running to the Security Council stake out, Inner City Press asked Sudan's Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman about Turabi's arrest. “Let me ask you a question,” Sudan's Ambassador replied, blaming the arrest on a call for Tunisia like demonstrations.

  Inner City Press asked him why his government had not flown International Criminal Court indictee Ahmed Haroun to Abyei rather than having the UN do it.

  He first claimed not to know of Haroun's trip. Then to an Inner City Press follow up he said, the UN is not an off shoot of the ICC.

  When UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant took questions some days ago, Inner City Press asked him about the UN Mission in Sudan under Haile Menkerios using a UN aircraft to transport ICC indictee Haroun.

  I am not going to second guess the UN, Lyall Grant said. So much for overseeing the UN's compliance not only with human rights standards but even the Council's mandates.

UN's Ban &
Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman - UN flying Haroun not shown

   Inner City Press asked this month's Council president, Bosnia's Ambassador Barbalic, about the UN flying Haroun around, even the Council's Press Statement's reference to holding accountable those responsible for crimes in Darfur. That was not discussed today, he answered and said, I do not have the information.

   After the Council meeting, Inner City Press asked top UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy about the UN flying ICC indictee Haroun into Abyei. Le Roy at least acknowledged being aware of the criticism, but said that getting Haroun there to speak with normadic tribes was the focus.

  But Sudan has its own airforce, which uses to bomb. That Haroun set up a TV interview for the airport at which he landed in the UN plane does not appear to be a coincidence. The UN was used to undercut the war crimes indictments. And the UN says nothing about it. Watch this site.

* * *

As UN Admits Transporting ICC Indictee Harun to Abyei, NGOs & US Have Yet to Speak

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 11 -- The UN Mission in Sudan transported and assisted International Criminal Court indictee Ahmed Harun, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky confirmed to Inner City Press on Tuesday, because the UN finds Harun helpful in dealing with violence in Abyei.
   Nesirky implied that the UN will continue to transport Harun, saying that the UN "will continue to provide necessary support to key players."
Video here, from Minute 13:48.

  Inner City Press asked why the UN transported Harun, not only in light of his ICC indictment for war crimes in Darfur, but also of the capacities of the Sudanese Air Force, which has recently conducted bombing raids in and near Southern Sudan.

  If the Sudanese Air Force can bomb, Inner City Press asked, why can't it fly Harun to Abyei? Nesirky did not answer this question. Nor would he tell Inner City Press if UNMIS, led by Haile Menkerios, had checked with UN Headquarters' Office of Legal Affairs or Ban Ki-moon before transporting an indicted war criminal.

  It seems to some that the Sudanese government of Omar al Bashir, who has also been indicted by the ICC for genocide as well as war crimes, has no lack of capacity to transport its official Harun, but instead wanted to get the UN further involved in undercutting the war crimes indictments.

  Already, Haile Menkerios and his counterpart at the Mission in Darfur UNAMID Ibrahim Gambari attended the inauguration of Omar al Bashir. Inner City Press asked Nesirky, without answer, if the UN would provide transport and assistance to other ICC indictees, including Joseph Kony of the the Lord's Resistance Army, widely thought to be in South Darfur.

UN Security Council in Sudan w/ Gambari, 10/10 (c)MRLee

  Earlier on January 11, Inner City Press asked representatives of non-governmental organizations active on Sudan about the UN's transport of ICC indictee Harun. David Abramowitz, the Director of Policy and Government Relations of the group Humanity United, said that he wasn't aware of the reports of Harun being transported, "I have not seen that report."

  Nor has the US administration, including its Mission at the UN, yet spoken on the matter. Some wonder whether they were consulted, even whether, in light of the offer to delink Darfur from the offer to remove some sanctions on Sudan in exchange for the South Sudan referendum, if the US agreed.

  Sam Bell, the Executive Director of the Genocide Intervention Network / Save Darfur Coalition, said he hadn't seen the report confirmed, but either way it did not send a good message to the people of Darfur, where Harun was indicted for war crimes: "already Darfuri are suspicious of UNAMID and UN personnel."

  In fact, Harun was indicted for working with and organizing the type of nomadic tribes which are accused of the killings in Abyei, and now in South Kordofan state as well.

   Nesirky told Inner City Press that "Governor Harun was critical" to bringing the Miseriya tribes together. Video here, from Minute 15:58.

  So in this view, it is not only a matter of the fox guarding the hen house: the UN has taken to transporting the fox to the hen house. Where will there be accountability? Watch this site.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

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.

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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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