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As Libya Ejects UN Refugee Agency, Libyan PGA Treki Does Nothing, Withholds UNHCR Letter

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 10 -- As Libya moves to expel the UN's refugee agency, Inner City Press has asked the office of UN General Assembly President Ali Treki, former foreign minister and senior adviser to the country's longtime leader, if Treki is doing anything to avoid a cut of in assistance to refugees and involuntary migrants in Libya.

  Rather than describe any efforts, his spokesman said that Treki "is not representing the Government of Libya. He is in his capacity as President of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly." But UNHCR is a organ of the General Assembly. Shouldn't Treki try something?

  Many in the UN system feel that Treki should try. Others say that Treki gets along so badly with Libya's Mission to the UN that his intervention might be counterproductive.

Ali Treki at UN, action on Libya expulsion of UNHCR not shown

 On June 8 Inner City Press asked Treki's spokesman Jean Victor Nkolo:

Inner City Press: On this question of Libya expelling the UN refugee agency, I just wonder if the President, given that he was Foreign Minister of Libya and a special or senior adviser to Muammar Gaddafi, does he see any role for himself in trying to ensure that the country for which he served in both those functions doesn’t expel the UN system in this way?

Spokesperson: Well, the President, in this whole matter, is not representing the Government of Libya. He is in his capacity as President of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly. I can confirm that the Office of the President of the General Assembly received a letter from the Head of UNHCR, Mr. [António] Guterres on this subject. But I really cannot say more at this stage.

Inner City Press: As PGA, but do you think, in particular, as a former Libyan senior diplomat with an ability to somehow solve this important issue?

Spokesperson: Well, that’s a conclusion that you may be drawing, but…

Inner City Press: Can you release the letter?

Spokesperson: For the time being, the President has not even seen the letter yet. He is resting; he is in Turkey. I think we’ll have to get there when he has seen the letter and we ask him if he has a statement or an opinion to make. He received the letter in his capacity as President of the General Assembly. As you know, UNHCR is a subsidiary body that reports to the General Assembly, and it is in the capacity of Dr. Treki as President of the GA that this letter was received.

Inner City Press: [inaudible] ask him to take some action with regard to his former senior advisee, Muammar Gaddafi?

Spokesperson: You will understand that I cannot comment on the content of the letter for the time being.

Two days later, still nothing has been said, or done. Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, India & Pakistan United Against DFS Move to Italy, Peacekeeping Politics

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 28 -- The UN is trying to move parts of its $5 billion peacekeeping support function to Italy, over the objection of troop contributing countries like India and Pakistan, with little to no disclosure or other press coverage.

  When the UN Department of Field Support proposed to move unspecified functions from New York to Brindisi, Italy, the UN's own Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions told DFS chief Susana Malcorra of Argentina to be sure to consult with the troop contributing countries.

  According to Permanent Representatives of major TCCs interviewed by Inner City Press on May 28, when the proposal was slated to be voted on, Ms. Malcorra never made the consultation. "She's asking us to vote on a slogan," one of the TCC Perm Reps said.

Another described the strategies used to try to pass the proposal in the UN's Fifth (Budget) Committee over the objections of the countries most impacted. "They tried to turn the Africans against us," this TCC Perm Rep said, "by tying the proposal to Entebbe," an new DFS hub in Uganda. "We separated those two."

  An African Perm Rep told Inner City Press that Entebbe is an insubstantial proposal anyway.

"Then they tried to turn GRULAC" - the Latin American and Caribbean Group -- "against us," the TCC Perm Rep continued, "using that Ms. Malcorra is from Argentina." He laughed. "But that didn't work either."

UN's Ban and Malcorra, gun-jumping on shift to Brindisi not shown

  The first TCC Perm Rep continued. "DFS handles about five billion dollars a year, supporting peacekeeping operations. Half of that gets paid to TCCs' Permanent Missions in New York, largely to India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Morocco. Now they want to move unspecified functions out of town. Which functions? Even the ACABQ report, at Paragraph 109, says she should have consulted with us."

  Inner City Press asked Ms. Malcorra about the proposal at her and Alain Le Roy's press conference on May 28, at the tail end because Inner City Press was only allowed a second question after others got four and five questions in. Inner City Press had to ask about any follow-through on the death of UN staffer Louis Maxwell; Ms. Malcorra had very little update. Video here. On the reform /job shift proposal, Ms. Malcorra offered a rosy view, not responsive to these TCCs' concerns.

The first TCC Ambassador then leaned forward. "Even without any approval," he said, "they have moved a Police Unit to Brindisi, and already advertised jobs."

It is reminiscent of when the Department of Peacekeeping Operations held a ribbon cutting for its technology center in Valencia, Spain before they had any approval. Except this time, DFS is on notice of the opposition of the large TCCs. So who runs the UN? Watch this site.

* * *

To UN's 11th Hour Africa Union Proposal, Russia Says Too Late, Procuring Votes

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 27 -- In the UN budget committee, the day before its session on peacekeeping is to end, a proposal for a $10 million office in Addis Ababa was turned in. The African Group immediately "regret[ted] the timing of the submission of the report... the afternoon of the day before the scheduled last day of the second resumed 64th session of the General Assembly."

 The Ban Ki-moon administration has seven months to prepare and submit the proposal, but waited until the 11th hour.

  The Russian delegate said perhaps we will not even be able to discuss this proposal, there are other issues we must address before the end. These include a proposal to restructure the Department of Field Support.

  Russia is opposing that, Inner City Press has learned, because of the proposal to decentralize procurement of services including air services. Russia has cornered that market while the contracts have been doled out in New York; it would be less certain if decentralized.

  Some delegates say Russia's position on the Addis Ababa office might not be unrelated to its fight to retain control of UN air contracts. But the Ban Ki-moon Administration's inept late submission was making this gambit easy -- intentionally?

UN's Ban and Maurer: one's out of town, the other leaving, budget in flux

   Making the proposal for the Ban Administration was Taye-Brook Zerihoun, who recently replaced, if only temporarily, Haile Menkios on this day represented the UN at the inauguration of Sudan's Omar al Bashir, indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

  Zerihoun, rather than addressing the delay to the penultimate day of the Ban Administration's proposal, apologized for his boss Lynn Pascoe not being there. He had planned to be present, Zerihoun said, but had to rush a few hours ago to go with Ban on his trip to Africa.

  The argument then was that although the UN's actual plan for Africa was slapped together at the last moment, Ban's flight to Africa shows his commitment. He will play soccer with Yoweri Museveni and Nicholas Cage in Uganda -- where students are preparing to protect his and the UN's and ICC's inaction on human rights abuses -- and later to attended the opening of the World Cup in South Africa.

   So is this proposed merged office in Addis Ababa nothing but a political football?

  The Department of Field Support restructuring proposal is also, for now, being opposed by large troop contributing countries Pakistan and India. DFS chief Malcorra is said to be arguing that it is not worth trying to do the reforms piecemeal. So perhaps nothing will be passed.

 Chairing the meeting was Peter Maurer of Switzerland, who has been moonlighting this month as a Swiss minister. He ended the meeting by saying he will"consult with the Bureau" given the views expressed. As he left the Conference Room, Maurer chatted with Zerihoun. Why turn in an ostensibly important proposal so late? Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

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.

* * *

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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