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also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"

Inner City Press Podcast --

As UN's Annan Now Says He Will Disclose, When and Whether It Will Be to the Public and Why It Took So Long Go Unasked

  UNITED NATIONS News Analysis, Sept. 16-17 (tweaked Sept. 22 & Oct. 5) -- The UN's number two Mark Malloch-Brown called the global Paper of Record on Friday after most other media's deadline and spun the decision by Kofi Annan to say he would file financial disclosure. How this decision was made and reported provides a snapshot of the small world of power and the press inside the UN Organization. Avoided so far are questions ranging from why Mr. Annan has resisted filing, to when he will file and whether any part of the filing now promised will be available to the public.

[Ed.'s update Oct. 2: Earlier today Inner City Press asked Kofi Annan's spokesman at his noon briefing if Mr. Annan had filed the disclosure. The answer was "yes," and that it took place on Sept. 22. Still no part of the filing or its content has been made public. See another's follow-up on October 5, here.]

[Earlier ed.'s update Sept. 17: The delayed Friday night response by the Annan administration to questions asked by Inner City Press at a press conference Wednesday morning seem not dissimilar to White House "document dumps" just before the weekend. Similarly resonant was a formal statement by Annan's spokesman's office 24 hours after the news' exclusive delivery, issued by email to Inner City Press and presumably other correspondents, that

"On advice of lawyers, the Secretary-General had not filled out a financial disclosure form, which he was not required to, so as not tie the hands of his successor. However, in order to avoid any embarrassment to the Organization, the Secretary-General has decided to voluntarily submit a financial disclosure form."

   Since in May of this year, this same Spokesman's office had stated unequivocally that Mr. Annan would fill out and file the financial disclosure form, the advice of unnamed lawyers must have come more recently. Was it Nicolas Michel, who at a September 12 press conference responded to a question from Inner City Press about housing subsidies to UN official by government by reading a scripted answer from notes? Or was it an Annan family lawyer from outside the UN system, like Michael Wilson who shows up in the page of the Volcker report provided on Friday, and more recently in press reports about payments to Kojo Annan by Trafigura, which dumped toxic waste in Abidjan only last month? (See Inner City Press' September 12 story, click here). Inquiring minds will want to know. And we hope not relatedly, note that while our reporter genuinely likes the colleagues and even spokespeople herein described, we cannot let his conflict of interest allow us or him to pull too many punches.

  While at the September 15 noon briefing Mr. Annan's [deputy] spokesman refused to respond to articles quoting unnamed UN sources, Mr. Annan's spokesman's office has recently insisted to Inner City Press that everything said outside of the briefing room is not for attribution -- that is, to be sources to unnamed "UN officials." To not response, timely or at all, to media such as Inner City Press is one thing. But to contrive a theory to not respond to yourself requires even greater gymnastics.

Correspondent's amplification, Sept. 22, 1 p.m. -- From the Sept. 15 noon briefing transcript:

Question: There are wire service stories saying that two UN sources have confirmed that he has not filed. What can you say on that?

Deputy Spokesman: They are wire service reports quoting unnamed sources. They are press reports. I cannot comment on that.

  The reference above was to prior oral ground rules from the Spokesman's Office, that unless expressly authorized to quote, much of what's said can only be attributed to "UN sources." The point inartfully made above is, if the Spokesman says to quote him as only a "UN official," to later claim that the office never responds to statements by unnamed "UN officials" is ironic, or at least, as here, and by Inner City Press without present rancor(foot) noteworthy.]

            Kofi Annan at his September 13 press conference was asked by Inner City Press if he'd filed the UN Financial Disclosure form. His response was a carefully-crafted phrase, "I honor all my obligations to the UN, and I think that is as I've always done." Video here, at Minute 45:25.

   While technically the UN Financial Disclosure form must be filled out by all senior UN officials except the Secretary General, spokesman Stephane Dujarric had said Mr. Annan would file, in at least two press conferences this year. The Paper of Record in its article today quotes one of the statements, that Mr. Annan would file "to show an example, to be an example to the rest of the staff who need to fill it out." Click here for full transcript.

            Following the September 13 interchange and Inner City Press' article analyzing Mr. Annan's answer, on September 14 the bigger guns came out. At a sparsely attended press conference by UN Management's Chris Burnham, the AP's crack reporter raised his hand to be given the first question -- and asked about the Annan financial disclosure. On the podium was a visibly uncomfortable Stephane Dujarric. Video here. Mr. Burnham replied that "I believe that we all should fill out annual financial reports and I encourage everyone to do so in a timely fashion."

            Mr. Burnham stayed in the hallway outside the briefing room long after the conference was over, speaking with American reporters with whom he joked easily by name. Mr. Dujarric left the scene, to head to Cuba with Mr. Annan. Associate Spokesman Yves Sorokobi was put on the noon briefing hot seat, left to claim that Mr. Annan had in fact already filed his disclosure. That this is now shown to be false raises questions about other answers given.

            Later September 14, both AP and Reuters quoted unnamed UN sources that Messrs. Burnham and Malloch-Brown had encouraged Mr. Annan to file the disclosure. Inner City Press now cites other unnamed sources that Mr. Burnham himself, through selective disclosure, spun to the wires his role in the reform. Notably, the report Mr. Burnham released, which is much less detailed and transparent than for example the NYC Management report with its breakdowns on everything from recycling to 311 calls, has yet to be critiqued in other than this media.

Gravitas - Good Night and Good Luck

            At Friday's noon press conference, another spokesperson was thrown to the dogs. Marie Okabe was left to repeat, again and again, that "I have nothing beyond what we've said." Transcript here --

Deputy Spokesman:  "Matthew, I have nothing beyond what the Secretary-General said, okay?"
Question:  And have you spoken to the Secretary-General or Stephane since it arose yesterday?  Has there been a request made to clarify the statement?
Deputy Spokesman:  "Matthew, I have nothing beyond what I said."

            [Editors' insider note: in the UN briefing room, things are on a first-name basis. The exceptions are for the long-serving, like the former Gambari and for others on their way to being excluded, named after Reservoir Dogs or the murder suspects in Clue. But when there's real news to be made, the calculations get more cold. Through the paper of record, far more people can be reached. But since the reversal of Annan was not news they wanted covered, why take the elite route? One wag, not our reporter, notes that the resulting article does not question why Mr. Annan may have changed his mind about filing after May, nor does it propose (as is being done here) that given the issues, Mr. Annan make most or all of its disclosure public.]

            The paper of record had not covered the issue for its Friday edition. The UN's spin machine was already at work, asking for more time, promising reform. Inner City Press asked multiple staffers in the Spokesman's office to be sure, when something was released, to distribute even-handedly. Friday at 5 there was a distribution -- but only of one page from the report of Paul A. Volcker, to the effects that Mr. Annan's finances had been reviewed. This quote made its way into the Gray Lady's story, but the page was also given to the other elite press. The Spokesman's office made a point of leaving a message at Inner City Press of the availability of an already-public page. But when the decision was made to have Mark Malloch-Brown give his much sought-after quotes, there was no such notice. Mr. Brown's right hand man was a Financial Times reporter, as is Mr. Annan's speechwriter. The leadership team is small and feels itself always in a velvet-shrouded Foxhole. They will prevail through selective disclosure. But maybe not this time.

            Friday after deadline  as upstairs Mr. Brown made his targeted disclosure, a twenty-year UN employee settled back sighing. "Kofi Annan is a fraud," he finally said. He recounted speaking with Mr. Annan, before he was Secretary-General, about the problems of the staff. "He didn't care," the source continued. "He doesn't care a hoot about justice."

   Inner City Press asked, perhaps defensively, What about human rights and freedom of speech, issues on which Mr. Annan visibly speaks out?

    "Kofi talks a good game," the source sourly replied. "But the reality is different."

            How about the new Management man?

            "I've sent them some detailed complaints," the Friday drinker said. "And they're never gotten back."

            "Even the staff?"

            "Nothing. You come here to help the world, and you're left feeling sick and embarrassed."

            Tugboats moved past out on the darkness of the river. There was the faint humming sound of the spin machine at work.

            A more pro-UN source, also three sheets to the wind, critiqued the few reporters who press the noon briefing spokesmen. "They just try to embarrass them," this media staffer complained. But if questions by some are only answered if they're raised in public briefings, there can and will only be more.

   [Editors' insider note: And even then the answers are fed to the few, the proud, the elite.  The goal is to put an end to questions. It happened with UNDP in Uganda, finally calling the wires and saying "we're cleaning up the army." But the forced disarmament was known for months to the UN. Click here for more on that story. And note that while our reporter genuinely likes the colleagues and even spokespeople herein described, we cannot let his conflict of interest make us pull too many punches.

   It has happened with Kazana, about which the Department of Peacekeeping misspoke. Click here for more. In that case a Kenya-based journalist is bad-mouthed to more comfortable reporters, as nothing but a spoiler. But it was the Paper of Record itself which held the expose until the eve of election. And still Mark Malloch-Brown seeks all the spin that's fit to print.

  How and by whom is the UN decision made, to respond to questions of scandal? Inner City Press has asked the UN for weeks about Annan's financial disclosure. Finally, Inner City Press asked Annan the question at his briefing September 13. Annan dissembled, and for two more days Inner City Press was told the answer stood. Then the UN's number two called the world's paper of record to confess to a venue deemed friendly. The news then went out the Annan has nothing to hide.

But when will it be filed?

 Why after May 3, 2006, did Annan decide not to file?

Will the public have access to any portions of the filing?

  The questions will continue. It is not bad for the world, nor for the wider UN. The circle at the top are soon to go cash in. The time for disclosure is now, and it will be pursued. Nice guys finish last, Leo the Lip Durocher once said. Or, fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on we [sic]. The senior UN official who takes free housing from his state -- to whom will he disclose? There are plenty for friendly reporters. But in this small world there are now fewer places to hide.]

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At the UN, Stonewalling Continues on Financial Disclosure and Letter(s) U.S. Mission Has, While Zimbabwe Goes Ignored

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

UNITED NATIONS, September 15 -- "I have nothing beyond what the Secretary-General told you on Wednesday," UN spokeswoman Marie Okabe said Friday, responding to Inner City Press' continued questions on whether Mr. Kofi Annan has filed the financial disclosure form his main spokesman said he would. When Inner City Press directed Ms. Okabe to two wire service stories quoting separate UN sources that Mr. Annan has not, in fact, filed the form, Ms. Okabe said "those are press reports we cannot comment on."

   Minutes later, asked about recent reporting on the turmoil in Ivory Coast and Laurent Gbagbo's bid to stay in power, Ms. Okabe said, "we're seen that in the press, we may have a statement later in the day." Asked then to explain why the UN responds to some press reports but not, in this case the wires on the financial disclosure form, Ms. Okabe told Inner City Press, "I have nothing beyond what the Secretary-General said."

    Kofi Annan once castigated some in the press corps for spending time on improprieties and inconsistencies within the UN rather than on the wider world. But in this case, it was Mr. Annan's own intentionally vague answer which has given rise to two additional days of questions, from outlets from AP and Reuters to the New York Times and Sun. Note to Kofi: we want to cover the wider world, but you need to file that financial disclosure, as your spokesman said you would to serve as an example to other UN staff. And the name of the senior UN official who receives free housing from his government should also be released. And by the same token, the U.S. Mission should, in the spirit of the transparency they discuss, release the letter(s) they received on the issue of housing subsidies by governments.

   At a stakeout interview of U.S. Ambassador John Bolton following the Security Council 10-4-1 vote to put Myanmar on the agenda, Inner City Press asked Amb. Bolton when the U.S. will release a copy of the letter it has received on the question of housing subsidies by governments to UN officials.

            "I have the letter," Amb. Bolton confirmed, "I'm still considering what to do. I'll let you know when I've thought about it some more." Video here, from Minute 12:10.  We'll be here -- passing the time reading the UN annual report issued September 14 by UN Management's Chris Burnham. On an interim basis the report is spotty, offering for example under the heading "Areas of challenge" mostly bullet points blaming the member states for any shortfalls. An honest "challenge" appears on page 15, noting that Kofi Annan's envoys "were not able to significantly affect negotiations in Western Sahara and Myanmar." Myanmar was discussed in the Council on Friday; Western Sahara was raised to Kofi Annan at his Wednesday press conference, where he responded, "they are probably thinking about it, they're probably going to come up with a creative solution." We'll wait for that, too.

Egeland's IRe IN Northern Uganda (Vincent Otti not shown)

            Earlier Friday in the Council, the UN's Jan Egeland provided a briefing on the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he said rape by the army continues, and on Northern Uganda, where he confirmed speaking  with the Lord's Resistance Army's Vincent Otti, but did not mention meeting Otti face-to-face, as the Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General as told Inner City Press that Mr. Egeland did.

            Mr. Egeland was asked about the UN's man in Congo, William Lacy Swing. Following Mr. Egeland's savvy praise, Inner City Press asked about MONUC's now-amended self-exoneration of having been present when the Congolese Army burned down the village of Kazana on April 21, 2006. Mr. Egeland responded that yes, the Army is a problem. He said they need more training -- which is what the UN's Jean-Marie Guehenno said about Peter Karim, who after kidnapping UN peacekeepers for a month was offered a colonel's post in the Congolese army. Friday Jan Egeland said it takes two minutes to fire a colonel. And apparently less than a minute of serious thought to hire one.

            Four Security Council  members brought up the issue of Zimbabwe, the mass eviction and the flow of Zimbabweans fleeing. Mr. Egeland reported that the Mugabe government demolished 92,000 housing units as part of Operation Take Out the Trash, and has since built a mere 3,325 units, many of which have been given to people not evicted at all, but Mugabe cronies. UN-Habitat's Anna Tibaijuka issued a detailed report on the eviction (and was Friday named head of the UN in Nairobi, where one hopes she can bring sanity to UNPOS and clean up shenanigans about Somalia by former and present UN staff in Nairobi).

  On Zimbabwe, one wondered why Kofi Annan backed off in Banjul on his stated plan to mediate, in favor of Ben Mkapa, who has since been shown to not be the mediator at all. ("Those are just press reports," Ms. Okabe said Friday.) One wonders why the Council is not turning to Zimbabwe at least as it now will on Myanmar. Inner City Press asked Mr. Egeland if UNHCR should not at least for now treat those fleeing Zimbabwe as refugees, Mr. Egeland did not directly answer. And to his staff, Inner City Press has in outstanding questions about OCHA and UNDP in Somalia, more on which anon -- or Annan, as one wag joked.

Update at 5 p.m. deadline, UN Spokeswoman Marie Okabe provided page 233 of 277 of Paul Volcker's September 25 report, for the proposition that there might be nothing untoward in Mr. Annan's financial disclosure form, which he has not filed despite his spokesman's statement that he would, as an example to other staff. While always appreciating a response, especially a document, one wonders if the UN would accept from other senior officials an extraneous document rather than the financial disclosure form. It also can't be missed that the page provided refers to Kojo Annan's faxes to family lawyer Michael Wilson -- both are connected in the public record with Trafigura, whose toxic waste was dumped in Ivory Coast. Just file already - or explain why not. Thus we end the work week.

At the UN, Financial Disclosure Is Withheld As Freedom of Information Is Promised, Of Hollywood and Dictators' Gift Shops

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the UN

  UNITED NATIONS, September 14 -- A day after UN Secretary General Kofi Annan evaded Inner City Press' media conference question of if he had filed his financial disclosure form, the Associated Press Thursday afternoon ran an "exclusive report" that Mr. Annan has not filed the disclosure. Reuters ran essentially the same story, although in India at least pushing Mr. Annan's Wednesday presser to Thursday.

   After Associate UN Spokesman Yves Sorokobi Thursday at noon answered questions from the New York Times and Inner City Press about the disclosure, rejecting the "has-not-filed" interpretation of Mr. Annan's answer of the previous day, elite media source were told that more will be disclosed. Mr. Annan at press time was en route to, and then had arrived in, Cuba, where apparently there's been an embargo on telephones through which to directly confirm or deny the filing of the financial disclosure form.

   Mr. Annan had concluded his Wednesday press conference by calling it a "healthy development" that "in many countries now [we] are seeing very active press who are being heard and questioning. In some cases they are suppressed, and we should resist that."  Minutes prior to that statement, Mr. Annan had given an answer that now, if AP's to be believed, was intentionally evasive. And his Spokesman's office stuck to that position until and past press time on the following day as well.

   Moments before a Thursday press conference by Christopher Burnham, Under-Secretary for Management, a hefty 392-page Consolidated Report on the UN was made available. (USG and book pictured below.) Journalists were hard pressed to read or even skim the report in two minutes, and therefore questions began with the issue of housing subsidies by governments to UN officials, and proceeded on to whether Mr. Annan should have filed the financial disclosure form. Everyone should file, Mr. Burnham twice replied. Video here

UN as open book? [Ed.'s note: For the record, above is USG Burnham, photo by the great Devra Berkowitz. Our correspondent today was so busy chasing an upcoming story his filing was fragmentary but reproduced here in full, in the spirit of cinema verite.]

   On August 28, Inner City Press had asked U.S. Ambassador John Bolton at a stakeout interview (transcript here) if he knew if Mr. Annan had filed his financial disclosure. Amb. Bolton replied that he was not aware. The afternoon's AP story noted that Mr. Burnham was among those privately urging Mr. Annan to file. Then again, the United States, for whom Mr. Burnham began his tenure by saying he works for, has yet to release the Secretariat's two letters about the housing subsidy by governments issues. Ah, transparency.

     But perhaps open governance is coming. Mr. Burnham spoke Thursday of a proposed UN Freedom of Information office or procedure, which he said is being considered by the General Assembly. "It will be the gold standard," Mr. Burnham said. When asked how and where a person denied access to information could appeal the withholding, Mr. Burnham said the policy is still subject to improvement.

            Mr. Burnham was asked what parts of the UN system's budget are still off-balance-sheet. After a brief chuckle, or chortle, Mr. Burnham explained that UNDP, for example, does its own report. UNDP is apparently a world unto itself, in that for example neither UNDP nor the UN Spokesman's office has yet given any answer to Inner City Press' question from two weeks ago on why UNDP partners on issues of open source software with Uzbekistan's Karimov regime, which uses software to block access to news websites like the BBC. Thursday at noon, Associate Spokesman Yves Sorokobi had a prepared statement ready on why UNESCO had given an award to Karimov. It was not as president, Mr. Sorokobi said. And the award was a coin that's available for sale in the UN's gift shop in Paris. But what then of targeted sanctions?

            Continuing the chain of free association, one thinks of Uzbek migrant workers doing construction in Moscow for example. The issue arose at a briefing by the Secretary-General's point man on migration, BP's Peter Sutherland. With a candor he displayed in a previous interview on June 8, Mr. Sutherland let drop that the notion of a conference on migration is opposed by the United States. Asked for Russia's position, he said he didn't know it. Asked about Australia, in light of that country's outsourcing of asylum-seeker review to the sun-baked island of Nairu, Mr. Sutherland opined that Australia might be another opponent, and urged reporters to ask nations for their positions.

   Two similar pollings took place. First in the Security Council, a straw poll was held on the five current candidates to be the next Secretary General. The results, by country, were reportedly as follows, by encourage, discourage and no opinion: South Korea, 14-1-0. India (& UN), 10-3-2. Thailand, 9-3-3. Jordan, 6-4-5. And Sri Lanka, 3-5-7.

   The president of the Security Council and his press counselor Theodossis Demetracoplous were asked if any candidates were being encouraged to drop out. The former said of course not, the latter showed reporters, but not for photographs, what the ballot looked like. Alphabetical, with ST at the bottom.

  The other more open polling took place in Conference Room 9. George Clooney came to town, along with the author of "Night." The press stakeout was packed, with even radio reporters, especially the females, crowding in to take photos. A wise and raffish scribe offered a possible lede: "Clooney today urged the Council to green-light a mission to Darfur."

   The day at UN Headquarters ended with an event in the basement (video here), after which the local Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reflectively defended the failure to release the Ivory Coast report of the SRSG on the Prevention of Genocide.  Some reports, Mr. Craig Mokhiber said, are not meant to be released. They're for secret human rights diplomacy. Secret indeed...

UN's Annan Says Dig Into Toxic Dumping, While Declining to Discuss Financial Disclosure

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

  UNITED NATIONS, September 13 -- Calling for serious enforcement action be to taken against the companies responsible for dumping toxic waste in Abidjan in Ivory Coast, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday said the world "needs to be careful that the developing world, the poor countries, do not become the dumping ground for this type of waste."

            Inner City Press also asked Mr. Annan why he has apparently not filed his UN Financial Disclosure form, despite at least two statements by his spokesman that he would. Mr. Annan answered, "I honor all my obligations to the UN, and I think that is as I've always done." (Video here, from Minute 45:25, transcript here.) While technically the UN Financial Disclosure form must be filled out by all senior UN officials except the Secretary General, spokesman Stephane Dujarric has said Mr. Annan would file, in at least two press conferences this year.

  On May 3, Mr. Dujarric told reporters that Mr. Annan's "form will be filled out, I have no doubt" including so that the Secretary-General could "be an example to the rest of the staff who need to fill it out." In another briefing he repeated, "The Secretary-General will, as we had said, fill out the form." Now it's said the form has not been filled out, and Mr. Annan reverts to the cryptic position that "I honor all my obligations to the UN, and I think that is as I've always done."

            Behind the toxic dumping in Ivory Coast, which has killed six people and sickened ten thousand more, is a company which leased the ship and owned the waste, Trafigura Beheer BV, which also figured in the UN - Iraq Oil for Food scandal. In Abidjan, the Ivorian directors of Trafigura's subsidiary Puma Energie have been arrested. For the record, Trafigura states that it "acted lawfully." Facts on File reports that:

"in May 2001, the Essex tanker, chartered by Dutch oil-trading company Trafigura Beheer BV, had been topped off with an extra 230,000 barrels after inspection at an off-shore Iraqi oil platform. Trafigura had purchased the oil in the shipment from French oil-services company Ibex Energy France. The cargo had been seized in the Caribbean Sea after the captain alerted U.S. and U.N. authorities. Later, according to the Journal, Ibex's general manager, Jean Paul Cayre, in an affidavit filed with Britain's High Court of Justice, had said the two companies performed the same routine with the Essex in 2000, under Trafigura's direction, paying Iraq $5.4 million for the extra oil. At Trafigura's direction, Cayre said, the two companies had shredded records of the deals and replaced them with false ones."

Dump in Abidjan SG

    Documents tie French President Jacques Chirac's friend Patrick Maugein to the 25 million barrels allocated to Trafigura Beheer BV, which employed Patrick's brother Philippe as a consultant. Trafigura was accused of evading taxes on oil imports into Thailand; the International Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has taken testimony on Trafigura's involving in the Sudanese oil industry.

    Public reporting on Trafigura comes even closer to the current UN.  The Financial Times' Claudio Gatti one year ago reported:

"Kojo Annan, son of Kofi Annan, United Nations secretary-general, received more than Dollars 750,000 from several oil trading companies now under investigation for their role in the UN's oil-for-food program (OFFP) for Iraq. The funds were dispatched between 2002 and 2003 to an account Kojo  Annan opened under his middle name - Adeyemo - in a Swiss branch of Coutts bank... In 2003, one company - Trafigura Beheer BV, a Dutch-based entity founded by traders who formerly worked for the then fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich - sent $247,500 to Kojo Annan's account at Coutts... The company found records of the payment in question, but explained that it was related to a transaction with PPI, the Nigerian company that employed Mr Annan as a director. 'The request (of payment) was received from a PPI fax and it was assumed that this was a PPI account.' Mr. Annan's lawyer said PPI 'conducted business with Trafigura in 2002 and 2003' clarifying the deals were confined to Nigerian gas oil and petrol. PPI's representative in Geneva is Michael Wilson, a Ghanaian friend of the Annan family, who has attracted scrutiny in the oil-for-food investigation. Mr. Wilson and Mr. Annan both worked for Cotecna, the Swiss inspection company that in 1998 received a UN contract under the oil-for-food program ultimately worth $60 million. Between spring 2002 and spring 2003, Mr. Annan's Coutts account received over $200,000."

            Paul Volcker, in an interview last week, stated that Kojo Annan had lied during the Oil-for-Food investigation, and that Kofi Annan's failure to launch a credible investigation in a timely manner is something he will have to answer for. (MP3 here.) Some in the UN believe that Mr. Annan pulled back from his spokesman's commitments earlier this year that he would file Financial Disclosure due to complications such as the entrepreneurial projects of his son Kojo Annan, and believe that Mr. Annan is making an error by refusing to file or even explain why he has not filed.

            Inner City Press last week asked the spokesman's office point blank if Mr. Annan had filed, and was told that the official response is that Mr. Annan has met his legal obligation, and that this means that since the Secretary-General is the one high UN official who is not required to file, he has not done so. Inner City Press then referenced, without any response or explanation being given, previous statements on the issue:

            Under-Secretary General for Management Christopher Burnham on February 11, 2005, as summarized by the UN itself, said of the Financial Disclosure forms that "the Secretary-General would not only fill one out, but would probably be the first do so."

   On May 3, Mr. Dujarric told reporters that Mr. Annan's "form will be filled out, I have no doubt." In another briefing he repeated, "The Secretary-General will, as we had said, fill out the form."

    Now it's said the form has not been filled out, and Mr. Annan reverts to the position that "I honor all my obligations to the UN, and I think that is as I've always done" - that is, that he "acted lawfully."

  Just before 5 p.m. press time, Inner City Press again sought an explanation from the Spokesman's Office and was again told that the Secretary-General follows all laws, and no law requires his filing of the UN's Financial Disclosure form. Asked to explain the change between, for example, the May 3, 2006 statement that Mr. Annan's "form will be filled out," including "to be an example to the rest of the staff who need to fill it out" and what has happened (or not happened) since, there was no verbal response. Tough job, at least on this.

            Somewhat similarly, the incoming president of the General Assembly, Sheika Haya Al-Khalifa, was asked if she will during the coming year continue the private practice of corporate law through her law firm, which has represented among others the global banks HSBC, Mizuho, Arab Banking Corporation and BNP Paribas. (Click here for a sample project; video here, from Minute 21:55.) The response appeared to be that her firm will continue such representation; it was not clear that any safeguards are in place, despite the fact that such banks have partnered with the UN. Inner City Press asked about the UN Global Compact, corporations and human rights more generally. "You mean the NGOs?" was the answer.

  Analysis: one observer longed for the type of language used at times by Mr. Annan, for example that the world "needs to be careful that the development world, the poor countries, do not become the dumping ground for this type of waste." Less appealing is the statement by Mr. Annan, called incipiently Trafiguran by one wag, that he honors his obligations -- that is, acts lawfully. One (wag) wonders is that's the standard Mr. Annan was referring to in his comment that those who dumped toxic waste in Abidgan should be held to account.

  Mr. Annan concluded his press conference Wednesday by saying that today "people are aware of their human rights, and civil society has become very active in this. And I think it is a healthy development. And you also in many countries now are seeing very active press who are being heard and questioning. In some cases they are suppressed, and we should resist that." Hear, hear.

One update: Inner City Press still not not have a copy of the Secretariat's response to U.S. Ambassador John Bolton about housing subsidies to UN employees by governments. Requests for the document, of public interest, have been made to the Secretariat and to the U.S. mission, 24 hours ago. Developing...

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From the September 13, 2006, transcript:

[Inner City Press] Q: Mr. Secretary-General, this is on Cote d'Ivoire, following up on an earlier question. I know that you're meeting on the 20th of September in the G.A., or on the sideline of the G.A. Do you think with the postponed elections, when should they be held? Should President Laurent Gbagbo stay in power until the elections are held? And what about this toxic dumping that's taken place? It's actually by a company, Trafigura, which shows up in the Volcker report in connection with Cotecna.

Also, if you could just address one thing, and this is for your able spokesman, that said, Have you filed your financial disclosure and if so, why not?

SG: Let me take it in turn. First of all, on the question of Cote d'Ivoire, we are going to have a mini-summit here with all the leaders of the political parties and regional leaders. And we will resolve some of the issues that you have raised.

On the question of the toxic waste, I think that this is a serious issue. We need to be careful that the developing world and the poor countries do not become dumping grounds for these kinds of waste, and I hope serious action will be taken against the company and all involved. And of course UN agencies have been active in helping the Government resolve this.

As to your second, your third question, I honor all my obligations to the UN, and I think that is as I have always done.

[See above]

UN Admits To Errors in its Report on Destruction of Congolese Village of Kazana, Safeguards Not In Place

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

  UNITED NATIONS, September 11 --  The UN today admitted to some of the errors in its July 2006 report on its role in the destruction of the village of Kazana in the eastern Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

   After seven weeks of questions, the UN Monday acknowledged that it got even the date of the incident wrong in its report, and that it misstated the sequence in which Congolese soldiers and UN peacekeepers entered the village. In response to Inner City Press questions, UN Associate Spokesman Ari Gaitanis provided a written statement on behalf of the UN that before the UN peacekeepers entered the village, the Congolese army had burned the "huts" in the village down.

   The events at Kazana, and the UN's misleading self-exoneration seven weeks ago, highlight the dangers of the UN's decision to join forces with the Congolese army, known by its French acronym FARDC. Particularly in the eastern Ituri district, the FARDC includes former rebels and militias, many accused of human rights abuses. The UN's mission to the Congo, known by its French acronym MONUC, conducts joint military patrols with the FARDC. In Kazana in April, a village was burned to the ground, and the UN was left in the position of defending, some say covering up, the incident.

    Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesman's Office concerning the destruction of Kazana including by fire on June 19 and July 18.

   On July 28, the Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary General gave Inner City Press a one-page report stating

"There are media reports alleging that a number of civilian casualties may have resulted from a military operation by the Congolese armed Forces (FARDC) with the support of MONUC troops on 22 April 2006, in the village of Kazana, Ituri District, in North East DRC. These allegations have been thoroughly investigated and found untrue. On 22 April 2006, a joint MONUC (1 Pakistani company, 1 company South African) FARDC (3 companies) operation was launched against militia positions in Kazana. After being fired upon by hostile elements, MONUC and FARDC forces engaged the militia positions with mortar fire from 0600 to 1000hrs. At 1200hrs, MONUC and FARDC troops entered the village which was condoned and searched. During the operation which lasted was over [sic] at 1600hrs, 1 FARDC soldier was killed in action, 3 others were wounded, and 4 dead bodies were recovered."

       On July 28, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan about Kazana. Mr. Annan responded, "I do not have details on the issues you raise." Video here, at Minutes 16:45 through 18:18.

    On July 31, Inner City Press asked the head of UN peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno about MONUC's one-page self-exoneration. We are still looking at it, Mr. Guehenno responded.  On August 2, Inner City Press asked the head of MONUC, American William Lacy Swing, about the one-page report. Mr. Swing responded that from MONUC's perspective, "the investigation is done."

       Seven weeks later, Inner City Press submitted some further written questions to the UN Spokesman's Office, some of which are reproduced below along with answers the UN provided in writing on Monday:

Q.)  Our  sources  say  the destruction of Kazana occurred on April 21, not April 22. Which is it?

A.) The attack on the Kazana Village occurred on 21 April.

  Note: the report the UN handed out on July 28 didn't even have the date of the incident correct.

Q.)  The  one-pager  says  MONUC  and FARDC fired mortars from 0600 to 1000 hours. Our sources say it was from 0700 to 1400 hours. Which is it? Q.)  The  one-pager says MONUC and FARDC at 1200 entered the village "which was cordoned and searched." Our sources, including one who entered with the South  African Blue Helmets, say that FADRC entered the village first, from 1400 to 1500 hours, and set the houses aflame, and that MONUC did not enter until 1600 hours. Which is it?

A.)  On 21 April 2006, a joint action was launched to clear village Kazana. Elements  of 1 [Pakistani] company, elements of 1 [South African] company and 3 FARDC companies

participated  in  the  action. The engagement began at 0900. Opening mortar fire started with smoke rounds Fire support requested by FARDC was given by MONUC  forces  only on selected, and observed, positions from where militia were  engaging  joint  forces. After four hours of fighting UN peacekeepers and  FARDC soldiers conducted a search of the village and found no civilian casualties.  Before  the entry of MONUC troops entered Kazana (1 platoon of South African  company),  FARDC burned down huts.

  Note that in the report the UN put out on July 28, there was not admission that the huts of Kazana were burned down, nor that the Congolese soldiers entered the village before the UN peacekeepers did. The reason for the sequence, which allowed at least the burning of the village, is inquired into by Inner City Press' next question, which the UN declines to answer:

Q.)  As  FARDC forces advanced after 1400HRS they yelled over the radio for MONUC  to stop firing in case they got hit. The Pakistani mortar bombs that were  called  in  by  the  South  Africans  on that hillside overshot their targets and cut up a party of FARDC soldiers on the other side of the hill. One  FARDC soldier was hit in both legs. The FARDC soldiers were angry with MONUC  for  the  mortar friendly fire. That may be why the MONUC forces did not sufficiently quickly or thoroughly search Kazana. Please respond.

A.) Those are rumors which [the UN / Department of Peacekeeping Operations] has no comment on.

            Whether or not the UN's mortar fire hits Congolese troops is a questions of fact, not of rumor. These facts continue to be inquired into by the television journalist present at Kazana that day, Aidan Hartley. Sources tell Inner City Press that the UN was dismissive of Mr. Hartley's account in part because it came out just before the Congolese presidential election. Inner City Press has noted that the timing is related to that of broadcast television, not election-spoiling.

   Still unacted on by the UN are Inner City Press' requests to interview the MONUC commanders at Ituri, for updates on villages around Kazana, and for records underlying the UN's July 28 report and September 11 contradicting supplement. Inner City Press has told the UN spokespeople that there will be more questions. And there will be.

            Another questions Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesman on Monday concerned UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland speaking by phone with the LRA's Vincent Otti, who is under International Criminal Court indictment for war crimes including (ab)use of child soldiers, the Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary General confirmed the telephone call, and added that Mr. Egeland met face to face with Vincent Otti. Asked to asking the seeming incongruity between Mr. Egeland's call for the enforcement of ICC indictments and his meeting an indictee face to face, Assistant Spokesman Brendan Varma made reference to peace first. When it was pointed out that Mr. Egeland would in all probability not meeting face to face with those still on the lam from the Hague tribunal on the former Yugoslavia, Mr. Varma pointed out that those individuals are not at this point involved in peace talks, as are Vincent Otti and Joseph Kony. What this means for impunity remains to be seen, and remains to be asked of Mr. Egeland upon his return.

   Finally, an interim update: Inner City Press has been asking the UN spokesman's office and others for weeks about the propriety of governments giving free or cut-rate housing to UN employees, including as inquired into by a June 2006 letter to Kofi Annan from U.S. Ambassador John Bolton. (An employee of the UN showed Inner City Press the letter, which the U.S. Mission a week after inquiry was willing to confirm.).

  A week ago, Inner City Press asked the UN Department of Peacekeeping to "answer if any DPKO personnel receive free or cut-rate housing from a government (or non-UN, non-government) source."  No response has been provided.

   On Friday, September 8 Inner City Press asked outgoing General Assembly president Jan Eliasson about housing subsidies by government, and Monday Mr. Eliasson said it's a matter the Secretariat should deal with, should abide by rules and set principles of international civil servants, "I understand they are looking into it." Video here, from Minute 32:22.

  Monday UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press an answer would be coming soon. In a presentation later on Monday, Amb. Bolton stated that he has received a response, but that it is insufficient. Mr. Dujarric indicates that the matter will be addressed during his press conference Tuesday at noon, prior to the presentation by the UN's head legal officer. We'll see.

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