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
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,
[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
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
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.
amplification, Sept. 22, 1 p.m. -- From the Sept. 15 noon briefing
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.
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.]
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
at Minute 45:25.
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
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
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
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."
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
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
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.
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
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
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?
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
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
Reporter's mobile: 718-716-3540
UN, Stonewalling Continues on Financial Disclosure and Letter(s) U.S. Mission
Has, While Zimbabwe Goes Ignored
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
September 15 -- "I have nothing beyond what the Secretary-General told you on
Wednesday," UN spokeswoman Marie Okabe said Friday, responding to Inner City
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
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."
on the turmoil in Ivory Coast and
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
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
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.
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
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 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.
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
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.
UN, Financial Disclosure Is Withheld As Freedom of Information Is Promised, Of
Hollywood and Dictators' Gift Shops
Matthew Russell Lee at the UN
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
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
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
August 28, Inner City Press had asked U.S. Ambassador John Bolton at a stakeout
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.
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
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.
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
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
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
NATIONS, September 13 -- Calling for serious enforcement action be to taken
against the companies responsible for
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."
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
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
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
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
Dump in Abidjan
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:
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
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."
Mr. Dujarric told reporters that Mr. Annan's "form will be filled out, I have no
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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
Reporter's mobile: 718-716-3540
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
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
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.
Admits To Errors in its Report on Destruction of Congolese Village of Kazana,
Safeguards Not In Place
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
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.
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,
Press asked the UN Spokesman's Office concerning the destruction of Kazana
including by fire on
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
at Minutes 16:45 through 18:18.
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."
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.
the report the UN handed out on July 28 didn't even have the date of the
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.
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.
A.) Those are rumors which [the UN /
Department of Peacekeeping Operations] has no comment on.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Other Inner City Press
reports are archived on
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Micro-States Simmer Under the Assembly's Surface, While Incoming Council
President Dodges Most Questions
is How UN Officials Getting Free Housing from Governments Would Leave
U.S., Referral on Burma But Not Uzbekistan
President Condemns UN Officials Getting Free Housing from Governments,
While UK "Doesn't Do It Any More"
At the UN,
Incomplete Reforms Allow for Gifts of Free Housing to UN Officials by
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From If Not In Chad While Blind on Somalia and Zimbabwe, UNDP With Shell
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Ties With Purchaser from Compass, Embroiled in UN Scandal, Raise
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Casamance to Transdniestria, Kosovars to Lezgines, Micro-States as
Housing Subsidies Contrary to UN Charter Goes Ignored for 8 Weeks, As
Head UN Peacekeeper Does Not Respond
Triggers Kofi Annan Call, While Agent Orange Protest Yields Email from
On the UN -
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Challenging Regions- AmSouth Merger
Missed by UN's Budget for Travel and Consultants in Bangladesh, Largest
UNIFIL Troop Donor
Hezbollah, While UN Dances Around Issues of Consent and Sex Abuse in the
Congo, Passing the UNIFIL Hat
With Somalia on
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In UN's Lebanon
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At the UN,
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Russian Gambit Focuses Franco-American Minds, Short Term Resolution Goes
Blue Amid Flashes of Lightening
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Talks and Kofi Annan's Views
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Floats Past Questions on Water Privatization and Sweatshops, Q'Orianka
Kilcher in the Basement
In the UN
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Shebaa Farms Solution?
UN Silence on
Congo Election and Uranium, Until It's To Iran or After a Ceasefire, and
Council Rift on Kony
At the UN Some
Middle Eastern Answers, Updates on Congo and Nepal While Silence on
Franco-American Resolution Reviewed at UN in Weekend Security Council
UN Knew of Child
Soldier Use by Two Warlords Whose Entry into Congo Army the UN
At the UN,
Disinterest in Zimbabwe, Secrecy on Chechnya, Congo Polyanna and
Ineptitude on Somalia
the Air, at the UN in Kinshasa and NY, for Kony and Karim and MONUC for
UN Still Silent
on Somalia, Despite Reported Invasion, In Lead-Up to More Congo Spin
Says Congo Warlord Just Needs Training, and Kazana Probe Continues
Elections Approaching, UN Issues Hasty Self-Exoneration as Annan Is
In DR Congo, UN
Applauds Entry into Army of Child-Soldier Commander Along with Kidnapper
Congo, UN Admits Hostage Deal with Warlord That Put Him in Congolese
At the UN, Dow
Chemical's Invited In, While Teaming Up With Microsoft is Defended
Questioned about Congolese Colonel Who Kidnapped Seven UN Soldiers
At the UN,
Speeches While Gaza Stays Lightless and Insurance Not Yet Paid
At the UN
Poorest Nations Discussed, Disgust at DRC Short Shrift, Future UN
At the UN
Wordsmiths Are At Work on Zimbabwe, Kony, Ivory Coast and Iran
UN Silent As
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the UN, New Phrase Passes Resolution called Gangster-Like by North Korea; UK
Deputy on the Law(less)
Speaks of "Political Overstretch" Undermining Peacekeeping in Lower
In Gaza Power
Station, the Role of Enron and the U.S. Government's OPIC Revealed by UN
At UN, North
Korean Knot Attacked With Fifty Year Old Precedent, Game Continues Into
Partnerships Will Be Reviewed, While New Teaming Up with Microsoft, and
Vetoed by U.S., While North Korea Faces Veto and Chechnya Unread
Like Pipeline, Skirts Troublespots, Azeri Revelations
Interest in UNHCR Program with SocGen and Pictet Reveal Reform Rifts
At the UN, A Day
of Resolutions on Gaza, North Korea and Iran, Georgia as Side Dish
UN Grapples with
Somalia, While UNDP Funds Mugabe's Human Rights Unit, Without
In North Korean
War of Words, Abuses in Uganda and Impunity Go Largely Ignored
On North Korea,
Blue Words Move to a Saturday Showdown, UNDP Uzbek Stonewall
As the World
Turns in Uganda and Korea, the UN Speaks only on Gaza, from Geneva
North Korea in
the UN: Large Arms Supplant the Small, and Confusion on Uganda
UN Gives Mugabe
Time with His Friendly Mediator, Refugees Abandoned
At the UN,
Friday Night's Alright for Fighting; Annan Meets Mugabe
Abuse in Uganda, But What Did Donors Know and When? Kazakh Questions
In Uganda, UNDP
to Make Belated Announcement of Program Halt, But Questions Remain (and
The New Vision,
Abuse in Uganda Leads UN Agency to Suspend Its Work and Spending
Abuse in Uganda Blamed on UNDP, Still Silent on Finance
Alleged Abuse in
Disarmament in Uganda Known by UNDP, But Dollar Figures Still Not Given:
What Did UN Know and When?
Strong Arm on
Small Arms: Rift Within UN About Uganda's Involuntary Disarmament of
UN in Denial on
Sudan, While Boldly Predicting the Future of Kosovo/a
Vision on Somalia and Wishful Thinking on Uighurs
Predicts The World Is a Ghetto, But Will Finance Be Addressed at
Vancouver World Urban Forum?
At the UN, a
Commando Unit to Quickly Stop Genocide is Proposed, by Diplomatic Sir
Concerned About Use of Terror's T-Word to Repress, Wants
Freedom of Information
UN Waffles on
Human Rights in Central Asia and China; ICC on Kony and a Hero from
At the UN,
Internal Justice Needs Reform, While in Timor Leste, Has Evidence Gone
UN & US,
Transparency for Finance But Not Foreign Affairs: Somalia, Sovereignty
and Senator Tom Coburn
In Bolton's Wake,
Silence and Speech at the UN, Congo and Kony, Let the Games Begin
Pro-Poor Talk and
a Critique of the World Trade Organization from a WTO Founder: In UN
Lull, Ugandan Fog and Montenegrin Mufti
Forgotten in UN's War of Words, Bolton versus Mark Malloch Brown: News
In Praise of
Migration, UN Misses the Net and Bangalore While Going Soft on Financial
UN Sees Somalia
Through a Glass, Darkly, While Chomsky Speaks on Corporations and
Everything But Congo
AIDS Ends at the
UN? Side Deals on Patents, Side Notes on Japanese Corporations,
Salvadoran and Violence in Burundi
On AIDS at the
UN, Who Speaks and Who Remains Unseen
Corporate Spin on
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Nightmares, from Ituri to Kasai. Au Revoir Allan Rock; the UN's
Warlords, Insulated by Latrines: Somalia and Pakistan Addressed at the
The Silence of
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Council Has Its Own Hanging Chads; Cocky U.S. State Department Spins
Child Labor and
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Editor Arrested by Congo-Brazzaville, As It Presides Over Security
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at the UN, But Not the Global Compact; Teaching Statistics from
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Ripped Off Worse
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Outer Boroughs in 2005, Study Finds
Burundi: Chaos at
Camp for Congolese Refugees, Silence from UNHCR, While Reform's Debated
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Metered by Shell, While Basrah Project Remains Less than Clear
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Cash Crop: In
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In the Sudanese
Crisis, Oil Revenue Goes Missing, UN Says
Empty Words on
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What is the Sound
of Eleven Uzbeks Disappearing? A Lack of Seats in Tashkent, a Turf War
Collective Punishment and Electricity; Lights Out on Privatization of
Cleansing and (Money) Laundering, Says Georgia
Human Rights Abuses, including by UNDP in the Maldives
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Dissembles at United Nations Environmental Conference
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