France is Asked about Evictions in Calais and Chad, UN Cuts Off
Questions, Jumps for Kouchner
Food Speculation, UN's Expert Says Nothing's Being Done, S. Korean Land
Grabs from Madagascar to Sudan, Brazil on Ethanol
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, October 21 -- After many speeches at the UN about the need
to crack down on financial speculation in food, nothing has been
done, the UN's expert on the right to food told Inner City Press on
Olivier de Schutter, a Belgian law professor just back
from a visit to Brazil about, among other things, the loss of land
for food to ethanol, replied that "nothing is moving at the
inter-governmental level." This despite a statement by the G-20
in April favoring the regulation of hedge funds which present
systemic risk. The argument is that commodities index funds which
speculate in food present systemic risk to net food importing
countries. But nothing has been done.
about the monopolization of the seed industry, and made a slew of
recommendations for governments. The three top monopolizers --
Monsanto, Dupont and the Swiss-based Syngenta -- are all members of
the UN Global Compact, and claim to comply with human rights. De
Schutter pointed out the antitrust law is directed as national and
not global or subnational markets. It is all very heady but one
wonders what effect it has.
one of de Schutter's claims to impact. He spoke glowingly of
President Lula, saying that Brazil has said that only 19% of land can
be used for sugar cane for ethanol, and has committed to monitor
labor rights. But what about, for example, Indonesia and Malaysia?
De Schutter, action on food speculation not shown
Schutter's briefing, Inner City Press asked his staffer for an update
on the proposed land grab in Madagascar by South Korea based Daewoo,
which was reputed after the coup in that country. De Schutter had
been scheduled to visit, but it was put off by the coup. The same
thing happened in Honduras. So perhaps De Schutter does have an
effect after all, mused one wag.
immediately after De Schutter's briefing, the UN's Haile Menkerios
was scheduled to speak to the Press about Madagascar. While the UN
usually compartmentalizes its work such that a rapporteur looks at
land grabs, while the Secretariat remains on "political affairs"
narrowly defined, this land grab played a role in the change of
government. Now it's said the South Korean deal is being pursued from
India, while South Korea appears to have moved on to 690,000 hectares
in Sudan. Watch this site.
Indigenous Expert Stymied in Russia, Does Not Engage in Myanmar, Will
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, October 19 -- Russia blocked the UN's expert on the rights
of indigenous people from visiting the site slated
for the Evenki dam
in Krasnoyarsk Territory, it emerged at the UN on Monday.
Press asked James Anaya, the UN's Special Rapporteur on the situation
of human rights and fundamental freedom of indigenous people, if he
had in fact been allowed to visit the site. The Russian
quoted Igor Kurtushin, deputy head of the territorial
administration’s department for external relations that "it
would not be easy to visit the Evenki sites due to peculiar weather
asked if Anaya had visit the contested
site, from which indigenous people would be evicted. No, he said,
in the agenda we were able to negotiate. Video here,
this, in fact,
due to the weather, Inner City Press followed up. "The weather
was good was I was there," Anaya answered, describing two
flights in Krasnoyarsk and an outdoor meal of reindeer parts. Video
from Minute 36:29.
contrasted to Panama, where the government allowed Anaya to visit the
site of a proposed dam. When Inner City Press asked about Ecuador and
conflicts there, Anaya said he is going in December, invited by the
seems too accommodating of governments. When Inner City Press asked
about Canada's refusal to sign on to the Declaration of the Rights of
Indigenous People, Anaya said Canada is moving in the right
direction, that he doesn't criticize countries if there is the
"possibility" of movement.
Inner City Press asked about the position of Botswana that nearly all
people there are indigenous, Anaya responded that he hadn't seen a
need to contest this position during his recent visit there. Given
that the position almost derailed the Declaration, it seems strange
to some to be so accommodative of it now.
Reindeer, UN's Anaya and Russia permit to visit not shown
it is to and
within the UN system that Anaya is most accommodative. Inner City
Press asked about the UN's REDD program, which was protested earlier
this month. Anaya said that the UN agencies want to address
indigenous issues. When Inner City Press asked about indigenous
people in Myanmar, Anaya responded that since there is another
rapporteur on Myanmar, he does not engage in Myanmar. Video here,
from Minute 49:22.
deference is not required: for example, the UN's expert on children
and armed conflict engages with Myanmar, rather than deferring.
Particularly given the issues that have arisen about the UN's special
rapporteur on Myanmar, for Anaya to say he'll do nothing in or about
the country ill-served indigenous people. Watch this site.
* * *
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, October 19 -- In his first media availability at the UN, new
French Ambassador Gerard Araud marked the International Day for the
Eradication of Poverty with a press conference on October 19.
City Press asked Ambassador Araud about his country's eviction of
immigrants from a camp near Calais last month, about the drowning of
residents of the Comoros trying to get to the French island of
Mayotte, and about mass
evictions in the capital of Chad, where the Idriss Deby government
receives substantial French support. Video here,
from Minute 25:32.
said immigration is an issues throughout the developed world, quickly
equating the drowning of those seeking to get to Mayotte with deaths
of African in the Mediterranean.
He said that
of the camp was because immigration should be restricted to that
which is legal, so that Europeans don't "become violent."
He said it was fair to be critical, he has seen such criticism of
U.S. policies as well, but these countries are democracies.
"answering about Chad is the easiest," and then proceeded
to say that his Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, the moment he got
the post, took in the lead is setting up peacekeeping mission in
Eastern Chad, first through the European Union and then the UN.
question was cut off by the UN's moderator, Rachel Mayanja. She said,
"before we proceed... I am surprised none of you want to take
advantage" of the boy on the panel, from Dominica, to "expose
his journey." Video here,
from Minute 31:55. But she had begun
by saying that the youth would be accompanied by a chaperrone from
ChildFund Caribbean, who was not on the podium.
compliant correspondent dutifully asked the boy about photography --
ChildFund saved him from being a criminal, he equally dutifully said
-- Inner City Press asked Ambassador Araud about the evictions done
by French ally Idriss Deby, did he have any answer? He shook his head
no. And the press conference was over. Video here,
from Minute 34:49.
the French journalists opined that Ms. Mayanja may have been trying
to protect or please France, a Permanent Five member of the Security
Council, by shifting from questions about France's record to what she
wanted journalists to ask and write about. This has become more
prevalent at the UN.
France's Gerard Araud at the UN on Monday,
Chad eviction answers not shown
note that Ms.
Mayanja's cutting off of questions cannot necessarily be ascribed to
Araud. The UN may offer protection where none is even requested. If
Ms. Mayanja wanted to play up the boy's story, why have him appear at
the French Ambassador's first press conference?
told Inner City Press that Bernard Kouchner called Ban Ki-moon
recently and told him the UN should launch an investigation of the
recent killing of some 150 protesters in Guinea Conakry. Ban did just
that; when Inner City Press asked, his spokesman said that it was at
the request of ECOWAS. But why didn't the UN launch any inquiry into
the tens of thousands of civilians killed in Sri Lanka earlier this
as the UN on
Monday sought to limit questions to the right kind of poverty, it
will only investigate the killings of the right victims: it all
depends on who the perpetrator is, and who provides protection.
also on the Chad evictions, Inner City Press asked this question last
week to Habitat's New York representative, and for an update on what
if anything Habitat did to follow up on supposed commitments by
Angola not to continue evictions. Video here.
A response was promised, but has
not been received. What was that again, about eradicating poverty?
* * *
UN, Iran's Mottaki Says Protesters Are Dealt With, Nuclear Sites All
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, October 1 -- In Iran "there are some people, a limited
number of people, who look for trouble and want to create unreal,"
Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the Press on
Thursday. "It is very clear how they should be dealt with."
from Minute 31:55.
session at the UN in New York, nearly all of which dealt with nuclear
issues, Inner City Press asked Mottaki about a story of
torture, rape and exile, which Inner City Press heard from Ebrahim
Sharifi by cell phone on September 21. Sharifi states that he
the non violent street protests then was picked up, blindfolded and
held for a week.
asked Mottaki if he acknowledged the veracity of any such charges, if
people can file complaints in Iran and what he thinks of the call for
a UN General Assembly special envoy to Iran on human rights issues.
from Minute 25:43, Mottaki's
reponse here from Minute
five minute answer became with calling the June elections "the
most glorious presidential elections in the history of the Islamic
Republic of Iran." Mottaki claimed the skeptics, once they
received an explanation, were convinced. This left a few trouble
makers -- "it is very clear how they should be dealt with."
UN's Ban, Ahmadinejad, Motakki and Zarif, pre election violence
Iran has vibrant NGOs, which rather than complain in Geneva to the
Human Rights Council come to the UN in New York to participate in
workshops about the rights on women.
program, Mottaki said that other than Qom, there are no other sites
not reported to the IAEA. The press conference ended with a report
for a newspaper in Israel calling for the floor, without receiving
it. He was told by the UN's spokesperson that the UN is an
"inter-governmental body... we cannot do anything about what
member states do." Apparently not.
before traveling to DC, wiled away the evening of September 29 at
Indonesia's Independence Day celebration in the UN Delegates' Dining
Room. There were satays, rice and noodles. One attending, chewing,
snarked that at such receptions, the quality of the food is in inverse
proportion to the amount of democracy in the hosting nation.
Inner City Press has previously written about, and
kebab diplomacy, click here for that. Seven thousand years of
* * *
Tales of Iran Torture, UN and Ban Urged To Speak, Treki Role
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, September 21 -- As Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepares to
speak Wednesday before the UN General Assembly, across First Avenue
on Monday two non-governmental organizations briefed the press on the
arrests and killings of protesters that followed the recent contested
election. By cellphone, 24-year old computer scientist Ebrahim
Sharifi told the Press about his abduction on June 22 leading to a
week of torture, mock execution and rape.
Sharifi has since fled Iran,
having been told the rest of his family is also in danger. He worked
on the campaign of Mehdi Karroubi; later, the government accused
Karroubi -- or Mir-Hussein Mousavi -- of paying Sharifi to make the
many of the
protests of Ahmadinejad's UN visit focus on the nuclear or Israel
issues, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and Human
Rights Watch on Monday called on the UN General Assembly to adopt a
resolution appointing a special envoy to Iran.
asked for the panelists' review of the performance of UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon on the Iran human rights and democracy issues.
Steve Crawshaw of HRW was typically diplomatic, saying that while he
is sure there is "robust" advocacy by the UN "behind
closed doors," it is "very important that [Ban] makes his
voice heard... repeatedly." In fact, Ban's Spokesperson has
been asked repeatedly for comment on Iran, and has declined comment.
UN's Ban and Ahmadinejad, talk and envoy on torture not shown
General Assembly is headed by Libyan Ali Treki, Inner City Press
asked if this might have any impact on the likelihood of the Assembly
addressing these Iran issues. Crawshaw, again diplomatic, said that
while he didn't wish to pre-judge, every country should be worried
when people are shot and killed. Yeah...
Footnote: at a
briefing for countries' missions to the UN, the NY Police Department
predicted 12,000 protesters of Ahmadinejad, diplomatic sources in the
meeting tell Inner City Press...
* * *
UN's Ban Shielded from Nepotism Questions, Scandals Brew, Defenses
Outsourced to Mission
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, September 17, updated twice
-- While questions having swirled all
around Ban Ki-moon's leadership of the UN, Mr. Ban belated held a
pre-General Assembly press conference on September 17. But the
management, human rights, nepotism
and even corruption short falls in
Ban's UN that have been discussed in diplomatic circles and in the
media were scarcely mentioned.
allowed on two human rights short falls, Sri Lanka
less on the nepotism scandals festering at the highest levels of the
UN. It's as if these issues were censored out, after having been
strangely outsourced to South Korea's Deputy Permanent Representative
to the UN, who recently invited Inner City Press to a lunch with only
one topic: the integrity of Ban Ki-moon. [See Amb. Kim Bong-hyun's
reply, in full below.]
it's not that
Team Ban is unaware of the questions. After a leaked e-mail by Ban's
envoy to the Congo Alan Doss surfaced and was first published by
Inner City Press, Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe told
Press Ban was very concerned and expected a report on the matter when
he returned to New York from his vacation in South Korea.
month ago but when Inner City Press, denied a chance to question by
Ban's Spokesperson Michele Montas, asked Ban on his way out about the
case of Alan Doss, Ban muttered "that is still going on,"
presumably referring to the investigation.
who previously referred Inner City Press to Ban's main adviser Kim
Won-soo about the issue (Mr. Kim subsequently canceled the meeting),
should at least have allowed a question about Ban's actual management
of the UN.
Ban's lack of
action is attributed by some, including
prospectively a major U.S. newspaper, to questions about two recent
hirings of Ban's son in
law Siddarth Chatterjee. First he was hired,
without any competitive process, by Ban's envoy in Iraq Staffan de
Mistura to be his chief of staff, a position for which many said
Chatterjee did not have the diplomatic and political background.
had previously hired the son of Kofi Annan's chief of staff Iqbal
Riza, many saw a pattern, of the hiring of top UN leaders' children
as a way for far-flung officials to be viewed favorable in
de Mistura left
Iraq, Ban's son in law resurfaced hired by the UN Office of Project
Services to head a whole regional bureau. While UNOPS refused to
answer the simple question of whether Chatterjee's job is at the D-1
or D-2 level, it has since emerged that the post was upgraded to D-2
in connection with a process in which Ban gave UNOPS more freedom
over its human resources practices. While it is said Chatterjee for
now is at the lower of the two Director levels, he can be upgraded at
any time, without public announcement.
supposedly lateral moves resulting in reality in a meteoric rise up
two levels," as one observer wryly puts it, "only at the
UN." Meanwhile Chatterjee
has taken to telephoning Indian
newspapers which have picked up Inner City Press' coverage of the
issue and telling them to remove articles and comments from the
Internet, in the face of legal threats.
adviser Kim Won-soo canceled the meeting, which it was emphasized would
be off the record or on background, about the still unanswered
Chatterjee questions, Inner City Press received a lunch reach-out
from the Deputy Permanent Representative of South Korea's mission to
the UN, Kim Bong-hyun. Over a sizzling bowl of beef and noodles, the
Kim repeated again and again that Ban is a man of integrity, although
from an earlier generation of Korean diplomats.
UN's Ban on Sept. 15, report and action on nepotism
Kim made detailed
arguments about Ban's son in law's promotions and threats for
censorship; that seemed to be the purpose of the lunch. On the Alan
Doss matter, he first expressed concern about the "leeway"
e-mail, then recovered and argued that Ban's hands are tied by rules
making it difficult to fire UN staff. But Doss is Ban's personal
envoy to the Congo. There is no way to pass the buck. DPR Kim nodded
and said Ban would be sure to know and do something about the Doss
issue. But it hasn't happened yet.
DPR Kim gave no indication that his outreach was off the record or even
on background, normally these
indirect defenses of Ban would not have to be used or reported, if
Ban himself would address the issues in at least one of the fifteen
largely scripted answers he gave on Thursday. A weak communications
strategy has helped get Ban into the situation is his, entering this
General Assembly. And thing do not appear to be getting better.
Ban's Spokesperson, as Inner City Press first publicly reported, is
set to retire in November. Those who multiple
sources say are vying to replace
her include Eric Falt of the UN Department of Public Information [but see below], two
journalists who have covered the UN, and an official of the UN
mis-hiring scandal, which Inner City Press asked
about in writing on August 27 has still not been answered to or even
Watch this site.
of Sept. 17, 4:45 p.m. -- For the record we have received this
denial from Mr.
Falt: "I wish to inform you that I am very happy with my job as
Director of Outreach in DPI and am not currently applying to any
communication has been received from the South Korean Mission to the
UN, clarification has been sought, but has not yet been received. Watch
Second update -- we have received
the following from Ambassador
Kim of Korea and
publish it in full:
from Amb.Kim of Korea
Matthew Lee [at] innercitypress.com
just read your article titled "with UN's Ban Shielded...."
of Sept. 17, 2009. I found that facts of the article were distorted
and I was misused. My purpose to invite you to the lunch the other
day was to exchange views about agenda of the new session of the GA.
message to you was that the press should listen to both parties
concerned, otherwise the press would lose its balance and
on the contray to my intention, you initiated to explain the stroy of
Alan Doss to me, including the biting rumor of a staff of UNDP and
quoted me as making detailed arguments about SG's son in law.
did not know the story of Alan Doss at all and I din not know the
details on the stroy of the son in law of the SG. I answered to your
questions as to the two cases based on my common sense as a career
diplomat. I answered that there were rules and regulations for hiring
and firing staff in any organization. I added that I knew there was a
commission for the appeal of staff in the case of infringement of
interest. Also I urged you to look into the rules and regulations
about the prodedure of promotion in the UN.
said that the procedure of promotion regarding to the son in law of
the SG was supposed to be transparent and based on merits. I further
expressed my view that answers related to those questions should be
sought in the framework of the legal institution of the UN and
advised you not to try to personalize the issue.I strongly request
you to carry the above explanation in your blog as an exercise of
right of reply.
Deputy Permanent Representative
Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations
with the right to reply, we nonetheless note that very little was
said about the upcoming General Assembly session, while much was said
about the Mona Juul memo, the possible motives and the "Asian"
style of diplomacy. Detailed arguments were made about whether the
Secretary General's son in law was initially a P-4 or P-5, and is now
a D-1 or D-2 (the post has been upgraded to D-2). If nepotism is a
problem in the UN, as many think it is, it is difficult to report on
and address the issue without giving specific example: that is,
personalizing the issue.
seems significant is that while the Secretary General and his team
are reticent to address or even take questions on these nepotism
issues, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Secretary
General's native South Korea made the arguments, with detailed
information about the Secretary General's son in law.
this may be
a credit to Ambassador Kim Bong-hyun, these arguments should be
coming, on the record, from the Secretariat itself, and they should
not be evading or not allowing questions on the issue. Frankly, it is
unclear if Ambassador Kim Bong-hyun disagrees with this analysis of
the weakness of the Secretary General's current Office of the
Spokesperson. But we appreciate his right of reply and so publish the
above in full. Watch this site.
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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