Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

Your support means a lot. As little as $5 a month helps keep us going and grants you access to exclusive bonus material on our Patreon page. Click here to become a patron. 

MRL on Patreon

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube

More: InnerCityPro
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

With Guterres At UN-Geneva, Staff Work Stoppage Draws Threat, Guterres Flies 1st Class

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, 1st Person

UNITED NATIONS, February 26 – Hours after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who always flies first class, gave a self congratulatory speech in Geneva at the Human Rights Council's 37th session, "his" UN staff there began a work stoppage in protest. While we'll have more on this, for now the response by Guterres' UN is to issues threats against the collective action, below. So at the February 26 noon briefing Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the stoppage, the threat, and Guterres automatically flying first class. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: I'm sure you know that there was a work stoppage at the UN in Geneva today during the opening of the Human Rights Council.  And I've seen a… an email from Michael Møller to staff there essentially saying that they can be disciplined for… for this work stoppage.  And maybe I'm misreading it, but that's how… Spokesman:  I have not seen the email, so I can't comment on it. Inner City Press: What is the right of the UN staff to… if they have a grievance — you were just talking about the right to peaceful protest — if they have a grievance to… as… you know, have a… have a work stoppage, half-day work stoppage, in order to get the Secretary-General's attention? Spokesman:  I don't know the intricacies of the staff rules concerning work stoppages.  Obviously, people have a right to… have a right to air their grievances.  Staff also have responsibility towards their work. And what does the Secretary-General think of their grievances?  A lot of the them are… they're kind of economically related, and I wanted… what does he think of them? Spokesman:  I haven't seen their… the list of grievances.  I know there are issues relating to the International Civil Service Commission.  But, otherwise, I haven't seen the particulars… Inner City Press: I'd asked before about the travel budget and had been… had been… I'd seen it said that the Secretary-General and the Deputy have a right to, in every instance, travel… travel first class.  And it was said that this is for safety reasons.  And just in looking into it, there's a big controversy in the US right now about Scott Pruitt and… and… and others for travelling first class, they say, wastefully.  And a US Senator from Louisiana said he never travels first class because his constituents would be offended.  And I'm just wondering, what is the… what is the unique safety issue for the Secretary-General that he must always, in every case, fly first class?  And I'm relating it, I think, to the issues that are… have arisen today in Geneva leading to the work stoppage. Spokesman:  First of all, the travel rules are approved by the General Assembly.  The Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretary-General also often travel business when first class… because an increasing number of flights, planes, in fact, do not have first class, so they often also do travel business.  Thank you." So the only way Guterres does NOT fly first class is if it's full. Here's the UN's response:  "Dear colleagues, I refer to the communication from the UNOG Staff Coordinating Council with the title “Pay cut” announcing work stoppages to be organized in the context of a “Global day of Action”.UN Geneva recognizes and respects the right of staff to freedom of association. Staff are allowed to meet on the UN Geneva premises in a non-disruptive manner. UN Geneva also acknowledges the dissatisfaction of staff resulting from the ISCS’s determination on post adjustment for a number of duty stations. Notwithstanding the above, staff are reminded that actions which disrupt or otherwise interfere with any meeting or other official activity of the Organization, may be considered contravening the obligations under staff rule 1.2 (g). This includes any and all conduct which is intended, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the ability of staff or delegates to discharge their official functions. Based on guidance from UNHQ, staff are also reminded that action, such as work stoppage or other collective action, may be considered as unauthorized absence, and may result in administrative consequences in line with the staff regulations and rules.(Signed) Michael Møller Director-General of UNOG." UNreal. Guterres cited the February 24 resolution on Syria in the UN Security Council, and his work on Myanmar, where he defended his pro-government Resident Coordinator Renata Lok Dessallien to the end. But he did not mention his other failures in 2017, for example that in Cameroon where he went and took 36 year ruler Paul Biya's golden statue, and has done nothing on the torching of houses and refoulement of at least 47 people from Nigeria, while his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed was right there. He coasted through; on February 27 in Geneva he faces a half day strike by UN staff in Geneva. This as his spokesman Stephane Dujarric insists to the Press that a victim of sexual harassment by the UN system in India is not even alleging harassment, while both and UN Global Communicator Alison Smale continue to restrict Inner City Press which asks.  We'll have more on this. Last week, EU Special Representative for Human Rights Stavros Lambrinidis held "conversation" at the EU's offices in New York on February 20, Inner City Press thought there would be Q&A, to ask for example if there is a "penholder" system within the EU which would explain their silence, like France, on human rights abuses in Cameroon and elsewhere. But Lambrinidis, was in a reflective, or self-satisfied, mood. He said he's done a great job in the last five years and criticized unnamed countries for using Europe's freedoms to come peddle their subsidized bad ideas. He used France as an example of a good human rights record, and emphasized his Greek roots, even throwing in a reference to ouzo. Inner City Press has to leave and sprint back to the UN by 7 pm, the censorship curfew imposed on it for two years now for reporting on UN corruption. (Moment here). We'll have more on this. The deference of the UN system's and many of its member states to Cameroon's corrupt 35-year president Paul Biya, and their complicity in his recent crackdown, continues. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres accepted Biya's golden statue in late October 2017; now in February his humanitarian adviser Ursula Muller goes to Cameroon and won't even visit the Anglophone areas where Biya, disproportionately in Geneva, is killing people. Inner City Press on February 20 asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I'd asked you last week, with Ursula Mueller heading to Cameroon, whether, in fact, she would go to the Anglophone areas.  One reason I'm asking is, since you were here, a study by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project has said that Paul Biya of Cameroon has spent 4 and a half years during his tenure in Geneva, at a cost of some $200 million to the country that he's… up to a third of the year, he's gone.  So, I wanted to ask you whether… given that the Secretary-General took that golden… the golden statue — and you never did get back on what the gift registry number was — where is it?  And does he have any second thoughts given this troubling report of an absentee rule… Spokesman:  I have not seen the report.  I'm not going to comment on the coming and goings of Heads of States, whether they're from Security Council chambers or from their own country.  The… my understanding is that Ms. Mueller will not be going to the Anglophone areas.  That's what I was told. Inner City Press: Is there a reason for that?  Because she had a litany of what she considered the problems of the country, and if you do just a simple news search, you'll see that this is a… Spokesman:  No, I understand.  I'm sure the overall humanitarian situation in the country will come up in discussions." The overall situation? The new report details Biya's long stays outside of the country in Geneva, while his military kills Anglophones and the country declines. Biya has spent four and a half years in Geneva, at a cost of $65 million in hotel fees and $117 million for chartered private plane, sometimes left "on stand-by" for weeks at a time. The report goes one level down: "One of Biya’s closest confidants, Joseph Fouda, a military officer and special advisor, has accompanied him on at least 86 trips, amounting to more than three years of travel since 1993. He prefers a room on a top floor of the Intercontinental. Another close confidant, Martin Belinga Eboutou, 78, has spent nearly three years travelling with the president starting in 1987, when he was Cameroon’s ambassador to Morocco. The president attempted to buy a brand new private jet in 2004, but his staff reportedly cut corners on the deal, buying a defective plane covered by a fresh coat of paint that nearly crashed on its first flight. Since then, the president has chartered at least several private aircraft, including a luxury jet formerly owned by the government of Kazakhstan." Still UN Secretary General, himself a murky first class flyer, smilingly took Biya's golden statue and has done nothing; his advisers Khassim Diagne and the outgoing head of Political Affairs have assured him of Biya's bona fides or the wisdom of doing... nothing. The UN has failed. The UN refugee agency UNHCR in Abuja early on January 30 told Inner City Press that it has as yet no comment on the blatant forced repatriation or refoulement to Cameroon of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and 46 others while it seeks "explanations through official channels." (Later UNHCR issued a short statement.) On January 31, Inner City Press again asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here and below. When Inner City Press on February 8 put the refoulement question to Francois Delattre, the UN Ambassador of France which has supported Paul Biya's 36-year rule, Delattre replied that "We always have views but no comment from me at this stage." Video here. That is irresponsible - or another sign of France's responsibility for what is happening in the region. We'll have more on this - and now on Germany. Angela Merkel's "personal representative for Africa" Gunter Nooke showed up in Yaounde on February 15 trying as he does elsewhere to drum up business. With him was Ambassador Hans Dieter Stell; there was according to CRTV "the exchange of gifts symbolic of Cameroon's legendary hospitality." Another golden statue like UNSG Guterres took? At UN headquarters, as Inner City Press alone asked, Germany's Ambassador procured a publicly funded post for his wife by merely emailing Guterres' chief of staff. Inner City Press asked Dujarric and his deputy Haq - no real answer - while the only other question asked about it was how the information about the job had leaked. The media asking that is given full access to the UN by the UN Department of Public Information of British Alison Smale, a major Germanophile who continues to have Inner City Press restricted, its long time work space given to a no-show no-question Egyptian state media. We'll have more on this.

The United Kingdom's silence about the plight of Anglophone residents of the former British Southern Cameroons persists even in the face of a Freedom of Information Act request from Inner City Press.

More than five months ago on 15 August 2017 Inner City Press asked the UK government for records concerning Cameroon. After repeatedly extending the time to response, now the UK has denied access to all responsive records, letter here, saying that "the release of information relating to the UK’s discussion on UN business could harm our relations and other member states of the United Nations (UN)."

Here on Patreon is the full denial letter, from which Inner City Press is preparing an appeal, on Yemen as well - it has 40 working days.

This is shameful - the UK is also exiting transparency.

On February 6 in front of the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked the United Kingdom's Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen for the UK's comment on Nigeria's forced repatriation of 47 to Cameroon. From the UK transcript: Inner City Press: Nigeria did a forced repatriation of 47 Cameroonian leaders. The UNHCR said it was illegal. The US has commented on it. Does the UK have any view? Amb Allen: I’m afraid I wasn’t aware of that before. I’ll have to get back to you on the details." Video here. At day's end, a UK Mission spokesperson sent Inner City Press a short comment, here.

As Inner City Press pursues these questions at the UN, again it remains restricted to minders by the head of the UN Department of Public Information Alison Smale, who it is noted is British - and functionally a censor. A retaliator, too? As noted, Smale has not explained why Inner City Press' long time work space is assigned to no-show, no-question Egyptian state media Akhbar al Youm.

On Cameroon and Yemen, UK Denies Inner City Press FOIA Request After 170 Days, Preparing to Appeal, 40 Work... by Matthew Russell Lee on Scribd

Meanwhile the French government, which claims at the UN and elsewhere that human rights is in its DNA, has ignored the refoulement, limited its condemnation instead, via
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Von der Muhll, on "new killings of law enforcement officials that took place on 1 February in Cameroon."

In Yaounde, France's Ambassador Gilles Thibault is focusing, like Reuters' ostensibly charitable arm, on the cultivation of pepper, see here. This is colonialism.Are these the relations that the UK claims would be hurt by complying with FOIA? Watch this site.


Your support means a lot. As little as $5 a month helps keep us going and grants you access to exclusive bonus material on our Patreon page. Click here to become a patron.

Feedback: Editorial [at]

Past (and future?) UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA
For now: Box 20047, Dag Hammarskjold Station NY NY 10017

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

 Copyright 2006-2018 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] for