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At UN, Last Night Falls on Budget, of Scales, Bahrain and Human Rights

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 23 -- As the UN budget process moved into what should be its final night, Permanent Representatives milled around basement Conference Room 8, amid cigarette smoke and furniture set to be moved out the next morning.

  Beyond the two issues on which Inner City Press has so far exclusively reported -- the requests by Bahrain and Bahamas to pay less, and India's opposition to upgrading a human rights post -- the issue was when and how to review the scales of assessment.

  The 130 developing countries in the Group of 77 demand no review for the next three years. Western countries and other some others, who feel their ox is gored, are pushing for faster review.

  Mexico's delegation, for example, point out that they pay "over fifty percent of Latin America," even after suffering swine flu and a decrease in tourism.

  The Group of 77, which fell into some disarray during the climate change talks in Copenhagen, remains united in the UN Budget committee. They have thrown their weight behind Bahrain and the Bahamas, who are predicted to prevail in being dropped in peacekeeping assessment from Category B to C, with a 7.5% discount.

  Despite India's objections that human rights are being conflated with supporting an upgrade of a post, it is suggested to Inner City Press that "India will back down."

  President of the General Assembly Ali Treki has already met with Ambassadors, then retreated to his second floor office. One of his advisors remains in the basement, glad handing the chairman and secretary of the Budget Committee. There was talk of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who stayed hidden throughout the first budget vigil of his Secretary Generalship, waiting in the wings.

UN's Ban and Treki at another meeting, this year's budget not yet shown

  For the U.S. delegation, beyond their long time bow tied representative, Alejandro Wolff is in the basement, there's no sign of Susan Rice. Inner City Press asked Ambassador Rice earlier on Wednesday for the U.S. view on the budget, if she is satisfied with her Mission's level of involvement, and whether like at least her last two predecessors she believes the UN budget is too piecemeal, not transparent enough.

  Ambassador Rice replied that of course she is satisfied with her Mission's performance, and that the U.S. is very involved in making sure Missions get enough resources. But what about the when to review the scales of assessment? More fundamentally, what about the piecemeal budget process in which "add ons" comprise more than $1 billion? More blogging to follow: click here.

* * *

In Congo, UN's Doss Protected Shooter of Council's Plane, Lawlessness

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 23 -- As the UN's Mission to the Congo had its mandate whittled down to five months on Wednesday, more questions erupted about Mission chief Alan Doss, already under investigation for five months for nepotism.

  In mid 2008 when the Security Council members visited Doss and the MONUC mission he heads, they flew in a UN place to Goma in North Kivu. On the tarmac, as Inner City Press reported at the time, the plane suffered a bullet hole in its fuselage. The bullet came from inside, shot by a UN security officer Gery Brasselle.

  Mr. Brasselle, a Belgian national then at the "FS-3" staffing level, said he was trying to demonstrate that his handgun had no ammunition in it when it went off. Given volcanic lava then on the Goma airstrip, the larger UN plane in Kinshasa could not land.

  The Security Council Ambassadors had to take a UN bus, without any security guards, through the night to Kigali in Rwanda. It was assumed Brasselle would be disciplined.

  But, it emerged, Brasselle was the personal guard of Alan Doss. Thus, discipline was slow in coming, according to MONUC and UN headquarters sources.

UN's Doss and a UN plane, shooter and discipline not shown

  Finally Doss was ordered to impose discipline. He ostensibly removed Brasselle from his post.

  Doss, however, has a history of using his UN postings in any way he pleases. Beyond his written request that the UN Development Program violate applicable rules and give a job to his daughter, despite Doss still for his own reasons being a UNDP staff, beyond bringing his personal chef from the Mission in Liberia as an "engineer," Doss applied the same favoritism for Brasselle, according to well placed sources. (Doss has repeatedly refused to explain or address his nepotism e-mail or other issues raised.)

  Rather than discipline, Brasselle got a promotion to FS-4 level, and works even closer to Doss. And so it goes in the UN -- or, at least in MONUC. This does not help the UN's image in the Congo or beyond, particularly given the mounting allegations of MONUC's and Doss' implications in crimes of war. Is there accountability in the UN? For now, no. Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, Budget Fight for Bahrain and Bahamas to Pay Less, Death of UN Journal

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 23 -- In nighttime UN budget talks on Tuesday, Western countries faced off with the Group of 77 and China as to whether Bahrain and Bahamas should pay a lesser assessment for UN peacekeeping missions.

  Meanwhile, despite talk of "zero growth" budgeting at the UN, sources tell Inner City Press that the regular budget will rise, it is only a question of how much. The much hyped scale of assessments appears set to remain the same.

   The reformers, as they call themselves, who want to shift assessment to reflect the rising power of China and India and others, now only want to change the review process. But the G-77 wants that to remain the same.

  Special Political Missions, including the ever more controversial UN Mission in Afghanistan, are another bone of contention. An attempt is being made to forestall any targeted cuts. Click here for draft SPMs draft, exclusive to Inner City Press.

  At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Inner City Press greeted the UN's head of Management as she left the building, with shiny Christmas gift bags. While she said she is "on call," delegates of member states remained milling around by the Vienna cafe. That will shut down 2 p.m. on Thursday. "We'll finish by then," a delegate told Inner City Press.

UN's Ban and prime minister of Bahrain, budget growth and attempt to pay less not shown

  Click here for draft scale of assessements for the apportionment of expenses of the UN peacekeeping operations. Bahrain and Bermuda want to drop from B to C, but C is strictly defined.

Footnote: Up in the Delegates' Lounge, slated to close "for two years" at 7 p.m. on Thursday, there was grumbling about pretextual cost cutting by the UN, particularly in Publishing. As Inner City Press asked at Tuesday's noon briefing, ASG Franz Baumann has declared an end to paper copies of the UN Journal, which lists daily events.

  Many representatives of member states like the paper Journal, to tell them where to go. In meetings with staff, Baumann has claimed that 3.5 tons of paper is wasted each day. But workers say he's included cafeteria waste in the figure. The cafeteria will close, also with layoffs, on Thursday. There is advocacy for Bahrain and Bermuda, but little for those who do manual labor in the UN. And so it goes.

* * *

As UN Council Delays Eritrea Sanctions and Guinea, Buries W. Sahara, France in Mix

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 21 -- With Christmas four days away, the UN Security Council has scheduled a December 23 vote on sanctions on Eritrea, delayed at the request of France, while putting off consideration of the UN's report on war crimes in Guinea, because it is only in French. Meanwhile the promised briefing on Western Sahara, Moroccan sources gleefully tell Inner City Press, may not take place at all. Is this any way to run a Council and world?

Inner City Press asked this month's Council president Michel Kafando of Burkina Faso what has happened to the briefing on Western Sahara, which several Council members affirm was agreed to be consensus last week. "We are still in consultations," Kafando answered. Video here, from Minute 6:07.

  Asked when the Council will meet on the already leaked report on war crimes in Guinea, Kafando claimed that the Council does not yet have the report. Later at the stakeout it was clarified that until the report is translated from French into English, the Council will not meet on it. Whether the translation can be done and distributed by Wednesday is not clear.

  Murkiest of all is the resolution imposing sanctions on Eritrea. Last week it was said it would be put to a vote on Monday, with Libya abstaining or voting "no."

UN's Ban with Council members, Sahara briefing not shown

  But on Monday a Permanent Five member of the Council told Inner City Press that "France asked Uganda for a delay." Uganda, an IGAD member, is the ostensible sponsor of the resolution, and has confirmed France's request.

  Inner City Press has asked why France moved for the delay on the Horn of Africa sanctions resolution without receiving any on the record answer. Later, sources alluded to some unresolved French hostage issues. Watch this site.

As UN Official Is Accused of Hiring Relatives in African Mission, DPA Mute

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 21 -- A complaint of systemic nepotism in a UN mission, in the Central African Republic, has been raised and rebuffed by the UN Department of Political Affairs. The head of DPA's Africa II Division, according to whistleblowers, has placed relatives and friends throughout the United Nations Peace-building Office in the Central African Republic. Inner City Press, which has reported about the Central African Republic for three years, has received detailed reports, summarized below.

  Rather than simply write the story, six days ago on December 15 Inner City Press formally asked the director of DPA's Africa II Division Sammy Kum Buo the following questions:

Mr. Buo -- I am writing a story about this morning's Security Council session on BONUCA / Central African Republic. I am also covering management issues in BONUCA and DPA and am writing for you to confirm or deny on deadline each of the following [about BONUCA staffers]

Is Gabriel Buh Kang a relative of yours? A cousin?

Is BONUCA staffer Ekei a relative of yours? Your niece?

What is the status of Brindou Germain Kabran ?

When in CAR, have you stayed with Brindou Germain Kabran?

Did you still collect DSA? Please provide records.

What can you say about the case of Gozo Tshamala?

On deadline, Matthew

   Mr. Buo is also accused of hiring a former mercenary from Executive Outcomes, in violation of UN rules. While Mr. Buo has refused to respond, Inner City Press has discussed the matter with other Mission officials and finally, on December 21, with Mr. Buo's boss in DPA, Haile Menkerios. Mr. Menkerios confirmed he is aware of the issue. Inner City Press asked Mr. Menkerios what DPA's response would be. It is a management issue, Mr. Menkerios replied, that will be responded to in a management way.

  Previously, Mr. Menkerios' boss, and Ban Ki-moon's chief political official Lynn Pascoe has refused on camera to comment on a rift between himself and the two top staffers in DPA's Security Council Affairs branch, calling it an internal matter.

  But the abuse of UN funds for hiring relatives in a DPA administered mission is not an internal matter.

UN Day in Bangui, UN nepotism not shown or addressed
  There are other brewing DPA scandals, on hiring on other issues, on which Inner City Press is still waiting for substantive answers. But the matter of Central African Republic, which is on the Security Council's agenda for December 21, must now be moved forward on, given Buo's and now Mr. Menkerios' non answers. Watch this site.


Subject: BINUCA

From: Name withheld due to retaliation concerns

To: matthew.Lee [at]

Dear Matthew Please innercity should absolutely look into this matter which is serious WHAT IS GOING ON IN BONUCA/BINUCA?

DPA has created a new mission called BINUCA to replace BONUCA starting January 2010 in Central Africa Republic. For more than 9 years, BONUCA a DPA led mission was plagued with nepotism and favoritism... Of particular importance is the role played by Mr Sammy Kum Buo, the Director of Africa II, very famous with his absence of political judgment (remember Rwanda where he was advising the SRSG Booh Booh) who had succeeded in appointing a niece called Ekei as Administrative Assistant, a cousin called Gabriel Buh Kang in the finance section... the recruitment of the security Officer, Antonio de Jesus a former memeber of Executive Outcome was done in violation of all the recruitment rule procedures. Buo is trying to maintain in the mission his friend Brindou Germain Kabran where he lives when he is mission in CAR despite he, receiving the DSA.. His fellow Cameroonian... Marie Claire Bikia, recruited as administrative Assistant, is trying to be promoted Gender assistant. She went several times in Turin for gender training.

In order to cover this integrity issues, Sammy Kum Buo with the support of or not of Lynn Pascoe is currently deciding on the future of the staffs by trying to impress upon the new SRSG, the Ethiopian diplomat, Ms Zewde who is in her first experience in the UN and doesn't know the administrative procedure. Sammy Kum Buo would like to keep his cousin, niece and friends and sacrifying the other staffs. This is UNACCEPTABLE Inner city press should try to raised this issue

  Consider it done, or started. Watch this site.

* * *

As Galbraith Claims He Challenged UN Before Nambiar's Quote to NYT, UN Mute

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 21, updated -- After the UN's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar was quoted on December 17 that the UN knew its Afghanistan deputy Peter Galbraith was pitching the overthrow of Hamid Karzai to Joe Biden and this was "one of several factors" why he was fired, the UN refused to elaborate. This continued on December 21, when UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky declined to comment on Inner City Press' questions about Mr. Nambiar.

  Mr. Nesirky, previously answering Inner City Press' question, said that because Galbraith was challenging his termination, it would not be appropriate to comment. This was not said at the noon briefing when the question was asked. Rather, it was inserted later into the transcript.

   The next day, Inner City Press asked if Galbraith had launched his challenge before or after Vijay Nambair's quote. Nesirky said he'd check.

  Now Galbraith tells Inner City Press that this challenge was filed on December 10, well before Nambiar's comment. If true, the UN's stated reason for now refusing to comment appears in a different light.

  Being "tired" of l'affaire Galbraith is one thing. But the issue of fraud in the Afghan election, and the UN's role in it, should not be allowed to be buried on now specious legal grounds.

  In his e-mail to Inner City Press, below, Galbraith raises an issue of media ethics. Knowing both sides of this dynamic, Inner City Press for now simply presents Galbraith's submission, on which we will follow up.

UN's Nambair, back at right, with Gambari's who he's replacing in Myanmar, Galbraith's action not shown

  For now we say: whether one sides with the UN or Galbraith in this conflict, the issue of fraud in Karzai's election is larger. Watch this site.

From: Peter Galbraith
To: Matthew.Lee at
Sent: 12/20/2009 1:37:35 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: Re: Press Q from UN: did you disclose oil interest, if so did UN leak it?

I filed my action on December 10, before Nambiar's quote. Having failed to come up with a plausible explanation for my dismissal, the UN now seeks to use the legal action as a pretext to stop discussing the matter, and the underlying issue of how it handled fraud in the Afghanistan elections. The fact that Vijay Nambiar chose to speak out on my case after I commenced legal action places his quote--and the whole new York Times story--in a rather different context. At the time he wrote his story about my supposed plot to oust Karzai, New York Times reporter James Glanz knew I had started legal action but chose not to share it with the New York Times readers until a separate story the the next day which carefully did not say when the legal action began. For the record, there was no plan to oust Karzai and the story is a complete phony.

Like you, New York Times readers are smart enough to smell a rat in a story about an event that supposedly occurred two months earlier but is only "leaked" after legal action begins. It is too bad, Glanz did not think it important for them to know that.

I am more optimistic than you that the UN legal system will produce the accountability that is so important in this matter.

  Watch this site.

As UN's Ban "Divides and Rules" G-77, Pachauri's Bank Links Unexamined

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 21 -- While most observers and even participants describe the Copenhagen global warming talks as a disappointment, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday told the Press that they "sealed the deal" and were a success.

  Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban about the scandal erupting around the undisclosed business interests of the chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Rajendra Pachauri, from the Tata Group through Deutsche Bank to Credit Suisse, and about the criticism by the chairman of the Group of 77 and its now 130 member states.

  Mr. Ban entirely dodged the first question, paradoxically using it as an opportunity to praise business. On the second, he asserted that the chairman of the Group of 77 was not, in fact, speaking for the Group, since others' of its members spoke more positively.

  Moments later, Inner City Press asked Sudan's Ambassador to the UN about Mr. Ban's comments. "Divide and rule," he answered, calling the Copenhagen process "climate apartheid." This phrase steps back from his counterpart in Copenhagen who analogized it to the Holocaust.

Pachauri's conflicts of interest are extensive and emblematic of the UN's lack of transparency and safeguards.

UN's Ban and Pachauri, financial disclosure not shown

  As detailed in the Telegraph

In 2008 he was made an adviser on renewable and sustainable energy to the Credit Suisse bank and the Rockefeller Foundation. He joined the board of the Nordic Glitnir Bank... This year Dr Pachauri joined the New York investment fund Pegasus as a ‘strategic adviser’... He is on the climate change advisory board of Deutsche Bank... One subject the talkative Dr Pachauri remains silent on, however, is how much money he is paid for all these important posts, which must run into millions of dollars.

  So, notwithstanding the non-responsive answer Monday morning, does Mr. Ban believe that Pachauri should make public financial disclosure of these interests? Watch this site.

* * *

IMF Silent on Climate Change Proposal to Use Its Gold and SDR Interest

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 18 -- While world media reports that the International Monetary Fund might play a role in climate change adaptation funding, as proposed by among others George Soros, IMF spokesperson Caroline Atkinson told the Press on Thursday that how SDRs (special drawing rights) are used is "up to individual countries." Video here.

  But the proposal involves the IMF using the gold it holds, already ostensibly directed to less developed countries, for the purpose of adaptation. So shouldn't the IMF have a response?

  Sitting "idle" in the IMF's coffers are $150 billion for just 15 countries. But the IMF apparently doesn't have the funding or staff or commitment to prepare a transcript of its mere biweekly press briefing the same day it is held.

  Below are portions of the proposal.

Bella Center, venue of climate change talks, IMF not shown

Developed countries' governments are laboring under the misapprehension that funding has to come from their national budgets but that is not the case. They have it already. It is lying idle in their reserves accounts and in the vaults of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), available without adding to the national deficits of any one country. All they need to do is to tap into it.

In September 2009, the IMF distributed to its members $283 billion worth of SDRs, or Special Drawing Rights. SDRs are an arcane financial instrument but essentially they constitute additional foreign exchange. They can be used only by converting them into one of four currencies, at which point they begin to carry interest at the combined treasury bill rate of those currencies. At present the interest rate is less than one half of one percent. Of the $283 billion, more than $150 billion went to the 15 largest developed economies. These SDRs will sit largely untouched in the reserve accounts of these countries, which don't really need any additional reserves... The United Kingdom and France each recently lent $2 billion worth of SDRs to a special fund at the IMF to support concessionary lending to the poorest countries. At that point the IMF assumed responsibility for the principal and interest on the SDRs. The same could be done in this case.

The IMF owns a lot of gold, more than a hundred million ounces, and it is on the books at historical cost. At current market prices it is worth more than $100 billion over its book value. It has already been designated to be used for the benefit of the least developed countries. The proposed green fund would meet this could make the difference between success and failure in Copenhagen.

  So shouldn't the IMF have had something to say about the proposals? Watch this site.

* * *

On Food Speculation, UN's Expert Says Nothing's Being Done, S. Korean Land Grabs from Madagascar to Sudan, Brazil on Ethanol

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED 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 Wednesday.

  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.

   De Schutter spoke 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.

  Brazil might be 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

  After De 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.

Footnote: 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.

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

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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