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On Internship in UN for Sale, Nesirky Said Modified, DPI Says "Hurts UN"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 7 -- The auctioning of an internship in the UN for over $20,000 was exposed by Inner City Press on May 1 and asked about since then, for four days in a row. But UN spokesman Martin Nesikry on May 6 complained to Inner City Press he was answering "for the umpteenth time."

  Four days of questions is not "umpteenth," which by definition must be more than twelve.

  And on the fifth day, May 7, Nesirky ended the briefing abruptly, amid a question about Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Syria chemical weapons prober Ake Sellstrom, video here.

  So Inner City Press could not answer an obvious follow up about the internship, which is still being auctioned, under photograph of UN Headquarters.

On May 6, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: this internship at the UN question, just one follow-up. I have spoken this morning with a P5 member of the Security Council who suggested that the UNís remedy may be to not allow someone who wins the internship for $26,000 to actually come in. I am not aware of that being something the UN could do. Whatís the UNís thinking? Is there any update? Can you respond to the suggestion by a mission to the UN that thatís what the UN either could or should do?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, just to repeat, for the umpteenth time, Matthew, that the internship being auctioned off on this website,, is not a United Nations internship. The details of the internship in question have been amended on the website to clarify that the internship is not with the United Nations. And, as we have said repeatedly ó and I just said just now ó internships at the United Nations are not for sale and they cannot be put up for auction.

Inner City Press: So, when it says a way to learn how the UN works and to get your foot in the door, does that mean a foot in the door with a particular NGO or with the UN system?

Spokesperson: As I have said, Matthew, internships at the United Nations are not up for sale and the details of the internship in question have been amended on the website.

  Inner City Press wrote about the scandal, again, on the evening of May 6 (it was another of Inner City Press' pieces that night with which Nesirky took issue on May 7, taking out a print out and reading from it, video here.)

  Then on the morning of May 7 the head of Outreach for the UN Department of Public Information Maher Nasser took out his own print out, of the auction ad as amended, and said "this hurts the UN." Video here, from Minute 2:05. He said it is now "in the media."

  The ad says the auction benefits the RFK Young Leaders, a part of the RFK Center, whose press contact Meaghan E. Baron did not respond to detailed messages left by the Press on both of her listed numbers.

  Nasser said the UN will not necessarily let in the person who wins the internship (currently one "m. alam" for $26,000), "because we control the process" -- precisely what Inner City Press asked Nesirky about the day before.

  If Nesirky had not so abruptly ended the briefing, it might have been possible to get his gloss on what seems to be a split between DPI and the UN Office of Legal Affairs under Patricia O'Brien. They have had the case since May 1, but the image of the UN, and the language about "foot in the door," remain in the ad.

  We'll have more on the Office of Legal Affairs tomorrow. Watch this site.

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