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March 1, 2011: Libya

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At UN, To Avoid Bank Question to Ban, Spokesman Replays UNESCO

By Matthew Russell Lee, Review

UNITED NATIONS, November 1 -- When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived, 13 minutes late, for a 30 minute press conference on Tuesday, his spokesman Martin Nesirky announced that Ban would take "at least one question."

  One assumed, given Nesirky's previous insistence on limiting the topics that can be asked about, that this question would be about Ban's "High Level Group on Sustainable Energy," a topic on which Inner City Press questioned Nesirky back on October 13.

  That question concerned why Ban put the chairman of Bank of America, which is been multiply protested as being the number one funder of mountain top removal coal mining, on his "Sustainable" energy group.

  When question time came, more extended due to broken UN technology to connect in a speaker from Sierra Leone, Nesirky did everything possible not to take the Bank of America question from Inner City Press.

  Nesirky even called on a journalist who had no hand raised, just to see if a question could be cajoled to kill the time. Previously at the stakeout after Ban Ki-moon cajoled re-election to a second five year term as Secretary General, Nesirky was so desperate for a friendly question that he called on an intern from the UN's own radio station, who asked Ban for his message to the world's children.

(Nesirky later blamed this on the intern for being at the stakeout, when for the record it was not her fault.)

  As Inner City Press said, "Sustainable energy question," Nesirky took two questions about UNESCO, after having already said Ban had spoken (if not answered) on the topic the previous day. Then Nesirky said there was no more time to question Ban, and Ban left.

  Inner City Press did manage, despite blockage by another member of Nesirky's or Ban's team, to ask the question, the gracious if disappointing answer to which will be reported in a separate story. Between the 12 and 12:30 press conferences, Nesirky canceled the daily noon briefing, just as he abruptly ended it on Monday with questions still outstanding.

(c) UN Photo
Ban &, blurry, Nesirky, blocking of questions & briefings not shown

  Nesirky's still relatively new Deputy, Eduardo Del Buey, handled the next press conference, about the UN Mine Action Service in Libya. Inner City Press asked a question, then was not allowed a follow up question by Del Buey - who proceeded to allow the next journalist to follow up. (We will have a separate story about the substance of the Mine Action press conference as well.)

  Last Friday October 28 with Del Buey conducting the noon briefing, numerous UN correspondents said things hit a new low, with no answers provided if Del Buey did not have a prepared answer or "line" with him.

  Several said to Inner City Press that it is shameful that the UN is being run, or represented, in this fashion by Nesirky and sometimes Del Buey.

   Several have proposed boycotting the briefing. Whlie that would seem to just give them what they want, what the other options are remains unclear. Nesirky still sometimes jokes, and it's appreciated, but most see him as getting worse. "They made him this way," as one correspondent put it, referring not only to Ban but his whole team of senior advisers.

 Inner City Press ended up asking Del Buey if he would just read out the "lines," since they had been prepared, so that the world would know what Ban's UN thinks. That not how we do it, Del Buey replied.

  Inner City Press considered writing a review of Friday's surreal briefing but decided against it -- again, Del Buey is still relatively new. Ultimately, Nesirky is responsible for his Office, and Ban despite Tuesday gracious hallway answer is responsible for Nesirky. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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