UN's Ban, the Hits Just Keep On Coming, Bad First Half Reviews Trigger
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: Media Analysis
NATIONS, July 1 -- Halfway through a torrent of less than favorable
reviews of the first half of his five year term as UN Secretary
General, Ban Ki-moon and those around him have suddenly sought more
and more tightly controlled press coverage. Outlandish claims of
accomplishment are made, that Ban saved 500,000 people in Myanmar,
that he is the second most trusted leader in the world, and number
one on climate change.
The strategy is viewed as risky, even by UN supporters. On June 30 a
senior Security Council diplomat told Inner
City Press that Ban should just "lie low" for the rest of
the summer and use the time to replace some of the advisers and
officials who have brought him to this point, who "don't seem to be
able to tell Ban what is really going on."
While the first part of
this advice is not being followed, perhaps the latter will be, or
some officials will simply leave for their own reasons.
of reviews of Ban's performance began with a report
card in The
Economist, ranking Ban three out of ten for "speaking truth to
power" and two out of ten for management. Inner City Press asked
Ban to respond, during his last press conference.
passion, Ban lashed out at his critics, saying he needs more
resources, he needs more support. What followed were even more
negative reviews, in the Financial Times and Foreign
publish counter offensive. Ban appeared on the Charlie Rose
television show, where he made his claim to have saved half a million
Burmese. This exact phrase had earlier been deployed in interviews
with publications now preparing their own Ban first half reviews.
major newspapers are now competing on who will come out first, while
a third -- a ailing West Coast daily which no longer covers Ban's UN
day to day -- has been brought in on little notice with the
expectation that its verdict will be more positive. In the interim,
UN supporters have been countered with mostly online
trip beginning in Japan then Myanmar, Ban did a separate sit-down
with Japanese reporters. Rather than tell the whole UN press corps
about the Burma trip, his Spokesperson's Office pre-selected not only
the organizations which would be allowed to come, but even
fear, as one of Ban's 38th floor advisers
told Inner City Press, is that Burma may become "Sri Lanka Two,"
an embarrassment in which the re-imprisonment
of Aung San Suu Kyi,
like the bombardment then internment of Tamils, is legitimated by a
seemingly hapless UN Secretary General. But if that is what happens,
who can it be reported differently?
Ban dealt with Kosovo -- going silent when asked about the legality
from the UN perspective of recognizing the theretofore Serbian
provinces' unilateral declaration of independence -- and then with
Abkhazia and South Ossetia are fodder for forthcoming reviews, as is
Ban's claim to have been responsible for the deployment of UN
peacekeepers in Darfur. There are pieces in the works, unless
destructive deadline competition curtail them, to assess and take
apart even Ban's claims on climate change.
recently reach-out to selected media is undermined, meanwhile, by
anti-press initiatives by his management and Capital Master Plan
officials. These were summarized in a "Dear Colleague"
letter circulated to the 435 members of the House of
earlier this week, the text of which is below.
At UN, Team Ban's anti-Press strategy going goodbye?
by past and continuing media reports of corruption, mismanagement and
inaction at the United Nations, the UN is again seeking to cover up
evidence and stifle freedom of the press.
on May 8
about 'reporting by the press,' high level UN officials discussed
sending threatening letters to several press agencies and other
bodies, as well as complaining to Google News about a small,
independent news agency that has uncovered numerous UN scandals. Last
year, a similar complaint resulted in that agency's temporary removal
from Google News. In response to a question about that meeting, the
Secretary General's spokeswoman furiously retorted, 'I don't have to
account to you for meetings I participate in.'
of Management is also reportedly pushing to obstruct press coverage,
seeking to charge media outlets $23,000 to maintain office space, and
to move journalists covering the UN into open, un-walled offices --
deterring whistleblowers from coming forth and preventing oversight.
restrict press freedom and oversight directly contravene the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognized that
'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression... and
to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media
and regardless of frontiers.' Once again, the UN is actually
undermining the principles on which it was founded."
May 8 meeting,
involving Under Secretaries General Angela Kane (Management), Kiyo
Akasaka (Public Information) and Patricia O'Brien (Legal Affairs), as
well as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's speech writer Michael Meyer
and Spokesperson Michele Montas, was memorialized in a
memo from Ms.
Kane to Ban.
City Press was shown the memo, wrote
asked Ban's spokeswoman Michele Montas about it by email, along with
the three USGs, none of whom has yet to explain how their
participation is consistent not only with the First Amendment, which
they say does not apply, but even to the cited Article 19 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Michele Montas is widely reported to be leaving in November. His
speech writer is said to still review to his previous employer,
Newsweek, as "we." Angela Kane, who convened and summarized
the anti-Press meeting, is said by Staff Union sources to be leaving.
The UN's top lawyer is rarely if even seen in the building, having
done only one press conference in all her time on the job.
senior adviser Kim Won-soo has yet to do any on the record press
conference, although he speaks extensively on background for the
forthcoming Ban reviews. He and Ban are joined at the hip. Whether
the press strategy adopted by the 38th floor is working is in serious
doubt, as is whether Ban will take the symptomatic advice offered
Tuesday, to in essence lay low, shake up and start over. Watch this
* * *
E-mails Allege Plot to Deny Ban a Second Term, Trick for Supachai at
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: Exclusive
NATIONS, June 24 -- Weeks after the filing with the UN investigative
unit of emails showing a dirty tricks campaign by staffers of UN
Conference on Trade and Development chief Supachai Panitchpakdi to
get a second term, on Wednesday UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
nevertheless announced he is supporting Supachai for another four
Inner City Press, which exclusively
reported the filing on
June 22, asked Ban's spokesperson if Ban had considered its
and acknowledged any connection between them and the reappointment.
most explosive part of the emails, being
published for the first time
today by Inner City Press, are the arguments made in a May 8, 2009
email by Supachai's special adviser Kobsak Chutikul, that African and
other countries were supporting Ivory Coast's former trade minister
to deny Supachai from Thailand a second term in order to set a
precedent to deny Ban Ki-moon a second term as Secretary General, due
to "his perceived Western backers."
spokesperson declined to comment on the filing, saying it is before
the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services. Video here
10:45. But senior Ban officials including Management chief Angela
Kane and Ethics Officer Robert Benson have had the complaint since
June 4. Meanwhile, the complainant has reportedly been demoted.
City Press asked Supachai if his UNCTAD has any whistleblower
protection provisions. Yes we will follow those, Supachai answered.
He claimed he "never campaigned," despite what the emails
show his special adviser Kobsak Chutikul doing. He claimed he only
"responded to some countries' remarks." Video here,
these statement, Inner City Press is today publishing some of the
emails at issue, here.
UN's Ban and UNCTAD's Supachai: a snub of latter hurts former?
In a May 8, 2009 email marked Attachment E and
headlined, "NAM Note Verbale," Chutikul wrote to three
senior UNCTAD staff, including the subsequent complainant:
please see attached NAM Note Verbale sent out to all NAM Missions
today. In light of this new development, it is the assessment of Thai
and some ASEAN Ambassadors that the picture has become clear --
UNCTAD SG post has become an innocent bystander caught in the middle
of a bigger struggle... The goal seems to be to insist on
geographical rotation of posts, and undermining the practice /
tradition of two continuous terms, with the real target being the UN
SG (and his perceived western backers)."
argument raises the issue, for some interviewed by Inner City Press
so far: did Ban have something of a conflict of interest in
overriding (after working to override and change) African Group
resistance and giving Supachai a second term? In fact, that too is
laid out in Supachai's special adviser's Mach 8 e-mail, referring to
telling Team Ban "things like 'you are the real target' or 'you
emails point to several other improprieties, and it is extraordinary
that Team Ban wants or wanted to ignore them and simply reappoint
Chutikul's"all hands on deck" e-mail, the press was on to
get Ban to announce his referral of Supachai's renomination to the
General Assembly. A Chinese staff member conferred with Beijing, and
that asked for evidence of which way Ban was leaning (Attachment G).
Another UNCTAD staffer questioned why the African Group targeted the
second term of Supachai and not Frenchman Pascal Lamy at the World
Trade Organization -- "because he's white"? The e-mails are
replete with racial references.
Now what will happen? Watch this site.