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As UN Corruption Hearings Loom, Ban Team Ignores Reform & Elections Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 23 -- Two days before hearings about problems in the UN of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the US House of Representatives, Ban's spokespeople refused to answer basic questions about the case against the UN's lead investigator and Ban's admitted delays in reform.

  Even on an African election Ban said he would be “following with anticipation,” his Spokesperson's Office refused to answer questions about the UN's role in irregularities in voting.

This followed a January 21 threat by lead Ban spokesman Martin Nesirky to no longer answer questions from the Press rather than state how the Ban administration enforces the UN's own rules.

Midday on January 22, Inner City Press submitted to Nesirky and a staffer basic questions including:

Ban Ki-moon is quoted by Bloomberg, which he sought out, that Congressional Republicans' "only complaint they may have is the lack of much faster progress than they might have expected.” What specific areas of "progress" was the SG referring to? Namely, which areas does the SG acknowledge not having met expectations and for which progress should have been made "faster"?

Michael Dudley, the acting head of OIOS' Investigations Division, is under investigation, for among other things, retaliation and evidence tampering. Given that Ban Ki-moon says he prides himself on the transparency of his administration, what specifically are the facts surrounding the investigation process regarding Mr. Dudley, and will the UN be reassigning him to other duties during the investigation?

  Not only did Nesirky not answer these on January 22 - he and his deputy Farhan Haq also ignored the questions on January 23, when posed in relation to the upcoming House hearing, failing to even acknowledge the questions.

  Ban Ki-moon & Nesirky, refused questions about corruption & elections not shown

  Nesirky's job description states that he “answers press queries in person, by telephone and e-mail, around the clock... including ability to present and defend difficult positions often in unanticipated situations.”

  On January 21, after he left the briefing room amid unanswered questions, Nesirky's Office put out this statement, in his own name:

Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General: Elections in the Central African Republic

The Secretary-General will be following with anticipation the presidential and legislative elections due to be held on 23 January in the Central African Republic... The United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) and the UN Country Team have been working with the Central African authorities to help consolidate peace in the country.

  It is not clear under Ban and Nesirky what “following with anticipation” means. On January 23 Inner City Press asked Nesirky and Haq:

What is the UN's comment on, involvement in and action on the reported delays and irregularities at the polls in Central African Republic? See, e.g., &

  More than six hours later, the question about breaking news of irregularities in this election Ban was supposedly “following with anticipation” was not even acknowledged. This is the UN of Ban and his staff, including Nesirky. The hearings are brewing in DC. Watch this site.

* * *

Retaliation by Spokesman for "Transparent" Ban Ki-moon Typifies UN Decay

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 21 -- While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon runs for a second term claiming transparency and good government, he is represented by a spokesman who on Friday refused to answer questions after being asked about the applicability of a UN rule.

  As Inner City Press asked a question about the UN seeming cover-up of killings in Darfur, Spokesman Martin Nesirky stood up and left the briefing room, saying “I will take questions from you when you behave in an appropriate manner.”

  The only interchange earlier in the briefing had Inner City Press asking how UN Staff Regulation 1.2, prohibiting staff from public statements underlying impartiality applied to UN official (and Ban Ki-moon favorite) Michelle Montas going on CNN to say she would sue Baby Doc Duvalier.

  The previous day, Inner City Press has asked Nesirky what rule applied to Montas' actions. Nesirky did not provide any rule then, nor the next day.

  But Inner City Press was approached by outraged UN staff, who called Nesirky “the worst spokesperson the UN has ever had,” and provided the applicable rule. They also provided a precedent from last decade, when Doctor Andrew Thompson was fired under this rule for making public UN peacekeepers' sexual abuse of those they were charged to protect.

  On January 21, Inner City Press asked Nesirky about the rule, and intended to ask about the Thompson precedent. But Nesirky said, “I don't want to talk about it further.” Video here, from Minute 18:30.

  Earlier in the briefing, Inner City Press had asked why the UN has said nothing about Sudan's Omar al Bashir's government blocking the printing of a newspaper directed at Southern Sudan, after they published articles about the secession referendum. Video here from Minute 16.

After the UN Rules question, despite having said he would take Inner City Press' question about Ban Ki-moon's humanitarian coordinator for Sudan Georg Charpentier's claims that the thousands of violent deaths in Darfur in the last 12 months were not the al Bashir government's fault, Nesirky refused to take the question.

  Rather he stood up to leave. Asked why, he said “I will take questions from you when you behave in an appropriate manner.”

   A spokesperson is paid to answer questions. It is particularly strange that the spokesperson for a Secretary General claiming transparency and good government would simply refuse to answer about the applicability of a rule to a public UN action.

  To then retaliate against the media asking the question about rule and refuse to take any question, including about a UN mission for which the UN charges its member states $1 billion a year is outrageous.

   But in Ban Ki-moon's UN, will a UN official who on camera refuses to do his job, explicitly retaliating against a question about Ban administration lawlessness suffer any consequences?

  Other organizations would fire such an individual, including it seems the UN-affiliated International Monetary Fund. Inner City Press currently also covers the IMF, for example getting three questions answered on January 20 with no acrimony, retaliation or lack of professionalism. But in Ban's UN, officials like Nesirky are permitted lawless behavior that would not be allowed anywhere else.

Already, Nesirky has publicly yelled at Inner City Press, “It is my briefing! I run it how I chose!” For the week at the end of 2010, for which he was being paid, Nesirky left question after question unanswered.

Earlier this month, Inner City Press asked Nesirky for Ban's response to a New York Times article about bloat, overlap and waste in Ban's UN. Nesirky replied that since Ban was holding a press conference on January 14, Inner City Press could ask him then. But Nesirky did not allow Inner City Press to ask any question on January 14. Afterward, Inner City Press assessed the lack of transparency in Ban's UN for Swedish television, here.

Most recently, Nesirky said he would get an answer about Ban's staff's involvement in war crimes described in the New Yorker magazine - but has not provided any answers. Many UN correspondents have said he should not remain in the job. And yet he does, representing Ban Ki-moon and a UN that is, particularly on this front, in dramatic decay. Watch this site.

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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