Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

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

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Follow us on TWITTER

Home -

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


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

As Darfur Rebels Call for Probe of Ladsous & Reports, Scribe Blames Gov

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 24, 2014 -- While Darfur was the topic of the UN Security Council on April 24, three major Darfur rebel groups wrote to the Council to investigate "all reports of the Peace Keeping Mission, including reports presented to the UNSC by [Under] Secretary General for Peace Keeping Mr. Ladous and the reliability of the sources he had relied on."

   But unlike his abortive stakeout on the evening of April 23 about South Sudan, video here, Ladsous did not come out to answer any questions. And at the April 24 UN noon briefing, when Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq for a response to the request for an investigation of Ladsous and his reports, there was none: not one modified or corrected report was cited.

  Instead, from the "holy seat" of the UN Correspondents Association a long time scribe followed up to say that it is not all Ladsous' fault, and to cast blame on the government. This reflexively shifting of blame from the UN to the government, whose new Permanent Representative spoke in the Council on April 24, is in this case particularly absurd: how can the government be responsible for the UN's own reports being inaccurate?

  Those requesting this investigation of DPKO and Ladsous are not the government of Omar al Bashir, which whom Ladsous met in July 2013 without any readout, but rebels Abdel Wahid Mohamed Ahmed Nur, Chairperson, Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M-A/Wahid), Gibriel Ibrahim Mohamed, Chairperson of Justice & Equality Movement Sudan (JEM) and Minni Arko Minnawi, Chairperson Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M-MM).

  Pending UN answers, again we ask: how can one write about the corruption of a UN Peacekeeping mission, at length, without naming the person in charge? Why would one airbrush that person, in this case Herve Ladsous the UN Under Secretary for Peacekeeping Operations, out?

   The former spokesperson of the UNAMID mission in Darfur quit, spoke out and finally leaked documents. Radio Dabanga as well as Foreign Policy began publishing them on April 7 (FP did not mention Dabanga, and called its back to back  Ladsous-less pieces an exclusive investigation).

  The last piece focused on the US role, all to the good, but not only doesn't mention that the UN's Ladsous met with International Criminal Court indictee Omar al Bashir in July, without providing any read-out, but also omits France's hosting of Darfur rebels, for example.

  There are also other UN agencies thrown out of Sudan - Inner City Press has questions in about just such a story, watch this site.

  On April 8 Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about the leaks, until a scribe in the seat of the UN Correspondents Association cut off the questioning to suggest a background briefing "not today, not tomorrow," but sometime in the future. From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask about, again, the former Spokesperson of UNAMID (African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur), Aicha Elbasri. She, in the document that she’s given to Radio Dabanga and Foreign Policy, one thing in particular I wanted to ask you about is an e-mail to Michael Meyer, then, I guess, as the Head of Communications of UNAMID, and she says specifically: “I believe that by selecting certain facts and providing the media, including Nesirky’s office, with incomplete/somewhat inaccurate information may constitute a breach of the PI policy of the UN.” This had to do with an attack on a peacekeeping base. And I wanted to know, one, you said that you won’t comment on leaks. This seems to go to the heart of the credibility of the process here. Basically, the person providing information from Darfur protested that inaccurate or incomplete information was being given to your office. So, I wanted to know, it seems like you would want to comment on it, but, if not on that, does your office still stand behind the 19 April 2013, statement by the Secretary-General,which now is cast in entirely different light by the leaked documents?

Deputy Spokesman Farhaq Haq: The statements we put out reflect the most accurate information that were available to get at the time. If further information comes along down the line, we try to adjust the records so that we have the most up-to-date information. And in all cases, we do try to get further information, including on cases in Darfur. Yes?

UNCA: Farhan, rather than cherry-picking [cutting off questioning] Video here

   That Ladsous' Department of Peacekeeping Operations would cover up attacks on the troops it receives from Rwanda, Nigeria, Gambia and elsewhere is a trend -- but the leaving unprotected, or even active harming, of civilians is something else. This is what has happened under Ladsous' DPKO -- but it cannot or will no be exposed without naming Ladsous.
   Nor is this problem limited to UNAMID in Darfur. Just from the four corners of a quoted email, the new head of the mission in Cote d'Ivoire Aïchatou Mindaoudou Souleymane of Niger is included. Is that mission less tightly bound to the government, and to the French troops in the Force Licorne?

    On the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide's beginning, when then and now Eastern Congo player Herve Ladsous told Inner City Press "I never answer your questions," more questions of Ladsous' veracity were put to UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, video here.

   As if to explain not only Ladsous' refusal to answer Press questions about rapes in Minova by his partners in the Congolese Army but also the discrepancy between his statements in New York and memos to his mission in Darfur, Haq in response contrasted the "good will of the host Government required to allow peacekeepers to do their jobs, and the sometimes contradictory imperative to report accurately and candidly."

  In Kigali earlier in the day, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that his Rights Up Front program -- adopted in the wake of the UN's 2009 failure in Sri Lanka -- sends a signal to UN representatives to "Speak up, even if it may offend." But then Haq again said that the need for the good will of governments like Sudan's contradict reporting accurately and candidly," transcript below.

  Ladsous throws this out the window: simply refusing to answer questions or questioners he doesn't like. That is Ladsous' "Rights Up Front."

  From the UN's April 7, 2014 transcript:

Inner City Press: Sure, Farhan. I wanted to ask you about these memos, including by Under-Secretary-General Ladsous, leaked by Aicha Elbasri of the former Spokesman of UNAMID. I wanted to ask specifically about the incident in March 2013 where the kidnapping took place. I had asked here in this room about it and your office had said you were checking back with them. And a memo has emerged from Mr. Ladsous to Mr. Chambas of 10 April 2013, making references to reports being made that he was still unclear. One, I wanted to know what’s your response — what was ever done, actually done, to ensure — what were the findings? What were the… I have seen Mr. Ladsous’ statement, but what were the actual findings about this incident, about the peacekeepers that were involved, and basically, what more can you say about it? Seems to be that Mr. Ladsous and DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] were saying things here in New York that were not, or tend to be disproved by some of the memos that have been released, including by Radio Dabanga and Foreign Policy.

Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq: Well, first off, of course I don’t have a comment on the leaked memos. We’ll try to follow up and see what was done regarding the specific March 2013 incident because there was follow-up, some of which I believe we reported here at the time from this podium. If we have any further details we’ll share it with you then.

Inner City Press: What about the end-of-mission? I’d also asked about Ms. Elbasri; she seems like she had, before making this leak, she had said, gone public and said that she did an end-of-mission report in which she accused UNAMID of basically covering up crimes in Darfur. So one, I mean, if you are not commenting on the memos — they have all kinds of markings and stampings — do you contest their veracity? And two, what can you say about her end-of-mission report? What steps were taken? Did DPKO disbelieve her? Did they make any changes? And if she tried internally, why can’t she go externally by leaking?

Deputy Spokesman Haq: Well, first of all, like I said, I won’t comment. Trying to make a comment on the veracity is commenting, and I’m not commenting on leaked memos. Beyond that, regarding the sort of criticisms, part of what we’ve been trying to do is deal with the problems that the mission faces. In the case of UNAMID, as with every other mission, there is tension between the necessity to preserve the consent and good will of the host Government required to allow peacekeepers to do their jobs, and the sometimes contradictory imperative to report accurately and candidly on any and all incidents of violence.

UN Peacekeeping is aware of the issues raised, including in this series of articles and, and it takes them very seriously. As far as that goes, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations launched a strategic review recently to assess UNAMID’s performance in an environment in which new conflict dynamics have emerged and old ones remain unaddressed. You’ll have seen the special report of the Secretary-General on the strategic review of UNAMID, which was published in February. It identifies three main challenges faced by the mission in implementing its mandate: the cooperation of the Government; internal managerial and coordination issues, especially with the UN country team; and the capabilities of our troops and police contributors. And so that strategic review has gone to the Security Council, where it has received support from the Security Council. And we’ll see what we can do to further improve the work of the mission.

 Back on March 25, 2013, Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesperson about how the UN Peacekeeping in Darfur could have let a group of Internally Displaced People be kidnapped while they were ostensibly protected:

Inner City Press: there is this incident where IDPs were taken hostage or kidnapped by people that were in Government army uniforms, and somehow UNAMID is saying that they opposed it and they denounced the kidnapping, but some people are wondering how armed UN peacekeepers could have IDPs under their care and they could all be kidnapped. Can you clarify how it took place and how it is consistent with protection of civilians?

Spokesperson: Well, I have asked the Mission for more details on that, and I think if you were listening carefully you will have heard me read out precisely what you just said to me.

Inner City Press: But what I am asking about specifically about how it could take place?

Spokesperson: I heard what you said, and I’ve said that I’ll see if I can find out more, which is what I have already asked the Mission and Peacekeeping Operations.

  Now Radio Dabanga has published a memo by UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, from April 10, 2013, still saying he didn't know how it happened.

  What is Ladsous doing? Then, and apparently now, he refuses Press questions about topics ranging from Sudan -- why did he meet with International Criminal Court indictee Omar al Bashir in July 2013? -- to rapes in the DR Congo by UN Peacekeeping's partners in the Congolese Army.

  Dabanga to its credit says it is reporting the memos along with FP. The FP story, at least the first one, does not mention Dabanga, nor Ladsous' meeting with Bashir. Previously an explanation was provided for not reporting on Ladsous' extraordinary and public "non-answering," noted from the UK by the New Statesman, here.

  Will the publication of these leaks, in a non Ladsous protective way by Radio Dabanga, finally help bring accountability?

  The citation is to former UNAMID spokesperson Aicha Elbasri. Back on February 4, 2014, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson about the full-on critique of UNAMID and DPKO by Ms Elbasri:

Inner City Press: On Darfur, maybe you have something on the Government ordering the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) to suspend operations. And I also wanted to know if there’s any response from the UN to former UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] spokesperson Aicha Elbasri. She’s gone public, saying basically that, while serving as spokesperson of UNAMID, she wasn’t given information; that the Mission under-reports abuses of civilians and other developments in Darfur. I wanted to know, what’s the response of the UN to that?

Spokesperson: I’d have to check with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations on both of those.

  So, respecting that, Inner City Press waited. The answers weren't directly provided by e-mail as the UN does with other, but read out at the noon briefing, apparently to see if anyone else might report more positively on them (no one did)

"we were asked about reporting by the African Union–UN Mission on developments in Darfur. UNAMID notes that it reports verified information on the situation in Darfur to the United Nations and to the African Union on a daily basis. This information is then made public in the Secretary-General’s quarterly reports to the Security Council and, as the situation warrants, in press statements."

  To a casual or ill-informed listener, it sounded like a legitimate answer. But as the UN and its Department of Peacekeeping Operations under Herve Ladsous know, this was part of Aicha Elbasri's critique, even then:

"On 24 April I resigned from UNAMID and wrote my end-of-mission report requesting the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to look into UNAMID’s violations of the UN Public Information policy which calls for open, transparent and honest information-sharing with the media. I didn't receive any response. On past August, I requested the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services to open an investigation into the matter. The information I shared with them should have made anyone who cares about the people of Darfur and the UN values and policies jump, call me and take a quick action. What I received so far is a deafening silence. And I can no longer wait, because every day that goes by, more men, women and children die in Darfur in total impunity and invisibility. So today I will break the UN code of conduct and share with you some confidential photos and information that show the African Union, the United Nations and UNAMID’ conspiracy of silence."

  Surely Ladsous' DPKO (and Carman Lapointe's OIOS) knew what Aicha Elbasri submitted. But the public response was as set forth above. Now, will the publication of these leaks, in a non Ladsous protective way by Radio Dabanga, finally help bring accountability? We'll be following this. Watch this site.


Share |

* * *

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

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

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2014 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]