Inner City Press

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

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

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

More: InnerCityPro

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

In Guterres' UN, June Without Reforms, Soon Retreat Without Documents, Press Stonewalled on Town Hall

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series

UNITED NATIONS, July 13 – Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres why he hasn't released his budget speech, or reform plans on May 25, the day after Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric refused to provide the speech to Inner City Press when it asked. Guterres paused then said it should be public, seeming to believe that Dujarric had, in fact, released it. Video here. But he had not and has not. Diplomats from a number of countries have complained to Inner City Press about it, for example that in the run-up to Guterres' "retreat" with member states on July 22 there is "no document, no document at all." One asked, rhetorically, "What's wrong with him?" Another told Inner City Press that Guterres had met, without read-out, with the Group of Friends of the Future of the UN.  On June 30 Inner City Press asked Dujarric where the reforms are, now that June is ending. Dujarric replied that Guterres will brief ECOSOC on July 5. When he did, Inner City Press was made to leave the stakeout, here. Afterward, Inner City Press asked Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  I staked out that ECOSOC [Economic and Social Council] QCPR meeting until I was asked to leave, but I know there's a town-hall meeting with staff on 21 July and some kind of a retreat with Member States on the 22 July.  It seemed to me, like the… I talked to some Member States.  They said that this retreat on 22 July with the Secretary-General is about the political one.  Is the one on 21 June about management since that would seem to be… or is it about…  what are the topics of these two…?

Spokesman:  I have to check… I have to check about the town hall. 

  Two weeks later, no answer from the UN to Inner City Press' question. Guterres has written or signed a letter saying that the town hall meeting is about the development reforms. We'll have more on this. Diplomats  told Inner City Press Guterres will then hold a "retreat" in UN Headquarters about his political proposals -- they added that the date of even this had been pushed back from July 15 to July 22 or 23 (diplomats grumble, they have to make plans); then Guterres put forth his management ideas. On July 2 and July 3 Inner City Press asked Guterres' top two spokespeople to confirm the date of the reform retreat; on July 3 the deputy replied, "The retreat with Member States is scheduled for 22 July." That's a Saturday, and the Friday before, Guterres is set to brief and take questions - curated? - from UN staff, some of whom forwarded this to Inner City Press: "Secretary-General António Guterres will hold a global townhall meeting with UN staff on Friday, 21 July 2017, 9:30 am - 11 am (NY time) in the Trusteeship Council at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The topic of the townhall meeting will be the reform of the Organisation. The Secretary-General will present an outline of the reform proposals and address staff questions about this important topic." One would assume then that this is on the proposed management including promotion reforms or restrictions. This, the diplomats tell Inner City Press, is with an eye to producing a written proposal, for review by ACABQ, by September. They add that it will be a single report, a single pillar. But when will Guterres brief the Security Council about his trip to Afghanistan, and fly-by of the Cyprus talks? And what of some staff's complaints to Inner City Press on July 3 that they had to work / staff the whole day? The food service workers were mostly off - enforced layoffs for the summer - and the Spokesperson's Office closed at 3:30 pm. Meanwhile the UN wouldn't initially even say where Guterres will be from July 1 to 5, and continues to restrict Inner City Press which alone asks. We'll have more on this. On June 19, Guterres and his deputy met with new UN Development Program administrator Achim Steiner of Germany. In front of the UN Security Council, diplomats told Inner City Press that Germany had been slated to "get" the top job at the UN Department of Management. But after Steiner got UNDP, the DM post was given to long time UN official Jan Beagle of New Zealand. But the Department of Management, the diplomats told Inner City Press, is slated to lose powers to the Department of Field Support, just as UNDP under Steiner - agreed in advance, the diplomats said - is slated to lose the Resident Coordinator system to the Secretariat. It's been 167 days: where are the reforms? And will the arguments be made the public, We the Peoples, or just to member states vying for posts? This as NGOs met in Conference Room 7 to urge reforms to open the UN. We'll have more on this. On June 13, Guterres gave a vague speech in Turkmenistan soon after the show trial of 18 people who are being torture, vaguely name-checking human rights. So on June 14, Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you, in Turkmenistan, when the Secretary-General met with the President of Turkmenistan, I did see his speech, and it did refer to human rights, but many… there's been a lot of talk about these 18 people that were sentenced to 25 years in jail after a two-year… two-hour-long secret trial.  And I wanted know, can you say whether this issue was raised by the Secretary-General?

Spokesman:  The Secretary-General, I think, raised the issue of human rights in Central Asia both in the speech he gave to the Shanghai Cooperation [Organization] and I think in the speech that he gave yesterday, which was very… on counter-terrorism, which was very explicit in his call for smart policies in countering terrorism, which means promoting human rights.  The issues that the Secretary-General raises in bilateral conversations remain issues that he raises in bilateral conversation, and I'm not going to go into details.

  This is the "new" - dying - UN. Where has the UN's "conflict prevention been in, for example, Cameroon? On June 9 Inner City Press asked Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: the Secretary-General on this Central Asian trip is going, among other places, to Turkmenistan.  As you may have seen, Amnesty International and other groups have put out a… a… a pretty damning report that 18 men have been condemned to 12 to 25 years to prison after a trial that took two years.  It just happened.  The press release is dated yesterday.  So my question is… two questions.  One, is the Secretary-General going to intend to raise this type of pretty extreme human rights issue during his trip to Central Asia and, in particular, in Turkmenistan?  And, two, I see that he leaves there the 13th and he's back here the 15th. Is there some secret diplomacy taking place, or what's his itinerary in terms of coming back?

Spokesman:  If it's secret, I'm not aware of it.

Inner City Press:   All right. Is he stopping in Portugal?  Just a question.

Spokesman:  Is he stopping in Portugal?  I'm not aware if he's stopping in Portugal, but wherever he is, we're always happy to say where he is on the day where he is.

Inner City Press:  On the day of.  Okay.

Spokesman:  You had asked something else.

Inner City Press:  I'd asked if he's going to raise human rights issues…

Spokesman:  Oh, yes.  I mean, obviously… I mean, I think he's already mentioned human rights in a regional setting at the [Shanghai Cooperation Organization] session.  He will mention that, among other things, as he continues his travels wherever…

Inner City Press: What about a trial that just took place and people were sentenced to 25 years…

Spokesman:  I don't have any specific guidance on that specific event.

   It was Dujarric who evicted Inner City Press, and has kept it restricted in its movements in the UN for the 144 days so far of Guterres' tenure. On May 25, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again, video here

On May 26, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: Jeffrey Feltman said that the proposal for the new office has been, I guess, approved by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.  And since yesterday in this room, the idea was that's all confidential, I wanted to just know, first, is it true, did Mr. Feltman say that?  Is it true that ACABQ has signed off on it?  And if it's true that the UN can speak about ACABQ, can we get a copy of the Secretary-General's speech to ACABQ given earlier this week?

Deputy Spokesman:  No.  The, the speech was basically about the budget proposals which are available as a document, as Stéphane pointed out earlier this week.

Inner City Press: I, I searched it, and it said document not available on the UN document site.  I’d like the speech.

Deputy Spokesman:  You know, you can deal with my colleagues with the document, but there's no remarks to share for the public.  Regarding the particular proposal, there's a proposal that's going to go before the General Assembly, and you'll be able to see what happens once they consider it.

Inner City Press: Right, but I guess it goes back to [inaudible] question.  In most Governments in the world, an executive like the Secretary-General, the executive branch, will announce publicly what its proposals are.  Just the fact that to only announce it after it's been approved by the Member States doesn't seem to make sense if you're pronouncing reforms and if there's public interest in how the UN works.  What's the problem with releasing the speech?

Deputy Spokesman:  This is not a Government.  This is an organization bringing together Governments.  And what we try to do is engage in dialogue with governments in order to flesh out these proposals.  Ultimately, it's not finalized until the various governments agree on this.  You simply can't argue that something's not transparent if it goes to 193 Governments.  That's a lot of people.  It's not a secret process by any means.  All of them are involved in this discussion.

Inner City Press: But, I've heard the Secretary-General say he wants to open up the UN to civil society and the public and we the people, so I guess I'm just wondering, is there something in that ACABQ speech that's so confidential that it can't, as I took him to understand on the steps, just be released and made public?

Deputy Spokesman:  No.  It's not confidential, but it's part of a dialogue with Member States.  And we try to engage the Member States directly in that dialogue. 

 So, public be damned? UN May 25 transcript here: Inner City Press:  I just now asked the Secretary-General about what I had asked you yesterday, about whether his speech at ACABQ can be released and whether his reform proposals will be released.  He seemed to, maybe I misunderstood and you can look at the video, but he seemed to think that it had been released so I wanted to ask you, can it be released?  Also…  Go ahead.

Spokesman:  The budget documents for the proposed reform are public documents and those are available and that is basically what he presented, the outline of which he presented to the ACABQ yesterday.

Inner City Press: Two questions: Is there a problem with releasing, I'm sure there was a written and about it was off-the-cuff what he said to ACABQ; and, secondly, I've seen and published a document called safety and security pillar model A regarding three ASGs, a mixture of political affairs and peacebuilding, a variety of delegations, and maybe there wasn't time to explain the whole thing, basically the idea is if he is proposing reforms, why aren't these proposals public as they are in most countries…?

Spokesman:  Well, I think, first of all, these reforms, especially ones that have to involve, that involve budgetary issues, first have to be approved by the Member States and there is an ongoing discussion on the peace and security architecture, and once things are formally proposed, I'm sure they will be shared.  All the budget documents I think are under, I was told, A/72/6, and those are all available in detail.

Question:  This chart, I guess what I'm saying, having seen the chart…

Spokesman:  I haven't seen the chart, so I…

Inner City Press:  There was a meeting yesterday, so maybe you can ask them.  There seemed to have been a meeting that went to 6:10 yesterday upstairs.  Everybody was in it, Mr. Lacroix, Mr. Feltman, you know, the whole team was there, and my understanding is this chart was discussed, so I'm asking you…

Spokesman:  What I'm telling you is that whatever meetings may have occurred upstairs on reform between the Secretary-General and his top aides, those are informal meetings and I have no documents to share from those.

Inner City Press:  Can you just look at the tape of what he said there?

Spokesman:  I did look at the tape.  I did, it feels consistent to me.

Inner City Press: Well…

Spokesman:  Ali?

  Inner City Press saying "double talk" was not transcribed by the (double standards) UN. Later on May 25, an NGO representative who corresponded "secretly" with Dujarric to get Inner City Press evicted and restricted was allowed onto the UN's second floor without the UN minders imposed on Inner City Press. This is UNtransparent. Even facing budget cuts, the UN remains as untransparent as ever, even more so. On May 24 Inner City Press asked Secretary General Antonio Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric for a copy of Guterres' budget speech or budget, but none was given. Later on May 24 the head of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, which Guterres spoke before, issued three tweets about the presentation. Inner City Press has obtained and tweeted a copy of Guterres' placemat-like "Peace and Security Pillar" chart, with three separate Udner Secretaries General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Peace Operations and Field Management and Support. Many are left wondering, where is the reform? Inner City Press on May 24 asked Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on the budget, could I just… it's a factual question.  You've listed today at 3 presenting his pro… proposed programme budget for the biennium 2018-19 to ACABQ [Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions]. One, is it open?  Two, can we see the budget?  And if… three, if not, why not?

Spokesman:  The process remains the same.  This is a budget that has start… that was elaborated before the sec… this Secretary-General came into office.  As you know… as you may not know, but it's kind of a long process.  This is the first step.  It will go to the ACABQ and then go to the Fifth Committee.  The Fifth Committee deliberations are often open, and then I think we'll get a clearer picture then.

   But it's not clear. On May 24 before 6 pm Guterres held a meeting with his senior management group since after a two week trip he is in New York for only three days, leaving tomorrow. At the appointed time for Azerbaijan, streaming out of Guterres' conference room were USg Jeff Feltman, Jean Pierre Lacroix who declined to answer Inner City Press' question about France's 20+ year rule of UN Peacekeeping, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Fabrizio Hochschild and others. Earlier on May 24 Inner City Press asked Dujarric to "please state if a David J Vennett is now a/the principal advisor to the SG, if so why he is not in iSeek and how he was recruited and hired and, again, please provide a list of who works in / or the Executive Office of the Secretary General and whether they are paid by the UN, by a UN affiliate like UNOPS, or by a country and is so which." There was no answer. What was in Guterres' budget speech on May 24, a copy of which Inner City Press requested? Why was corrupt censor Cristina Gallach speaking in the General Assembly Hall on May 24, and why has her censorship continued, without hearing or appeal?


Feedback: Editorial [at]

Past (and future?) UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA
For now: Box 20047, Dag Hammarskjold Station NY NY 10017

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 2006-2017 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] for