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Amid Tales of Iran Torture, UN and Ban Urged To Speak, Treki Role Questioned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21 -- As Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepares to speak Wednesday before the UN General Assembly, across First Avenue on Monday two non-governmental organizations briefed the press on the arrests and killings of protesters that followed the recent contested election. By cellphone, 24-year old computer scientist Ebrahim Sharifi told the Press about his abduction on June 22 leading to a week of torture, mock execution and rape.

  Sharifi has since fled Iran, having been told the rest of his family is also in danger. He worked on the campaign of Mehdi Karroubi; later, the government accused Karroubi -- or Mir-Hussein Mousavi -- of paying Sharifi to make the allegations.

  While many of the protests of Ahmadinejad's UN visit focus on the nuclear or Israel issues, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and Human Rights Watch on Monday called on the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution appointing a special envoy to Iran.

  Inner City Press asked for the panelists' review of the performance of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the Iran human rights and democracy issues. Steve Crawshaw of HRW was typically diplomatic, saying that while he is sure there is "robust" advocacy by the UN "behind closed doors," it is "very important that [Ban] makes his voice heard... repeatedly." In fact, Ban's Spokesperson has been asked repeatedly for comment on Iran, and has declined comment.

UN's Ban and Ahmadinejad, talk and envoy on torture not shown

  Since the new General Assembly is headed by Libyan Ali Treki, Inner City Press asked if this might have any impact on the likelihood of the Assembly addressing these Iran issues. Crawshaw, again diplomatic, said that while he didn't wish to pre-judge, every country should be worried when people are shot and killed. Yeah...

Footnote: at a briefing for countries' missions to the UN, the NY Police Department predicted 12,000 protesters of Ahmadinejad, diplomatic sources in the meeting tell Inner City Press...

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With UN's Ban Shielded from Nepotism Questions, Scandals Brew, Defenses Outsourced to Mission

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 17, updated twice -- While questions having swirled all summer around Ban Ki-moon's leadership of the UN, Mr. Ban belated held a pre-General Assembly press conference on September 17. But the management, human rights, nepotism and even corruption short falls in Ban's UN that have been discussed in diplomatic circles and in the media were scarcely mentioned.

  No questions were allowed on two human rights short falls, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, much less on the nepotism scandals festering at the highest levels of the UN. It's as if these issues were censored out, after having been strangely outsourced to South Korea's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, who recently invited Inner City Press to a lunch with only one topic: the integrity of Ban Ki-moon. [See Amb. Kim Bong-hyun's reply, in full below.]

  Thus, it's not that Team Ban is unaware of the questions. After a leaked e-mail by Ban's envoy to the Congo Alan Doss surfaced and was first published by Inner City Press, Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe told the Press Ban was very concerned and expected a report on the matter when he returned to New York from his vacation in South Korea.

   That was a month ago but when Inner City Press, denied a chance to question by Ban's Spokesperson Michele Montas, asked Ban on his way out about the case of Alan Doss, Ban muttered "that is still going on," presumably referring to the investigation.

   Ban's spokesperson, who previously referred Inner City Press to Ban's main adviser Kim Won-soo about the issue (Mr. Kim subsequently canceled the meeting), should at least have allowed a question about Ban's actual management of the UN.

  Ban's lack of action is attributed by some, including prospectively a major U.S. newspaper, to questions about two recent hirings of Ban's son in law Siddarth Chatterjee. First he was hired, without any competitive process, by Ban's envoy in Iraq Staffan de Mistura to be his chief of staff, a position for which many said Chatterjee did not have the diplomatic and political background.

   Since de Mistura had previously hired the son of Kofi Annan's chief of staff Iqbal Riza, many saw a pattern, of the hiring of top UN leaders' children as a way for far-flung officials to be viewed favorable in Headquarters.

   As de Mistura left Iraq, Ban's son in law resurfaced hired by the UN Office of Project Services to head a whole regional bureau. While UNOPS refused to answer the simple question of whether Chatterjee's job is at the D-1 or D-2 level, it has since emerged that the post was upgraded to D-2 in connection with a process in which Ban gave UNOPS more freedom over its human resources practices. While it is said Chatterjee for now is at the lower of the two Director levels, he can be upgraded at any time, without public announcement.

   "Two supposedly lateral moves resulting in reality in a meteoric rise up two levels," as one observer wryly puts it, "only at the UN." Meanwhile Chatterjee has taken to telephoning Indian newspapers which have picked up Inner City Press' coverage of the issue and telling them to remove articles and comments from the Internet, in the face of legal threats.

   After Ban's adviser Kim Won-soo canceled the meeting, which it was emphasized would be off the record or on background, about the still unanswered Chatterjee questions, Inner City Press received a lunch reach-out from the Deputy Permanent Representative of South Korea's mission to the UN, Kim Bong-hyun. Over a sizzling bowl of beef and noodles, the hospitable DPR Kim repeated again and again that Ban is a man of integrity, although from an earlier generation of Korean diplomats.

UN's Ban on Sept. 15, report and action on nepotism not shown

   DPR Kim made detailed arguments about Ban's son in law's promotions and threats for censorship; that seemed to be the purpose of the lunch. On the Alan Doss matter, he first expressed concern about the "leeway" e-mail, then recovered and argued that Ban's hands are tied by rules making it difficult to fire UN staff. But Doss is Ban's personal envoy to the Congo. There is no way to pass the buck. DPR Kim nodded and said Ban would be sure to know and do something about the Doss issue. But it hasn't happened yet.

   While DPR Kim gave no indication that his outreach was off the record or even on background, normally these indirect defenses of Ban would not have to be used or reported, if Ban himself would address the issues in at least one of the fifteen largely scripted answers he gave on Thursday. A weak communications strategy has helped get Ban into the situation is his, entering this General Assembly. And thing do not appear to be getting better.

Footnotes:  Ban's Spokesperson, as Inner City Press first publicly reported, is set to retire in November. Those who multiple sources say are vying to replace her include Eric Falt of the UN Department of Public Information [but see below], two journalists who have covered the UN, and an official of the UN Foundation...

  Another UN mis-hiring scandal, which Inner City Press asked Ban Spokesperson about in writing on August 27 has still not been answered to or even commented on.
Watch this site.

Update of Sept. 17, 4:45 p.m. -- For the record we have received this denial from Mr. Falt: "I wish to inform you that I am very happy with my job as Director of Outreach in DPI and am not currently applying to any other position."

  Additional communication has been received from the South Korean Mission to the UN, clarification has been sought, but has not yet been received. Watch this site.

Second update -- we have received the following from Ambassador Kim of Korea and publish it in full:

Subj: from Amb.Kim of Korea
From: [ ]
To: Matthew Lee [at]
Sent: 9/17/2009

Dear Matthew,

I just read your article titled "with UN's Ban Shielded...." of Sept. 17, 2009. I found that facts of the article were distorted and I was misused. My purpose to invite you to the lunch the other day was to exchange views about agenda of the new session of the GA.

My message to you was that the press should listen to both parties concerned, otherwise the press would lose its balance and credibility.

However, on the contray to my intention, you initiated to explain the stroy of Alan Doss to me, including the biting rumor of a staff of UNDP and quoted me as making detailed arguments about SG's son in law.

I did not know the story of Alan Doss at all and I din not know the details on the stroy of the son in law of the SG. I answered to your questions as to the two cases based on my common sense as a career diplomat. I answered that there were rules and regulations for hiring and firing staff in any organization. I added that I knew there was a commission for the appeal of staff in the case of infringement of interest. Also I urged you to look into the rules and regulations about the prodedure of promotion in the UN.

I said that the procedure of promotion regarding to the son in law of the SG was supposed to be transparent and based on merits. I further expressed my view that answers related to those questions should be sought in the framework of the legal institution of the UN and advised you not to try to personalize the issue.I strongly request you to carry the above explanation in your blog as an exercise of right of reply.


Kim Bong-Hyun, Pd.D.
Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations

   Entirely agreeing with the right to reply, we nonetheless note that very little was said about the upcoming General Assembly session, while much was said about the Mona Juul memo, the possible motives and the "Asian" style of diplomacy. Detailed arguments were made about whether the Secretary General's son in law was initially a P-4 or P-5, and is now a D-1 or D-2 (the post has been upgraded to D-2). If nepotism is a problem in the UN, as many think it is, it is difficult to report on and address the issue without giving specific example: that is, personalizing the issue.

  What seemed and seems significant is that while the Secretary General and his team are reticent to address or even take questions on these nepotism issues, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Secretary General's native South Korea made the arguments, with detailed information about the Secretary General's son in law.

  While this may be a credit to Ambassador Kim Bong-hyun, these arguments should be coming, on the record, from the Secretariat itself, and they should not be evading or not allowing questions on the issue. Frankly, it is unclear if Ambassador Kim Bong-hyun disagrees with this analysis of the weakness of the Secretary General's current Office of the Spokesperson. But we appreciate his right of reply and so publish the above in full. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

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.

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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

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