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From Sudan to Cholera to War Crimes, UN's Ladsous Refuses Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 22 -- Herve Ladsous as head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has hidden behind many excuses, and then refused to answer or even take questions about them.

  This continued Monday, when he refused to take two Inner City Press questions about Sudan. But it is pervasive and, it would seem, disqualifying.

  Ladsous could or would not explain why UN peacekeepers are IN Southern Kordofan in Sudan but under his command have committed to committing no acts of peacekeeping, even reporting on killings of which they become aware.

  He would not answer about the killing of UNAMID Peacekeepers in Darfur, with anti-tank weapons -- after he had opined things are getting better in Darfur -- saying he would only answer if he is not insulted. So he wanted to force positive coverage in this way?

  In Cote d'Ivoire Ladsous peacekeepers were directly accused of standing by and even assisting as internally displaced people presumed to support former leader Laurent Gbagbo were killed and their IDP camp burned down.

  An investigation was promised, by ONUCI chief Bert Koenders, but has never been released. Before the investigation, Koender announced that nothing had happened.

   In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, when Inner City Press asked about reports that MONUC rocket fire from gunship helicopters had killed civilians, Ladsou's DPKO first stonewalled then issued a statement, through Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Office of the Spokesman, that the terrain was such that DPKO could not check on the effect of its fire. Is this responsible?

  In terms of responsibility, amid detailed reports and legal claims that DPKO brought cholera to Haiti, the UN has refused to respond to the claim. This is blamed on the UN Office of Legal Affairs under Patricia O'Brien. 

  But since diplomats admit that it further hurts the credibility of DPKO, wouldn't a leader or even administrator of such a Department makes sure an answer was given? But this is not Ladsous.

  THIS is Ladsous: he's said the recanting of Panel of Experts member Doctor Daniele Lantagne will be referred back to the "Group of Experts." It remains unclear if he knows she was a member, or if the Panel has disbanded.

   In terms of insulting what UN Peacekeeping is supposed to be about, why is a Senior Advisor of Peacekeeping Operations a brigadier general whose division is depicted, even in the UN's own report, as engaged in shelling hospitals and killing civilians? DPKO's Ladsous won't even address the question; Ban has blamed it on member states.

  That the largest troops contributing countries are being shorted by the UN to the tune of $512 million is blamed on member states, or left by DPKO for another Department, that of Management, to answer. At least the head of DM takes the question.

Ladsous was foisted on the UN by Nicholas Sarkozy of France as a last minute replacement for Jerome Bonnafont. Inner City Press exclusively reported then, then faced push-back.

Finally and relatedly in May 2012 Ladsous began refusing to answer any Inner City Press questions, in press conferences like Monday's, a stakeouts where no other journalists attended or asked questions, for example on Abyei during the UN's General Debate week.

 (Afterward his DPKO called UN Television to ask that even the question be erased from the web-cast of the stakeout.)

  Alain Le Roy and Jean-Marie Guehenno before him use to routinely asked Press questions as they left the Security Council. Ladsous does not, even as peacekeepers are killed and attacked. They have no voice, the complaint is growing.

  Beyond refusing to answer Press questions, Ladsous had directed his spokespeople to try to censor coverage. When Inner City Press reported -- based on open statements by Security Council diplomats -- that he and others were going to Syria, DPKO's spokesman Kieran Dwyer wrote to demand that Ladsous' name be removed.

  Later at a higher level the Department of Safety and Security determined that DPKO's complaint was frivolous. There have been other, related attempts to use DSS, and OLA.

   Le Roy would come to press conference with his Department of Field Support colleague Susana Malcorra and they would take questions. Ladsous rarely comes. Last time, with DFS deputy Tony Banbury, Ladsous refused to answer Press questions on cholera in Haiti and the Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations. What of Banbury?

   This time, Banbury's boss at DFS Amira Haq did not accompany Ladsous. On the stage, where heads of state and other UN department heads have answered Press questions, Ladsous refused. No one does anything: this is Ban Ki-moon's UN; this is a UN in further decline, and Ladsous is its face and symptom. Watch this site.

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