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UN Peacekeeping's Ladsous Spins of Cutting Darfur Mission, Showdown

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 30 -- Two years after fair pay for developing world soldiers who serve the UN was discussed in Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations, a low ball offer was made on June 27.

  Several Group of 77 Permanent Representatives told Inner City Press on June 27 that "the money countries" or "the partners" had again balked at the recommendation of a long overdue raise to $1,700 a month and came back with a slightly increased counter-offer: $1,250.

 On June 30, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it:

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric: Matthew?

Inner City Press: Sure, I want to ask about troop reimbursement and also this Sunday press encounter.  the Secretary-General had a Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations, which suggest… which proposed that peacekeepers get $1,700 a month.  There was a survey done.  And now, it seems like it’s come down to a deadline, in which rather than $1,700, the donor countries are offering $1,250.  And I wanted to know, since it was the Secretary-General’s own Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping, did he think that Group is credible?  Did he think the $1,700 number is a reasonable one?  And does he think that $1,250 is sufficient for peacekeepers?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I think, you know, those numbers… the work of the Senior Advisory Group came up with what it came up with.  These discussions now are deep in the heart of the Fifth Committee, being discussed amongst Member States, and I think that’s where I will leave it for the time being.

  Ah, leadership. On the evening on June 30 UN Peacekeeping's Herve Ladsous, who refuses to answer Press questions, dissembled behind closed doors to the Fifth Committee, as several representatives told Inner City Press.

  Ladsous pontificated about his visit to Haiti - and said he would further cut back the mission in Darfur, where his UN Peacekeeping is already accused of covering up killings.  "He's gotta go," one representative said, and others agreed. But this is the UN.

  An African Deputy Permanent Representative asked Inner City Press, "How can Obama come up with $500 million for Syria rebels, but can't pay UN peacekeepers properly? Does he want peace, or more war?"

 Earlier, the inclusion of Sri Lankan general Shavendra Silva, whose Division 58 is depicted engaged in war crimes in Ban's own report, made the SAG otherwise newsworthy.

  While the UN and its UN Censorship Alliance (UNCA) hindered Inner City Press' ability to cover the SAG meetings, on May 22, 2012 after a two hour stakeout in front of the Teachers Building on Third Avenue Inner City Press was able to report that

"one Asian Group representative urged Inner City Press to 'stop' Silva and not let him come in. On the other hand... Ban has refused to speak out about having an alleged war criminal as an adviser. More recently, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman what if anything was ever done on the petition to Ban about disappeared Sri Lankan journalist Prageeth. The question has yet to be answered, as has another Inner City Press question about the UN system's own finding that the Sri Lankan Army used cluster bombs in the 2009 conflict which killed 40,000 civilians."

  The next day, after conducting more interviews, Inner City Press reported that "one South Asian representative in attendance told Inner City Press that 'France is the worst, in trying to cut the pay.

  We told them, fine, then don't keep creating new missions. Two of my country's peacekeepers died in Ivory Coast, carrying out French foreign policy.'"

  Yet another attendee concurred, saying the most insulting speaker in the Silva-less (for now) SAG now is "that new French guy with the long hair." But who was that?

  Inner City Press found out: Nicolas de Riviere, who like current Ban DPKO Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous was a former Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the UN, serving under Permanent Representative Gerard Araud (who now is belatedly out at the UN, to be replaced by Francois Delattre on July 15.)

  "Flippy Nic" or "Helmet" as some called him because of the hair, turned out to be cheap with peacekeepers, and insulting to boot.

 Now in 2014, he has come to represent France at the P5+1 negotiations with Iran, next week in Vienna.

  And so the question arose, who did Nicolas de Riviere replace, in order to be "new"? While the SAG was shrouded in mystery, without having its own spokesperson (while Ban's spokespeople and DPKO's Herve Ladsous' then spokesperson Kieran Dwyer are unwilling to answer questions about it), one of the few members initially listed was Jean Marie Guehenno, who in an unbroken line of Frenchman had headed DPKO before Alain Le Roy, who was replaced not by Jerome Bonnafont but instead, as second choice, Ladsous.

  So at the UN noon briefing of May 30, 2012 Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy spokesman:

Inner City Press: Mr. Guehenno, I know that before he took this post as one of the two deputies of Kofi Annan on Syria, he was on the senior advisory group on peacekeeping operations, and it’s part of the press release, it’s a little unclear the full membership, but I wanted to know, is he still on the senior advisory group on peacekeeping operations with this controversy about the Sri Lankan general? Was Mr. Guéhenno representing France or the Secretary-General and the United Nations?

Deputy Spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey: Well, we will have to find out about that, Matthew, I don’t have that information with me. Okay, thank you very much.

  On the evening on May 30, 2012, having heard nothing back, by phone, e-mail or in person, Inner City Press included in a story about Azerbaijan's end of Security Council presidency reception:

"Recently Inner City Press quoted a "South Asian representative" about how cheap France is being in the Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations. There was much guessing who had dare say que l'empereur does not have clothes. Inner City Press has asked Ban Ki-moon's Office of the Spokesman a question about this and will be writing soon."

  The Press story of France's statements in the SAG was discussed by some Ambassadors on the Security Council's West Africa trip, several with mirth but by its opposition by the French, whose Gerard Araud led the leg to former colony Cote d'Ivoire, without any presence by Araud's former deputy Flippy Nic.

   Still having heard nothing back, Inner City Press on June 5 asked Ban's main spokesman:

Inner City Press: I am not sure if I’d asked you or Eduardo, but I definitely want an answer to this, and I think you may have the answer. On that Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations on which the Sri Lanka General, Shavendra Silva, serves, Mr. [Jean-Marie] Guéhenno was on it, I know he is no longer on it, that he has become the Deputy to Kofi Annan, but it was unclear to me, I thought he was the Secretary-General’s appointment to the board, and then I was told that he was France’s appointment. And so I asked about a week ago just very simply, who appointed him to the board, and I am still waiting, I would like to know, do you know?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Uh, well, you don’t need to wait much longer, and you didn’t need to wait so long either.

Inner City Press: Okay, great.

Spokesperson: Because it was added to the transcript that very same day that Mr. Jean-Marie Guéhenno was representing France.

Inner City Press: Why didn’t you send me an e-mail?

Spokesperson: You have it.

   And lo and behold, rather than contact Inner City Press with an answer, jammed into an online transcript was this: "[The Deputy Spokesperson later added that Mr. Guéhenno represented France.]"

So Guehenno was replaced by de Riviere, who has insulted developing world peacekeepers in a meeting that Ban's UN and Ladsous' DPKO try to hinder coverage of, to cover up the inclusion in the SAG of an alleged war criminal.

  And at the UN in 2014, transcripts gets even more doctored that before, click here.

In fact, Inner City Press put this question directly to Ladsous, on camera, but he refused to answer that or another question on cholera in Haiti, telling Inner City Press, "Well, Mister, I will start answering your questions when you stop insulting me and making malicious and insulting insinuations." The video, at Minute 28:10, is online on UN website, here.

Also on stage with Ladsous was Department of Field Support Assistant Secretary General and Officer in Charge Tony Banbury, who approached as Inner City Press was leaving the UN on June 5. "I hope I'll have another chance to ask you that question," Inner City Press told Banbury. Watch this site.

Footnote: In May 2012 Inner City Press reports on Sri Lanka, Silva and Ban Ki-moon's SAG had been getting Inner City Press into a lot of trouble, at the UN and in Sri Lankan government aligned media. And the UNCA board tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN. But this reporting will continue.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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

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

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