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At UN, Guterres on Good Offices, Luksic to ICP on Budget, Bokova Silent on Ashe

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 12 -- How should the next UN Secretary General be selected, to improve the Organization?

  On April 12, when Irina Bokova of UNESCO came to answer media questions, to many it was bland, perhaps as selected. Inner City Press, which had been told by President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft to ask the candidates about finances and corruption, did -- it asked Bokova what she thinks of the John Ashe case, see below. She did not answer.

  By contrast, when Inner City Press similarly asked Igor Luksic if he will disclose the budget for his campaign, from the Montenegro government and otherwise, he made a point saying yes, if he's going to speak about transparency he has to practice it.

  The third and last candidate of the day, Antonio Guterres, said in his opening statement, as fast transcribed by

First of all, allow me a few remarks. Why am I here? I believe I’m a privileged man. God has given me a wide range of opportunities, creating a need for public service. After being a student volunteer in the slums of Lisbon, I had the chance to serve the most vulnerable as commissioner for refugees. That’s why I am a candidate for the SG.
And that brings me to the need for prevention. TV cameras are not there when a crisis is avoided. But I believe prevention must be the priority of everything we do. And that demands a huge cultural change.
The root causes of conflict become increasingly interlinked, and that’s why we need to understand the global trends in today’s world, find strategies and policies to act in line with the UN’s pillars. It is here that historic agreements on the SDGs and climate change have created a unique opportunity, and it falls to the SG to mobilize the whole system to support the states, which are the leaders of this process. At the same time, the reform of the UN development system.

The balance between the bodies of the UN system should not be changed, but we have to promote convergence. And no one better to do so. To take climate change and achieve the SDGs is also a preventive tool.

If the international is failing, it’s in safeguarding against terrorism. That’s why we need a surge in diplomacy. Leadership is failing. As power relations become less clear, leadership is more complex, and that’s where I see a role for the good offices of the SG, working as a facilitator, a catalyst, an ambassador for peace. And the review of peacekeeping, women, peace and security also creates a unique opportunity to create an effective peace architecture, what can be called the peace continuum which has support for capacity and strengthening institutions.
It is the best foundation for human rights to be protected and enjoyed, and for member state
It is the role of the SG to mainstream human rights, through the rights up front initiative.
And the SG must lead by example on ethical standards. Human rithgs, civil and political, economic, social and political rights must be promoted as a common value, in an unbiased way, without linking it to any other objectives.
The UN must be at the foreforont on gender equality, and that was not always the case. We must more from perceiving women and girls as a subject of protection, to fully empowering women and girls. Gender mainstreaming across all programs.
If elected, I will present a road map for parity at all levels with clear bench marks and time frames. The SGmust respect parity in the appointments of the SG. A shift is necessary in the selection of special representatives. We have been moving backwards in recent times.
On coordination and reform. We need a less process oriented and more delivery oriented coordination. To have collective responsibility, we need global accountability, accountability of each organization to its country, a culture of evaluation, independent and real-time with transparency. Our rules are too cumbersome. We need simplify with a win-win reform strategy.
We live in dangerous times. We need to promote peace and exercise collective responsibility to eradicate terrorism in all its forms. Our universal values must confront radicalization, intolerance. We must be proud of our diversity."

Earlier, Lykketoft took a half-dozen questions before kicking off the informal dialogues, starting with Montenegro's foreign minister Igor Luksic, Inner City Press asked him if questions about UN rapes, and the John Ashe case audit, will be asked.

  Lykketoft replied that the "John Ashe" were already being dealt with, or were fixed. Inner City Press pointed out the Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of the Secretariat, how the Department of Public Information allowed a corrupt event in the General Assembly lobby, and a corrupt organization to play a role in the UN's event on slavery, as well as associating with another corrupt organization through "Friends of the UN." Video here.

  Lykketoft then said, these questions could come up. We'll be here.

     On April 11, Inner City Press asked the spokesperson for President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft if Lykketoft will ensure that financial disclosure questions are or can be asked, and who chose the “civil society” questions. The affable spokesperson told Inner City Press to ask Lykketoft, and that the list would be provided after the briefing. Video here.

  But it was not. Even who chose the people who chose the question was unclear: some in the UN who work with civil society, presumably meaning from the Department of Public Information which we must note is the most criticized UN department in the so-called John Ashe case audit the full text of which Inner City Press exclusively put online on April 6, here.

  DPI has shown a willingness to retaliate, so we are reporting this as diplomatically as possible: once a spokesperson has said on camera that a list will be given, it probably should be. At  minimum, the excuse for not providing it should not be, it would be misunderstood. Isn't it the job of the UN Department of Public Information to provide and if necessary explain information, rather than withhold it?

   That said, Inner City Press will be covering the "informal dialogues." First up on April 12 is Montenegro's foreign minister Igor Luksic. Beyond some bank bailout controversies, the fact that Montenegro has participated in peacekeeping in Somalia and Afghanistan, with the UN in Liberia and, it was debated, with the European Union in the Central African Republic gives rise to questions.

  What would Luksic do about the scandal of rapes in UN peacekeeping, in the Central African Republic and elsewhere? Merely mouthing "zero tolerance" is clearly not enough. What does Luksic think of a current head of UN Peacekeeping who links the rapes to "R&R"? Video here. To the critical Press being physically ousted from, then restricted within, the UN?

 Relatedly, what would he do, in light of the John Ashe case and audit, to ensure that the UN is no longer for sale? Watch this site.

  At the end of the April 11 noon briefing Inner City Press was told that the list of who chose the civil society questions will be put online on April 12, after the “interviews” of candidates has already begun. We'll be there - or as close to there as DPI allows. Watch this site.

(Inner City Press also asked Lykketoft's spokesperson if, in fact, DPI has at least belatedly complied with the John Ashe audit's Recommendation 5. The spokesperson said he will check. We're waiting.)

On April 8, Inner City Press asked the spokesman for outgoing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon what are the rules governing current UN system officials running for NextSG, in terms of their use of UN time, resources and staff. From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to know what the UN's rules are given that there are now two candidates that are currently employed by the UN system, Irina Bokova of UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization], Helen Clark of UNDP [United Nations Development Programme].  I wanted to know, what rules apply as to how they devote their time, how resources of the agencies and of other staff in the agencies are devoted to helping their campaign.

Spokesman Dujarric:  Obviously, for UNESCO, that is something for the UNESCO governing body to decide.  As far as UNDP, obviously, we would expect that and our understanding is that this will have no impact on her… on Ms. Clark's leadership of UNDP and that, obviously, that no staff resources would be used for that.

Inner City Press:  No, and I mean, I… I guess I mean it with all due respect, but inevitably, she's going to be spending time devoted to this.  So, the question is, like, how much time should she…?  It's an obvious…

Spokesman:  No, no, I'm saying it's a… I'm not debating the obviousness of the question.  That's what I have to say at this point.

On April 4, New Zealand announced for Helen Clark. But nowhere in it did New Zealand's announcemeone find financial disclosure, nor a vision statement.

And with Clark's UNDP embroiled in the the corruption scandal unveiled by the indictment of John Ashe, none of the correspondents NZUN invited for the launch even asked about that. And while anyone with a passing knowledge of UNDP knows Clark has a problem with staff relations, to put it mildly, no one asked about that either.


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