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On Scoop on SC Reform, PGA Ashe's Spox Admits Slow To Go Online, Says Reached Out

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow up on exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, October 24 -- The possible reform of the UN Security Council, which may never happen but was made higher profile this month by Saudi Arabia's rejection of a seat due to dysfunction, is one of the more delicate and divisive issues among UN member states.

  For that reason, many were surprised by the letter by President of the General Assembly John Ashe which Inner City Press obtained and exclusively published on October 23, before it was put on the PGA's website, after inquiry, on October 24.

  Inner City Press asked PGA Ashe's spokesperson Afaf Konja about the delay in posting the letter on the UN website (this was also on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access), and about complaints it had received from a range of UN member states.

  For example, Ashe's advisory group will be composed of the Permanent Representative of Belgium, Liechtenstein, San Marino (Ban Ki-moon's golf partner), Sierra Leone, Papua New Guinea and Brazil, its former foreign minister.

 Several states complained to Inner City Press that the list is "top heavy with Europeans -- three out of six -- and as one Latin country put it, is being "led by the G4."

  Ms. Konja to her credit called several times and then provided a written answer, which we publish in full below, follow by some replies, with more we're sure to come.

From the office of PGA John Ashe, spokesperson Afaf Konja replied to Inner City Press:

On the letter not being up immediately on the PGA website: As openly disclosed, it was a pure administrative lapse which has already been addressed to ensure a more streamlined and full-proof process.

On the criticism you refer to as 'Euro-top heavy' - As explained, the selection is not based on geographic criteria. It weighs more on the experience of nations in peace-building, and an openness to see beyond differences. Essentially, an advisory group that can help see the process forward.

Please note that the President of the General Assembly met with the UFC group, at their request. They expressed their concerns and they were heard.

Moreover, the advisory group chosen is not a negotiated group.

The President has a responsibility to Member States, and to the international community at-large, to get this process moving forward with moral authority. He has, therefore, made his selection after careful reflection.

On the first point, Ms. Konja explained that from within the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management, which runs the PGA's website, there was surprise when Inner City Press was the first to publish PGA Ashe's letter. She said steps are being taken for this delay to never happen again.

  On the rest, replies so far are as follows: the "reaching out" consisted of "last minute calls and deadlines within the same day. There was no respect to basic diplomatic courtesy... Sierra Leone was not even present at first informal meeting held."

  Concern has been expressed at the line that "the advisory group chosen is not a negotiated group," questioning, Why not? An open meeting could have been held to hear all UN member states. That would have been the promised transparency and respect for the mandate given by General Assembly. After nineteen years of negotiations, a meeting should have been held to try to see a way forward.

We'll have more on this. For now we note that while continuing to dig into this, on October 24 Inner City Press was chided for calling John Ashe "genial." We maintain it: he is genial. But there are also these criticisms. This is the UN. Watch this site.


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