Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Follow us on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

From S. Sudan, Hilde Hits the Road, US Press Spin, Banbury to Stay

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 30 -- For months there have been calls in South Sudan for Hilde Johnson to go. When she resigned on May 30, the UN Mission quickly clarified she had not quit, she was simply leaving after three years. Thou doth protest too much?

  Immediately the spin machine began.

  Voice of America, which earlier this week acted as a pass-through for Hilde Johnson's putative boss Herve Ladsous, called it analysis when they ran a few random tweets, ending with an arch "comment, which was posted on South Sudan in Focus' Twitter feed, accused Johnson of cozying up to opposition leader Riek Machar. That comment included profanity and will not be published. Karin Zeitvogel contributed to this report from Washington."

  The above was date-lined Juba, mind you. VOA's worst byline is at the UN - as is the case with some other publications including behind paywalls. One had predicted an American would replace Johnson, then said more quietly this won't be the case.

  These media said nothing when Ladsous began refusing to answer hard Press questions about South Sudan. (Others outside noted it.)  Even the latter's questions weren't asked this week. It's called phoning it in -- if not, of course, to again say "spoon-fed."

  Inner City Press can report UN Peacekeeping sources, beyond expressing disgust at Ladsous' leadership, say that American Department of Field Support deputy Tony Banbury has re-upped, making selection of American Jane Holl Lute to replace the department classy Ameerah Haq less likely. And no American in Juba?

Background: Here's how it works at the UN: in South Sudan UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous emflamed people by transporting Ghana soldiers' weapons, mislabeled, by road into a conflict zone.

   When media criticized the UN, Ladsous used a Security Council speech to call for the press stories to stop. But he never took questions on this at the UN Security Council stakeout.

  On May 27 when the Council scaled back the UN Peacekeeping mission UNMISS, Ladsous did not come to the UN Television stakeout, as even his predecessors Alain Le Roy and Jean-Marie Guehenno would have done.

   Instead Ladsous arranged to meet US state media, Voice of America, in the hallway and spoonfed a quote.  Inner City Press observed this and reported it, here and here, predicting a propaganda story would could out of it.

  And now it has, here. Voice of America doesn't mention the Ghana weapons, or Ladsous' refusal to make public that report, or one on cluster bombs -- which are mentioned in the Council's March 27 resolution. The soft-ball story is entirely pro UN, quoting Ladsous without any critical questions. It is pathetic.

  This comes at a time when Congress is considering formalizing that Voice of America must be propaganda. Is that even necessary?

Background: after the UN Security Council amended its South Sudan mission's mandate on May 27, including support to Juba's police ostensibly subject to the UN's "Human Rights Due Diligence Policy" (Operative Paragraph 4(a)(vi) of the resolution, here) -- what does that Policy actually mean?

   UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous instead of taking questions at the UN Television stakeout about the policy, and failures in South Sudan, met Voice of America's scribe in the hall. There is history of this: video here.

 There were other questions he should have answered, about the failure to publicly issue the report on cluster bombs or the admitted failure in moving Ghana's troops weapons by land.

  New questions were raised about UN Peacekeeping firing in the air in South Sudan, and giving the government as little as 48 hours notice to sign off on logistics or be charged with obstruction.

  The human rights due diligence policy is supposed to mean that the UN will not support units which engage in abuse for which they are not held accountable.

  But in the Democratic Republic of Congo, after only two FARDC soldiers were convicted for more than 130 rapes in Minova in November 2012, UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous has NOT suspended support to the 41st and 391st Battalions implicated in the rapes.

  Ladsous refused to answer questions about the rapes, and has provided no explanation since the impunity ruling in the DRC. Inner City Press asked again at the May 27 UN noon briefing.

  So are Council members fooling themselves, or others, by saying it's meaningful that UNMISS' support in South Sudan would be under this UNexplained and UNenforced "Human Rights Due Diligence" policy?

  And, separately, what of UNMISS chief Hilde Johnson welcoming and taking photographs with David Yau Yau? We'll have more on this.

Background: after the May 12 South Sudan speech of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcoming “the ceasefire agreement signed in Addis Ababa on Friday,” Inner City Press asked Ban about the ceasefire being broken, and elections now delayed two or three years.

  Ban replied that he is disappointed that the ceasefire “was not honored in Bentiu,” and said he is engaged with the regional IGAD leaders about it. UN Transcript below. Ban did not respond on the delay in elections, even as he called for the elections in (parts of) Ukraine to go forward this May 25.

  Ban's opening statement to the press also addressed Boko Haram's kidnappings in Nigeria, saying he has sent UN envoy Said Djinnit there.

  He did not bring up Syria, but two of the questioners selected for him by his spokesman brought up Syria: the projected departure of envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, and if Ban, said to be too mild on accountability in Syria, supports a referral to the International Criminal Court.

  Inner City Press has reported on a close ally of Tunisia's former dictator Ben Ali Kamel Morjane being in the running to replace Brahimi: would that reflect weakness on commitment to democracy?

  The cynically sculpted resolution to refer to the ICC not all of Syria, to exclude the Golan Heights and even some fighting Assad, reflects weakness not strength on international justice. But perhaps that can be addressed in Ban's next press availability. Watch this site.

  Footnotes: in fairness the Free UN Coalition for Access opines that this Ban press availability was better than many of Ban's in the past. It was not limited to, although it featured many, of the insiders of the UN Correspondents Association who met with Ban and used some quotes but never released a tape or transcript. It included some less than fawning questions. And, we'd say for both those reasons, Ban did better than usual. Could it be a trend? We'll see.

  On the other hand we have to note that standing to the side of Ban's stakeout was his head of Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, who outright refuses to answer Press questions such as the interplay between the UNMISS mission and the IGAD force.

  In the face of mounting, factual questions about UN Peacekeeping, including Ban's Human Rights Due Diligence Policy in the aftermath of a mere two convictions for 130 rapes by Congolese Army units the UN supports, this cannot continue. What this site.

Update with UN Transcript:

Inner City Press: You praised the agreement – the South Sudan agreement that was reached in Addis. But it seems that since then, both sides have said that the ceasefire has been broken, and also the Government of Salva Kiir has said there will be no election in 2015; that it should be put back two or three years. I wondered if you think that is a good thing for the country, and also what role does IGAD regional force, in your view, should play with UNMISS? Should they coordinate militarily? Should it be under UNMISS? What does the UN think of that?

SG: It is disappointing that this agreement on Friday has not been implemented and has not been honored. The fighting has taken place in the area of Bentiu, and I am urging the two leaders to abide by their agreement.

At the same time, the special envoys of IGAD met this morning to discuss this matter. We will continue to work with the IGAD leadership. I myself, as well as my Special Representative, Hilde Johnson, will continue to contact both leaders, so that they are committed to meet their obligations which they signed just a few days ago.

When political leaders commit themselves, they should honour their commitment. We will continue to do that, and I asked the Security Council that they should continuously be engaged, and render strong political messages, including taking necessary measures.


Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

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

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2014 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]