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UN Won't Answer If Has Any Claims Commissions After Haiti Or On USG(s)

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 14 -- At Thursday's UN noon briefing, simple questions were asked but were not answered. Referring to the Haiti cholera lawsuit against the UN, Inner City Press asked if any UN Peacekeeping mission has in fact established one of the Standing Claims Commissions provided for in their Status of Forces Agreements.

  UN acting deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said that actually setting these up depends on the request of the mission's host government. But that not only ignores the power relations, it does not answer the yes or no question: has any Standing Claims Commissions been set up?

  Haq referred to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. But its chief Herve Ladsous has refused to answer basic Press questions, such as about the 135 rapes at Minova by DPKO's partners in the Congolese Army. Video here, UK coverage here. So when will this simple question be answered?

  Likewise, Haq was asked for a comprehensive list of UN Under Secretaries Generals and Assistant Secretaries General. He said these are announced. But Inner City Press asked, what about long-standing, part-time officials? Where is the list?

  As a follow up, Inner City Press asked Haq for the UN Secretariat's response to criticism of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon seeking to move his close associate Robert Orr from an ASG position funded by used portions of other empty budget lines to a new USG position, while seeking cuts elsewhere.

  Haq didn't provide a defense of this, other than saying that any new position is up to the General Assembly and if created would be recruited for in an open and transparent process. An example of why some doubt that is the refusal to answer simple questions like: does any DPKO Peacekeeping Mission have a Standing Claims Commission? That should be answered.

Footnote: after Inner City Press asked about Haiti cholera, including Stephen Lewis' statement that the UN should admit responsibility and try to make victims whole, Pamela Falk the president of UNCA, now known as the UN's Censorship Alliance, jumped onto the topic in essence to help the UN out.

  She said that Haq has been open, and raised a reason why the UN might still not be screening peacekeepers for cholera before deployment: the World Health Organization. What was the purpose of such a question? Especially after when the UN mis-answered Inner City Press' first question on this, saying that the UN does not screen, then admitted that it doesn't only when Inner City Press asked again. Open? Keep an eye out for that hard-hitting coverage -- not.


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