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Dow and Pinochet Connections to UNA-USA, Questions for Miller

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, May 12 -- The UN Association of the USA is, of course, a venerable group, seeking to educate residents of the UN's "host country" on the benefits of the World Body. But where, some ask, is accountability? Last month at a UNA-USA event, participants were charged $10 to hear from two UN staffer members how to get a job at the UN.

  When Inner City Press asked how this complied with the UN's statements that money is never requested in connection with a search for  a UN job, the UN speakers said that UNA-USA would answer. But they have not. A staffer, at a human rights event earlier this month, said "that was a local chapter." But what is the answer?

  Now, journalists at the UN including Inner City Press are asked to attend a "meet and greet" with UNA-USA's new president, replacing longstanding William Luers: Tom Miller, described as a former US Ambassador to Greece. But a cursory Google search finds a 2006 Irish Times article entitled "Watering down of EU regulations on chemicals proves power of lobbyists," which reported that

"the US ambassador in Greece, Thomas J Miller, met Dow Chemical executives 'to discuss how to engage the Greek government.' According to an internal State Department cable, the embassy 'advised them that they should activate their European industry colleagues' and 'identified appropriate Greek government officials for industry contact and explained how best to approach them based on their political and philosophical orientation.'"

   While lobbying for US companies like Dow on how to "watered down EU regulations on chemicals" might be a plus in US diplomatic circles, how it plays in the realm of the UN remains to be seen. Then again, Miller's predecessor Luers was linked to the pro-Pinochet "Operation Condor," click here for that.

   The post pays over $200,000 a year.

UN's Ban with, at his left, Tom Miller then Plan Int'l, now UNA-USA

And when a journalist asked the UN to back up the statement, made in Washington in March, that the US owns over $1 billion to the UN, the spokesperson first said, come upstairs for the evidentiary support -- and then said, it's UNA-USA's number. These are the questions for Mr. Miller, this week and going forward. And this, some advice that UNA-USA, which doubles as the "Business Council for the UN," offers online:

Once a supplier has researched the United Nations market and has identified the agency or agencies with which it wishes to conduct business, it must commit itself to establishing long-term relationships with U.N. officials and procurement officers at an agency's headquarters and field offices. Frequently, these relationships provide valuable additional information to suppliers about upcoming contracts, technical specifications for these contracts, and existing competition for a contract award that would not otherwise be available.

While there does not yet exist a public advertising system that notifies suppliers of all or most upcoming contracts throughout the U.N. system, individual agencies increasingly rely on their websites to publicize contracts. Nevertheless, there is no substitute for personal relationships with procurement officers, who can provide added insight to the procurement process.

  This does not seem to be the sort of policy the UN should be recommending. Watch this site.

  Click here for a new YouTube video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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

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

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