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At UN, Caste Society As Budget Cttee Works Underground Where Protocol Is Moved, "Wasteful" SG

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive series

UNITED NATIONS, December 20 – Today's UN is a caste society, plunging toward a showdown. On the evening on December 19, under threat of a $250 million budget cut, mostly mid-level UN diplomats worked into the night in the Fifth Committee in the UN's basement, stopping for a dinner on paper plates, served from disposable aluminum pans. Elsewhere in Manhattan, Security Council diplomats with recent failures on Syria chemical weapons and Jerusalem, Yemen and the unacted on Cameroon, noshed and congratulated themselves, unaware or uncaring of the possible showdown brewing back in the basement. Among UN staff, too, there is a related hierarchy. Inner City Press has exclusively reported on Antonio Guterres' wasteful tearing out of recently built cubicles for so called "hot desking" in which staff will no longer have their own desks much less offices. But this does not apply to all staff: "D1 and above" will continue with offices. Morale has plummeted but few dare say it, fearing punishment under distant Guterres regime of retaliation, including against the Press. Even at the smallest level, Guterres on December 18 used two vehicles, guards and staff, to be drive just across First Avenue to UNICEF. There, his Department of Public Information's Alison Smale and Maher Nasser were in the front rows - and then left nearly immediately after Guterres, with his entourage, left. Others remained, with barely audible microphones, in the UN caste system. These people don't even answer actual Press questions, from rosewood to censorship to waste, fraud and abuse. Guterres held no end of year press conference, but uses public resources to hold vanity interviews such as one he will hold this week in the Netherlands. Where will he go after that? And what will happen with "his" UN budget, as he wastes money? How wasteful is the UN under Antonio Guterres? How insubstantial are his ostensible reforms? The UN's Protocol office, until now on the UN's second floor across from the Security Council, is being move down to the third sub-basement for at least three months so that its space can be modified for "hot desking" or flex-space, at a cost of $500,000. What a waste, staff tell Inner City Press, pointing out this happened just after the UN of Ban Ki-moon spent billions on the UN Capital Master Plan renovation. Why will we have to go into the bowels of the UN, a diplomat asked Inner City Press. Both constituencies negatively reviewed Antonio Guterres, his Deputy and, for some closely in the loop, the head of the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management. But a fish rots from the head. Antonio Guterres is responsible. He has refused to take questions, for a month now, as his Protocol Office has been moved underground, in UN moving boxes of the kind Inner City Press' files were loaded into and dumped on First Avenue, when the UN evicted Inner City Press for reporting on corruption in the UN Press Briefing Room. Inner City Press remains restricted to minders 22 months later. Guterres and his head of DPI Alison Smale like / engage in censorship. We'll have more on this. Among the parts of the UN facing budget cuts for waste is not only the Department of Public Information, increasingly a propaganda arm which, as if as a sidelight, engages in censorship of the investigative Press, but also the UN's Regional Commissions, Budget Committee officials told Inner City Press on December 13. Inner City Press has previously reported on and asked about the presence of the Latin American Regional Commission (ECLAC) chief Alicia Barcena with Antonio Guterres when he spoke before the Committee. The UN then told Inner City Press Barcena was called on by Guterres for her expertise, but remains head of ECLAC. We'll have more on this. The Budget Committee officials told Inner City Press that if the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions does not finish "five big reports" by the end of this week, concluding the session on December 22 may be unlikely. At the noon briefing on December 14, Inner City Press asked the spokesman for the President of the General Assembly for the status of the ACABQ reports, and about the budget process. The question has been answered in writing: "The President of the General Assembly is aware of and concerned by the late arrival of documents to the Fifth Committee for its consideration. This has been a persistent problem, hampering the work of the Committee. The President has discussed this issue with the Chairs of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and the Fifth Committee. He has also been kept abreast of the state of play in the Fifth Committee, including through periodic contact with the Fifth Committee’s Chair. ACABQ is a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly and is represented in the Fifth Committee by its Chair." We'll have more on this. At the noon briefing on December 13, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I'm sure you're aware that, in the Budget Committee, proposals have been made for more substantial cuts than… than the Secretary-General has proposed.  He's proposed 200 million.  There's a proposal for 2… an additional $250 million in cuts.  And I wanted to ask you about… part of it, I've heard from a Budget Committee official, is the regional commissions to face… as well as special political commissions, DPI [Department of Public Information].  And I wanted to know, number one, are there contingency plans to implement it?  Do you have any response to this desire for cuts?  And Ms. [Alicia] Bárcena, who I know is the head of a regional commission, is this… I'd asked Stéphane [Dujarric], I think, what… she was, you know, sitting behind the Secretary-General in the presentation to the Budget Committee.  Is this her role?  What's the… what is the response to the… the desire to cut these regional commissions?  Can you justify their current budget?Deputy Spokesman:  Regarding this, this is a matter that's up for discussions among the Member States, and we'll let the Member States discuss amongst themselves how to proceed forward with a budget.  And so, the matter is in their hands, and we're not going to comment while they're dealing with it." New DPI chief Alison Smale's swearing in ceremony was closed to the Press; she has still not even responded to Inner City Press' three petitions for review of its eviction and restriction for reporting on corruption at the UN. Meanwhile, the UN Budget Committee head for the year, the Cameroonian Ambassador who joined DPI in its censorship after Inner City Press asked about abuses by his president Paul Biya, told Inner City Press it will all be done by December 22. We'll see. The UN delivered a threat to Inner City Press to “review” it accreditation on October 20 at 5 pm. The UN official who signed the letter, when Inner City Press went to ask about the undefined violation of live-streaming Periscope video at a photo op by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, had already left, minutes after sending the threat. This comes two days after Inner City Press asked Guterres about the UN inaction on threatened genocide in Cameroon, and the UN claimed Guterres hadn't heard the 15-second long question.

  It also comes after Alison Smale the head of the Department of Public Information which would “review” Inner City Press' accreditation has ignored three separate petitions from Inner City Press in the six weeks she has been in the job, urging her to remove restrictions on Inner City Press' reporting which hinder its coverage of the UN's performance in such crises as Yemen, Kenya, Myanmar, and the Central African Republic where Guterres travels next week, with Smale's DPI saying its coverage of the trip will be a test of its public relations ability. But the UN official who triggered the complaint is Maher Nasser, who filled in for Smale before she arrived.

UN's Letter Threatening to Review Inner City Press' Accreditation for Audio Report While Staking Out on Cam... by Matthew Russell Lee on Scribd

His complaint is that audio of what he said to Inner City Press as it staked out the elevators in the UN lobby openly recording, as it has for example with Cameroon's Ambassador Tommo Monthe, here, was similarly published

A UN “Public Information” official is complaining about an article, and abusing his position to threaten to review Inner City Press' accreditation. The UN has previously been called out for targeting Inner City Press, and for having no rules or due process. But the UN is entirely UNaccountable, impunity on censorship as, bigger picture, on the cholera it brought to Haiti. And, it seems, Antonio Guterres has not reformed or reversed anything. This threat is from an official involved in the last round of retaliation who told Inner City Press on Twitter to be less "negative" about the UN - amid inaction on the mass killing in Cameroon - and who allowed pro-UN hecking of Inner City Press' questions about the cholera the UN brought to Haiti and the Ng Lap Seng /John Ashe UN bribery scandal which resulted in six guilty verdicts. We'll have more on this.


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