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For UNGA, UN Won't Show 1 of 1500 Copies of Ban Ki-moon's Vanity Press Book

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, September 22 -- As Ban Ki-moon's time at the UN winds down and he prepares coyly to run for President in South Korea, his packaging of his legacy has become a vanity amateur operation.

Take for example the hard cover book on his conference table when he met on September 18 with Donald Tusk, President, European Council and Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President, European Commission. Inner City Press subsequently went and saw it give to Poland, Chad and it seems clear (all) others.

It is called “Highlights of the tenure of Ban Ki-moon, 2007-2016.” Inner City Press asks: who wrote it? Who paid for it? Why was this done? What are the contents?

Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric and for three days, nothing. Then this:

"You asked me about the book the Secretary-General has been giving to visiting dignitaries. The genesis of this reflects the Secretary-General's efforts to ensure a smooth handover to his successor.  In addition to the usual issue briefs on the full a-to-z agenda, the Secretary-General felt that it would be beneficial for the Secretariat as a whole to assess in an open, broader, more thematic way the challenges that were faced, to explain the approaches that were taken to address them, and to catalogue the obstacles that were encountered along the way and how they were -- or were not -- overcome.  

This exercise was undertaken by small working groups across the Secretariat, funds and programmes. It was also an important exercise in teamwork across the Secretariat and a useful exercise for staff members at all levels who participated, providing the opportunity to pause and look back at what has been achieved in each of their areas of competency.

While the insights provided should help inform the next administration, it was also decided, in line with Secretary-General's general policy on transparency, that it may be of interest to a wider audience and as such, it was decided to issue it for publication. In this regard, there will be an initial print run for book of 500 paperback editions and 1,000 hardcovers. It will be sold in the Bookshop and through our other distribution channels and be published through DPI’s publication unit."

So it IS a vanity press publication. How much did it cost? Why has Ban's office been unwilling to show a copy, if it is such an "open" approach? What does it say about Yemen? Haiti cholera? Sri Lanka? The John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng case? Burundi? Ng Lap Seng and the promotion of Ban's son in law?

On September 22, Inner City Press asked Dujarric, transcript here:

Inner City Press: Earlier today, you sent me an answer about this… the book that the Secretary-General has been signing and giving to Heads of State.  What I wanted know… I mean, I'd asked you in writing how much it cost and to see a copy of the content, because it seems to be called Highlights of the Tenure of… I've seen the cover.  And then you've said that it's sort of an open review, including… does it have self-criticism or…?

Spokesman:  The book… you know, you will be able to see the book when it hits the UN Bookstore shortly.  I don't have a copy on my desk, unfortunately.  As I said, it's an open exercise reflecting on what went well, what went wrong during the last 10 years.  I think any time in this organization where we can take the time to stop, pause and look back is very useful.  It's something that we don't do often enough.  Obviously, the Secretary-General will give his successor direct personal advice.  There will be handovers of… kind of handover briefs of papers that will be internal.  But, I think an open and transparent look back on the tenure, as I said, with what went well and what went wrong will be… I think is useful to all, is useful to the next Secretary-General and his team, is useful to Member States.  As I said, the book should be available soon, and it will be… it's the same version that the Secretary-General is giving visiting heads of delegation as a gift.

ICP Question:  How many were printed?  You said that there will be 1,000… 500 paperback and 1,000 hard cover… have they already been printed?

Spokesman:  They're in the process of being printed and some advanced copies…

ICP Question:  Okay.  Just… people that have seen this answer have asked me this, so I wanted to ask you this.  Do you see a contradiction… if the people writing the book are, in fact, UN staff whose job is dependant on the UN, how open a review is it?  I mean…  Are there anonymous chapters?

Spokesman:  I think, before… I would encourage you to review the book once you've read the book.  And I would encourage everybody to do that.

  For the next meeting, with Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, another copy of the Ban vanity book was out, along with a pen to sign it.

By the last meeting of the day, after Inner City Press tweeted then first published this story, the copy of the book for UNASUR's Ernesto Samper Pizano was covered up with a file by Ban's staff. Is this on the level?

 In the hall was the office of Nardos Bekele-Thomas, moved out of the top job in Kenya so Ban's son in law could occupy it before Ban leaves. Legacy, indeed....

 The Friday before UN General Assembly week starts in earnest, reporters at the UN were told of some of the upcoming meetings and how, despite restrictions, to cover them.

Inner City Press asked the head of the UN's Department of Public Information Cristina Gallach why DPI says the non-resident correspondents, the vast majority of journalists covering the UN, will be placed in basement Conference Room 1 where no only food and beverages but even water is not allowed.

(In Ban's conference room there is water and, we've noted at his all-Korean meeting, tea.)

   Gallach's reply cited to “professionalism” and rules, both of which she invoked when she ousted and then evicted Inner City Press from the UN earlier this year.

Ironically, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric less that an hour later explained having violated the rules (about those without cameras not attending photo ops) so that South Korean print journalists could witness Ban's speech to politicians visiting from Seoul.

The UN's rules are selectively implied, in this case to censor.

  Last October 19, 2015 Inner City Press asked Gallach about her attendance at the South South Awards of Ng Lap Seng, the Macau-based businessman under house arrest for bribery at the UN.

  On September 16, Inner City Press asked Gallach about the since-released Office of Internal Oversight Services audit, which found that her DPI did not due diligence on events by Ng Lap Seng fundees.

  Gallach said that the outside event - the case in Federal court - is being followed. So Inner City Press asked for her response to testimony in the case that South South News, which unlike Inner City Press the rule-invoking Gallach left in its UN office despite or because of it not asking any questions at the UN, was named as a “conduit of bribery.” This, she did not answer.

   After the briefing, which included film maker Richard Curtis whom Inner City Press asked about the Next SG race, Gallach's staffer asked for further information about the water(less) issue.

  Inner City Press added the exclusion of non-resident correspondents from access to the UN's EZTV which shows more events than the UN webcast. See flier here of the Free UN Coalition for Access, also ejected and sign torn down under Gallach. What will change? We'll see. Watch this site.


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