Sunday, September 14, 2014

In New Central African Republic Mission, Ban Ki-moon's "UN Standards" Include DR Congo Army, Child Soldier Recruiter, & Sri Lanka, Under UN Probe

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, September 14, more here -- As UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous took over the mission in Central African Republic on September 15, at 7 pm in New York -- midnight in Bangui -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon put out a statement claiming "a seamless transfer of authority, including the re-hatting of as many MISCA contingents as possible, in accordance with United Nations standards."
   But what has happened to UN standards, under Ladsous and Ban, that the new mission in CAR includes not only the DR Congo Army, which is on the UN's own list of child soldier recruiters, but even helicopters from Sri Lanka's army?
   Sri Lanka is being investigated by a panel formed by vote by the UN Human Rights Council for abuses in 2009, when tens of thousands of civilians were killed. But it has been accepted by Ladsous and Ban to provide helicopters to his mission in former French colony CAR.
  Tellingly, Ladsous refuses to answer Press questions (video compilation hereUK coverage here); the UN's Censorship Alliance threatened the Press not only to stop covering connections from Sri Lanka and its war crimes but also Ladsous.  This is what the UN is becoming; the new Free UN Coalition for Access opposes it.
   Last month after French "peacekeepers" reported shot and killed five people in the PK5 neighborhood of Bangui in the Central African Republic, Inner City Press asked Dujarric about it on August 21, video here. Dujarric essentially said Inner City Press should have asked the UN's chief in CAR about the shootings... before they happened. From the transcript:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about in the Central African Republic there are reports of fighting between the residents of PK-5 neighbourhood of Bangui and the French peacekeepers or soldiers, five killed, 40 injured, and I’m wondering, does the mission there, are they monitoring that, are they looking into how it happened?  What…

Spokesman Dujarric:  I’m trying to get some information from the mission.  As soon as I have it, I will share it with you.

Inner City Press:  And also, the reason, if you could ask them because there have been previous, I’m not saying that is the case in this case but there have been previous encounters which residents said that they were shot and the aggressors were the, “peacekeepers”, and each time it was said that the mission would be looking into this.  But I have yet to hear any kind of report on those, I can name the incidents or you can go back and there has been at least three and whatever happened to those?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Did you have a chance to ask General Gaye?

Inner City Press:  No.  I asked him about DRC soldiers.

Spokesman Dujarric:  Great.  I will get the Under-Secretary-General
   When Gaye took questions -- to his credit, unlike his boss Herve Ladsous -- these PK5 killings by the French soldiers hadn't yet taken place. To be fair, perhaps Dujarric was referring not to the new killings, but the older ones. But nine hours after the briefing, no further information had been provided. It may be that the problem is not (only) with the Office of the Spokesperson, but more fundamentally with UN Peacekeeping as Ladsous has been allowed to run it.
  The "DRC soldiers" question was why UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous would accept into the forthcoming UN mission in CAR, MINUSCA, the DRC Army which is still listed on the UN's child soldier recruitment list and provided impunity for 130 rapes by its soldiers in Minova, Eastern Congo in November 2012, conviction only two. Click here for that.

  Back on July 17 when Ladsous said he would take questions about peacekeeping in the Central African Republic, Inner City Press arrived early to ask about reports the current MISCA peacekeepers have killed civilians, for example in Bozoum, here.
  Ladsous however refused to answer the question. Video here.
  So on July 17, Inner City Press put the same question to UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq: what does the UN know, and what has it done about, allegations of killing by MISCA peacekeepers, proposed to be "re-hatted" in September?
  Haq told Inner City Press to "ask MISCA." So the UN has no role, and will automatically put UN "blue helmets" on these troops?
  Inner City Press also asked about media reports in Nepal that Ladsous will visit that country on July 11, ostensibly to "acquire information on the latest political situation [and] the progress made in terms of constitution writing."
  But do Ladsous and DPKO have any mandate to review constitutions? Shouldn't Ladsous if there review cholera screening, in light of bringing the disease to Haiti? Ladsous did not answer, and neither did Haq.
   On July 16 at the Security Council stakeout, first Ladsous sought out a softball question in French; then when the Press question about MISCA in Bozoum was asked, he shook his head and said, “I give the floor to Madame.”

  Earlier in the afternoon at the same UN Television stakeout, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Rwanda had answered Inner City Press' question by stating that Ladsous' Department of Peacekeeping Operations not only flew a sanctioned FDLR militia leader in the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- Ladsous has also refused to answer Rwanda's formal June 26 complaint. Video here.

   So Inner City Press asked that question, politely but audibly. Again Ladsous refused to answer, looking desperately around for a friendly question.
 Ladsous has adopted this position -- video compilation here -- since Inner City Press asked him about his history during the Rwanda genocide in 1994, as France's Deputy Permanent Representative in the Security Council arguing for the escape of genocidaires into Eastern Congo, sample memo here.
  It was and is a straightforward question, the type public officials answer every day. But Ladsous has refused, and has gone further.
   Because Ladsous is protected -- was nominated -- by the French government which has controlled UN Peacekeeping four times in a row now, this anamoly is allowed to go on inside the UN. 
  Here's how it look from outside, in the UK New Statesman. And here is a video of Ladsous ordering his spokesperson to take the microphone away so that questions about rapes by his partners in the DRC Army could not be asked. 
  Here is a video of Ladsous taking the friendly scribes atop the UN Correspondents Association into the hall for a private briefing. To this has the UN descended.
  More seriously, UN Peacekeeping by most accounts brought cholera to Haiti, which has killed over 8,000 people. Inner City Press asked Ladsous, loud and clear (but nothing but polite) if his DPKO now belatedly screens peacekeepers from cholera hot spots before deployment. 
  Ladsous refused to answer. To this has the UN descended. The new Free UN Coalition for Access has formally proposed that UN Under Secretaries General not be allowed to take this approach. Watch this site.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

For UN Security Council Spain, Turkey & New Zealand Face Off For Two Seats, Of Smart Phone Apps & Future Races in 2016 and 2018

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, September 12, more here -- New Zealand, Spain and Turkey are facing off at the UN for two seats on the Security Council. Which one will be left out? 
  Two years ago it was Finland, whose Permanent Representative gave Inner City Press an inflated vote count of 165 on the eve of the election. This has become urban legend and now no one makes predictions. But there is spin.
   New Zealand is a small country, but one which can relate to outsiders like Eritrea. The last time they were on the Council, they spoke up for Rwanda. They fought a war with Turkey, which has led to a bond. Still, the Kiwis were surprised when Turkey jumped into what would have been a “clean slate” with Spain.
  There should have been no surprise: Turkey feels itself a rising power, they paid for and branded the area outside the Security Council, previously open to the press, into a “Turkish Lounge.” But how will their crackdowns inside Turkey, and now reticence to join up with Obama's coalition against ISIS play?
  For the European Union, could the live with both Western European and Other Group seats going to non-EU members? Then again, it is pointed out, the EU spans three UN regional groups: WEOG, Eastern Europe and even the Asia Pacific Group, through Cyprus. So how could the UN tell its members how to vote? The election's set for October 16.
  In the next contested WEOG race in 2016 it's slated to be Sweden, the Netherlands and Italy; in 2018 it'll be Belgium, Israel and Germany. Inner City Press -- and as regards press freedom issues, the Free UN Coalition for Access -- will be covering these and other races: Fiji and Malaysia this time; in 2016, Kenya versus Seychelles, Thailand versus Kazakhstan. In 2017, Kuwait and Yemen face off; in 2018, Maldives and Indonesia. Watch this site, and this one.
Footnote: At least since 1961, New Zealand has produced a UN Handbook. Its new one was unveiled on September 12 at the country's UN mission on Third Avenue, in hardcopy and a smart phone app. There was Chardonnay and schmoozing, a handbook-themed chocolate bar (hopefully not bad karma, after Finland's Martti bar); and previously copies of the handbook. The 1961 edition listed the UN General Assembly's “Committee for the Unification and Rehabilitation of Korea, UNCURK.” Plus ca change.


De Mistura Trolled By Syrian Coalition, Inner City Press Questions on Brussels Base and His Pay Go UNanswered

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, September 11 -- Hours after US President Barack Obama's speech, the Syrian Coalition put out a press release requesting airstrikes and cash from Congress, pronto.
  Now on September 13 the Coalition has put out this, about UN envoy de Mistura:
"Khatib Badla, member of the political committee, said that the new UN special envoy to Syria will not be able to succeed in his mission if he follows the same approach followed by his predecessors who failed to bring the Assad regime to the negotiating table," commenting on the statements of the UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, who described as “useful" his meeting with Assad...
 De Mistura has described his meeting with Assad as “long and very useful,” and underlined the “necessity of combating terrorism and helping Syrians solve their crisis politically. “Terrorist threats have become a source of concern for people all over the world, de Mistura told reporters after the encounter. He added that “combating terrorist groups is one of the UN's priorities and this move would not be made without solving the country's crisis to create better situations for Syrians, stressing this move would be made to coincide with a comprehensive political process taking into consideration UN Resolution 2170 tasked with combating terrorism.” 
  Inner City Press five days ago asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric the following, in writing:
"please confirm or deny that Mr. de Mistura will be (allowed to be) based in Brussels, and separate state his contract status: When Actually Employed? Paid at USG level? Is he being allowed to continue working with / for any non-UN organization, if so which, and what review of possible conflicts of interest was made, and by whom?"
  Five days and no answer: UNtransparent.
On September 11, the Syrian Coalition's Hadi al-Bahra said:
"We urge the US Congress to approve the president’s policy as soon as possible, and to allow the training and equipping of Free Syrian Army. The Syrian Coalition, the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, stands ready and willing to partner with the international community not only to defeat ISIS but also rid the Syrian people of the tyranny of the Assad regime. Carrying out airstrikes against ISIS inside Syria might be crucial to international efforts aimed at eliminating the extremist group."
  The Turkey-based Coalition is calling for air strikes on Syria with no mention of even seeking UN Security Council approval; their lobbying is directed at the US Congress because inaction might tie up the money.
  Where is this all headed?
   Obama's September 10 speech was 2010 words long, mentioning Yemen and Somalia twice each, but Libya not once. Libya was an intervention Obama directed for the US, that has left dueling militia and missing passenger jets in its wake.
   The speech mentioned the UN once, the UN Security Council session on foreign fighters that Obama will chair on September 24. But what about at least seeking UN Security Council approval for air strikes on Syria? Apparently not.
   In calling for the arming of the Syrian opposition, including by Saudi Arabia, some question the qualitative difference with arming and training of rebels in Ukraine and snark: my rebels good, your rebels bad.
   Before the speech there were these quotes, embargoed until exactly 6:30 pm:
“So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”

“But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”
  Whether it has been successful in Yemen -- where the Houthis drove all the way to Sana'a -- or Somalia where the US' local partners raised Shabelle Media, is UNclear. We'll cover the speech.
   Starting from the beheading of US journalist James Foley, the Syrian Coalition has pushed harder to equate Assad and the Islamic State, and to present themselves, based in Turkey, as a key to fighting ISIL. Their pitch on the Arab League meeting is below.
 But first, this read-out from a Senior US State Department official, of Secretary of State Kerry's call with Nabil al-Arabi:
"Secretary Kerry spoke with the Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby today to discuss developments in the region and to provide an update on efforts to combat ISIL in advance of the Arab League meetings which start tomorrow.  They discussed the need for the Arab League and its members to take a strong position in the coalition that is developing against ISIL and the importance of decisive action to stop the flow of foreign fighters, counter ISIL's financing, and combat its incitement.

"The Secretary emphasized that the military aspect is only one part of this effort and that to degrade and destroy the threat posed by ISIL will require a holistic approach that will take time, persistence and require coordination with our Arab partners at the international, regional, and local level – combining military, law enforcement, intelligence, economic, and diplomatic tools. Both leaders also recognized that Iraq is on the front line in the war against ISIL and that Iraq, the United States, the region, and the international community must stand together to assist Iraq in facing this threat."
  Earlier on September 6 the Syrian Coalition issued a statement that:
"Nasr al-Hariri, Secretary General of the Syrian Coalition, calls on the Arab League to go beyond political recognition of the Syrian Coalition and grant it full legal recognition as the representative of the Syrian people during a meeting held today with Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi. 
 "Al Arabi invited the Syrian Coalition to occupy Syria’s seat in the Arab League tomorrow and speak on behalf of the Syrian people. 'Fighting terrorism cannot be done piecemeal, therefore the Arab League’s resolution must include putting an end to the terror practiced by the Assad regime against the Syrian people,' Al Hariri said commenting on the Arab League’s intention to pass a resolution to confront terrorism during the upcoming ministerial meeting."
  The Syrian Coalition said it will churn out a quote right after Obama's speech.
Footnote: Agence France Presse, purporting an info-graphic of journalists killed last year, listed four as killed "in Gaza." Since all other listed jurisdiction are full UN member states, some surmised AFP's nomenclature let off the hook the killer of those journalists. Despite calling it social media, weeks later AFP had not responded.

Qatar Reportedly Paid $20 Million to Al Nusra Front For Fijian UN Peacekeepers' Release, Ban Ki-moon's Qatar-Funded Private Jet Recalled: In Kind

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 13, more here -- After 45 UN Peacekeepers from Fiji were released by the Al Nusra Front, multiple UN sources told Inner City Press that Qatar had paid a ransom. Their cited figures ranged from $10 million to (well) over $20 million. Several said it reminded them of Ban's murky travel on a Qatar-funded private jet, first reported then pursued by Inner City Press.

  Now it is publicly reported that "Qatar paid a ransom of $20 million in exchange for the release of the 45 Fijian UN peacekeepers." 

  This recalls UN spokespeople telling Inner City Press that Qatar paying for Ban Ki-moon's private jet travel didn't have to be disclosed as it was an "in kind" contribution. So, is this too, an in-kind contribution?

  On September 12, two UN Peacekeeping sources told Inner City Press that their boss Herve Ladsous knew about it. "He's conveniently touring Africa now," one said, to try to escape the issue. In previous detention of UN peacekeepers in the Golan by armed extremists, Ladsous has done little, with no investigation after their release. And this time?

    On Qatar's payment(s), how can it be that the UN does not disclose when Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accepts free travel on a private jet, and on July 24 would not tell Inner City Press how and on whose plane Ban flew to Iraq? Video here.
   This followed the UN's only belated acknowledgement, after Inner City Press asked several times, that Ban began his Gaza-related tour by flying on a Qatar-funded jet to Qatar, then Cairo.
 Bigger picture, does the UN, while claiming to abide by its own stated ethics rules, simply not have time for them and waive them?  When Inner City Press asked on July 23, UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said, if you are here as a lawyer, "You're not entitled to be at the noon briefing." Video here from Minute 4:26.
 Haq has denied that there is any conflict of interest in accepting the Qatar-funded travel, but has still not said when or how an opinion was sought from the UN's Ethics Office. Video here and embedded below. Inner City Press on July 23 asked, in writing:
"This is a request for the the entire audio file of the Secretary General's press availability in Jerusalem at which the US State Department transcribed the question, “Mr. Secretary-General, do you think it’s appropriate for Qatar to be paying for your flight here” and this answer:
SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN: No – ladies and gentlemen, this is the 15th day since the crisis began. We do not have much time to weigh the rules.
[since changed on State Department website from this archived version, here]
"This is also a request to be informed if, when and how the UN Ethics Office was asked about the Secretary General accepting the gift of travel on the Qatar-funded, and the UN's estimate of the value of the gift; a statement of all rules applicable to receipt of this gift, and how much has been spent on Secretary General travel in the past two years. On deadline."
  Here was the UN's "response," with neither the audio file, nor the budget or financial information:
To: Matthew.Lee [at]
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 4:59 PM
The State Department has acknowledged that its transcription was in error and has corrected the record, please see link below.
The Ethics Office has agreed on the need to use the chartered plane because of the Secretary-General's need to travel to a number of locations in the Middle East at short notice, The Ethics Office notes that the Secretary-General interacts with all 193 Member States, and he is scrupulous at maintaining the independence of the UN when engaged in his political and diplomatic undertakings.
   This did not answer "when and how the UN Ethics Office was asked about the Secretary General accepting the gift of travel on the Qatar-funded, and the UN's estimate of the value of the gift; a statement of all rules applicable to receipt of this gift." 
  And so at the July 24 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Haq to provide information about the last ten free trips provided to Ban or his senior staff by states or others. Haq cut the question off, belatedly providing a UN budget Secretary General travel figure -- $2,190,300 for 2014 / 2015 -- but not explaining why he hadn't simply emailed this to Inner City Press.
  Haq claimed the deadline was unclear. So that's why he held the information back? Here's the July 24, 2014, video:

  On the audio file, Haq referred to UN Radio. Here it is, for download at mp3 - but it cuts off the question asked of Ban about the Qatar-funded plane, that the State Department transcribed. 
The UN has previously censored its transcripts to omit the Free UN Coalition for Access and what was said to Ban; when Haq answered Inner City Press that Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir was dead, he "corrected" this in the transcript without ever telling Inner City Press that his answer was wrong, or had been "disappeared" in the transcript.

  On July 24 after Inner City Press asked for basic UN financial information -- last ten free trips -- Haq said, "You are not a prosecutor."Video here.
And here's the July 23, 2014 video:

On July 21, the UN belatedly answered Inner City Press' July 19 inquiry about Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accepting a free Qatar-funded, British registered private jet for his current travel about Gaza. Video here and embedded below.
  On July 23 in Jerusalem, Ban Ki-moon was asked,"do you think it’s appropriate for Qatar to be paying for your flight here?"

  And Ban Ki-moon responded, "No – ladies and gentlemen, this is the 15th day since the crisis began.  We do not have much time to weigh the rules."
   Inner City Press, and now the Free UN Coalition for Access, have been pursuing this question, including with Transparency International which answered "it would seem that the Secretary General would have had to have been previous clearance to undertake such a paid trip by the Qatari government. This question should be posed to the Office of Ethics."
  And so on July 22, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq if the UN Ethics Office was asked about accepting the free Qatar-funded private jet flights.
  Haq replied:
I'm aware that as a standard policy, we inform the Ethics Office of all such offers...I don't know about this particular case. I know it for past cases, every time I have asked the Ethics Office about this, they have talked about being informed about this... They do approve these on the case of exceptional circumstances.”
Inner City Press asked Haq to get an answer from the Ethics Office, if they were asked before Ban began his current trip in the Qatar-funded jet.
Haq said, “I can do this... This is what has happened several times in the past.” 
  But apparently not this time. Ban said, "We do not have much time to weigh the rules." We'll stay on this.

   Should the UN Secretary General in a mediation attempt accept free travel from a country with a particular interest in the conflict to be mediated?
   What review should take place? What disclosures should be made, and when? From the UN's July 21 transcriptvideo here from Minute 31:
Inner City Press: you are saying that the use of private planes, generically if necessary, is signed off by the ethics office, but my question is, private planes provided by anyone? Would the Secretary-General, would he accept such service from any Member State, or would he accept it from corporations? The question becomes, given that particular countries have different views of the conflict, what review is made before accepting a particular country’s contribution?
Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq: Well, we do have, like I said, an ethics office and a legal office that can look into these things and see whether something is appropriate or not.
Inner City Press: Was this particular flight checked or you’re saying there’s a generic ruling in advance that any private plane is okay?
Deputy Spokesman Haq: No, I don’t think there’s a generic ruling about this, but certainly, if you need to justify this for essential needs, and something like this, a trip that the Secretary-General was able to embark on and made the decision on just at the end of last week and then had to travel, starting Saturday evening, something like that would have been extremely hard or basically impossible to do in a different sort of way.
Inner City Press: I’m asking because in the budget Committee, often many, particularly developing world countries, they say that things should be funded out of the UN’s general budget rather than taking voluntary contributions from States that then have influence. So, my question is, isn’t there a travel budget? We’ve asked in this room many times to know what the budget is, so I’d still like to know that. But, if there is a budget, why wasn’t the general UN budget used for this rather than taking a specific gift from a specific country? That’s the question.
Deputy Spokesman Haq: The worry is, of course, if you run out of money early, does that mean you can’t travel, even if there’s a crisis? In this case, there was a crisis that necessitated sudden travel.
  Inner City Press broke the story on July 19 -- credit has been given, for example, by Newsweek, here -- and has been asking Ban's spokespeople for disclosure and what safeguards are in place.
   Lead spokesman Dujarric replied but did not answer on July 19. When he called in to the UN noon briefing from Cairo on July 21, Inner City Press asked him again on whose plane Ban is traveling. 
  This time, Dujarric answered that Ban is flying on a Qatar government funded, UK registered plane.  But he did not answer if there are any safeguards against influence or conflicts of interest. Would Ban accept free flights from any UN member state? From anyone at all?
  Inner City Press asked Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, who said the the UN Ethics Office said taking private planes is okay when necessary.
  But private planes from ANYONE? Any member state? A corporation? There have been no real answers, yet. But there need to be.
 Diplomats told Inner City Press that Ban would fly -- on a Qatari plane -- to Qatar, Ramallah (but not for now Gaza), Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.
  The diplomats who complained to Inner City Press questioned not only Ban taking free flights from a particular country, but also how the use (and landing) of a Qatari plane will play in, for example, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
 Inner City Press asked Ban's top two spokespeople, and the spokesperson listed as on weekend duty, the following:
"Please state whether the Secretary General is accepting free transportation from any member state or outside party for his current trip to the region concerning the Gaza crisis, and if so please explain the reason and any safeguards in place against influence or conflict of interest.
"Such disclosure should be common practice; if necessary, note that former Spokesperson Nesirky did answer such Press questions, for example concerning the Secretary General flying on a UAE plane (see sample below). On deadline, thank you in advance.
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Subject: Your questions
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]
Date: Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

- The UAE Government provided an aircraft to fly the Secretary-General from Beirut to Abu Dhabi because of time constraints.
     Later on July 19, the following was received, which we publish in full 25 minutes after receipt:
From: Stephane Dujarric [at]
Date: Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 5:30 PM
Subject: Re: Press question if SG is accepting free travel from any member state or outside party, as was disclosed in 2012, on deadline, thanks
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress [dot] com
Cc: FUNCA [at]
Dear Matthew, Thanks for your question and thanks for the draft answer. The logistical details of the SG's trip, including the travel arrangements are still being worked out. Once we are in a position to confirm them, i will revert.
Stephane Dujarric (Mr.)
Spokesman for the Secretary-General
  But obviously the "logistical details" of getting to Qatar were worked out - Ban had already been to Qatar, then Kuwait before Cairo.

  One asked, what can you solve if you can't even say how you got there?
  Inner City Press thanked Dujarric and his colleagues for the interim response and asked, "both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Poroshenko's office say they have spoken with the Secretary General and give read-outs. Will a UN read-out be put out? If so, when? If not, why not?"
  On July 21, Inner City Press asked Haq, who confirmed the calls took place but nothing about the contents. What is happened with the UN? The Free UN Coalition for Access is pressing for reforms. We'll have more on this.


UN's Ban Ki-moon Brands Climate Change Event as “BKM Summit,” His Spox Says “Leaders Do As They Do”

By Matthew Russell Lee 
UNITED NATIONS, September 12 -- The UN's Ban Ki-moon is weak in standing up to major countries, that is widely known, most recently from the position that on bombing Syria without Securit Council approval, leaders will make what decisions they make. But is Ban a megomaniac too?
   The upcoming “Climate Summit” has a Twitter hashtag. But it is not @UNClimateSummit or something of the like: it is @BMK_Summit.  BKM is, of course, Ban Ki-moon. Even Al Gore wouldn't do that.
   But the deal appears to be, Ban won't criticize the US or Obama on anything about Syria, as long as Obama pays lip service to this “BKM Summit.” What matter than major countries are not coming at high level? This is to be “BKM's” legacy.
   In the UN Delegates' Lounge on September 12, there was much criticism of Ban and how he is “killing” the UN, as one long time staff member put it. “This makes us look bad,” another staffer said. A contractor described the “high level” lunch for Obama et al as lamb and tuna tartare. To this has the UN under Ban descended.
 After US President Barack Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke on September 8, it was the White House and not the UN which put out a read-out. The US read-out mentioned ISIL, but not whether Security Council approval should be sought for any bombing in Syria without the government's consent.
On Ukraine, the US said “they discussed the importance of an effective monitoring mechanism for the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine.” Previously, leaked audio discussed former US, now UN official Jeffrey Feltman “getting” Ban to send Robert Serry to Ukraine.
  The issue here is the UN's (declining fig leaf of) independence.
  One wonders why the UN didn't put out its own read out. Could it be because the US agreed to mention “the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit”?
  Or could it be the US' praise of Ban on ebola? The US read-out began “President Obama spoke today with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the need for greater international assistance to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. President Obama thanked the Secretary-General for recent steps taken by the United Nations to coordinate the global response and pledged additional U.S. assistance to bring the outbreak under control.” A 25-bed hospital?
  Meanwhile, it's reported that “the United Nations Security Council session on foreign terrorist fighters that the President will chair,” as the US read-out puts it, will be at 3 pm on September 24 (rather than on September 25). The afternoon of the 24th would overlap or preempt the speeches of the heads of state of Bolivia, Rwanda, Jordan, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Nigeria, Honduras, Montenegro, South Africa, Switzerland, Chad, Estonia, Equatorial Guinea and maybe even Sri Lanka. We'll have more on this.