Wednesday, April 13, 2016

For Next SG, UN Rape Question Not Answered By Guterres, Vuk on Way

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 12 -- How should the next UN Secretary General be selected, to improve the Organization?
  On April 12, when Irina Bokova of UNESCO came to answer media questions, to many it was bland, perhaps as selected. Inner City Press, which had been told byPresident of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft to ask the candidates about finances and corruption, did -- it asked Bokova what she thinks of the John Ashe case, see below. She did not answer. Nor did Antonio Guterres, perhaps not his fault, answer what he would do about peacekeepers' sexual abuse.
  The stakeout questions were selected not by the candidates or their campaign staff, but by Lykketoft's spokesperson, who began by mistaking one reporter for another -- while still awarding the question - and ended by calling on the same (state) media twice. In a flurry of diplomacy, we are not naming the media companies, much less reporters, at issue.
  Mid-afternoon Inner City Press tweeted that Vuk Jeremic might join the race, noting that his latest tweet was a Madonna song. Now he has announced: "It is a great honor to be a candidate for the post of @UN Secretary-General. Looking forward to presenting my candidacy to the Member States." He will speak on Thursday.
   While it was initially withheld, here now is the list of whom picked the civil society questions:
Civil Society Committee Members

Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu - A World at School - Cameroon
Kate Lappin - Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) - Australia
Kashmiri Stec - AYUDH - Poland
Parsu Ram Rai - Blue Diamond Society - Nepal
Sabine Saliba - Child Rights International Network - Lebanon
Olumide Idowu - Climate Wednesday - Nigeria
Melina Lito - Equality Now  - Albania
Volker Lehmann - Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung - NY / Germany
Leonardo Párraga - Fundación BogotArt - Colombia
Mohammad Hassan    Mashori - Fundamental Human Rights & Rural Development Association FHRRDA - Pakistan
Peter van Tuijl - Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC)    Netherlands
Mark Ross - Global Youth Movement - Guyana  - Guyana
Angela Muthama - Human Rights and Information Forum  - Kenya
Ben Homer - Innovation & Planning Agency - Switzerland / USA
Sandra Creamer - International Indigenous Womens Forum - Australia
Eleanor Openshaw - International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) - UK
Pefi Kingi - PACIFICWIN - New Zealand
Federica D'Alessandra - Public International Law & Policy Group    Italy
Hugh Dugan - Seton Hall University, School of Diplomacy, Center for UN and Global Governance Studies - USA
Kirthi Jayakumar - The Red Elephant Foundation - India
Eleanor Blomstrom - Women's Environment and Development Organization - USA INGO
Ritah Muyambo - World YWCA - Zimbabwe
Guterres made light of the financial question, saying that his campaign is cheap, he is not worried. But will he disclose the budget?  
When Inner City Press asked Igor Luksic if he will disclose the budget for his campaign, from the Montenegro government and otherwise, he made a point saying yes, if he's going to speak about transparency he has to practice it.
Earlier, Lykketoft took a half-dozen questions before kicking off the informal dialogues, starting with Montenegro's foreign minister Igor Luksic, Inner City Press asked him if questions about UN rapes, and the John Ashe case audit, will be asked.
  Lykketoft replied that the "John Ashe" were already being dealt with, or were fixed. Inner City Press pointed out the Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of the Secretariat, how the Department of Public Information allowed a corrupt event in the General Assembly lobby, and a corrupt organization to play a role in the UN's event on slavery, as well as associating with another corrupt organization through "Friends of the UN." Video here.
  Lykketoft then said, these questions could come up. We'll be here.
     On April 11, Inner City Press asked the spokesperson for President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft if Lykketoft will ensure that financial disclosure questions are or can be asked, and who chose the “civil society” questions. The affable spokesperson told Inner City Press to ask Lykketoft, and that the list would be provided after the briefing. Video here.

  But it was not. Even who chose the people who chose the question was unclear: some in the UN who work with civil society, presumably meaning from the Department of Public Information which we must note is the most criticized UN department in the so-called John Ashe case audit the full text of which Inner City Press exclusively put online on April 6, here.

  DPI has shown a willingness to retaliate, so we are reporting this as diplomatically as possible: once a spokesperson has said on camera that a list will be given, it probably should be. At  minimum, the excuse for not providing it should not be, it would be misunderstood. Isn't it the job of the UN Department of Public Information to provide and if necessary explain information, rather than withhold it?
   That said, Inner City Press will be covering the "informal dialogues." First up on April 12 is Montenegro's foreign minister Igor Luksic. Beyond some bank bailout controversies, the fact that Montenegro has participated in peacekeeping in Somalia and Afghanistan, with the UN in Liberia and, it was debated, with the European Union in the Central African Republic gives rise to questions.
  What would Luksic do about the scandal of rapes in UN peacekeeping, in the Central African Republic and elsewhere? Merely mouthing "zero tolerance" is clearly not enough. What does Luksic think of a current head of UN Peacekeeping who links the rapes to "R&R"? Video here. To the critical Press being physically ousted from, then restricted within, the UN?
 Relatedly, what would he do, in light of the John Ashe case and audit, to ensure that the UN is no longer for sale? Watch this site.
  At the end of the April 11 noon briefing Inner City Press was told that the list of who chose the civil society questions will be put online on April 12, after the “interviews” of candidates has already begun. We'll be there - or as close to there as DPI allows. Watch this site.
(Inner City Press also asked Lykketoft's spokesperson if, in fact, DPI has at least belatedly complied with the John Ashe audit's Recommendation 5. The spokesperson said he will check. We're waiting.)

On April 8, Inner City Press asked the spokesman for outgoing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon what are the rules governing current UN system officials running for NextSG, in terms of their use of UN time, resources and staff. From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to know what the UN's rules are given that there are now two candidates that are currently employed by the UN system, Irina Bokova of UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization], Helen Clark of UNDP [United Nations Development Programme].  I wanted to know, what rules apply as to how they devote their time, how resources of the agencies and of other staff in the agencies are devoted to helping their campaign.

Spokesman Dujarric:  Obviously, for UNESCO, that is something for the UNESCO governing body to decide.  As far as UNDP, obviously, we would expect that and our understanding is that this will have no impact on her… on Ms. Clark's leadership of UNDP and that, obviously, that no staff resources would be used for that.

Inner City Press:  No, and I mean, I… I guess I mean it with all due respect, but inevitably, she's going to be spending time devoted to this.  So, the question is, like, how much time should she…?  It's an obvious…

Spokesman:  No, no, I'm saying it's a… I'm not debating the obviousness of the question.  That's what I have to say at this point.

On April 4, New Zealand announced for Helen Clark. But nowhere in it did New Zealand's announcemeone find financial disclosure, nor a vision statement.

And with Clark's UNDP embroiled in the the corruption scandal unveiled by the indictment of John Ashe, none of the correspondents NZUN invited for the launch even asked about that. And while anyone with a passing knowledge of UNDP knows Clark has a problem with staff relations, to put it mildly, no one asked about that either.