Sunday, August 28, 2016

For Next SG, Clark to Somalia, Figueres DRC, Disclosure By Luksic As He Dropped Out

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 23 -- In the run-up to the third straw poll for Next UN Secretary General on August 29, New Zealand which will be president of the Council in September announced it will cede Next SG powers to Russia, which will also hold the Council presidency in October.

As we await clarification, candidate Helen Clark has been in Somalia, and Christiana Figueres to the DR Congo, including a visit to the Uruguayan peacekeepers there. Candidates rushed to condole Italy for its earthquake, and to congratulate Colombia for its FARC deal, on which the Security Council will meet on August 26.

On August 23 Inner City Press asked August's Council President, Ramlan Bin Ibrahim of Malaysia, to explain this; he said to wait for “the breakfast,” on September 1, for it to be formally presented.

   Meanwhile another candidate has dropped out: Igor Luksic of Montenegro. His letter is here. Along with Vuk Jeremic of neighboring Serbia, he was once of the younger and more articulate of the candidates -- including answering the Press on his budget back on April 12.

Now since Luksic followed through -- too rare in the today's UN -- we'll follow up as well: Luksic has disclosed that his “travel expenses during the campaign were 34,626.44 euros and costs related to the preparation and presentation of his vision statement and the platform at different events were 24,204.89 euros,” for a total of 58,831.33 euros. Will the other candidates disclose?

  At the other end of the spectrum, on August 25 Inner City Press asked outgoing SG Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric if Ban had even bothered to recuse himself when his own son in law Siddarth Chatterjee was made the UN system's (and UNDP's) Resident Representative in Kenya. No. Is this acceptable? Would the candidates to succeed Ban do this? Watch this site.

  As noted, Susana Malcorra met with the European Union in New York And more recently met with Angola); Christalina Figueres was in Mali. As we've asked all candidates, who is paying for that trip? Last week the Lancet inquired how the race may impact global health; watch this site.

The third straw poll for Next UN Secretary General is now set for Monday, August 29, UN Security Council president Malaysia told the press on August 12. It will still not involved color ballots which would allow one ot know if a candidate's discourages involve permanent, veto-holding members. Periscope video here.

The second poll happened on August 5, leaving frontrunner Antonio Guterres now with two discourages. Inner City Press' Periscope video here.  Second round, compared to previous:

Antonio Guterres: 11-2-2 (prev 12-0-3: one encourager left, P5 discourager(s) came out)

Vuk Jeremic: 8-4-3  (prev 9-5-1: one less encourage, one less discourage, no opinion grows)

Susana Malcorra: 8-6-1 (prev 7-4-4: one more encourage, but two more discourage)

Danilo Turk: 7-5-3 (prev 11-2-2: four encouragers leave, three more discourage: ouch)

Irina Bokova: 7-7-1 (prev 9-4-2: two less encourage, three more discourage)

Srgjan Kerim 6-7-2 (prev 9-5-1: three less encourage, two more discourage)

Helen Clark: 6-8-1 (prev 8-5-2: two less encourage, three more discourage)

Then with no comparison for discretion and feelings, Christiana Figueres 5-8-2), Natalia Gherman (3-10-2), Luksic, Lajcak - could there be a replacement?

The Security Council's decision sources tell Inner City Press may well not come until October, when Russia holds the monthly presidency of the Council.

   While Antonio Gutteres led in the first round, sources tell Inner City Press not only of P5 in his “no opinions” but also of the idea floated of Guterres as a Deputy Secretary General, along the lines of today's Jan Eliasson. There's been outreach to Bulgaria. Inner City Press again hearkens back to Ban Ki-moon rejecting Guterres' request for a mere one year extension at UNHCR. Is it pay-back time?

   On that front, while FYROM's Srgjan Kerim did better than expected in the first round, now there are detractors pointing back to a scandal while he was President of the General Assembly, in which his driver was found with big time (but not Iran-sized) cash, 750,000 euro, on the Hungarian border. Inner City Press reported it at the time, and has been multiply contacted since.

   On the issue of dual nationality, first reported by Inner City Press, outgoing Council member Spain is said to have two stealth nationals in the race (and, as reported, a desire to keep an Under Secretary General spot despite what its Cristina Gallach has mis-done with the Department of Public Information: perhaps Disarmament this time).  Which other Council members are asking for high posts from candidates? Watch this site.

And then there were eleven, running for Next Secretary General of the UN. Former Croatian foreign minister Vesna Pusic on August 4 dropped out, saying the results of the first straw poll show that the Security Council members want an insider.

   This comes after the anticipated expansion of the field to 13 with Kevin Rudd did NOT happen; Rudd was Turnbulled. But there are still others out there. And the issue of dual citizenship, involving Spain, is still in the mix. The second straw poll is set for August 5 and Inner City Press, barring further censorship by Ban Ki-moon and Spain's highest UN official Cristina Gallach, will be there.

As the UN Security Council on July 21 held its first closed-door straw poll on the 12 current candidates to replace Ban Ki-moon as UN Secretary General, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft if it was too late for Australia's Kevin Rudd or others to get into the race. Video here. Rycroft replied that it is not too late, candidates can enter after the first straw poll pursuant to the Council's earlier letter.

Inner City Press understands that some Security Council members are reaching out to still unannounced candidates beyond the current 12 and Rudd. Meanwhile, Council sources indicate that among ostensible frontrunner Gutteres' three “no opinions,” a Permanent Five member's veto waits. Inner City Press is told France supports Irina Bokova, but there is opposition within the other P3.

So the real politik frontrunners: Danilo Turk and Helen Clark, in this view. But others may loom.

   On the dual nationality front, we immediately report that Vuk Jeremic approached Inner City Press on July 28 to deny what some Council sources floated about his dual nationality. Jeremic states he is Serbian, only Serbian. Noted duly, and immediately.

  Inner City Press asked Ukraine's Ambassador if the issue of Crimea arose in the Council's interviews. He responded that a candidate's position on it will determine Ukraine's support. And obverse, of course, is also true. We'll have more on this. The second straw poll is set for August 5.

Below from multiple sources are the results of the first straw poll; Inner City Press can also exclusively report that questions have arisen about dual nationality of some candidates, including Christiana Figueres and Susana Malcorra (Italy / Spain),  beyond their listed countries which nominated them. It should be noted that the UN's “PHP” forms require such disclosures.

On July 25, Ukraine's Permanent Representative to the UN emerged from a closed door consultation of the Security Council and told the press that the second straw poll, which had been scheduled for July 29, would not be held then, but instead in the first week of August. Asked if he wouldn't be on vacation, he said no. And the others? Or, les autres?

After Ukraine said no second straw poll this week, Malaysia's Ambassador when asked said, No final decision. So does the Eastern Europe Group want a delay, to regroup?

Kevin Rudd continues to push to get into the race, and Susana Malcorra has complained of the results being leaked. There's talk of “strategic voting” -- which Permanent Five members were among the three “no opinions” on Gutteres? How could a country have no opinion of the long time UNHCR chief?

From multiple sources, results of the first straw poll, in the format of Encourage - Discourage - No Opinion:

Antonio Guterres: 12-0-3
Danilo Turk: 11-2-2
Irina Bokova: 9-4-2
Srgjan Kerim 9-5-1
Vuk Jeremic: 9-5-1;
Helen Clark: 8-5-2
Miroslav Lajcak: 7-3-5
Susanna Malcorra: 7-4-4
Christiana Figueres: 5-5-5
Natalia Gherman: 4-4-7
Igor Luksic: 3-7-5
Vesna Pusic: 2-11-2

After the straw polling, Ambassadors said no comment and it went well; Council President Koro Bessho said much the same on UNTV. Inner City Press asked him if the actual results had been given to the President of the General Assembly. Bessho began to say yes, then clarified, no.

At least he took Press questions. The candiates most recently appeared in an event for which the UN did not even provide a UNTV camera at the stakeout so these qustions culd be asked. Inner City Press wasBanned from streaming Periscope from the exit of the General Assembly hall after the event.

The "frontrunner" Antonio Gutteres is the one without a Twitter account; the runner-up Danilo Turk to his credit wants whistleblower Kompass back in the UN.

It's worth remembering that Gutteres was dissed by Ban Ki-moon when he asked for one more year atop UNHCR. Sources say Malcorra and Andrew Gilmour, recently promoted without proper process, were involved in the decision on Gutteres.  Revenge? Or just more of Ban's bad judgment, like he and his head of "Public Information" Cristina Gallach evicting Inner City Press as it covers the UN?

   US Ambassador Samantha Power, who took no questions, named issues for the Next SG, from counter-terrorism to the sustainable development goals.

One wondered if the Obama administration has conferred with Hillary Clinton on its position - and what would happen if the Security Council hasn't decided later in the Fall and the US presidential race is still open.

  French Ambassador Francois Delattre said counter-terrorism is a separate issue; one wanted to ask him if France is as before linking Next SG to an Under Secretary General position, different this time than the UN Peacekeeping that Herve Ladsous has nearly destroyed.

Venezuela's Rafael Ramirez spoke at nearly the same time and was asked if he supports one of the two (for now) Latin American candidates. End of video here; we've noted that Alicia Barcena has been in New York.

Candidates to replace Ban Ki-moon as UN Secretary General worked it on July 13, with Vuk Jeremic, Christiana Figueres and Danilo Turk debating at CUNY, Miroslav Lajcak meeting with the Secrurity Council then opening a photo exhibit on the floor below it, and Helen Clark in DC.

Now on July 17, Kevin Rudd has made his move. Julie Bishop went public with Rudd's request for Australia's nomination to be Next SG; Rudd on Facebook said “I respect the internal processes of the Australian Government. I respect the fact that the Government has many other priorities at this time, having just been returned to office. This is a matter for the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and their colleagues at a time of their choosing.”

   Existing candidate Bokova put off UNESCO's decision on Jerusalem until October, citing the failed coup in Turkey.

   Meanwhile, as Inner City Press first reported, Security Council members are reaching out to candidates beyong the 12 announced - and beyond Rudd - to for a Next SG. We'll have more on this.

   On July 13, weaknesses in Ban Ki-moon's final years were apparent in much of what was said. Jeremic said peacekeeping is failing and that an SG need a backbone - to Inner City Press this connoted Ban's back-down to Saudi Arabia, removing them from the Yemen Children and Armed Conflict list.

  Danilo Turk recalled chiding diplomats for being unresponsible on vacation during an August of scorched earth in Kosovo, and said an SG needs to do that. Figueres returned to the topic of Haiti; even Helen Clark speaking in DC chided the UN's performance in Syria, at least during the first three and a half years. Video of Clark's presentation here.

(Whether UNDP has done better since then, and why UNDP and Clark have yet to hold a press conference on UNDP's role in the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery scandal remained unaddressed.)

   Security Council president for July Koro Bessho of Japan said the Council met earlier in the day with Lajcak, after meeting Kerim on July 8th, Pusic, Gherman and Gutteres on the 11th and Malcorra on the 12th.

Later, Lajcak spoke at a photo exhibition opening one floor below the Council chamber, introduced by UN official Cristina Gallach, video hereand see explanatory petition here:  Gallach evicted Inner City Press for seeking to pursue the UN bribery scandal in covering an event in the UN Press Briefing Room that was nowhere in writing listed as closed. Whenasked by the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and Human Rights Defenders, Gallach claimed Inner City Press had an altercation: False.

 Gallach without once speaking to Inner City Press - but having beenquestioned by it on her role in the Ng Lap Seng scandal, a role noted inOIOS' audit at Paragraphs 37-40 and 20(b) - ousted and then evicted Inner City Press this year, purporting to give its long-time workspace to an Egyptian state media which rarely comes to the UN and never asks questions. This must be reversed.

   On July 14, Figueres will do her interactive dialogue with the General Assembly then a stakeout. Unless subject to Gallach-triggeredcensorship like on July 12, audio here, Inner City Press will be there. Watch this site.

Before ten candidates for Next UN Secretary General were asked questions in a General Assembly Hall given over to Al Jazeera, Inner City Press asked the UN and the President of the General Assembly (PGA) why there was no UNTV stakeout in front so other journalists could ask questions. None was provided but Inner City Press was told to just go there after the debate and ask questions.

   The debate had questions mostly from Al Jazeera - no mention of Saudi / Yemen or the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case -- and from ambassadors. Whereas Al Jazeera had not asked the first panel of five candidates about peacekeeper sexual abuse, Liechtenstein to its credit did. But the follow up on the firing of whistleblower Kompass was not put to Susana Malcorra on the first panel, who was involved in the firing.

   Likewise on Haiti cholera, without follow up Helen Clark said that she wouldn't comment on reparations because there is a case in the courts. But in this case, the UN - or really, the US for the UN which refuses to show up in court - is arguing for immunity. So the obvious question to candidates would be, would you waive immunity? Not asked.

Christiana Figueres raised her hand on giving an apology, but again said no to reparations. Ultimately, that's impunity. Here is a fast write-up of (some of) the debate, with Inner City Press / Free UN Coalition for Access commentary in italics:

Vesna Pusic: I’ve done a lot of jobs…but I truly believe in development, human rights. And I want to do this because I believe in countering cynicism. There’s a lot of cynicism in politics today.

 ICP / FUNCA: Much cynicism about the UN springs from its impunity for rapes, cholera and corruption.