Wednesday, August 24, 2016
On Syria, UNSG Ban Ki-moon's Late-Announced “Briefing” Is Hand-Over, Photo-Op
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, August 23 -- On the evening of August 23, an item was added to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's online schedule:
* 9:30 a.m. Briefing on the “Report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism and other Issues related to Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic”
Then UN Television said it would broadcast this “photo op” at 10:30 am. Doesn't “briefing” connote more than photo op? And why isn't it in the UN's Media Alert? Inner City Press wrote to Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric:
Q: UNTV has just announced a “photo op” of the Secretary General, seemingly related to the revised listing * 9:30 a.m. Briefing on the “Report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism and other Issues related to Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic”
Where is this “briefing”? Who has been informed of it, and who will be permitted to attend / observe this “briefing”? And if it is a briefing, why does DPI's UNTV describe it as a photo-op?
What is the update on this fourth round of questions onBurundian Lt Col Mayuyu, email of 29 hours ago?
Dujarric, we report upon receipt, responded:
"At 9:30 the SG will receive the report of the OPCW/UN mission and be briefed on its content. The report will then be transmitted to the Security Council. The photo-op is just the handover of the report. When I something on Burundi, I will share it with you."
It's appreciated - but on the Burundi question, Inner City Press has asked it four times; UN Peacekeeping or after this amount of time the mission in CAR should be able to answer. On Syria, why a photo-op is created - with Kim Won-soo? - is UNclear. But it is appreciated. Watch this site.
On August 11 when the the UN's third Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura invited the media to a question and answer stakeout on August 11, the turn-out was decidedly light. While the UN used to provide interpretation of stakeouts, this time it didn't.
Present for a predictable question was Voice of America, with which Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman has worked to evict the critical Press (one FOIA document here, more forthcoming). Ban finally did the eviction earlier this year, film here. This is Ban's UN.
In his prepared statement, de Mistura added a word to the UN's old saw, saying there is no “sustainable” military solution. He quoted a response the day prior in New York by OCHA's Stephen O'Brien - an answer which the UN Department of Public Information under Cristina Gallach didn't even include when it put up the video of the OCHA briefing (which was about South Sudan, another failure of Ban's UN.)
More than anything, Ban's UN seems to want to be perceived as relevant: it wants to be spoken with, and to brag about its discussions. De Mistura told the near-empty stakeout about his work in previous mediation. Ban himself was out in Los Angeles, bragging about talks with... Norman Lear. This is today's UN.