Thursday, September 29, 2016

UN Takes Offline Ban Ki-moon's Vanity Press Book After Inner City Press Reviews It

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive
UNITED NATIONS, September 27 -- 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. It is even worse that we thought.
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 asked: who wrote it? Who paid for it? Why was this done? What are the contents? 
For more than a week, Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople have refused to provide the Press with access to a copy of Ban's vanity press book, “Highlights of the Tenure of Ban Ki-moon,” which Ban has given to heads of state throughout UN General Assembly debate week.
   Now we see why. The “General Editor” of the book was Vijay Nambiar, who as Ban Ki-moon's envoy to Sri Lanka lured surrendering fighters to their deaths. 
Now he is editor, on the UN's dime, compiling a book in which each of Ban's Under Secretaries General -- except Cristina Gallach, it seems, who was the publisher, worse -- writes a chapter praising the Dear Leader. 
On September 27, Inner City Press asked a number of the Unde Secretaries General who wrote chapters about the book, and asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I'd been asking for some time now about this book, and I've actually now seen a copy of it.  So I wanted to ask you, seems that the general editor was Vijay Nambiar, and there's 15 chapters.  And they're written by various USGs (Under-Secretaries-General).  Mr. Ladsous wrote the one on peacekeeping.  So I just… I wanted to know, I think when I first… how much time… how much of Mr. Vijay Nambiar's time as Special Adviser on Myanmar was devoted to editing this 15-chapter book?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, as you know, he's a Special Adviser with a series of portfolios.  It's not restricted simply to the situation in Myanmar, although that has devoted an amount of his time.  But in terms of their work, a lot of people were involved simply doing basically a lessons learned exercise, in terms of things that we either did well or could have done better over the course of Ban Ki-moon's tenure.  That was the point of that exercise.  And regarding the book, I believe it is to be published sometime in the latter part of October.

ICP Question:  When you said like lessons learned, like, I was reading in the chapter by Prince Zeid about… about Rights up Front.  It doesn't seem to mention Sri Lanka and the reason that the policy was elucidated.  So I guess… can you point… I guess when it's released… it's actually been… it's now available.  I wanted to know how it's consistent, having these USGs write chapters about their own departments, saying Mr. Ban did this, Mr. Ban did that, with the idea of a lessons learned exercise?

Deputy Spokesman:  It's consistent insofar as they're the experts about the work of their respective bodies.  Of course, the overall book will touch on most of the issues that happened over the course of the Secretary-General's tenure.  And it does include, of course, things that could have been handled better, as well as things that went well.  But the idea is to offer some sort of guide for the next Secretary-General about how things were conducted over this ten-year phase. 
 And then an online version was "deleted" by the UN, photo here tweeted by Inner City Press.
Did any of the USGs resist? As set forth below, Herve Ladsous had an interest in penning the chapter to exonerate himself (and blame Babacar Gaye) for the rapes in the Central African Republic. Kim Won-soo is already promoting Ban's South Korea Presidential run. But Stephen O'Brien? Jeffrey Feltman? Helen Clark? We'll have more on this.
The Peace Operations chapter is ascribed to Herve Ladsous, under whom the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has been involved in more and more sexual abuse and exploitation scandals. (Ladsous, who refuses Press questions, publicly linked the rapes to “R&R,” video here.
  Ladsous' chapter says that after rapes in the Central African Republic “Mr. Ban... in an unprecedented measure demanded the resignation of the head of MINUSCA,” Babacar Gaye. Since the abuses continued after this scapegoating, it is a laughable conflict of interest for Ladsous to write this chapter of Ban Ki-moon's vanity press book. Here is a photo of Ladsous' spin of cholera in Haiti.
The Human Rights chapter, ascribed to Jordan's Prince Zeid, is also an embarrassment. It brags about “Rights Up Front” without describing how Ban Ki-moon's failure during the Sri Lanka bloodbath on the beach in 2009 led to the stated change in policy. 
Tellingly, Sri Lanka's president this week has bragged that Ban put now pressure on him for accountability during their bilateral meeting. Too busy hawking the vanity press book.
   This book calls Rights Up Front “ground-breaking” while burying without mention Ban's failure in Sri Lanka. Instead it brags of Ban's action in... FYROM. This is a fraud. 
Whether Zeid, who was selected for his position by Ban (putting the objectivity of the chapter into question, to put it diplomatically) actually wrote the chapter is not clear: he refers to himself in the third person. Perhaps it is catching.
  The page on which Ban's supposed “Rights Up Front” is laundered also describes the “Human Rights Screening of UN Personnel,” involving certification by countries which nominate officials and attestation by the individuals nominated. Inner City Press has asked Ban's spokesman if Ban's son in law Siddharth Chatterjee made this attestation with regard to his activities in Sri Lanka -- without answer. We'll have more on this.
   The section on Responsibility to Protect brags about Ban's work in Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Kyrgystan and Kenya (where Ban gave the top UN job to his son in law) - but doesn't mention Burundi. And where is Zeid's review of Ban's performance on Yemen?
Team Ban refused to show a copy to the Press, even though we discovered it was and is listed in the UN Department of Public Information catalog as finished in August, for sale for $45. Click here for photo Inner City Press tweeted.
On September 26, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN Transcript here: 
Inner City Press: I'd asked Stéphane [Dujarric] about the book, Highlights of the Tenure of Ban Ki-moon, that was given to the Heads of State.  He said wait for it to show up; it's not ready yet.  It will be in the bookstore.  Then I looked in the catalogue of DPI (Department of Public Information), and it said it was… publication date:  August 2016; price:  $45.  So it's finished.  I don't understand.  Was it not put in the bookstore so it could be given first to Heads of State?  What's the distinction of… where does it stand?

Deputy Spokesman:  No, the book has not yet been put out as a sale edition, but that will happen fairly shortly.

ICP Question:  Okay.  Because I mean, I guess I want to reiterate the request to… I don't want to… I'll give you the copy back, but it does seem like if it's… if it's… if the publication date has passed and you've already passed it out, what's the problem with seeing it?

Deputy Spokesman:  It simply hasn't been distributed as a sale item.  That is going to happen, however. 
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.
On September 23, Inner City Press asked Dujarric, UN transcript here: 
Inner City Press: about the book, but I did want to just… I'd asked you how much it cost, and I don't know if there's an estimate of the cost of the book and what budget… at a minimum what budget… was it authorized by the GA?  Which department paid for it?

Spokesman:  The Department of Public Information publishes… regularly publishes books on all sorts of issues.  It's part of the regular publishing budget.

ICP Question:  Right, because you'd said… you made it appear that initially it was going to be just an internal document… maybe I misread your answer…?

Spokesman:  No, I didn't think… no, it will have a… it will be a book, like… I think you and I may disagree on what a definition of a book is, and it will meet that definition.

ICP Question:  Right, but it's already that.  Does it have an ISBN number…?

Spokesman:  I haven't looked on the back.  I have no doubt that it will have an ISB number.

ICP Question:  Do you have a copy?
Spokesman:  I do not have a copy.  You… you know, wait… wait to read the book before you review it.  And as soon as it's available in the bookstore, I'm sure you can expense it.

ICP Question:  Can it be changed?  What I'm saying, is it a final version?  The printed copies that are being given…?

Spokesman:  It's not going… no, it's final.

ICP Question:   And final thing, just on substance… I saw it.  It's called Highlights of the Tenure.  So, how is this consistent with the idea… the subtitle of the book is Highlights of the Tenure of Ban Ki-moon.  How is that consistent with an objective self-critical view that will help the next Secretary-General?

Spokesman:  You know, you could write 10,000 volumes of just every day exactly what happened.

Correspondent:  Highlights doesn't mean positive?

Spokesman:  If you're going to publish… highlights is the important things.  I mean, we can disagree on the definition of what "highlights" means.  
  So is Sri Lanka, for example, a "highlight" or a low-light for Ba Ki-moon? Watch this site.

Money shot: 's beverage (UNlike press) and vanity press legacy book: who paid for it?
  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 evictedInner 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 Gallachabout 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.