Friday, October 7, 2016

In Haiti After Hurricane, UN Cholera Actions and Reparations UNclear

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 7 -- As Ban Ki-moon nears the end of his term as UN Secretary General, with his eye on running for president of South Korea, he or his advisers have adopted a new strategy: do nothing, but tell eager media they are doing something, or will do something.

That was the case again on September 29, when UN official David Nabarro, already running to head WHO, spoke to a single media outlet about Ban's twice announced, yet to be implemented about-face on Haiti cholera. Beyond the Vine video hereUN transcript here: and below.

On October 7 in the deadly aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Farhan Haq, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: Even though the guest from Haiti didn't come, I just wanted to ask one question about that, which is I've seen… I guess Dr. [David] Nabarro is down… he's tweeted that he's down in Washington.  He's meeting with the US and others about the possibility of the spread of Cholera in the wake of this hurricane.  So I wanted to know, is what he had described to AFP of $181 million and an equally-sized or larger fund for reparations for victims of the Cholera that was apparently brought by the UN, is what he's discussing down in Washington separate from that or part of that?

Deputy Spokesman:  He's discussing the situation in Haiti including, as the circumstances now have dictated, the current situation, which is the hurricane and its impact.  But of course, there are concerns, including the issue of Cholera, and I do believe that in the coming weeks, the Secretary-General will also have more to present to the Member States on this.

September 29 transcript:

Inner City Press: On Haiti, I've seen this interview by David Nabarro, I guess with AFP (Agence France-Presse).  It's mostly in French, and it seems to be saying that… previewing the plan and saying some $181 million in renewed funding and at least that amount in reparation to victims to be announced by late October.  So since he said it and he works for the Secretary-General, is that the current thinking?  Is that a solid commitment of $181 million for…?

Spokesman:  I think what we're talking about is really a minimum.  There really… I think the Secretary-General was very clear.  He said he would come back to the General Assembly.  He has talked about the moral responsibility that the UN has towards the victims of the cholera epidemic and also helping Haiti overcome the structural issues it has in fighting waterborne diseases.  There really are two tracks to this new approach that the Secretary-General will announce in more details later.  One would be to intensify support to the country for cholera control and response and address the sanitation issues.  And the second one would be to provide material assistance and support to those Haitians who have been most directly affected by cholera.  Now, both of those will require generous and active participation of donors.  There has been… you know, I think, for the two-track approach, it will be more than $185 million, as I think… I think Mr. Nabarro was really talking about a minimum for one of the tracks.  We've had some initial contacts with donors, and we'll continue to do so.  And, as I said, the Secretary-General will present a more detailed plan soon to the General Assembly.

ICP Question:  And what's his goal… I mean, I'd heard some reference to the… I mean, is it tied in any way to the… to the budget committee here, or is it something he aims to raise?  Does he aim to raise this money or get the commitments before he leaves office, or is he announcing it in October with… what's the…

Spokesman:  No, I think the Secretary-General aims to get this well underway before he leaves office.  Obviously, this will not come out of the regular budget.  It will have to be funded by donors, but it is something he does… he wants to leave on a solid footing by December.

  On Auugst 18 after years of harming families in Haiti after bringing cholera there, Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq -- who accused Inner City Press of “bullying” him for actually asking follow up questions -- with a single email casts Ban Ki-moon as reformed on accountability. Has Ban done anything? No. He dodged legal papers.

  Likewise after dropping Saudi Arabia from the Children and Armed Conflict annex on Yemen, and issuing surreal statements equating Saudi airstrikes to low-tech firing across the border, a Ban defender quoted unanmed Ban officials that Ban is about to do something.

On August 18, Inner City Press asked Haq, Vines here (Haiti) and here (Yemen), UN transcript here: 

Inner City Press: to deal with the Haitians impacted, and these obviously include families who lost a… a family member or breadwinner who died due to the cholera.  So, I guess what I'm wondering is, there are headlines all over the world saying Ban Ki-moon is acknowledging his responsibility and putting it in a very positive light.  What… what exactly… I mean, what would you say to a theory that says that these… this combined with the Yemen announcement that Ban Ki-moon may or may not write to the Saudis and reiterate his list is sort of an attempt to make… the Secretary-General is taking action on these two controversial topics without actually doing anything.  What has he actually done?  Is he going to write a letter to Saudi Arabia?  They're two issues.  I'm mixing them because I see…

Deputy Spokesman:  You're kind of mixing two topics.  If you’re…

ICP Question:  They came out on the same day, and they're both quoting unnamed UN officials, and the other one quotes you.  So, what is actually being done on these two topics?

Deputy Spokesman:  Indeed, I'm a named UN official.  And what I can say about Yemen, on the question of a letter… ultimately, what I can say is that there's an ongoing review of measures that the Saudi-led Coalition is taking to stop and prevent violations against children and other civilians in Yemen.  That review is continuing.  And, as you would expect, as part of that review, there will be communications back and forth.

ICP Question:  Right, but, so, it… unless that story is inaccurate, there are senior Ban Ki-moon officials saying that this letter's going out.  And so, stories come out saying Ban Ki-moon's getting tough with the Saudis.  Is this… given that the statement yesterday sort of equated a relatively unprofessional attack across the board onto Saudi Arabia with airstrikes from the air that have been ongoing for days, what is… what's the timeframe for him to take action on Saudi Arabia?  Two months, as well?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't think that there's an equation.  I think, if you've noticed, in the last four days, there have been three statements about Yemen.  Each of them say fairly tough things, and each of them apply across the board to the need to protect civilians and particularly children in Yemen.  That's one of his priorities.

ICP Question:  Does he now think it was a bad idea to take them off the list, that this may have emboldened them to take these airstrikes?

Deputy Spokesman:  What we have said repeatedly is that they continue to be under review.  That review is ongoing.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's “Special Envoy For Disaster Risk Reduction and Water” Han Seung-Soo is listed on the board of directors of South Korean firm Doosan Infracore - which does business with the UN. Was this approved by Ban Ki-moon? Now it seems Yes. But should it have been?

Especially when, as now, it is exposed that Doosan has billion dollar business with Saudi Arabia, to whose money Ban deferred in dropping the Saudi-led Coalition from the UN's Children and Armed Conflict Yemen annex? This is Ban's UN: see new Inner City Press 47-minute film here, "Banning the Press: Corruption in the UN of Ban Ki-moon, John Ashe and Ng Lap Seng, Yemen."

As Inner City Press first reported and asked about on August 11, Han Seung-soo is on the board of directors of Standard Chartered bank, awarded the UN's master banking services contract (see this UN document, at Paragraph 50), and a brokerage contract (UN Procurement website, here).

When Inner City Press asked about this and how many OTHER board Han is on that do business with the UN, Ban's spokesman Farhan Haq cut off the questions and claimed Inner City Press was “bullying” him.Video hereUN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: Mr. Han Seung-soo is also on the board of Standard Chartered Bank, which was awarded, according to the… the most recent report of the… on the Chief Executive Board's proceedings, Standard Chartered Bank was awarded the UN's master servicing banking contract.  So I wanted to know… I mean, this is why I think I was asking for kind of a more comprehensive response from the Ethics Office in terms of what restrictions they've placed on Mr. Han Seung-soo, because if, as is reflected by the bank's website, he's on the board of a bank that, in fact, has this major contract with the UN, can you please describe to me what possible restrictions deal with this?

Deputy Spokesman:  I've described to you how the Ethics Office's guidelines work and that those guidelines apply to Mr. Han Seung-soo.  He has engaged and informed them of a number of his business dealings, and they have taken those into account.

ICP Question:  How can you be on the board of a… of a… of a bank that has a con… you just made a point of pointing out that Doosan, although it's listed in procurement contract… procurement database, didn't have contracts during this particular period of time.  But if… I'm… I'm informing you that the Chief Executive Board's report said that Standard Chartered Bank has this contract with the UN, and he's on their board.  So is he still on their board, or is he somehow half on their board?

Deputy Spokesman:  I've described to you what the series of procedures are, and those are what applies to him as well as to other special advisers.

ICP Question:  So how is…

Deputy Spokesman:  We're not going to interfere with their own outside-of-UN lives by going into all of their details at great length, but the Ethics Office has been dealing with this, and they have a series of guidelines, and he's aware of them and is in compliance…

ICP Question:  How can you be on a board of a corporation…?

Deputy Spokesman:  You keep interrupting me.

ICP Question:  All right.  I'm asking because I see you already looking away, and I want… this is a very simple question.

Deputy Spokesman:  I'm looking at someone else who is raising a hand.  But, please, behave yourself.  You need to understand that when someone is asking a question, you allow them to answer.  I've actually lost my train of thought.  So I'll have to gain it…

ICP Question:  I'm asking… I'm willing to because I have a follow-up question…

Deputy Spokesman:  Because the continued interruptions… you're doing it again… actually break people's train of thought.  He has been in touch with the Ethics Office.  And, like I said, they have a series of remedies for the steps which I've detailed.  Beyond that, this is what we have.

ICP Question:  What other boards is he on?  That's my follow-up question.

Deputy Spokesman:  Matthew, Matthew…

ICP Question:  It's simple.  It's simple, because he's on the board of a bank that does business with the UN… I'm finishing my question.  You're cutting me off.

Deputy Spokesman:  No…

ICP Question:  My question is, how many corporate boards that do business with the UN…

Deputy Spokesman:  Matthew, when I start to say something in reply to your question and then you cut me off, then don't accuse me of cutting you off.

ICP Question:  Right, you tried to call on someone else, and I was asking another question.  How many boards is Han Seung-soo on that do business with the UN?

Deputy Spokesman:  At this stage, you're actually just trying to bully me.  To be honest, I've given you a wealth of information about this, including details about how the Ethics Office goes about it.  That's what we've got.  Yes.  Carole?

  As noted, Han Seung-soo is also on the board of Standard Chartered Bank - which was recently awarded the UN's master banking services contract:

“Early in 2016, the master banking services agreement between the Secretariat and Standard Chartered Bank will be the first such global contract to be signed, enabling United Nations system entities to access banking and treasury services in 28 countries from Standard Chartered Bank and its subsidiaries.” (

   So Ban Ki-moon and his Ethics Office let Ban's mentor and adviser Han Seung-soo serve as UN Special Adviser for Water and Disaster Risk Reduction and give speeches in that capacity while Doosan, on whose board Han sits, sells water desalinization equipment to the same countries he speaks to for the UN.

   Han is on the board of Standard Charter bank, awarded the UN's master banking services contract. This is Ban's UN.

On August 9 Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Farhan Haq directly about Han Seung-soo giving speeches at UN special adviser on water while Doosan, which he directs, makes sales including but not limited to water desalinization equipment in the same places. This is a blatant (mis) use of the UN, by Ban Ki-moon's mentor.

   The UN left Ban Ki-moon's webpage down for August 9, and as of 9 am on August 10 has still not put the August 9 transcript online. Haq read out some generic advocacy points from Ban's Ethics Office, that restrictions are custom-designed for particular conflicts of interest, but would not disclose a single restriction on Han Seung-soo. Anyway, the public record speaks for itself. Watch this site.