Thursday, October 20, 2016
On Haiti Cholera, ICP Asks UN of Tear Gas & Why Press Thrown Out, Spox Says “That's The Way It Is”
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, October 17 -- After the UN under Ban Ki-moon killed more than 10,000 people in Haiti by bringing cholera, Ban spent years dodging court papers and the issue. Now in Haiti, Ban's continued shirking of responsibility has been called outrageous by lawyer Mario Joseph. An appeal to the US Supreme Court is now being mulled.
On October 13 Ban's outgoing spokesman Stephane Dujarric said speeches by three UN officials the next afternoon would be available.
Inner City Press went on October 14 to cover it, and began Periscoping the largely empty Conference Room 2. See video here. Will Ban use this as his new excuse to leave victims without recourse, just as he is trying to use Hurricane Matthew as a reason to not move forward with his belated promise?
Down on the floor were the three UN speakers, and UN official Cristina Gallach who previously ordered Inner City Press out of the UN and its office as it sought to cover corruption by her, and Ban Ki-moon, as part of the Ng Lap Seng bribery case. Also in attendance: the US Mission to the UN's ambassador in charge of management and reform Isobel Coleman, who was asked to act on the UN's eviction of the Press but did nothing.
During the speech of envoy Sandra Honore, the second of the three UN speakers, Inner City Press was told to leave the media booth and the meeting. When Inner City Press said, check the noon briefing, it was ignored. Upstairs, Dujarric who it is appears is being replaced stayed staring at his desktop computer and said, that's how it is. He previously got Inner City Press thrown out of an event in the UN Press Briefing Room, see here and here.
On October 17, Inner City Press asked Dujarric, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: as you may have seen, Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, while he was there, said it was out… quote, it is outrageous for the Secretary-General to come to Haiti… and I'll simplify it to say… to not directly address the UN's culpability for having brought cholera. So I wanted to get your response to that. Also, in terms of media coverage, I did want to ask you why, during the meeting in Conference Room 2 on Friday on this very topic, the press was ejected while Sandra Honoré was speaking. Was there some miscommunication? And I have other questions.
Spokesman: On the second part, what I said both on Thursday and Friday is that the meeting would be open to webcast. I never said the meeting was open.
ICP Question: What's the difference? If a meeting can be seen on television, why can't the press be there…?
Spokesman: Matthew, that's just the way it is.
ICP Question: The room was empty and I think…
Spokesman: Everybody… the room was… it was attended by key Member States, and I think we were very pleased with the meeting.
ICP Question: Then why not let the press go?
Spokesman: And you were able to follow the issues on the webcast. On your first part, obviously, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I think the Secretary-General did address, head on, the issue of cholera and, again, expressed his… his regret and his compassion and underscored that the UN would be… is currently working on a plan… on a two-track plan to address the issue of cholera in Haiti, as the Deputy Secretary-General and others did on Friday, and he will go back to the General Assembly soon with a great… with more details.
ICP Question: I want to ask about the use of tear gas in Haiti.
Spokesman: I'll come back to you.
It has yet to be answered.
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 here; UN transcript here: and below.
On October 13, with Ban on his way to Haiti, Inner City Press asked his spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the World Bank and Ban's role in helping a South Korean garment firm get a sweet deal in Haiti. From the UN transcript:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Haiti, and disaster risk reduction, which I saw a statement by the Secretary-General on today. There's a World Bank-managed fund called the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, which redirected $14 million that had been earmarked as natural disaster mitigation. He… they earmarked it… redirected it to energy projects. And people are pointing to this as saying, like, is there some coordination between what the UN says and what the World Bank does? And also, I'd been meaning for some time to ask you about a report… maybe you'll deny this… that for the for the Caracol Industrial Park in Haiti, "With the help of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean trade minister, the organizers recruited Sae-A Trading Co., a South Korean-based global garment giant that supplies many of the clothes you buy at Target, Wal-Mart, Gap, Old Navy and stores…”
Spokesman: I'm not aware.
ICP Question: Are you aware of that? Can you ask him whether, in fact, he played a role in…?
Spokesman: I'm not aware of the report. On your first question, I think it's a question for the World Bank.
On October 10 Ban Ki-moon held a two-question stakeout and spoke about Haiti and Hurricane Matthew and even cholera, but made no mention of reparations. As he walked away, Inner City Press audibly asked, what about reparations. Vine here. There was no answer, nor when Ban came out of an untelevised meeting on “financial solutions” later in the day. Financial solutions for whom?
There was a meeting all afternoon about Haiti, but no stakeout afterward, a trend in the UN of Ban Ki-moon and his peacekeeping boss Herve Ladsous. The UN early in the day said only 900 were killed by its cholera; it was changed, after complaints it seems, to 9000.
On October 11, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript:
Inner City Press: at the stakeout yesterday, when the Secretary-General was speaking about Haiti, he didn’t mention the… the second part of what Dr. [David] Nabarro had talked about, which is a… seemed to be $181 million to improve water, water and sanitation and an amount equal or greater than that to somehow try to make whole people that were… or try to, that were the victims who had family members die from cholera. Is that… was it just an omission on his part, or do you think…?
Spokesman: No, I think the plan as outlined in greater detail by Dr. Nabarro stands, and we hope to be able to announce something by the Secretary-General soonish.
ICP Question: And can… I understand the formal announcement is coming, but given that Dr. Nabarro said these things in an interview… it wasn’t a leak or anything else, what is the Secretary-General’s plan, to meet with Member States and ask for money for each of these two baskets…? [inaudible]
Spokesman: He will come back to the General Assembly with a more formal proposal and, obviously, a need for those proposals to be generously funded.
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 here; UN 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