Tuesday, November 29, 2016

On Western Sahara, Ban Avoids Questions, Ignores Maps As Saudi Finance and UN Censorship Prevail

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 28 --  Morocco banned Suelma Beirouk from the COP 22, to which she is accredited, because she listed her nationality as Western Sahara, and used an African Union passport, the UNFCCC told Inner City Press on November 11.

But Ban Ki-moon's UN Secretariat continued to dissemble and delay for five days, while Ban was in Marrakesh and met the King. 

Climate change is supposedly Ban's “legacy” issues and so he ran away from this: in an event Morocco described as a COP 22 side event, a Saudi firm signed a contract to build windmills in Western Sahara. While UNFCCC never responded to Morocco's misuse of COP22.ma, it now emerges that Ban's “Sustainable Development Goals” website promotes a Moroccan project that is, in fact, in Western Sahara, here ("Goal 13").

   In terms of the deal-making, Ban took Saudi Arabia off the Children and Armed Conflict annex for killing children in Yemen. This is Ban Ki-moon's legacy -- including censorship by Spain's highest UN officialCristina Gallach and refusing to answer questions, like his spokespeople refused to answer even one of Inner City Press' six questions submitted on the morning of November 25, a day where his spokesperson's office was paid with public dollars.

From the November 17 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: On COP22, the final question.  This NGO issue that went around and around, it seems like the person didn’t get there.  Mr. [Nick] Nuttall said his last communication was the last one.  What, if anything, did the Secretariat do since more than a week ago the person was blocked to request to Morocco that an accredited NGO attend the conference?

Deputy Spokesman:  I believe the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was dealing with the local authorities trying to see what could be done about this.  Beyond that, I’d refer you again to Mr. Nuttall.  Have a good afternoon.

And Nuttal wrote, "I answered your first question ie we sought clarification from the Government of Morocco and were advised she was traveling on an invalid travel document. Let me try again to get an answer to your other two points."

From the November 16 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: very specifically about a Western Sahara issue that's arisen since he's there, which is Sulima Baruk, the… from Western Sahara, who was accredited to attend.  So you told me yesterday that you had heard it was being worked out and to ask Mr. [Nick] Nuttall.  So I did ask him again, and he reiterated what he had said last Friday, which is that Morocco said she can't go.  So I'm just wondering, on… what was the basis that you… are we getting two different messages from Mr. Nuttall, or are you reading that as being that it's somehow being worked out on the ground?
Deputy Spokesman:  That they… that is to say, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the officials there, were trying to deal with the authorities, the Moroccan authorities, about this issue.  And if it's resolved the way he said it, that's where it stands.

Inner City Press:  Well, it's not… meaning not… she was… [UN did not transcribe]

Deputy Spokesman:  He's the one who's dealing with the issue. [Cross talk]
Inner City Press:  But I guess I was just asking, have you… both you and Stéphane have said that the Secretary-General stands for the principle that accredited NGOs (non-governmental organizations) can attend, and he did actually meet with the Moroccan authorities.  So did Ban Ki-moon actually raise this issue or not at all?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I don't have anything to say in terms of the meeting with the King.  I don't know about any other officials.

  Now Ban's Spokesman is tweeting about a “farewell” to Ban Ki-moon from civil society.

  Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, again on November 14, transcript here:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about COP22.  One, I wanted to ask, you'd said, I think, on Friday that you… that… that the Secretariat, I guess was in contact with, I don't know if it was UNFCCC or the Moroccan authorities about this accredited attendee Suleima Barouk [Beiruk].  Seems like she's still not arrived, unless you have different information.  I wanted to know, what has the UN done given that her accreditation has been published, is, is ,exists, and the only grounds for blocking her was her ac… her self-identification as being from Western Sahara?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, like I said, we had been told that the issue is, is being worked out on ground, so I believe that that should be, hopefully, resolved there and you can, you can ask the COP22 organizers how that's working.

ICP Question:  UNFCCC, well, I asked UNFCCC, and Mr. Nuttall had said that, basically, Morocco said because she's self-identified as Western Sahara, she's not coming.  So I wanted to know, from your perspective, given that that was the last that it was, I've heard from anyone on Friday, from the perspective of the Secretariat, given that the Secretary-General is there and giving a speech, is it the kind of thing that he expects to raise, if not with the King, to somebody that his stated goal about NGOs is, in fact, not being respected?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we certainly want our stated goals about the representation of NGOs, including all of those who are accredited NGOs, to be respected.  That's the point of principle.  I do believe the discussions had been continuing on the ground, and, hopefully, they'll be able to resolve it there.  Yeah. 

Ban gave in to Morocco's demand to pull out 83 members of its MINURSO mission in Western Sahara and has yet to get most of the returned.

Now Ban's UN is proposing to give in further, sources have exclusively told Inner City Press, even as it has been restricted to minders in the UN since being ousted without due process in February by Spain's highest UN official, Cristina Gallach.

And Morocco's Ambassador Omar Hilale on November 7 approached Inner City Press and said he understands and agrees with those who "have a problem" with Inner City Press, and that the parliamentarian banned from attending COP 22 in Morocco was not accredited by the UN. Audio here.

But a document Inner City Press has obtained and published on Scribd, here, shows the individual has been accredited by the UNFCCC. While Ban's spokespeople have told Inner City Press to “ask UNFCCC” and that Ban's Secretariat has been speaking with UNFCCC about Ms Beirouk's situation because Ban believes all accreditees should be able to attend, the UNFCC's timely response to Inner City Press leaves unclear if she will continue to be Banned. Inner City Press asked:

“Please state UNFCCC's understanding of the status of Ms. Beirouk, and position on Morocco blocking her attendance. Separately, since UNFCCC's logo is used on COP22.ma, please state UNFCCC's position and action on the statements on that website about Morocco having a border with Mauritania and a land mass that includes Western Sahara.”

  UNFCCC's spokesperson Nick Nuttal responded:

“Dear Mathew, This is our understanding of the situation. When we (UNFCCC) heard about this situation, we sought clarification from the Moroccan Government. We were advised that the Ms Beirouk was travelling on an African Union passport and specified her nationality as Western Sahara and for Morocco this is not considered a valid travel document.
 We were also advised that Ms Beirouk has a Spanish passport and has traveled freely in and out of Morocco on that many times. Mathew as for your second questions—I don’t know the answer right now and need to ask one of our experts. I’ll get back as quickly as I can.”

   It's appreciated. First, the claim that Ms.Beirouk is not accredited appears to be false. Second, if the only Ban is Morocco's position on her passport, then Ban should act on what his spokespeople say his position is. We'll have more on this.

On November 8, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman about what Hilale had said. From the UN transcript: 

Inner City Press: Yesterday, I’d asked you about this Pan-African Parliamentarian who has said that she was blocked from attending COP (Conference of Parties) 22, and you’d said you hadn’t heard of that.  In the interim, the Ambassador of Morocco, Omar Hilale, said that she did not have any UN accreditation and that’s why she wasn’t allowed to proceed.  Can you explain what the process is? I’ve been told that you can’t get one until you actually get to the grounds.  Is the Pan-African Parliamentarian… go ahead.  Did you look into it?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I didn’t get any details about this particular case, but, clearly, when you attend any conference, whether you’re a journalist or whether you are an NGO or delegate, you apply for the accreditation ahead of time, and you usually get a receipt, an email or so on.  Obviously, the physical accreditation you pick up online, but again, I will try to get details.  I was not able to get any detail about the particulars of this case.

Inner City Press:  Itt seems pretty clear that what Morocco was saying is because this person comes from Western Sahara, even though they represent the AU (African Union), they don’t want to… [inaudible]

Spokesman:  I will try to get you some particular details.

 Twenty four hours later, nothing...