Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Murky UN Budget Defended by Gallach Press Restrictions, USUN, As Burundi Tries To Cut Mission
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, December 24 -- When amid Press questions about UN corruption Ban Ki-moon and his Communications chief Cristina Gallach evicted Inner City Press from its long time shared office, they not only began confining the Press to “minders” to cover any events on the UN's second floor, including of the UN Security Council.
Now the Ban and Gallach censorship order has prevented Inner City Press for the first time in years from covering the UN budget process, including on human rights and Burundi, another of Ban Ki-moon's failures.
Still, while outgoing US Ambassador for Management and “Reform” Isobel Coleman who like Samantha Power did nothing when Inner City Press was evicted from the UN and restricted since offered nothing but praise for Ban Ki-moon, Inner City Press though Banned from the General Assembly was able to obtain and publish Burundi's ghoulish proposal cut what few observers the UN Security Council mandated. See tweeted photo here.
Coleman spoke in a part of the UN building Inner City Press can still access (it put up this Periscope video, here); but the Budget approval took place in the General Assembly hall which Inner City Press for ten months and counting can only access with UN minders, of which there were none. Coleman didn't stay for the final vote. Who cares, right?
For years Inner City Press has been virtually alone in covering the late night Fifth (Budget) Committee session in which billions of dollars are carved up. But in 2016 for the first time, following Cristina Gallach's retaliatory eviction order and ghoulish restriction regime of minders and the putting off of pass, Inner City Press could not cover the budget and other UN news like the Palestine settlements draft.
By seizing Inner City Press' long time office -- and awarding it to an Egypt state media Akhbar al Yom whose correspondents Sanaa Youssef rare comes to the UN and never asks questions -- Gallach and Ban have made so that Inner City Press cannot enter the UN after 7 pm. But that, of course, is when the budget process happens.
This year, for example, Burundi is trying to cut the funds for human rights observers and the UN mission the Security Council mandated but has yet to deploy. Inner City Press covers these, but was Banned from covering the process by Ban and Gallach. This is a cover up.
Meanwhile Gallach is showing her true colors with article such as that “amateurs” killed journalism. Really? Energetic online media that actually covers UN corruption is a threat to deadbeat stenography or non-existent journalism like that of Akhbar al Yom's correspondent?
Gallach is the wrong person to have control of the UN Department of Public Information. She also did no due diligence on Macau based businessman Ng Lap Seng in the John Ashe case, and is responsible for the UN's Wonder Woman fiasco. She must go.
Note that on December 16, UN/CA thugs smashed Inner City Press' camera as it broadcast in front of a garish Wall Street event, here; Gallach has viewed that, as she prepared to put another state media in UN In House television, as she did Arirang to ingratiate herself to Ban Ki-moon. Gallach must go; UN censorship must end.
Back on December 3, a session about the Syria General Assembly draft resolution it reported about on November 29.
Ban's and Gallach's stripping Inner City Press of resident correspondent accreditation, which Gallach is quoted by other Under Secretaries General as saying would last “only” for four months but is now at nine months and counting, means that Inner City Press cannot enter the UN at all on Saturday, like December 3 when the Syria draft was negotiated. This is targeted censorship, and it must end.
Here for now is the "operative" conclusion of the draft GA resolution:
1. Demands an immediate and complete end to all indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians;
2. Further demands the immediate cessation of hostilities, as described in Security Council resolution 2268 (2016), as well as safe and unhindered humanitarian access throughout Syria by the United Nations and its implementing partners;
3. Demands that all parties to the Syrian conflict, in particular the Syrian authorities, immediately comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as applicable;
4. Further demands that all parties to the conflict fully and immediately implement all the provisions of Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014), 2199 (2015), 2254 (2015), 2258 (2015), and 2268 (2016);
5. Calls for an inclusive Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition, in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 30 June 2012 and Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) leading to a genuine political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and enables them independently and democratically to determine their own future, including through the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers, formed on the basis of mutual consent while ensuring continuity of governmental institutions, and urges the representatives of the Syrian authorities to engage in these negotiations with the Syrian opposition in good faith, and in this respect expresses its full support for the Special Envoy’s efforts towards this end;
6. Emphasizes the need for accountability for crimes involving breaches of international law, in particular of international humanitarian law and human rights law, some of which may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011, through fair and independent investigations and prosecutions at the domestic or international level;
7. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the present resolution, including on the implementation of the cessation of hostilities, as described in Security Council resolution 2268 (2016), the extent to which all parties to the Syrian conflict, in particular the Syrian authorities, are complying with their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions, and progress towards a genuine political transition, within 45 days of its adoption;
8. Calls upon the Security Council to reassume responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security by taking measures to address the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic.
Ban and Gallach also denied Inner City Press a place to work, and the possibility to cover many UN meetings including on November 29 a meeting of the UN “Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinians” addressed by Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson - and later, a related event of Palestinian embroidery addressed by USg Jeff Feltman.
In order to get to the morning meeting, Inner City Press unlike the other correspondents present and not present in the UN Press Briefing Room, or even though always absent like Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom's Sanaa Youssef, being rewarded for now with Inner City Press' office, was required to get a minder.
Even then, while other passed freely through the turnstile, UN Security demanded to know why Inner City Press wanted to go onto the second floor. This is targeted censorship. Once in front, Inner City Press even with a minder was able to learn some things - until it was time to have to leave, with the meeting still ongoing.
(Here's just one example of Inner City Press' Middle East coverage from before Gallach and Ban decided to restrict Inner City Press' access, this is from October 2015.)
Other favored correspondents continued to move freely, not even covering the meetings, just drinking coffee. This is the targeted censorship regime of Ban and Gallach, right in midtown Manhattan. UNreal - and hypocritical, when compared to Ban's and Gallach's unit's statements about West Bank journalists.
In the evening embroidery event, while the speeches didn't start until after 6:40 pm, Inner City Press had to leave before 7 pm under the censorship order of Cristina Gallach -- who was there present, nodding at references to embroidery but not having answered, in four days, whether the UN paid for her to go get a personal award in Catalonia.
She turned, not too friendly - but she is the one who destroyed DPI by turning it into a vehicle to evict and restrict the Press, for nine months and counting, for daring to look into the Ng Lap Seng bribery case and her role in it - later affirmed by the OIOS' own audit. But sure, she's for Palestinian journalists, and is a journalist herself - on the UN dime? We'll have more on this.
On November 28 Inner City Press was similarly hindered from covering from a UN Security Council meeting in the Trusteeship Council Chambe sponsored by Senegal and Spain, set to be President of the Security Council in December the last of its 24 monts on the Council, on the topic of cyber security. Inner City Press was required by the order of Spain's highest UN official Cristina Gallach to have a minder to cover outside the meeting, a minder who stayed six feet away throughout. The meeting was said by Spain to be “open” but was not on the UN Webcast run by Gallach's DPI - it was only on “EZTV” for insider journalists not evicted by Gallach.
It turns out that an obvious issue, the alleged hacking of elections, was not even mentioned in the meeting. Reviews afterward, with minder, were far from stellar, as were predictions for December. We'll have more on this, much more.
While with Gallach's minder, Inner City Press was able to learn of a memorial service for November 29 in the ECOSOC chamber for Joseph Verner Reed; a UN official came by to chide Inner City Press was asking when the last time was that Ban Ki-moon spoke with his brother Ki-ho, who had done mining in Myanmar after being on a “UN Delegation.” This is UN corruption, and censorship, and it must end.
On November 21 Inner City Press was similarly hindered from covering a UN Security Council meeting in the Trusteeship Council Chamber on protecting infrastructure from terrorist attacks (as well as a UN Peacekeeping meeting, including on Contingent Owned Equipment, in the ECOSOC Chamber next door).
Inner City Press was required to have a minder, who sat within six feet of where Inner City Press did its coverage. Even so, Inner City Press spoke to a number of Permanent Representatives, about both meeting - but immediately after speaking with the sponsor of the meeting, Inner City Press was told to leave, the meeting was over. (Coverage, of course, often happens after the meeting - this is no longer allowed).
Ironically, UN Department of Public Information officials went up and down the hall giving tours in connection with DPI's Cristina Gallach allowing the UN to be used to promote a television show for a for-profit cable television network. This is what DPI has become - confining independent investigative press to minders, parading around this D-list celebrities, selling the UN as set forth in the OIOS audit of l'affaire John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng, which specifically criticizes Gallach for her lack of due diligence.
Ukraine, the sponsor, told Inner City Press it intends to continue on the topic of infrastructure and terrorism in February, their second UN Security Council presidency. Participants in the Peacekeeping / equipment meeting complained again about African contingents being left with less equipment than the Dutch and other Europeans in Ladsous' Mali mission. Inner City Press, even with minder so nearby, learned more about the transition of the new / incoming Secretary General -- will these absurd restrictions continue?
Passing through and greeting the Press was one of the more serious candidates for Secretary General, who spoke about the need for the UN to live up to media freedom principles and would certainly remove the restrictions. But will they be removed?
Inner City Press was also restricted on November 16 from covering a UN General Assembly plenary meeting. Inner City Press arrived early at the UN, knowing of -- but not consenting to -- Ban's and Gallach's requirement of a minder. But even to get into the UN took twenty extra minutes through the metal detectors, required since Inner City Press' retaliatory ouster in February.
Once in, Inner City Press ran to get a minder. But first it had to accompany the minder elsewhere, then down to the stakeout in front of the General Assembly, where a double blue rope barrier was erected for Inner City Press to stand behind. Even so, diplomats approach Inner City Press, to complain about Ban's distant and wan management and question what the double transition, including in Washington, will bring.
The UN Webcast, for which Gallach's DPI is responsible, had no sound for the General Assembly meeting, or any of the meeting in New York (a session from Geneva, about torture, had sound.). This is another reason Gallach must go - totally inattention, the UN gone mute.
Still Inner City Press followed the meeting. A minister from Indonesia spoke; Mexico said if only there'd been more notice, more member states could have spoken. But Gallach's DPI didn't even make it possible for people to hear, on the UN Webcast live, what was said - and hindered Press coverage of the meeting.
We've previously covered how Ban's and Gallach's self-serving access and censorship decisions shouldn't be allowed to hinder coverage of the Security Council. The same is true, perhaps even more so, for the General Assembly. We'll have more on this.
On November 15 Inner City Press was confined to one of Ban Ki-moon's minders to cover a Security Council meeting with Troop Contributing Countries to the UN Mission in South Sudan, where Ban Ki-moon recently fired - scapegoated - the Kenyan commander who'd only been on the job three weeks.
It was held from 3 pm to 4:30 pm in the Trusteeship Council Chamber. Inner City Press for eight months and counting has been required to have a minder to cover events on the second floor. While a minder was provided, even so, UN Security approached and quizzed Inner City Press even as other correspondents, who've never asked the UN other than a softball questions, walked by unquestioned and without minders. This hinders coverage, of another of Ban's failures. This censorship must end.
With the UN's Legal Committee met about the International Law Commission on November 1, many of the candidates in this week's ILC election were there. Some had invited Inner City Press to cover their campaign speeches but Ban's and Gallach's censorship order made it impossible, see below.
But on November 1, Inner City Press coverage even on this meeting, in the UN's Trusteeship Council Chamber, was curtailed by the censorship order. When the minder had to leave, so did Inner City Press, even as ILC candidates and incumbents sought it out. We'll have more on this.
On October 25 a candidate in this impending UN election invited Inner City Press to interview him in the UN Delegates Lounge, and to attend and cover, including with Periscope, a speech he would give near the UN in the early evening.
But ever since Ban and Gallach evicted Inner City Press, it can no longer simply go to the Delegates Lounge like it used to, and like other correspondents such as the never present Sanaa Youssef of Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom, to whom Ban and Gallach are trying to give Inner City Press' long time shared office, can (though Youssef does precisely nothing at the UN, just like Ban likes it.)
Inner City Press was told that it could do into the Delegates Lounge if the candidate, a former UN Security Council diplomat, came out. You must have broken some rule, the candidate said -- perhaps an unwritten one.
But the on the record speech was made impossible to cover. The UN Security Council open debate on Women, Peace and Security only ended at 6:30 - still enough time to get to the speech, several blocks south of the UN.
But under Ban's and Gallach's censorship order, Inner City Press had to return by 7 pm, if it wanted to get video of the Security Council meeting and report on it. So after taking a single still photo of the speech rostrum, Inner City Press rushed back in. This is Ban and Gallach's UN and must end - they both must go. We'll have more on this.
At the October 24 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric questions about Yemen, Haiti, Burundi, Western Sahara and Ban's own South Korean presidency ambitions. But after the briefing -- at which the Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom to whose correspondent Sanaa Youssef asked no questions, wasn't present -- Inner City Press had no place to produce even short Vine videos of the UN's responses.
The media focus booth was taken up by UN staff. After waiting, when Inner City Press asked to use the Department of Public Information studio, the key was out though there was no one in it. By the elevators, Inner City Press ran into Gallach and told her, since she purports to not understand and claims even to Nobel Prize winners like Jose Ramos Horta she has not impaired Inner City Press' work, that it had nowhere to work.
Gallach said she would check into it. More than an hour later, as Inner City Press tried to record Vines in the UN Press Briefing Room itself, amid loud music and phone conversations, there was no response. Ironically, Gallach uses as her pretext to evict Inner City Press seeking to cover a corruption-relevant event in the UN Press Briefing Room. Gallach told Special Rapporteurs Kaye and Forst Inner City Press “trespassed” in the UN Press Briefing Room. We'll have more on this. For now, here is today's Swiss Radio and TV piece on all this (translated from German here.)
When Inner City Press went to cover the UN Security Council's meeting on Israeli settlements in Palestine on October 14, it was told it could only do with with a minder, a requirement imposed on Inner City Press by Ban Ki-moon and his Under Secretary General for “Public Information” Cristina Gallach.