Saturday, February 25, 2017

ICP Asked UN of Libya & Venezuela Losing Vote in GA, Spox Dujarric Spun Then Ran Out

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 24 – The UN quietly announced that Libya, where it has a mission, has lost its vote in the UN General Assembly for failing to pay its dues, along with five other countries: "the following six Member States are in arrears under the terms of Article 19 and the General Assembly decided that they will not be permitted to vote in the Assembly until the end of its 71st session: Libya, Cabo Verde, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Vanuatu, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)."

 After reporting the above - and also noting an UNsuccessful bid by Morocco to replace it Venezuela atop the C-34 on Peacekeeping - Inner City Press at the UN's February 24 noon briefing asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric what notice countries are given, and about the UN's seeming increasing spending. Video here; from the UN Transcript: 
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you to confirm that six countries have now lost the right to vote in the General Assembly, including Libya, Sudan, Venezuela, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Cabo Verde, and whether there are any moves afoot either to get some of the countries' votes restored or whether Mr. Kobler has spoken to the Government of Libya in terms of… what's the…?

Spokesman:  I will… somebody from my office will bring in the sheet, but I think there are six countries.  So, by the time the briefing ends, I will have the update.

Question:  And I guess since people are asking for your opinion… what's your opinion?

Spokesman:  That's why I'm here.

Inner City Press:  Do you see a trend?  I mean, given that both Venezuela and Libya have, you know, carbon resources.  What can you say about this list?  What do you interpret it?  Do you think that countries actually have… you're always… you have this honour roll.  Is this a dishonour roll?  What… what, please?

Spokesman:  It's not a matter of interpretation.  Member States pay or… or… or not pay for whatever reason, and there is a procedure for them to… for the… if I'm not mistaken, for the General Assembly to give them the right to vote even if they don't pay for certain economic reasons.  That's a decision for the Member States.  I can't interpret the reasoning.

Inner City Press: What's the process for countries in which the UN has a mission?  For example, Sudan and Libya and Somalia have been given the right to vote.  Is there a process for the resident representative or the SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-General] to speak to the Government and say, you know, let's make a deal or what's happening?

Spokesman:  It's not up for, to us to make, to negotiate.  The assessed contributions are the assessed contributions.  If Member States are not able to pay, they are, there are articles in the Charter.  The countries that we are, that we're talking the about, as you said, is Cabo Verde, Libya, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Vanuatu and Venezuela.  There was a resolution that passed in 2016 that allows the Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia to vote in the General Assembly until the end of the seventy-fifth session, and that's a resolution and a decision of the Member States.  It's not one that involves the Secretariat.

Inner City Press: Sure.  And just one other thing because I see it as related.  There have been these two announcements recently by the Secretary-General of new posts and new offices.  One is the SRSG on Migration.  The other one is the new Under-Secretary-General on Counterterrorism.  And I guess I just… I've sort of asked, you said he's going to ACABQ [Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions] on both of them.  What does he think that the impact on the UN's budget of these two new initiatives will be?  Does he think that the budget that he's, that he is constructing piece by piece with these proposals is going to be larger than the previous year or smaller?

Spokesman:  I think the budget, as you know, for the next biennium is in the process of being elaborated.  It goes… it goes to the General Assembly at the end of this year.  We have not made any official announcements.  There are discussions, obviously, with the ACABQ.  The Secretary-General, I think, is extremely conscious of the value that the UN needs to bring, right, and spending money, and spending money wisely.  So, I would encourage you to wait a little bit and see how the structure looks after we're done with the process and what the new budget looks like and where the resources are allocated.

Inner City Press: Can you just, this is the last one on this.  Can you just, is there a way, maybe, of not standing from the podium, but today to give kind of a ballpark figure of the cost of the two initiatives that he's announced?  What he's thinking of?  The range?

Spokesman:  Once, once all the process is completed, we may be able to do that.
The US blocked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' nomination of the Palestinian Authority's Salam Fayyad to be UN envoy to Libya.
  On February 20, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq if there was any progress in replacing Fayyad as candidate -- apparently not - about an assassination attempt and travel ban on women in the East. From the UN transcript: 
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask about Libya.  Do you have anything on the attempted assassination attempt against Mr. Serraj?  And, also, there’s a reported ban on women… unaccompanied women traveling from the east.  Do you have anything either on that?  And any update on the selection of an SRSG that was previously blocked?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, regarding the selection of an SRSG, that process… the consultations are ongoing, and I don’t have any… any further details to share for you beyond what the Secretary-General himself said to the press on this over the weekend.

Regarding… regarding the assassination… the reports, I don’t have a confirmation of those reports, so I don’t have any reaction to provide at this point.

Inner City Press: And I’ve noticed that António Guterres has put out a sort of a global call, generic call, for SRSGs to be in some sort of pool to become UN envoys to conflict zones.  I wanted to know, like, on the Libya one, given… given the apparent miscommunication about whether it would be accepted or blocked, is there any thought of doing an open process such as is being done with Department of Management and Department of Public Information, or is there any thought of having that more public or at least routinized process as opposed to a behind-the-scenes process?

Deputy Spokesman:  If there’s any changes to make in the current process, we’ll announce it.  We don’t… while we’re considering certain things, there’s nothing to announce at this point.
  On February 13 Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq to explain what the "usual consultations" mentioned in the February 8 letter to the Security Council from Guterres consisted of. Haq refused to elaborate, nor to explain Guterres reportedly preparing to give the top post in UN Peacekeeping to France to the fifth time in a row. Video here.
  Questions for once came in fast and on the same topic at the day's UN noon briefing. Many questioners bemoaned what they've described as "Trump blocking a Palestinian." Among those lines, Inner City Press notes in light of the reports and questions about Tzipi Livni being offered an Under Secretary General job, and an arrest warrant in Belgium, this line from the vacancy notice of noted UN censor Cristina Gallach: 
"Individuals who are either nominated by Member States or who seek to serve with the United Nations in any individual capacity will be required, if short-listed, to complete a self-attestation stating that they have not committed, been convicted of, nor prosecuted for, any criminal offence and have not been involved, by act or omission, in the commission of any violation of international human rights law or international humanitarian law."
  Sources tell Inner City Press that under consideration for the Libya envoy post is a Tunisian; we note Guterres transition team member Radhouane Nouicer of whom no more has been said since the transition ended January 31. We'd ask, but Guterres' two spokesmen answered only two and a half of Inner City Press' 22 questions, and his deputy on February 13 when Inner City Press asked about the spending of UN funds said "get over it." 
  Meanwhile Guterres' holdover UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric selectively spins that Guterres had somehow received a "green light" from the US - like when Ban Ki-moon invited Iran to the Syria talks in Montreux, then disinvited them on Monday. 
  This time, Dujarric "told" at least three favored media the exact same thing: "Based on the information available to him at the time, the secretary-general had the perception, now proven wrong, that the proposal would be acceptable to Security Council members." Why not send this out more widely? To Inner City Press, Dujarric answered a mere two and a half of twenty-two questions. These holdovers have no credibility.
  One of the two to which Dujarric doled out his quote went on to quote French Ambassador Francois Delattre as having "full confidence" in the UN chief's personnel appointments. But of course: France stands poised to get the top UN Peacekeeping job for the fifth time in a row.
  The stories did not mention that the UK had - and now maybe still has - its own candidate for the UN Libya envoy post, Nicholas Kay. Clearly the UK didn't think Fayyad was best for the post. We'll have more on this.
  Inner City Press on-camera asked the UN about the nomination earlier on February 10, noting that its sources told it the nomination was really by Jeffrey Feltman, the Obama administration's appointee to head the UN Department of Political Affairs. Can Feltman stay on, given the new Administration in Washington?
  While Antonio Guterres' deputy spokesman dodged Inner City Press' question at noon on February 10, and his lead holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric waited more than 10 hours to respond to Inner City Press' question tweeted at him that evening, an arch and in context laughable response was mass-emailed 11 hours later.
  It sounded reasonable - but why then for example is Guterres restricting his "search" for a head of UN Peacekeeping to a single country, France? As Inner City Press has exclusively reported, the three candidates are all French: Jean Maurice Ripert (who previously stood up the UN in Pakistan), Jean Pierre Lacroix and probably winner Sylvie Bermann. There are other examples.
  Some cynics wonder if this wasn't done as theater, just before Guterres' 12-day trip to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, where the UN's previous Libya sell-out Bernardino Leon is getting paid. Meritocracy, indeed.
  Many including those given offices by the UN professed surprise at Haley's statement, even misunderstood it as mere regret and not blocking. But neither did they cover the long failure of the UN in Libya. Ban Ki-moon appointed then undercut Tarek Mitri.
  Ban was pushed to appoint Bernardino Leon of Spain, same as he appointed and used that country's Cristina Gallach to evict the Press which asked of their corruption. Then Leon sold out to the UAE, and Martin Kobler was put in.
   Now Guterres, replacing Ban but leaving too many of Ban's officials in place, from spokesman Dujarric to DPA's Feltman, bumbled again on Libya. The UN has lost credibility. It should focus and start over - as well as reversing censorship. Watch this site.
  After Nikki Haley's announcement, Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon issues a statement "on the announcement by Ambassador Haley of the US move to block the appointment of former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad as the Secretary General's Special Envoy to Libya: 'This is the beginning of a new era at the UN.'"
  So did Antonio Guterres err in nominating the PA's Fayyed on February 8, then heading out on a 12-day trip just as the US expressed disappointment and blocked the nomination? Inner City Press has asked Guterres' Office of the Spokesperson, and Stephane Dujarric personally, for a comment. None yet received.
   Nikki Haley, US Permanent Representative to the UN, issued a statement on the evening of February 10 that “The United States was disappointed to see a letter indicating the intention to appoint the former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister to lead the UN Mission in Libya. For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel. The United States does not currently recognize a Palestinian state or support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations, however, we encourage the two sides to come together directly on a solution. Going forward the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.” 
That the UN would be naming a successor as its Libya envoy to Martin Kobler of Germany was reported by Inner City Press in December along with the name of one of the candidates, the UK's Nick Kay. 
  Later, after Antonio Guterres took office at Secretary General, a Permanent Member of the Security Council confirmed to Inner City Press the candidacy of Kay adding that there was "another strong candidate" while declining to name that candidate.
  Guterres wrote to the Security Council that "following the usual consultations" he is giving the post to longtime Palestinian Authority politician Salam Fayyad, some are asking of just what these consultations consisted.
  Some in Libya opposed Fayyad's the nomination; others linked it to Jeffrey Feltman, the Obama Administration's head of UN Political Affairs who has arranged to stay on until July 4 so that his UN pension vests. How will that use of funds now sit with Washington?
  On February 10, Inner City Press asked the UN spokesman about it, Transcript here. 
  They note that the Trump administration, in its draft Executive Order, proposes cutting US funding to any UN entity which allows the Palestinian Authority as a member, and is discussing cutting funding to the PA. Was the US Mission to the UN consulted? Which Mission? 

  And what of Nick Kay, formerly UN envoy to Somalia, now back with the US FCO? Does Kobler return immediately to the German foreign service, where he still has a position as he told Inner City Press when questioned about his predecessor at UNSMIL Bernardino Leon selling out to the UAE diplomatic academy? What Under Secretary General post will Germany get in the UN? Watch this site.