Thursday, February 16, 2017

On Migration, ICP Asked Guterres of Arbour, Now At ACABQ, Long Afghan Answer

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 13 -- A month and a half into the tenure of Antonio Guterres as UN Secretary General, he has submitted a proposal for a new migration envoy, it was confirmed to Inner City Press on February 13.

  Back on February 1 when Guterres held a stakeout Inner City Press at the end asked him if he was hiring Louise Arbour as migration adviser. Video here.
  Guterres stopped and replied that he must first take the proposal before the UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions or ACABQ.  
  Inner City Press is informed that on Friday, February 10, he submitted the proposal to ACABQ. Meanwhile on February 13 Inner city Press asked his (holdover) deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: 
Inner City Press: There's criticism of the UN system for not calling the return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan refoulement, and in fact, sort of standing by as people are forced back into a dangerous situation.  So, I wanted to know, since the Secretary-General… this is his issue, does he believe that the… the return of these Afghans from Pakistan is refoulement or not?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first of all, we're… we do appreciate the hospitality that Pakistan has given to over a million undocumented Afghans for decades.  That's been crucial.  At the same time, the ongoing negative rhetoric, stigmatism, and labelling of the Afghan population in Pakistan and how this is adversely increasing their vulnerability, safety, and security in Pakistan is of concern.  We believe that Pakistan and Afghanistan should work together to finalize a mechanism for documenting undocumented Afghans living in Pakistan.  Returnees should be provided with detailed information on the situation in their place of origin to allow them to take into account their current situation in regards to security, governance, and livelihoods and to make a fully informed choice.  And we believe that Pakistan must uphold their obligations under international laws, including the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which was signed in 2016.

Inner City Press:  Okay.  I won't ask about the "R" word, but I wanted to ask… this is about Kenya.
  Then Guterres' holdover Deputy Spokesman told Inner City Press to "get over it." Video here.
From the February 1 UN transcript:
Inner City Press: Louise Arbour, are you going to make Louise Arbour as migration adviser, Louise Arbour?
Secretary-General:  [Off mic] "Before I can announce the name, there is a procedure.  That procedure is to submit to ACABQ (Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions) for the post to be created.  And the worst thing I can do is to announce someone before the post is created, because that will be against the rules.  And so you will wait a little bit more." 
  After that interchange and before this publication, Inner City Press put follow up questions to UN holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, which did not call on Inner City Press for any question to Guterres (the question had to be shouted out at the end), including
"On SG Guterres' answer to Inner City Press' question, please explain whether and how the position he is proposing to ACABQ is related to the position held until December 31 by Karen AbuZayd (and who hold that now) and to the position held by Peter Sutherland."
  To this, Dujarric answered "Nothing to add until announcement is made."
  Not even about that the position is? On January 31, Inner City Press asked Dujarric what its terms of reference are, and this was not answered.
Back on January 16, Inner City Press exclusively published Guterres' four page memo of his vision for his Office, with - what else - an organogram at the back. Scribd here,pdf here.
 On January 16, Inner City Press asked Guterres' (and before that Ban Ki-moon's) deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about the memo and more. Video here, UN transcript here.
  The memo begins: 
"The Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General, Chef de Cabinet, Senior Adviser on Policy and the Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination will function as a team and expect the staff of the Executive Office to do likewise.
"The role of EOSG will not be operational, nor will it supplant the functions of line departments. Rather it will aim to empower and draw upon the work of the Departments as well as Agencies, Funds and Programmes, fostering cooperation between them in pursuit of
the priorities set by Member States and the Secretary-General.
"EOSG will be forward-looking, open to new ideas and welcoming of dissenting views,
drawing on and commissioning research and inputs from a wide variety of internal and
external sources to support senior decision-making and strategic thinking.
"Strategic communications will be an integral part of EOSG functions, both internally
for clarity of the leadership message within the United Nations family and externally for the
maximum impact in public perception."
  Inner City Press publishes the memo, obtained in the past two weeks from multiple sources, to increase public knowledge and transparency of the UN. One senior UN official who gave the memo to Inner City Press said that more substantial reforms, and personnel changes, are needed.
This comes after the UN Department of "Public" Information ordered Inner City Press to stop Periscope live-broadcasting Guterres' Town Hall meeting from the UN's own UN Webcast site, after DPI evicted and still restricts Inner City Press after it asked about the actions or lack of due diligence on corruption including by the head of DPI, Cristina Gallach. OIOS audit at Paragraphs 37-40, 20b.

While new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is behind the scenes planning a number of other structural changes, also reported on exclusively by Inner City Press, officials from the discredited Ban Ki-moon era are trying and in some cases succeeding in staying on.
  First, some proposed changes: the UN Department of Political Affairs, which had essentially been promised to Russia (in the person of Dmitry Titov) will be no more.