Monday, April 3, 2017

Nikki Haley Supports FOIA & Peacekeeping Clean-Up, Jokes “I Thought We Don't Call on Matthew"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 3 – When Nikki Haley held a press conference upon assuming the UN Security Council presidency for April, she began by saying that bluntness should be assumed to be in her national capacity. When Inner City Press was called on third in the press conference, Ambassador Haley quipped, "I thought we don't call on Matthew... just kidding!" Inner City Press asked about UN peacekeepers' abuse and a Freedom of Information Act for the UN. YouTube video hereInner City Press transcript here:
Inner City Press: You said that maybe the UN shouldn’t pay peacekeepers if they abuse the people they’re supposed to protect. Would this mean indiv peacekeepers who’ve been found busy? Or, if a contingent has an unusually large mount of people charged... Do you think the UN secretariat should have a FOIA?

Amb Nikki Haley: In my national capacity, I’ll tell you that I have met with the Secretary General on multiple occasions to talk about the contributing countries and how we hold them accountable. I think that their intent is always to do the best they can. But what we  have to do is make sure we have firm reporting on exactly what’s happening. And I think it’s to both of your points.

 Individually, we need to know what kind of cases are there and how they were held accountable by the contributing country. And also as a percentage with the group if we see this start to be a problem. And I’ve actually gone a step further and asked the Secretary General if we could sit down and talk to those CCs. I think one, it’s imp fro them to know what’s expected of them. Two, I think we should know that we are going to start a reporting process that we want to engage them on. And three, at what point do we  go and remove a cc because we don’t think they’re being beneficial to the process.

I hope those actions come together. I think it’s hugely important in what we’re trying to do. From a peacekeeping reform standpoint, you’re going to see this open debate of the SC, but it’s just the beginning. I hope this is the beginning of many things that we’re going to start talking about when it comes to peacekeeping reform. It’s such a large poart of the budget, to not focus on doing that right, it’s going to be very important.

In terms of FOIA requests, I’m as open on FOIA requests as anyone. I think that being transparent and allowing info to go out is an important part of democratic process and an important part of reporting. My goal has always been not to stand in the way of that.
    Later in the press conference, a reporter from India began his question by saying Haley might just "Make the UN Great Again." As some scoffed and snickered, he continued to ask about terrorism designations. To CNN, Haley said when she first went to Trump Tower, it was a discuss the Secretary of State position. Long time correspondent Richard Roth also asked if Haley wants to be US president in eight years. We'll have more on this.
   Recently in the UN basement as Inner City Press came in late through a long line of tourists and students at the metal detectors Inner City Press must now use everyday since the UN evicted it for covering corruption, a meeting in a windowless side conference room was ending. Outside in the hall it was labeled, Congressional Group. But inside on a TV screen it said, “UN Foundation: Congressional Learning Trip.” UN Foundation was set up, with Ted Turner's money, to help and now defend the UN. The UN's point person on sexual abuse, long a topic of interest for such Republicans as Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), is Jane Holl Lute, who before that was a high official of the UN Foundation and of the Obama Administration. She was notably absent this week when a “new” sexual abuse strategy, immediately critiqued by Code Blue and others, was announced. We'll have more on that.
   Down in Washington, Democratic sources on the Hill tell Inner City Press of a visit by the Obama administration's appointee to the UN, Jeffrey Feltman. Strangely, perhaps, they list the topic not as involving only Feltman's specific UN job, the Department of Political Affairs he has been held over to head until April Fools Day in 2018, but “budget cuts to peacekeeping.” The head of that Department, held by France for more than 20 years, should be the one lobbying. But Herve Ladsous is unappealing in the best of times; now he is a lame duck leaving on March 31, to be replaced by his fellow Frenchman Jean-Pierre Lacroix. Will Lacroix be able to stave off cuts? Will he continue to use public funds, more than a quarter of it from US taxpayers, to pay peacekeepers accused of rape such as in the contingents from Burundi and Cameroon?
   Inner City Press exclusively reported and followed up on the extension of Jeffrey Feltman's UN contract with regard to his UN (largely US taxpayer) pension vesting after the five years which Feltman recently pointed out has not yet been reached, but not until now how those close to Feltman say it was accomplished. They exclusively tell Inner City Press that among the lobbyists to keep Feltman on was none other than Bill Clinton, whom they say said it on behalf of his spouse, behind whom Feltman was famously photographed while she worked her Blackberry.
   Speaking of photographs, Inner City Press on March 10, still under censorship restrictions imposed without any hearing or appeal after it sought to cover the fallout from the UN bribery indictment of Macau-based businessman and former Clinton funder Ng Lap Seng, was Banned from a simple photo opportunity on the UN's 38th floor. The Ban's by the Department of Public Information under ostensibly outgoing Cristina Gallach, who did no due diligence on Ng Lap Seng. When asked the basis, the UN's holdover Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq gave no reason or definition being used; he barely looked up from his computer, from which he never did answer Inner City Press' questions on Cameroon abuses and the UN's Cameroon Resident Coordinator Najat Rochdi blocking it on Twitter, nor how much "extra-budgetary" funds the UN proposes to use on Louise Arbour's D1 head of office.

   The moves are stealth, like much in the UN these days - and have the potential of backfiring. Watch this site.